Now that he's a father, China-born actor Xu Bin could empathise a little with what his mother went through raising him.
He started school two years earlier than his peers in China, which meant he was only 11 when he attended the equivalent of Secondary 1 there. When his grades dropped, his mum sold several of her businesses so she could raise enough money to send him to Singapore to study.
While Xu Bin worked diligently for the first few years, he got complacent once he caught up with the rest of his classmates. That was also when the friction between him and his mum started.
The 32-year-old recounted his youth to host Quan Yi Fong in the latest episode of Hear U Out, including the time when he turned rebellious during his secondary school days here.
He said he once went out to play with his friends until 5am and what made it worse was that he ignored his mother's phone calls and switched his handphone off.
"Prior to this, I spent all my time studying. When I met some friends who cajoled me to go out and play, I became like a bird who found freedom after being locked up in a cage," Xu Bin explained.
When he finally returned home that morning, he saw her seated in the living room crying. She immediately walked over him and gave him a slap.
Looking back, Xu Bin was aware of how his mother might have thought he was involved in an accident.
"She hit me for a long time. The plastic clothes hangers from the wardrobe ended up on the floor broken."
When Yi Fong remarked how he thankfully didn't retaliate against his mum, he added: "When I couldn't take her beatings anymore, I went to the kitchen, picked up a knife and threw it to her. I told her, 'Use this instead, don't use the hangers anymore.'"
According to Xu Bin, Mrs Xu returned to her bedroom afterwards, and that was the last time she beat him.
In the episode, he also talked about how she left him $20,000 to $30,000 before she returned to China. What was meant to tide him over for the next few months to a year was squandered in just two months.
"I didn't have a concept [of saving money]. I was in secondary school and suddenly came to have so much money, and I spent it all on food, recreational activities and giving treats to my friends," he recalled.
When he ran out of money, he called his mother, who cried on the phone and told him she didn't have any more money.
Eventually, his aunt — who moved to Singapore decades earlier — gave him small weekly allowances. Even then, Xu Bin said he didn't control his expenses.
"That led to something which left an indelible impression on me. I didn't have much money to buy food, so a few friends and I went to a bakery and asked the owner to sell their leftover buns to us cheap. We ended up eating bread for the next few days," he said.