By Trishla Gupta:
Last week after coming back in the metro after a particularly exhausting day of math’s, my half dead brain was aroused by a sight which immediately got me thinking so much so that it lead me to writing this article.
It was around 4:30 in the evening and mercifully I had got a place to sit and breathe normally in an otherwise overcrowded metro. I was staring blankly at seemingly nothing when the speaker announced ‘Laxminagar metro station’. It was just then that I saw this small boy, not more than 9-10 years old, get up and lug this huge bag on his small shoulders, trying to balance the bag, bottle and a piece of chart, all with a straight face. Not a wince, not a sigh. It was like watching a robot go about doing his duties mechanically, without feeling or thinking about the pain caused by the burden of carrying that heavy bag.
Seeing that small boy with his bag and books losing his innocence so soon, spending the years that we call as the best years of one’s life in a metro with this huge boulder on his tiny shoulders incensed me so much that for one moment I felt like taking that bag from him, apologizing to him on behalf of everybody (his family, his school, the system) and promising him a tomorrow where he can actually live and enjoy his life.
Why is it this way? Why is it that we try and live our dreams and unfulfilled aspirations, our desire to be glorified — through our children? Right from the time a child is born the competition starts. He should start talking, walking at as early an age as possible. He should be the best in everything, so he should start going for classes from the age of two! His classmate takes part in 20 activities and also does very well academically whereas he only manages to do 10 activities so there has to be something wrong with him… Why this constant comparison? Each child has his own strengths. Why can’t we be happy with whatever our children have been able to achieve? Why is it that a child as young as 8 or 9 cannot go to sleep peacefully; actually looking forward to waking up to a tomorrow where he can be happy, where he can play, he doesn’t have to worry about his next test, or disappointing his parents or not doing better than his peers!
I know I am rattling on about a subject which has probably been debated umpteen times on national television and which probably has no solution. Every parent wants his child to be successful, to be looked up to and for this he needs to do well. I agree. But there is a time and age for everything. How can you send a 1st standard child for tuitions just because she is soft spoken and not able to conserve fluently in English? Why can’t we let our children be! Why do we snatch away their happiness because we are worried about what others will say? People will think and say what they want to say. It is us who needs to see where our child’s happiness lies.
I strongly believe that during childhood and by childhood I mean at least till the age of 13, the child should be allowed to play the maximum, there should be minimum or even no exposure to tuitions or coaching of any kind. If he/she is learning a sport or dance or music it should be because he /she is enjoying that particular activity, not because they have to learn a sport as everybody else is learning. Parents need to guide them, teach them but also give them a bit of freedom. Now, by freedom I don’t mean giving them a cell or unlimited access to the computer or not knowing what they are doing in school, what company they are in. By freedom I mean letting them spend their time the way they want. If they want to spend the day reading a book, they should be allowed to that; if they want to paint they should be encouraged to do it, if they want to play for 3 hours they should be allowed to do so. Remember that childhood days are the only days where we can be free in the true sense of the word — and develop ourselves fully — without life’s pressures.
What we learn in our childhood, the way we spend these memorable days leaves an indelible impact on our mind. The more relaxed and happy childhood we lead the more confident and optimistic we are when we face the ‘outside world’.
I know that not everybody reading this article is a parent, it is after all a youth platform, but almost all of us have younger brothers, sisters, or can endeavor to spread the message of the importance of leading a happy childhood, one which does not involve competing in the rat race. Hopefully there will be a time when children like that small boy in the metro with his bag will not be a common sight.
Till then its just a dream… Are you willing to convert it into reality? Do drop a comment below. (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; tweet us at @YouthKiAwaaz).
Image courtesy: http://photographerno1.wordpress.com/2007/04/22/the-school-bag/