Sunday 3 October 2010

Like father, like daughter? Children's Day is so over

Because Friday was Children’s Day, I had intended this column to be about my belief that the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.

Then last weekend, my 11-year-old daughter called me an “asshole”.

Suddenly, I'm not so keen on Children’s Day any more.

What happened was that I was supposed to meet my two kids somewhere in Jurong Point. When I didn’t see them, I called my 13-year-old son’s handphone to find out where they were.

My son said they were on their way. I could hear my daughter snapping in the background, “We're almost there, asshole!”

Okay, I have several issues with this, the least of which is its accuracy.

I know many people who would agree with her assessment of my character, but even they would concede that a Primary 5 schoolgirl likening her parent to a body part is somewhat inappropriate.

But they would also argue that such inappropriate language coming from an offspring of mine is hardly surprising, if not expected - the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that.

In my defence, I had previously forbidden her to use such bad words, which admittedly, may be a little hypocritical in a “Do as I say, not say as I say” kind of way.

Yes, I may occasionally swear like a sailor, but I didn’t start until I joined the navy during my national service, which is as it should be.

When I was my daughter’s age, the worst thing I called anyone was “girlie”. Whereas according to my daughter, her classmates are already using Dick Lee’s name to insult each other.

I know it’s not Dick’s fault, but children seem to be losing their innocence earlier and earlier.

And this is without R21 movies showing in heartland cinemas.

I mean I didn’t realise Boy George was gay until I was in my 30s. I thought all that make-up was just a gimmick - you know, like the band Kiss.

Nowadays, my kids are already savvier about “alternative” lifestyles just by watching a single episode of the animated TV series Family Guy on Fox.

I still don’t understand how Brian the talking dog can have a human girlfriend on the show. Since when did bestiality become acceptable prime time cartoon fodder?

And even though my daughter and her friends don’t meet Facebook’s minimum age requirement of 13, they’re already on the social networking site sharing links to pages such as “Did i ask you? No. Then shut the fuck up” and “Ah Sorry Late Reply My Boner Knocked My Laptop Across The Room”.

And I let her. But calling her father any kind of hole is clearly crossing the line.

But the horses have already left the barn. Would punishing her merely be a “symbolic statement of community values”? If only there’s a filtering tool for real life, like for the Internet.

And if there is one, the first undesirable thing it will probably block is me.

By the way, learning to love yourself is not the greatest love of all. It’s better with someone else.

Happy Children’s Day.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 October 2010