Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Keeping the Right Focus


Out of the many precious lessons I have learnt as a parent, I must say that keeping an eye on my kids’ future is one that keeps coming back to me. Over time, I discovered that parenting is more than just meeting the physical and emotional needs of our children now, it also entails planning and praying for their future. Therefore, whenever Clarissa or Joseph faces minor setback eg failing in school exams or poor performance, I would subconsciously put on my binoculars for the future and try to see what I hope to achieve or rather, they could achieve and work backwards from there. It could be rather daunting at first but it sure puts things into perspective for me.

Recently, Clarissa did poorly in her exams, in particular her Chinese. Although this is nothing new as kids too could have their ups and downs in their school work, I would still spend a significant of my time evaluating what went wrong and how I could have help her better. This exercise quite often drew me to the conclusion that the wrong emphasis is being practiced in our present education system. At P3, her level of Chinese and Malay are frankly, way beyond what should be reasonably expected from a nine year old; in contrast, the level of English taught, as quoted by Clarissa, is “only marginally more difficult than her kindergarten!”

As a result, like most parents, I would like her to excel in her Chinese and Malay but unlike most parents, I wouldn’t want to place undue pressure on her by either sending her to more tuitions or giving her more workbooks as I am convicted that ultimately, English is more important. There are thus two value systems at work here: I expect both my kids to master the English language at a level that is higher than what was taught in school; at school, the teachers expect them to have strong command of Chinese and Malay.

The above exercise reminds me of what Paul wrote in the scriptures:-

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corin 4:18

As much as I tried to practice looking into the binoculars for my children’s future, I should also try to fix my eyes on things that carry eternal values. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan


A few weeks back, the History Channel broadcasted a documentary about how wicked the Japanese were during World War II. At that point in time, my aunt from Canada was visiting. So, there we were, Clarissa, Aunty Audrey & I, watching the gruesome program at the edge of our seats. As expected, Clarissa started to ask what torture meant, how were the Chinese tortured, how hanging could kill a person etc. Aunty Audrey did most of the explaining as accurate as she could and even added that much more barbaric actions were conducted than those documented, such as de-skinning! I could barely took in such information without shedding a tear or not feeling some resentment against the Japanese.

Fast-forward 4 weeks later, the Japanese is now facing its greatest crisis after World War II. My heart really went out to the nation, who is encountering disaster after disaster. When the earthquake first siezed the country, I told Clarissa about Japan. “I know as I have heard it from Shara (her cousin) at Boys Brigade.” She said matter-of-factly. “Don’t you feel sorry for them?” I asked feeling surprised, as she was normally more compassionate than this. “Why? They were wicked people, remember?” she replied.

I was ill-prepared for her response. I had wanted to tell her about innocent kids becoming orphans overnight as the Tsunami had swept away their parents; I wanted to highlight that many lives had perished, close to 10,000; the entire Japan is facing a crisis like never before. However, all of these tragedies were displayed during World War II except that the role was reversed. Clarissa understood the documentary on the History Channel, World War II and its implication.

Now, I need God’s wisdom to teach her about forgiveness and being compassionate to others, who may or may not be deserving, as only God could be the ultimate judge. We are called to love and forgive even when it hurts us to do so. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mean what I pray


Every night, I prayed with Clarissa that she would grow up to be a God fearing woman, who serves Him, and I meant every word that I prayed…at least, I thought I did.

A few days ago, I was looking through Clarissa’s homework. Apart from the unusually difficult Chinese, she had to juggle with the unreasonably high-standard Malay being taught in her school. At home, I would encourage her to read English books and write English essays. For a nine year old, I thought that having to cope with 3 first languages was quite a mountainous task. To make matter worst, we don’t speak a word of Malay at home. Therefore, she would have to literally memorize every Malay word that she learnt in school. One big chunk of my heart really goes out to her.

However one day, she told me excitedly, “Mum, I have been selected to distribute food vouchers in school!” At the back of my mind, I thought she was already doing enough for the school by being the cleanliness officer in her class. This meant that she would be spending almost every recess in her class, with little or no opportunity to play in the field. “What? But you are only distributing the food vouchers for your class right?” I asked, without sounding overly bothered. “No, I am actually distributing it for the entire school!” May I add here that her school comprises of 18 classes, sprawling over three buildings, one of which is three-storey high! The food vouchers are distributed to students who come from poor family background and entitled the bearer to free meals in the canteen.

“Where do you find time to do this and how long would you take to distribute all the vouchers?” I asked worriedly. “Well, I do it during my Malay class and unlike my friend who took 40 minutes, I took only 20 minutes!” she replied proudly. “What? You are already struggling with your Malay, now with 20 minutes less Malay a day, you are bound to have difficulties!” I couldn’t hide my dismay, much as I tried. In fact, I began to rehearse at the back of my mind, my lines to her class teacher to persuade her to appoint someone else for this duty. “Oh mum, don’t worry! I have everything under control! To ensure that I don’t miss anything, I would ask my classmates upon my return. Moreover, I think I am down to do this only twice a week.” She replied reassuringly.

For the next couple of days, I struggled with this. I just couldn’t bear the thought of my poor girl running around the school with food vouchers in her hand, and missing Malay class. Finally, this morning during my quiet time, I felt a still small voice telling me “Fee, why are you sad that Clarissa is serving me? Do you think that it is more important for her to obey you or for her to do what I have chosen for her?” I felt ashamed that I had forgotten that Clarissa was in fact doing a meaningful work. Without food vouchers timely delivered, the underprivileged kids would not be able to enjoy their free meals. Afterall, I should learn to release her to do God’s work as I have prayed daily. Thank you Heavenly Father for your timely reminder. 

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