Jan 23, 2013

Number Two, the kampung boy

We were at camp over Christmas. Number Two was running around all day shirtless, and spending almost the whole day in the river. He 'swam' in the river, wriggling like an eel. He got a shade darker every day. And a friend remarked :

"He reminds me of Lat, the kampung boy." (Lat is a comic strip about a village boy growing up in the 1950s in Malaysia)

1) He is frequently caught being 'an apek'. To conjure up an image of an apek, think of the quintessiansial trishaw man awaiting customers on a hot, lazy day, or an old man at a coffee shop with one leg drawn up on the chair. After two minutes at a chair, Number Two's leg will subtly pop up and you will see a peek of the knee above table height. At this point, we admonish him and the leg pops down again.

2) He likes to run around on grass without shoes and without a shirt. His preferred eating tools are his fingers.

3) He likes to be outdoors and is sometimes found outside, poking at grass and muttering to himself.

4) He has no qualms picking up bugs and such. Hubs bought him a bug observer for Christmas, and he calls it his 'bug-a-lator." At camp, he crept up to a dragonfly and caught it by its tail before releasing it.

Is this a product of genes or environment? The apek thing must be genes - he's been here for a third of his life, so how did he pick up apek-ness? The genes don't come from Hubs or me, so I always say it's something that must have skipped a generation.

The love of the outdoors is probably a product of the environment - here, there is ample opportunity to be outdoors and for any genetic spark of love for nature to be ignited. My friend's father said someething over the hols, that rang true...

"It's a pity when kids are forced to be couped up indoors, undergoing tuition all hours of the day. This is a place where kids can truly enjoy their childhood and be kids."

My dad used to reminisce of his childhood - of dipping into rivers and climbing trees; of exploring where he wanted; of letting his imagination lead the play. My kids live in an urban world, with all the facilities that modern life brings, but they have instant access to Nature's playgrounds and they have the time to be idle and appreciate the wonders around them.

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