Thursday, January 10, 2008

Great Expectations

No, I am not talking about the classic by Charles Dickens - about a little waif called Pip..although that book is a must read for book lovers as well...What my grey cells were thinking about is the expectations that we harbour regarding our children...Now these thoughts didn't suddenly pop up in my head...rather they were brought upon in slow progression as I sat watching the movie 'Taaren Zameen Par' (Stars on the Earth ) toddler P was playing nonchalantly in the room, not aware that his mother was glancing his way quite frequently, during the entire movie..
The movie is about a troubled young boy who has difficulty adjusting to life in school and getting along with his other classmates and sadly, his parents don't understand him as well..berate him for his failure to get good grades and compare him at every stage to his overachieving elder brother...well I wont spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it..This is not a review post after all...
But what got me thinking was that the central theme of this movie is very much based on real life after many times have we experienced the exhortations of our own parents to do well in many of us have been scolded for not concentrating on our studies ? Before I get any indignant responses, I agree that there is nothing wrong in parents taking a bit of a hard line if their kids are playing is after all in the kids' best interests to see that they perform to their best potential..
But thats the point, isn't it ? As parents, we have to recognize the budding potential in our children every step of the way. We need to make sure that whichever direction we are pushing our kids, its one that they want to go in, one in which they will be happy eventually, not one in which we want to go, or even worse, a direction that we had intended to go but couldn't...
I agree that it is important for a child to hone his / her skills, to go to school. Thats where lifelong friendships are forged, thats where independence is mastered and thats where camaraderie sparks. That might even be the place where a child finds something that can be made into a career...Most of us get caught in mainstream professions..its somewhat of a social symbol to boast that one's child is a doctor or an engineer ...its fine if thats what the child wants to do...but what if my child is interested in music or the fine arts and wants to make a carer of it ? Will I not be a good parent just because I didnt push him into becoming something more socially laudable ?
Isn't it more important to teach them to expand their horizons ?
To be able to give flight to their imagination ?
To teach them to see new fantasies in everyday mundane things?
To help them retain the sense of wonder and the gift of imagination well after they have stopped playing in the play yard ?

As the beautiful and heartwarming lyrics of the title song in the above mentioned movie go :

ये तो हैं सर्दी में धूप की कीर्णे
({Children} are like rays of sunlight in the cold )
उतरें जो आँगन को सुनेहेरा सा करने
(who have come to brighten our gardens)
मन के अँधेरों को रोशन सा कर दें
(They fill the darkness of the minds with brilliant light )
ठीठुरती हथेली की रंगत बदल दें
(They change the colour of shivering hands )
खो ना जाये ये तारे ज़मीन पर
({Take care} that these stars on earth do not get lost)

(Pardon me for the rough translation !)

We as parents have a big job ahead of us, but there is no reason why it should not be filled with fun and excitement, hope and trust, wonder and laughter !