My Mum, My Champion
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.