She might have been extremely cautious while cropping his tender nails, making amply sure that he is not hurt the least bit, she might have tip toed into the room lest she disturb her angelic toddler who was fast asleep. Like you and I she might have dipped her hand into the hot water tub just before bathing him, to make sure if the heat was just right, she might have blown the boiling smoke away from the hot porridge bowl and even burnt her tongue making sure that the food she fed was warm enough!
Then she would have waited eagerly for her child to return from school every single day, making his favorite dishes!
Perhaps her whole world revolved around him tending and attending to all his needs so much that she had perhaps started living her dreams through him.
Today he had chosen to call it quits!
He had quietly returned home from school and jumped off from the top floors of the high rise building leaving a note saying that he didn’t deserve to be their son!
What could have been raging in his mind, what were those lone regressive battles he fought in his young little mind? Was it humiliation versus helplessness or inability versus indifference, self-worthiness versus social sanctity or was it simply because of all that incessant physical tending and aesthetic attending in the due course of which a corroborative connection with the mind and the heart was lost?
Sometimes kids hurt themselves physically or even exaggerate about a certain physical ailment in order to get our attention as we have, with or without our knowledge led them to believe that only a physical damage can get our attention, by rushing only when the wound is visible!
I have never met this mother nor the unfortunate child but the fact that this incident has happened in the close proximity of my vicinity brings sleepless nights and indescribable uneasiness that continues to seep in and haunt me.
A tender young life who could have had a promising life has been lost! And I feel really very helpless too!
This forces me to ponder and reflect upon myself as a mother and wonder if I have done enough or am I over doing it?
There are no perfect parenting tips in this world. Neither can anyone advocate a certain style as a conventional doctrine of parenting, as individual is different and most often the upbringing of a child is directly proportional with various factors ranging from the very parent’s upbringing, financial and social circumstances, the societal expectations, mental well-being, status symbolism and of course the very system around us where the merited are suffocated to emerge more meritorious in the limited space of academia coupled with the hypocrisy of our Governmental organizations that systematically wedge a social divide into the society with various socialist reservations and quotas threatening the very idea of social egalitarianism bleeding large sections of the society that are getting stressed and depressed by the private educational institutions that preach us parents with paid parental orientation sessions about avoiding parental pressures on children when they themselves proclaim that it cannot be anything less than a 97% to board their bus!
The biggest irony is that schools and colleges openly set cut off points rendering all career counseling sessions as a mockery. Today, only a 9 pointer or above can opt for science, those above 8 can opt for commerce and the rest can go for other left out options.
Isn’t this blatantly suggesting that Science alone is above everything else? No wonder opting for Science has become symbolic with false prestige and intelligentsia status as nobody wants to be called a dimwit or lesser intelligent!
And that is the reason there is a mad rush for opting science alone even at the cost of paying donations thereby encouraging systematic corruption leading into a shortage of scope for those who seriously want to pursue a particular stream. This precedent also belittles other professions so much that today there is a dearth of awareness about the importance and availability of various other career options.
Our Indian children are perhaps the only ones who have so far braved against all the academic and aesthetic pressures so resiliently because they are required to excel in English, learn Hindi, learn the regional language for the love of the land, if possible also take up Computers and a foreign language to increase one’s chances of global opportunities, you should be a wizard in Science and a topper in Maths to qualify your grey matter amidst peers and parents yet kick the football high amidst the dust and strike a chord on the guitar to establish your cool dude image lest you are a nerd, you should also be socially sensitive species who will spend extended hours on compulsory social activity project and also finish those additional online assignments and various other Olympiads and value addition programs just before hurrying up to the private tuitions without which one is a deemed to be doomed!
Yes, you cannot classify all that supposed vibrancy that these private schools are trying to inculcate in our children as an obnoxious burden but then the larger question is whether this systematic loop of elite eloquence about specific education streams alone enable our children to be resilient enough, of which even parents play a huge part in!
Children repose enormous faith and confidence in us parents, so much that I can never be wrong for my child! I am kind of an encyclopedia for him throughout his growing years. And my opinions and demonstrations form a large part of his outlook that goes on to shape his mind and idea of himself and the society at large.
My opinions will always mirror in his imaginations, thought process and self-worth.
But as he grows up it is important for me to shed my strict parental cap and reiterate back to him that like him even I am human and that whatever I say or do is largely as per my beliefs and principles that I have acquired over the years with many failed and many successful attempts and achievements and that even I can err or be wrong or become angry at times for which I will need his support as well.
