Ever since my son started school, all I'd been dreaming of was for his semester break to come, because the early mornings were taking their toll on me. When it finally rolled around, I was faced with a big question: What are we going to do?
Given the temperature, we can't stay home without turning on the air-conditioner, and that's not ideal for both health and financial reasons. We can, of course, go to the department stores, but I am so tired of saying no when my son asks me to buy more toys.
A memory flashed before me, of the time I was in New York City and took a walk in Central Park. I saw little kids running around, mummies and daddies reading while sitting on park benches. Bigger children skateboarded, rollerbladed, practiced B-Boy moves or whatever. Everyone had something fun to do at the park. It's a wonderful place to be. Why don't I take my son to the park? Because there is no convenient park to take him to, that's why.
I've read that nearly eight million Bangkokians have to make do with just 95km2 of green space. Those spaces are, unfortunately, not near where I live. To add salt to the wound, I've also read that about 10 shopping malls and community malls will open this year, as if we didn't have enough of those already. On the way from my house to my office, I pass a department store, two community malls and zero parks. From my house to my son's school, we pass two community malls and no parks.
I don't have to illustrate why a park is a better place to raise a child than a shopping mall. It's very obvious. However, urban parents these days end up taking their kids to shopping malls because they want convenience. Everything is offered in one place _ paying their bills, tutoring classes for the kids, supermarket, massage shops, hundreds of clothing brands to lure money out of the pocket, slimming centres, skin clinics, toy departments and one too many "sale" signs to make our blood pump happily.
I talked to a family whom I really look up to in terms of parenting style. They take their son to libraries, museums and parks on a regular basis, and only go to shopping malls when they need something.
They told me that it is unfair to put a child in a tempting environment and keep saying he can't have anything. It is an unhealthy feeling for a child to be constantly disappointed when we adults are the one to offer them the temptation in the first place. Their boy is a very well-behaved, reasonable child, but even this boy can't resist a parade of shiny new toys and asks his parents if he could have them.
He does take no for an answer, but the disappointment hangs in the air. They certainly have a point. Surrounded by constant temptations, our children would inevitably grow up greedy and needy. There's always more that they wish they had.
And what kind of adults will they become? What kind of leaders will our country have?
Green space is not only vital for our health, but also for our lifestyle, which eventually builds who we are. If all we do is go shopping and eat, what kind of life would that be? Is this how our children should live?
The dream to turn the 400 rai of land owned by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) in Makkasan into a green space still has a glimmer of hope _ though not that much. There is a movement in the cyber world asking Makkasan to be turned into a public park instead of adding another place to spend money for Bangkokians. With that size, it can become a world-class large green space, or Bangkok's healthy, well-functioning lungs. Kids can run around and the parents don't have to buy anything.
I might not be a park-goer, but I want to be. I do hope this movement to demand more green space becomes fruitful and that in the end at least a portion of that gigantic piece of land adds some green to my beloved, polluted city.
Because I am running out of space to store clothes for myself and toys for my son from the too-frequent aimless trips to the shopping malls.
Napamon Roongwitoo is a feature writer for the Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer