Enough said.

Enough said.

For the past two years, I’ve been feeling as if I’m no longer able to communicate with others the way I used to… as if my ability to express myself has somewhat disintegrated. Because, it just seems so easy to get my messages misconstrued…

Now, I’m not talking about those situations when some people are just committed to misunderstanding you — They somehow feel the need to assert their ‘one-upmanship’ no matter what, such as the ridiculous religious debates which were forced on me.

I’m referring to pure misunderstanding (I mean, hopefully… I really would like to believe in the good in people, particularly those I love) caused by communication breakdowns which could generally boil down to different mindsets, together with the probable language barrier and culture gap.

Last Saturday, I met Waffle’s stepfather Karl and nephew Sweet Pea for the first time. Falling for Sweet Pea the instant we were introduced, I just couldn’t take my eyes off that permanent angelic smile, which reminded me of my own nephews Winter and Khan who I spent quite some time with when they were small.

When I reached out to Sweet Pea for a handshake, Karl chuckled,  ‘Troublemaker!’

Upon hearing this, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I caught a fleeting glimpse of slight uneasiness on Sweet Pea’s face. But, it was quickly erased by his angelic smile.

Throughout the time, I felt the urge to talk to him. He just seemed so sweet. And every time I turned, he was smiling at me. I made faces at him a couple of times which made him laugh. Nothing beats a child’s heartfelt laughter.

On the way home, I asked Waffle about Sweet Pea’s age.

Waffle started telling me how the many diseases Sweet Pea’s been suffering from have made him look younger than his actual age. I gasped internally, for I couldn’t tell at all.

Then I thought of this word ‘troublemaker’. I recounted the incident to Waffle out of curiosity.

Like I said, I didn’t know what to make of it as I knew nothing about Waffle’s family and certainly not their family dynamics. It might just well be an endearing way to tease each other, some light-hearted family joke, like how sometimes I would call Beam Beam, ‘You little punk!’ and so on.

The reason I noticed it was merely because of my teaching background and recent studies on narrative therapy and children with learning difficulties (my own godson and another nephew  have been diagnosed with autism), general stuff about the power of language. In short, language is my passion.

Also, growing up in Chinese culture, this is not something uncommon, but because I myself was a victim of the false humble attitude in my culture, I’ve become quite cautious around this kind of language.

Waffle straight away clarified there wasn’t any negativity intended on Karl’s part (But frankly, I was just curious if Sweet Pea was naughty at home). Obviously, Sweet Pea admired his granddad and they did get along.

‘I see. I was a little taken aback. That’s all. I thought it wasn’t very nice to tag that word on a little boy.’ Notice I was speaking in the past tense here — ‘thought’.

I carried on the chit-chat about the reason this word caught my attention, partially because I didn’t want Waffle to have the wrong idea about my intention.

Somehow, it backfired spectacularly, which could well be my own fault for failing to achieve eloquence. Waffle was convinced that I was just being critical and judgmental, trying to behave like an expert, about the child-rearing practices his family, particularly his sister — Sweet Pea’s mum, had adopted.

To tell the truth, I was stunned by this unfortunate outcome. Honestly, I was only chit-chatting about my own interest in language, not a single word about his family that I didn’t know anything of. How could I be perceived as so nasty and mean by someone who I regarded as family?

Stupid and slow as usual, I tried to explain, but it only got worse. Waffle got angry, not just upset, and refused to listen to me.

Eventually, I was beside myself with rage when all failed. I frankly was incensed by my own poor communicative ability. I just couldn’t believe it. And partially, I was baffled by Waffle as well — Just how on earth could I criticise and judge before I even got to know that Sweet Pea was disabled?

I apologised after Waffle insisted on his negative feelings towards my words, believing firmly that I was speaking ill of his family, acting like a smartass. Apologies, because I somehow caused the misunderstanding, not because I did speak ill of his family — I DID NOT.

mayaangelou_quote

This freak accident proved that the real troublemaker is actually me. I’m just so socially awkward — never know how to start and when to end. In this case, I should have stopped the chitchat right there. My passion is not of anyone else’s interest at all.  Parenthood is tough enough, and it’s even tougher to have disabled children. So I can understand why this seems such a sensitive issue. I need to be more careful and improve my language proficiency in order to make myself fully understood.

On the other hand, this incident rather took the wind out of my sails. Nothing survives without trust. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. But, I do like to have some in return from time to time.

I came to the realisation that, after all these years flying around the globe, the only people I can feel totally at ease with, knowing that they trust in me no matter what, are my family in Taiwan with whom I grew up with. Throughout the journey, I did try to create my own family, but apparently, I need to work harder on that — I’d like my trust to be reciprocated.

Unfortunately, the only place makes me feel at home is not Taiwan, where my family still are. It’s England. Need me say more? Everything happens for a reason. This is God’s way of helping me achieve my full potential as a human being. Sigh.

SO ~HELP ~ ME ~ GOD!! Amen!!

I don't think there's anything wrong trying to be who and what I am. So I'm gonna keep on telling it as it is. But, more skillfully and 'eloquently', hopefully?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong trying to be who and what I am. So I’m gonna keep on telling it as it is. But, more skillfully and ‘eloquently’, hopefully?

