Today our No 3 turns forty. I would not call him, at forty, a young man any more. But he is still my boy despite him having three children of his own.
L to R - No 1, No 2 & No 3
I have to look so far back in time to get the feel of turning forty when I, too, had three children then. Just as he is today I had then served fifteen years with a multinational company but was struggling in the rat race. The challenge was tremendous. Perhaps I was not so good myself. My No 3 has done that long too with a multinational, but this month, at forty, he has said good bye to his first job, his first love. Somehow when he broke the news of the change he is making, I understood it fully well. This ‘boy’ needs a challenge.
When he was barely thirteen I had him go through a three-hour psychometric test by an expert, an Englishman of considerable experience in this field. Having evaluated all the responses from my No 3, he began to explain in great detail what he could conclude. He knew I would not be happy as a parent with his conclusion. The gist of what he explained was that the boy was intelligent but would not do well academically at a university. It sounded like sugar-coating a bitter pill.
“The world is his university,” was a sentence I will never forget. Thence I continued to observe if indeed this boy would learn through life and prosper.
Over the years I watched my No 3 ’s progress and I began to notice the truth in that psychometric test result. In his final he obtained just a Third Class degree. I knew that a couple of his best friends, non Malaysians, were in the First Class; and he was among the minority.
In a way I was to blame for his laissez faire attitude ( sikap tidak apa) towards studies. I wanted him to acquire whatever useful experience (as his father did) while studying abroad. I told him that such experience was worth more than just spending time to get a First Class. So that was what he took literally!
I can say today that, putting the psychometric test aside, his academic performance could have been the result of him being too distracted with activities outside the confines of his lecture halls. Amongst others, he was a DJ at the university radio station, a tutor for the Pimlico Connection (a volunteer program to help local primary schools), spent hours at a time in the dark rooms of the university photography club, worked as a chef at a Mongolian restaurant in a posh area in London, picked up scuba diving, skipped lectures for the snooker halls etc. During a university vacation in summer he took a cheap flight which, for a minimal extra fee, flew him and a Chinese friend all the way from UK to Australia. From there he returned home to shock us all with his tale of his horror, bungee jumping down under.
From about 80 m high
My next surprise was when he made his choice from the three job offers. He picked one which was most remote from what he learnt through the years at the university. I was somewhat disappointed as I expected that he would have selected a job to match his qualification. But he proved me wrong. He prospered. Indeed, ‘the world is his university’ came clearly and strongly to my mind.
And this month of July, turning forty, my No 3 is holding a position in an establishment which is again totally alien to his primary qualification and working experience gained so far. He now says that after fifteen years he has had enough of it and he is looking forward to a fresh challenge. As parents we pray that his new challenge will be as rewarding as the first one.
As much as we wish him many returns of the day we pray that he will continue to accept that all the good things in life , and the life itself, are from HIM.
As I write this posting I keep reminding myself that each child that comes to Almanar deserves to get appropriate guidance, not necessarily being judged by his/her academic potential alone.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.