Jofel has been staying at HOME shelter for some time, where she has volunteered to help out as our shelter leader, and discovered several new passions. One of these passions is writing, and this story by her won her a special award in the writing competition HOME hosted together with the National Museum of Singapore. She has written more since, so watch this space for more stories written by this very inspiring writer.
An amazing gift
By Jofel Dosano Villaruel
When I was young in the Philippines I never experienced to play in a real playground. With my friends I used to play at the beach, especially when there was low tide. I loved to play baseball, Chinese Garter, luksong tinik or leapfrog jumping with my friends.
My first experience at a playground in Singapore was with my employer’s son, who is a 2-year-old boy. Unlike many parents here in Singapore, my employer let me and her son free to play and experience creative games. Whenever I told him: “We are going to the playground” he would immediately run to take his shoes. Just seeing him happy, made me happy too.
At the playground, he loved sliding and climbing, but his real passion was the swing. As soon as we reached the playground he would run quickly towards the swing area and as soon he was on the swing I couldn’t take him off again. He always asked me to push him to swing higher and I was always scared for him; I felt that it wasn’t safe. I would have felt more relaxed if every swing had a sort of safety belt to prevent them from falling down and getting hurt. But when he saw my worried expression, he knew that I cared about him and he always tried to reassure me: “Don’t worry, I will hold on tight.”
And that make me laugh, so much! I admired him, he was so young but at the same time brave and strong.
My very best memory at the playground was when he was able to climb the rock wall for the first time. I was so happy and proud of him! I knew that climbing was a great exercise to strengthen both his body and his spirit. Spending his free time in the playground has helped him to grow active, smarter, creative and independent. Every time he climbed the rock wall he was very excited and after reaching the top he would be so happy he clapped his hands.
Sometime we need to let kids choose what they want so they can explore new ways and express themselves. What I personally observed about Singapore is that people here can be overprotective of their kids. Some parents or grandparents never allow their kids to play at the playground, they are worried because playgrounds are dirty and might have a lot of bacteria.
They don’t realize that a playground is a good starting place for young kids to make new friends, to learn how to communicate with other kids, to learn how to give and take, how to share – and most of all to experience the beauty of being a kid, an amazing gift that we won’t enjoy anymore, later in our whole life!