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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 00:00

Let Love Be Zero Burden and Zero Distance

Written by  Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Connie Yew

Children happily massaged their parents’ back. Everyone enjoyed the happy moment and had a hearty laugh. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]

It is a natural and simple theory that if physical affection and well-said words are practised between parents and children, it will bring about closer relationships among family members. However, with the passage of time, many of us have forgotten this. It is a true fact that parent-child interaction needs practice. By learning to express and respond to love showered on us from a young age, the true feelings of care and love will flow naturally regardless of changes in time and space.


May and June are the months for celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Teachers at the Da Ai kindergarten in Melaka took the opportunity to organize parents’ appreciation ceremony for their respective classes, by inviting students’ parents to participate and feel the atmosphere of filial piety practice among all students and parents.

On June 17, 2016, the five-year-old Da Zhi Class organized the appreciation ceremony. As one would notice from the screen, whenever an adult or a child said “I love you” to the other party, their expressions varied. They were either embarrassed, displayed awkward expressions, stunned, showed their loving disposition or were extremely touched to the point of tears. All these expressions caught the sight and stir the emotions of the audience.

The six-year-old Da Yi and Da Shan Class held their sessions on June 28. A few weeks before the event, the children were busily preparing appreciation cards and beaded bracelets for their parents. They were so keen and looked forward to the arrival of the “big day”! On that day, when their teacher, Koh Siew Tin, reminded them to utter the words written in the cards to their parents, they were astonished and made an embarrassed “yi~” sound. Just one day before the event, the children were busily moving and arranging desks and chairs, cleansing trays and decorating the venue. Despite the hot weather which made them sweat profusely, not a word of tiredness was uttered.

Let’s express our love and live with no regrets

When Teacher Lee Choy Yean of Da Zhi Class requested each parent to write a letter to their parents and send it out, the parents were surprised and felt awkward. While they were busily writing their letters, the mother of Lakshman Krishnan, Cheok Mei Lick, gazed at the blank letter pad. Her mind was filled with memory of her late mother, who passed away a year ago. She sobbingly said that she could not recall ever having said “I love you” to her late mother despite their close relationship. Her words told of her thoughts of love and regrets.

Teacher Choy Yean walked towards her and gently put her hands around her shoulders to console her. Unable to complete this letter is a regret that would linger in her heart perpetually. In order to remind others not to repeat her mistake, she courageously walked up to the stage and shared, “The school organizes this activity to give us an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves. We all knew the simple theory that ‘love’ must be expressed. However, when our parents were around us, we, as children, tend to neglect this (the need to express our love). It is always after they are gone that we realize it is too late! I appeal to all not to repeat my mistake, which will only bring regrets.” Once again her eyes were teary.

In fact, Mei Lick is a Straits-born Chinese who does not know the Chinese language. Even though the event was conducted in Mandarin, the pictures, music and letter-writing session have all touched her heart. Within half a year, she has attended such appreciation ceremony twice by taking time off from her job. But she said, “It’s worth the while! I am very happy that I did not miss this gathering. But why no one has shared this theory with me when my mother was still around? Things would have been different if I were to hear about this earlier!”

Her five-year-old son was initially in the four-year-old class because he was transferred from another kindergarten and did not know the Chinese language. Later, when the teacher observed that his Mandarin was progressing well, he was transferred to the five-year-old class just four days earlier. Thus, Mei Lick had actually attended the parental appreciation ceremony for the four-year-old class and was hesitating whether to attend again. She was glad she had the opportunity as it had greatly benefitted her.

Upon seeing her son kneeling down to serve her tea, and wash and massage her hands, she was reminded of what he did a few days earlier. She said, “Once when I was angry with him at home, he invited his two sisters to accompany him and kneel down in front of me, bathe my feet and serve me tea. He was putting what he had learnt in school into practice at home. Being a university lecturer, I knew about this theory, but it was through personal experience that I thoroughly comprehended the significance of education and the core values behind it.”

Treasure the opportunity to express filial affection

At another corner, a five-year-old boy named Chng Yuz Ell, happily hugged his father, Chng Kheng Poh, and his grandmother, Lee Yan Yan, filling the air with the joy and cheers of togetherness for three generations. Kheng Poh, who works in Kuala Lumpur, purposely came home to attend the event. He said smilingly, “It is my first time attending this appreciation ceremony. My wife attended the ceremony when my son was four. I have never openly expressed my love to my mother. And today, I did both!” He hugged his mother and said “I love you!” while Yuz Ell smiled happily by their sides.

Tan Lem Beng, mother of Yuz Ell’s classmate, Loh Shin Yu, also purposely came from Johor Bahru to attend this event. Her daughter kept on reminding her about this appointment, and made seating reservations for the mother and her aunt in Melaka, who is her guardian. She did not forget to show her appreciation to the latter by inviting her to the ceremony. She treats her aunt like her second mother.

Lem Ming shared a touching story behind this episode, “I have been very close to my daughter and it was a difficult decision for us to stay apart. When the class first started, my sister sustained a fractured leg in an accident and I had wanted to transfer Shin Yu to Johor Bahru. But my sister was adamant that my daughter should continue to study in Da Ai kindergarten in Melaka. Every time when I am with my daughter, I could see that she is growing in character. It is worth all the trouble and efforts.”

