I brought some new clothes home for my mum yesterday. Like an excited little girl, she tried them on quickly and stood before the mirror. Her smile turned into a frown. "It has nothing to do with the clothes, it's just difficult to look good at my age."
"You look fine mum!"
To me, she is always beautiful. Sure there are days when she can look so gaunt from her ill health, but in my eyes, she's the sweet old mum with a girlish face, albeit now lined with age.
Then we settled down for a chat, an activity that we both enjoy immensely. When I updated her on the kids' progress in school, she suddenly exclaimed, "Imagine if you were a Tiger Mother like Amy Chua, YK would surely excel in school. He can even be a doctor!"
Well, I'm not sure about that. You see, I can never be a Tiger Mother. First of all, my kids aren't exactly cute little cubs that I can push around. It's not easy at all to replicate Amy's teaching methods (not that I agree that her methods are correct). It takes a hell lot of discipline and sacrifice on her part to raise her 'perfect' cubs.
I've always believe in giving my kids space. Instead of making them sit for hours practising the piano or math papers, we were out chasing butterflies and building sandcastles. While my best friend's kids were reciting the multiplication table, mine were breeding caterpillars and shrimps. Though we are best friends, our priorities are quite different.
Today her kids are doing very well academically. Thanks to their parents, they are very accomplished. They scuba dive and ski, and even though they are excellent swimmers, they're still taking lessons (for more than 10 years already) under a national coach.
When we were on a vacation in Thailand, one of her sons refused to go scuba diving. He was moody and wanted to stay on board with us. Maybe he was feeling a little seasick like us but after much persuasion and pep talk, he donned his scuba gear reluctantly and went into the water.
My kids felt sorry for him and were relieved that I've not given them that kind of pressure. Sometimes I wonder if I had started them on the right path. I have been told that I'm too lax with my kids and that my old methods no longer work in today's competitive environment. I'm surrounded by too many Tiger Mummies in Singapore!
In a way, I am glad my kids are already in their teens. While they aren't exactly the smartest kids in school, they are good in other things. One thing for sure, the passion for their hobbies has pushed them to acquire a lot more knowledge outside the school textbook.
Such knowledge and experience might not help them score marks in school, but will surely come in handy in the school of life. And that is ultimately what matters most.