The shrill delight in my youngest son’s loud declaration reverberated across our home yesterday morning. C was emphatically reminding us that it was Children’s Day in my land. Yet for some nebulous cosmic reason, what actually came to my mind when I heard him was a voice from another land instead.
Or should I say, “The Voice”!
For those living under a rock, that’s the famous vocal talent show in the US that sent the other once-famous vocal talent show “American Idol” packing a long long time ago!
“This is The Voice!”
Since its kickoff in 2011, there are two seasons of The Voice every year. The show resumed last month for its 21st season, with live audiences for the first time since Covid.
Now just to be clear, I only watch the initial Blind Audition rounds that kick off each season, not all the way to the finals. (You’ll understand why in a moment)
In those initial rounds of the audition, each contestant steps on stage to sing for four celebrity judges (called coaches) whose backs are turned. Each celebrity must decide, based purely on vocals if they like what they hear. If they do, then before the song ends, the celebrities must hit a buzzer for their chair to spin around so they can see who’s singing.
I love that moment when the chair spins and the contestant’s eyes gleam! For the singer knows when that happens, he or she is through to the next round of the competition. What’s interesting is, if more than one celebrity spins the chair around, the contestant has to pick one to be his or her coach for the next stage of the competition.
Okay, I get it. You’re not getting why I started this post with Children’s Day but quickly deviated to a singing contest. Am I planning to join it or sing for my kids?
Please bear with me a little longer and let me explain.
“Close your eyes, and I’ll kiss you”
In Season 18 (Feb 2020) of The Voice, one lovely and surprisingly mature 18-year-old Joanna Serenko from St. Louis, Missouri did a unique rendition of a classic that brought the house down. She got all four celebrity coaches (Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, John Legend, and Blake Shelton) to spin their chairs around for her.
She eventually chose Nick to be her coach, after he made a spirited last-minute appeal for her to pick him.
What’s that? Which classic you ask? It was the famous Beatles’ hit “All My Loving” which debuted back in 1963. (Please don’t tell me you don’t know who the Beatles are — cos then you most definitely live under a rock!)
Serenko’s laid-back, jazzy, soulful version brilliantly showed off her unique vocal talent in her performance. It prompted coach Kelly to say it sounded like “a record you want to listen to on, like, a rainy day with a glass of wine”!
(Okay, I get it. Go ahead, click here and watch that performance now if you must. I’ll wait)
Alright. Got a fix on what I’m talking about now? Cool right? As far as I’m concern, Serenko totally remastered the original and gave the Beatles a run for their money!
But it also made me revisit the lyrics to that song. And how it aptly expresses my thoughts as I watched my firstborn celebrate his last Children’s Day yesterday.
For next year he turns 13, an age most agree represents the transition from child to teenager.
“Tomorrow I’ll miss you”
It’s hard to put into words how a parent feels when his kid grows up and moves from one phase of life to another, needing the parents lesser and lesser with each successive year.
For 12 years now I’ve had my firstborn J with me all the time; when he’s not in school and I’m not at work. And I’ve been the go-to guy for almost everything he needs. He still does now in many ways.
He still asks me whether he should wear long-sleeve PJs to bed on nights that feel slightly chilly.
I’m still the parent who can best ‘enforce’ the end to his screen time with my baritone “daddy-knows-best” voice.
He continues to pay close attention to every word I say and mimics me whenever I make comments about the characters we watch on TV or in the cinema. And yes, I’m still his favorite companion to go to the movies with.
But starting next year, he’s moving into new territory: secondary education. He’s going to take on more subjects, meet new teachers and schoolmates, dive into new activities and most of all, find his own two feet and gradually become more independent.
More importantly perhaps, he’ll no longer “qualify” to celebrate Children’s Day anymore. (In my country, only kids 12 and below get a school holiday on Children’s Day)
Though still some way to an empty nest, my fragile stay-home-parent of a heart is already starting to feel like someone’s slowly chiseling at it, breaking it apart bit by bit!
“Remember I’ll always be true”
Alright, not going to turn that corner into despondence here. There’ll be time enough for that later.
Right now, as his dad, my priority isn’t planning how to celebrate the next Children’s Day for sure.
It’s how to help J transition into the teen years.
I know many before me have warned that the “terrible twos” are nothing compared to the “terrible teens”!
Well, I’m going to try and reject this paradigm. Not because I’m naive, in denial, or unrealistic. I’m respectful that despite the fact that every teen on God’s green earth is unique, there are commonalities too like acne and pimples, pop culture, and boy-girl relationships, not to mention authority-defying behavior to moderate.
So I will still dutifully take under advisement all these cautionary tales from my predecessors.
However, I do believe it’s possible to head off much of the heartache parents before me have white-knuckled through; if I look at each stage of J’s life as a passage.
One that takes us both from one stage of growth and development to another.
We just need a lamp and a map to guide us through what first looks like a dark and dingy tunnel.
Rites of passage
So starting with this new stage of life as J transitions from 12 to 13, I’m going to stay close and connected to him. Even as I start planning, researching, and executing some rites of passage rituals for him (and in another couple of years his brother C).
A good model to start with might be the ancient Jewish tradition of bar mitzvah which is specific to boys who turn 13. Others would be stuff I picked up from other sources, like my go-to podcast for all things fathering DadTired that guides bewildered fathers like me on what to do.
Shall blog more about this in future posts, but take heart for now that at least this daddy-oh has a plan in mind! (*shoulder pat*)
Hmmm…wait a minute. Children’s Day ended yesterday, so technically it’s already over. My C is no longer talking about it, busy as he is now with the two toy buses we bought him for the occasion.
His older brother J has definitely moved on too, busy today with assembling his lego collections and playing Roblox.
So why are the following lyrics of The Beatles’ other classic hit playing on repeat in my head now??!!