The simple pleasures of childhood

Posted by ~Summer~ on November 22, 2011
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It's now past midnight and 21st November 2011 is finally over. Yes, my little Angel is now really two years old. We had a smashing Disney party yesterday and I'll be sure to post a write-up on it when I get the pictures.

Today, we brought her to the playground and had another session of birthday song singing, cake cutting, wish making and candle blowing ceremony at home. Just Angel, me, jw, grandma and grandpa. It was a really simple day with a lot of happiness in it. Seeing the smile on my girl is one of the few things in the world that can mend a broken heart, chase away the Monday blues or simply let me feel that life is so beautiful.

I've wanted to write on this topic for the longest time and I guess it's now the perfect opportunity.


Just like thumb prints, or zebra stripes, no two people's childhoods are ever exactly the same. My grandma worked in the fields and learnt to cut rubber trees when she was a kid. My mum lived in a kampong and made friends with chickens and cows. I lived in the urban area and loved cycling, playing catching, zero point and five stones. Yes, it's apparent that childhood has evolved over time and different generations indulge in different activities. You might say that the younger generation is the luckier one, because they don't have to work for a living as kids, they have an array of fun and high-tech toys to play with, they have good schools to attend and an endless list of enrichment classes. The thing is, is it really the case?

One of the reasons why I'm apprehensive about this issue is the advent of gadgets - or toys - like the iPhone and iPad. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally cool with the inventors, propagators and end users of these gizmos (which 99% of my friends probably have one or the other, or both). I'm not against technology, though I won't say I'm the most tech savvy person but I also don't think that I'm out-of-date. If I were, I probably wouldn't have started a blog, did videos or even attempted to learn html.

The thing is, moving over the Sweden made me realise the simplicity of life. 

There were things that I had thought I couldn't live without. You should have seen how badly I bawled when I misplaced my phone or how I thought it was Armageddon when my camera was stolen. The truth was, at the end of the day, it didn't really matter. I held these tangibles close to my heart when it was the intangible which was more precious

I've been living in Sweden for more than three years with an obsolete phone which I use only for basic functions like calling and SMSing and hey, I've survived pretty well! I'm quite certain if I were in Singapore, I would have been tempted to get an iPhone long ago just because it was the in-thing and I didn't want to be the country bumpkin (yes, the suaku one). Now, I ask myself, do I really need it?

Frankly speaking, I'm a little perturbed by the fact that so many kids nowadays see the iPhone and iPad as their toy. These devices have somehow become a measure to distract them and keep them entertained when they get bored or fidgety. In some cases, playing these electronic toys has become their favourite pastime and part of their daily routine. It's like, even young kids at the mere age of two have started embracing these tangibles and feel like they can't live without them, you know what I mean?  

Wait, I have absolutely nothing against these techie kids or their parents, it's just the trend that I'm talking about here. And yes, I definitely admit it's a darn effective method and it always works! Maybe it's cool to use it when we are out having lunch so that the mum can have a chat or eat a meal in peace. But if we had a choice, say for example at home or in the car, I would much rather read a book, play toys, sing nursery rhymes or watch a cartoon on TV together with my girl just so I could bond with her, talk to her, explain each picture or character to her and simply enjoy the mummy-daughter time. 

Yes, I do let her watch TV on her own while I cook (she's much safer near Barney than my pot of hot oil), but other than that, I try to keep her alone-time to a minimum. I'm not saying it's good or bad, but that's just how I like it for the time being. Of course, it's easy for me to say because right now, I only have one child to look after. I can totally devote my time and attention to her and that's precisely the reason why I'm going to cherish the bonding time I get with her. You might be thinking: Wait till she grows older, becomes smarter and demands for more complex toys, then you'll know. Ok, maybe maybe maybe. You can come mock at this post or my old-fashioned thinking one day if that happens and I arm myself with an electronic device as my secret weapon whenever I bring her out.
What really fascinates me in Karlskrona is that when we go out for lunch or tea-breaks, you can see the Swedish kids running around, playing tag or some just sitting obediently beside their parents. For us Singaporeans, well, it's not uncommon to see them with a iPhone in hand, scrolling the screens like experts and playing their favourite games on it. No wonder a friend of mine termed Singaporean kids as "iPhone kids".

