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.
Far from it.
Something more important than that.
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
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
- 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
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.