Over the last 24 hours, three people had asked me for a reference to psychologists. It is often people whom you least think need help who need help. It is often parents who think their child are doing great who get the biggest shock of the life all of a sudden.
Anthony’s PSLE result was sterling and he got into an elite of elite secondary school, one that promises more than academic rigor, their high school credits can be used as credit transfers into a top university in Singapore.
Needless to say, it is a sought after secondary school, and the kids are studying 3-4 years ahead of their age peers in the areas they specialize in.
The celebration was short-lived. Within six months, the parents reached out to me. The high IQ child has school refusal problems. So I got our counselors involved to see how we can help.
Our advice was to remove him from a toxic environment where kids are often driven to a place where they feel deflated, over challenged and unaccomplished. We feel he should go to where his gifts are appreciated, where he can score well and his self-esteem is high. On the side, we promised to offer enrichment that will challenge and stimulate his intellectual needs. We felt he needed both social and intellectual support, and since he cannot get them both in the same place, we suggest splitting them.
Not unexpectedly, the parents and child felt that it was a ‘waste’ to give up a prestigious school, so they stayed. Yesterday, we received another call. In the six months since we last spoke, the child moved to an international school, and now refuse to go to the new school as well. In fact, he is refusing to get out of the house, so can we send in some psychologist.
To be honest, I don’t think we can ‘rescue’ a child like that, no matter how much they offer to pay us. He is only 14, and just 2 years ago, he was acing his cohort, happy about his situation, full of confidence of his future.
That is how fragile our kids are. People often ask me why I am so drastic whenever I feel my (or other people’s) children are endangered. And the answer is because sometimes, it can be a point of no return.
There are cases we know we cannot help, and I honestly feel sad about it. This family did not pay us anything to help them, so it is not even a customer relationship, yet I feel sad that someone I have never met has a situation I don’t wish upon anyone.
I chanced upon something I wrote when Sunshine Boy was going through some difficulties in school. It still resonates with me today. I hope it is useful to those of us who still think hope or are proud that our kids are child prodigy.
It is not fun to have a child prodigy, it is far more fun to raise an adult who loves himself and the world. To this end, I think I did a decent job, for this Sunshine Boy is now 20, and he is a well adjusted individual who is capable of handling his life, and has compassion. I think it worth being the strong mum.
*If you have a child who needs help, please feel free to reach out to me via message, it costs you nothing but a bit of time, but sometimes, that’s all it takes to rescue a child. I don’t charge or judge.
Here is what I wrote 10 years ago when I decided to wean him from psychologists and, to the horror of educators, gave him an individualized education path instead:
1. I’d rather my child not be child prodigy, for there’re just that handful of prodigies who truly make it as adults. I wish he’ll discover more about himself than quantum theory.
2. I’d rather have him see the world, than having the world recognise him.
3. I’d rather not have him write for publication and peer evaluators but to touch the hearts and minds of common people, to reach out to them and be relevant to them.
4. If he chooses to follow my footsteps and become an academic, I’d rather he not publish at 10, but at 90.
5. I’d not expose him to the press, and I’d not find joy in telling the world how smart he is. I’d wish him a few true friends whom he can share small successes with, run with the guys and enjoy a good laugh at each other’s stupidity and mistakes.
6. I’d not take pain to show case his difference. I’d rather rejoice in him being just the same as the neighbour’s boy.
7. I’d not show the world how bitter I am when the rest of the world disagree with the way I should view my son, but take the opportunity to show him what grace and forgiveness is about. This is not a fair world and we should never demand it to be.
8. If I have my choice, I’d want my son’s IQ be to around 120, and an EQ of 210 (if there’s a measurement of EQ). Add a kind heart and a love for living, joy and not bitterness, the ability to present and have his ideas accepted. A sympathy for the poor and respect for the old. A love for his country, patriotism, filial piety, gratitude, politeness, forgiveness, and most importantly, humility. In other words, VALUES. I want him to value principles more than academic knowledge.
BUT these are just my thoughts. I don’t think I have, don’t wish to have and don’t need to have a kid prodigy. I just wished the world would accept him the way he is and allow him the simplicities of life, a chance to be one of the boys.