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22nd November 1998

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by Kumara Dayawansa Nanneththi

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Dear Daughter

Fashion: to what extreme

My darling daughter

One of my old neighbours was here a few days ago and while she was bemoaning the lack of morals and the dangers young girls and women faced, she remarked sadly, “Sometimes I think the way these young girls act too gives wrong messages and creates unhealthy situations. Perhaps it may be fashionable to wear tight mini skirts with the slits showing more than they conceal. There are places where one could wear such clothes but, not to supermarkets and offices where all and sundry gather. I don’t think the girls mean any harm, but sometimes I myself feel ashamed at the comments people make regarding the clothes these young ones wear.’

She sounded so apologetic that I was rather amused, but later I realized that what she had said was correct. What young girls assume are trendy western fashions don’t go well with the eastern culture we are used to. Short tight blouses with shorter pants exposing a wide expanse of midriff, slit skirts with the slit appearing doubtful as to how high it should go, are good to wear for exclusive parties where each one knows the other, but to walk around in public places and shopping malls is to open oneself to a lot of questionable and crude remarks and even physical danger.

I think, daughter, in a sense mothers too should advise, their young teenagers.True enough the young do not take very kindly to advice,but especially in view of all the violence and lack of values that appears to have affected our society, it is better for young ones to be safe than flaunt their attractions and suffer for it.

Again another thought comes into my mind (now you are sure to say that I am becoming extremely old fashioned) but I think a way the girl talks,acts and behaves too, matters. Today there is verv little decorum (another old fashioned word! ) and the brash way some girls act make people feel that they are trying to project a kind of sexuality. Recently I saw a young teenager - a very attractive girl, walking around in one of those super market food malls wearing a mini skirt, a short blouse with a glittering stone decking her navel. The little boy who was with me was astounded. He wondered whether it was a precious stone. The young men who were around were ogling at her so much that I wondered could not her mother have advised her.’ For all the bravado she showed, to me she was a just a little girl who had lost hcr way.

That reminds me of another incident when a parent following the latest trends bought her little girl a mini skirt.The child was totally embarrassed and spent most the time trying desperately to adjust it to knee length! I think mothers and daughters should get together to decide what fashions to follow, keeping in mind that we are eastern and a little bit old fashioned yet. Would you agree?


Kenny’s World

There’s one born every minute

Has anyone tried to make you join one of those ‘Get Rich Quick’ pyramid schemes that are floating around? I’ve been amazed by the sheer number of people who’ve tried to get me to join. Luckily or not for me, I am not much of a believer in ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes. In my book, you get rich slow (the old fashioned way), or you steal (this could also be done the old fashioned way. But that’s no fun).

For those of you who don’t know what a Pyramid scheme is, it’s very much like a chain letter that takes your money. Simply, it is a scheme where every participant brings in a few more, and they in turn bring in a few more. Eventually, something that starts from one person could include hundreds or even thousands of people. Just like an upside-down Pyramid. A pyramid scheme starts (obviously) with a pyramid scheme company. This company sells you a certificate for, let’s say 5000 bucks. That sounds like a lot of money but it’s really not, especially if you consider that all you have to do is sell certificates to five other people, and wait for the money to start rolling in. You’ll get back more than one Lakh on your 5000-buck investment sure thing, easy money. Or so they tell you.

Let’s look at this logically. OK, I agree that as long as there are suckers, some people are going to make a profit off pyramid schemes. If you get involved in a pyramid scheme closer to the beginning, you have every chance of making your money back with profit. But if you get involved later, you’re going to have a problem. The more people that are involved, the harder it’s going to be to sell your little certificates.

Eventually, you will be faced with a scenario where every sucker in the country is either trying to sell a certificate or is waiting to get his money back. Then the little pyramid she comes a tumbling down. Everyone loses except those who got out early, and of course our little pyramid scheme company which has made 2500 bucks from every certificate already sold. Oh and by the way, did I mention that no one can seem to find the people who ran the company?

It’s easy to trick people with these schemes because it looks legit and makes sense on the surface. They use things people are familiar with, like the certificate. It’s supposed to be some kind of a receipt and a guarantee. Of course we deal with paper receipts everyday. We are familiar with them. Cheques, or even deeds are worth a whole lot more than the paper they are written on because they are genuine and legal guarantees.

Those pieces of paper are valid because they point to an asset you actually own. But if you look at one of these certificates, all it tells you is that you’re now the proud owner THAT PIECE OF PAPER. Am I making sense?

Let me see, how can I better explain this? Ok I know, instead of a certificate, what would you do if someone tried to sell you a rubber chicken? It’s a very straightforward deal. You buy a rubber chicken for 5000 bucks and you will get five rubber chickens which you must sell to five other people. Then you sit back and let the cash just flow in.

