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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Proper Childhood

Childhood Today
What does the word "Childhood" mean to most kids of today? I have no idea, really, but I can imagine it is very much digitally and academically inclined - one that is conformed to "growing up with stress".

See, in today's context, most kids' first toy is not a car or Barbie Doll anymore. At the tender age of two, probably still lying comfortably in a large stroller, most babies are clutching Ipad tablets, busy jabbing at the screens.

As they grow older, they become very attached to technological gadgets and games, hence spend most of their times with / on these gadgets - computers, smart phones, tablets, Wii, PSP, LAN games, or XBox etc. They are constantly engaged in a world of fighting monsters or living in their fantasies, sitting right at home yet their minds, hearts and souls have drifted miles apart.

It is easy to become addicted to, and reliant on devices as such.

"Some kids I know, run back to their rooms to play games the moment they finish tuition lessons or dinners," Mdm Tang*, a retired school teacher, shares her observation. She shakes her head and continues,"They no longer take the time to share about their days with the family members; just keep wanting to finish up the chores of being tutored and eating. There is no communication between family members anymore."

Perhaps a decade later, if these kids look back upon their lives and childhood, they may wonder what else have they done as a kid, besides having the computer games as good memories to fall back upon.

It is already tough enough living in smaller houses compared to houses of the past, where kids could run freely about and chase each around. With kids confining themselves indoors to play computer games, missing out on the real fun of being able to make firm friends during physical games such as sports.

Either that, or these kids prefer living the life of gamers, believing that they are entitled to their games addiction since their other pastime is probably attending tuition lesson after tuitiion lesson on a daily basis.

What great memories to fall back upon indeed - one that bespokes of risks to the eyesight, brains and possibly spine (if sitting posture is not right).

Childhood During My Time
Ask anyone born between the years 1973 - 1988, the kind of childhood we used to enjoy.

It did not matter whether we stayed in large houses on ground levels, or pigeonholes on high floors - there were always plenty to do since young, besides physical toys such as Dolls, Cars, Cooking Sets etc.

We gathered together to play in the school fields, where we could fight in the sandboxes, pull ourselves onto
"monkey bars", leapt at the hopscotch, or simply think of ball games to entertain ourselves with. It was always fun, laughing and bickering with friends, enjoying their company while bonding to forge long-lasting friendships.

There were games such as "Poison Ball", "Musical Chairs", "Catching", or "Big Wind Blows" which we used to play in school or friends' birthday parties. What time did most of the children leave?

We preferred the playgrounds to staying cooped indoors. Playgrounds that came with real sandboxes, heavy merry-go-rounds made of metal, swings made of half-tyres and metal chains, see-saws made of long wooden planks and slides made of mosaic tiles. The playgrounds these days, by the way, are made of plastic and everything has springs beneath them to keep safe; also, rubber mats have been used in place of sand boxes.

                              Replicas of the old playgrounds at Raffles Place, somewhen in October 2013- swing, 
                                                           sea-saw and merry-go-round in a large sandbox.

When we outgrew the playgrounds and fun-fairs, there were always other games we played, such as marbles, card games, five stones and zero-point. All these games required skills, practice and physical engagement, which

It was a fun childhood to look back upon (overseas travels aside) - filled of laughter, physical fun and lots of little companions our age who shared our joys and tears at the time.

The Ideal Childhood
While we look at the limited childhood of kids nowadays, my parents used to view my childhood as restricted and conformed to toys, props and tools (even sports was considered thus).

When they were young, there were very little toys available for them as kids. But then again, they had vast expanse of lands and natural habitats to keep them very busy as kids.

They went fishing in rivers and catching butterflies in the fields. They clumbed trees in forests and played "Hide and Seek" in their big houses and gardens. They helped out in the animal farms or vegetable plantations; and learned to make their own ice sticks.

The kind of things that kids in Europe or the States probably still get to enjoy these days, if they stay in the countryside and keep the electronic gadgets at bay temporarily.

It was a very educational and enriching childhood for them, living this way - having fun and at the same time, learning a lot about nature. So much so that when they learned about "Science" in middle-to-high school, their extent of general knowledge of animals, plants and natural habitats superceded that of the teachers, even.

"Sometimes I feel so sorry for you guys, don't really have much of a childhood since Singapore no longer has wilderness for you to explore. We used to - (goes on to describe past childhood experience)..." My mother would say.

I agree - their childhood sounded so much more fun than ours.

Now, if only she would compare the childhood of kids nowadays to the childhood of someone who has come a long way. I wonder what views or remarks she would then have.

Disclaimer: Names changed to protect privacy. This article and interview conducted herein is strictly the property of the Blog Owner who owns all copyright  © and no part of this work may be reproduced or republished without the permission of the Blog Owner. All Rights Reserved.

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