19 June 2017, by Mandy Loh
People love to ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. The usual answers are “fireman”, “astronaut”, “train driver” and so on.
Guess what Cristan said when I recently asked him that?
Nope! My play-it safe little man replied: “I just want to be a normal guy.”
I laughed out loud at this hilariously unexpected answer, but at the same time, it was totally understandable coming from a boy who is super-cautious and never takes risks. If he is not confident of doing something well, he would rather not try at all!
I know that as parents, we should be encouraging our children to step out of their comfort zones and try new things. Yes, I agree it is good to challenge them to go beyond their perceived limitations, but I wonder, shouldn’t we also respect their individual personalities?
In the case of my son, I have come to understand that he is HAPPY to just do the things he is comfortable with. Is there really a need to push/ cajole/ force him to do things against his will?
The first time I mused about this was when I realised he was probably an introvert. You can read about that blog post here. Since then, I have been more sensitive to his preferences, respecting who he is as an individual and trying my best not to impose my opinions on him.
Take his recent birthday celebration as an example. Cristan turned 6-years old on 11 June. I had planned to celebrate the occasion with a little weekend getaway to JB to check out the Angry Birds Activity Park. The indoor playground would have trampolines, shooting games and other fun activities that I thought he would enjoy.
However, when I told him the plan, he vehemently opposed it! He kept saying he didn’t want to go. At first I thought it was because he might not like Angry Birds. Upon further prodding, he said that he actually didn’t want to go anywhere for his birthday. He just wants to stay at home, and in his own words, his perfect birthday will go like this:
“In the morning, play toys. In the afternoon, watch TV. Dinner, we will have steamboat, and at night, eat cake!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the simplicity of my little munchkin. At 6-years old, he is old enough to articulate his wishes, and this is what constitutes a perfect day for him!
Despite several other suggestions, he was adamant in sticking to his plan. So we respected his wishes, and let him do exactly as he wanted on his birthday. After all, isn’t a birthday all about making the birthday boy happy?
But hey, this outgoing Momma here ain’t gonna let the homely birthday boy get away without doing anything FUN. So we also planned a nice day out with the godparents to the Children’s Biennale at the National Gallery, as part of the birthday weekend.
And of course, not to forget a birthday celebration at his preschool!
So what do you think? Is it ok to raise a kid to become “just a normal guy”? Or should we be instilling ideas in our kids that they can achieve grand dreams?