“Back then, girls were not allowed to mix with boys. During movie dates, us girls would enter one at a time. Then the boys would wait a few minutes before coming in as a group. When the theatre turned dark, everyone swapped seats. The whole community knew my father was a police officer, so we couldn’t raise suspicion!”
Growing up with a law enforcer for a father didn’t stop 70-year old Aminah from occasionally bending the rules, although keeping her activities a secret from the dinner table was slightly harder.
“I didn’t see my father much during the day, but he’d always make sure the whole family was together for dinner. Of course, he would then start asking a lot of questions!”
Aminah fondly reminisces about those dinnertime chats. In hindsight, it was her father’s way of showing he cared about his children’s lives, even if he couldn’t always physically be present.
Indeed, it’s this dedication to parenting that Aminah feels is largely missing in today’s society.
“In the old days, most women were housewives, meaning children grew up around at least one parent. These days, both parents work, meaning the children end up knowing their teachers or babysitters better than their own father or mother!”
Aminah doesn’t fault modern parents for pursuing careers; after all, one needs money to raise a family. However, she feels that too many of them use professional responsibilities as an excuse to avoid their children.
“Even if they get home late, they should at least try and talk for a few minutes.”
Part of the reason Aminah feels so strongly about the issue is because her whole life has revolved around her family and home. In fact, she jokes fact that her education was designed to create the perfect housewife.
“In secondary school, I studied subjects like home economics. Then, my father made me take extra classes for sewing, cooking, and cleaning.”
Did she ever consider pursuing a career?
“I wanted to, but my father never allowed it.”
While she displays a tinge of resentment over this, Aminah accepts that her father was only doing what he felt was best for her. In that sense, she’s appreciative.
Does she think the children of today would react the same way?
“No. In fact, I don’t think children these days appreciate what their parents do for them.”
As Aminah says, however, the problem is a two-way street. It’s difficult for children to be appreciative of their parents if the latter rarely give them time and attention to begin with.
It’s even worse when parents try to buy their children’s affection through constant gifts. “How can you be appreciative of something if you always get what you want?”
There are no such problems between Aminah, her 3 children, and 6 grandchildren. All of them still visit weekly – admittedly so that they can be fed – and the entire brood goes on long vacations together.
But she can’t help but feel distressed by the thought that her experience is not the norm.
“We treat every meetup as a treasured moment. It’s a simple act, but one that I still find so meaningful. I wish everybody could say the same.”