Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Makes a Dad?

I've never fathered a child before and so I suppose this is a rather strange posting for me. My only biological experiment with fatherhood ended up in the dustbins of Thompson Medical Centre and the result of that was a three-year legal bind with Gina. I've dabbled in the topic a little. Thui was the first but thanks to Han Li's relationship with immigration that ended within a few short months. Now, it's PGF's kid's - Nicolette and Marcus who give me the odd glimpse into the joys of fathterhood - as things would have it, the only enjoyable times with the PGF are when the kids are around. But I can't call myself a Dad (though Thui has aknowledged me as Papa on a few odd moments) because I've taken on the job full time.

However, I can comment on being on the recieving end of what fatherhood should be about. My mother was married to three fairly decent men who provided me with a fairly set notion of what a father should be. Both Lee and Thomas (Mum's second and third husbands) helped me to understand that being a Dad is not necessarily a biological process. Lee in particular deserves credit for showing me that a man can love a child that's not necessarily his biological one. I've been lousy in the pay-back department in as much as I can't do for him what he did for me - ie take care of the old boy. But I do what I can to offer my heart to the children of the various ladies who have entered my life.

I'm an unusual freak in the sense that not only was I blessed with two (not just one) spectacular stepfather, but I had a pretty darn good natural father, who when I think about it, doesn't always recieve the credit he deserves. My father is a wonderful mix of East meets West. His casual in a very Western way. He's not into ceremony or the "I'm your father so..." type of thing that most Chinese father's are supposed to be into. Yet, he's Chinese enough (Cantonese remains his first language) - my Dad is not a cuddley type of Dad. I guess because of that, I don't open up to him the way I usually open up to my mum or dare I say to my stepfathers.

Like all things in recent months, it takes my PGFNB to make me understand how lucky I've been in the parent department. Today I had the misfortune of following PGFNB and following her into Family Court for one of her battles with the Ex. After months of hearing so much about him, I finally put a face to the name.

True enough, he's utter gutter scum and the fact that PGF could be married to him for 10-years means she's not much better - but then to be fair, a notch above shit, is still a notch above. Perhaps looks are decieving but he looks melevolent. - Sue for me for slander if you will but I'll say this in court about him.

OK, let's give credit where credit is due - I wouldn't want to be married to the PGFNB too. His new wife is younger and probably hell of allot nicer to live with. I can even give him credit for being genuinely in-love with the new wife. PGFNB is not a person who invites you to fall in love with's quite the opposite.

I'll concede to the point where her financial demands might be excessive. She's currently demanding $1,600 a month - which is the equivalent of a salary for a company recetionist.

Where I have bad vibes about the guy is the fact that he has no interest in his kids. Both Nicolette and Marcus have somehow developed into wonderful people despite their parents. I think it's privillege for anyone to be their parent. Both a funny, intelligent and loving despite their parents who are spiteful.

This man is particularly vile. He's never sent a single birthday card nor has he made an effort to ask how they're getting on. His only association with his children is when he's telling the courts that they don't need him. To me, that show's a lack of human decency. Like I said, PGFNG is not much fun to handle but in my mind, there are certain responsabilities that go with the job of being a Dad.

OK, my Mum let's lose from time-to-time that it wasn't always fun collecting child support from the old man and my Dad wasn't much good with the birthday cards. But after meeting PGF's ex-husband, I realise more deeply that my Dad what a Dad should do - he provided the financial means to ensure that I would have the basic tools in life. If anything, the Old Man provided for me a little too well - I was one of the few students who didn't need to look for a part-time job - Daddy's gold card solved allot of issues.

My father has had his business ups and downs. When he was doing well, he spreed the money widely. When he was not, he still ensured that school fees were paid. I am sitting here in Singapore as a Public School educated, university graduate because my father ensured that I had the means to be.

Then there was medical health care. When I developed a lymphoma in my left thigh, I had to come back to Singapore to get it removed. My doctor was Dr Susan Lim, one of Singapore's leading surgeons and the bill was over $2,000 for a day surgery. Was reluctant to do it because he had just flown me home, got me a job at one of the hardest banks in the world to enter and then there was this.----He told me to do the surgery. Yes, he could afford it but he could also have dennied that it was too expensive. To him, it was something that needed to be done and do he got me to do it.

He's also done the same for Max. Both of us have been well taken care of by the old man and although he's lousy at expressing certain things, he does like to feel involved in our lives, though he'd loath to admit it.

So thanks to my Dad, I believe that a father is obliged to take care of certain basic things for a child. When it comes to your financial status, you can suffer but somehow you have to find a way to make sure that your kids don't worry about the basics. I'm against giving kids a free ride. I had too much pocket money and a credit card - the result was I didn't need to discover the school of hard knocks until I started trying to earn a living. But basics need to be taken care of. A father has to see his kids have food and education.

Sure, you cannot be unrealistic in what you ask a man to provide. PGF's ex is legally a bankrupt (though a very talented one - he has savings). It's pointless to ask him to house his previous family in the Istana. But he must provide his kids with the basics. If he thinks the maintainance is too high, he can make alternative arangements to ensure that education and health care are provided for. He doesn't do it.

A friends have suggested that he's only acting naturally ie - PGF only wants matainance money for her lifestyle and not the kids and so, he's decided why bother? To my mind that logic does not work. If you have kids, you jolly well make sure they're taken care of. If you think the ex is going to blow it all, find an alternative to make sure the money goes to where it's needed.

I remember another friend telling me that most men don't bother fighting for custody. To an extent there's some sense there. Mother's are usually better able to nurture children and so courts usually give custody to mum's with visitation rights to Dads. But there are cases where Mum's are unsuited to take custody and a responsible father should recognise this. I put it this way, if Gina and I had kids, I would have fought for custody in a divorce hearing. PGF's ex filled for divorce based on her "Bad Temper" (which she has), claming she was violent and yet, he made no move to obtain sole custody.

I don't know how Nicolette and Marcus cope with this. How they ended up OK is beyond me. They're father is gutter trash and their mother ain't great either.

I've told PGF that after seeing her ex, she's not allowed to be attracted to me for whatever reason. I fear there's something about her that might turn me into this gutter trash that she married. Miserable failure of a father, a miserable failure of a human being.

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