Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happiness

These days nothing makes me happier in life than seeing my boy smile. He smiles easily and at everyone when he is in a good mood. That makes whatever crappy day I'm having significantly better. I am prone to melancholy and depressive moods sometimes but these days I snap out of it the instant I come home and see him. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I owe him a good and happy childhood just for that.

Like every parent I want to give my boy nothing but the best. I am trying to save as much as I can so that his education in the future will not be compromised. The important thing is that I am here for him when he needs me and will support him in whatever he wants to do in life. That will be worth more than packing him off to an expensive boarding school and hoping he comes out a genius.

My father spent a fortune on my siblings and I growing up. There are four of us and we were all sent to international schools to study and then on to universities abroad. A good education doesn't come cheap as we all know. If you have four kids like my father you're talking about millions. I wonder how he managed it.

Now that I am a father myself, I'm trying to figure out how I will be able to afford to give my son what my father gave me. I certainly wouldn't be able to send him to an international school although it would be nice if he gets an education that gives him a global view of the world that a local school here won't provide.

My wife says it doesn't matter if we can't afford it. An alternative would be to send him to a good Chinese school. I am all for that since he is half Chinese and the level of discipline and achievement in Chinese schools tend to be better than the national Malay medium ones. It would also be an asset for him to be able to read and speak in Mandarin.

All this is rather premature. He is now only 15 weeks old. Our job at the moment is to make sure he hits all the developmental milestones and is a happy boy. Growing up happy is important. How you condition a child during his childhood will affect him for the rest of his life. I wouldn't want him to be a cynical and downbeat person like me. It is like having an albatross around your neck.

At the end of the day education starts at home. Some parents may send their kids to the best schools but if their father never took the time to read them a book or inspire them to learn by making it fun, then it is all for nought. The kid will just sleepwalk through school and have a piece of paper with exam grades to show for it when he graduates. The joy of learning will have passed him by. I'll have to make sure that doesn't happen. Ironically, that won't cost me a thing at all. Just a bit of time and effort.

I have heard people say children owe their parents for bringing them into this world and taking care of them. Now that I have become a parent I totally disagree with that. On the contrary, I owe my son. He doesn't owe me a thing because I wanted to have him. He didn't have a choice in the matter. So it is my job to teach him how to read and write well, play the guitar, swim, kick a ball and whatever else I can offer him. Providing a roof over his head, food on the table and a decent education shouldn't even be mentioned. That is a given.

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