I have often seen that parents tend to live their dreams through their children. In India, particularly, parents tend to vehemently exhort their children to ‘become something’. That ‘something’ usually translates to being an engineer, doctor or having a government job. These professions till date command the most ‘respect’ here. Needless to say, these professions demand an excellence in academics and very high grades, buttressed by a maddening array of tuitions/coaching by private organizations, that prey more on the insecurities of the parents rather than try and enhance a child’s potential. I sometimes think Pink Floyd should do a re-issue of ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ taking in this scenario! I can guarantee that the song will come out more sinister, more lethal and more dark!
We tend to stifle the creativity in our children and impose our idea of ‘successful’ down their throats. I have come across very few parents who would reply to the question ” What would you want your son/daughter to be ? ” with ‘I would want him/her to be happy in what he/she does’. I guess its natural that we would want our children to be successful, financially comfortable,. But we forget that ” Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc” .(Hugh Macleod, ‘Ignore Everybody: and 39 other keys to Creativity’). The results are in majority cases disastrous. Very few children develop the courage to demand their crayons back.Maybe they will go through life ‘successfully’, but somewhere, somehow they would miss the deep magenta, the crimson orange, the azure blue hues of creative fulfillment.
The results are equally disastrous for parents. They tend not to have a life beyond their children. Everything centers around them . People feel proud of it and revel in the feeling of ‘sacrifice’. This is the ultimate moral high-horse! To me this passage makes sense “Do not make your child your only hobby or you will end up waiting by the telephone in a cheery room covered in brittle, yellowed crayon drawings, regaling those few friends that are left with stale anecdotes about your youngster’s accomplishments. Your little baby will be off in college, or backpacking in the Amazon, or on the other side of the country trying to get as far away from home as possible, and you will begin collecting porcelain frogs and feeding stray cats. So now is the time to start getting that life to fall back on. You know what you must do. Do it for your child. Do it for me, and for everyone out there who has to deal with your child for the rest of your child’s life. And do it for yourself”.( Christie Mellor, ‘The Three Martini Playdate’ ). Though I wish the author could have not been derogatory about feeding stray cats! And collecting porcelain frogs sounds cool too 🙂
Which gets me thinking that my sister has been successful on both counts. Her life and her son’s life. She allowed my nephew to be what he wanted, do what he wanted. She gave him the freedom to choose, to make mistakes and learn from them. She never for a single instant gave him the feeling that he ‘owes’ her anything, that subtle psychological pressure we tend to exercise on our children, which I find very distasteful personally. That healthy space between them has today crystallized into a bond of strength and mutual respect.My sister lives her life on her own terms too.It is a life of success, grace and contentment.
My nephew has gone on to become an engineer. That is his passion along with a great love for music and football. He is happy 🙂
I am happy too! Why ? Well, the other day while I was dropping him to catch the flight back to London, we started talking music. I have this huge music collection on my mobile phone. I played ‘And You & I’ by Yes.’Who is on the acoustic guitar ?” I asked. ‘Prog rock,yeah ?’, he said .’Sounds like Steve Howe’. My heart burst with happiness 🙂 The kid grew up in the early 2000’s and here he was recognizing a 70’s prog rock band! Possibly one might say that there is kind of musical determinism in me ? That I relate to the 60’/70’s music more than the era I grew up in and I am also sometimes unfortunately critical about the later years. But I never forced my likes on my nephew. He listens to a wide variety of music and is very open to new sounds. Just that I felt great that a kid of this generation could appreciate the musical genius of a truly fantastic bygone era.And yes, he understands what he calls my ‘Morrison call & connect’ 🙂
Maurice Sendak says “Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.” That is what children are : genuine, imaginative, brave and uncomplicated. To try and ‘mold’ them would be sacrilegious, non ?
Over & Out, guys 🙂
Time to groove: