Wednesday, April 05, 2017

day goes places

* Photo by Feline Lim

Armed with his farecard, flush with $50 worth of credit because it's a hassle topping up, Day travels everywhere on his own.

He hardly spends time in the car anymore except on weekends, and this I consider a huge blessing.

He continues to commute to and from school on his own, on a public bus which is in many ways a school bus of sorts as school friends (all boys) come in and get off the same vehicle.

Day loves the transport freedom, and he loves being able to glue himself to his mobile phone, earbuds firmly jammed into his ears, unmolested by Mum nagging him to put away the screen, while on the long 45-minute bus journeys.

Anywhere else apart from school, he turns to trusty Google Maps and whatever transport apps on bus arrival times and whatnot he has at his disposal. Sometimes he tells me he is going to this or that place in Singapore, and I wave him off. 

Kids these days, how powerful and knowledgeable they are with their phones and apps and stored credits.

In a moment of drama the other day, he goes missing when we attend a concert.

Day had elected to go on his own by bus, after I left with the girls in the car for an earlier stop at the library, because he wanted to spend time at home completing Counter-Strike on his laptop.

The concert was at 7:30pm in town at the Victoria Concert Hall.

He messaged me at 6:50pm: I’m at the bus stop waiting for the bus.

I started to bristle. It was a trip I would have started at 640, latest, especially if I had never been to the place and had to wait for a bus.

At 7:20pm, I got a call from a strange number. I picked up. It was Day: "Ma, my phone battery is dead, I’m borrowing someone else’s phone. I’m almost there. I decided to take another bus because it came sooner. I’m still on the bus."

It was a bus number I didn’t even know went to the concert hall. What could I do? I hung up on my last shred of contact with him, and left him to his fate.

7:30, the concert started. I left his ticket with the usher, telling the old gentleman to look out for a 12-year-old boy called David, and went in to enjoy the concert. Gong Gong, who also attended the concert with us, kept craning his neck to look behind to see if Day had arrived. He was very worried.

7:50, the doors opened after the first piece and the late-comers were ushered in. No Day. Gong Gong was nearly frantic, I think he expected me to be a little more gan cheong. I figured Day would be fine, even with no phone to tell him where to stop or how to walk to the concert hall.

8:20, interval. Still no Day. Gong Gong rushed out to search for his precious sole grandson. The usher worriedly returned me Day’s ticket. "I'm sorry, he didn't turn up," he said.

We walked around, we searched, then suddenly saw Day in his skinny jeans and dark blue sweater, looking a little wan and pissed, emerging from the stall seats. We were up one storey higher, in the circle seats.

“I was here all the time,” he said.

He apparently got down the bus at the MICA building, asked passers-by where VCH was, managed to run over in time, dashed in through the glass doors and fortuitously met a kind lady usher who let him in to the stall seats even without a ticket to enjoy the first bars of the concert from the William Tell Overture.

(I did tell him to go to the third floor circle seats when he called me from the stranger's phone. He forgot)

So there. Day, his phone and his farecard. Together, they conquer the world. 

I hope I can add "passport" to the equation in a few more years.


Anonymous said...

Hi shermaine, just wondering would you give the girls the same amount of freedom that you accord to day? Or is it 'it's safer for boys' sort of mentality? (my parents have this sort of thinking).
- Celeste

Hui Ming said...

i think maybe add a power bank to the equation first.

Anonymous said...

my goodness! I guess S'pore is fairly safe. My daughter certainly cannot do half of what Day is doing.


Sher said...

celeste: i dont know. its irrelevant at this point bec the girls prefer to be chaffeured and escorted, whereas day relishes the independence and freedom. theoretically, i think if the girls showed themselves to be sensible and streetsmart, i wld let them do wat day does.

hui ming: haha yes.

haiwei: base assumption is that, yes, this is singapore, where the streets are safe and wallets and phones are returned to me.

but i also hv perhaps an imprudent sense of security, and a misplaced sense of faith in the goodness of people... which allows me to let them loose...

Anonymous said...

You are very cool in letting him be independent. I will probably freak out. - Min

Sher said...

quite a few of his friends also travel independently, even in primary school. i think tt's also assurance that its ok.

Anonymous said...

where I am now, I would not let her out the house alone. Occasionally we hear from the school (via email) that a student has been approached outside the school by people in a car who would invite the child into the car for a ride. If the child refuses, they will try to use force. The target could be a boy or girl. Seem like the victim would be driven to the desert, abused and left to die there.


Sher said...

oh tt sounds scary. under those circumstances i wldnt let them get around on their own.