Oct 1, 2005

Happy Children's Day!

Thought it’d be a good time to write smtg abt kids, today being Children’s Day & all. Also because as RW guides, we are role models for kids during ReefWalks. To stand up for those who are unable to fend for themselves, we are the face & voice of the shores and reefs of Singapore. So we have to ask ourselves, do we put on a friendly face for kids? Do they see us as Nemo or as Captain Hook?

I dare to bring up the fact that most of us admit our dislike for or impatience with children. Not all kids in general, but usually the screaming, whining, spoilt little ones, or irritable (and sometimes irritating) teens. Of course, I know that this ‘dislike’ or ‘impatience’ is seldom displayed during a ReefWalk because we know better than to let our personal likes/dislikes/biases get in the way when we’re supposed to be spreading inspiring messages to the public. Here’s my 2 cents’ worth...

The Future Is Ours To Make. Remember images of happy, smiling children, and teens dancing with Taufik & Rui En permeating our everyday lives a few months back (no excuse… if you didn’t see it while watching TV at home, you would have seen it on TV Mobile – in the bus, at the MRT station, in the train, on big screen displays on buildings…)? It kinda gave people the impression that the statement “The future is ours to make” comes from children. But that’s not exactly right. As adults in the here & now, we are the present, and the future is OURS to make, or break, FOR the children.

We can continue living our selfish, self-absorbed lives and not leave anything behind. Here, I’m not talking abt leaving enough kids behind to avoid a greying population. Neither am I talking abt conserving what we still have for future generations. These are all issues that have been highlighted too many times already.


I’m talking abt leaving the Message behind. Making your mark, and making sure it’s set in stone, or more like set in the hearts & minds of the young, who will carry this Message like a torch to enlighten others. So when you say the FUTURE is ours to make, it actually means that the PEOPLE of the future are ours to mould. And this starts with how we connect with and inspire the children of Today.

If a child leaves a ReefWalk feeling that Kusu is not worth conserving ‘cos it’s all mud & smells like crap, remember, this little ‘brat’ will one day be the Man of Tomorrow.

The kids that scream & complain the most may one day be the Voice of the future or an important decision maker, given their ‘skilled’ vocals & power to communicate. What message do you want this kid to carry forward?

Why is the sea blue over there? Why is it brown over here? How come the anemone dun have Nemo? Why does the barnacle wanna stay on the rock? But why? But why? The overly curious kid that you wish you could whack with your pot or guidebook may one day be an environmental journalist or researcher. What would be this child’s inspiration in the future?

And don’t think the little tantrum-throwing cry baby is just too pampered or overly dramatic. Maybe one day become big time celebrity or Ah Jie leh… What cause would you like an Ah Jie or Heavenly King to stand up for?

So don’t bully them. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t give them the evil eye. Don’t instill fear. How well you manage to attract, interest, interact, and above all else, inspire a child, may be just what he/she needs to kickstart a lifelong passion and love for nature. The children who come for ReefWalks are our true VIPs. They are the ones who will say, “Papa, please don’t order shark’s fin soup anymore”. And ‘Papa’ will listen to his child more than to his wife. They are the ones who will insist, “Mummy, I don’t want to learn ballet. I want to know more about corals.” And ‘Mummy’ will still send little one off to ballet class, but probably also find a way for her to study corals. Parents will do almost anything to give their kids a good future. And so should we.

Children’s Day isn’t just a day for kids. It’s for all those who are role models in their lives – parents, teachers, mentors, guides. We must also remember that we were once kids, and realise that that kid is still very much a part of who we are. From the way we walk & talk, live & breathe. We still stumble & fall. We still complain & whine at times. We still get excited over trivial things & ask many questions. Nobody’s perfect. Young or old.

I don’t wanna sound like Whitney Houston, but the children are the future. Little minds longing for knowledge. Little hearts longing for direction. Little souls longing for inspiration.

We can either make ‘em, or break ‘em.

4 comments:

kilbunny said...

bernie, i wanna adopt u. can can? i'll try to remember wat u've said the next time another bored kid grabs my arm to shake the sand from his shoes and hits my (brand-new) Chek Jawa guidebook into the water...

UdangHantu said...

The Chek Jawa guidebook was meant to be baptised in salt water anyway...
Even the one Ria signed for me got baptised... So I guess I won't be selling that to a collector any time soon....

Heh... I think that the CJ guidebook hasn't been used well till it has been baptised.

But that could be just my opinion...

greengardn said...

Uses of the Guidebook:
1. For reference, duh...
2. Ruler/measuring instrument
3. Eyeshade, especially when you can hardly open your eyes in the morning
4. Sunblock
5. Rain cover
6. Mud cover too if you've got little ones splashing about
7. Fan
8. "Prodder" of weird looking stuff
9. "Flying object" to the guide in front if he/she's hogging the whole shore
10. Must also start making new guides swear upon it - "I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth...", or "I pledge allegiance..."

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