Saturday night at NTUC Marine Parade, one toddler was screaming her head off. Her mother and older brother stared helplessly, as she continued screaming even as her mother plugged a pacifier into her mouth. The middle age folks, like me, queueing at the cashier must be glad that part of our parenthood is over.
Babies are the easiest to parent. Firstly, the novelty of having a new baby somehow compensates all the inconveniences of sleepless nights and diaper changes. As long as they are well fed, they are quite contended to leave you alone. My 5-months-old nephew, Sebby, is case in point.
Parents of school-going kids are a little more stressed, like my sister, who has no time for leisure as she busies herself chauffering her kids for school and extra curriculum lessons as well as supervising my Montessori-schooled niece in Germany with Singapore published assessment books. My friends in Singapore are even more stressed as they have to cope with the dreaded PSLE.
I used to think parents of teenagers deserve the most sympathy. Teenagers give the most headaches and heartaches to their parents, so much so that there are dozens of books written on how to deal with them, and a comic strip, Zits, providing a humourous take on that. True, there are also plenty of books about parenting babies and children, but one would think as the child matures, the job should get easier and parents won’t need any books for guidiance but that is clearly not the case. The power struggle becomes more intense as teens assert their rights to independence, even as they are still wholly dependent on their parents for shelter, food and money, just don’t interfere when it comes to late nights, grades and computer usage or BGR.
I don’t think so anymore. Now, I think parents of adults still living at home are the most pathetic lot.
Just over the past week, I had to remind my aunts that their kids are working adults, eligible for voting next year and my aunts should cut their apron strings and just grant them their freedom. My aunts hate it when I remind them that i was already married at 23 and a mother at 27. In their eyes, their kids are still in uniforms and Bata shoes, even if they may be downing magaritas at Zouk at 2am.
I do understand my aunts’ worry about late nights and too-often date nights. Health issues aside, there is the matter of trust. Think about what the parents of the girls involved in the Jack Neo’s saga must have felt. One woman interviewed in the New Paper was quoted saying that she wouldn’t know where to hide her face if one of them was her daughter. How about the parents of Maia Lee, the celebrity blogger who gave birth to not one, but two illegitimate children with different men for her parents to look after.
As my own teenagers approach adulthoood, i often remind them to spare a thought for their parents in whatever they do. Be safe. Respect a girl. Don’t bring me shame, I nagged. So far, they have been quite considerate, keeping their curfews and calling me whenever they think they are going to be later. That will probably change as they gain financial independence and like the advice I gave my aunts, I’ll need to learn how to let go.