(My winning speech in Division A, District 51 Humorous Speech Contest – September 2010)
When I was very young, I used to believe that if we eat the centre of fruit, the seeds will grow into plants in our stomach. I even asked my father, “Abah, what if the plant grow so big, it comes out of our mouth? How are we supposed to eat, drink and speak?”
Contest Chair, Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,
The worst part is I actually believed that was true until I was 10, that is Year 4 in primary school which is quite not too young.
I think kids look very adorable when they are concentrating on something. But once in a while, you might want to check on what they are concentrating at. Once, when my sister was in kindergarten, one day, she was staring at our mom’s cookie container. She was staring very hard that it lured me to ask, “Adik, what are you looking at?” She ignored me. But a few seconds later, suddenly, with the joy like Archimedes discovering Eureka, she yelled out, “Boot-er cho-ock-ee-us!” My response was, “Huh?” She repeated the phrase a few times “Boot-er cho-ock-ee-us! Boot-er cho-ock-ee-us!” until at last, I only understood it after she pointed out the cookie container to me. She was actually trying to spell ‘butter cookies’, but got ‘boot-er cho-ock-ee-us’ instead.
Kids’ logic is always a mystery to adults. That’s why, when speaking to them, extreme patience and advanced listening skills are required. I’ve experienced this when I was six. My brother was two at that time. Compared to kids at his age, my brother’s vocabulary was growing so rapidly, he talked like a four-year-old. One evening, we were playing what he liked to call jumping-jumping on mommy’s cushions. While we were happily jumping, he slipped and fell face first onto the floor. He touched his mouth, found blood and two teeth missing. He cried out loud non-stop for two hours. My mom asked him, “Abang, why are still you crying? Does it still hurt?” “No”, he said. “Then why?” “I have no front teeth. My face is ugly. And how am I supposed to eat guava after this?” which was his favorite at that time. And then he said, “Mak, let’s go to supermarket and buy me new teeth.” My mom’s answer was, “It’s already past ten. All supermarkets are now closed.” “Then pull out your teeth, and then glue them into mine.” My mother was patiently entertaining him while he kept babbling till he was tired and fell asleep. The permanent teeth only grew out ten years later when he was 12. Thank God my brother is handsome now, or else I’d feel guilty for the rest of my life for making him jumping too excitedly.
Last year, I was tutoring primary school kids at a tuition centre. I remember one boy aged eleven in my class. His name was Ayub. One day I noticed his nails were full of dirt. So, I asked him to come with me to the toilet to wash his hands. I said, “Ayub, why are you not cleaning your fingers?” He answered enthusiastically, “Teacher, I’m conducting an experiment.” ‘Wow, this boy is very investigative!’ I thought. ‘Perhaps, a future scientist.’ He continued, “My science teacher said germs and bacteria grow very fast. She also said dirt contains germs and bacteria. But after waiting for days, I wonder why the germs and bacteria in my nails do not spread out to my whole hands. I thought they are supposed to breed very fast.” Good investigation, but wrong hypothesis.
There was another boy aged seven in my other class. He’s the kind of kid who I like very much – chubby cheeks, wide-eyed, dimples. But he seemed to have problems in arithmetic. When I asked the class, “What is six plus two?” He answered confidently, “Four, teacher.” I wondered why. So I asked him to show me his calculation. He took out his chubby fingers and started demonstrating, “Six (index finger plus thumb) plus two (middle finger and ring finger). The answer is four (he counted the thumb as one).” This boy was certainly giving me headache. Well, he’s now eight years old. I hope he managed to master his arithmetic by now.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dealing with kids might make us lose our patience sometimes. That’s why, Bill Cosby, once the host of the TV show, Kids Say the Darndest Thing, gave a good advice to parents. He said, “Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.” For example, try differentiating between ‘Anne’ and ‘Anna’. Hear the huge difference? Despite that, we must bear in mind! Kids are something that we borrow from our future. Therefore, we must take good care of them before we give them back. Thank you and back to Contest Chair.