Boys not in a hurry to grow up, says mum

Nicholas, 14, picked up table tennis at age six and recently started playing football too. His sister Jerica, 17, has been playing the guzheng since she was in Primary 1.
Nicholas, 14, picked up table tennis at age six and recently started playing football too. His sister Jerica, 17, has been playing the guzheng since she was in Primary 1.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

When 14-year-old Nicholas Fung was in primary school, the playful boy spent hours playing video games and football with friends.

His mother, Madam Janice Ong, said: "He seemed to be in a daze in primary school. He was more interested in play."

Compared to his older sister, Jerica, who is now 17, Nicholas seemed to be weaker in his studies, especially in language, noticed Madam Ong, a housewife.

Said the 47-year-old: "In primary school, she was more diligent. She will do her work, follow through and look through her corrections.

"But the boy can make the same mistake again and again.

"Like his friends, he was more into play and games. Even recess is about playing, not eating."

But Madam Ong was not too concerned about her children's differences. "I think it's a natural part of growing up. Boys are usually not in a hurry to grow up." In fact, she saw "signs of improvement in maturity" in Nicholas only last year when he completed Secondary 2.

 
 

"Teachers say that he has potential to do well. He studied his hardest for the end-of-year Secondary 2 exams," she said. "He knows now... he needs to be more responsible, otherwise he will face consequences like not getting promoted."

She said: "Boys tend to be more playful but once they set their mind on a goal... they will really work towards it. The school environment and peer pressure also push them to study hard as their maturity level grows."

Today, Madam Ong is glad that both her children have also developed interests of their own - Nicholas is sporty and plays table tennis for his school while Jerica is a musical talent who plays the guzheng.

Nicholas picked up table tennis at the age of six and joined the Singapore Table Tennis Association's Junior Development Squad for primary school pupils. He trains four times a week and has won awards representing his secondary school. Recently, for recreation, he started playing football once a week with a club.

Jerica, now in her first year of junior college, has been playing the guzheng since Primary 1. Two years later, she auditioned and got into the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts' School of Young Talents programme that trains students in music, dance, art and drama. In 2013, she joined the Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra and has taken part in local competitions.

Said Madam Ong: "I'm very blessed that my kids have these interests and they enjoy these activities. It just happened naturally.

"I didn't push them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Boys not in a hurry to grow up, says mum'. Print Edition | Subscribe