Monday, May 30, 2011

School holidays - mine then and C's now

The school holidays are here again. This time it's for two weeks. The trend these days for upper middle class families with school-going kids are to go on overseas holidays. Some infants, toddlers and children are more well-travelled than me in fact. Every holiday, I'd hear a kid mentioning a holiday to some exotic destination. In school yearbooks, kids write about their Mediterranean cruise or holiday in Europe, no longer about 'A Visit to the Zoo'!

As for ACE, we are not as fortunate as some couples who can afford to take their kids travelling almost every single holiday, even with that popular tagline of  'Now Everyone Can Fly'. The cost of living is high in the city, the cost of raising a family is high too, especially for a single- and average-income family. We try to have one holiday a year, and usually we seldom plan ahead due to E's work schedule and our limited budget.

In the past, my generation of kids were just happy with the simple idea of not having to go to school during the holidays. We were satisfied with entertaining ourselves in various ways at home - playing games, reading, watching the limited children's programes on just two TV channels, playing outside with neighbours and schoolmates who lived nearby. No Astro, Gameboy, Playstation, Nintendo, shopping malls, nice movie theatres with popcorn and other 'canggih' (sophisticated) activities. We knew how to entertain ourselves with the limited stuff around us. As for C, she'd start complaining of boredom and pester me once she's tired of what's readily available.

Those days, if we were lucky enough and our parents could afford it, a holiday meant an outstation trip to a neighbouring state within the country, an outing to a tourist attraction like Batu Caves or a day trip to a nearby beach. Overseas holidays were unheard of, for me at least. It was an activity that was as distant as a dream that I only read about, and saw on TV of celebrities and the rich and famous. The only 'overseas' country I had visited in my childhood was Singapore and that was because we had relatives there. And my first real holiday overseas was to Thailand after I had started working and earning my own money.

I recall the many carefree school holidays I spent in rubber and palm oil plantations where my dad worked, satisfied with cycling around, playing with the dogs, checking out the flora and fauna outside, collecting rubber seeds or the red saga seeds which fell out of their pods from the giant tree in the vast green garden, reading the tons of books I borrowed from friends, and savouring the tasty fried chicken, roti canai, curry and Chinese food my mum taught Saroja, our young Indian girl helper (whom I enjoyed chatting with) to cook. No KFC, Pizza Hut (pizza? what's that?) or McDonald's.

Saga seeds from the Adenanthera pavonina tree

It's a huge difference comparing C's school holidays and mine. She's a city girl whose idea of comfort and fun include airconditioned restaurants, entertainment via electronic stuff, her own brand new story books bought from mega bookstores, and walking about in brightly-lit, loud-music-blaring malls. I was a small town girl, undemanding and happy with what was made available to me, or what I could find to occupy myself with. A short outing to what was called an 'emporium' those days was already adequate.

What about your holidays during your schooldays? How different were they from the ones your children have now?


mumsgather said...

My kids school holidays aren't that much more different than mine for we don't go to exotic overseas holidays as well, not even once a year. Our once a year travel is back to hometown for CNY. Our "travel" consist of one day trips to nearby Genting or Melaka etc. The only difference is for them, they have the brand new storybooks, fastfoods and malls. :)

Shyamala said...

Anna, your holidays/life sounds so much like mine growing up in a small town (Kuala Pilah) .. brings back beautiful memories!
Yup Spore was a treat tx to my aunt who lived in JB and visiting maternal grandparents n fly in PJ was sooo exciting!!

Now living in Syd, we try not to indulge too much on fancy vacations (of course thats not counting the almost must visits back home for the kids to meet fly). Day trips around Syd and surrounding areas are a lot more affordable. Just spending the day with friends at a park or makan2 seems to be the favourite (of course the weather is a bonus).
My older daughter is almost 8 and has 'luckier' friends with 'gadgets' but so far the pressure has not been too bad :-)
Will push my luck with that one as long as possible.
Things are definately different but we try to indulge in books, library, cartoons, train rides, etc instead and they r pretty happy for now ... plus mummy's always telling them how much fun it was climbing trees, cycling n chatting with friends from the neighbourhood back in the olden days ;-)