Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The blessing of being

Last year, one of Andre's good friends was diagnosed with advanced bone cancer. Even as he underwent surgery and juggled chemotherapy, he insisted on attending school when he could. The school arranged for his classes to be moved to the ground floor so he could get around more easily and he is determined to sit for the PSLE with his friends this year.

Just before he was diagnosed, he had come over to our home to play with Andre and so when I heard the news, it struck me pretty hard. It's difficult to believe the active, happy child (with the most gorgeous dimples) I had just seen running around like any other 11-year-old boy should suddenly be afflicted by such a nefarious disease.

Whenever I hear of such cases, I feel like I'm being doused with a bucket of reality check. It hits home especially when it's not the vague image of some unknown, hypothetical child, but is actually happening to someone you know. It's sobering and there's always the nagging question "why them, God?" Then inevitably, there will be the chilling realisation that such a misfortune can befall anyone, which will trigger the pressing, secret plea, "please not us, God."

Because it's difficult enough being the friend of someone going through such a trial, we simply cannot imagine being that parent, having to deal with such unbearable anguish. Sometimes God's design seems so random that we're tempted to try and manipulate or bargain with Him, so that our kids can bypass all the major calamities in life.

In another instance, Andre's best friend successfully overcame leukemia as a young child and looking at this strapping, boisterous boy now, you would never be able to tell he suffered from this disorder. But according to his mother, when he encounters pain in his limbs, he would still ask her with trepidation, "is it the cancer coming back?"

It's not unusual to be moved by such experiences, particularly if the kids fight their conditions with such courage and spirit, as I've witnessed. For me though, the biggest takeaway is that of perspective. Even as we parents angst over our kids' inability to ace an exam, get into the top school or enter some special programme, there are other parents who would rejoice over something as simple as their kids being able to run, to go to school, or to live to see adulthood.

I will clarify though, that I don't subscribe to the "there are always people less fortunate than you" mentality because it implies we should not aim to live beyond the lowest denominator.

Having said that, there's something to be said about appreciating what you have. When we hear of the plight of others, it's not for us to rejoice over how lucky we are in comparison, but to pause and remember how much our kids are a blessing to us. Then we'll scream less at our kids over their minor misdemeanours, annoying habits or unsatisfactory test results because in the larger scheme of things, these blips really are insignificant.

The next time we're unhappy with our kids and think "if only...", it might help us to remember that for some parents, the "if only..." is much more basic and urgent.

Go hug your kids today.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a good reminder once again. I have been feeling anxious about my son not having time to do any revision for PSLE. He has been so busy and tired out by all the school work and supplementary classes, etc. This message once again reminds me to count my blessings that I have a healthy and wonderful kid and not to scream at him when his test results come back or to panic when he has no time to revise for his coming SA 1. Thank you again.


monlim said...

TW: You are my parent-in-arms! I've been trying to give Andre balance too, in this stressful year. I've pulled him out of most supp classes and let him go swimming or cycling in the afternoons, so he can get some downtime. Our kids are so much more than this dratted PSLE! Blessings to you :)

Anonymous said...

Feel sorry for these children, hope they get well soon and become even stronger after the ordeal.

If my child can get her perspective right, she should stop grumbling about choosing what to wear from her wardrobe daily.


monlim said...

QX: lol, your dd is really precocious! For kids, these are big decisions mah...

Linda ong said...

Hi, I just found your blog (while trying to find some recommended books for boys, my boy dislike readings, driving me crazy) and you have enriched and "enlightened" me with all your lovely and wonderful articles.

I felt sorry for the kids and was pondering that i had been very tough on my kids too, never stop screaming at them when they are not doing homework. Never really understand how they feel, only want them to have good
grade! I really have to give them A big hug! Thank you ver much.

monlim said...

Linda: You're most welcome! It's hard sometimes not to yell at our kids but at the end of they day, they're precious. So enjoy your time with them!

Anonymous said...

Lovely piece and timely reminder during the SA period. Especially for our boys. Thanks!

monlim said...

Thanks, SL! All the best to your kids for the SA.

Anonymous said...

Blessings to you and Andre too! You always give such timely reminder to appreciate our kids. Hope those kids you mentioned stay strong and fight the illness they have. Jia you!


tiptaptoe said...

I have been reading your blog since a friend pointed it out to me and since my dd was given the opp to attend the GE prog, which incidentally was the same as L-A. i keep re-reading your old blogs... reading today's one hit me right where it should. The GE for my dd has been a majorly tough route. And i keep hitting the wall with her on those projects, deadlines and homework load... its safe to say that while she enjoys the interesting subjects, she does not enjoy the amount of work that comes along with it.. and it has been a very tricky situation at home... but after reading your latest blog, all the screaming and stress on these homework/projects doesn't really make any sense... so what's really the meaning to this madness? i am still wondering....
God Bless,

monlim said...

TTT: God bless you too! thanks for reading and here's hoping you'll be able to provide the balance for your dd, to reduce the stress for both of you :)

Anonymous said...


Just read today's ST report about this girl's battle with bone cancer and it brought a tear to my eye. So sad when kids have to die so young.

God bless for this timely reminder.

Warmest regards

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mon, for this timely reminder. Unfortunately, it is such stark tragic examples that jab us to be thankful for what we already have. End of the day, we want our kids to be happy. And we should never never never forget that in the crazy rat race.


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