Saturday, August 11, 2012

Getting sappy over an empty nest.

Lately, I have been really sappy. Freaking out over the looming empty nest. When our butterflies emerged from the chrysalis and flew off few days ago, I feel so hollow. As hollow as the empty chrysalis. Maybe it's the hormones. Maybe I am just plain emo... :P
But I think it also has a lot to do with my young man officially turned 15 on Thursday. Time really flies. Freaky fast. In a few years time, he will be on his own.
I think your first child will always have a special place in your heart. At least, mine do. My first child help shape me as a parent.
Luqman is very lucky. When we had him, we had nothing. Mr O & me just started work. We literally survived paycheck to paycheck. We had zero balance in the bank. The blessing was there were very few distractions for him. Luqman spent his 1st few years of his life without TV. His only entertainment was books. And a book worm is born.

He's also my only child who was exclusively breastfed. Despite my mom's and my late MIL's skepticism, and my inexperience as a first time mother, we did it.

And we were lucky enough to find a Montessori nursery with a very passionate teacher. Usually they didn't take babies and toddlers. But they made an exception to him because they were relatively new and there were very few kids. Not only he had their full attention, he had the privilege to grow up in a very stimulating environment.
Just the way I like it ;-) I guess when u are stubborn enough, and u really believe in something, things will happen the way u want it to be.

Anyway, we have been thinking a lot on his future. He has decided to be homeschooled next year. Actually, we will unschool him. I have learned from Emily this year, any attempt to bring school into home will most likely result in disaster. We'll just let him chill and explore his personal interest. It's like a gap year. We'll give him maybe a year. Or two. Or three. I don't know. We'll go with the flow. I have no idea whether he will find his calling by then. But I hope I would have given him enough time, exposure and opportunities to stimulate his mind to figure out his place on this earth.

Academic wise, Luqman has always been average. Of course we know he can do better. But his result has always been average. None of my kids go up on the podium very often on prize giving days. In fact, very2 seldom.

On parent-teacher's day, we will get generic comment from the teacher.
"He can do better. IF he put more effort"
I heard this again and again. Year after year.

While other parents enthusiastically listen to the teacher's dissecting and analysing their kids academic performance, Mr O & me would have to listen to teachers telling us about Luqman being punished in class because he accidentally blurted out swear word,
OR Luqman forgot to get us to sign up some forms, again and again until teacher gave up, and teacher has to pass it personally to me,
OR Luqman refused to tie up his shoe laces, coz "Teacher, I like it that way"
OR Luqman came to his PMR workshop with NOTHING....not even a pencil or a pen or that folder that the teacher painstakingly prepared...coz he think everything will be crypted in his mind.

U get the drift right? It's those stuffs that may sound cute and hilarious to u, even the teachers think his antics are cute.. but they made me and Mr O wonder..should we laugh? should we cry? *facepalm*

Most of the times, we'll put our best poker face.

These stuffs used to stress the hell out of me. I think he lacks motivation. Which worries me crazy. I always asked myself, when is he going to buck up?? Should I intervene more? What if he'll never buck up???? Does he ever give a shit about anything?? Anything at all???
This year has been a steep learning curve for me. Homeschooling Emily get me connected with inspiring people. Inspiring will probably be an under statement. I thank God everyday for the blessings. I have learned so much from this people. People that believes every child is a genius. Every child is different. Every child develop at their own pace. Every child WILL eventually bloom. It made me take one step back and think deep on my current parenting approaches. It helps me see my child differently. It helps me discover my weaknesses. It makes me redo my vision for my kids. It's much simpler now. And it helps me chill with Luqman.

Once I took one step back, I realize my teenage son do have motivation. On things that matter to him. I just need to observe harder. And nag less. And I will start seeing the making of a great man. He will push himself, even without us telling him. Like in art. When we asked him to join the T-shirt competition, I see his determination.
So maybe it's not so hopeless after all eyyhh?? ;-) For his birthday, I bought him this book.
He's been bugging me for weeks to buy this book. It's important for him to improve his drawing. For the sake of doing better in what he likes doing. And this is important to me. To have passionate kids. Who's driven by the spirit of improving themselves. Not by money or fame or people's expectation. At this point, I have no idea what is the use of him perfecting his drawing skills. Apart from being the unofficial artist who have to draw whenever his class need something to be drawn, or vandalising grandpa's wall...I had no idea. But I have no problem with that.
I still remember a very interesting conversation between Hajar and her Tok Ayah (my dad). One fine morning, after the Fajr prayer my dad asked her.

