Children change. How can we help them steer themselves?

I was having a keystone conversation with one of the mums of the new scholars heading out during last weekend’s UWC Singapore get-together/new scholar sendoff.

She works with middle school kids, i.e. aged 10-12. We talked about the pivotal changes and challenges experienced by children during these three years – pressures exerted by tectonic shifts biological and social, inside and outside…in reality two sides of the same coin, both part of the same feedback loop that marks the turbulent and momentous onset of puberty, the start of the lifelong process of true and conscious self-identification.

Big changes, strong waves, uncharted waters, exhilaration and fear, uncertainty and other emotions entirely new but no less the potent for being unknown – in fact, possibly even more.

I want to help them, chart and guide themselves.

This came to mind when I took the kids to the West Coast playground a couple of hours ago. Blake was going to miss out on a planned playdate here with Winifred this Sat evening, and he’d sounded regretful about this when I showed them the pics. So with an hour to spare today before the start of the National Day broadcast, I thought I’d take them there for a quick recce.



How quickly he went from “Holy moly guacamole” upon first seeing this gargantuan, very fun-looking playground, to coming up to me half an hour later, looking a little let down. “Can we go, Mama? I am just a bit disappointed that there is no swing… and I’ve finished playing with everything.”

His brother and sister were still lost amidst the play structures, occupied. I looked at my eldest son and realised, this window…is passing, before my very eyes.

On the whole of it – I am grateful that my training and practice allows me to be present with some of the sea changes that are happening, slowly, under my very nose.

When I reach inside me for a description of this feeling, the image of building a sandcastle on the beach comes to mind… a mix of conscious shaping, and formation, of something that could end up being extremely beautiful, ambitious, complex, and well worth the while, bringing joy and amazement to its observers, and pride and a sense of achievement to its creator… but in constant exposure to the unpredictable waves washing onto the shore, and ultimately destined to return to peaceful formless grains of sand. And that’s okay. Cos that’s the way it is.

And in this very moment, I render myself as fully aware, and as full of gratitude as the moment deserves, as I can, for this precious window that will not last much longer, while my three are in this beautiful zone of playing and enjoying being with one another as a tight unit, their primary unit of reference still one another for now, before their worldviews start to expand and their widening horizons start to beckon, with all their inherent risk and wonder. 


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