Monday, July 12, 2010

Children's Day

The first time I heard of Children's Day (not to be confused with International Children's Day) was from a Chinese colleague, Bei, who was working and studying accounting in Australia. I laughed and said "What the? Every bloody day is Children's day, what the hell are you on about?" and stirred her up about the fact that kids don't really deserve it, what with Christmas, Easter, Birthdays and for most children, the spoils of every day life.

About a year later I visited Bei in Shanghai, I should have reflected back on that day and realised for some kids in this world, perhaps Children's Day was the only day of the year that they received special treatment and were able to live their little lives as they should, as a child...but I did not. Seeing young tots dumped on  ramp ways, that lead in and out of chaotic Beijing shopping complexes, by their parents, to beg for money all day should have been a Children's Day light bulb moment. But, it was not. 

Stray was incensed on this particular occasion and rather than give money, which would be collected by their parents, probably sitting inconspicuously off to the side somewhere, he raced back into the busy shopping area and bought them milk or food. A small and welcomed compensation for the hours endured in the heat, lying in dirty clothes, on hard filthy concrete and being ignored by the locals passing by.

Ignored perhaps because it's all a charade? That the family really isn't that poor and have quite a little enterprise going on at the expense of their children? We did here rumours of this occurring. Not unlike Fagan and his gang in Oliver Twist.

Or ignored perhaps because most people passing by didn't have a spare two yuan to rub together themselves, or ignored because there are just too many of them to help, or that the general population has become desensitised to these sights.

It's not that I haven't seen scenarios similar to this since then, in different countries, and cringed with disbelief, and was overwhelmed with sadness and pity...but I never related it to, or thought about, Children's Day again, until today.

It surfaced once more on a Thai blog I was reading (not at work of course CT ;). It seems that Thailand celebrates Children's Day too, known as “Wan Dek” (literally “day children”). A day where parents are reminded that they should be setting a good example for their kids. A day where activities, games and concerts are organised and free entries granted to zoos and such. A day when kids can enter the Prime Minister's office or are offered treats by their teachers. A day when less fortunate kids receive toys, clothes, snacks and attention, which are all too often taken for granted in my country.

So what about Australia? I smiled when I Wikipedia-ed it.

Australia celebrate Children's Day on 1st Sunday July. Children's Day is a registered Trade Mark.

We do? Intrigued to see Australia appears on the list at all. Amused to read a less than one line entry on the subject. Not surprised that the 1st Sunday in July has recently passed without so much as a mention of Children's Day. Not that I think we need one. Apparently it was introduced in Australia in 2007 and with quite a different approach to that of Thailand.

'The concept of Children’s Day - an annual cultural activities event - is to provide funding to disadvantaged children throughout Australia via the sale of ‘Happy Children’s Day’ cards.', which I have never laid my eyes on and would be one of the reasons we appear to be the ONLY country that has Trade Marked it. No doubt it will one day join the list of unnecessary commercially celebrated events like Valentines Day, Mother's and Father's Day...bah humbug.

Generally (I know every country has it's share of the poor,  disadvantaged, abused and neglected) kids in Australia have a pretty bloody good lifestyle and are spoiled materialistically, possessing more electronic devices and games than Inspector Gadget could ever dream of. It seems within two generations kids have gone from amusing themselves with tin cans and string, to requiring a constant flow of externally supplied sensory stimulating entertainment.

Stray and I were so proud many years ago when one day my parents came baring a joint birthday gift for our daughters. The girls graciously accepted and were genuinely delighted that they had just received 500 sheets of blank typing paper. Obviously not the reaction my parents thought they would get, as they intended it as a joke. Naturally the paper was followed by the 'real' gift, an ELECTRONIC TYPEWRITER...just want every small child needs.

Of course as time went by, and as they entered the dreaded teenage years, their attitudes changed and well, quite frankly, sucked for a few years. I started to fantasise about sending them to the slums of Mumbai to volunteer at an orphanage for at least a month, to make them grateful for, and appreciate, what they already had.

Anyway, back on course. Children's Day, nice to know there is one and  lord knows I'm not opposed to another public holiday, but sort of sad that we need one! Kind of an oximoron of a posting...not sure if I'm for or against it, especially when you find articles like this - Children's Day Farce

I Youtubed Children's Day and found lots of videos of celebrations in Thailand, India, Japan, Malaysia etc....Australia...only two search results that matched the criteria, and aren't worth showing.

Shouldn't everyday be Children's Day...really?
LJ and CJ 1987