When I was a child the world seemed to be a place of joy and happiness to me. There was nothing worth worrying about. Whenever I cried somebody picked me up. When I did not like to sit alone, I was always in somebody’s army. My father was one of my heroes since young. I idolize him as I grow up and to everything like him. I often ask my father to tell me about his childhood experience and he loves telling funny stories or describing unusual situations.
When he talks to me about those years, I feel like I see the past through his eyes. I think he was really happy as a child. Normally in my mind, I would compare my father’s childhood and mine. My father and I had very different childhood in terms of social problem, family background, technology and education.
Firstly, social problem within my father’s and my own childhood in terms of freedom.
As a child, my dad will be playing out the whole day; running, laughing and not worrying. My dad lived in a village where the children from the whole village were a big company. They would all play together without fighting and arguing all the time. Heck, my grandparents didn’t have to worry about my dad that much. They are used to let their children play a lot of hours with freedom without being nervous or stressed about it. They knew their children were safe. I, on the other hand, had a must lesser freedom compared to my father. Back then, I don’t get to go out and play with the other children due to safety reasons. My parents were very afraid of this worlds’ dangers. In fact, there weren’t many children to play with in streets compared to the “good old days”. I get to go the playground to play once awhile but there were so few to play with.
Next, our family background was also very different in terms of social status and financial status. My dad was born a year later after my country’s independence, so technically he was the 1st generation of official Malaysian in Malaysia. My country is also a multiracial country so long story short, my dad had social status issues with other races during his childhood. When he was 10, my dad experienced things that no child should which was the May 13th Incident. The May 13th incident refers to the Sino-Malay sectarian violence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in which many Malaysian-Chinese died in 1969. I can only imagine how terrifying it was for my dad to live through that incident as a child.
I, however, lived peacefully as a Malaysian-Chinese without such incident. During my generation, my social status has already develop stability, my race was recognize as the 3 main races in Malaysia. I also have a good financial support as a child compared to my father. Back then my grandfather was an immigrant from China, owning a small business to raise his family. My father did not receive much financial as a child. During elementary school, my father had to help out with my grandfather’s business. I’m consider very fortunate as my father worked hard to ensure that my childhood did not have to be like his.
Then, the advancement of science and technology effect both my dad’s childhood and my own in terms of entertainment. Back then the time where video games were like rocket science and cellphones where as big as bricks. Entertainment in technology wasn’t really available at my dad’s childhood thus explaining the big company of children playing outside all the time, but it didn’t mean it didn’t exist in that time. Back then, my dad really enjoyed listening to the radio. The radio was practically the main source of entertainment in terms of technology; it had music, podcast, news and etc. My dad was considered lucky to even have a colored television in his own home and there was not much to watch as well.
I, in my childhood days, had the privilege of watching Disney channel on my decoder with my cartoons. In addition, technology was my source of entertainment with my game consoles and televisions. Which also the cause of me not going out that much as a child. Technology allow my childhood to not need the company of the other, to play with. Communication was also much better thanks to technology. During elementary, affordable cellphones were available where my dad can contact me at any time. The same couldn’t be said for my dad back then, as owning cellphone was considered a luxury.
Lastly, people say education is key to every childhood, but in that sense both my father and I had very different education environment and background in our childhood. My dad, back then, lived where education is very scarce. They weren’t many schools near where my dad lived. My grandmother had to cycle my dad to his school to drop off and pick up daily. If that isn’t bad enough, my father had to have extra classes at the Chinese temple nearby just to learn Mandarin. During my time, my country has already development an effective education system to follow. Many schools were also available during that time. Mandarin is actually implemented into the educational system as a subject taught in public schools. I’m glad that I’m fortunate enough to have these facilities in my grasp in my childhood.
Childhood is free from cares. There are no duties and responsibilities on the shoulders of a child. A child eats drinks, sleeps and plays. When he eats a piece of bread, he does not think from where it comes. His father alone knows that. Even when someone dies in the family, a child is not touched. As child lives in a bliss of ignorance and innocence. Despite the differences in our childhood, my dad and I both enjoyed part of our childhood and we will cherish these moments for life.