Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/8/2014 (1045 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I met a beautiful guy from another country at Folklorama. It was the late show and he was hanging around his country's pavilion. He was absolutely gorgeous with the biggest brown eyes. He didn't speak English too badly, goes to university, and was handsome and charming. We went outside together to get some air later. We talked, held hands and shared a kiss under the moon.
At the end of the night, I asked him for his phone number and he laughed and said, "Oh no. I can't do that. I am only going to university here. I am betrothed back home. My aunt and uncle would tell my parents and I would be sent on the first plane home!" So why did he flirt with me and kiss me then? -- Confused and Hurt, West End
Dear Confused: Sometimes coming to Canada to university is a bit like visiting another planet, with the rocket waiting off in the distance to take you home. We have freedoms here that many people from other countries don't have. Maybe he was lonely and attracted and thought, "One kiss won't hurt."
Make no mistake. He's still going back to his country of origin and his life has been planned out for him. The marriage has been set up. He may be inheriting his dad's business or coming back as the great doctor, scientist or engineer. His wife has been chosen for him, perhaps for many years, although in many countries now it's later and the young person has veto rights. That means the parents may be embarrassed and must go out and look for another suitable person in the same financial situation, with the same background, hopefully more attractive to their son or daughter.
Think of that night at Folklorama as a beautiful experience -- a fantasy this man may carry with him the rest of his life. That will restore your ego and make you smile. And think about this: Most young men from other countries who indulge in a full-blown relationship here are still expecting in their own minds to go back and marry the person their parents have chosen for them.
If they defy their families and stay here, they can lose all financial support for school and sometimes they are shunned by their parents and relatives back home. It is a high price to pay, if the choice of one person here deprives somebody of their loved ones and their culture -- unless they have a bad relationship back home, and want to break away.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My children are badly behaved at their grandparents' cabin. Every time I try to discipline them for teasing or hitting or bullying or swearing or throwing food, my husband's parents step in and say, "Oh, c'mon, let it go just this once. Don't be too hard on them." As a result I lose my position of authority with them in that cabin, and chaos reigns. Their dad lost it long ago, because he is just like his parents -- a pushover.
The most upsetting problem? I'm afraid to leave the kids with their grandparents at the lake, because they don't even watch them when they're by the water. "Oh, our kids ran free and nothing ever happened to them!" says my husband's mother, not a swimmer, as she reads her Harlequin romance by the side of the water. She doesn't even look up! I have to go to the beach every single time, counting heads constantly, "One, two, three; one, two, three." I am a strong swimmer. How do I get past feeling so angry when we are all at the lake every weekend? -- Boiling Inside, Winnipeg
Dear Boiling: Losing a child to a drowning would change your life forever, so just accept that you are the family lifeguard and be vocal about why you have to go to the water every time, and then just do it.
Say to your husband, "Since I'm the family lifeguard, you be the domestic helper -- helping with dishes and cooking in the cabin." You will then feel like you have a deal and things aren't so one-sided. As for letting the parents run all over you in front of your kids, stop! Say in a somewhat louder voice than usual, to startle them a bit: "These are OUR kids and we won't have them behave like this!" Once you stand up like Mama Bear, their eyebrows might go up when you discipline the kids, but Gramps and Grandma will back off.
P.S. Quietly line up your own rental cabin for next year and please tell me your kids are taking swimming lessons, even if they hate them. Everybody needs to learn to swim well.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg R2X 3B6.