I’m always struck by how much we del­e­gate our per­sonal lives to other peo­ple. The other day com­ing home on the Bin­tan Resorts Ferry, a fam­ily sat in the rows ahead of us. There were the par­ents, the two chil­dren and two for­eign domes­tic workers.

The younger of the two chil­dren was prob­a­bly under two and cute as a but­ton, play­ing and drool­ing while he was fed a snack. The older child was around six and a real brat — mak­ing faces at and speak­ing to the helpers in a com­pletely dis­re­spect­ful manner.

I think she had asked to have a ferry hot­dog and the helper had said some­thing to the effect that she’d be too full for din­ner, and she’d sulked and asked her father who assented and went to get the hot­dog for her instead.

Last month I wrote lyrics to a silly song that included the line, “Need tuition to make the grade; child is stu­pid blame the maid” and it couldn’t be truer. We seem to have com­pletely abdi­cated our respon­si­bil­ity for our children’s upbring­ing to other people.

I’ve some­times been guilty of for­get­ting to check on Kai (ok he’s only 4) and his read­ing home­work, and last week even for­got he had a pre-school pre­sen­ta­tion (a mini-concert last­ing 20 min­utes, but if you miss it you have to face last­ing con­se­quences) and was only reminded early on the morn­ing of his pre­sen­ta­tion when he told me to be early.

We leave Kai to our helper’s care for sev­eral hours a day some weeks when I’m really busy, or when Naomi’s not well. Then we find we have to cor­rect Kai’s gram­mar and speech because our helper’s Burmese tinted Eng­lish some­time nosso good.

That’s when we realise we have to take charge if we want our kids to grow up the way we want them to. Every per­son we engage to care for Kai has to be able to work with us to ensure he gets the right kind of care and guid­ance. We have been tak­ing some time to talk to Kai’s teach­ers and ask about his progress in school regard­ing his social skills (our pri­or­ity), and it’s been reap­ing a ton of benefits.

There’s been some chat about whether NTUC First Cam­pus has addressed the issues atten­dant to the part-time caregiver’s sack­ing from their preschool, but I have to say again that par­ents, espe­cially in Sin­ga­pore, need to be more active in their kids’ upbring­ing, and help the childcare/preschool sec­tor improve.

There is no excuse for the type of behav­iour exhib­ited by the part-time staff at that par­tic­u­lar pre-school, but I would like to high­light that NTUC First Cam­pus, like many of the other NTUC affil­i­ates, are co-operatives, which means that their aim is to get out there to do good.

First Cam­pus itself works with gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies and NGOs to reach out to less priv­i­leged fam­i­lies — there are child­care places reserved for low-income fam­i­lies. There was a case sev­eral years ago of a 16 month old boy who was lag­ging devel­op­men­tally because of mal­nour­ish­ment and a home envi­ron­ment you’d recog­nise as not ideal — his only par­ent, his mother, was serv­ing a prison sen­tence, and his sole care­giver had been his grand­mother, who had to leave the house to work daily.

First Cam­pus made two excep­tional deci­sions — the child was accepted into a My First Skool Cen­tre even though he was two months under the min­i­mum age; the child was accepted with­out a fee. The staff at that Cen­tre also reached out to the child’s grand­mother with tips on how to con­tribute to the boy’s development.

The boy at issue is now almost ten and doing well in pri­mary school.

There are no leaked YouTube videos to show, by mak­ing the deci­sions they did for this boy, how shock­ingly good the care­givers at that cen­tre have been. And this is quite unfortunate.

Tagged with:
Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.