I’m blessed with two amazing boys and like most parents, want nothing but the best for them. But many a time, I’ve imposed my will and disregarded whatever wasn’t profound or apparently beneficial because I wanted my sons to fit in so that they wouldn’t miss out on life’s opportunities.
At the age of 5, my older son began to show more interest in cooking and baking and was quite keen to help out. But I was more or less concerned about his safety so, usually asked him to leave the kitchen. He’d pull a long face and sometimes, ask why. Naturally, I had a good answer, still, he was not convinced and became more inquisitive.
Eventually, I let him mix a few dry ingredients for pastries, rinse tomatoes and when finished, instructed him to sit and watch from a safe distance. However, I preferred he explored other energetic activities. He should be searching for spiders, running around and perhaps, smashing accidentally, some of his brother’s toys. My child had to be a typical boy and not excited about kneading bread, watching cakes rise and asking about the difference between curry and thyme.
Soon, God overlooked my ignorance and granted my wish. The week my son commenced Year 1, I hurriedly signed him up with the football club. This is what he should be doing, exercising those muscles and embracing a significant phase in his life, I thought. In no time, he would be rugged, boisterous and acquire some serious athletic skills like his mates and all thanks to mummy dearest.
But after few lessons, my son was tearful and asked to quit. “Lai-lai! You must play ball!” I said. I saw it as a sign of weakness and encouraged him to work harder, enjoy the game and reach for the sky. My efforts were unfruitful as nothing changed. Every Monday evening, my son would return from each lesson, looking unhappy, with squeaky clean boots and zero bruises on his knees. I wondered why until I happened to catch a glimpse of one of the lessons.
He stood away from other boys, looking disinterested and sad while the rest were enjoying the game. It was evident he wasn’t having fun, so there wasn’t any need for the pressure and especially not from me. At the time, the thought of quitting seemed unfathomable, but now, it’s really okay plus his enthusiasm thrived in what he enjoyed most.
Today, we have more fun in the kitchen, and he’s much more than a spectator. Now and then, he plays football but mostly during break time. Also, he understands why I add chicken stock to my stew, marvels at my moi-moi making skills and once made an impressive meat-pie, so his curiosity is well received.
Therefore, not all boys have to be good at football, and quite frankly, life has so much to offer which is easier to appreciate when it’s not perceived with a stereotypical mindset.