Monthly Archives: April 2011

High Maintenance; Low Return.

I have a friend with whom I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love her, and I love to hate and complain about her. She’s fabulously thick skinned and tough though – one of her greatest personality traits is that she is unapologetic about herself. So, I can complain to her about what she’s done to annoy me. But she won’t apologise for it; She won’t get hurt by it. She takes it on the chin, explains herself, but ultimately we just agree to disagree. Rarely does she acquiesce to my point of view. It’s quite a unique friendship and one that I have definitely come to appreciate for it’s long-standing quality despite the aggravation I sometimes subject myself to as a result of her actions, lol.

Now this cherished friend has many many friends. Hundreds. Not just on her Facebook, but literally hundreds in real life too. She knows them all to talk to on the phone or text. Most have met her immediate and closest family members. She’s gregarious and sociable. She’s friendly to a fault sometimes, if you ask me. I’ve told her this. She just concedes that it’s part of her nature – she sees good in each and every one of her several hundred friends. It’s quite an amazing ability actually.

I met a couple of her good friends recently at a celebration she arranged for herself, and a couple of her friends shocked me. Primarily for their astounding disregard for keeping the hostess-with-the-mostest happy and relaxed. There was foot-stomping, exclamations of boredom and someone even stormed out. It gave the evening a bit of a negative edge actually. By the next day when I got in touch with her to thank her for yet another great night out, I commended her for strength and integrity in friendships as I could not understand how she could tolerate or maintain friendships that were so high maintenance, with such low return. It was a harsh observation for me to make – but not the most harsh thing I have ever said to her. I can be blunt to a fault, but my friend can take it. That’s how awesome she is.

Anyway. Her subsequent response jolted me slightly as she made an observation about one of my own friends, outside of her social circle, who she’s always felt is “high maintenance, low return” (HMLR). I wasn’t sure how to react as I hadn’t felt that way in a while about the friend she was referring to. My gut reaction was actually to jump to the victim’s defense as actually, they’d been absolutely delightful of late. But having had time to think it through, turn it over and look at it objectively (along with present day actual contact and experience), she is absolutely right. I really do have a friendship of the high maintenance low return order. And I’m not sure why I do it.

If I’d comprehended this situation this time last year, I think I would take the majority of the responsibility for this rather unbalanced friendship on my own shoulders, believing that I’m only getting back what I’m putting in. Ergo, I’m not putting enough in, and actually I’m performing below par for this HMLR friendship.

However, since the death of the toxic friendship (which was the HMLR to set all records in its heyday) I’ve come to realise that I could really put myself out, I could bend over backwards and I could offer myself at the sacrificial altar, but sometimes, it just won’t be enough. Not that I don’t get anything from the friendship as there are obviously good times and brilliant memories, but certainly not enough in terms of quality or quantity to make it a logical relationship to keep. And yet I do.

I guess I’m starting to understand that sometimes it’s just not in a person’s nature to act in the same way as myself in a friendship. Sometimes it’s just the way they are and no matter how much you have loved them and connected with them, there’s really no need to take it personally when they make you feel as though you are not doing enough, giving enough and that you simply are not enough. In such cases they often behave like this indiscriminately, to all their friends, and not just to one person. It’s quite tiring to take (you don’t say).

So. How does one resolve a situation like this?

My head sees it as a very straightforward choice. Why should anybody have to bother with such a draining relationship with anyone?

My heart sees things differently. That the friendship has the redeeming quality of reminding of who I am based on who I was during an era that ended the day I became a parent. It serves as a great landmark for my life at a certain point. Also, I don’t think I have the strength or courage to end the relationship. So I let it run and I appreciate whatever little moments of return I am able to enjoy.

Perhaps the lesson I should be learning here is not how to accept my HMLR friendship, but how to accept someone I love and appreciate as a friend keeping a number of these HMLR friendships herself.

Or even more importantly that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Silent Sunday


Details of Silent Sunday here

Silent Sunday

Perkle & Horm

There have been some significant changes to the Little Man’s life this year. From January, he has been given his preschool allowance. So five mornings a week he can attend a local nursery school for 15 hours a week (or something like that) for free. More actually as we wanted to pay for him to stay for a cooked lunch too.

It was a bit of a wobbly time for me too as even though I had taken him to playgroups and various baby/toddler classes, I’ve never left him for such a period of time, repeatedly. He started daycare nursery back in September, for 3 mornings, in a younger group with a better ratio of child to nursery keyworker, but since January he’s now in a room with 40 kids, and 4 staff, plus 1 to 4 childcare students, depending on the day, for 5 mornings a week.

