On a recent trip back Singapore, BBM was browsing through some preschool and kiddy literature for Pinkxi when he came across this illustration of an elderly cleaning lady as part of a thematic introduction to a hawker food centre for young readers.
BBM’s initial response was sadness. Certainly there are better choices of younger, less age-biased characters for depicting this role, he thought….and a barrage of negative sentiments centering on the issues of elderly falling through the cracks, being underpaid and overworked, trying to make ends meet surfaced within. For a brief moment even, BBM felt angry that the author and publisher had also reinforced an image of a elderly cleaning lady as reality to young readers. Where was the ideal retirement that the elderly lady should be featured instead?
A few moments later, that load of stuff subsided. Perhaps BBM would be unfair to impose those negativity if he does go through this set of illustrations with Pinkxi. Pinkxi would certainly not have the same reading as BBM and to her it would be just a case of people working, eating, interacting within a recognisable illustrated hawker centre. Thus who is BBM to say that the elderly cleaning lady is not happy and gainfully employed. Yes while it may not be an ideal scene of retirement, perhaps it should be a lesson in dignity, diligence and self-reliance to young critters such as Pinkxi. There is certainly no shame in working for to pay your bills.
There are always 2 sides to a coin and in time Pinkxi will learn those. There’ll never possibly be a fairytale retirement for many living on this planet but for now, BBM weighs up the life lessons he wanted to teach and thinks it’s better to afford a little positivity to young minds. Thus Pinkxi is taught responsibility through simple actions of clearing and cleaning up after every meal, even at a hawker centre. And one should always smile and sincerely give thanks to others (especially an elderly cleaning lady) who help with clearing your mess.
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