One thing I have noticed over the last week is that every day another boy turns into Nick Slaughter from 'Tropical Heat'. Every morning a new vibrantly loud Hawaiian shirt makes its way to the lobby for roll call and my 'Tropical Heat' theme song reboots for the umpteenth time. 'Anywhere the wind blows...' Apparently the source of such "kitchieness" is the Zara sale going on down the road. Thank you Zara, thank you!
Before the boys get back, I must apologise and share some advice for the future. Parents do not tell your children not to get you gifts. The peer pressure is too much and they will eventually succumb. I have watched this happen - a boy will be walking innocently down an alleyway of a market when suddenly the fever hits and he simply must buy his family a gift. He has ignored the urge for too long and now it is overwhelming him. He becomes sweaty and starts to shake.
Because his very sweet mother has told him not to buy her a gift but rather use the money 'for experiences' he has absolutely no idea what to buy her. And so what does he do? He fixes his eyes on the first shiny, plastic, touristy thing he sees - like a plastic plaque, or a shiny Singapore key ring, or a snow globe (oh the irony), or a huge mug (that is going to take up half the space in his luggage), or a completely horrendous t-shirt saying 'I love Singapore' with a Merlion on it. And we all know that it's going straight to the pool room.
Now here is where my apology comes in - I have tried my absolute best to try to stop them from buying - and I'm afraid I have to use this word because nothing else will suffice - “kak”. But, oh my goodness, these boys have a knack for sniffing it out! One magpie in particular, little Delport, will sniff out the best trinkets in any market and I am constantly walking up behind him saying, 'Delport put that down and step away from the gold George Washington playing cards!' But I can’t be everywhere all the time. It is with a heavy heart that I interrogate the boys after a day of shopping knowing there have been some fatalities.
I do, however, know that there are some very eager families counting down the days until their boys return home and no matter how horrendous their gifts are they will be treasured forever because of what they symbolise. For many of these boys this trip has been their first fledgling flight into the open world - and let's be honest - it hasn't been an uneventful tour. The gifts they bring home will forever be reminders to parents and boys alike of the huge strides they took towards manhood during this tour. And that, I suppose, is all that matters.
Next time just ask for a pashmina...