Z has a habit of watching YouTube videos at night for about an hour before bedtime.
What she watches though are videos about kids.
In fact, her request to watch video is the eminently concise Singlish-influenced, “see baby?” Translated, it means, “may I watch videos of very young children, approximately but not limited to toddlers, engaged or exposed to situations or role-play appropriate to their age and life circumstances?” in proper, inefficient, long-form English with grammar and other rules applied.
It is a matter of great pride that I am able to understand my daughter’s efficient utterances in their full semantic and grammatical intent.
Call it the father-daughter bond.
Anyway, one afternoon we were at a mall, deciding on a place for lunch. We had been seated and Z spied a man (girl?) in a monkey suit.
No. Not a tux.
A mascot-type anthropomorphised monkey suit.
If pressed, I would hazard a guess that it was (originally intended as) a costume for the Monkey God character in one of the Journey to the West epic.
Z was torn between curiosity and caution. On the one hand, man in a monkey suit! On the other hand, man in a monkey suit! Who knew what perversions he was into?
So I brought her out to see Monkey-man (or girl, I couldn’t tell with the costume on). I always feel sorry for these mascot-actors.
Firstly, in hot humid Singapore, wearing a full body costume is probably sheer torture. And that’s if you are the ONLY one wearing that costume. If you have other people in that costume before you, it is a whole different level of hell. Hope they didn’t fart in it.
Secondly, your field of vision is severely restricted. Better have workplace insurance.
Thirdly, you are “public property” for the duration. Fortunately, it is almost impossible to see the person inside the costume in most cases, and if you are “molested” it is usually inadvertent. But who knows? If you are dressed up as a furry animal…
Fourthly, it is acting, but you won’t want to put it on your resume (or however actors list their job experience), if you are indeed an aspiring actor.
Fifthly, you have to be financially desperate to take up a job like this. Or maybe most “mascot-actors” are volunteers.
Anyway, it was a fund-raiser for ACRES, an animal welfare society which rescues animals, and the fund-raiser was to pay for a new vehicle.
Z was in turn attracted and repelled by the Monkey-man, who I must say, was well briefed on letting little ones dictate the level of interaction that they are comfortable with. He offered to high-five Z, and Z responded reservedly, but did not show any enthusiasm in raising the level of interaction.
Later she wanted me to carry her and observe the Monkey-man from a comfortable distance. She could see other people interact with Monkey-man, Mascot for ACRES, but they were mostly adults (well, in adult bodies), and Z did not identify with them.
So she remained cautiously distant from Monkey-man.
Cut to the evening, and Z is watching videos from YouTube.
While you and I may be watching YouTube for cute cat videos, or bloopers, or recipes/cooking instructional, Z watches videos of children in various domestic situation. One family (Family Fun Pack) has 5 children and they put up videos of their home routine. Z watches the same video repeatedly. There was a breakfast scene and all the kids were eating different cereal, and I think that is where she learned that it is “normal” to eat cereal with milk.
So she actually asked to try my cornflakes with milk when she saw me having that. While usually she is a purist and does not like her food to be mixed.
And there are other examples which she picked up “norms” of behaviour from observing those behaviour in the videos.
Of course some of the videos she enjoy simply for the entertainment value, or the humour. Or to expose her to various experiences that she has not enjoyed.
When she saw kids sliding down a long slide, she commented that she uses daddy’s legs as a slide.
But that evening she saw Ryan (from Ryan’s Toy Review) excited to meet Chuck E Cheese (the mascot-actor), and hug Chuck E and take photos with him. And she commented that it was not scary.
So she learns. From observation. Usually of real life events or incidents.
But sometimes just from YouTube.