Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: A letter to my strong-willed child

My dearest little boy,

Today we went to the Art Museum. As you and your brothers were restless in the taxi and started fighting, we played "I-Spy". I told you that I spied an excavator digging, which is one of your favourite things in the world. You were too busy fighting to notice it, and it was out of sight by the time you looked up.

When you got off the taxi, you told me you were upset with me because I didn't let you see the excavator. And insisted that we walk back to find it. I told you we couldn't, because I had spotted it mid-way through the journey and it was too far away. But you insisted, so I told you we could walk for a few minutes to see if we could spot any excavators in the vicinity.

However, there were no excavators, and you got increasingly upset, and I admit I got angry. We were late in meeting our friends, and we were just walking around aimlessly. You insisted on walking further. I refused. We ended up walking back to the museum, you screaming and crying while pulling on me. In the end, I had to carry you on my back, still screaming, on top of my backpack, while carrying your little brother in front in the carrier.

Thankfully, you calmed down after a ride in the swings outside the museum, and you proceeded to throughly enjoy your time at the museum. You loved it so much, that you asked to visit the place again next time.

You've always been the feisty one. The one that never, ever gives in. The one that thinks that everyone would give in, so long you keep insisting on your way. Many times, this results in fights between you and your brothers, and this insistence has gotten you into trouble frequently, and we've had to discipline you so many times. We never managed to train you to sleep on your own. We tried, but realized that by the time you agreed to sleep on your own, your will would be broken, and you would be broken too, and I couldn't bear to do that. Everyday, I pray that I can keep you safe, because it seems like the only way you learn to stay out of trouble is the hard way: by learning through experience.

But as I look at you, you with the determined look in your eyes, you with the unwavering insistence on only drinking for the purple cup and nothing else, you who will never give in, even though your brother who is fighting you is much bigger and stronger than you are... I also see that that strong will, if nurtured correctly, can bring you very very far. It would be the trait that would help you hold on to what you believe in. It would be the thing that would protect you from peer pressure. It would push you to chase your dreams, surmount any obstacles, and help you stand strong in the midst of a society of wavering values.

So these days, I'm learning how to love you better. I pick my battles, to choose only the ones of consequence, and not quibble with you about the purple cup or purple paper (but no, you are not allowed to use markers on anything except paper). However, I will continue to discipline you, because I know that a strong will, if left to its own devices can lead to a spoilt child. I've learnt to get more sleep, because I need to be rested to be patient.

And everyday, I've been praying. Praying for wisdom to know how to love and parent you. Praying that your strong will becomes determination and perseverance, turns into courage and strength, instead of lapsing into obstinacy and stubbornness. Praying that He keeps you safe.

Amidst the tantrums and the power struggles these days, we've also observed that softer, loving side of you. Like how you comfort your brother when he is crying, or how you peel fruit and feed it to your little brother. Like how you sit, struggling with placing Perler beads on a pegboard, to make a heart just for Mama. And I realize what a special kid you are, and how blessed we are to have you. Remember, even though we have to discipline you, even though you cannot get your way all the time (like finding excavators digging)... we love you so so much.

Mama and Papa.

Mum in the Making


  1. Beautiful letter, Justina. Brought tears to my eyes! You're such a wonderful and wise mama, and your three boys are so blessed to have you.

  2. Oh my Ryan is the same! Sometimes I wonder if it is a middle/second child thing - I know I will be a lot more patient with him if I didn't have a baby who also needs my attention. Just have to be patient and guide them with a firm hand!

  3. This is really really nice, and it made me think of my own J.. and I should take the advice of getting more sleep too. Amid all the juggling of work and my strong-willed boy... that extra rest will definitely help! Thanks for this Justina.



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