Thursday, October 7, 2010

217. A sense of humour in a child

A sense of humour is much appreciated during social interactions such as wedding dinners and meetings. But how does one acquire a sense of humour? Is humour inherent in a person's DNA or is it acquired through a good command of English in an intelligent person? I have no answer.

Yesterday, I was at a pet shop which sells rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. The pet shop owner has two daughters, Jane and Juliet aged 6 and 7 years old respectively. "Jane is a monkey," the mother told me when Jane showed a black face, put her hands on both sides of her waist and narrowed her eyes as the shop assistant disallowed her to take her lunch out of the shop to eat with other friends. She refused to eat lunch. Her mum explained to me: "Jane throws tantrums when she is not allowed to do what she wants. She was born in the year of the monkey and is a monkey. I give her three warnings to behave. Then I will give her a canning."

There was really a cane with a pink hook in the pet shop. As for Juliet, the mum's face brighten as she said: "Yesterday, Juliet told her brother that he needs to learn how to bottle fed the baby brother so that he can help his wife." I saw Juliet helping the mum to scan the pet products for sale.

This was a 7-year-old studying in Primary Two in a neighbourhood school in the heartlands. Not one of those fancy high-pressure primary schools of Singapore. I asked Juliet whether she had a story book for me to read and she took out "Under The Sea" published by Usborne as a beginner's series for young readers, level 1.

Every few seconds, Julie would ask to take back her book to keep inside her school backpack. Mum explained: "She will keep her story books in a good condition."

On the table where I read her book were three plastic containers with longan desserts and ice. The table was wet due to the melting of the ice causing dripping of water onto the table. Juliet came again to ask for her book back. "Let Dr Sing read your book," Mum said. Finally she got her book back. She put it on the table for a while. "Hey," I said. "Your book is now wet. You need to dry the cover up with a piece of tissue paper. Ask your mum for the tissue paper."

"No need," she said. "The book is under the sea." The title of the book was "Under the Sea" and I was surprised that this 7-year-old girl had that sense of humour to surprise me. I advised the mum that she should switch this child to a better school to give her the opportunity to grow intellectually as she has what it takes to be a scholar.

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