Shin Yu is good in applying what she has learnt from school in her daily life. For example, when she saw the tap water running fast, she would remind that as “Mother Earth is sick, we should slow down the water.” When she saw her cousin sister falling down, she said to her, “Be mindful of our steps so that we will not walk the wrong path.” She not only practises what she has learnt herself, but also shares the concepts with others. It boosted her mother’s confidence in her, and her aunt is pleased to spend an hour taking her to and from school daily.

Shin Yu invited her two “mothers” as her guests of honour. She gently and attentively washed their hands, served them tea, offered them a massage and a hug as a sign of love and filial affection. As a primary school teacher, Lem Beng was touched and said that generally speaking, parents expect children to be filial, but as adults ourselves, we fail to do that to our parents. Citing herself as an example, she said, “On several occasions when I was back in my hometown, I told myself I must hug my mum and tell her that I love her, but I failed to do so because I lacked the courage. The activity today and the sharing by other parents made me realize that life is impermanent, so we must be filial to our elders now to avoid regrets later.”

Build up the foundation from young

At another corner, the six-year-olds were busily trying to show off their artistic skills by painting their parents’ faces on the buns, which would be served to their parents later. Some were seen painting with the chocolate jam confidently while some hesitated and sought help from Teacher Su Hui Min on where to start. One of them, who found it very difficult to manage the chocolate jam in his palm, asked the teacher, “Why not use pencil instead?” Immediately, his classmates and teacher broke into laughter and replied, “Can it be eaten if we used a pencil?” He was embarrassed and smiled too. After some busy moments, the children managed to produce images of their parents on the buns – big eyes, thick eye brows, little mouths, round noses and all sorts of other features!

During one of the activities, the teacher guided parents to recognize their children, who were behind a large piece of cloth, by listening to their voices. The children also had to try to recognize their parents’ hands from behind the cloth, and so on. This was to enhance the parent-child relationship, to alert parents to observe their children’s vocal expressions, and the children to be aware of the physical changes in their parents. Teo Tze Tim was quick in recognizing his mother’s hand, and he said naively, “My mum’s hand and my hand were the same, fair, and we have three lines on our palms.” His mother, Tay Pei Chyi, proudly claimed that they would have no difficulties recognizing each other due to a close interaction between them.

When the children were presenting the sign language interpretation of the song entitled, “Mum’s hands” on stage, every verse of the lyrics: “It is these two hands that taught me how to walk, accompanied me to school for the first time, and protected me from the wind and rain… Holding tight to mum’s hands, a stream of warmth flowed through my heart… Looking at this pair of gradually wrinkling hands, my guilt and tears rolled down…” touched Pei Chyi and made her sob. She said with guilty consciousness, “Here, the children are taught to express gratitude to parents, and this promotes interaction between me and my son. The lyrics of this song reminded me of my mother. Till now, I still have difficulties saying the three simple words, ‘I love you’ to her. The reason being I was not taught to express my love and gratitude for my parents during my younger days. It is awkward to do it now when we are grown up.” The sentiments contained in her statement were a mixture of regret, guilty consciousness, gratitude and love.



A bowl of tasty fruit salad, a bun with the parent’s face painted on it, and a cup of hot tea, were all prepared by the children themselves for their parents. It was immensely touching to see the children attentively scrubbing their parents’ hands, kneeling down to serve them tea and feed them food, as well as presenting them with a handmade appreciation card, beaded bracelet and floral artwork; and the beaming parents reciprocating their children with warm hugs and kisses on the cheeks. Hopefully, the beautiful images of these scenes will be imprinted on everyone’s mind without fading, and encourage the parents to practise filial piety, so that the relationship of love between parents and children would be of zero burden and zero distance.

 

Parents were thoroughly engrossed in writing letters to their parents. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]   Five-year-old Loh Shin Yu knelt respectfully and gave a good hand scrub to her mother (1st left) and aunt. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]

Parents were thoroughly engrossed in writing letters to their parents. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]
 
Five-year-old Loh Shin Yu knelt respectfully and gave a good hand scrub to her mother (1st left) and aunt. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]
 
During the letter writing session, Cheok Mei Lick realized that she must take the opportunity to share her regretful feeling towards her late mother. She called upon everyone to express their love and be filial to their parents. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]   Here, parents were guided by teacher to recognize their children’s voice, and children were also asked to recognize their parents’ hands behind the cloth. This is to enhance the parent-child relationship. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

During the letter writing session, Cheok Mei Lick realized that she must take the opportunity to share her regretful feeling towards her late mother. She called upon everyone to express their love and be filial to their parents. [Photograph by Yen Yu Chu]
 
 
Here, parents were guided by teacher to recognize their children’s voice, and children were also asked to recognize their parents’ hands behind the cloth. This is to enhance the parent-child relationship. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Tay Pei Chyi praised the initiative of Da Ai kindergarten to teach the children to express their love for their parents from young. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]  

Tay Pei Chyi praised the initiative of Da Ai kindergarten to teach the children to express their love for their parents from young. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]