WITH each Chinese New Year, I think of family and friends who were born under the zodiac sign of that particular year.
My interest in such signs is purely for knowledge as I do not believe that they influence the individual in any way, whether in the past, present or future.
What makes it interesting is that these signs are based on the Lunar year and not the Gregorian year.
So to say that every Chinese child born this year is attributed the Earth Dog zodiac sign is erroneous as this only applies to children born between Feb 16 this year and Feb 4 next year.
This sometimes complicates matters for schoolgoing children because while the majority may carry the same zodiac sign of the particular year that were born into, some children born in January for example, may bear the zodiac sign of the year before.
My youngest falls into this category and while her friends were born in the year of the Dog, being a January child she was considered to belong to the year of the Rooster.
But, technically she is still 24 years old just like all her other classmates.
So, I sit back and tell myself, wow, my youngest is already 24. Where did all the years go?
She’s out working and enjoying her work and all that comes with being 24 — freedom, life, responsibilities, decision-making, happiness, sadness and everything that the world can offer.
She is out experimenting with new things and testing boundaries.
She is learning how to carve out a future for herself, to know what she wants and to fight for what she believes in.
A personal milestone indeed for herself and for myself, the parent.
For me, it is about appreciating my adult children and about letting go.
It is about taking stock. It is about understanding that their views may be different from mine and that I may not agree, but it is still okay.
It is about the good choices they make and my heart rejoicing with them.
It is about the bad choices they make and my heart aching with them.
It is about financial independence for themselves and for myself.
What I have saved, or have earned is now mine. No more student accommodation costs, tuition fees and living expenses to pay for.
No more living under the same roof.
Instead, we have new found sources of income — pocket money from the children straight into our savings account every month.
Holidays and hobby classes for the parents paid for by the children.
Not that I need them to pay for us, but I believe it is beneficial for them to learn how to give and for us to learn how to receive.
Just like when I would take on extra work just to make sure that they could go for the extras — piano and violin lessons, ballet lessons, philharmonic concerts and holiday camps.
Some parents live for their children or live through them.
I do not fall into either category but I made sure that since I brought them into the world I must be as good a compass to guide them.
These are the life skills that I tried to teach.
Uppermost is the value of selflessness and the importance of being appreciative and not to take anything for granted.
The beauty of simplicity as opposed to materialism. Humility and efficiency in all that we do so that others will trust us and know that we are made of more.
A drive to succeed, to be self-confident and to know that we need to be committed and creditable in order to gain respect and be trusted.
Most of all, to know that we are not infallible, we make mistakes but we can pick up the pieces.
I was asked in a group discussion, what would be on my bucket list regarding my children?
I have none. They have turned out all right.
Not only did they turn out all right, they have turned out very well indeed.
I am sure that whatever brickbat is hurled their way, they’ll be well able to handle it.
And I am very proud.
Dr Koh Soo Ling was a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Mara and now spends her days enjoying life as it is.