The only thing standing between an aspiring child and his destiny: Parents.
As Joshua slowly approaches his 2nd birthday, there seems to be an unspoken deadline on mastering speech, self-feeding and potty training. Am I stressed about it? Damn right I am.
It probably might not hit me as hard if we are well on our way to Baby #2, or if other parents were so judgmental about my son’s seemingly slow progress. But I’m not betting on it. After all, it is in every Singaporean’s blood to be kiasu.
While I should have no reason to believe that my son is dim-witted, there isn’t much for me to boast about either. At the grand old age of 21 months, he is barely talking and does not seem to be close to completing potty training any time soon. In this competitive society we live in, of course I have my concerns.
Today, I decided it was time for him to venture into the messy dirty world of self-feeding with a spoon.
I made him a bowl of baby cereal, hoping that the sticky gruel would cause less frustration for his virgin attempt. And knowing how I would not be able to withstand the sight of the mess and how he is doing it “all wrong”, I did something I have not done for weeks; I went to mop the rest of the floor where he was not going to mess up with bits of cereal.
As I heard the clink-clank of his plastic spoon against the plastic bowl, I constantly felt an urge to watch his attempt with eagle eyes. But I restrained. I… I knew I had to give him the chance to try.
When I went to pass him his water bottle, I couldn’t help but notice he was probably getting more food onto himself than into his mouth. But hey, he’s not complaining, so why should I? He was obviously having fun and feeling mighty proud that I am now letting him be the “big boy” he always felt he was.
Then it hit me.
The only thing standing between him and his future greatness… is me. Me, and the countless other bystander parents who so enjoy imposing their views and criticisms upon other parents who may actually be great parents without realising it.
Being a parent is not about conforming to “deadlines” for developmental milestones. It is not about constantly boasting about your child’s abilities. It is not about planning every single detail of their lives for them, nor is it about making them do what is “best” for them.
It is about being there to clean up the mess after your learning child, to give a reassuring hug if he fails, and to quietly stand by the side while he explores his destiny.
How many of us had great dreams of being someone famous, only to be told by our parents that we are daydreaming and that we would never make it?
I have to stop this vicious parenting cycle. I have to stop being my child’s stumbling block and to have faith that he can be anything he would want to be.
Right now, it’s only a matter of believing that he can successfully feed himself someday soon. And start talking. And to be able to go pee in the toilet.