1 November 2012, by Darren Lim
Last week we brought our kids to Legoland and it being only 15 minutes from
Tuas checkpoint, we quickly arrived there and the kids were ecstatic! However, because we had gone on that week which coincided with PSLE marking days, the waiting time at the queue was long!
The first ride which the boys queued for was close to a 20-minute wait but that being their FIRST ride, they were naturally good natured about it and impressed us with their good behaviour throughout the wait! At the second ride which was almost a good 45-minute wait, the boys started to develop a case of the wiggles after 10 minutes, which eventually became full-blown whining. As Evelyn was with Kirsten in another queue, it was up to ‘good old Daddy’ (aka me) to ‘tame’ my boys. Frankly, given the humidity coupled with the heat from the scorching sun on that day, even I was on the verge of a breakdown; but instead of commanding them to do the impossible — which was to keep still and stop whining, I tried to keep their attention focused on other things and distracted them with ‘I Spy’ games etc. (And for the record, nope! I did not use the iPad as one of the distractions! Very tempting but I resisted and I’m so proud of myself! It’s actually doable!).
The whole day was pretty much like this, full of waiting and most of the time, daddy and mummy would be helping the kids with the wait — reminding them what they are waiting for, encouraging them to persevere as they inch nearer and nearer to their goal. There’s so much work and effort on the part of parents even for something as simple as waiting to play! What’s more when it comes to things like studies or acquiring habits and skills that don’t naturally come to children, especially things that require patience that our children naturally lack!
I looked back at those times when I would use my authority to control the behaviour of my children and wondered how many times out of those times I could have handled in a more understanding and encouraging way, like when we were at Legoland . I then asked myself why it was that I didn’t or couldn’t do it at those times? Was it stress from work, having timelines to meet that’s why I became short on patience? While these are all valid reasons that can truly set off the ‘Frustration Button’ on any loving parent, I wonder if there are things that parents can do to lessen the frequency of that happening?
Admittedly, there were many occasions when I felt I could have afforded a little more patience and used less of my ‘authority’ to do the job; how else can one expect our children to learn from example when we role-model the opposite? And like how one of my friends puts it aptly: “When I was old enough to earn my keep and my parents threatened to kick me out of the house if I didn’t listen to them, I just walked out!”.
Yes, at some point in time our children will grow up, and incessantly using our ‘authority’ to force our way down their throats with statements like, “because I say so!” or “if u want this, then you have to do what I say” (eg stand still and be quiet in the queue) will just exasperate them! … But if we work with them, by understanding the challenges that they face and show empathy with our words and actions, while helping them achieve the goals we have for them or goals that they have for themselves, I am sure it would lead them to believe that with time and patience, they will be able to work out any problem they will face in life… And through the process of it all, it also helped them to trust that their parents know what they are going through and are there to love and help!
When I said I was thankful I have children, I really meant it; how else would you be able to ‘reflect and learn’ so much from a roller coaster ride? As we bring them up, they are bringing us up too! I am growing everyday with my little ones!