Saturday, August 01, 2009

Six inches of time and 20 centimetres of parenting left

Son's piano teacher tells us that he has "lazy fingers" and should consider playing the organ. Is he joking or what? Dunno.

But some time back he brought to my notice my son's tendency to "swap fingers" and I blogged about it here.

Then he organized for us to go to his church where he is organist for son to try out the organ (here). The conclusion was son is a 'natural' on the organ.

Okay. What do we do? It's good news, but let us not be rash about anything. My feeling then was: thankfully we still have six inches of time. Son was too short to reach the pedals and we will just carry on with his piano and clarinet.

He's had a growth spurt. First he was tall enough for us to despatch with the car booster seat. (We highly recommend Freecycle.)

Then last week even other parents started telling us that he had "shot up". His mate who has been much the same height as him suddenly looked small.

I measured him a couple of days ago and he is 20 cm short of my own height.

That means, O yes!, I have a mere 20cm of parenting left to do.

While discussing parenting teenagers, etc, with my ex-RGS girls in Singapore and elsewhere in the world, I came to the conclusion that a mother's parenting duties should be completed by the time a child is her height.

I cannot imagine looking up to a stroppy teenager a head taller than me, myself with a finger wagging, going, "Now, you listen!"

What if you are short?

Short mothers have short children, so short mothers do not necessarily have a shorter time to "parent". Don't fret.

In my case I have a tall husband and so our son seems to be growing tall at a much faster rate that I did. Then how? (As we would say in Singlish.)

Husband steps in. He would still be towering over the son for some time. But son will probably overtake him in due course.

Which, if you have been following my posts inspired by Steve Biddulph, fits in with the idea that fathers must take over as the 'main parent' at some point as sons grow up.

What about parenting daughters?

Girls tend to grow slower, according to my little red book issued at the birth of my son. So mothers can parent daughters for a little bit longer. Including those crucial puberty years when they get self-conscious about their body, their first bra, etc.

Then -- I imagine, so don't quote me -- it is very nice to have dad around to show them how boys (men) view the world -- girls, women, sex, marriage, etc -- which is also much needed by a teenage girl.

That, I think, is why God designed children to be made by both male and female. Unlike some animals which become more or less independent soon after birth, human babies require an extraordinarily long period to learn about being adult.

It is us parents who must help them into their adult years.

What if children only have one parent?

I think one way around this is to seek the help of good friends, a brother, a sister, to help play the part of the missing parent.

So I have 20cm of parenting left. So help me God.

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