Monday, 12 June 2017

Let them be little!

Dear Parents....please...No exam result is worth throwing a life away. If your child or any child appearing for exam is feeling low or stressed, talk to them not wait for the child to come to you.

I had been reading in newspapers, links shared on social networking websites, novels and watching this on t.v serials or movies too, about how children have been/are getting pressurized, suppressed, oppressed, all in the name of education. Also, on how children played with their lives, by either becoming drug addicts, because they wanted to escape from the real world or by ending their lives by consuming something dangerous or harming themselves physically. And when I would read any such article or view it, it would disturb me. I wondered on how parents could do this to the very child who was born from them. A child who had been nurtured by a mother, so lovingly, during the  9 months of her pregnancy and then brought up with so much love and care, till it was time for taking admission in a school. Even there, it was indeed the love which pushed the parent's to make their kids undergo a rigorous study schedule to prepare him/her for the questions which probably could be asked at the interview for admission; as they definitely wanted their child to get admission in that particular school. 

Little did I realize that I too had gone into that rut (unknowingly) myself. Educating my children began when they were babies. Yes!! You read it right! When they were babies! The gizmo/mobile which was hung on their cradles, had animals and birds. And I would call out the names of the animals and birds, as the mobile rotated musically over their heads. Before I realized, when they turned toddlers, they could identify the animals (wild and domestic), birds, fruits, vegetables, colours, shapes, vehicles, the little bric-a-brac with which I had decorated our humble home and by the time they were infants, they were also reciting nursery rhymes, could say ABCD and count 1 to 100. All this was done playfully then. With no pressure whatsoever put on the children and it was no big deal if they forgot anything too! (Though I dare say, they never forgot!). They were even able to identify the countries and continents on the world map. 

I used to play games of mock classrooms, home or the doctor's dispensary, so much, that I don't remember carrying an inconsolable infant or toddler to consult the doc for some ailment or their shots. And the pediatric always complimented them for being well behaved kids and at times he would even gift them with lollipops. And the same was the case when we went for their school admissions too! Admissions were a breeze....we went and the principal playfully questioned them and they answered each one of them with ease and were as comfortable as they would be with a known Uncle or Aunt. :)

Kindergarten and primary school seemed to have swished by and before I realized it, they had reached secondary school. Soon, the pressure of the educational system, peers, family friends, family, began to catch on...and then it seemed that unknowingly we had got in the rat race. 

I love watching animated movies and after my girls were born, I would take them to watch these movies. And at the end of each one, there would be a moral to learn. On reaching home, or en route home, I would remind them about the lesson learnt, so there too, without really wanting to, I had ended up trying to make them realize what they had to learn. 

I have never been an achiever, so there was no expectation that my children should be. But in the process of even teaching them good values, I ended up probably hurting their self esteem, when I would say, "don't behave like that brat! Be like that cousin of your's. See how well behaved and brought up he/she is...." today I realize, on hindsight, that I didn't have to do that. I didn't have to compare them with any Tom, Dick, Harry or Jill, Jane and Judy! They are the way they were meant to be. 

I have never been one of those mom's who would question the teacher for a lost half mark! 😳 I never pushed my children to strive for that A1 grade in school. I was never one of those mom's to put my children in this class and that...I allowed them their space. I let them be and of course, their father too supported me in this. Teaching them was totally my lookout and responsibility. I did wish that my kids learn some art, or show interest in playing an instrument; but, when they were younger, they did not show the inclination and when they did, we were not in a position to put them for those classes, due to the distance involved and the fees too!

And I didn't realize when the competitive bug got me too! Personally, I have never been an ambitious person, nor was I ever a go-getter! But as the years went by and my children climbed the ladder in their scholastic life, their need to get good marks in all exams caught on. I still wasn't the mom asking them to get an A grade and yet sometimes, when one of them couldn't, it would dishearten me and I would preach them on getting good grades to ensure a comfortable future for themselves in the material sense. When my elder child reached her 10th grade, the pressure built up. A huge hype...everyone advising, "don't take your boards easy, It's not! Start studying soon after you finish your 9th. Your CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) score will get affected if you don't get an A1 grade in all subjects and later admissions in the choice of your stream in colleges, will be tough too!" 

