My third child is going to Primary One tomorrow (3 January 2017). She is thumb-size small (see picture here showing her wearing a "gown" of the smallest-sized uniform. It's supposed to be just knee length).
I have taken the day off for the occasion. No, she doesn't need me to be around - she's quite independent and well-adjusted in K1 and K2. Moreover, her mother will be with her. She is the world to her like the sun.
In that constellation metaphor, I am just a distant hovering moon - only visible in the evening when I return from work. But notwithstanding being a relatively hands-off father, I applied for leave tomorrow not so much for her but myself. I am giving myself a break.
If you think this write-up is about the throes and woes of sending your beloved crib incubatee to her first day of school, with worries/anxiety of adjustment issues and tears galore, where you as a parent sneaks around and camouflages yourself as the school notice board or blends in with the trimmed bushes just so that you could catch a glimpse of your little darling's many firsts - that is, first queue, first ordering, first seat with others, first munching without the parent coaching her the art of eating, swallowing and digesting in proper dosages - well, guess again.
But for those teary parents with interim separation anxiety, today's papers entitled "It's OK, mum, it's just the first day of school" by freelance writer Denise Lim is just for you. Denise, mother of three, has sound advice for you about "letting go and letting others (take over just for that few hours)".
She has many helpful tips for first time parents, and on lingering after assembly time, she wrote this: "...some experts recommend that not hanging around may actually help the child settle in faster. Keep your goodbyes short and sweet, they say, then will yourself to walk away."
Well, in the coming age of Trump, experts, statistics and facts are so overrated. Better to rely on our own overly protective parental instinct right?
So, for me, the day off is, well, for me. I need to occasionally remind myself that there is a bigger world out there in this goals-pursuing world I am immersed in. It is the world where I can make a small lasting difference, and live a life I will be proud of when my time too shall pass on earth.
Here, I am reminded of Psalm. It says that children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. They are a reward from the Lord. So, blessed is he/she whose quiver is full of them (the last part would be ideal for our govt's baby bonus promotion - imagine an inspiring poster showing a chivalrous archer with a backpack full of them arrow heads. At times, it would indeed be a joy to just shoot all of them off in one stroke and empty that quiver in double-quick time).
Alas, this metaphor is apt to describe us as warriors because we all know that the only demilitarized time for us as parents is when they are sound asleep. The battle cry starts in the wee hours of the morning and ends only when the spirit of mischief leaves their tiny little body.
But, I have sidetracked. And yes, on a more serious note, they are indeed like arrows in our hands. We set the home example of where we want them to go, that is, in the direction we hope for them to grow in. This is not to dictate their life or impose on them, but to support them in their hopes and dreams.
And I think that that Psalm verse talks more about us parents than our beloved offspring.
Imagine an archer (that's us). She must first ready herself by adopting a stance - an upright one (that's being their moral compass). She must hold on to the arrow firmly and position it on the bowstring (that's guidance, support and encouragement). She must draw the arrow to her eye and against her cheek (that's focus, devotion and passion). Then, she whispers to the arrow and releases it (that's allowing them to set their own trajectory of growth and maturity).
As parents, after the release, we will always be watching, praying and hoping for them. And as I send Joy off tomorrow, I know she is in good hands. Not perfect ones, but hands that love her. Hands that will always be there for her. Cheerz.