One of my blog followers who is also a friend asked me out of the blue, why I haven’t been blogging for almost 2 months. I looked at her and said, “I have been crazy busy, babe!”
“Oh like you haven’t been!” she teased.
“No, serious, I am standing right smack in the middle of the circle of life…”
“Like Elton John’s song huh?”
“Yes, like I am in a jungle. I have a busy job, a high-schooler, a primary kid and a pre-schooler. Imagine the number of school activities, homework coaching, ferrying to-and-from and parent-teacher interactions that I am trying to juggle now together with Daddy Joe. May be Sir Elton John was dedicating this song to ME.”
“Really? Cheeky Koko is in high school now and Baby B… already in a kindergarten?”
“Yes I know, right? Time flies in supersonic speed! I don’t know what I fed my kids but somehow they have started growing up! Cheeky Koko is now 13, have a wee bit of facial hair and much as I am quite tall, he is growing as tall as me NOW and it’s suddenly about me scolding him looking upward which is just AWKWARD!”
“Uh-huh. Sounds like you are not ready to deal with parenting a teenager.”
“Absolutely NOT. He was just a baby yesterday! Oh and few months back when I heard the first crack in his voice out of a sudden, and I mean, like overnight… I thought alien invaded my house!”
As my friend laughed at my dramatic but completely honest sharing, my mind travelled to the tensed moments I felt just over a few months ago when Cheeky Koko was preparing for his UPSR exam, which is the compulsory Standard Six exam all 12 years olds in Malaysian government / public schools must sit for that will determine the kind of high school they get to go to for the following year.
Despite having told myself countless times that my decision to send him to a Chinese primary school was purely to instil the good old moral and piety-driven family value in him and not at all about the stringent learning process and the pursuit of excellent academic performance that which underlie our education system, I turned into a tensed mom doing just what I didn’t want to do in the few months leading to the exam.
That tension of realising he would not be able to do as well as I thought as I observed that more and more, he was not slogging at his study desk as I have expected him to was met with angry words from me, and his streak of rebellion of turning to tablet games whenever he was stressed with his studies created a red sea that divided my boy and me.
In fact, I lost count on the number of nights on ends when silent frustrations made both of us walked back into our own bedrooms without the usual mommy-son embrace and goodnight exchanges. If I did press for it, I would get a cold goodnight, ma in a Zombie dead tone from my first child who is usually the funny bones in the house.
I don’t think I ever grew up and grow old wanting to be competitive in my spirit. I always feel that every child has his or her own potential and gifting that would one day be a calling for greater things in his chosen path but somehow in those moments I lost sight over how small this exam was as compared to the many tests we will eventually face in life.
It was more like I was frustrated with my own inability to instil in him to be an independent learner. I was frustrated that he wasn’t studying the whole day when he was facing such a major exam. I lost sight over the simplicity of what it means to be a child, that being carefree was his God-given entitlement.
It didn’t take long for his day care teacher, an elderly lady in her 60s, to notice that Cheeky Koko was losing his smile and confidence over his studies and advised me to find a way to walk to him, fast. Finding the right words to mend our relationship was tough when I couldn’t even think straight how I should encourage him when I could not find the peace within myself to be the encouraging mom he needed the most at that time. I sat down that night and wrote him a 5-page letter that reaffirmed my love and confidence over him and explained to him that I wasn’t seeking straight As from him. I was merely trying to find my way back to being the best cheerleader mom who wanted him to believe that he could reach the sky if he gave his best in everything he does in his life.
A month later, my Cheeky Koko sat for his UPSR with a lot of cheers from us, his papa and mama. And the week that he sat for his exam? We ate pizza and cycled together because we knew he has put in his best in that one month. He scored quite a number of As in the end and some Bs. Not that it mattered anyway, because it mattered that much more that he regained his sunshine smile and joy as he now ventures into teenage-hood and settling down in his high school life.
Mothering is tough work. Don’t be surprised that I am soaking up books on parenting a teenager. After all, I am standing right smack in the circle of life where every day does feel like a jungle of crazy joy, except that I now learn to cherish and embrace it that much more.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/awyatt/2974216341/”>awyatt</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>