Yeah right. You know anybody who ís gonna pay 5000 bucks to buy a rubber chicken? Especially a rubber chicken that would only cost about 50 bucks to actually make? And what’s to stop anyone who wants to from making fake rubber chickens and selling them as the real thing? Well, a piece of paper is worth a darn sight less than a rubber chicken, and printing a certificate is a darn sight easier than making a rubber chicken. Personally, if I had to make a choice between a piece of paper and a rubber chicken, I’d go for the rubber chicken.

So you see, there’s no such thing as easy money or a free ride. Don’t get me wrong, many people could make a lot of money off pyramid schemes. And a lot of people could lose a lot of money too. Don’t be tricked by assurances like, ‘Don’t worry, this is the Italian one.’ Just because it’s foreign doesn’t mean that you’re not being had. It just means that you are being had by a foreigner. If you really want to make money off a pyramid scheme start one. By the time the pyramid starts to crash you would have made enough money to leave the country heck, you’d probably have enough to buy your own country.

Crashing pyramid schemes in Romania (or one of them European countries) triggered mass riots and eventually the overthrow of the government. But of course, we have nothing to worry about. Sri Lankans are far too rational to blame the government when things aren’t going well in their lives. Anyway, the bottom line is PYRAMIDS CRASH. It may take a few months or even a few years. But crash they will. For those of you who aren’t convinced e-mail me, I’m trying to sell this rubber chicken that you might be interested in.

Learning to let go...

When parents begin to do everything for their child even covering up for his negligence - they are only hindering the child's progress to a responcible adulthood, says Vicki Marsh Kabat

Parents inherently take care of their children. It’s what parents do. We wipe their baby bottoms and their baby noses and their baby chins. We keep them away from dangerous things. We help them up when they tumble, and comfort them when they get hurt. And then, somewhere along the line, we step away from all those roles and help them learn to do those things for themselves. It’s called teaching them to become self-sufficient, responsible adults, and it’s the toughest act in the world.

At some point, it’s not a good thing for mom and dad to take the child’s problem and make it all 0K. We can’t kiss that particular boo-boo anymore and make the hurt go away. At some point, the child has to deal with the pain himself, confront the person who hurt his feelings, admit to the teacher he didn’t do his homework.

It’s called choices and consequences. It’s called life. Your young son comes to you and confesses he hasn’t done his research project. It’s due tomorrow. “Mom, you’ve got to help me!” he pleads visibly upset.

As the parent, you have a choice. What do you do? Some would automatically jump in and help bail out the child, running to the library or the Internet to do research, throwing together visuals, typing up the final paper. In doing so, with all the best intentions, we have effectively removed the consequences of our child’s “choice” to not do his assignment. We can’t fix it. Now he’s playing within a stricter set of rules - the law.

We do our children no favour when we teach them there are no appreciable consequences to their choices.

There are. And as they get older, those consequences get more serious. Sometimes, they’re deadly.

We can guide our children into taking responsibility for the insurmountable before them. We must not extricate them from it. By encouraging them to do what they think they can’t, we help them develop character and discover inner strength. By doing it all for them, we nurture dependency, insecurity and irresponsibility. Like I said, it’s the toughest transition in the world for the parent, and for the child. But it’s absolutely the best thing we can do for them - and for society.

Enjoy your childhood

By Chamintha Thilakarathna

All parents want their kids to be safe and comfortable at Montessori, whilst learning their ABCs. And all kids, would prefer a place they can call their second home. This is exactly what ‘Sunny Drops’ Montessori at Pepiliyana endeavours to provide..........a relaxing, homely and safe atmosphere for those young learners.

Sonali, Sharmini and Shammi, the trio behind Sunny Drops are great believers in letting kids enjoy life. At Sunny Drops, you can have a bath if you want to, go in search of birds in the neighborhood, take off your clothes if you are feeling warm, and even spread oneself on a mat inside the house.

“We want kids to be relaxed and feel at home. A Montessori is not only a place where youngsters learn but also a place where they could be themselves, without too many restrictions,” said the three founders.

They say that the reason for having chosen a house with ample space for kids to watch TV. and play was to allow them to enjoy their childhood.

“Of course, we teach them basics of reading and writing. We are trained montessori teachers but we found that the traditional montessoris we worked for before starting this were too formal and restrictive for kids,” they said.

So the syllabuses are not forced down their throats, instead blended into their daily activities. At the same time, they learn to take care of themselves and be responsible.

With kids from two and a half years to six years, the montessori offers a day care centre for working parents as well.

“We hope to personalize the montessori and tend to the needs of kids individually, which many montessoris do not have time for. This is one reason why we don’t want to have a large number of children, but a manageable amount,” they said.

Students are also given an introduction to cooking and also tasting various food items, a bit of gardening, field trips, among their variety of extra curricular activities.

“We tend to prepare these kids for school, and have a good time doing that,” they said.

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