The Endangered Singapore Smile

I brought the kids to East Coast Park to try out the Family Bike It’s $30 per hour, and we rented it from the shop at carpark E2. For the novelty, fun-factor for 6 people (including kids), and for the awesome steering wheels at the front, it was $30 well spent!

It was really fun for the kids, and really tiring for the adults who had to pedal! I was surprised that Ethan and his cousin, Gabriel, could last for an entire hour without asking to get out of their seats.

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Family Bike at East Coast Park, Singapore

 

Along the way, we cycled past many other cyclists – children, families, adults, older people. And we thought, maybe it would be nice to wave and say hello as we passed by!

 

In our brief and unscientific, highly biased social experiment, here are my observations on the Friendliest Strangers at East Coast Park

1. The Malay Family

They were always ready to give a wave and a surprised smile back to our little guys.

2. The Ang Mo (Singapore slang for a Caucasian)

Family, couples or children gave warm smiles and greetings. It felt like it was just an every day thing to them!

3. The Local Pre-teen Child

They gave shy smiles, but at least there was some response!

What about the others?

Those friendly park users were actually quite few and far between. Most people that we passed gave blank stares, or stared kept looking ahead, their eyes shielded behind reflective sunglasses.

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For decades we’ve had campaigns aimed at helping our stressed little nation find a little more joy and happiness. There was the 1996 “Smile Singapore” Campaign that gained international news coverage. The Four Million Smiles campaign in 2006, and more recently, the various initiatives by the Singapore Kindness Movement. It seems we still have some way to go if a gleeful child’s greeting is met with cold stares.

But there is hope. Just today, a few strangers made some friendly conversation with Ethan while he was out with me running some errands at the nearby supermarket and 7-eleven. They were genuine. They were kind. They spoke to him like they valued the opinion of a 2 year old.

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Stay calm and Be Kind! A poster by the Singapore Kindness Movement

So, if you were one of those strangers that smiled at my child that day at the park, if you are the man that helped him pick up his shoe instead of glaring at my barefooted toddler at the supermarket, if you are the uncle that took a moment to show him the interesting plant outside your store… thank you.  You made the world a little brighter.

Have you smiled at someone today?

Don’t let the Monday blues dampen your smile! 🙂

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Did you smile today?

 

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Book Review: The Berenstain Bears – Computer Trouble

I have fond memories of reading The Berenstain Bears series when I was a kid. It has cute and cuddly characters, and teaches values based on Christian principles.

So when it was becoming a challenge to pry Ethan from watching endless Youtube videos or games on the laptop or handphone, I was happy to find that The Berenstain Bears have kept up with the times, and there was a book titled ‘Computer Trouble‘.

I’ve been reading it with Ethan for a few weeks now, and he loves it! He identifies with the story, and about how the bears spend all their time on the computer. When the bears try to think about activities that they can do instead of being on the computer, Ethan gets excited because he does those things too – play with sand, go to the playground, play football…

I relate the story back to him when he insists on watching yet ANOTHER video, and I’ve had mixed success. Sometimes he readily accepts another activity. Other times, the crying and tantrums still ensue.

The only thing about the storyline is that all the alternate activities are outdoors. In Singapore, it’s a little hard to always channel the kids outdoors because it is either too hot or rainy for most of the day! We make the most of the magical hour between 5pm-6pm, where the kids can run around in the playground and work off some of that energy. As they get older, they are starting to appreciate some tabletop games as well, like jigsaw puzzles. I’m all for non-screentime activities, and I’m always looking for new things to do with them.

What are your child’s favourite indoor activities? I’d love to hear from you and try it out!