“Thank you, my dear parents, for giving me a home that shelters me from the wind and rain, for making me delicious meals, and for accompanying me as I grow up…”
As the melodious song titled “Thank You” was played, a group of parents held up their mobile phones and started video-recording their children’s sign language and song performance.
The children walked out of the classroom after their performance and returned to the classroom once again. Each of them was holding a basin of water in their hands as they walked towards their parents and stood in front of them.
"Today, the children of Tzu Chi Great Love Student Care Centre will personally bathe the feet of their parents to express gratitude for their love and care. At the same time they also wash away the fatigue of their mum and dad (with the sweet gesture)," said Tzu Chi volunteer Ong Kuan.
On 14th June 2019, Tzu Chi Great Love Student Care Centre held a Parents Appreciation Day to give its students an opportunity to express their gratitude and filial piety to their parents through a foot bathing session and tea serving ceremony.
This is the second Parents Appreciation Day held by the Great Love Student Care Centre since it started operating in early 2017. Unlike the previous year, where there were only a foot bathing and tea serving session, the event this year included new items, such as sign language performances, making and giving Thank You cards, and a parents’ sharing session. Held on a weekday, the event drew the attendance of 32 parents.
"During this heart-warming moment, please savour the hot tea and drink it slowly in three sips,” said Ong Kuan, who was also the host of the event.
She guided the children to walk to their parents and kneel before the latter to serve them a cup of hot tea.
Lim Siew Li, a teacher of the student care centre, said that the Parents Appreciation Day not only allowed the students to have the experience of expressing filial piety through foot bathing and tea serving. The parents also learned that tea serving does not only happen during weddings; their children could still serve tea to them on normal days, their birthdays or Mother’s/Father’s Day.
Lim added that the parents agreed that tea serving is also a way for children to express filial piety, and that it is not necessary to give them presents or take them out for a meal.
Touching moments during the foot bathing session
A volunteer asked one of the parents: “Are you touched by your son bathing your feet?”
“Of course I am! I could feel that he was doing it sincerely,” replied the parent, Kong Tsoei Ni. She added happily, “My son even asked whose feet he should bathe first—Dad’s? Or Mum’s?”
Kong (pictured below on the left most) said that her son took into consideration of the feelings of both his parents and was thus not able to decide whose feet he should bathe first. In the end, he decided to wash one foot of each of his parents.
“He actually considered our feelings, and I was very touched by that,” she shared.
"Actually, I wouldn’t normally let my child do things like kneeling down to wash someone’s feet or even carrying water, because I was worried that he might accidentally tip the container over (and spill the water)," said Kong.
Kong opined that the Parents Appreciation Day is a day where children are allowed to experience doing something that their parents are normally unwilling to let them do. The event also gave the parents an opportunity to discover the latent ability of their children.
“I feel that we, as parents, should be brave enough to trust our kids and allow them to do certain things,” she said.
Although this was not the first time Kiong Sy Sy (pictured below, second from the left), another parent, had participated in a foot bathing session, she was still very touched when her child bathed her feet.
“(In the past), no one had ever washed my feet besides myself, let alone my own child!” she said.
The foot bathing session brought back moving memories of how she looked after her son when he was still a baby. She added, “He has grown up so much now and is able to wash my feet. I can’t describe how touched I am!”
The event, which allowed the children to experience expressing filial piety and gratitude to their parents for the latter’s continued care and love, was emotionally rewarding to the parents at the same time.