In June 2016, the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool celebrated Parents’ Day. The students personally served tea and made snacks which they fed to their parents in a show of gratitude for the care they had received.
They also learnt how to treat others with the same care as they would themselves; under their teacher’s guidance, they visited the two Tzu Chi free clinics, giving massages and putting up a sign language item to bring cheer to the sick and elderly.
The Sincerity of Handmade Snacks
“(This is) for Mum and Dad to eat.”
“We’ll eat ours only when we reach home.”
The PreSchool’s students, aged from three to six years old, followed the steps shown by their teacher as they worked on their handmade snacks. Though they were tempted to have a taste themselves during the process, they resisted the impulse as it was a special day—10 June 2016 was Parents’ Day.
At ten in the morning, they were decked out in gloves and headscarves, carefully preparing the ingredients. Principal Audrey Koh said, “(The objective is) to get them to realise that time and effort is involved when their parents prepare their three meals. We want them to be grateful to their parents and to be thankful for every meal they have.”
At noon, the parents started streaming into the PreSchool. Guided by the emcee for the day, the children knelt down to present cups of tea to their parents. They also expressed their love for their parents and gave them a big hug. This was followed by the little children feeding the handmade snacks to their parents; some looked comfortable doing so while others appeared shy. As they ate the morsels fed to them by their children, the parents were all warmed to the core.
A Lovely Surprise
There was another surprise in store for the parents that day. The children carefully held basins of water in their hands as they gingerly walked towards their parents. Inviting their parents to place their feet into the basin, they slowly immersed their little hands into the water and started to wash their parent’s feet. The serious manner in which they carried out their task delighted their parents, who did not mind any sign of clumsiness.
A mother was teary-eyed as she shared how blissful she felt. She said that it was always herself washing her son’s feet, and that day was the first time she had experienced the reverse. Another parent, Xie Tian Cheng, who was carrying his daughter, noted her actions and expressed his gratitude in seeing her development.
Five-year-old Song Si Heng often shares Jingi Si Aphorisms (wise sayings by Master Cheng Yen) and his knowledge of recycling with his family. Acknowledging that these information were very helpful, his mother said that he often told them that discards of different materials could be recycled and transformed into different things. He would also not allow them to throw away things which can be recycled.
It may be just an expression of gratitude, a hug or a kiss, but a parent’s greatest comfort is derived from seeing their child grow in maturity and develop filial piety. The ability to give love to others was imparted to the five and six-year-old children, who followed up by lending a hand to Tzu Chi’s medical mission.
A Massage to Warm Hearts
As it was the school holidays, Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool had arranged for the children, aged three to six, to visit the two Tzu Chi free clinics. The teachers had carefully planned the time to let the children perform a sign language item for the sick and elderly, with a stress-relieving massage thrown in.
16 children, all 6 years of age, arrived at the free clinic five days after Parents’ Day, and took turns to tour the registration area, the consultation room and the dispensary, listening to the doctor and staff explain what happens at each location. After that, they proceeded to the waiting area and performed a sign language song for seven patients who were present.
The elderly folk who were there that day looked wan and tired, but when they saw the cute actions of the children, their expressions softened and they started clapping their hands and moving along with the rhythm of the song. They also unexpectedly received a massage from the little children after the presentation ended.
In less than a minute, the children had each found themselves a “customer”. Some of them held the elderly person’s hand, rubbing it gently, while still others gathered behind another elderly, massaging his shoulders and pounding lightly on his back.
Madam Chen who was present at the clinic that day could not stop smiling. She was happy to see the children as it made the atmosphere lively and everyone seemed like part of a big family.
As Dai Yu Mei, Supervisor of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool, put it, “The most important thing is to inspire the kindness in them so when their family needs help, they will be able to give of their help readily.”