Saturday, August 25, 2007

Toys R Us Kid

At many points in my life, I have redefined what makes an adult. When I was waiting to go to uni, my definition of an adult was someone who had a CPF account because that was the time I got my first job and I had to fill in forms to create such an account. When I graduated and came home, an adult became someone who had to pay income tax. Then it became someone who could and had to buy a house. It kept changing, that definition. I thought what finally cemented my transition from a kidult to an adult was when I had kids of my own. But I was wrong.

I'm quite certain that even now, as I re-evaluate what an adult is, I will once again rework it somewhere down the line. But for now, I have entered adulthood because I am interviewing to domestic help and will be responsible for instructing the help on what needs to be done in the house. I had no idea how difficult a job this is even though I grew up in a household that always had help. I guess I took for granted that whoever we had employed, always knew what went where and how to do what needed to be done. Even simple things like preparing meals, I never knew that, as the employer, I had to dictate what ought to be cooked. In the past, when I was hungry and wandered into the kitchen, there was always food or something cooking.

I'm not good at doing this. I don't feel comfortable doing it, possibly because more often than not, the help are actually older than I am and who am I to tell them what to do? True that I pay them, but the genetically ingrained Confucian ethic in me niggles and creates great cognitive dissonance in me. I can't give orders to someone older than I am, it's just not right and yet, I have no choice but to do so. I know that when I give instructions now and even when I rebuke them, I take on the tone of a teacher. Once, I caught myself doing Socratic questioning with the help- I was asking her questions to lead her to the point I was trying to make. I'm uncomfortable doing it but it has to be done.

Times like this, when I'm so reluctant to step up to the plate, I wonder how it is that Singaporeans seem to be fond of abusing their help, physically or mentally. One lady I interviewed today said she wanted to leave because her employer's 5 year old used her shins as kicking bags and then went off to complain to his mother, causing his mother to side him and take it out on the poor help. Obviously, they don't have my conscience.

Anyway, I don't look forward to having so much power. With great power comes great responsibility and responsilibilty means being an adult and conferring such responsibilities upon the shoulders of someone who would be quite happy to have remained a kiddult for quite a few more years.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:55

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