At 9.30 am, as soon as the children entered the classroom, the teacher distributed full-blown-up balloons to the children to be inserted under their clothes. Today, they have to carry the balloons to perform various activities such as bending over to pick up water bottles, putting on socks, doing flower arrangements, and eating, to experience the hardship that a pregnant mother has to go through for ten months.
“The balloon is pressing against my stomach and it makes me very uncomfortable!"
A cheeky little boy secretly took out the balloon and was told by his teacher that if the “baby” disappeared, the mother would be very sad. All students were urged to take good care of their "foetus" and avoid any injuries or "miscarriage".
"This was how your mum protected you when she was pregnant with you so that you can be born and grow up healthily."
On 28 May 2023, the main theme for Tzu Chi’s Parent-Child Bonding Class in the month of May was “filial piety”. On this day, children were tasked to perform various activities with a “big belly” under the guidance of their teachers, followed by reflecting upon themselves on the efforts that their parents have put in for them daily.
After carrying a balloon under their shirt for the whole morning. Chan Yue Shan, a student from Confidence Class said: “It must have been very tough for my mum to be pregnant. From now onwards, I will help my mum to look after my younger sister.”
Nichelle Goh said: "I will help my grandma cook."
The children next to her shouted: "I will help my mum wash vegetables! I will massage my mum!"
Everyone expressed their gratitude towards their mothers as they all felt very blessed and happy.
Students prepare a meal for their parents
For lunchtime on this day, the children who have been so used to being served by their parents have to serve meals to their parents instead. The children held lunch boxes and stood in line to queue for the food. The aroma of the dishes made the food appetizing and delicious so much so that some of the children couldn’t help but said: “I really want to eat now, but I have to persevere”.
Holding back their desire for food and enduring a growling stomach, the children must serve lunch to their parents first.
Low Yeok Poh, who takes care of her two granddaughters, tasted the lunch served by her granddaughter, Wu Xin En, and said happily: "Compared to last year, Xin En has matured and grown up a lot."
Although this was the second time Low Yeok Poh had participated in the Parents Appreciation Month event, she was still very touched: “Xin En attends classes in Tzu Chi to learn how to be filial to the elders. She would help with the housework at home and even takes care of her younger sister. I feel that she has learned a lot in Tzu Chi. I am very grateful to all the teachers for doing such a great job in teaching my grandchild so well."
A simple tea ceremony to express unspoken gratitude and love
After lunch, all the parents gathered in the Buddhist Hall. When the song “The Kneeling Lamb” was played, the children walked out slowly from the back of the stage with teacups in their hands. Seeing the sincerity of their children holding onto the cup of tea, tears started to roll in many of the parents’ eyes. Upon hearing the emcee said: “Please serve the tea”, the children knelt and served tea to their parents with great respect. After the parents drank the tea, they hugged their children affectionately.
Holding four cups of tea, Elva Ho from Confidence Class carefully walked up to her grandfather, grandmother, mother, and aunt, and served them the tea respectfully. This made her mum teary and said: “This is the third time I let my child serve tea to me. Initially, I thought that after experiencing this many times, I would not feel as moved as before, but today I am still very touched."
Both Elva Ho and her younger sister attended the Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool. After Elva Ho graduated and entered primary school, she joined the Parent-Child Bonding Class. Lim Min said that Tzu Chi places great importance on moral education and life education where children get to learn etiquette and how to be independent. They have also learned to tidy up their belongings and keep their surroundings clean and this gives Lim Min a sense of comfort and joy.
Elva Ho's aunt, Lim Jie is currently pregnant. The mother-to-be drank the tea served by her niece and said emotionally: "I have gained a lot today, especially when I heard the saying ‘a child that has the most blessings is a child that never makes his or her parents worried’. Since I became pregnant, I have always been worried about my baby. I now hope that I can reduce my worries and not let my parents worry about me anymore. I hope that my baby will be able to attend Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool in the future, too!"
After drinking the tea served by her daughter Elva Ho, Lim Min knelt to serve tea to her mother, Lim Gek Huang. Lim Gek Huang said happily: "Although it is just a tea ceremony, I am still very touched by it. Such education on filial piety is worth promoting."
Lim Gek Huang expressed that Tzu Chi’s education focuses on character building and she feels very lucky that her two granddaughters could grow up in such an environment. She said: "In Tzu Chi, children learn to be filial and grateful. At the same time, they also become less vain, more humble, and more peaceful.”
"Usually I 'serve tea' to him, but today my child does that for me. I am very touched!"
One of the parents, Helen Won said with a smile. Helen Won's son, Law Yu En, has an independent and lively personality. At the beginning of the year, he followed his mother to participate in Tzu Chi Festive Charity Fair. After learning about the Parent-Child Bonding Class, he asked his mother to sign him up for the class. It was the first time he attended the class on this day.
Law Yu En said that Tzu Chi’s course has taught him the importance of repaying kindness and being grateful all the time. "Today, I have learned how to be grateful to my parents. I know that my parents feel very tired when they come home from work every day, so I will massage them to make them feel better. Although I won’t be kneeling to serve tea to my parents at home, I will still serve water to my mother."
"I have gained a lot from today’s activities. I am touched by the teaching perspective and method as well as the messages conveyed by Jing Si Aphorisms.”
Helen Won said that although her daughter is now preparing for her PSLE exam in the coming months, she feels that this monthly Parent-Child Bonding Class not only provides her the opportunity to learn new things but is also beneficial to her child as part of her growing up process. So, she looks forward to it.
The cup of tea and a bouquet of carnations were filled with the children's love for their mothers and became the warmest gifts in the hands of every parent. The Parents Appreciation Day was full of laughter and tears of joy. The Parent-Child Bonding Class ended with exchanges of gratitude and blessings with each other.