最近這兩年,對自己的溝通能力開始有了質疑,似乎,無論如何努力,就是沒法讓人明白我想表達的。

我指的是那種純粹的誤會 — 因為觀念、思考邏輯不同,還有文化差異所造成的。而不是那種擺明要刁難、死纏爛打非贏你不可的;例如那兩次被沒品的無神論者打鴨子上架的宗教辯論。

上周六,和鬆餅的繼父卡爾還有外甥小甜豆見面。第一眼看到小甜豆,我就喜歡上這個臉上永遠掛著天使般笑容的小男生了,好可愛,讓我想起了兩個寶貝蛋冬冬和蹄膀。

當我跟小甜豆握手打招呼的時候,卡爾突然冒出一句:「Troublemaker!」

我愣一下,不知道應該如何反應,而小甜豆的表情浮現了瞬間即逝的小尷尬,隨而又回復他的天使笑容。

在那將近三十分鐘裡,我其實很想多跟小甜豆說說話,聽孩子說話是很有趣的一件事,尤其他那麼可愛!但是,我們之間隔著卡爾和鬆餅,我不知道怎麼開口比較好。幾次我故意對他作鬼臉,都把他逗得哈哈大笑,孩子的銀鈴般笑聲最好聽了。

回家的路上,我問鬆餅,「小甜豆幾歲啊?」

鬆餅告訴我,小甜豆其實有多重身心障礙,所以看起來比實際年齡要小很多。我大吃一驚,因為我完全沒有覺察出來!

這時,我想到了「Troublemaker!」這個字,出於好奇,就跟鬆餅提了,原來他當場沒有聽到。我說,我不認識他們,所以這也許是家人間親暱的一種互動,就像我也會叫梅小獸:「You little punk!」

鬆餅否認卡爾有任何負面的意思(其實我只是好奇小甜豆在家有很好動很皮嗎?),他告訴我,小甜豆跟卡爾關係很好,小甜豆很崇拜卡爾。

「那就好。本來我是有困惑,想說如果這是貼標籤,不太好吧?」

我繼續瞎聊為甚麼自己會注意到這件事,部分原因也是希望鬆餅不要誤會我的動機。之所以好奇,純粹是因為自己的教學背景,最近又正好都在讀關於語文學習障礙的課程,還有敘事治療的書,而且乾兒子和外甥是自閉兒。。。總之,我對於語言這一塊就是很有興趣。

另一個原因會讓我注意到這個字,是因為我不喜歡我們的文化裡,那種偽謙虛太多了:「哪裡哪裡!他什麼什麼最差了,他最皮了。。。」

很不幸,悲劇依然發生了,只能怪我自己的表達能力不足吧?鬆餅認為我就是在說他家人(尤其是小甜豆的媽媽)壞話,認為我提到自己的背景什麼的,是在以專家姿態批判論斷他們的教養有問題。

走到這個地步,真的是大出我意料,怎麼會這樣呢?我明明只是在瞎聊自己對語言的熱情,壓根沒提到他和他家人半個字,怎麼就變成這樣一個苛薄又下流的人?

我腦筋一向不夠靈活,反應也慢,所以還傻傻地企圖解釋,但只是加強了反效果。鬆餅氣炸了,不願意聽我說了。

最後,我也火了,被自己無可置信的爛溝通能力惹火的。除了氣憤的情緒,我也無法理解鬆餅的態度 — 根本我一開始都不知道小甜豆的身心多重障礙,是要怎麼批判論斷?!

我最喜歡的作家之一 Maya Angelou 說過一句話:『。。。人們不會記得你說過的話、做過的事,但他們永遠不會遺忘你曾經給他們的感受。』鬆餅很堅持他對這件事的負面感受,所以,我最終道歉了;不是因為我做錯事(說他們家壞話 — 我沒有!),而是因為我造成了這個誤會。

這次意外證明了一件事:我才是那個莫名其妙的 troublemaker!一直以來,我是個不善於社交的傢伙,始終在學習如何應對進退。其實,我幹嘛要瞎聊那麼多?誰有興趣聽?當父母原本就是修行,有殘障孩子更是大不易,所以,我可以理解為甚麼鬆餅這麼敏感。未來,期望自己更加謹慎,並且加強語文能力作出有效的溝通。

另一方面,坦白說,這件事也讓我有點小小地喪氣。無論何種關係,沒有了信任,就無法持續。這也是為甚麼,我總是願意先相信人性本善,除非對方給我足夠的理由撤銷信任。我是做了什麼,讓一個我視為家人的人,這麼不信任呢?

終於明白,這些年來,繞了大半個地球,恐怕還是只有原生家庭是讓我完全信任的,也是最信任我的。雖然,旅途中,我一直都在試著建造自己的家,看來是「革命尚未成功,同志仍須努力」– 我要的是對等的信任,而不只是我單方面的。

只是,我的歸屬感在英格蘭,不在台灣。這無異是 上帝的巧妙安排。我沒有怨言,因為, 上帝的意念高於我們這些凡人的,該修習的課題,就要好好完成才是。

只求 上帝能繼續保守我成長的腳步。阿門!