The Gift

The Gift

By Cherelle Lee

Winning speech for BVTMC Chapter Meeting on Thursday, 2 Jul 2020

Pathways Manual, L1P1– Ice Breaker



The first time this girl had signed a contract was at the tender age of 12.

A house?


A car?

Far from it.

Something more important than that.

A phone.

Yes. Not those phone contracts for SIM card plans, one for “terms of use”.

In Primary 3, I requested for a phone, as some “cool” kids in class owned one. There was a

resounding “yes” from my dad. My hopes soared until the “when you are Sec 4 you can have

a dumbphone” response followed.

At Primary 6, nearly everyone in class owned one, seeing them fiddle with their phones after school

or secretly playing with them felt painful. I felt like I was missing out on something big, my

friends could now communicate 24/7 while I, on the other hand, had to wait an entire day till

our next interaction. But, after PSLE, I was finally given the chance to present my case..

Was this just giving me false hope? How to convince my stubborn parents?

I talked about all the benefits and even showed my commitment by putting together a list of

rules that I would comply with if I got a phone.

“You see, if I have a phone, I can stay connected with my friends and also with you guys

when at work!”

“What if you get addicted then?”

“No, I would never! Plus, one hour screen time remember?”

“How about when you find a way around it?”

After a lot of negotiating and making tons of promises, I emerged victorious.

I signed the contract, and the phone was mine!

The first 2 weeks were pure joy. However, things took a turn for the worse as I realised after

a while how absurd some of the rules naive me and my parents set.

“Only can use your phone in the living room and study room.” Huh, so what is to be my

entertainment in the toilet?

“No bringing it out when with us.” How ironic! When I am out, I have no social life.

After suffering under these set of rules and more for a few months, I really couldn’t take it

anymore as now I couldn’t rush my last minute projects with my classmates when

screentime was up (shush shush voice: and catch up with the latest gossip…) Things have

to change!

If I negotiate, what if they think I’m being childish? What if they take my phone away as a

punishment? But desperation drove me to take that leap of faith.

As I was explaining my case, there was a “hmm…(action)”, instead of the normal “buts”

(wavy finger) . Instead of having to toss arguments and defences back and forth, this time

they simply listened, tried to understand and suggested instead of enforced.

When nothing reasonable could be done about it, they allowed a change in the rules. Even

though all was done with their approval, the fact that I could actively choose and not just

agree that everything they said was the “gospel truth” was so different from what I was used

  1. This was a stark contrast to all the grudging obedience. This showed that I could be

involved in my own life. That my opinions mattered.

This interaction was so different from the first, wasn’t it? What caused the change?

Back then, I couldn’t change the rules as I was paranoid about getting my newly acquired

treasure taken away. So I gritted my teeth, used it only in the designated areas, left it at

home when I went out and kept to screentime…

And then came trust, as I was somehow obediently following those rules, there was a sense

of assurance in my parents. After a while, they stopped eagle-eyeing me whenever I picked

the device up, they stopped checking my messages and even let me bring my phone out,

trusting I would only use it at the right time. And it felt good, that belief they had in me, to be

comfortable with me being independent.

Trust gave me the chance to be in control and I feel that it was what changed our

interactions. I used to grudgingly comply while my parents made the decisions. In the past, I

used to think that if I already could go to school myself, manage my own safety, why not a

handphone? However, now the weight of my opinions have increased since my parents trust

me and know that I am aware and use logic instead of my fluctuating teenage emotions to

make decisions.

Tedious but


Unbearable but


And emerging totally Triumphant.

TRUST (spell out), this acronym, is in a nutshell, is what a 14-year-old thinks the journey to

receiving the gift is.

Trust changed my relationship with my parents and now I have got a taste of what I need to

do to be able to drive my dad’s car to my very first Zouk out at 18.

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