“What would you buy if you had a million dollars?” Ian, a Beyond intern, posed the question to siblings Nurul and Putra, aged 11 and 12, respectively. Predictably, the kids talked about nice homes, cars and perhaps not sure what wealth will bring, they said that they will hire security guards for their homes too. This hypothetical question was another make-believe activity for the children, but for Ian, he was trying to fulfil a request from their mother. She had come to him asking for help to speak to her children about their family’s financial situation.
Contrary to their mother’s view about their lack of understanding, these children were more than aware of their circumstances. “Mummy has 2 jobs but sometimes we cannot buy what we like at the supermarket because we must pay for electricity first,” the older one shared. “Also, sometimes we have no pocket money.”
These children then assured Ian that they do not need new things and if they really wanted something, they would save for it knowing that “it will take a long time but never mind.” It was good fun imagining life with lots of money, but the children were clear about what they really dreamed about. They looked forward to a future where their mummy does not need to work, and their family is not regarded as poor. They also seemed to have been thinking about such a future as they explained to Ian that this will take time and they are doing their best to help by behaving well and being responsible with their studies.
The manner the children participated in the conversation belied a maturity beyond their years or maybe not because when Ian asked them to describe the difference between dreams and reality, their answer was “Dreams are not real, not yet anyway.”
Maybe because this is the Season of Giving, but when Ian shared the story, I instinctively felt the need to do something nice for these children. They would probably appreciate something they have been saving for. However, it then dawned on me that a gift that strengthened the relationship between them and their doting mummy would be more apt.
Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it should never be at the expense of competing or replacing a child’s family. Caring for children, means also caring for their caregivers and the bonds that they share. So perhaps instead of us playing Santa, what we should be doing is help caregivers play Santa to their kids. We are going to start with Nurul and Putra’s mummy.
Wishing you and your loved ones health, peace of mind and a joyous Season of Giving.
“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.” ― Charles Dudley Warner