There are times when I express to my teenage son that I am tired and feeling very low because I lost a writing contest or was unable to do a certain project on time and get enough readership and that I would love it if he made some tea for me, not that I cannot make it for myself but only to demonstrate that he can relate and reciprocate like this when he is feeling low as well.
Now who does not yell and scream or itch to raise your hand or punish in ways that we believe can reform our children, I guess it is only instinctive at times as it is extremely difficult to make our children focus and put in efforts which has never been imparted from day one as schools today hardly give any homework only to face the blues later. But it is most important that we do not drag on our ego or grudge and instead choose to patch up almost immediately by sitting down and talking things out calmly with our children.
When you are angry just remember that your child is some 25 30 years younger than you!
Our teenaged children may not be mature enough to understand our views, thus it is upon us adults to balance things out but this reiteration that you care and are willing to share and discuss his grievances or try to ease them will certainly enable them to think freely beyond the standard conventions and aid in them with self-esteem and confidence to explain their position and believe in themselves.
I know it is indeed easily said than done more so if it is a boy that you are raising, as a mother of 2 boys I see that when they grow up they don’t easily connect with you or share things with you, so it is important that while we chase them like werewolves we also connect with them, listen to them and honor their little decisions that makes them feel that they are heard and taken seriously as well.
When I was a child my mother let me make my decisions in life, in fact she even banked on my opinions for matters that concerned all her household affairs and financial matters at my early age of 12, which in a way has empowered me with such confidence that it not only helped me decide independently and enabled me to pick the right against the wrong but also kind of bonded me to be honest with her no matter what and never let her down.
Remember you had patted and petted your child all along when they were little and today, your sudden spurted spurious behavior at the helm of their teens will confuse and send them into a cocoon. Some children may react by rebelling wildly and some others may mildly go mute. And it is these muted symptoms that parents have to be wary of!
Unlike our childhood days where we were punished black and blue and were trained to be rugged from the initial days, our children have not been exposed to any kind of harshness or hardships because of our own ceremonious pampering and yielding to all their demands after letting them footloose until their 10th grades. But here is a tricky situation where suddenly you gear up and start chiding him cutting down his play time, restricting him in all ways possible pushing him to the study table which when not sustained by your child you resort to aggressive and repulsive rile rants without your knowledge, without realizing that you had not trained your child to be rugged like you, without realizing that there can be no lush green vegetation under the dominant shadow of a banyan tree.
Every child needs acknowledgement, sometimes verbally, sometimes with a small physical touch of care and love in subtle forms like a little pat on the back or a small considerate hug or just some oiling of the hair or even stroking the hair gently or tucking them in their sheets before bed, remember you did all this and much more when you cuddled them obsessively in their younger days and now suddenly are shying away but it is a proven fact that a physical touch of care and concern by parents reassures an adolescent child and strengthens them emotionally, no matter how big they are.
And talking about the limited stream of opportunities, believe me there is no dearth for them and no, one, stream is above another, as every finger in the fist has a role to play. You can be anything from a biotechnologist to an economist to a media person to a writer to an artist to a digital animator to a voice artist to an advertisement creator or a cartoonist to a lawyer to an army person to a photographer to a travelling archeologist to a historian to an anthropologist to teacher to an RTI activist to a politician to a TV anchor to a sportsman or a businessman or an entrepreneur or even go on to become a Steve Irwin!
There are many doctors, chartered accountants and engineers who have become film actors and movie directors today and even national spokespersons for political parties, so essentially a stereotype science subject or an Engineering stream or an American scholarship alone does not necessarily make you successful.
As a child I was always good at stories, I was always interesting in essays and debates and dance but I could not figure out my strengths or interests so I ended up taking up commerce. Numbers and statistics scared me off in college and I seriously found it uninteresting and dry sessions that I could never relate to and always found myself participating in a whole lot of cultural events or would prefer sitting alone under a tree.
People around thought I was only good at cooking useless stories and indulged in nonstop chattering! But as life had it, I later found myself in marketing roles and counseling and recruiting jobs that required talking all day and today, yes, I do what I always did best, cooking up stories and articulating my views for the world to read.
Success is only when you emerge out of a trying situation with confidence and conviction and this confidence is churned only with constant care and a lot of connection with your child on a daily basis.
A precious life is lost in a hurry without ever knowing how and when those days of merry transformed into a sudden unceremonious melancholy. No amount of words or wishes can ever come remotely close to compensate for the loss and guilt with which the parents may have to lead their lives and in my opinion it is totally insensitive and unproductive to blame the parents for this ill-fated short destiny.
The least we could do to pay an ode to this Adonis is to stop, and take time to reflect upon ourselves.