28 January 2011, by Jaime Teo
The man and I were sitting around talking about our childhoods last week. I don’t remember how the conversation started… It may have been along the lines of what kind of a childhood we thought Renee would have and what kind of parents we would be. I mean, you suddenly (ok, maybe not suddenly but 9 months isn’t very long in comparison to your child’s lifetime) take on a very big role once you become parents. You will become a very big influence in your child’s life and surely that warrants some discussion right?
We didn’t quite get to the bit about our roles as parents because one childhood story led to another as we traded escapade after escapade. It’s a rather fun couple activity if you haven’t already done it!!
That night as I went to bed, I was thinking about this particular memory he shared with me :
When he just returned to Singapore from Canada (he moved there before he was a year old) he was enrolled in a neighbourhood school and was posted to a Primary 4 class.
Being in Primary 4 is a big deal on a few counts: all the friends you know in school are friends you have known for almost half your life (such simple arithmetic when you are under 10); you would already have a clique of close friends you have recess with and do homework with at this time; you expect a certain familiarity when you start school having done the same thing for a few years now.
In short, it’s the toughest time to try to assimilate into a new school.
Nobody befriended him because he talked funny and didn’t understand a word of Chinese. So he spent many recesses tucked away in a corner of his school, playing the “slide to the ground” game. It goes like this — you get to the top of the stairs, sit on the slope beside it and slowly give in to the pull of gravity, watching your feet start stop all the way down. When you get to the bottom, you go up the stairs and then start all over again.
He told me this in a very matter of fact manner and my heart went out to the little boy I didn’t know. I mean…. very poor thing right?
I asked how things turned around for him – It was going to another new school and being able to throw an iron ball very far (shotput). That earned him some popularity (and friends) as he helped whichever team he was in, win the field event.
I didn’t ask if he felt scarred by this incident — it was evident that he remembered those times very clearly from the graphic way he shared the story.
What was imprinted in my mind (other than his feet sliding down the slope), was his resilience. I thought this story illustrated how children can bounce back from the things life (or parent) throws at them.
You think they’re little and helpless, but they are actually the real winners. They are the ones who can adapt to a new environment wherever you put them. They are the ones who fall down and pick themselves up quickly whether it’s at cycling, skateboarding or a lesson in life.
It is a little humbling that we have much to learn from children — actually we needn’t worry too much about the kind of parents we will be since they are so resilient! Isn’t it such a relief to know that children are parent-proof? =D
I’m by no means waving a “Get out of jail” card. I’m just stressing the importance on not being stressed out about parenting.
Reminder to self : Enjoy the process!!!