As a parent, we don’t often pay a lot of attention at our actions. We go to work, and if you are still studying, you go and study and you focus to raise your family the best way you know how.
In my case, like many other parents, I was juggling with raising my 5 children without the benefit of a partner, my part-time job, my PhD study, charity work and setting up my own company. By doing it all, what I hadn’t realised was that my 5 year old son Hussein, was deeply observing me. Four months before his 5th birthday, I finished my research study and I was at home most of the time doing the business plan of my new company and writing my PhD thesis. Though he always asks a lot of questions and I am very open about what mum is doing and what her next project is, he took all of my actions to the next level when he first saw the first printed copy of my PhD thesis.
He could read a few sentences and he became fascinated with understanding how the host’s immune response defends us against diseases, and what tuberculosis (TB) is, and what causes it? He couldn’t read all of this from my thesis but I had to explain and read it chapter by chapter - all the 7 chapters of my PhD thesis. The thesis became his bedtime reading book, because he felt that it is cool that mum can do all that work and write about it as well. For me, I was thrilled to have an open ear. I loved talking about my research and explaining what I have done, how I did it, the result, etc. It was also good practice for my viva (the PhD aural examination with spoken answers). But little did I know that Hussein was really taking it all in and he was thinking of himself, what he should do with his life, what he wants to study and how he will do it.
A few months later, I took Hussein and his siblings out to eat, celebrating passing my viva and a day later he came to me to say, “Mum, I am preparing my speech for my school assembly. They have asked us to talk about what we want to do when we grow up”.
So, I said to him, “Already, you are only in year 1!”. “Yes, Mum I know that. I told them that you are a doctor. Though, I haven’t made a big deal of it. Still I am proud, very proud of you, Mum, and when I grow up, I want to be a professor.” So, I said, “Sure baby”. Then he said, “Mum, I saw your actions, I saw you doing it, I saw you finished it and I believe I can do it, you know!”
Now, I was, beside myself with emotion. I wasn’t excepting that from him. Yes, I am like many other parents, a little bit of a pushy mum when it comes to education, but to hear that from Hussein who was only 5 years old. Aaha, I wasn’t excepting that to come…
So, he started practising his speech. “When I grow up, I want to be a professor, teach people science and discover the whole cure of many diseases and I want to help everybody in the world and I want to be the beacon of hope. Thank you.”
It was so sweet to hear that from any 5 year old child and I was literally melting deep down. Afterwards, I started wanting to correct him. He said, ‘The whole cure’ and I said “Change that Hussein. Don’t say ‘the whole cure’, just say the cure.” “Then I stopped and looked at myself - what I was doing? I realised that it wasn’t my speech, it was Hussein’s speech and that he did it because he was inspired by me through my action and not my words. He saw it, yes, indeed, he saw it all.
I recorded his speech after school and Hussein said his speech again after my PhD graduation ceremony at a family and friends dinner, where my friend Amal Plumley was in tears hearing him.
I don’t know what future holds for Hussein, or any of my other children and the children of the world, but what I now know, is that we can inspire others through actions directly or indirectly!
All we need to do is be positive, even when the storm is hitting hardest; be patient and watch out for how you act, as your actions can influence others for better or for worse.Thank you for reading my blog post and please feel free to join the conversation!