I'm pretty sure that there must be many educational apps on iPhone which might be beneficial for kids and you can always download more kid-friendly, learning videos into the iPad. Nonetheless, I feel that once the kid is hooked onto it, it kind of becomes a hobby. And a rather lonesome one. It becomes just the-kid-and-the-gadget and the rest of the world doesn't exist to them anymore. Besides, using this method is probably like eating a can of Pringles, once you pop, you can't stop - meaning once you start to use these gadgets as a means to keep your child busy, it's very easy to turn to it again and again the next time he/she acts up and you somehow feel like it's the best, fastest and most convenient solution.

Well, I'm not saying that I will never get a iPhone or iPad. Or that jw won't. Yes, he doesn't own them too and we are probably one of the rare suaku Singaporean couples. In fact, I do think we might once we return next year and we get sucked into the whole Apple fad. I'm just trying to somehow delay that from happening because I'm really contented with my simple lifestyle now.

There's this witty little 2-year-old girl I know of who can say the most amazing and unexpected things. Well, when she was asked what does the letter 'I' stand for, she said "I for iPhone". And if you ask what does 'M' stand for, she would say "M for MacBook". Yeah, she's one smart, brainy girl.  

But for me, I'm satisfied and more than pleased with Angel saying "I is for Ice cream" for now. And my personal favourite is when you ask her "M is for?", she would instantly reply "M for Mummy!" That's when I feel like the happiest mum in the world and take the chance to plant kisses on her angelic face.

To me, evolution may take place, technology may advance by leaps and bounds but childhood remains as a very simple phase of life.

Last night, Angel and I spent hours opening all her birthday presents. She was so elated even before seeing her presents. You see, it's not the end result, but the process that matters more to the kid. She received several red packets and started taking out all the cash money from within. I was half thinking she was going to keep it and buy for herself the bicycle that she's been harping on recently.

Then, she came over and told me "Mummy, I give you my money, ok?" I was just so pleasantly surprised and once again reminded at how naive, innocent and pure these little beings are.

Next, she also received several dolls. Some were more state-of-the-art and could laugh when being tickled or sing when you wave a wand across its chest. For some reason, Angel picked out the simplest one, (it reminded me of my rag doll, just a tad more modern), one that could not move, could not say Hello and could not even sit properly.

You know what, she held it like a gem for a long time.

Yeap, maybe she has inherited some of my simplicity thinking and know that life can be simple but yet very blissful. You go, girl!

Regardless of how we choose to bring up our kids (there's no right or wrong way), no matter what toys we pick out for them and in spite of which part of the globe we live in, the one thing that we should give them in abundance is L-O-V-E. Yes, love, not money, is what makes the world go round. And what makes a happy childhood.

So, dear Angel, for now, we won't have iPhones or iPads to play with but mummy will play hide and seek, 老鹰抓小鸡 and go kite-flying with you, ok?


  1. This is a brilliant post Summer! It summarises what I feel exactly.

    When I just came to Bangkok, I lived alone for months. I could only play with a stray dog and watch children in my neighbourhood play and cycle around. I did not even have someone to talk to after work.

    But then I realised the people around me are have so little, but they can be so happy, much happier than me. And it puts a lot of things in perspective.

    The rat race in Singapore has blinded us from the simple pleasures in life, and we had to leave to realise it. It's sad but true.

    I probably won't be living in Singapore in the near future, but if you are, then please hold on tight to this feeling ok, it's very precious!

  2. Well, soon we may need to come up with new ABC charts for children. lol. A is still for APPLE, D for DS Lite, I for Iphone, Ipad, P for PS3 etc. Love the photos of Angel here with the doll. She looked so happy!


  3. @Eddie Yii
    Hey Eddie, thanks for the very true and nice comment. I also think people in other countries (esp poorer ones) have so much less than us but yet are so much happier. Yes, I will hold on to this feeling okie. =) thanks!

  4. @gingerbreadhouseonsesamestreet
    Hey ft, that's such an alarming thought! Haha. Maybe dun even need paper charts cos' all will become electronic liaoz and mums no longer need to read them to babies. *gasps* and yeah, glad i caught those pics, she was really happy!


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