(image: Courtesy of Sushmita Mohapatra)
I have a fear of missing out on “growth” opportunities for my 3-year-old son.
And, when I saw a new TV series called How To Raise A Super Smart Baby, it didn’t help.
Before I headed out on the mommy journey, I had no idea how much a child’s world had changed. But, a child today needs to know a lot – and quite early on! In fact, experts say that the learning countdown begins from the day your newborn is placed in your clumsy, nervous arms. And the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from birth through age 3 – are crucial in shaping how he will learn for the rest of his life.
Of course, I found out about this only after my son’s first 1,000 days were completely over! What a pity that I had spent those first few months of motherhood just learning how to keep myself sane, through sleep deprivation, while simultaneously revelling in the absolute joy of being a mom. It seems that I should have been playing with flash cards and teaching him colours and shapes instead.
I realised I have a lot of catching up to do. And, of course, there’s a whole world of enrichment in Singapore. First, I had to find out where my little boy’s interests lay. Easy? Ah, no! It is tough to figure out what interest a child shows when he can quite delightfully spend hours throwing the television remote from the coffee table. Bowling, maybe? Basketball?
Then, I tried the other approach: focusing on his areas of growth, including cognition, motor skills, social and when-did-we-start-knowing-about-them skills. If you’re like me, and in one or more of Singapore’s many expat groups, you are in for some interesting conversations as you navigate the island’s plethora of kid activities. From the let-them-grow-at-their-own-pace-minded parents to those who complain that their child “can barely do any Maths at age 3!”, the concerns are as varied as the nationalities.
Some calm me down while others make me wonder if I am missing out on opportunities to help my child identify and grow his skills. What if he is destined to be a chef (he is quite a foodie!), but I fail to recognise it and never register him for a Sunday baking class? So, why this frenzy? The packed weekends? Somewhere, I believe that every parent’s aspiration is that his or her child grows up to be a prodigy (in case you’re interested, there are prodigy identification programmes right here in Singapore!). And I am that parent some days, too.
But, I don’t really want the rat race to begin just yet, not for him or for me. Till then, I’ll keep wondering how to ace it all, while also trying to keep it real. Join me as I sing: “A is for abacus, B is for ballet, C is for coding… F is for ‘freaking out’…. S is for singing, T is for taekwondo… Y is for ‘you got to be kidding me!’…”.
By Sushmita Mohapatra, From The Finder Kids (Vol.23), July 2018
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