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What affect a child’s values
- education system or the family? CSC
“What are you doing
here? You look like you are in pain!” An
acquaintance bumped into me in a shopping mall.
My toes were hurting from
the new sandals after an hour of search through the huge complex to find a
particular ice cream parlor. I wanted to
treat my parents some low fat frozen yogurt that tastes like ice cream. They have restrained from their favorite ice
cream as they are wearied of the fat content.
“You are always doing things
I don’t understand……” She commented.
“Just get any ice cream from any store will do! Why torture yourself like this? It is
interesting to see you acting like a villager even though you have been
educated and exposed overseas.....”
By the time I found the
store, there was a big, bloody blister on one of my toes. I walked bare foot through the complex to the
taxi stand with two tubs of frozen yogurt, attracting curious glances from
I thought about the acquaintance’s
comment in the taxi. “Why is it that I
don’t see this yogurt incidence as something silly or a torture to myself?”
“Didn’t Cousin A and Cousin
B went all out to do something special for Uncle C and Auntie D?” I searched my
mind for answers.
Photo by Tzer Haw
It wasn’t long ago, when my
immediate family took my father out for Father’s Day. After a big dinner, my brother decided to
treat my father with one of his favorite foods -- ice cream. We unanimously agreed to go to the ice
cream parlor with the low fat frozen yogurt. Since we hadn’t been there for
quite a while, it took several rounds of cruising to find the block of shop
houses. Two cars of occupants then
walked all around the block trying to find the parlor with conflicting
directions from passer-bys.
Finally, a police patrol
confirmed that it had moved. Then we cruised to another area and found the ice
cream parlor had closed down. It was
10.30pm by the time we found the third one who had by then closed for the day. My sister called her friends asking for
suggestions. We went to Bangsar but we
couldn’t find any parking place.
It was 11.30pm when we
cruised down the high way to go home without any ice cream. The kids were all
sleeping in the cars. My sister’s mobile phone rang. It was one of her friends
whom she called an hour ago. “You guys
are crazy!” he laughed.
Unfazed, we went to the ice
cream parlor the next day.
Some of the things my family
does sound very silly for outsiders, but the family doesn’t think so. A few of my cousins are known throughout the
extended family for their caring acts. My brother still carries bags of special
fragrant rice from a neighboring country to Ipoh for my parents who love the
rice. Although the rice could be purchased in Ipoh, his reasoning is: the brand
I bought is certified 100% top grade fragrant rice. Years before, he hauled
cans of foods unavailable here to treat my parents.
Doing things for our parents
aren’t burdens. The attitude has to do with the education system we came
from. All of us studied in Chinese
schools where ‘shio’ (filial piety), a Confucian value, was taught earnestly in
our days. We grew up knowing that we must return the care our parents shower on
In other words, ‘filial
piety’ is a part of living. When one
receives, one must give back.
We have all studied the
classical Chinese literature, the “Twenty Four ‘shio’ “. I first read some of
the chapters when I was in Standard Four.
The teacher, Mr H, who was a father himself, told us why we must ‘shio’
our parents and expressed our gratitude in many ways. He asked each one of us what we had done for
our parents for ‘shio’. The class
giggled whenever someone couldn’t answer or when the teacher cracked jokes on
our lack of enthusiasm.
He reprimanded me once when
I couldn’t tell him what I would do for my mother in a similar situation cited
in one of the chapters. “She carried you for nine months in her belly and have
been taking care of you since, you don’t even know how to make her smile?”
I don’t remember what Chinese
characters I learnt in his classes, but I remember his vivid stories about
‘shio’, moral values, undying family love, patriotism, and true friendship.
“Shio’ was embedded in my mind even more when I had to study some chapters from
“Twenty Four ‘Shio’ “ in classical
Chinese while in secondary school.
Now that I’m a mother, Mr H
and the ‘shio’ stories have come back to my mind symbolizing human values I
want to see in my daughter, Little R.
Sadly, the education system
now is so exam oriented that teachers have little time to tell moral stories
like they used to. The Chinese text
books in primary school hardly teach students with classical legends. Students are force-crammed with vocabularies
and the exact answers to exam questions to get high marks. Getting 60 and 70
marks mean you are a failure in certain schools. Their worth is now evaluated by how much they
can absorb from the spoon-feeding, not how much they actually learn in order to
decide how to live their lives as grown ups.
When Little R, started
Standard One this year, I went back to Ipoh to my parents’ house to look for
“Twenty Four ‘Shio’” among stacks of old books.
I brought it back to KL and started reading it to her at bedtime.
There are stories about men
and women who took care of their aging or ailing parents in many ways. Stories such as laying on the bed in the
winter to warm it up first before parents slept on it, laying on icy river to
attract the attention of a particular kind of fish that a mother craved,
quitting an official’s post to return to home town to take care of the ailing
father and tasting his feces and urine to determine the extent of the illness.
(There was no litmus paper to test feces and urine several centuries ago!)
Little R likes the stories
very much for one of them is about Mulan, the girl who bravely went into
battlefield on behalf of her father, knowing that she would be beheaded if ever
anyone discovered that she wasn’t a boy.
She has translated ‘shio’
into English -- Love You Forever.
I am relieved that she
understands what I treasure in life.
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