terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Sign o' the Times

A delivery man? With a SGD28,000 club membership?

Only in Singapore.

Again, I blame this on Singapore becoming too rich too fast.


Whenever I ask the kids I teach why they thought children are so pampered nowadays, the answer is invariably, "because their parents don't want them to suffer as they did."

Uh. Right.

I'm not sure, but didn't this 'suffering' in the past make them who they are today? In most cases, it can't be a bad thing, especially if this country isn't falling apart and going to hell in a handbasket (not yet, anyway). I find it ridiculous that many successful people/ captains of industry/ pillars of society are buying into the whole "my child cannot suffer as I had done in my childhood/ youth" argument. So much for character-building*.

I'm sorry, but how else is your child going to learn to be resilient and independent, if not through 'suffering'? Which also bring us to the question: what is 'suffering' anyway?

Apparently, nowadays it means:
1. Carrying your own bag of books to school and back.
2. Taking public transportation (... that's not an air-conditioned cab).
3. Not having someone pick up after you.
4. Not being able to watch the TV programmes you want after a certain time.
5. Sweating! (I shit you not.)
6. Not having an overseas holiday every time school's out.
7. Having to face up to the consequences of your own actions.
8. Not having an allowance that's the GDP of a small, developing African country with few natural resources.
9. Being scolded.
10. Not being allowed to back talk.
11. Not being allowed to dress or style their hair as you please.
12. Not getting everything you want.


So much for the other minor forms of suffering like disease, war, famine and drought. The Four Horsemen don't have a branch office in Singapore. For which I'm thankful, but not when we need to invent new forms of suffering like honest, hard physical work and being courteous or respectful just to feel at ease with the rest of the world.

How does a child, having experienced nothing but material and physical comfort all her life, learn about growing up in an increasingly difficult world? How would she deal with bad things that will happen to her? Quit? And then what? Blame the System for making things difficult for her in the first place (like some students from my old school who'd blame everything and everyone, including their own indulgent parents, but themselves for the offenses they've committed)?

It's one thing to want to be a good parent to your child. But it's criminal to not prepare your child properly for adulthood, warts and all, and then unleashing them into a world that wouldn't give a rat's ass what happens to them.

* Which, suddenly, becomes the responsibility of teachers. Right. But when it is necessary to discipline and take them to task for their failures of self-control, these same parents swoop in and rescue their children from a fate worse than death (given the way some parents act in these situations, it has to be so).

This, here, is character-building for you. Singapore-style.


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