Upbringing, Values and Priorities

During my first visit to Perth, something caught my eye while I was waiting by the car for the rest grabbing something from the shop. A little girl no more than 5 years old was working with a grown man. More specifically, installing a glass panel in a shopfront. The man was probably the little girl's father, from the way he talked to her and pat her head from time to time. The little girl was dressed in a sweet dress and a pair of gumboots, by no means sufficient for protection.

For the entire time I waited, my attention was fully invested in watching the father and young daughter work. The daughter would hold small accessories patiently at a seemingly invisible circle demarcated by her dad not to stray out of. She would then hand the tools or accessories to him whenever he reached for it. I never forget that scene, one I would never witness in Singapore those days and beyond. Little girls should be learning spelling at home, not helping to install a window panel in public area. Blasphemy.

Fast forward a decade later, a boy stood behind a cash register in one of the lesser known vineyards along my area. Besides him, was his grandfather serving his customers and instructing him how to do his part. It isn't what you are thinking. Should it not be during the school holidays, the boy will be in school. It wasn't child labour as well. He looked like he volunteered to be there, for a kid in this iPad age will not last 5 minutes sitting still without getting into a hussy fit, trembling like an addict in a halfway house.

I don't see it as a bad thing for kids to tend a lemonade stand, to help out in a flower booth in a Sunday market or to take orders at the food kiosk. Many of us in Singapore do not even know the harsh realities of the real world until our late 20s, some even later. I don't see how the radical protectionism of our kids is going to teach them the need of self-motivation. Much of our academic results are driven by rewards or threats, which is basically the essence of how the entire country is bring run. Note:- we have to install security cameras in lifts as a warning of possible enforcement should we, the educated citizens of Singapore, pee in a one. Do well, get a prize. Do wrong, you'll get it guys. As such, it is rare to see a Singaporean kid do well in school with the end in the mind, "I am working so hard now because I want to be a doctor." More like, "Else my parents will cancel my phone data plan."

While exposing kids to realities of life early may not necessarily allow them to find their true calling, it certainly help them realise what they don't want to do in the future. Customer service. Be it an "Urgh!" or a "I am good at this," it helps them note their natural strengths and weaknesses early. I don't see how the one-dimensional mode of mugging books can attain holistic development for a child. Well, that's me. 

I have plans to accumulate a collection of potted plants and try selling them off in a Sunday market. I shall bring along the two little ones and let Albany write the labels of each plant one by one as we wait for customers to turn up. If one ever does, we will demonstrate to her how to serve a customer. She will soon realise people are not cut from the same cloth, there are nice and nasties to deal with. She will witness how a potted plant we have painstakingly grown for long periods is exchanged for a measly few coins and understand the value of money. She will get to keep the proceeds and I will note down how she choose to spend it to further understand her nature.

It will be interesting to note if she have the perseverance to hit the markets once again, or if she will help in tending to new plants or leave it to us altogether, how will she delegate tasks to her brother when he is old enough to participate and if she will treat it fairly in sharing the spoils.

With my little construction projects being wrapped up one by one, it is time to develop other important things. Hopefully the first trial can happen before the end of the year.

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