Earlier this week, on the way to school, you started humming along to Sting’s “An Englishman in New York” on Spotify.
But instead of “New York”, you later replaced it with “Bedok”, a town twice removed from where we live, and at least two million times removed from the Big Apple herself!
When I asked you why you didn’t replace it with say, Pasir Ris (our town), or Tampines (the adjacent town), you told me “cos it sounded better, so there!”
And you know what? You’re right! Aside from the obvious fact that both were double-syllabic, there’s actually a certain soundness to the tune with your version.
So daddy can only say: “Way to go C! You’re better at this than me.”
But it doesn’t stop there.
These past few weeks, I’ve started slowly noticing something (cos your dad’s slow on the uptake lah!). You have been able to respond to questions or remarks in ways I’d not heard before from your drool-wet lips. You even started using bigger words like “surrender”, and used them correctly too!
Not that I’m belittling your range of vocab my son. But you have to admit you rarely venture beyond the few words you typically recycle again and again.
And, since your areas of interest are so niche and specific (toy vehicles, road works and Paw Patrol being your current top faves), you rarely respond in tandem to our conversations. Always boomerang-ing to those same areas, leaving us “stranded” and picking up the pieces of what we had hoped would be engaging, reciprocal chit-chats.
So yah, I’m chest-thumpingly proud of you now, seeing new sides to you I’ve been secretly hoping you would show.
There was a time…
Three months ago, I wrote an “advance” blog post about your 10th birthday, which happens tomorrow (yeah!). In there, I spoke about how I struggled to celebrate this milestone when, even now, you still behave more like a five year old.
I’m sorry son.
Daddy struggles to figure out how to get past my misappropriated expectations of you, despite knowing just how special you are. I want to blame it on traditions, culture and societal norms entrenched since forever.
But I should know better.
I should know that you will blossom at your own pace, and good things can’t be rushed. Yes we can suggest and nudge you to push your own boundaries. But in the end, we can’t do the growing and developing for you.
That’ll happen when it happens. Through a combination of nature taking its course, and you making a deliberate decision to grow and change.
Meantime, while doing the “gentle nudging”, I must stay cool, calm and patient even if my efforts come up short, and the outcomes don’t meet my goals for you.
Ultimately, I must “love unconditionally”, two words with a lot of heavy and demanding implications behind them.
And I do love you unconditionally my son. Really I do.
Since that last blog post, I’ve tacitly stepped away from obsessing over your first double-digit birthday celebration, and how you should behave in such-and-such a way as to be “aligned with other normal” ten year olds.
Such archaic thinking!
As people always say, your chronological age shouldn’t define you. They say age is after all, “just a number” (although the people who say this probably haven’t hit 50 like your dad did half a year ago; so they don’t realise it’s more than just “a number”!).
It’s that kind of fixation with numbers (yes even saying “age is just a number” is still a fixation) that’s hurtled this world into one of endless jostling for pole positions; a world that’s created many stressed-out individuals, corporations, governments and societies!
Son, let me say it here and now: I’m not gonna do that to you and me. Our relationship is far too valuable for these stupid compare and contrast antics.
So here’s wishing you a happy birthday C, no matter what the number!
Loving you to the ends of the moon and back,