Last week, #4 volunteered me to help out in her school’s racial harmony day. To be honest, I never actually knew what they did in school on RHD. I just presumed they wore the different nationality’s costumes and that was it. When I entered the school hall, I was surprised that the teachers actually took the trouble to organise different booths to showcase the different cultures.
There was a henna booth where the kids had their hands drawn by the parent volunteers, and the older students even had the choice of creating their own designs. There was a booth where a mummy volunteer taught the students how to don a sarong kabaya. They could then proceed to another booth to have their photos taken.
There were plenty of traditional games to give the students a chance to play the games we played in our day. There were games like Capteh (whereby the players kick colourful feathers attached to a rubber base), Kuti-kuti (whereby the players flick colourful animal shaped tokens), 5 stones (triangle shaped packets filled with beans), hop-scotch and paper balls which you have to manually blow up. I was manning the card games booth, with ‘old-fashioned’ games like ‘Donkey’, ‘Old Maid’, ‘Happy Family’, and snakes and ladders.
The lower primary students were very excited and enthusiastic to try out all the different games. The upper primary students were reticent at first. Perhaps they felt that the games were rather childish. However the teacher encouraged them to take a break from the stress of the upcoming Prelims and to enjoy themselves. They ended up having fun with the simple games!
Many students asked me if I had ‘Sleeping Queen’ (a current card game). One boy saw we were providing card games and asked if we had poker cards. I couldn’t believe it but quite a few kids asked me “Auntie, how do you play snakes & ladders?” The parent volunteer next to me promptly answered “Ladder go up, snake go down”. To which the boys let out a long “Ohhh….”
It reminded me again that our kids are indeed from a different generation. Their experiences are so different from ours. They do not see the world like we do. They probably perceive me as ‘old-fashioned’. I am slowly stepping into their world. One parent volunteer I met told me she took leave to be here as her presence meant a lot to her child. Although I am so busy, I always leave the school glad that I had spent a morning with the children. It is heartening to see your child happily playing with her close friends. I find that time stands still when I’m in the company of so many carefree and spirited children (even if it’s just for a period, before they return to their boring classrooms). To see them wholeheartedly enjoy whatever they are doing reminds me to do the same.
I highly recommend all mummies and daddies to at least volunteer for 1 event per year per child. It’s really not too much to ask right? It means a lot to our children, and it says to them that they are important. Important enough for us to take leave from our work or from our busy schedule to be involved in their school life. Think about it: it costs nothing, you don’t have to plan anything, and it’s not all that tiring… unless of course you volunteer for the outdoor excursions like the zoo outing or the nature trail at fort canning. Sounds much easier than taking them out over the weekend!
Sane tip: I used to tell my kids, do you seriously think I have extra time to volunteer in your school? I realised its a poverty mentality. Now, I tell all of them, if there’s anything you would like me to be involved in, just ask me. I will definitely try my best to go. I realise that taking a couple of hours out to be in the company of my child and her classmates will always slow me down in my busy day. Your child will be so happy you went that she will be very pleasant company for the next few days (that’s what I notice, anyway).
Save tip: If we are looking for ways to bond with our child, I don’t think I can find any cheaper alternative than this.