Quite a massive change for such a small human being.

Anyway. It’s been a tough time as I’m pretty sure he’s been going through some massive milestones. One of them is emotional development.

My boy has always been strangely emotionally astute. When he was 18 months old and I was entering the 2nd trimester of my second pregnancy, I had a tearful breakdown (the first of many). My as-yet-not-talking Little Man was toddling around the room, when he turned and noticed me seeking comfort from hubs. He looked at me curiously, then toddled over to me, picked up his blue blankie and pressed it into my arms, looking at me earnestly. Then carried on playing with his toys. I still get emotional recalling it :’)

The big change in his nursery life has emotionally disrupted him quite phenomenally. By the end of February he was telling us each morning “No nursery. No thank you.” And at the drop-off, he would stand listlessly watching as his Daddy left. It broke our hearts :’(

So. Before our 2 week holiday to Hong Kong and the school half term I wrote a letter to the nursery. I had let things stew for about a week (and only putting him into nursery for 3 out of his 5 sessions anyway) so I could be sure I wasn’t acting rashly. We sat down and had a meeting with the Deputy Head and also set up a one-to-one meeting with his keyworker for our return. The focus was to go away and enjoy our holidays, and then come back to set a plan on how to proceed.

So we did.

It’s been 2 weeks since we came back from our holiday, and things have improved ten fold. The Little Man gained a newfound appreciation for time away from his parents (the holiday was very much the 4 of us together *all* the time) and was keen to get to nursery for the 3 session we had planned for him. We took him out from the lunchtime period too, so we’d pick him up just before the tiredness became overwhelming. Then the following week, we asked him if he wanted to go for an extra morning – “YES” was the resounding answer. He’s even made a little friend in his class. Relief doesnt even begin to express how we felt when we heard this…

Another of the milestones he’s been going through is communication.

Our Little Man is a bit slow in his communication skills. Not in a noticeable way. Just ever so slightly. I credit this to the fact that we speak two languages to him. Hubs and I speak Cantonese to the kids as much as possible. When the Little Man was a baby, we spoke a larger proportion of English, but as he grew bigger we realised that if we wanted him to have any understanding of Cantonese then it would be our responsibility to do something about it. Now we communicate with about 90 percent Canto, and 10 percent English. Following the holiday in Hong Kong, both kids’ Cantonese skills have improved 100%. We stayed with my parents in the house/flats we have there – where my grandparents, auntie and uncle also live. It was astonishing how much they improved and right before our eyes too. It was worth the effort and hard work (very hard work).

At nursery of course, they speak English.

Now, before the new year, his English had been coming along in leaps and bounds – beyond our vision actually. His file at the nursery was coming home with reports that he was speaking full English sentences (“Look! Ann! Cars are over there!” – we nearly fainted when we read this). Meanwhile, at home in Cantonese he was managing mostly short phrases of only 3 words on average. His strangest habit however was that whenever he was faced with something he didn’t know the word for, either in English or Cantonese, he would think for a moment. Then looking up at us with bright eyes, he’d declare emphatically: “Perkle.”


He’d been doing it a good few months before I finally cottoned on. By early January I was able to let hubs know to look out for it happening. Hubs loved it so much, he decided he wanted to adopt the word too, for those situations when there are just no words that seem quite suitable. It tickled us so much I mentioned it to a good mummy friend who completely unflinchingly understood and told me her son (my son’s best friend in life so far)’s word is “Horm.” lol!

Where do they get these words from?? Who knows. Although. I have to say, ‘Perkle’ does magically combine some of my favourite letters/sounds. And ‘Horm’ – well, that’s pretty cool sounding too. To a certain extent, I can almost see why/how they chose these words. They do make sense. Well, ok, they don’t. But I like them. Now, of course, the Little Man is speaking full sentences both in Cantonese and English. Life is much easier as he’s able to communicate his frustrations more clearly – he’s becoming a bit of a bossy boots, quite a serious little kid. He tells us when he’s forgotten to wipe his hands and mouth after dinner. He tells me about his day at nursery (“I broke the rainbow” in Cantonese), and he can tell me about Diane (his keyworker) and his new friend, Ahsan. I’m so proud of him :)

As proud as I am though, I have to admit, I am starting to mourn the loss of the word ‘Perkle’ from his common vernacular…

And that’s just perkle :(