People who love children are usually intrigued by the new tricks that kids can do as they grow. At what age does the child learn to sit, walk, laugh or grip on an object? For me, there is nothing more fascinating and magical than the child who learns to speak before he goes to school.And he does not just speak, he speaks in a string of words which are grammatically sound and we usually comprehend his meaning quite easily.For kids who cannot yet speak well, he demonstrates by a calculated pattern of expressions.
There is an alarming number of street kids in Jakarta, the largest city of Indonesia, who know how to approach drivers in cars at the traffic junctions, lift their little hands out for tokens of charities. They do not understand that they are begging for money. They do not know that they are poor. Yet, when they are directed by their parents and group leaders to roam the streets to beg, they follow. The roads are their playground. When the lights go green, they scatter back to their elders who sit on the kerb and seem oblivious to the dangers that lurk. The child hands over the collected tokens and brisked up to the cars again when the lights turn red. If the driver waves his hands gently, he is saying to the child, ‘No, please leave.’ The child tries again, clapping his hands or strike a tune on his little musical instrument made out of coins in a plastic cup or a water bottle. His innocent eyes peep through the unkempt fringe of his hair and eyelids into the tainted glass window, as if wishing the driver will respond with smile. I cannot think of a better example to present to you how a child is able to express his want and need without being heard than that of a child beggar on the city streets of Jakarta. I lived there for more than 10 years. The conditions have not changed.
Did you see the movie SlumDog Millionaire? If you have, you will recall the scene where the young boy covered in human waste, rushed through the crowds to flash a picture of Amitabh Bachan to the superstar himself for his autograph? Did the young boy speak? No. He just flashed the picture out to the superstar and he got an autograph. You will also recall seeing the fear in the eyes of his brother when he saw the cruelty that fell upon his mate who was blinded by the acid poured directly into the eyes. These kids are trained actors but they are still kids. To conjure up courage to act convincingly is the work of the child, not the adult.
The child beggar, the child who lives with caring parents or the child who is showered with material love, they will all grow to become people. The man does not become if it were not for the child that fashions his growth. We always refer to this child as our inner voice or intuition or gut feeling. I know for certain it is the child who was once fearless, eager, inquisitive and questioning who speaks. If we empower him, we will become more powerful ourselves. Isn’t it true that before we learn to write paragraphs, we learn to write sentences? And before we learn to write sentences, we have to learn how to structure our sentencess. If we keep tracking back, we will arrive at the time when we first learnt to recognise the names of alphabets and the sounds they make. It all comes back to childhood.
We also do not have to feel belittled to go back to our childhood to pick up the pieces of images and impressions that have yet to complete the configurations of puzzles of our knowledge about the world. Why did I not like vegetables or milk when I was a kid? Why this and why that?
From the beginning of February ’09, I have been writing about the child’s love for growth from different aspects. Just enter Love in the search box. I refer to it as the Love Essentials Of Growth. You will want to read them because if at any point you feel unable to cope with learning because of lack of materials, resources or fear to overcome a difficulty, the Love Essentials Of Growth will help you. It is a little help from a friend who has taught her to speak foreign languages for the past 40 years.
Further resource: A challenge for Indonesia today: The `republic of beggars’ stigma