I flew home to Singapore for Christmas and New Year, the first time in about 2 years. Being on a plane is in itself a considerable privilege, and even more so during these panini times. I love being in midair, untouched and untouchable. It is also the time I find easiest to write. So it was fitting then that I inserted myself into this liminal state just as we were all wrapping up 2021. Enjoy my stream of consciousness midair:
Miles up in the sky, I am well fed and supremely taken care of. They have dimmed the lights after dinner, trying to help us sync our bodies with the time on the ground. I watched Belle and tried to settle in a comfortable position, my entire row made available to me. Unfortunately, I felt too self-conscious even on a plane that was about 5% full.
I browse the music section, eyes tired from screens but not yet desiring sleep. There was a playlist of Mayday’s songs. I haven’t heard them in probably a decade but the song list was so familiar. When I clicked play, I was transported to my childhood home. I was 14 years old, putting the Mayday’s CD into the music player that was also a radio. Recalling me as a child made me think about the kids I know and have grown to know in the past year.
I think about E. How tiny he is at 2 years old and yet how well he communicates his consent. His no’s are firm and unwavering, and he is attending school in an environment that listens and respects that. I think about Y, his incredibly unique sense of humour that comes with being effectively bilingual so young and able to see the world through 2 lenses. I think about how that makes it difficult for him to connect with others sometimes. Finally, I think about 6-year-old R, who still sucks on his thumb, and when he is not doing that, he picks up my hand to hold it, almost without a thought. He gets chided by his teachers for still sucking on his thumb, but I know he is just looking for security.
I think about that time when I brought a new coding activity to class, and he exclaimed that he has that at home, as he says of every new toy I bring. Immediately his teachers who overheard him called out, “liar! You are such a liar, R” I think about how violent that was and how that implicit violence in what should be a safe environment (a school) shocked me and robbed me of my speech. But as always, another child would show me how to deal with difficult situations like this. His friend D, who was sitting next to him, said very simply and calmly: “Did R say he has it at home? Then okay, he has it at home.”
No further questions. D knew that R just needed to be heard. This was not about the toy. This was listening and not attacking like the other adults in the room were doing.
I think about how often we don’t realise the violence in our words and how often it makes me want to scream at adults. I think about a colleague asking me why I do my work with kids, and I surprised myself by answering so quickly- to break the cycle of learning trauma. I see now that working with kids allows me to be who I needed when I was a child.
Thank you for tuning in this month! I hope you had a gentle start to the new year. Here are some virtual stickers for you if you need them (-;
This month’s play-list