I was waiting for my son to finish his swimming lesson. My son was taking swimming lesson with one of his friend at school. Her mother and I were talking about many things, and I asked about her vacation during the school holiday. I loved seeing her underwater pictures of her husband and daughter together during their holiday (truly speaking, taking good pictures underwater is still a huge challenge for me, so I don’t know how she could do it…………I was amazed). But that wasn’t the point. She shared that her husband likes to do sports, swimming, running, riding bicycles, go to theme park, riding roller coasters, snorkeling in the sea………and that is how she wants her children to enjoy life to the fullest.
Wow, that thought was kind of struck me., but again………….I am agree with her one hundred percent! It’s not the expensive toys, luxurious home, holiday around the world that will make deposits in the memory bank of our children, but how their parents spend time with them, doing even the silliest and childish things together.
For my son, doing outdoor activities is still his number one priorities to spend the weekend with his family (parents, grand parents, aunties, etc) and friends more than stay at home watching TV or playing gadgets. He is very excited and super happy when we go to the park, playground, theme park, and swimming pool.
He is a very active child and can spend hours (even up to 8 hours) doing outdoor activities. I believe that an active child is a happy child. But then again, how can he be active if he’s not healthy? Well then, I believe again that doing all kinds of sports, breathe outdoor air, moving all parts and muscles of his body are good for his mental and physical health. This also reflects to me especially when I look back to my childhood.
When I was a kid, I loved climbing trees, fences, and gates. There were mango, start fruit, guava, papaya, rose apple (jambu air) trees in the front yard and I loved to climb those trees almost everyday. I also liked to swing in the old and strong laundry hangers in my backyard, and picked fruits whenever they were ripen and ate them immediately while I was still hanging on the trees, because fresh fruits were always the best for me!
And what did I do everyday? Since there was no internet and TV at that time, I had no other options than to play outside with my friends. We played on the street in front of our houses, chases each other until the moon came and our parents had to call our names and urged us to come home for dinner. And then after dinner, we played again until it was time to sleep. We always welcomed new neighbors especially with small children because that meant we had more friends to play with.
My sisters and I also played in the small playground near our home with just two old swings and a large parking spot that used to be empty but very suitable for bike riding or chasing each other. We were very happy just with that small space.
I rode my bike with my friends under the scorching hot sun or heavy rain, and it surprises me now that even though I spent a lot of time under the hot sun or heavy rain, but I almost never got sick. Even if I was sick, I recovered quickly, because to be sick and had to stay at home the whole day was not fun at all.
I loved to swim and really learnt hard how to swim because my parents liked to take us to Megamendung in Puncak Area just to swim when holidays came. So not being able to swim was not a good option for me and my sisters. And Puncak Area 20 to 25 years ago was still very cold. The water in the swimming pool was freezing cold but my sisters and I stayed until the pool was almost closed. We swam in the cold water for hours and only came out when we were hungry. Holidays to Puncak was considered expensive for my family back then, so we always optimized our swimming time. And believe me, there was no traffic jam at all 20 years ago.
I still remember them clearly in my mind even until now because they were the best memories that I’ve ever had from my childhood. I was so happy and had no burden at all of what would happen tomorrow. All I could think was what to play tomorrow. I don’t remember all the toys that I ever had when I was a kid, but I remember clearly my family vacation in Megamendung, where we used to sit in the gazabo, the hot grill corns that was sold in front of the pool, the food my mother cooked and we brought to the pool, the shape of the pool, and even our old car that brought us from Jakarta to Puncak.
That is why I want my son to have the same wonderful memories as I do. The bad thing was, camera was not so popular back then, so I could only captured the moments in my mind and there were small details about my past that I completely forget right now. So I am thankful that nowadays, cameras are very popular, and as I said before that the memory in my camera then transferred to my computer can store our wonderful moments together for a very long time……….better than my brain. When I look at the pictures, they always bring back the wonderful and warm and sometimes emotional feeling that I can’t explain. And I am hoping that my son can feel the same too when he grows up and see his family pictures. That is why I love taking pictures, I want my son to remember almost every detail of his childhood and will pass the same wonderful memories to his children and grand children.
When I was a preschooler, I lived in my grand parents house in Central Java. It was a super big house and my grand parents had a huge chicken farm on the backyard (they sold the eggs and chickens to the market), so we ate eggs taken from the farm. There were also fruit trees in the front yard, such as mango trees and soursop trees. All the children who lived there couldn’t wait for the fruits to be ripen and picked from the trees, and waited impatiently for our turn to eat the fruit. And then when we moved to Jakarta, my mother who always loves gardening, planted star fruit, guava, mango, papaya, and rose apple trees in our front yard. I love all those fruits. I think that is why I like many kind of fruits since I was little and even until now. The memories of climbing the fruit trees, picking the ripen fruits by myself, and finally ate the fruits immediately (sometimes even without being washed first) had contributed a lot to my likeness to almost all fruits.
Well, the only fruit plant left in my mother’s house is now only small lime tree. She used to have many kind of flowers in our small yard across the street, but when the flood came, it carried away all the plants in our small yard too.
Now, my mom also wants my son to experience the same thing as I did. Well, she didn’t exactly say that, but I think she meant that way. Although in Singapore we don’t have a real garden, but my mom (whenever she comes here and visits us) always wants to make a small garden using flower pots in front of our apartment. She does everything and I just need to water the plants whenever she is not around (for your information, I don’t like gardening). She plants tomatoes, limes, and chili. She said my son will be very happy to see the trees grow and pick the fruits when it is about time. She also said she couldn’t wait to see the boy’s excitement when he picks up the ripen fruits and chili.
And yes, the boy is very excited to see the growing plants getting bigger and bigger everyday, and when he’s in the mood he will help water the plants.
I do hope that this experience will increase his love to nature and he will have amazing memories picking and eating fruits and vegetables from our own garden (we plan to plant vegetables in Jakarta too). Having plants in front of our house also bring fresher air to our home, and plus we do not live in a crowded street, so I open the windows and door everyday so the sun and fresh air can come to our house.
So, I believe that in order to be healthy, a child does not only have to exercise, but also eat healthy foods. My family mostly eats big portion of vegetables, fish, kampong chicken only, and fruits. These days, I do not cook pork, beef (red meat), canned food and really reduce the consumption of food with MSG and preservatives (such as sausages and store-bought fish ball or meat balls). We change the white rice into red rice (but sometimes we still eat white rice too). Vitamins are also important, and nowadays we take vitamins which contain fish oil and sea cucumber jelly.
I feel that the frequencies of going to the doctors have been lesser and lesser these days. Even though one of us starts to get cough or catch a flu, it usually never stays long and without fever too. Luckily, the little boy loves fish more than chicken, so basically he will prefer if I cook fish than any other meat.
I do hope that all the combination of exercise and eating healthy food will keep us healthy and happy.
Yes, when I was younger (and also smaller) I was active and healthy, and I want my son to be active and healthy too, so one day he will grow up as and active and healthy person.
PS: This post (including the words on the pictures) are my thought only, and I believe that every family has different ways to raise the children. So please feel free to agree or disagree with me. Hope we all can raise active and happy children who will pass this to their next generation.