Last night we went to watch Super 8. A typical Spielberg movie where kids get the adventure of their lives. A modern day ET, sort of. It was entertaining alright. Right after the movie, I was mentally reminding myself to prepare for today’s lessons for my students. And then something hit upon me.
When I was young, I grew up in the ET film, Smurf and Transformers cartoon era. Add to that the favourite fiction of Enid Blyton’s Faraway tress series, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Famous Five and Empat Sekawan. My friends and I were always looking for ‘adventures’. We had plenty of time to re-enact the scenes from the books we read and from the film ET. We had plenty of time to fantasize about aliens and faraway adventures. We had our own tree which we pretended was our magic faraway tree, just like how we read in Enid Blytons. When we grow up, we often said one another, we want to be He-Man or She-Ra or Superman or that bloke in V. Or drive cars like we watched in Mask. Or even own a bumble bee ala Transformers. Life was fun, carefree and full of make belief dreams which we enjoyed fighting over. We were not unlike the bunch of kids in Super 8.
Alas. My students back home and here, plus my younger cousins and children of my cousins don’t seem to have this kind of childhood. There is no element of play and make belief in their lives right now. They are not even playing so to speak. Most of their time are spent catching up with enrichment classes or with stacks of homework to aid in their schools’ national ranking. Most of the time, they are busy being occupied and busied by their occupied and busy parents. And their teachers who need their ranking as well. When they grow up, at least according to the essays I have collected, they want to be ‘professionals’. IT consultant, doctors, lawyers, curators, TV artists– you name it. It is all so real and so focus.
Not that I am saying that there is anything bad in preparing the kids for the realistic future. It’s just that, after watching the movie yesterday and after connecting with it on a personal level, I feel as though a childhood grinch had slowly but surely been around, actively stealing away childhood from children of affluent societies. That’s kinda sad.