Phew! Apart from giving the children the pressure, the pressure began getting to my husband and me too! The days I would be calm, he would get worked up and then the whole house would get involved and there were days when I saw the kids whiling away their time, I would go on "sermonizing" mode. And later, when I lay in bed at night, I would question my own intentions. I would end up sermonizing myself.

My elder child was one of the toppers  in the boards in her school and her name appeared in the list of young achievers in the boards, in the local newspapers and she also was honoured by the Principal of her school & some other social groups. And of course, as a parent, my chest swelled with parental pride. She is a sweet-natured, friendly and a go-getting kind of a person. She is very focused in what she wants to achieve in life and is striving to realize her dream. 

But, 4 years down the line, it was my younger child's turn, to appear for her boards. She has been a happy-go-lucky, child all her life. A very sweet-natured, affectionate, compassionate child, having varied interests in painting, cooking, dressing what should I do, if she is not paying attention to her studies!? Rather, not paying attention to studies is not the word, it is just a lack of interest in scholastic studies. Does that make her a dud? Does it mean that she is an under dog or a failure? Does it mean that she is probably stupid? As a parent, I am proud in the way she is! She is the perfect child in all aspects. Marks on her reports have not mattered much or didn't, till now. But the pressure of her being in the 10th grade had been catching on. In her case, she has been carrying an added baggage of having an elder sister who has always been a topper in school and a first cousin who was just about 2 months younger than she, also topping the school each year. 

And suddenly, the pressure or the enormity of what she is going to be facing shortly, after her boards was hanging like a sword, over our heads. I personally, am least bothered about the percentage she will score, but will society, her teachers, friends, relatives, be as kind or indifferent towards her grade score as our family or me? Such misgivings have been bothering me off late! And though, I know, we will stand by her or both our children, unfailingly, will they be able to face what is coming!? Probably, every parent in my situation is facing this or has faced this at some point of time in their life or other. 

Such kind of thoughts were still bothering me, when I heard the news of a close relative's son, who unable to handle the pressure, underwent a change in personality. A quite, obedient but confident boy, turned into a rebel and a nervous wreck, overnight! So much that during one of his board papers, he blanked out and went into a stoic silence & finally when he did react, he broke down and was crying inconsolably for half an hour & blamed his parents for making him take up a stream against his wishes and pressurizing him to study and get  excellent marks too!

When I heard about this incident, I was very upset. It was then that something in me snapped. It was then that the realization dawned that somewhere (even though subconsciously) I probably was doing the same thing! Were exams worth throwing away the life of a happy child? Were exams the end all of everything in life!? Were exams and the marks or percentage obtained, going to determine the caliber of my otherwise intelligent child? I decided then and there, that I would set my children free from the baggage and pressure of running a rat race. My children did not have to be a professional (Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer...) against their wishes or just because my husband or I wished them to be so! But, today, I just know one thing, that come what may I will stand by my children in every decision they take. 

School exams are a conditioning we have been subjected to and have passed on to our kids too! Does anyone care what you scored in school or college, a few years down the line? What counts is what kind of individual you/your child turned out to be! A ruthless, in compassionate, go-getter!? Or a kind-hearted, loving and good soul (who in the real sense is the winner of life)?

Money here! Gone tomorrow! What will stay is the person you are and how you treated people and made them feel! Inculcating the right values, teaching your children consideration, empathy, compassion and the concept that sharing is indeed caring, are the things which make our children the winners in the walk of life. 

I myself wanted this sometime back, that my girls do well academically and stand on their own feet, earn well, for themselves. But today, I know and believe that the upbringing given to them will automatically make them winners in life. Marks achieved in school or college are just that - marks! When they were created, God wrote what would be their future, so why fret?

 "When God designed the plan of your life, it wasn't dependent on you being perfect! Your mistakes, are not a surprise to Him!!" Guide your kids, teach them the difference between right and wrong, teach them the right values, the rest will follow. Allow them to make mistakes, they will learn from them! You and me certainly did, didn't we? Guide them, be there for them, teach them to identify between right and wrong...there is no need to rush them or make them take up a crash course in growing up. Let them be little!!

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