I was fighting with my mum today. We fight more often than I care to admit. And fighting with someone you love stinks; nobody wins, everybody loses.
Thinking back though it almost feels as though there is a theme every time we fight. We talk, on the phone, and some topic sparks up and I find it interesting and wanted to debate about it, sometimes doubting the regular notion of what usually is being said and talked about, mum gets annoyed that I just wanted to argue about everything. She thinks I’m in a sour mood and tries to pick fights or worst yet, was lecturing her. I get annoyed (and mildly surprised) that she doesn’t get this isn’t about mood, or lecturing, but discussing and pursuing the truth (so righteously so in my head). We make off hand comments about this annoying pattern of communications we have, I say bye and hang up.
For a long time I thought maybe this is my old rebellious teenage attitude popping up as we speak, the more this pattern repeats though, the more I begin to realise this is a new, adulthood Sandy problem altogether. I think back, and re-assess (which I don’t encourage anybody to do, because this drives you absolutely crazy), and realise I have these type of conversations with others (particularly my husband) and never have this problem.
Could it be the lack of command of my mother tongue when we speak of these things? Could it be that she is not used to her adult child speaking back with anything with compliance? We haven’t really been living in the same place since I was 22, afterall.
And then I think to myself, how do I discuss these things in English? And what kind of tones do I use?
And then it strikes me, that this kind of discussions, translated directly from English to my native tongue, almost never really happens in the culture my mum grew up in, unless people are quarrelling. In fact, I don’t even think there’s such a differentiation between “argue” and “quarrel” in that culture.
This type of discussion, literally isn’t categorised and prioritised.
In fact, as I tried to look these words up in Chinese on google, the very first entry titled “not to debate right or wrong is the most effective way of communicating”, and comes second of “the difference between (…all the different words that has an association with arguments….)”. And as they explain them all, none of them has a neutral connotation such is “debate” or “argue”.
And at that same time, in school we were told that it is important to learn critical thinking and “to think for ourselves”.
No wonder I have always found the way things are discussed and communicated are always murky and slightly vague at times.
We literally have a cultural difference even though we speak the same tongue.
“Not to debate right or wrong is the most effective way of communicating”
I ponder on.