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"Go to hell, you bitch" These are five new words that Tammy has added to her vocabulary. And it did not bother her that she do not understand the true meaning of the words, thrown at her male jack Russell. It may sound harmless and oblivious when these words are blurted out by two hot tempered individuals engaged in a heated argument. But these few words should deserve our upmost attention in this context. Why? Tammy is just a 4 years 2 months old kid waiting to be enrolled into the nursery.
Nowadays, I notice kids around me comprehend and articulate well even at a very young age. Once I witnessed the following conversation on a train between a parent and her kid which I had presume should be no older than 5 years. "Mummy, I like to get a PSP like what cousin Tom has," he asked. His mum then replied, " Sure, you get one on your next month birthday" I was a bit shocked to hear his reply. He replied " Thanks , you are the most generous, magnanimous and big hearted mummy in this world." His mummy nonchanantly acknowledged him and they alighted shortly. It was a very big thank you to his mum, I thought. However, the burning question is where did he learn those adjectives? I must admit embarrassingly. I did not come across those words not after my primary school education. I guessed the kid could have learnt those words from his parents. To affirm my belief, I spent the next few days observing keenly at how the younger children communicate with their parents and at the same time interrogating my younger cousins, both 7 years and 9 years of age and are schooling now. True to my belief, I concluded that kids learn a lot from their parents or adult guardians before the schooling stage and that most of their behaviours, etiquette and actions are mimicked very closely. This continues even when they are enrolled into nurseries and schools.
It does not take an expert observation to know children spend a great deal of their time with the adults i.e. Parents, grandparents and care giver. I guess this is inevitable in today context. Gone were the days where the kids could be left alone and roamed freely in the kampong from day till night and yet we knew exactly where they were when we needed them back for dinner. Through this constant interaction with adults, children would consciously learn and subconsciously pick up new behavioural traits or vocabulary from them.
If we were to treat children akin a sponge, will we behave differently in front of them knowing somehow they are observing our actions from a distance and that our actions are reflected in them as seemingly correct. And if the above learning theory stands, will we scold their grandparents for not ironing their clothes properly, bruise pinch our maids' for not coming back on time from their marketing, send their grandparents away to an old folks home, let them falter and not visit them till their deathbed or worst still resort to violence towards our spouse when it seem like the only mode of venting the frustration in the abuser's mind at that point in time?
The answers are obvious. In my case, I shall not take my parents for granted and will devote more time towards my family. I will express my affections to my papa, mama and wife more often. I will be more patience, compassionate and energetic in my everyday life. Most importantly, I will also read the dictionary more often to brush up my English and learn more bombastic words so that when my fatherhood arrives, my kids will be more vocal, compassionate and filial.
Luckily, I stopped myself from asking that little boy, "Where did you learn the word magnanimous." If not, words like benevolent , selfless and munificent would have been listed and I would had probably cancelled my appointment and ended up in the English section of a library flipping through Thesaurus that day.
Written by Chin Hock
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Chin Hock (Holdinghands in the Media)
Founder of Holdinghands and Filial Piety Award Recipient 2013