What My Daughter Taught Me About Life

I’ve been eager to write this post for quite sometime, it’s not exactly on how I wanted to parent my daughter, but more on her impact on me.

While I was writing this post, my daughter was sitting beside me kept pressing on my home button on my laptop, she was laughing happily while she’s at it too. If this were to happen in the past, I would’ve gone mad and yelled at her.

 

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Prior giving birth to her, my wife used to ask me what kind of parent would you be. I didn’t have an exact answer back then, but I did tell her that I would be stern, angry & stubborn kind of dad.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” —Angela Schwindt

Truth to be told, I didn’t behave like that at all when Cassandra arrived, she changed the way I perceive parenting, or more like, she made me understand more on myself – and how I used to perceive training and grooming the next generation.

Parenting is growing with your child

I used to think that training and grooming the next generation works best with top down approach. In a working scenario, there would be people that are lost when given responsibility, they would fear failure, and they would seek guidance from seniors that have much more experience, which isn’t really a bad thing.

Parenting is different, it’s not really about guiding the critical path (fastest way to solve things), or the best way to solve issue. It’s about growing with her. Cassandra was constantly curious, learning while having fun. It’s just plain amazing to see how she can stare at ceiling fan for 10 minutes.

It feels like reliving my childhood as an adult.

It reflected me on training and guiding people too. What can I do more to make everyone to be constantly curious, solving problems while having fun? I suppose this would be a lifelong lesson.

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE, NOT A GOAL

I used to tie happiness on achieving goals, regardless of what process or obstacles I needed to go through, I’ll be happy as long as I’m achieving my goal.

But not anymore.

It was last year that I realized how terribly wrong I was – I realized that happiness is not about what you achieve – it’s just enjoying what you do.

It’s surprising to see Cassandra just does this naturally. She’s basically happy being herself. She would be happy just by petting Charcoal, eating tasty food and etc. She would be happy just by doing random stuff.

Cassandra lying down randomly with Charcoal.
Cassandra lying down randomly with Charcoal.

She reminded me that that you don’t need a reason to be happy. You just need to be happy.

Happiness was never about how many medals you collected in life, but it’s merely a decision you made. It is no wonder everyone is talking about how you need to love yourself before you can love others.

It’s funny to see how we forgot to be happy and love ourselves as we go through this journey of life.

nothing wrong in saying no

The most annoying word that Cassandra ever learnt was the word “bu yao”. “Bu yao”means don’t want in Chinese. For parents and caretakers, it means a lot of trouble when you’re feeding her.

She would be practicing her rights in abusing that term – saying no to this and that. Sometimes it feels like she’s my parent instead of me being her parent. Ugh.

She rejects you like a lousai.
Rejecting you like a lousai.

But here’s the thing, despite the pressure of growing up in a traditional family (meaning she would have grandparents and parents that “forcefully” feed her), she would still say no to things that she doesn’t like.

When we try to understand further, we get to know her thoughts and preference – like she prefer eggs over rice, or she loves to eat nuts. She triggered this communication.

Essentially, there’s nothing wrong in saying no to things that you don’t agree, instead of thinking it as a defense mechanism with emotional turmoil, think of it as a way to extend communication where you can explain why.

There is nothing wrong in saying no.

Appreciating Everyone

Cassandra would say thank you to people who wiped our table.

She would also tell strangers and family members to be careful while walking down the stairs.

While it sounds random coming from a 2 year old kid, she was often rewarded with a bigger smile and a few pats on her head saying pannai. As funny as it sounds, we actually got several discounts on foods we ordered, or like an extra piece of dish etc.

I could still recall that there was this time where we visited a child specialist and there was a dedicated play section. Since we were there early and there was no other patients around, Cassandra gets to hog the whole playground.

As time passes, more and more kids came and each and every one of them charted their own territory, and this funny daughter of mine did this – she started picking up toys and sharing it with others (with delivery service some more).

I was awestruck.

This incident taught me two things:

  • You can always do more, even if there is no expectation.
  • Do it because your heart says so.

At many times we were often clouded by material gains and lost sight on what it truly means to be human. Sometimes, you’re not doing it for the money but you’re doing it simply because you want to do.

She gave me a new pair of lens to view the world

This post wasn’t written to flaunt about my daughter, but more of a reflection on my values and how she impacted my world views.

Undeniably, having a daughter like her was the sweetest gift I ever had. She taught me to look at the world in new perspective. So this time, instead of viewing it through my old lens, I’ll be viewing it with the eye of a child but with an adult mindset in this journey of life – curious yet exciting.

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