Helmets, Graciousness and Kindness

Just this weekend, we  took Bea to a nearby canal for her bicycle sessions with Daddy. She is learning how to cycle on 2 wheels and boy, is it taking it’s toll on the poor man’s back! But it looks like she is getting the hang of it. I do regret not starting her off on the balance bike when she was younger instead of the training wheels. My friend, L who’s son uses the balance bike has such a great sense of balance.

Micro Scooter along the canal

Micro Scooter along the canal

As always, the learning sessions end with a bit of scootering around. It was a straight and pretty clear stretch of pavement along the canal, so we didn’t bother with the helmet. We were both having fun – I was using her old scooter (yes, I was using a kid’s scooter because I haven’t gotten down to getting an adult one yet – the choices are staggering – free moving back wheel, hand brakes, leg brakes, different size wheels – I am actually hoping I will find something in the thrift shop or a secondhand one since I don’t intend to do acrobatics with it – just need to keep up with Bea).

About 20 mins later, I literally see it happenning in slow motion – just like Matrix, how time seems to freeze over in those kungfu moves? Well, that was how I experienced it. I saw the pink scooter tip over, like a video playing frame by frame, and Bea falling forwards, hands outstretched and I cringed when her left cheek touched the pavement.

I ran forward, hugging her while checking her cheek (it was only last week that her violin teacher told me how her husband cracked his cheek bone in 3 places when he fell off the bicycle).  Thank goodness, she didn’t react in pain. She cried (of course!) and had a very slight grazed elbow, some reddened palms but that was about it.

Lesson learnt – ALWAYS HAVE YOUR HELMET ON WHEN SCOOTERING – even when you are going very slowly. What happened was that she went over a sea almond nut that somehow got caught in the back wheel and the nut became like an instant braking bolt.

Scooter Safety

Scooter Safety

So here comes the second part of the story. This canal is also used quite frequently by construction workers to walk to the park. There is a dormitory about 20 minutes away. So while Bea was crying away, this man in his sarong comes and picks up the fallen scooter and looks on with concern. Without uttering a single word, he and I understand that he is asking if she is alright. (I have to admit, I have a strange knack for communicating with foreigners – I have traveled in Nepal, India, Pakistan – and somehow, after a few days, I actually understand some basic local language. Weird but true). I tell the man, she’s alright, but he only leaves after she stops crying. In case any of you say, hey, weren’t you worried? No, I wasn’t, his body language and demeanor conveyed concern and kindness. This canal has people on it all the time, exercising or using it to walk to the train station, so there was no question of safety at all.

This is not my first encounter with kindness from construction or whom some might say, a rough work worker. When I was pregnant and taking public buses and trains, guess who were the ones who gave up their seats? People in dressed in nice office attire? Usually not. They tend to to be sleeping even when your huge pregnant belly is staring at them right in the face. Students in uniform – nope, not them either.

The people who always gave up their seats were construction workers. They were people who were obviously not office workers, smelling of sweat (sometimes) but had  kind eyes.  My take on it is that, these are people who obviously have a harder life than most of us whose work machine is probably a laptop or computer. They live in dormitories, 10 to a huge room (perhaps), work really hard, only see their families once in 2 years (every contract term) and in that hardship, they probably understand that kindness makes life a bit easier and thus still retain their sense of humanity, kindness and graciousness.

So while I hope to give Bea a comfortable childhood filled with love and laughter, I also want her to experience the discomforts of life. Experiencing heat, walking a bit more to reach somewhere, carrying a heavy bag on occasions because when everything is laid out for us, I think we loose that sense of empathy. If you don’t know the sensation of carrying a heavy bag, and how after a while, every step aches and you think your shoulder might fall off, how would you empathize with someone carrying a heavy load and offering to help with no second thoughts at all?

For myself, it is a reminder that in our hurried and busy lives, going from one thing to another… it’s good for the soul to be able to give some time to show kindness to someone in need.


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