Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fatherhood - Reflections II

Continuing where I last left off.

My kids are 18mths apart. That's very close in age. The boy was born in the month of September, while the girl was born in the month of March. Now, if like me, you're a fan of Malcolm Gladwell, then you know where I'm getting at with this blogpost. In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm writes about "accumulative advantage", where he asserts that success depends on the idiosyncrasies of the selection process used to identify talent just as much as it does on the athletes' natural abilities.

In my case, the boy, who's older, was born on the tail-end of Singapore's academic school year, while the girl, is in the front-end. As such, I can already see that even though they are academically two years apart, their learning curves are vastly different.

The boy is in a class where all his peers are bigger, stronger, maybe smarter, and faster than he is, as they've got quite a few months on him. Does this affect his confidence? Does it affect the way he reacts to challenges? I'm afraid so. If everyday in school he's made to think that compared to his general cohort, he's slower, weaker and smaller, then this will not be good for his future well-being. As such, I constantly debate with myself over how best to constantly compensate for this (up to 9 month) differential against his peers. Since kids are going to keep growing till their early 20s, the early years are the most crucial in getting them the confidence to grow up with greater ambition, confidence and assertion. It is a challenge that I constantly think about.

The girl, in direct contrast, is in a class where, even with a slight lag to allow her to be in a class where her peers are around her age, she's the one who's bigger, stronger and louder than her peers. In fact compared to many of the boys, my girl is almost gargantuan (I love this bit). Does this affect her confidence? Does it make her more assertive and decisive? You bet so. She's louder, braver and fiercer than almost all her peers (we celebrated her last birthday in school). Heck, even compared to her older brother, she's maybe smaller, but far more confident, assertive and brave. She's not afraid to take risks, get into gung-ho situations, or tell any older kid or adult off ("NO MUMMY FOR YOU!"). So I don't worry about her development so much. I just want to make sure that I'm there with her every step of the way as she grows so that she can be properly guided and to use her confidence and exuberance wisely. It is such a gift to have.

For the boy, I do worry more on a consistent basis. Despite being older and bigger, he can be timid, unambitious, and fearful. One who rather shuns away from a problem or an intimidation than face it head on. One who remembers his fears and restricts himself from trying new things. One who is easily content with little achievements. But he, like his sister, is a very smart child, and I am so blessed for it. I want to make a difference in how he grows up, how his life is shaped, and how he reacts to his own life experiences, both the good and the bad. I want to do all the stuff that rips away all his fearful inhibitions and instill into him a confidence I know he is capable of.

I must make it clear that I am not disappointed one bit. In fact I'm so proud of both my kids. Every little bit they achieve is like a game treasure unlocked, every success in their life is celebrated as much or even more so by me. But while I still can, I want to make a difference in how they grow up, and how they choose to live their lives. Hopefully it will be a long and fulfilling one.

God bless them both. I love you so much!!!

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