Sometimes I do feel that being a mother is the same like running a Corporation.
You set a target for your family for the year, perhaps a healthier resolution (that’s when you try in vain to shovel a bowl of rainbow-coloured salad topped with some hard boiled eggs and crabsticks made of fish fillet down the throat of your 9–years-old who has just listed allergy-to-greens as her newly discovered disorder), a financial goal (cutting out all the unnecessary splurge because instead of “lusting” for Prada you now buy disposable diapers that are more “lasting”) or better KPI (including ensuring that your 11 years old pre-teen’s conversation is not peppered with an annoying overdose of “I am like…”).
Except for a few privileged ones, we are all running a very tight ship where the winners are parents who despite the limited resources, managed to bring up God-loving and respectful children who would one day chart their own course in the rough sea of life and champion the talents and inner gifts within them to good use that will help them live an independent, fulfilling and successful life.
It is sad to note that over here in Asia, the parental pressure on their kids to achieve the BIG success is starting to look like a pressure cooker reaching its superheated temperature where the family’s first and last dinner conversations always centre around academic achievements. Heck, even the morning embraces before the kids go to school are bantered with the usual line of “Study hard, son!” instead of a genuine, loving greeting to start off the day with a smile. The never-ending comparison between their children’s academic performance among social circles is starting to make all of the constant bickering among the reality TV stars of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills who are antagonistic to each other looks really pale in comparison.
It is not wrong to set boundaries and even a certain expectation for our children. A wise person told me years ago that children raised without discipline is akin to letting cars traversing on a highway next to a steep slope that are without any barriers — dangerous and erratic. Children thrive under the safety wings and protection of their parents. But raising up children focusing only on academic achievement based on societal definition of success will only make children function like the steam in a pressure cooker waiting to escape through the wrong means of outburst.
I am fearful of my own parenting journey because no one ever knows what becomes of our children until they reach there twenty years from here. And if there is anything I pray most often of, is that of making sure that I do not make so much mistake that they will turn out in the opposite direction of where I want them to be. I want them to be really happy, God-fearing, responsible and kind-hearted and that’s all that there is to my parenting goal. I may not be able to give them a privileged childhood but I try my best to give them richness of happy memories that hopefully can last a lifetime. Things like craft sessions, silly experiments, meals cooking, picnic, playing and even baking together are worth every second of our time instead of expensive tuition and enrichment classes.
One of the craft things we have done regularly at home is in making our very own home made salt dough for lots of kneading and imaginative fun.
You can get tonnes of such modelling dough recipes from the web, but I find the one from rainydaymum the easiest and fool-proof. To make this safe, easy-to-make dough:
1) Prepare 1 cup general purpose flour + ½ cup salt + ½ cup water.
2) Pour salt and flour into a mixing bowl.
3) Add the water slowly into the mixture and knead until they are soft and pliable. Do add a bit of water if the mixture is too crumbly. If it is too sticky, add more flour instead.
4) Have fun kneading the dough into whatever the kids fancy.
As such we never take it to the next step of baking. If you want, you can also shape or cut into shape with cookie cutters to make ornaments for fridge magnets, jewelry and holiday decorative items. You can then dry it in low heat in an oven for 2 hours or within minutes in a microwave oven. Paint the creation and finish it with a coat of gloss and your little Picasso would have created their very own masterpiece that they can be proud of!
6) We also let the older kids freeze the unused dough in a plastic bag and feel the cold, harder and dried texture after a few days. Sometimes we let them add water and other ingredients found from the kitchen and see what will happen after that. A little imagination adds that much more fun and dimension to a simple arts and craft project for the kids.
Parenting is a humbling journey because believe it or not, much as they come out from the same womb, our kids are not cookie cutters of the same kind. Some can count before they know how to talk, some are Picasso in the making. Some reach out their hands to shake that of their peers on the first day of kindergarten, and some cry through the first year. Some find instant connection with the outdoor sports and won’t hesitate to go on their first flying trapeze; some take one year to learn to ride a bicycle.
Our role as parents is to spark that imagination and the love for learning that will culminate in positive attitudes towards life. When they grow up, they may not remember what they actually learned from the classroom, but surely they will remember what joy they had playing with just flour, salt and water with their mom over those many beautiful rainy days.