I was talking to my mom the other night and had to do a double take (at the phone since I couldn’t see her in person) when she mentioned that I wasn’t a good driver. Well, I’m not, but, to be confirmed by her like that, it was a shock.
In her defense, she didn’t just blurt out, “You suck at driving.”
I was telling her that I had offered to drive one of my friends who didn’t have a car at the moment.
“Oh, be careful, you are not a good driver….”
“Uh… yeah, but I could take her to town. It’s not like I have to drive long distance on a rough terrain.”
We changed the subject and talked for another half-hour.
After I hung up, I thought about it.
It might be a Japanese thing. The closer your relationship is, the less you flatter each other. You call your spouses “stupid wife” and “good-for-nothing husband” with the utmost affection.
My mom has always supported me as in “I know, I know. Do your best.” But, I’ve never heard her say, “I’m proud of you,” or “I believe in you.” Nevertheless, I know she loves me, has done a lot for me, and will be there for me.
My dad was busy at work and didn’t spend a lot of time with us while we were growing up. When he sat down and talked to us, though, we knew it was something important and listened. I don’t remember him giving us kudos for anything.
Once, after I became an adult and married, my dad acknowledged my accomplishment. We were swimming in a heated pool, and I think I might have blushed.
You see, I never really learned how to swim. When I started school, we had drought every summer, and they canceled the swimming classes. Younger kids, including my younger siblings, got to learn the basics when the drought ended. However, they never took time to teach us, pre-teens, lesson 1. They told us to swim. Many of us never learned how and when to hold and take our breath or how to move our arms and legs. We pretended to swim as far as we could, which wasn’t much, and walked the rest. I didn’t think anything of it until my family moved to a different city. I was the only one who couldn’t swim in the class. I managed my school years of humiliation.
My husband was a good swimmer and, when we traveled, we went swimming. Though more than a few times I almost drowned us, luckily, my husband rescued both of us on all occasions. I have somehow learned how to swim from one edge to the other.
So, when my dad was pleasantly surprised and said, “You swim pretty well,” I was overwhelmed with excitement and awkwardness and said nothing.
I think he approved.