It seemed the height of rudeness to call them by their first names when they respectfully added an honorific to my name. I didn't want to call them Mr This or Mrs That, because I need to develop a close collaboration with them. At times, I might intrude into the privacy of their family circle with my observations. At other times, I might intrude with my questions. I had to find a way to honour parents without seeming distant and formal. I would call them Mommy So and So, or Daddy Such and Such.
I am quite pleased at having found my own honorific for parents.
- "Mommy Alicia, how are you today!"
- "Daddy Boon Keng, did the method work?"
It is a very warm sort of honorific, that emphasises the importance of parenthood and elevates the work Mothers and Fathers do to bring up their children. It's like saying President Obama, except that I would call him Daddy Obama, instead.
As I teach and learn about children, I must admit that some of the parents I meet WOW! me.
Mommy A is a single mother, in a regional job that requires a lot of travelling. Her mother helps to babysit her only son when she is out of town. This amazing woman turned down a promotion in order to be able to spend enough time with her son. I seriously don't know how she manages it because she travels so much and still manages to supervise her son as he does Dr Pet's HW. Of course, these days we have the advantage of Google Drive and all sorts of mobile computing options. Still, it takes a lot of discipline and energy to hold down a high powered job AND also high-power her son's academic performance.
Her child topped his YEAR last year in something... or was it overall. I've forgotten.
The most impressive thing about Mommy A is that I never have to tell her anything twice. There are parents that get calls from me once every month. Each time, I spend an hour detailing the method to use to supervise the child. Over a period of 10 months, I must have spent at least 8 hours with the parent... and I soon realised that I sounded like a broken recorder. Sometimes I wonder if these parents chat with me politely on the phone to humour me. They obviously don't think much of my motivation advice because they don't implement the steps at all.
Mommy A is not like that. I had two pieces of targeted advice for her. I only had to tell her once, and it was done. In all, coaching her took 2 hours - maximum... and her child's motivation levels improved within a month.
Mommy B has 2 sickly children. Those of us with healthy children don't know the intense stress that comes with having children who FREQUENTLY wake up in the night blue in the face, unable to breathe. Her child is one of the most intelligent I have but whenever stress levels inch up, she cannot perform. This child's stress response is life-threatening. She goes blue and gasps for breath like a fish out of water.
When God gives a Mommy a special child, he anoints a saint. This mommy has TWO asthmatic children. So, she is doubly a saint. I can really vouch for how lovely this Mommy is. Instead of always drawing on my help and energy, this Mommy actually gives me back some! She has such a generous and giving heart. Despite the challenges that she is facing, she has time to listen to MY woes, give ME advice... and even pray for me.
Again, this Mommy is amazing in the way she is able to implement motivation advice. I only need to explain once, and it will be done. Not surprisingly, her child often tops the class in English composition (despite being extremely sickly).
Mommy C is an entrepreneur. In order to spend more time with her child, she suspended her company's plans to expand into Myanmar, even though the time was ripe and the opportunity was golden. Again, I am dealing with an immensely intelligent woman. One session of coaching was all it took. Her child was both naughty and disengaged when she joined us. Today, she is one of the most docile and charming little girls we have. Mommy, though busy, poured all the discipline and willpower that she had into following my motivation advice.
Following HALF the motivation advice is not enough. You won't get half the results. You get nothing. Worse, you get an even more unmotivated child.
Mommy D is another entrepreneur with a chain of shops across Singapore. I used to shop in her shops too! Entrepreneurs have a lot of initiative. This Mommy was impressive in the way she not ONLY followed my motivation advice closely (after a mere 20 minute session of coaching), she brought to her practice of motivation intelligently conceived innovative touches. She uses Whatsapp to do reading comprehension with her daughters! At a certain point, we worked at cross purposes. Her take charge attitude un-did some of the teaching I was trying to do. After we sorted it all out, the ship is upright again and making good progress.
Mommy E's son didn't even look normal when he joined us. He could not sit still. At the slightest provocation, he melted into tears. Once, he sat in a corner and chanted something over and over again. Mommy E was previously the high-powered executive sort with a Masters degree. She quit her job to sort out her son.
Mommy E needed a lot of follow-up at first. She didn't really get what I was telling her. However, she worked hard and tried even harder, sometimes only half understanding what I was trying to explain. As she changed, her son began to change. When that happened, Mommy E redoubled her efforts at following my advice. Then, we reached a Tipping Point. We had developed a sort of shared understanding and trust. She gets me. I get her.
Some cars are fuel efficient. A little fuel goes a long way. Some parents are advice-efficient. A little advice goes a long way. Some cars guzzle petrol. Some mommies guzzle my time and attention. They need weekly and monthly reminders. I repeat the same advice in emails and on the phone for months on end to no avail. I am not sure what is wrong. Do they listen but not hear? Do they take me for granted, not realising the costs to me in time and energy? It's like a fuel tank with a leak. Anything I pour into it flows right out again, and the advice is not used to power the child's performance and attitude, until I force the issue in one way or another.
It really isn't a question of Working Mom VS Non-Working Mom. Three of the mommies showcased above work long hours as executives or as entrepreneurs. Two of the mommies showcased above are Stay at Home Moms. I've come to the conclusion that a Mommy must really want to follow up on advice. Working or not working, if she wants to, nothing stands in her way.