My Mum, My Cham­pion

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Relative Values -

SHI-AN TELLS US THE BEST PARTS ABOUT BE­ING KHENG HUA’S DAUGH­TER.

It’s tempt­ing to give your kids in­struc­tions or do ev­ery­thing for them. But you have to let them learn to be in­de­pen­dent. Shi-An first trav­elled with­out us when she was eight. She went to Prague with her school to com­pete in an in­ter­na­tional choir com­pe­ti­tion.

There were strict rules to min­imise con­tact be­tween par­ents and kids: We couldn’t visit their ho­tel rooms and could only see them at com­pe­ti­tion events; we were only al­lowed to make one short phone call to check on them at night.

Yu Beng and I thought, ‘Wow. Our eight-year-old is go­ing to look af­ter her­self and all her be­long­ings.’ But things turned out fine and she had fun. When the par­ent vol­un­teers told us how they’d asked Shi-An to turn her dirty panties in­side out be­cause she’d run out of un­der­wear on her last two days, I told her, ‘That’s a great life les­son!’ When Shi-An went to Pri­mary Six, all we told her was that it was an im­por­tant year and she’d have to study. She’s a good stu­dent though not a straight-A one; she had tu­ition for all her sub­jects.

So I thought, ‘She’s pres­sured enough. The last thing she needs is for the peo­ple she loves to make it harder.’ Through­out that year, we took her on many short trips – three to four days at a time – so she wouldn’t re­mem­ber her P6 year as only about cram­ming for ex­ams. I want Shi-An to al­ways be in my life and I’d like to keep our doors to each other open. But I don’t ex­pect her to tell me ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially when she finds some­one she loves. That spe­cial some­one would be more im­por­tant to her. And I would be a hor­ri­ble mum if I ex­pected her to re­main as close to me – I want her to en­joy her own life too. Be­ing with Shi-An makes me feel re­laxed. I try not to feel stressed about what kind of mother I want to be, and just go with the flow.

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