Saturday, July 29, 2006

Life and times of an Indian kid

Today we had some visitors over. It was a couple with two kids, a boy and a girl. The children were well behaved. My Dad doesn’t like well behaved children. It’s not like he likes brats, but he hates the regimented children who sit like trained circus animals, answering your questions perfectly. Apart from the mandatory wishing of elders he never believed in strictly controlling our every move. He would rather leave us at home than taking us along when my parents went visiting because he knew that sitting down while the adults made polite conversation was torture for us. My Mom didn’t agree, because she thought we should learn to move around in society. But my Dad was in no mood to make us trained animals. That’s his viewpoint and I know many people will disagree to it. But I am thankful that unlike my friends we didn’t have to go through the painful process of ‘visiting’ people. And for all purposes we have turned out alright.

I cannot but help notice the strange relationship of parents and kids because there are a fair number of young parents in my family circle and among my colleagues and neighborhood etc. From my observations of parents and kids I have noticed something.

From the time the child starts walking he is taught to sit down quietly, behave himself viz do things according to the approval of his parents and not give them to much hassle, do home work, sleep early etc. It is a military barracks kind of life style for most kids nowadays. Parents seem to go through the motions of parenting and kids are trained in such a way that they don’t hassle their parents too much. You rarely see parents and kids sitting together for a game of Scrabble or cards, or parents getting involved in their child’s hobbies or interests. In fact these are discouraged or encouraged with an eye to a career in the same field like say music. How many Dads play football or cricket with their children on a weekend? ( Mine did in case you are wondering) How many families talk?

Most Indian parents I notice, are like caretakers of their kids. Children are herded and directed like sheep in a strictly controlled environment of school, homework, TV sleep routine till they get a job. After which the parents, feeling all accomplished take a break from parenting. And in this routine the child’s individuality, hopes, ambitions, desires etc is mercilessly brushed aside and he becomes just another person joining the workforce, earning a living, paying his house EMI marrying, having kids and restarting the parent/kid cycle.


mathew said...

moi wanted to make comment no 1 !!..

self congragulating!!.. ;)

mathew said...

okay..some adds on to what u have written..

Actually the fault lies with means..parents always have good intentions when they insist on military regime style of inculcating values ...they just want their kids to have a sucessful(that term is to be debated though) future..unfortunately many such "production line" kids loose out on many other little pleasures in life!!!

Its more about educating parents!!!

On a lighter note..I saw the spelling bee contest shown in ESPN..Though these kids might be of the super genius breed..they look somewhat odd to me!!!

They really lack sometihng!!

quills said...

I guess it is hard to generalize. Even in my case, I am happy to say that growing up,I was part of a family who had game nites (most popular being 28 (cards), Carroms and scrabble. After dinner the family would get around to play whatever we all were in the mood for.And ofcourse our fav outdoor sports was badminton.And I still remember the time my dad taught me to ride a bike, with my brother trying desparately to make me lose concentration and fall on my face. :)But there are still many families even today who I see take a distinct pleasure in getting together and discussing the day's events or just playing a board game or something. But you do have a point, the number of people I have actively seen are few and far between. But now with even schools highlighting the importance of extra curricular activities along with studies, this may be one thing that is slowly but surely changing.

Jiby said...

i think a lot of it is changing these days...parents and children have a very informal relationship...i mean even between a husband and a wife there is so much more intimacy in public than our grandparents generation...and i have also felt that when parents are young they are over-conscious of their role as parents and in society where they want to be recognized want to project a certain kind of image for them and their children. on tv and movies ppl get exposed to families that are less conservative and all this does play its part.

i actually realized something very funny...that my dad had actually learnt from my mom how to deal with us as we became teenagers and then was always kidding amongst us and behaving like one of us and we wud relate all our conquests and pokkitharams in college to her but my dad wud feel left out...and he realized he had to change and these days my dad and i are more like best friends...and whats funny is all those days i used to be in awe of him are such a distant memory.

i have always felt strongly abt what you wrote about and i root wildly for parents who dont rein in their kids too much...its such a joy to see and hear a child talking and playing...u get to see all that only once in that child's lifetime. great post!!!

Jeseem said...

production line :-)
kids have there fun. but if I go to someone's house and their kids jump over and be unruly, surely doesn't feel right. ofcourse if they r too pavam , that also looks disheartening.
Anyway no fear for next generation, they will be anything but production line. they r going to sit on top of your head :)

Mind Curry said...

i think theres peer pressure among parents too, and that makes them want to mould their child into something..which might or might not work out well..but yeah, no doubt though their intentions are always the best.

i havent wondered if it happened in other houses, but it was my dad who taught me to play rummy, tennis and even football. but overall i think i was a self-taught kid when it comes to being a brat :)

Immigrant in Canada said...

I was told by a lot of mallu parents that I am raising the kids the wrong way..
I would rather take them for fishing than visit friends and sit properly and behave......
In 20 yrs we will see if I made a mistake..atleast my kids will not be hungry.. they learned the fine art of fishing with choonda!!

silverine said...

Mathew: Thanks for that first comment! The word "production line kids" was very apt and that is what this post is all about.

Quills: I hope things change too but as of now, things remain the same in most families.

Jiby: My parents had a policy, they never said "I told you so". So we told them everything . They got to know what was happening in our lives and we could tell them shamlessly "I got punished today" :p You are right, it is
such a joy to hear a kid talking and I wish more parents listened to what they have to say.

Jeseem: Don't take the child out visiting till they are old enough to understand that they should respect other people's property. Because the only way you can instill that fact into a small kid is by intimidation or beating as he is too small to understand otherwise.

mind curry: You are right, there is peer pressure among parents too with each parents trying to show off how well behaved or knowledgeable their kids are, putting unnecessary pressure on

Sarah: I think you maybe my Dad's long lost sister :)) At least you think alike!! My parents never bought expensive furniture or artefacts till we were older because my Dad believed that either they would have a nice house or kids. Having both is an impossibility!
And that last observation was too good :))

silverine said...

Mind Curry: p.s. I would have been a brat had I been raised by my Dad, it was due to saner elements like my mom and elder brother that I turned out alright :)

Mind Curry said...

but then alright is a subjective description :) are just great the way you are!

Jeremy Ryan said...

I abhor "well-behaved" kids the same way. Unfortunately, for most of my life, I was one. Too scared to rebel, it took me till college before I took control of my own life... Sadly, I didn't turn out okay LOL.

pophabhi said...

Its a cycle thats going on. Parents are giving what they got. From seed to plant and from seed to plant. No one is there to see the world that is changing around. Those who change get a better harvest - for sure!
Great thoughts. I guess I must've thot alike at some point of time.

silverine said...

Jeremy: I take back what I said about you turning out purrfect, you def didn't judging from your commnet on the other blog LOL

We dont need no education.
We dont need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teacher, leave those kids alone.

Just add parent after 'teacher' and you have the perfect picture. But parents must realise that childhood is precious both for the child and for them.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

In the last 20 words of this post, you've summed up the lives of probably a billion people in our country :)