Sunday, February 2, 2014

Celebrate Fatherhood: What's an Elephant Backside to do with Parenting? | Guestpost by Tony, Daddy Food Blogger

Sakura Haruka is not a blog just about celebrating motherhood. It shares the joys {& frustrations!} of parenting and of families as a whole. Inspired by my hubby's thoughts on being a dad, Celebrate Fatherhood is thus a monthly series where daddies from all walks of life share insights about what fatherhood means to them, and how we can appreciate their role in a family too.

I sincerely thank all those who took the time to guest post for me. Most of those I approached were very supportive and enthusiastic about this new series, sharing my belief that being an involved dad, and getting the dads involved, is important in building a strong family. If you have a story to share, please email me at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com.

When my 25 year old son, Edmund told me that two books that he illustrated while he was in art school won multiple US national awards, naturally I was very happy and proud of his achievements.

Arlo Goes to the Dentist won Gold in the Children's category for the 2011 USA Independent Book Awards. This and the second book, Arlo and the Airplane, won awards and received honourable mentions in other prestigious book awards.

Edmund had been taking on projects during his undergraduate programme in art school in San Francisco to help pay his fees and board. It also beefs up his portfolio which helped him found a job in advertising in New York City before graduation.

When I saw the book, something else struck me, in an instant.

It struck me that my children Edmund and Anita are young adults now, no longer toddlers. It was literary in a blink of the eye.

The character in the book, Arlo the little grey elephant, looked uncannily familiar. My mind flashed back to years ago when Edmund and his sister Anita were chubby happy laughing toddlers, two or three years old. The height of my knees.

I was always busy at work and could only give them whatever attention I could snatch, in between work. (Looking back, it was silly - I could have given them more attention.)

One day, out of the blue, I doodled an elephant with a pen on a piece of yellow 3M Post-it note paper and handed it to Anita. I didn't think or remember much of it, except that brother and sister were in stitches, chuckling and laughing out loud while I buried my head back in the computer. I remembered they were extremely amused by the rotund back side view of the tubby elephant with the squiggly tail I drew.

I couldn't remember why I drew the elephant but I often do things (some silly) just to make Edmund and Anita laugh. It makes me happy to see and hear their laughter.

At that time, we took the children to the Mandai (Singapore) Zoo, quite often. Actually, almost every weekend. During those good old days, we could buy a “Friends of the Zoo” family membership and pay just one price (around SGD50) for unlimited family visits to the Zoo for a whole year. Free, whole day car parking included.

We had the luxury of going to the Zoo, look at just one or two animals closely and adjourn to the playground before a meh tasting A & W dinner which only the kids liked. We had time to literally smell the animals. Edmund and Anita took on a love of animals at the Zoo – I think the towering elephants left a pretty big impression on the tiny tots.

Years passed, and I never thought much about those everyday mundane events of the children's growing years, until now. From a 10-second doodle of an elephant's back side on a Post-it note paper to the award winning cartoon elephant character Arlo.

It struck me that as a parent, my actions, conscious and unconscious, powerfully shape my children. Fortunately, in this case, the outcome is a happy one.

What about those unguarded outbursts? A careless word? A thoughtless action?

To our children, we are larger than life. Our words and actions carry lots of weight. If I could turn the clock back, I would certainly be more conscious as my children's role model.

Tony is the father to Edmund and Anita. Although residing in Singapore, he has been enjoying Johor food for the past 20 years and writes an endearing food blog, Johor Kaki, to appreciate the hard work of the hawkers who made the food, and share his enjoyment with others.

It's amazing how just a small action can have such a great impact on a child's life, even after so many years. Will it give them strength to pursue their dreams, or will it form a dark memory that will haunt them forever? Sometimes we wonder what it's like when the kids grow up, and I'm grateful when parents of older kids pass on their knowledge from their many more years of parenting to give us an inkling. Thanks for this timely reminder to be more aware of our actions and words {or lack of!}, and how they might affect Lil Pumpkin in the future.



An Apel a Day said...

A wonderful story about the elephant. Often times good things come from small things.

SengkangBabies said...

I was wondering who is Tony haha, it is nice to hear him talk about Family and reflect another side, instead of Johor-Food :)