Lunch­box love notes

Writ­ing to each other helps this fam­ily through some rough patches.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY WONG

MY son and I used to write love let­ters to each other. I would write a lit­tle note which I would put in his lunch­box, and he’d read it while en­joy­ing the lovely gourmet lunch. Th­ese notes con­veyed my feel­ings for him. Some­times, they were re­minders. But they al­ways re­as­sured him of my love, as well as my ad­mi­ra­tion.

In his replies, my son ex­pressed equally well his love for me. Not just love, but grat­i­tude. He felt my pres­ence de­spite my phys­i­cal ab­sence.

“I thought of you to­day, mum, while we were read­ing a poem in class,” he once said.

This habit of writ­ing love let­ter came about when my son was hav­ing prob­lems in­ter­act­ing with his class­mates. Nei­ther sporty nor preppy, my son Jonn at one stage in Pri­mary One was side­lined, or he was com­pletely re­jected by his class­mates.

“I was all alone at lunch and re­cess, mum,” my then eightyear-old son cried tear­fully one night be­fore fall­ing asleep.

Then a note of en­cour­age­ment found its way into Jonn’s lunch box. Then the next day, and for the next few months, my words and love did not just kept him com­pany, but they also gave him guid­ance and en­cour­age­ment.

Some found this lit­tle ex­er­cise en­dear­ing. Oth­ers thought it made my son over-re­liant, hence mak­ing him a mummy’s boy. It didn’t.

In fact, all the love let­ters and at­ten­tion had helped de­velop him, shap­ing the won­der­ful boy he is.

Jonn is never short of friends now. He is sur­rounded by many at lunch and re­cess. When I pick him up at school, his friends from all di­rec­tions bid him good­bye.

Jonn, to my amuse­ment, nods his head like a gen­tle­man be­fore re­turn­ing the same cour­tesy.

“A boy who was short of friends is now hav­ing too many,” I al­ways tease him.

Jonn is by no means a mummy’s boy. He is in­de­pen­dent, right­eous and car­ing.

Jonn is my babysit­ter while I am busy. He takes care of his six-year-old sis­ter like a teenage brother. While cor­rect­ing his sis­ter’s lit­tle flaws, which he too used to com­mit, Jonn is stern and ra­tional.

Emo­tion­ally in­tel­li­gent, Jonn im­parts the same qual­i­ties onto his sis­ter, al­ways ex­plain­ing to her how adults need to have their own space. Hence, when mummy is busy, my en­dear­ing son steps in to take on the role of my daugh­ter’s half par­ents.

While walk­ing side by side next to each other, Jonn will ex­tend his hands nat­u­rally for his sis­ter to slip her fin­gers into.

That heart-warm­ing sight comes from a love note re­mind­ing him to be kind to his sis­ter. If your sis­ter is a pearl, you’re the oys­ter, I wrote. He re­mem­bers that note, and lives by it dili­gently.

The at­ten­tion I be­stowed upon

Some found this lit­tle ex­er­cise en­dear­ing. Oth­ers thought it made my son over­re­liant, hence mak­ing him a mummy’s boy. It didn’t.

him dur­ing those dif­fi­cult years when he was in Pri­mary One and Two has brought him closer to home than ever.

Friends come, friends go. Fam­ily will al­ways stay is our motto.

And if he was asked to choose be­tween play­ing games at his friend’s house on a Satur­day af­ter­noon or hav­ing lunch with his fam­ily in a food court, my son will opt for the lat­ter.

He cher­ishes the close­ness and op­por­tu­nity to be with his fam­ily.

His mum’s gen­tle gaze, his fa­ther’s sense of hu­mour and his sis­ter’s goofi­ness will al­ways moor him and the house, al­ways warm and neat, is the wharf.

What other ways to greet his happy tenth birth­day other than writ­ing him a let­ter as I did?

So, be­sides giv­ing him and his friends a blast at a lo­cal laser games shop, I wrote him the lat­est love let­ter:

Our dear­est son Jonn, To­day is your birth­day. Let it be an event that marks an epoch in his­tory be­tween us, par­ents and son. Let it, too, be a tra­jec­tory that branches out to some­thing new – you be­ing our part­ner in life.

In­deed. This day when your age mat­ters as it is now dou­ble dig­its is the day when I call you our part­ner. You have demon­strated great qual­i­ties in the past ten years and have flour­ished to be­come the boy that I have al­ways imag­ined my­self rais­ing…..

The tears flow­ing down his rosy cheeks were as large as pearls.

Those times writ­ing love let­ters were some of the most mem­o­rable par­ent­ing times I have, and they pay back in folds.

Words of love: Jonn has learnt to com­mu­ni­cate with his par­ents through notes and let­ters.

Jonn’s note of en­cour­age­ment to his fa­ther.

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