One Beautiful September Morning

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, September 4, 2012 7 comments
In a couple of days, my younger boy will turn 14. And, in a couple of years, he will be leaving home for his further studies, presumably in music. Indeed, the last 14 years have been glorious years because of the goodness, blessings and lessons I have learnt just by being his mother. Take a look at my younger son when he was two months old and me 14 years younger :-).

Nick makes me laugh out loud when I am feeling melancholic and when I am angry, he makes me acquiesce with his gentle and seemingly repentant responses. In his entire life, he has only been rude to me about three times and has only raised his voice at me once- during a very serious showdown over the tiniest disagreement. I was the guilty one because my hormonal changes can sometimes make me fly off the handle easily.

When I was carrying my older boy, I prayed for him every morning when I drove from my home to Uplands International School, then located at Kelawei Road where Paragon stands today. I prayed for the gift of music, intelligence, artistic qualities and many other stuff and neglected praying for his character development.

Eight years later when I was carrying my younger boy, I prayed for all that I had prayed for his brother PLUS positive qualities in his character, patience, kindness, a love for God, the ability to pray moving prayers that could tug at heartstrings, for him to sleep right through the night and never to wake up for midnight feeds :-) and much more. God has been good for He answered every single prayer and indeed, Nick slept right through from day 1 whereas his older brother woke up at least three times through the night for his milk.

My dad took care of him in the daytime when I was a full-time staff at college. When driving home from my dad's place each afternoon, I would sing oldies and he would just sit quietly in the baby chair and look at me. By the time he was two, he sat in the back seat and sometimes stood at the back, holding on for dear life to the head rest of the passenger seat.

One evening, I was singing Petula Clark's "Downtown" when we were driving along Jalan Mesjid Negeri. I still remember that afternoon so clearly. It was right in front of the Spastic Children's Centre when I sang the first verse of the song "When you're alone and life is making you lonely,You can always go ...and at the pause my younger boy sang "DOWNTOWN". I nearly braked in shock because his timing and pitch were perfect.

I turned to look at him and he was smiling and gloating with joy as if to say, "Hey Mom, bet you did not realise I could sing, ya?"

So I continued singing..."When you've got worries, All the noise and the hurry Seems to help, I know, again my boy sang "DOWNTOWN" at the correct moment, in the correct pitch and with that cheeky "oh yeah mummy I got it right again mua ha ha look."

For the rest of the song, he knew just when to come in with DOWNTOWN and it became our theme song for many weeks till we moved on to other songs! It was on that fateful afternoon that I realized that my son, like his older brother, has perfect pitch and the gift of music in his life. And, I knew that it would not be a surprise if one day, like his older brother, he would choose music as his career path.

My beloved boys - 1998 November

Even though I lecture and teach young people, I have never taught my younger son. I did drive my older boy crazy with my unreasonable demands, especially when I discovered that he is a gifted child. Upon realization that such close monitoring did more harm than good, I never taught or supervised my younger son's studies. I left him to grow on his own like lallang. He surprised me because he is no ordinary lallang as he really thrived on his own! To date, I have only checked his bag three times - once in kindergarten, another time in Std 4 and once last year when he was in Form 1. I only send him for BM tuition, music lessons (piano and violin) and squash training for I believe the most important value I can impart to him is how to be responsible for his own life and that includes his studies.

He could bathe on his own when he was 15 months old and also ate independently then. Seated in his high chair, he needed a table cloth on his left and a paper napkin on his right. The table cloth was to wipe his spills and his napkin was for him to wipe his mouth! Yup - he was and still is a neat and tidy boy. :-)

From the time he was 4, he packed his own school bag, got ready his own lunch box and water bottle, washed his own school shoes, did his homework independently, learnt his maths on his own...he learnt his multiplication tables and division, fractions on his own without my guidance.

All I did was to put a stack of books which I bought from US for my older boy and I told him..."Nah...maths books for you. Your koh-koh did it and you can also do it. Except - you have to do it on your own, ok? Ask if you don't know." He irons his own clothes, started cooking when he was four - first with the microwave oven and then the grill, and then how to cook Chinese dishes, how to prepare muffins and cakes and even Hokkien Mee and Sarawak laksa!

I am deeply relieved that he learnt Maths on his own. He also learnt how to read independently after I taught him the alphabets and a bit of phonetics. Unlike his older brother, Nick was never one who played with toys but he buried himself in books, books and his matchbox cars, jigsaw puzzles and all kinds of puzzles including Sudoku. Everyday, he would bring some books for me to mark and these ranged from English, BM, Maths and Science, even composition. He was only four then. I never knew that he had read so extensively on his own for he would be reading in the playroom quietly. One day, he asked me for other books. So I said - there's plenty in the playroom - many shelves of the junior library including classics. He stunned me by the revelation that he had read them all. Of course I did not believe him and I asked him to tell me the story of about six books I selected randomly. Needless to say, it was a piece of cake for him!

Through the years, I had collected a sizeable collection of educational materials sourced from US, UK, Australia and Singapore and indeed Nick made those investments pay for the knowledge he acquired has been amazing. He devoured my junior library and now, he is devouring my books. At the moment, he is reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. And even before he has finished the book, he told me yesterday that the next book he will read will be Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". Thanks to his fantastic reading habit, he participated in the Spell-it-Right Contest. Nick only watched a bit of tv when he was young and I guess that is why he is alert and a thinker. Whilst I have to encourage my students to read, for Nick, I have to tell him NOT to read so much for fear that his eyesight may deteriorate. He has books hidden everywhere and reads even when he has exams! After serious reading, he will 'revise' his Tin Tin or Asterisk collection and his beloved Mutiara Naga series.

