This is what it has come to

In my neighbourhood is a name-brand primary school, the kind founded in the colonial period by some rags-to-riches chap, whose reputation in Singapore over the years has calcified into some kind of saint-like symbol of generosity, philanthropy and all-round goodness. As I was walking by the school at lunchtime, a large MPV, the kind that costs S$70,000-120,000 brand new, pulled up. An elderly man got out from the driver's side, the kind of elderly man who has a head full of white hair and wears jet-black socks with sports shoes. He looked healthy enough, but he was moving at that decelerated pace that's not quite doddering but not quite spry, either.

Waiting at the pick-up point was a boy, seven or eight years old and small as they come. He got into the front passenger seat, while the elderly man made his way to the spot on the pavement where the boy had left his school backpack, picked it up, walked back to the vehicle and placed it in the back seat. And by school backpack, I'm talking about one of those units that come with little wheelies these days. It didn't look impossible for the boy to pick up.

So the boy leaves his backpack for his grandfather to pick up. Which grandfather does. Because, I dunno, boy is small and precious, or something.

Just yesterday I was catching up on my Instapaper reads, which included Nancy Gibbs' "The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting" in TIME. The second paragraph reads:
We were so obsessed with our kids' success that parenting turned into a form of product development. Parents demanded that nursery schools offer Mandarin, since it's never too soon to prepare for the competition of a global economy. High school teachers received irate text messages from parents protesting an exam grade before class was even over; college deans described freshmen as "crispies," who arrived at college already burned out, and "teacups," who seemed ready to break at the tiniest stress.
I do admissions interviews for freshman applications to my alma mater, and every year on average they're getting more well-prepped and less able to talk about anything that wasn't scheduled into their lives. Being alternately coddled and prepped-for-life clearly isn't a "uniquely Singaporean" experience of growing up, but you know, who I'm worried about is not so much the boy, but all the other people who are going to have to pick up after him for the rest of his life.



At 2/04/2010 2:14 am , Blogger jude said...

Did you read Mr. Wang's latest post? I think that there might be some connections to be made between your observations and his. Check it:


At 2/05/2010 4:04 am , Blogger tscd said...

Ugh. This must be a trend in SEA households. My American and Brit friends were shocked when they visited me here and saw the way the children were coddled.


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