I AM LIMPEI, AND LIMPEI IS I – The Father and Son Relationship

To the uninitiated,”Limpei” is a funny word.

It means “Your Father” in Hokkien but it is usually used when one is trying to project superiority, to anyone and not only to one’s offspring.

It can be a rough shod term used in a thuggish or thrash-speak way like:

“Don’t make limpei go over and slap you until you buay jin choo (literally don’t recognise your house)”

It is a term used in my father’s and his father’s time.

So I was tickled when my son showed me his iPhone and my mobile number was locked down in his phone as “Limpei”.

Girl or Boy it doesn’t matter

That’s what all the men will say.

But deep down many of them will want a mini me.

This is a true story told to me.

Pregnant Wife:  Dear are you hoping for a boy or a girl?

Husband:   It makes no difference to me dear.  As long as the baby is healthy, I have absolutely no preference.

On the Day of Delivery:

Doctor:   Congratulations, its a Boy!!

Husband:   WooHoo!! My life is complete!!!

Rushes out and buys himself a black BMW in celebration on the same day.

He thinks he is Zeus

I have given deep thought as to why every man deep down wants a boy at some point, even if he loves his girls dearly.

It is primitive and primal and it is from his left brain.

Every man has a skewed image of himself.

And he thinks a 2.0 improved version of him will be seriously awesome.

This is he:

But in his mind’s eye, he thinks only a few minor tweaks will change him into this:


So he is hugely excited when he hears its a boy.

Perfection is around the corner.

Your boy parrots you

You are his role model.

To your boy who looks at you everyday, there is no reason for him to look at anyone else to learn how to behave like a man.

He will pick up his values from you – how you treat a woman, how you behave as a husband, how you behave as a father, how you treat the helper, how you respond to wait staff, all the dos and don’ts, the football team you support, whether you smoke, drink, have a earring. Are you god fearing etc.

Of course, along the way, he forms his own views and becomes his own man but if you observe carefully, you will see that a big part of him will be familiar because he is absorbing you day by day.

So the big message to the fathers ?

Try not to be an asshole.

I recently received a whole barrage of never ending questions from the son:

When did you first date, when did you lose your virginity (answer – 5 days after getting married around age 36)

When did you first smoke, what do you smoke and why? (Sampoerna clove cigarettes, Cuban cigars and pipes. I was kidnapped by Sampoerna executives who threatened my family if I didn’t comply and try their cigarettes)

Why did you get the earring and what has it done for you ? (My ears felt awkward and lonely. It’s given me better hearing and controls my vile temper and lowers my cholesterol)

When are you getting your Tattoo? You said it will be a snarling wolf on your arm right ? (I’ve changed my mind. It will be on the small of my back just resting above the crevice of my bum. Image of a delicious plate of sushi)

Are you happier now that you are divorced and don’t report to anybody? (Ask me again in 10 years)

Do you like what you do? Anything next ? When do you think you will retire? (Yes, no and I’ll retire when you make as much as me)

Stress city.

Maybe one day :

Son: Dad are you ok with me not being exactly the same as you?

You: Umm sure ok.

Son: Its just that you’re moderately successful in career and all that but I don’t want to be a complete Wanker.

You: Umm ok.

The “I am flawed” Argument.

Son: Why can’t I put on a earring and smoke cigars?

You: I am flawed. Don’t follow me.

Son: So if you know you are flawed why do you still continue to do the things you do ? So being flawed is ok ? Why so weak ?

You : Because ……….. because …………I am Limpei and Limpei is I…………….

The Earring

Son: Dad I’m getting my earring after my O levels.

You: Err I rather you get it only when you are in Uni. Your school won’t allow it.

Son: Its ok. I will just put a transparent stick during school hours.

You: Err that’s not a good idea. You may get infections taking it in and out.

Daughter: Oh I get ear infections all the time. No Biggie. Just take out the earrings for a couple of days and put it back in again.

(Glaring at daughter and blinking furiously to attempt a telepathic Morse code)

Daughter: What’s wrong? Why are you twitching ?

You: Sigh……….Ok. Remember – left is right and right is wrong.

Son (and daughter chortles) : One side ? That is so old man. Might as well call me Nerd and bugger me silly.

I’m getting both ears pierced.

He is his own man

Son : Dad

You: Ummm

Son: I have a girlfriend and we are thinking of going all the way.

You: Umm.

Son: We won’t use protection because we love each other and if accidents happen, we will just get married once she crosses 16.

You: Umm

Son: Also, I want to get a face tattoo .

You : Umm

So : I think my school might frown upon face tattoos but I’ve been thinking about quitting school for a while now anyway.

You: Ummm

Son: Did you watch the All Blacks and England game ? I’ve always thought Blacks are erratic and England have become a much better team.

You: What!! How dare you !! When did you feel this way?’!! Are you trying to drive me into an early grave ?!! I haven’t raised you to become a misguided fool !!

Go to your room !!!!! NOW!!!

Son: Ummm. Can I ? I really want to take a nap.

I will always be near you

So yes. Sons can be quite a handful.

Some people say the way to guide sons is to do it by tough love.

But fathers have always been and will always be there for his son, ever vigilant, always awake, always protecting, guiding, inspiring.

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