What I learned in school, in life, from my kids
What is the purpose of sending children to school? I believe it is for them to learn and not to validate how smart or gifted they are, and how they would rank compared to other children.
I was a consistent honor student from kindergarten until I graduated in elementary. In high school, however, the standards were high and being a transferee in an exclusive school, a province girl who suddenly moved to the city, I was not able to adjust easily. I struggled and I became an ordinary student. In college, I failed in one subject in my sophomore year and had to repeat it during the summer. That semester, I lost both my grandparents; failing chemistry was nothing compared being a failed granddaughter.
My son was an achiever in kindergarten, both academically and in extracurriculars. In grade school, he forgot the lines of a song during a school contest and abhorred singing competitions since then. His grades also did not qualify him to become an honor student.
My initial reaction was disappointment in him because as a parent, I knew my son’s potential and I always believed that he could do anything, or everything. But that was not how it works, and he too lost his confidence in himself.
Although that was years ago, I still carry the burden and the guilt of making my son feel less than he deserved. I cannot completely forgive myself, and I am disallowing myself to receive forgiveness, because I want to make penance in being a bad parent. But my son would always tell me to put the past behind us and keep moving forward, and instead make up for the mistakes that we have done by being better individuals.
I seldom ask him why he does not want to talk about the bad things that happened because there is always a lesson from that. But his answer would always be, “Naynay, kasi yung mga bad, ayaw ko na iniisip. Ayaw ko malungkot o magalit. Gusto ko happy lang.” This hit me to the core because yes, my child — every child — is free to be happy.
I was disappointed in myself for putting pressure on my son and for forcing him to do things just because I knew he was capable enough; and for the many times that he tried his best only to meet all of my expectations even if it was draining on his part. I was ashamed of myself for making him believe that in doing certain things, he was making me proud; and that children were supposed to make their parents proud. I was disgusted in myself for being too hard on my son when he should be enjoying life without anxieties, fears, doubts and regrets; and for ironically being a trigger of those unhealthy feelings.
And it made me think, why do we send our children to school? The simplest answer is because we want them to learn what we cannot teach in our homes. That apart from the usual education system worldwide, we want our children to feel a sense of belongingness in having the same experiences like any other child. But the question is: will these children have pleasant and joyful experiences creating affirmative influences that will positively nurture them for the future?
But sometimes as adults and as parents, children become our basis in our report cards in life and we are inclined to make them achievers. We make them fulfill what we failed to achieve despite our potentials, believing they have what it is that we lacked. That instead of making friends, they are implied to make adversaries because they have to outshine others in comparison. That with more achievements meant making their parents happy, happier or happiest. Correct me if I am wrong but this exists and it is not only very saddening but really unfair for children.
In the recent episode of “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” Bang Guppong said, “Children have to play right now. Later is too late. In a life full of anxiety, it will be too late to find the only way to happiness.” I watched this K-drama with my son and in this particular episode, I knew in my heart, those were exactly what he would have wanted to tell every parent.
I learned my lesson the difficult way and sometimes, remorse still creeps like a shadow, having learned it from my firstborn. Although I am grateful to him because I was able to correct myself for his two younger sisters, I still feel less of a mother whenever I think back about how I, too, had that destructive mentality.
I know that my opinion will not be agreeable to other parents and I have no intention of imposing. For me, this is my own redemption in a way; that admitting my fault and sharing it to others would help create a better world for children where my kids too are part of. That I am not saying grades do not matter but that our children have their own pace and we should allow them to grow in their own time, excel in their own choices, and live in their own will without need of validation coming from us or the society that we live in.
Children learn more from what we are and therefore we must be what we want them to be. As a parent, my only pride is for my children to become good people and always having good intentions in whatever they do. My ultimate role is to support them in everything and guide them in reaching their dreams, dreams they have to pilot on their own. My only wish is for them to be happy, and myself to not become a hindrance, but instead pave the way for that happiness.
Maria Solita Z. Guzman is a human resource officer in the local government of Kalibo, Aklan. While work and taking care of her kids keep her busy, she relaxes by watching K-dramas and playing Clash of Clans.
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