Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Children's Upbringing According to My Grandmother - using stories

When I look back to those long ago years, I realise how much my grandmother loved her sons and daughters, and later all the little grandchildren, including myself.

She had so much love for everyone else too. She loved every body ,her neighbours, the rubber tappers, the fishermen who came to our huge house by the river, because she was generous, kind and warm hearted. And she had no envy or jealousy, which made her such a wonderful matriarch.

She used three particular methods of training her loved ones: stories, metaphors or sayings and hands-on experience.

First of all, she used stories. Lots of them. I remember her telling me and my cousins this story:

Once there was a monk who looked after a temple. He was a very realistic kind of monk.

One day, a poor looking man came to the temple to visit him.

The monk said to the man, " Sit."

A young monk brought some tea to the visitor as was the proper manner, the monk said to the man, "Drink."

After a short conversation, the man left the temple, bowing very deeply to the monk, who bowed stiffly back.

A week went by, the same man came back, but this time, he wore something better.

The monk said to the man, "Please sit."

The young monk brought out some tea again. And the Monk said, "
please drink"

The conversation this time was slightly better as the monk asked more questions regarding the man's health and seeming prosperity after only a week.

The man left the temple, bowing very deeply to the monk. This time, the monk bowed slightly lower.

A month went by. The same man came to visit the temple again.

The man was dressed as a magistrate and he had an assistant with him

Immediately the monk said,"If you would honour me, please sit down."

He also called out to the young monk,"Bring out the best tea for the Lord here."

When the tea arrived, the Monk said,"Please, it would honour me greatly, if you could use some tea."

The man turned around and said, " Is it so you did not recognise me at all when I was dressed as a peasant just a month ago?"

The monk was speechless and bowed in shame.

We learned a lot of wisdom and social mores from my grandmother in this way. Each evening we could not wait for the kerosene lamp to be lit. And then we would drift into the wonderland which would come alive through my grandmother's story telling.

In almost every family of her children's, she helped develop one or more teachers.
Her eldest son had a daughter who became a trained teacher. Her second son has a son who is a university lecturer. Her fourth son, who has only one son, is a teacher in China! My eldest aunt also has a daughter who became a Chinese language teacher. Second Aunt also has a daughter who became a trained teacher from Batu Lintang Teacher's College. My third aunt has a trained teacher for a daughter too. My mum, the fourth daughter has four daughters who are all trained teachers. That left my youngest aunt, who married a great and wonderful English teacher. But none of her children became teachers.

I will not hesitate to say that my grandmother was my very first home teacher and mentor. She taught me really well.

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