Friday, January 30, 2009

Just Another Thought I Pondered

When I was a teenager, the world we live in operate on faxes and telegrams. There was no internet, and "Cyberspace" is a term that sound like some sort of hollywood movie. The favorite haunts were Mac Donalds and Burger Kings. Starbucks Coffee have not even been bought over by Howard Schultz its founder, and there is certainly no such thing as 'people watching' in a cafe. Plus paying 6 bucks for a cup of 'kopi peng' is a luxury most of us cannot afford. Heck, a combo meal at Mac Donalds cost less than 4 bucks in those days.

The youngsters today have it all. They carry mobile phones that send messages across continents, have never operated a cassette walkman, while mp3 and IPOD is the standard denominator in their dictionary. They hogged cafes like their living rooms and smoke cigarettes at the age of ten. They might have invented the term "alcohol bingeing', and they prowl the roads like they paid road taxes more than the capacity of songs that their multi-gig IPOD can hold. Some of them can even be hard to fathom.

Unusually hungry straight after dinner on the first day of Chinese New Year (those set meals in Chinese Restaurants during the CNY period doesn't exactly tickle my tastebuds), I drove to a movie mall frequent by youngsters, Orchard Cineleisure, for a takeaway Burger King meal. The green man in the traffic light has turned red, and the crowd dispersed fast on the walkway only to reveal 2 teenagers taking their time strolling on. I rested my hands on the steering wheel and waited patiently for those 2 chaps to cross over while the car behind me is increasingly finding my car bumper as attractive as a canine's ass.

For easy reference, I will name them Mr Moonwalker and Mr Colorblind who obviously cannot differentiate green from red. Watching them stroll across the pedestrian walkway is like smoking weed and making you witness everything in slow motion signature of John Woo's style. With pressure building up from a salivating car behind my ass, I tap a quick horn behind the wheel.

Mr Moonwalker fast paced himself a little, but still enough to annoy because concubines in Qing Dynasty movies walked faster with their feet binded. A more dramatic Mr Colorblind still in the middle of the road gave me a stare and waved his hands across the walkway still holding a half-smoked cigarette. He must have muttered something which I am guessing is hokkien swearing. I pointed towards the red man sign suggesting he should go back to kindergarden for some coloring lesson. Clearly displeased, he lingers in the middle of the road displaying gangsterism by swaying like a monkey.

Now, I know you might probably be looking for some drama that might involved an uncle slapping 2 teenagers thereafter. It did not happen. I stepped on my accelerator and moved on. Compliments of my wife who reminded me that there is a baby at the back of my car. And it is a small matter to begin with anyway, I probably wouldn't mind if there were no cars behind me, but because of those 2 jokers I had road hogged the entire stretch of cars. But I have to say I was very agitated for a moment, holding back my fume I parked my car and promised my wife I wouldn't beat anyone up. I got us some burgers and drove off.

Those two looked barely 18 to me. They were in fact, boys who have not even entered the army for national service. And yet they behaved like they own the world. I was concerned. Although rebellious teenagers are spotted around everywhere in the world, especially in the west where they went about their killing spree by firing machine guns into crowds, I find the trend escalating in Singapore. News of teenagers beating people to death locally have tolled up over the years.

My personal observation simply in Singapore context alone is that, things are getting worse. I have witnessed fights that erupted simply by a mere stare while sitting in a coffee joint. And these kids were mostly in their secondary schools. I have also witnessed kids talking back to their parents in total disrespect. Their behaviour suggest a total revisit in our education system and uninspiring parenting.

A recent article I read suggested these are the "Generation Y" lot, intelligent and well informed with IT knowledge. They know what they want and usually have a short attention span to things that interest them, simply because, well they are too intelligent. The article also suggested that to keep the 'gen y' nation in your workforce you will need to constantly give them new and challenging roles or else they will move on.

I say screw it.

Because whether they are 'gen y' or 'gen x' or whatever, basic courtesy and personal conduct of behave still matters in life.

I did not live through the times of hardships like my parents did. But they taught me well, instilled mannerisms and dignity in my approach towards life. I was brought up with confucious values as a Chinese descendant. I doubt many of these kids bother, afterall our fast advancing society had diffused our roots and cultural values, opting for one that is perhaps more westernised. But still it is not an excuse for impoliteness, a lot of ang mohs are in fact cultured and polite people.

