Today is my daughter’s birthday. Yes you heard me. I’m not kidding you. I am a Singapore citizen, 25 years of age, an SMU graduate from the class of 2013… and I made a baby. Exactly 6 years ago, Little J came into the world. Boy, it has been the craziest 6 years of my life.
Back in my school days, I made a costly mistake. Without intending to, I made a senior girl pregnant. At that time, Big J had already graduated and was waiting for university while I was still in school. Big J and I were both hot-blooded teenagers, fascinated with each other’s bodies and without a care for the world. When the news came, our worlds turned upside down. Our relationship even turned sour, and there was a lot of blaming each other and hard feelings.
I started out being unable to accept the truth, being angry with the whole world and blaming every one for my misery. However, I still had to do something about the baby. So, the arrangement was that Big J’s family, being extremely wealthy and generous, would hire caretakers to take care of Little J until after my NS. Then, I would officially take over and be responsible to bring her up and provide for her. Unwilling as I was, I did not wish to let a child be denied of care from a biological parents. I know that kind of pain because my father left my family.
The kid was a constant reminder of my mistake, each time I set my eyes upon her. During my university days, taking care of her was crazy. Caring for a child is extremely effortful meticulous work that requires a hell lot of time and attention. I had to learn all the nitty gritty things parents identify with, often getting my hands busy and dirty. I was often impatient with her for “learning too slowly” or “causing trouble for nothing”, but it was not her fault. I had spells of bad temper and was always irritable. It was difficult. I studied at SMU while I worked part time in town because I received little support from a family that is financially tight. Having a babysitter helps a lot but it’s far from enough for a child’s needs, and not to mention it’s expensive. The rest of my time and space was pretty much devoted to Little J. You just can’t go away from a child for too long, a parent’s absence severely affects her growth and well-being. I had to give up a lot of the stuff you guys do – freshmen camps, CCAs, OCSPs, hanging out with friends, partying etcetera. It felt painful to be punished as an adult for one dumb mistake you made when you were a teenager… and live with that punishment forever.
However, there came some turning points and defining moments. Thank God for these things, otherwise I would be the worst person on Earth. Those were times I realized the joy of being a father, discovered my soft side with her help, and grew to love her more and more:
1) When she learnt her first words after blabbering baby talk for so long.
2) When she called me “papa”
3) When she could finally finish a conversation with me
4) When she learnt how to stand up and walk on her own
5) When she injured herself and ran into my arms for comfort
6) When she was awarded the most outstanding student in pre-school
7) When she showed great character and stuck by her little friend who was being laughed at and bullied
8) When she wrote me an essay about her family and I was the “hero” in the story
9) When she caught a rare breed of flu and spent a week in hospital, making me the most anxious person I’ve ever been
10) When she folded a paper heart for me, as a Fathers’ Day gift.
11) When she was happy, bouncing around and just being herself
12) When she waited at the door, waiting for me to come home to tell me something
And with that, Little J helped me change to become more patient, tender-loving, thoughtful, down to earth and responsible.
Time flies. I can’t believe Little J will enroll in primary school real soon. Today, I am a proud father of a lovely girl who loves to help others and go to church. I also very unbelievably secured a well-paying job (too good for someone with sub 3 GPA) that could give me a lot of financial assurance and allow me to do what I love. Even better, Little J will have both her biological parents because Big J and I are now engaged. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow we only fell in love after the birth of Little J. Oh by the way, she graduated from SMU too. Hey man, I honestly feel like the luckiest man on Earth.
What I have got to say to you who are reading this? If you screw up, no doubt you have to bear the consequences. But it is not the end of the world. Be responsible and learn from mistakes. You never know where it brings you, or who you become. To those who are sad with low GPAs, or feel that life is really tough on you, or face the situation with a child made by accident, I hope my story encourages you. Fight on, rock on, you guys can do it if I can do it. God bless you.
Your SMU Senior