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When Being "Too Helpful" In Singapore Is Bad - By Expat Andrea McKenna

By Finder blogger: Andrea McKenna


It takes a village

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I really like to help people out. I try to hold doors in the mall, lift strollers onto the buses, pick up a kid after a fall, hand out a tissue if someone has a spill or a cry...

After I complete the helping and they say, “Thanks,” I always say the same thing: “It takes a village.”

The problem is that no one seems to know what I mean but that, as I am often - if not always - receiving blank stares after I say it.

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One of my most recent exploits were when I looked after an unattended kid from our school bus stop. There was just a mix-up with pickup but when I saw the girl alone I immediately took her with me rather than leave her alone.

The second recent event was in our condo pool. A very young toddler got away from his dad and dove head first into the pool. I was about five feet away and attempted a Bay Watch-worthy rescue. He was floating face down so I was not going to wait for the parent to catch up. You gotta help parents out. Perhaps it was a bit dramatic but seriously, I didn’t even think about it. The dad probably felt stupid but hey, kids get away quick sometimes.

Both events elicited sincere ‘thank you’s’ from the parents. But again, the silence and blank stares with my ‘village’ comment.

I think the phrase may be more of an American term, hence why other expat and local folks don’t get what I’m saying.

But my question is why it is so hard to figure out? Doesn’t the definition just scream “We need to all help each other out!”???

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton first put the phrase into the American vernacular in 1996. The entire phrase from her book title is: It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Can Teach. To be fair, I never read the book.

And obviously I’ve taken the liberty to shorten the quote down to taking the village to help everyone, not just in raising children.

The Republican Party in the U.S. then took issue with Clinton’s angle of everyone helping raise kids, saying instead that children need families not a village. The concept was criticized and hashed out for the next 20 years.

I don’t really see the point of saying other people shouldn’t help raise kids. People think we should mind our own business and not get involved with other people’s problems, issues, setbacks, or - yup - kids. To me, that is nonsense. We are not islands.

I was happy to meet a nice German woman in my walking group who said she would hope someone would pull her kid out of jam if she wasn’t around. And I agree with that - I would also appreciate the help.

So, if being too nice or too helpful is bad, then I’m OK with being bad. Who in this world ever decided there was such as thing as being too nice or too helpful?

With my truncated version of the ‘village’ quote, I will continue to try to help people out around town in Singapore, especially parents, because everyone needs help sometimes.


About Andrea McKenna

image: E. Chiau

Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.


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