Back at home after some burger dining in car, I looked at my baby daughter who was sleeping like an angel in her cot. I am sorry the word 'angel' is so overused in my entries that it is probably a cliche now, but that is only way which best describes her at such an adolescent age. That is until she grows up to be a teenager who has to succumb to peer pressures and what not.

For a moment, I shuddered at the thought of my little girl talking back at her dad. But that is a little too far in the future for me to anticipate. For now, I'll just watch her grow up with joy and promise to instill to her the very same values that my parents instilled in me.

And for the first time in my life, I felt old, like a father, a parent.


*Anton* said...

LOLZ Great post! Dun worry, yu are not alone .... another ol' fart here! :P

Kids nowdays are indeed spoilt. My aunt's grand daughter juz told her to "pls use your brains" during a conversation tonite at her house for a gathering. ish!

Neways, Have a great week ahead ya, Ken! ^_^

aaronng88 said...

haha >< somehow i feel the moment before and after the child is born has alot of age-ing..

the moment the child is born, u have a huge amount of responsibility, love and role-model values thrusted upon you. No doubt ur rank instantly become daddy, but i guess it's worth it =)

p/s: y do i sound 40 =.= good lord.. i dun even have my pet fish..

Bengbeng said...

the minute yr daughter was born, you gave up up yr entire pre-her life. yr sense of values, norms thinking all had to change. feeling old? welcome to the club :)

if it is any consolation, i think u and yr missus still wont look out of place in any happening night spot hahahaah

A Common Singaporean said...

Anton - I read the straits times today under the "Home" segment front page is a piece of news of teenagers trespassing a golf green and beating golfers up after a night of drinking. Just sharing. Your aunt's grand daughter is considered mild I supposed. haha.
You have a pleasant week too!

Aaron - Yes, its worth it, especially when my daughter smile at me. I simply vaporize like hot steam because it is such a warm feeling.

Beng Beng - Ha ha, thanks for consolation but its not true. Photos play tricks to the eye. Up close, my wrinkles are as lengthy as the MRT tracks. No matter how much moisturiser or mask I put on my face it doesnt help. The missus is ok though :P

*Anton* said...

Ah, forgot to mention Ken that she's only 4 yrs old.


~LeuMaS~ said...

Teenagers nowadays ~ haiz... luckily u still remember ur baby is better dun get involved in any fighting ... btw, u dun like an uncle at all ~~~ stay cool !!!

A Common Singaporean said...

Anton - Wah. Looks like she got potential leh. Opps.

Leumas - Nah, my wife reminded me. My hand was already on the door knob. I didnt write that in. Thanks for compliment. I am sure I will look like one in another few years time. I'll just dye my hair brighter by then!

~LeuMaS~ said...

haha~ i see ur pic with ur baby...u look quite young to old r u?

A Common Singaporean said...

Hey Leumas, I am rather young at the age of 34, which is why I dont look like an uncle. But that could be a different story another 5 yrs down the road when my girl is in kindergarden.

Bengbeng said...

i had a similar incident today. well almost similar. they were playing around on two bikes 4 teenagers in all. i did my best to avoid hitting then and i did. instead of being thankful or apologizing they wanted to pick a fight. if there were any cars behind me, the car behind would have banged into me.

i was only traveling at 50km/hr. mind you there was no courtesy or good manners at all. only good old fashioned swear words and the middle finger

Bengbeng said...

i meant i did not hit them :)

A Common Singaporean said...

Yo Beng Beng,

I thought it would have been a different case in Malaysia where ppl are friendlier.

I have many friends from your country and they are all so friendly it makes me feel Singaporeans are a snobbish lot.

But I do not have an teenage friends tho. I guess rebellious kids is the norm everywhere.

Perky said...

I think teenagers' behavior these days are mostly because of their upbringing. Most parents are too busy working that they don't spend much time educating their kids on being decent human beings (in some cases, even their parents aren't decent human beings to begin with).

So most of the time, kids pick up all sorts of behavior patterns from their friends or from movies or internet.

A Common Singaporean said...

Yes Perky, totally agree with you. And I start by blogging decent content on the internet.