Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Would You Rather Be a Monkey or a Human?

Art by Lim's son

By Seow Lim*

Ever since I started my transformation from a Tiger mom who only asked about, "How's your school?"  or "Did you eat your dinner?" to a much more interactive Povi Mom who always look for opportunity to connect emotionally with my kids, I have a lot more fun challenges in my life having to answer 'unexpected' questions from them.

One day, my 7-year old came back from school and finished his dinner. He was sitting there by himself, looking at his hands and feet. I knew that he was thinking about something. I let him have some quiet time by himself. I sat down beside him. I asked him: "I notice that you have been studying your hands and feet very carefully, are you wondering about something?"

At first he was a bit apprehensive to share his thoughts with me. I then asked:
_ "What do think if instead of hands and feet, you have four legs?" - I remembered that as one of the questions from our Povi Family Connect app.
His eyes lit up, and he immediately responded:
_ "Yeah, I was wondering what would happen to the world if our hands and legs look the same and everyone has 4 hands or 4 legs?"
_ "That's really interesting. What made you think about that?" I asked.
_"We are learning about animal adaptation at school, I am wondering why didn't human evolve like the animals with 4 legs. Then we don't have to use a pen to write.", he said.
_"What would you use to write then? Hmm...we learn how to write with our feet." I said.

He thought for a while, then he said:
_"Then pen might look different. It shouldn't look like how it is now." I then asked him if he could draw for me how he think a pen would look like if people were to use our feet to write. He took this opportunity to complain to me that his hands hurt a lot from learning how to write cursive in school, and how his fingers were bending. I showed my empathy to him about his effort that he was putting in and we talked about various different ways to make his hand feel better like stretching it once in a while or perhaps I could treat it with an ice pack every day when he gets home.

I continued the discussion about the difference between human and animals in brain sizes, and our feelings. He was telling me that he knows that ants talk to each other but we were wondering whether ants could tell each other if they were happy or sad. He told me that insects have such small brains they probably don't have deep feelings but he thinks that bigger mammals like monkey, dogs and cats much have.

A question came to my mine: "Would you rather be a monkey or a human?"

He thought for a while and finally replied:
_"There are pros and cons of both. If you were a monkey, you get to play all day, hang from tree to tree, don't have to go to school but you got to search for your own food in the jungle. Unlike human like us, we have to go to school, we can't play all day, we can't hang from tree to tree, but we don't have to search for our own food. I think Curious George (ed. note,  cartoon that he loves watching) has the best life. He has a city house and a country house. He has the Man in the Yellow Hat get him food all day. He does not need to go to school. He gets to play with everyone. He gets to be naughty and never gets punished. I like to be like George."

I was thinking to myself the whole time how should I respond to this conversation. Should I tell him that he can't think about play the whole time? Should I tell him how lucky he is to have Daddy and Mommy bring food to his table?

Remember what I learnt about Growth Mindset to praise on the effort, I decided to say: "I am glad that you are thinking deeper about such things. It is not always easy to see things from different angles which you did. There are always pros and cons in our lives, the most important is for us to be happy with what we have and to be able to work hard for what's important for us to be better."

During real time conversation with my sons, I can't be sure that I always can give the right responses. Seriously, it would be too stressful to always strive to give the best 'lecture' so that they 'learn the most'. I feel that the most important is to pay attention to them, encourage them for their thoughts and efforts and always give them support and lots and lots of love and hugs.

Do you have your conversation starter stories to share with us? Join Povi partner.

*Lim is CEO of Povi. Please like us on Povi Facebook.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at seowlim@povi.me to catch up anytime!

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