Thursday, February 09, 2006

A father's chronicle (I Not Stupid - A Film Review)

This is a follow up on my last blog (Celebrating Normalcy) since I've also watched a movie on TV over the weekends on parenting....

I should have watch the movie "I Not Stupid" about 4 years back.... I couldn't exactly recall why I missed that show... but I was glad that they showed it over the weekends and ... on TV! For a review, you can read it here.

For those who are parents with young kids and living in a society that placed (or over-placed) emphasis on academic excellence (not that being academic excellent is a bad thing... ah, forget about the explaination, watch the movie and you will understand the struggles of "normal" kids in Singapore), this show is a MUST. I intend to get the DVD. And to get the full ROI (Return-on-Investment), I intend to watch it over 5 times before putting it on the DVD shelf for future parenting-research-material.

It is really a very realistic show. In Singapore (and like many other countries in Asia, e.g. Japan), kids are falling off high-rise buildings... all because they have failed academically. While it is true that the underlying problem is due to "problems in interpersonal relations, especially with peers and parents. Fewer than half are related to school-work stress" (see this article), I find it is just a microscopic observation.

A child have interreaction with the society too and is subjected to the opinions and expectations of the society as well besides those of his/her parents. Perhaps, this is the narrow phrase "interpersonal relations... with peers". But peers are only a subset of the social circles of a child. You can see this social expectations in the life and experiences of Boon Hock (esp. in those scenes at the hawker center while helping out in his mother's hawker stall).

There is a follow up sequel to this movie (I Not Stupid 2). I am not sure whether I am ready to watch it now... I am still digesting the first part. There is a lot of material to think about... hopefully it won't be another 4 years of wait before I get to that movie. I think the second part is just as relevant to my parenting skills... perhaps even more?

A father's chronicle (Celebrating normalcy)

They run just like my son. They talk like my son. They argue, they ponder.... but they are not "normal". I mean, these kids are not just above average. They are gifted. Yes, I am not refering to my son. There is a difference between being intellgent and being gifted. And, sure, there is a gap between between "normal" and "intellgent".

Our society is a strange one. Alot of focus goes to the "bright" ones. They are featured in papers (e.g. last weekend, there was a whole section on them). These kids (err... they are working adults now) are not like the kids next door. They are really heading for the heavens! Their career is planned before they start. Their lives are mapped out - lived in the upper 1% of the society.

My son is not gifted. Actually, it came as a bit of pain when I realized/accepted that (huh, are you joking, Paul?). But let me quote again from the book (which sort of summarized my experience):

At first this intuition is painful. Emilio will not be a genius after all. Or at least I won't be able to make him exceptionally intelligent. It is the death of a dream. But I feel relief. I give him permission, inside me, to be what he is. Perhaps he will be an ordinary child. I realize that I no longer have control of the process.... Expectations. You can see them everywhere... Thus children are turned into pretty knickknacks, supergifted monsters, sports champions, or just good little puppets who never get into trouble because they are already only half alive....Bit by bit I also discover new ways of loving. After all, how can I truly love my children if at the same time I wish they were different?

Nope, my son cannot swim 100m in 3 minutes flat (that's the gold standard, btw for their age category). He cannot tell you the order of planets (I didn't get it right either, besides the first and last)... he is normal, ordinary, and he is my son.

He is honest (he cannot stand to tell lies)... his best attempt is to keep quiet. He does not bully the weak. He is helpful. He is a friend when you are in need of help, he does not chick-out on you when you are in the deepest hole. He cries when you are hurt. He laughes when you are happy. He shares his last piece of chocolate and will gladly share his toys too... and yes, he forgets (which can be the best part).

He is normal. He is ordinary. He is my son. I am so glad that he is who he is.

It is great to be.... normal.