It was one of those life changing moments. Those that you never see coming and then – WHAM! – your life changes forever.
A few weeks ago, I recieve a note from my son’s school saying that they will be putting him and his cohort through a 3-day Adam Khoo’s motivation and study workshop, SuperKids. I was invited to attend a parent’s workshop on the third day, during which they will share with us what the kids have learnt. And that, we as parents would be able to continue to reinforce the principles and better support them for the upcoming PSLE examination – the big one.
I am always supportive of my children and will try my best to attend every performance, workshop, parent-teacher conference and briefing. So I signed the consent form to say yes, that dear husband and I will go.
Today came and there was a schedule conflict, with a church meeting which occur at the same time. We were both needed in both places, so as usual, we splitted up and each took one event. Dear husband went for the church meeting and I went for the parent workshop.
At first the workshop begin quite innocuously. With a fairly humorous facilitator, Amin, the session was conducted in a light-hearted manner but addressed messages that were very important. It was a bit warm and very humid in the school hall as it was not air-conditioned. I looked around, the parents attending the session seemed bored and no one was taking notes. Although I felt a bit conscious about taking notes, I was never one to shun away from curious looks. So I took down the important points – some from the slides that was shown and others from anecdotes and stories that were shared by Amin.
Points covered were as follows:
What does it take to be successful in learning? Attitude and Skills.
What are the challenges faced by students? There were many!
What is the reason for studying? For self and for the future
Leaders Live with 100% responsibility
Aimless Exist, blaming others, complaining about situations, and making excuses
Encouragement from parents help with self love and self esteem in kids
Then, Amin asked the kids if they have a goal, a dream that they wanted to attain. Some wanted to be doctors, others business owners and one girl wanted to be a teacher. My son stood up when asked if anyone wanted to be a business owner. He bravely stood up and told his friends and all the parents present that he wantedto start a software company.
Hmmm…I thought to myself, that was something that I did not know about.
Then Amin proceeded to demonstrate with a simple game how easily distracted we can all become, how easily influenced we all can be. He told us to follow his spoken instructions, touching shoulders, ears and head. He then increased the speed and in one instance instructed us to touch the shoulders but touched his ears instead. I will be lying if I said I did as I was told – when Amin touched his ears, I subconciously also touched my ears even though I quickly correct myself and touched my shoulders. His point was if we can be distracted and influenced, so can our kids.
Parents set examples and kids watch and learn. If we do not participate 100%, committ 100%, then how can we expect the kids to do so?
Okay I got the point.
Then the session went on to talk about:
How we should rename failures as learning experiences
How when things don’t work, change your strategy
How if we don’t pay attention to our kids, they will look for attention elsewhere
At this point, I thought, most of these things I know and even practise most. I am doing good.
Amin proceeded to talk about how encouragement affect our kids and why computer games were so addictive. He shared that encouragement given by parents should be frequent and specific. Parents should never be sarcastic or do a comparison with other kids. He turned the tables and gave an example of how a mother would feel if she were told the food she painstakingly cooked was not tasty and cannot be compared to her sister-in-law. Wow…that touched a nerve!
Whenever I felt frustrated with my son, I would push all his buttons by being sarcastic and comparing him with his sister. I was ugly and argumentative and such confrontations never end well and always in tears. I suddenly realised that this workshop was for us parents but not just to share what the kids have gone through but to appeal for our support and encouragement in a more positive manner. This was a cry for us parents, to committ, to change, to support, and to be completely and utterly 100% in this very important relationship.
In a daze, I listened to:
How emotions are important
How choices have consequences
How Visual, Auditory and Kinestatic learning is important
How the kids drew Whole Brain Notes, that is, Mind Maps
How to talk to your kids so they will listen – Being Positive, Power of Praise and Accentuate the Positives
Then Amin showed us a video on the Hoyt father and son. It brought tears to everyone who was there. I wept as I felt the parents’ devastation in finding out their son has celebral palsy, how they ignored the doctor’s advice to put him in an institution and took him home, how they supported him unconditionally and helped him to learn to communicate with a computer and most importantly how a father ran hundreds of races just to help his son feel freed of his handicap.
I started to question myself – Am I 100% committed to this relationship with my son?
Then came the climax of the workshop. The kids were asked to stand up on stage and talk about how they felt after these 3 days. My son, my first born, put up his hand and went up on stage. I was so emotional I forgot to record it for dear husband! I managed to get the second half with my iPhone but my hands were shaking and I was crying openly by then.
“Hi my name is Chong-Yu and I am from 6 Confidence. I want to thank my parents. My mother and my father worked very hard for us. I have 3 other brothers and sister so I know it is not easy. Even though they cannot buy me iPhone and iPods, they always give 100% to me and I want to thank them. I love you.”
As the kids went up to stage to talk about their feelings one by one, the raw display of love and gratitude touched me in very unexpected ways. I was sitting in the front row and did not turn to see the reactions of the other parents – but I felt their pride, love and overwhelming emotions as they experienced this open sharing.
At the end of the session, the kids were told to hug their parents and showed them the notes they wrote for them. I hugged my son and read my note. I was really proud of him. They closed the session with a song, “If we hold on together” and an encouraging address from the principal.
As we walked to the car together, my son told me that it was meant to be a surprise for me to see him go on stage, and how nervous he had felt. I praised his efforts and told him how well he spoke. He asked me if I was proud of him. I told him that his father and I will always be proud of him. Most importantly, as Amin said, he should be proud of himself. The smile and peace on his face I got in return was priceless.
The 3 hours I spent was most meaningful and certainly open a window of understanding between myself and my son. I have always known that Chong-Yu is a very special gift from God and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to be his mother.
“Hi my name is Sam and I am Chong-Yu’s mother. I want to say how much I love him and how proud of him I am. I also want to ask for his forgiveness during thetimes that I was not 100% committed to our relationship and I pledge to do better in the future. I also want to thank him for allowing me to be his mother. I love you, son.”