|A cafe in Villefranche sur Mer, France|
I am fully aware that I am not meant to live vicariously through my children and I have set out some parenting rules as reminders.
Rule No 1 : While I cannot force my dreams on my children no matter how good I think my dreams are, I have to try my best to make them see how everything they do or say will bring some consequences. We are therefore responsible and must account for what we do and say.
Rule No 2 . I can only guide and share my views and thoughts but I must not expect that my children will agree with me totally.
Rule No 3 : I must appreciate my children for who they are. I hope that they will grow up to be sensible, kind and compassionate human beings who dare to be different if they want to and try the unbeaten path if there is one and if they so wish to.
Rule No. 4 : I love my children no matter what they do but I must not overlook their flaws. I love them all the same. It is not a rule it just is that way.
Rule No.5 : I must always pay attention and listen to what they say * and I think they have great insight of the world and can often offer fresh ideas and new approach to a situation.
* (So often I am guilty of that.)
Queen of Hearts chocolate card placed in
a sealed envelope
from the Fat Duck
Rule No 6 : I want my children to know that if ever I unwittingly put them in an awkward position, it is unintentional as it is never my intention to embarrass them.
Rule No. 7 : I cannot expect my children not to subject themselves to peer pressure. I hope that they will rise above peer pressure.
Rule No. 8 : While I will not make disparaging remarks, I must not unnecessarily raise their platforms or expectations as they must have realistic assessment of themselves. Refer to Rule No4.
In school and at tertiary, we have teachers marking our work. So who is the referee in real life? I will know that I am doing okay if and when my children continue to believe in their own abilities. My office young partner’s late dad had always told her “Confidence is half the battle won”. So true.
I recently read the novel by John O’Farell “May Contain Nuts”, a hilarious and thought provoking story about a compulsive and protective mother who frets about errant drivers on the road and took extreme measures in this league table maniac world to prevent her child from failing the entrance exam for getting into the elite school . Alice, the protagonist wanted to do everything for her children: “clear every obstacle in their path, fight every battle and take every blow”. In the voice of the protagonist , O’farrell wrote“ The period in which your children are totally dependent upon you is such a short phase of your life. You think it’s for ever, then suddenly it’s over; before you’ve even looked up from checking their coats were buttoned up properly , it’s over. One day you are in your kitchen when the doorbell rings and it is your own child arriving home from school, staggering over the threshold with a four-ton ruck-sack of books on her back and her mind weighed down by a million thoughts that you will never know. And you glance up at those framed photos on the stairs of when they were so little, wearing clothes you chose, sitting in swings you had to lift them into, laughing uncontrollably as you pushed them back and forth. And it’s gone. That’s it, she’s grown up- that expression of total trust in her face, it’s gone for ever; just a memory.”
As I browse through pre-school photos of my daughters taken when they were growing up, I miss those years and wish that if only they could stay like that for just a little bit longer. I can still recall the time when my child was three years old and we were late for her nursery class. After I had dropped her at the school compound and let her walk to her class on her own, I could not bring myself to drive away as I had this fear that kept me thinking what if someone was lurking in the school compound and she was abducted during her brief walk to the class. You cannot fault me for worrying as in my biased opinion, they were the cutest and adorable kids around. I then stepped out of the car and take a quick walk to the classroom and was relieved that she was already at her desk. I once stood by a joint parental rule that my husband and I set for our daughter. If she did not make the mark, she would not get to go for the class trip to another state. I was prepared to forfeit the fees already paid so that I could free myself from the anguish that she was going to travel on the school bus. Till this date, she felt that the punishment we had meted out then was a little severe for her score in a language test that proved to be unimportant. I had heard too many horror stories about reckless bus drivers that I would dissuade her from joining the rest of her classmates on those school excursions. When she was twelve and I reluctantly let her go on the junior school trip on a chartered bus ; when I saw the bus leave, my heart felt this quiver and I was in tears. I had to refrain myself from trailing behind the bus all the way to their destination. I had to put my guard down when my younger child was ten and she took part in some junior squash heats away from home. I had to stop myself from worrying sick about her crossing the big wide road in Kuala Lumpur. Thanks but no thanks to mobile phone because when I could not contact my children on their mobile phones, I became frantic only to be told later that their phone batteries had gone flat. Now that my girls are grown up, I have to tell myself to stop worrying otherwise I can get carried away by worrying about things like them going to bed too late, losing track of time lines, procrastinating etc etc etc every single thing I am not a good example for .
They grow up fast but as a parent, you never stop worrying and if you let your big fat worries take over, parenthood will never be any fun. As a mother, we forget that we are not running our child’s race but our child is yet we want to protect our children from harm and also failures at all costs and we cannot imagine that they can manage without us. John O’ Farell wrote, “ You have to let them fall and fail and then try again. Nobody ever learnt anything except by doing it (said a book I’d read to make me a better parent)”. I sometimes wonder how my mother had done it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the world!