D; Hajar, what do u want to be when u grow up?
H; I want to be a wildlife biologist
D: What's that?
H; Errr...they work with animal. Maybe....(struggling to get her Tok Ayah to understand) something like animal doctor
D; Err...why not become a human doctor?
H; Errr...(sheepish smile)
D; How about Emily?
H; She wants to be a baker or a chef.
D: Huh?? Like that, no need to study lah. Just learn with nenek.
H; Errr....(another sheepish smile)
D; How about Medina?
H; She wants to be a zoo keeper.
D; Whaaaattttt?? (Tok Ayah started to istighfar.....hahaha)
H; Errr....(quietly making her move to my room)

She later told me, I have to scoot off Ummi. Coz I know he will start asking about Luqman next. And I don't have the heart to tell him Luqman just want to draw comic.

My dad is a typical Asian parent. Who think u are only worthy if u r a doctor, lawyer or engineer. And your worth increases if u have big bungalows and expensive cars. To have all these, u must go to uni and get a degree. Then u will be safe.

I have been doing a bit of research about the kids' tertiary education. If they choose this route. The more we learn, the more convince we are that it's so important for kids to have character and substance to succeed in this new age. U can see this everywhere. Just look at the mushrooming of enrichment centre in this country. The amount of money parents pay just to enrich the kids is absurd. Few weeks ago, when we attended the talk organized by the US alumni groups, somebody was talking about setting up an academy to train the kids to ace their university application. At a whopping $8,000 per year. And I will not be surprised to see a long queue of parents applying to enrol their kids into the academy. Just to make sure the kids get into Stanford or Princeton or Harvard or Yale. I was like..." Say whaaaaattttt??? That degree fro Stanford can't even assure them a job u know. Not to mention happiness in life. U can still graduate from Harvard and end up jobless.

Mr O & me have made a conscious decision to follow the less traveled route. We will just do it our way. The organic way. The cheaper way.
Unschool them and let them explore the world. Let them fail and learn. We will not put our kids in the pressure cooker just to get a cookie cutter version of zombie kids whose life is devoted to school, homework and exams. It might sound irresponsible to some people. But to us, it makes perfect sense.

Spiritually, he's making progress too. I think the turning point for him was attending Twin of Faith last year. Religion suddenly look relevant to him. Don't get me wrong. My kids are not the type who jump excitedly every time they hear they need to attend another camp or another lecture. They go to secular school. They listen to Maroon 5 and Linkin' park. They watch How I met your mother. So they are not that holy.

I still need to do a lot of coaxing and brainwashing and nudging to get Luqman to agree to attend the recent youth camp. In fact, I need to do that every time I want them to attend any religious events.
But the great thing is, my kids always oblige. Eventually. So far. And once he get there, magic will happen. The moment he started talking about the sheikh and stuffs that he learned from the camp, I know he had fun. I know I had done the right thing.
I am a strong believer of the importance of exposing kids and teenagers to seek knowledge. Can't emphasize that enough. Make it a family culture. It reinforce seeking knowledge & life long learning as a culture.
It also tell the kids that we as parents are not perfect. We are learning too. And I have learned that it helps u tremendously to answer all those awkward teenagers question. At 15yo, Luqman has asked me all sorts of questions. Questions that neither me nor Mr O have ever dare to ask our parents.

What if I smoke?
What if I make a girl pregnant?
What if I found out I am gay?

I might not be able to answer all his questions perfectly. But bringing him to all those lectures does help as the speakers cover diverse issues. It's so important to me my kids understand these issues from the religious point of view. And in an open minded manner.

My only goal for the kids is for them to be happy. Have a good heart. And be useful. One day, Luqman told me a story.

Me; How's your day?
L; Hmm..OK. Oh, I make a girl smile. (sheepish smile)
Me; come?
L; There were 2 birthdays today.
Me; Hmmm....
L; One is so popular everybody is going after that person. The other one, is so not popular nobody wish her.
Me; So?
L: So I sing her a birthday song.
Me; what exactly do u sing to her??
L; I dunno..some crappy stuffs I made up...Happy birthday to u...u are 1 year closer to death...1 breath away from your last...happy birthday to u....
Me; Seriously??
L; Yeah...but at least I make her laugh ;-)

Story like this makes me feel good. It tells me my kids have a good heart. It tells me at least I have done something right. Sometimes, we as parents are so hard on ourselves. From time to time, a pat on the back will be good for the soul. My soul ;-)
BTW this pic is from Hannah's camera. 
Hannah, sorry, aunty took the pic without your permission from his FB. 
I don't have many decent pictures of him. This one is nice :P

BTW, happy birthday dude. We are very proud of u. For being just the way u are. Be good. Make the world good. We know u will, love.


  1. Salam. I've always been your silent reader and faithful follower.

    This post was beautifully written!


  2. Salam Khairina, terima kasih ;-)