Mummy: I think you were too harsh on your last couple of blog posts.
Me: Harsh? How?
Mummy: For one, you were really harsh on Andre. Also, you sounded like you were asking Xan to give up.
Sometimes, even though a person means well, he or she will inadvertently overstep boundaries, or make mistakes, or push too hard on a piece of advice they think is the only right way to go about doing things.
Sometimes, the person will be stubborn and insist his way is the right way.
Sometimes, the person will realise what he did and deal with the embarrassment with a quick brush of the hand and say, “i didn’t mean it that way. It was an honest mistake. Let’s move on.”
Sometimes, the person will admit he was wrong, and not only apologise, but try to make it right again, no matter how hard making it right might be.
What your mother said about the last two letters made me realise what I did. Bringing another party into a story published on a public platform will always carry risks; sometimes it pays off, everyone has a good laugh or a thoughtful read, and life goes on as planned. Sometimes, you screw up, and then you pay for it. On this occasion, your father screwed up, by passing judgment on a 4-year-old.
Andre is a very bright 4-year-old boy, always smiling, always friendly, socially engaging, and very caring towards the people whom he loves and who love him. He is also an only child; aside from his daily 2-hour interactions with the children from his kindergarten, the only other “sibling” of his age group he has contact with on a regular basis is his 3-year-old cousin – you.
In light of these circumstances, triggered by the sobering reminder your mother gave me, I realise I have absolutely no right to make any assumptions about Andre’s character, attitude or behaviour, much less pass judgment on him based on such assumptions.
Did I mean to pass judgment? Yes, albeit unconsciously. Was I wrong? Undoubtedly. Am I sorry? Yes, I am. Can we move on? No; not until I make amends.
A more drastic mistake your mother made me aware of was that my message to you in my last letter implied that you should give up making friends with a person when it seems like a futile endeavour. The notion is so subtle yet so impactful, it’s even made me rethink the entire premise behind Dear Xander.
My intention behind these letters is to provide you with a resource that your father can impart his knowledge and experience with, using a medium that I was most comfortable with – the written word.
That being said, the knowledge and experience I have with making friends – remembering that I mentioned having taken a lot of hits and earned myself a lot of grief and misery – hardly qualifies me as an expert in the area (for that matter, I am now reconsidering my self-perceived expertise in every area I thought I was an expert on).
Your father didn’t have many friends in his youth. I wasn’t particularly close with most of who I hung out with; I had a handful of very strong friendships, what I felt was a pre-requisite for truly regarding people friends, but at the end of the day, I found I had made more people hate me than like me.
It left me jaded, pushed me into bitterness, and made me cynical for a long time afterward.
These days, I have grown to treasure the few friends I have left from the days of my youth, and thankfully, the ones who hated me are hardly anywhere to be seen.
I really don’t want for you to resort to giving up like I did when frustration got the better of me. There is a way – there is always a way – to get through to people, as long as the kindness of your heart remains strong and your goodwill prevails no matter how people treat you. Understand that good begets good, and as long as you persist in being a good boy with the heart that you have, no one will be able to resist you for long.
For all my imperfections, I am sorry.