Monday, April 16, 2018

Birthday wishes for the newly minted adult

Lesley-Anne celebrated her birthday last week. This wasn't just any other birthday - it was her 21st. She didn't want a big fuss, so she just planned a small birthday party at home with a dozen of her closest friends from Yale-NUS. For the sake of their privacy, I'm not showing the pics of her friends here.

There's something very surreal about your child turning 21. I know every birthday is a reminder that your kid is growing up fast, but 21...what this means is that your baby is now legally an adult. You will still worry about her, nag at her like she's 12, but the fact is that she no longer needs your permission to do anything and in the eyes of the law, is now fully responsible for her own actions.

I was reflecting on this and it came to me that while this is a major milestone, the journey towards adulthood is not a sudden occurrence the day one turns 21. I sometimes hear parents scold their kids, "You have to listen to me now! When you're an adult, you can do what you want." And I've also observed that the more controlling the parent, the higher the chance the child is going to choose to do the exact opposite of what the parents want the minute he or she can.

The truth is that 21 is just a number. Your child doesn't automatically become mature or responsible on this magical day. The kind of person you child has become on this day is an accumulation of all the years, experiences and events leading up to it.

Too often, parents are so caught up in the academic rat race that we lose sight of the fact that we  have a hold on our kids for only a very short time. I take the view that our kids are not ours to possess, but entrusted to us. How do we fulfill our duties as parents? Do we strive to bring up trophies to glorify our own needs? Or do we raise good human beings able and willing to bless others and make the world a better place? Do they give more to society than take from it? Do people around them give thanks for their existence? In short, are they valued as human beings? I can safely say that in life, few people give a damn about your grades or your achievements. What matters more is whether you're a good friend and person.

I know that many consider Lesley-Anne to be very accomplished for her age. However, her family and friends who love her appreciate her not because of her accomplishments, but because she is a simple, compassionate, sensible and intelligent girl with an admirable work ethic. I don't want to take all the credit for it - as I've always maintained, there's such a thing as free will. People are not robots and two people raised the same way can turn out every differently. But if we have in any way, been an influence in the kind of values she embodies today, that makes us glad that we have played our part as parents.

Happy 21st birthday, dear Lesley-Anne and may your light continue to shine for all to see. 😘😘

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6


Anonymous said...

Wah happy 21st BD, Lesley-Anne! Big girl liao ah! =))))
Love your mesg, Monica - so inspiring!

p/s: btw, the rainbow cake looks great - where is it from? =)

monlim said...

Thank you for the kind wishes, Grace! The cake is from Their rainbow cake is very good, prices not too exorbitant and free delivery above $70 :)

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