This time of the year, I find, is a more reflective one. Summer was beautiful, full of sunshine and long walks, and leisurely conversations with children. Autumn is very hectic, especially September, but also with the cooler weather, decreasing light, and gathering rain clouds, leads to a pensive frame of mind.
I have been thinking of many things over the past few weeks. My Kumon journey of over 20 years so far, including the first years as a Kumon parent, has been filled with all kinds of variety. I have seen my children go from just starting school (and life, since my third child was born within the first year of my Kumon centre in Outremont) to working in their careers in computers and machining. My youngest is starting her second semester at Concordia University, so all my birds have flown the nest and are living in Montreal. Life is very different when there are only two adults in the house.
I watch parents with their babies and small children, and remember what that felt like. I remember the years of homework, sports activities, music lessons, laughter, tears, the happy times, the times of conflict and pain. So much goes into parenting, and being a parent is for life. You know your children will not stop needing you even when they live far away and seem to be running their lives entirely just fine without you, thank you very much.
What are the most important things I feel I gave my children? I certainly believe the gift of Kumon was high on that list, because they not only developed excellent math and reading skills, but they learned self-learning, perseverance, and many other vital things that will always contribute to a happier and more productive adult life.
In a way, though, I am most proud of the characters my children have. They are complete individuals. They think for themselves, and question everything. They are fiercely independent, and also have a warm circle of close friends. They are caring and look out for others. Kumon certainly contributed to their character, yet it will always be mysterious how much of who they are and are becoming is nature and how much is nurture.
They developed character through observing me, learning through their experiences, and being given the freedom to become who they are.
It is that tension between providing freedom and setting rules which is perhaps the hardest thing about parenting. Often one has to be the “bad guy” and say no, when it would be easy and fun to say yes. And often one has to let go and allow them to try new things, when the instinct is strong to hover and protect.