Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Latchkey Kids of Miri

Like any frontier town out here in the East, Miri is pretty much run by the men.

Despite what you may think, the raging ideas of bra-burning feminism doesn't seem to have fully breached these blackened shores. With the predominant trades here being oil, timber and shipping - which requires more than its share of simple brute strength, men have the enviable upper hand when it comes to lucrative employment. Though such bright, bold ladies as Piratin Patty are steadily making inroads into these previously male-dominated milieus, even they would agree that their numbers are still few at the moment.

And yes, it is terribly intimidating to be faced every morning with an entire crew of burly sweaty truckers off in a faraway logging camp / offshore platform / shipping yard. Even I would be a little nervous.

Jamie Dornan
Husband : I'm having an affair.
Wife : I'll pretend I didn't hear that. But yes, I am having one too.

So yes, the men go off to work and the ladies stay home to mind the children. Imagine the perfect 1950s family. With their errant husbands usually away for extended periods of time and the squabbling kids already sent off to school, these desperate yet utterly bored housewives are left to their own devices whiling away their time with daily mani-pedis, endless self-improvement classes and endless mahjong nights.

Don't be fooled by the saccharine-sweet montage of suburban bliss though. Just like the perfect Wisteria Lane with its hotbed of intrigue, this town is no different. Of course when I say mani-pedis, it means scathing gossip, self-improvement has more to do with dashing dance instructors and yes, endless mahjong nights come with lots and lots of booze.

Not exactly the sweet domestic housewives you were dreaming about.

Which makes for a lot of screwed-up latchkey kids in town.

Kid : Mommy, I need to go to school.
Mother : Oh darling. Mommy has an awful hangover again. Could you get a ride with the neighbour?
Kid : What about my lunch?
Mother : Just get the maid to wrap up something. I've got a class with Ramon later.
Kid : Ramon? The one who comes by after dinner sometimes?
Mother : Oh yes, mommy's dance teacher.
Kid : Didn't Ramon leave his clothes here this morning?
Mother : Well we do get plenty sweaty after. But nevermind about that. Shoo shoo, get to school.
Kid : Is Daddy coming home this weekend?
Mother : Well he has that other woman to worry about, doesn't he?

Mommy is no angel obviously. Neither is daddy since quite a few seem to have discovered minor wives and secondary families in whichever faraway postings they have been sent to.

And I'm not talking about a handful of examples. More like a truckload. The screwed-up suburban nightmare. Dead-beat parents who don't seem to be trying to hold their family together in the least. Damn. Trying my level best not to judge their shoddy parenting skills since until I have my own children, I wouldn't know how I'd react when faced with a similar situation. Hopefully I'd do better if ever given the chance.

But after being given a brief peek at how the other side lives, never have I appreciated my parents more. Perhaps Stepford perfection would be a bit too much but my parents tried their hardest to give my brother and I the best upbringing they possibly could.

And by God, I'm thankful.


matt said...

interesting post, as usual. i'm just wondering, who are these people.. coworkers? neighbors? patients? is this something that is obvious around town? it doesn't exactly seem like your crowd.

ooi2009 said...

u seem oldy

Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah said...

Poor kids. The sins of the parents and all that, eh? :(

savante said...

Mostly neighbours. A few coworkers. Some patients :) Not exactly my crowd but yeah, I do hear of them, matt.

Of course I am, ooi :P

I see them and I immediately think of Ursula's Poor Unfortunate Souls, kenny.