Yesterday, after several months, I met my youngest cousin who is only five years old. As is obvious, I forget everything when I am with him. He is extremely naughty and equally inquisitive.
Well, I was just playing with him and asked him what he does in school, how his teachers are and whether he ever gets punished. I was just trying to talk to him. Since he is very talkative, he started telling me all about his school.
His story started with Taekwondo, and it moved on to dancing, then to painting, swimming, horse-riding and what not. I was, at first, happy to listen to all that but then, another thought actually made me quite tense.
When I was a kid, my school did not offer all these facilities, and as we grew up, we could opt for any activity we liked – but today, small kids as young as five years old are participating in these activities way before they even understand their meaning. My cousin does not know whether he likes horse-riding or not, but he surely knows one thing, that he could not go to the park the day before because he had his dance classes in his society. He was waiting so eagerly for me because he knew that it would mean an off-day from his creativity classes and he would finally be able to go to the children’s area in the park and enjoy the rides.
Do kids look happier enjoying in the parks and gardens or do they look happier in so many different extra-curricular classes where they are actually forced to follow what is taught there?
I feel bad for my cousin. He is being forced by his school to excel in all the fields and forced at home by his parents to pursue extra-curricular activities to become an all-rounder, so his parents get so-called ‘accolades’ from the society.
What is he supposed to gain from all this? At the age when he should be playing with the kids of his age, he is learning the ways of life, and how everybody grows up.
My childhood was quite different from all that I heard from the stories of my cousin. Nothing more was expected of me, except finishing my daily homework. I still remember the time when I was a kid, as soon as my friends and I reached our homes, we were eager to finish our homework and then go out into the streets to play. The parents never worried about us since they knew that we had already done our homework and there was nothing more to do.
In fact, we were free to do whatever we wanted to. Some liked dancing, some painting and others liked nothing but playing outside.
The scenario has completely changed for today’s kids. If not in smaller towns, at least in metro cities, all the kids are busy in developing some skill or the other so early in the life. I see three or four year kids performing on TV and people taking inspiration from them and trying to make their kids like those TV stars.
They forget that every child has his own identity. There are definitely some kids who are multi-talented, but not all kids can be so. Parents need to stop imposing their own ambitions on their kids and thereby ruining their childhood. Kids look better playing and doing mischief and not when they look tired of all the burden they have to bear on their little shoulders.
I would like to give my kids enough time to understand what they like and pursue it and help them make a career in the fields of their choice.