Recently I received a call early in the morning from the supervisor in Aden’s school. Since that was pretty much a rare occurrence, I knew something bad had happened.
So, during the Racial Harmony Day celebrations that morning, a boy from Nursery 2 had scratched Aden’s face.
Ordinarily, the LAM and I are not the kan cheong (overly worried) type of parents. We understand that when a bunch of young
hooligans kids get together, accidents are bound to happen, and a scratch or two is merely a by-product.
This time, however, we were both so upset (as this was the second time something like that had happened within a pretty short space of time) that we made a trip to school to have a chat with the supervisor regarding the issue.
Our main concerns were (1) did our son provoke the attack; and if not, (2) why did it happen?
After finding out that not only was the attack unprovoked – the culprit just thought it was fun to hurt someone else – it was committed by a boy who, minutes before, had been separated from the rest of the kids because he was often unruly, very rude, and is prone to bouts of violence.
All that aside, the LAM and I were dismayed to discover that when the boy’s mother was contacted, all she could offer were excuses such as, “My child tends to be a bit violent because his Daddy often has pillow fights with him.” and “I do not know how to control him.”
How does one have an offspring, and then decide that disciplining that offspring is not his/her problem because it is simply too hard? Then whose problem does it become?
The problems caused by this child have become so bad that the supervisor and teachers in the school spend quite a large amount of time every day segregating him from the rest of the kids. When he is allowed to be with the other kids, they have to keep an extra close eye on him, just in case. Time that could be spent interacting with the other kids is wasted on trying to ensure that this one boy behaves himself.
But what can the school do? At the end of the day, the teachers will simply try their best. If too many incidents were to happen, and too many complaints resulted from these incidents, the parents might be asked to move the child to another school. The problem for the school ends, but how does the child benefit? The answer is that he cannot, and he does not.
By shirking her responsibilities as a parent and failing to discipline her child, this parent is effectively not teaching her child to get along with his classmates and friends.
And we all need to learn to get along with others. This is one of the fundamentals of happiness for human beings. There cannot be happiness if there is constantly discord in one’s life.
I read an article some time ago which talked about how all parents ultimately just want their children to be happy. They avoid scolding or punishing their children for fear of making their children unhappy. At the end of the day, what they would have brought up are adults who are so self-involved, so lacking in basic social skills that they end up being unhappy all their lives and that is the complete opposite of what the parents want and hoped to achieve right from the start!
In Aden’s case, he is now three-and-a-half and is starting to find his sense of self. This means that the LAM and I have to teach him what he can, or cannot, do. Unfortunately, a lot of times he ends up throwing a tantrum because he is not allowed to have or do what he wants. It breaks our hearts every time we have to be tough with him and tell him no, or to dish out punishments when he had been bad. But we do it because we are his parents, and we are all he has.
While the LAM and I cannot guarantee that Aden will definitely have a happy life, we can at least try to teach him the skills so he can try to have one.
It has been slightly more than a week since the incident, and while the scar has somewhat faded, and the boy’s parents have finally written an email to the LAM and myself to apologise for what their son had done, Aden has yet to hear the words, “I am sorry” from the boy who had scratched his face. At the end of the day, the LAM and I have to conclude that we can only do what we can for our own children. Much as we feel sad for this child who has not been taught to say “sorry”, there really is nothing we can do.