While other teenagers hanker for expensive laptops, mobile phones, nice clothes and other gizmos, my younger boy is different. He has very expensive taste. :-( There is only ONE THING in this world that he has been asking from me for the past one year...and I know, I can never afford it. Even if I could, there is no space in my home for it.


My son wants a grand piano!!!! No kidding. When he first asked me for it, I thought he was joking so I told him that there is no room for such a huge contraption. He then gave a lecture about how we do not need this and that and what could be given away to an orphanage or an old folks' home to empty the dining room - so that the grand piano could be placed there! Sighs...

Yesterday, while driving him for his piano lesson, I was overcome with emotion at the thought of me being in an empty nest and alone at home because Nick would have left for further studies and Jon would have settled down happily and my husband would be away at work. As expected, I turned emo and cried...and moaned this and that and this and that... Nick is quite used to me in this state and never fails to make me stop crying.

I turned to him at the traffic light and said, "Nick, mom will miss you when that time comes...I love you very much...Do you have anything to say to me, son?"

His hilarious response: "Yes, mom. Please drive faster or else I will be late." That did it. I regained my composure and drove him safely and speedily to his dear teacher's home.

I know the time will come when he will have to leave home. There are still a few more years and I am bracing myself for it. When my older boy left for his further studies, I cried everyday for seven months because I missed him so much. I still miss him everyday and even thinking of him brings tears to my eyes.

God knew best when He gave me two boys as I have quite a strong character and am not the type to suffer the nonsense of little girls. Yes, I know I was a little girl once upon a time but I was not like any little girl for I was not the cry-baby type and made other girls cry *grins*. I was not and still am not the vain type and only wore dresses during Chinese New Year or for wedding dinners. I grew up in shorts and t-shirts and am growing old in the same fashion :-). I hated dolls and had the time of my life playing with guns, cars, trains and toy soldiers, climbed trees, played with marbles, kites, tops and cycled with the boys. If I remember correctly, my favourite toy was a policeman's beret and a matching baton. :-) I know if I had had daughters, I would have turned them into tomboys like yours truly. The time will come when I will be a grandma one day. And I know I will spoil my grandkids rotten till my boys will cry "Unfair, mom! You never let us blah blah blah" but I guess that is the circle of life. For I saw it happening with my dad and my kids and I know it will surely happen to me.

Whatever it is, one thing is for sure. If I had had Nick first, I would have had four or even five children. It was not easy to be a mom for the first time and I made many mistakes with my older boy. Thank God he still turned out right. Jon used to say that he was the guinea pig for my parenting skills and Nick is getting the best for I have reaped the dividends for my earlier efforts. Also, being a mom is like making pancakes. We mess up with the first one and the next one gets better. I see it in so many families - how the parents go all out with the first one...and then with the next, they are more and more relaxed.

I love both my boys very much and I really hope that when I die, Nick will take over my blog and write. To be honest, he writes better than I do. His perception and style is simply unique for he has certainly read more than what I read when I was at his age. Here's something that he wrote for me at the beginning of this year. I just asked him to write a short story - it had to be as short as possible with a punch at the end. He took about 15 minutes to finish it.

The Museum 
written by Junior Wordsmith-in-the-making

As I stepped out of the taxi, I was stunned by the serene surroundings of the museum. I stood there silently inhaling the fresh air. Shades of pink on the jade blossom trees seemed like a make-believe wall protecting the museum. 
When I opened the giant ornate door of the museum, gleaming light flashed into my eyes.

Oh! How I cried in pain! Just for a moment, I tried to open my eyes. When I did, the rows of statues before me changed my mood from terror to bliss.
Slowly, I placed my hand on the cold stone statue. It was a beautifully carved minotaur which was easily double my size. I never really believed in Greek mythology until my eyes met that of the statue.

The sculptor probably felt the same way I was feeling. That feeling transformed itself into a simple question which really had no answer. Did they ever exist?

As he turns fourteen this Saturday, I really pray that God will bless him with all that he needs and most of all, a music scholarship to study abroad for his ambition is to be a conductor! Here's a recording of his latest performance with the Musica Sinfonietta at the MGS 121st Anniversary Dinner at Straits Quay Convention Centre on Aug 25th this year. He plays the first violin in the orchestra. I used my handphone cam to record this clip and I was seated about 20 feet from the stage. Take care and God bless you and your family!

7 comments to One Beautiful September Morning

  1. says:

    cin2tan 'Hormonal changes' !? ...biniku has started them 12 L O N G years ago !

  1. says:

    Cat-from-Sydney Nick! How you have grown. Happy Advanced Birthday, Nick! May you'll grow handsome like me. har har har *evil laughs*

    Brad the most handsome

  1. says:

    walla for your boys, there's a whole world out there:

  1. says:

    UP41 Ha Ha Ha !

  1. says:

    Shadower Hi MWS

    What a wonderful piece of writing. And great pics too.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  1. says:

    Grace Beck Your boys are amazing and unbelievable. What a proud mum you are :) and ohh wait... the best is yet to come... Take care.

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Cin2tan, Angelina, Walla, UP41, Shadower and Grace

    Thank you all very much for sharing my joy and for your hand of friendship.

    I am blessed with two boys and caring friends like you all.

    Take care and thank you for reaching out during this time of joy and thanksgiving.

    Best wishes

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