The experimental child. The tried and tested one. The first-born.
At 15, for the first time “You’re grounded! Always be back by 7pm!"
She was upset but eventually she felt touched. Her parents do care.
However, a week was all it took for her to get out of being grounded. It was not because she had been obedient. It was because her parents eventually forgot that she was being grounded.
At 15, she got 2nd place in the whole cohort for a subject. She came home excited to tell her parents the news.
“Why didn’t you get 1st instead? If your classmate can do it, why can’t you?”
“I’ll do better next time” she went to her room.
“Don’t worry, you can do better next time. At least you passed,” she overheard them telling her youngest sister.
At 16, she failed her major exams. She took a year off from school. Her parents never scolded her. They didn’t care.
At 17, she got her first job. She no longer had a care for curfews. Nor was she given any. They didn’t care.
At 18, she got accepted to a school. She enrolled to a school. She begged her parents to accompany her but they had work. They didn’t care.
At 19, she got a GPA 4.0. She was selected to go on a student exchange programme overseas. She was overjoyed. She threw a tantrum when her parents said they didn’t have enough money. Eventually she got to go.
At 20, she graduated and finally got into another school for diploma. She enrolled with a friend. She didn’t have to ask to know that her parents couldn’t make it. She came home with the whole family in front of the television watching a movie, without her. They didn’t care.
At 21, she decided to drop out. She told her parents her decision. They never tried to stop her. She was an adult. She met up with the Headmaster, alone. She got a job again, but only as a waitress. Earning a mere $6/hr, her parents told her to get better job. Simply because she was not contributing to the household. Or so she thought. Eventually they gave up as she was indeed paying for her own expenses. They didn’t care.
At 22, she begged her parents to take an off day to sign her employment contract.
“I know this is what she wants. I trust her,” she looks at her father, shocked that he said those words to her future employer.
“It’s rare to find a parent saying that to a stranger, let alone in front of their child”
She couldn’t stop smiling. She felt a different kind of warmth in her heart.
They always have.
At 15, they bought her a new phone, weeks after she passed. “I got my bonus,” her parents said.
At 16, they asked around if there were other options she could go for, as they weren’t familiar with the education system. They left brochures on her table.
At 17, she was working with her cousin. Her parents always checked with the cousin on the progress of their child and to tell them if she was facing any problem.
At 18, their colleague got sick at the last minute and they could not apply for leave. They called her after the enrolment procedures to check on her. They cared.
At 19, they asked for advance payment so they could send her overseas. They asked around for money so that they could keep the family going for months. She didn’t know.
At 21, her parents cried for their child. Praying that she would eventually find the right path for her. They trusted her when she said she wanted to quit. They wanted her to find a better job. She was struggling with the little pay she had left after paying off her bills. “Here’s $10 for your lunch”
Her parents showered her with so much love when she was younger. She didn’t remember. Birthday parties were thrown up till she was 6 years old, while the youngest sister never got any. She was the first one to go primary school and graduate. The first one to take her major exam in secondary school yet failed. They did not know what to do because she was the first one. They didn’t want to put too much pressure on her. Instead it looks like they didn’t care. She was their first child to go through everything.
Instead, she became a lesson learnt for them. Thanks to her, they knew how to treat the younger ones. Thanks to her, they knew when to be strict and when to give their child space.
Because they cared.
Because they cared.
She is the experimental child. The tried and tested one.