“Most unlikely to settle down.” That’s probably the most common presumption everyone put down in the yearbook for me during our days in King Edward school in Taiping, Perak. I was cheeky and never too serious about my future. That was, until I met my wife at the age of 27. Five minutes into meeting her, I turned to my best friend and said: “Simon, you see that woman? I am going to marry her.” And we got married 18 months after that.
Now, 10 years later and counting, I’m the father of three boisterous children, Ethan Ong Heng Kit, nine, Ewan Ong Heng Hon, six, and Estelle Sophie Ong Tong En, three. Now, this is the best part. Apparently, I’m the most “prolific” among ALL my schoolmates. Some of my classmates are not even married yet, let alone have kids.
“What do you mean you have three children? You can’t be serious.” Oh, but I am.
I may have been playful during our school days, but parenthood gave me a focus I never knew was inside me all this while.
When Ethan was born, I was working shifts in Westport, a seaport in Port Klang, Selangor. I would be home after the graveyard shift at nine in the morning and try to catch a few hours’ sleep. But Ethan’s constant crying put paid to that. People may know the words “patience and perseverance” but they do not know the real meaning until they actually become parents. Regardless of all the tantrums and fits the children have thrown, I love them more than life itself.
You want to know what is a “money can’t buy” experience? It’s when at the end of a busy day, you realise that you have time to fetch your boy from school instead of letting him take the bus home. And when he bounds down the steps once the school bell rings to find you waiting for him, the look of joy on his face is priceless.
When I reach home and find my little princess Estelle waiting for me with a hug and a kiss, I really don’t care if I have lost out on a million-dollar deal that day. It won’t matter anymore as long as I have these three bundles of joy.
I recently took a big change of career for a single reason - my children. I may have been earning more previously, but with this new vocation, I have more time to spend with my children and I believe no one can put a price on that.
I will always remember the time my parents gave me when I was growing up. My father and mother always made time to support me in whatever activity I was involved in, be it education, sports or extra-curricular. And so I made a promise to myself that I would devote the same to my children. I have noticed some changes since I started spending more time with them.
They have become more responsive and alert, and begun to learn different things at a faster pace. This, by itself, is another great bonus of being a hands-on parent. I realised something else, too. That the children of this generation are not too attached to their parents and will often detach themselves by the age of 13. So, from the time your child starts communicating up to the age of 12, is the most precious time you will ever get to spend with them.
I thank God for every day and every hour I get to be with my children because, come to think of it, your children are almost like extensions of yourself. They will see how you act, speak and treat others. Before long, they will imitate and mime your actions, if not, at the very least, the way you speak.
Thus, there is no better incentive for anyone to be a better person than for your children. Now, that must surely be the best reward any parent can get. I may not be the best role model out there, but there’s nothing that will make me happier than doing my part to ensure my children grow up to be good, decent members of society.
The Star's Fathers Figure invites fathers of any age and type – rich dad, poor dad, single father, fun dad, tiger dad – to share their parenting experiences. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header “Fathers Figure,” between 600 and 800 words, with a photo attached. Published contributions will be paid so please include your full name, IC number, address and contact number.