to all the grown ups
Stop expecting your image in your son, in your daughter. Stop expecting perfection in every child you see. Your perception is not the lens of the world, and this is something that you need to know. I feel terrible that a certain incident has to trigger so many voices and rants on depression, student struggles, drug addiction and pressure. And I feel even more horrible that I am one of them – that I even have to pen this down.
I would’ve directed this towards the millions of brave heart souls who are keeping up with their lives and who are breathing strong for a better day; but I just felt that while we all are doing a very uplifting job at making them know that their voices are always heard, the same issue is not made aware enough to the grown ups.
So, here I make an attempt at writing a Parenting 101 to all those who just don’t understand the mechanism of brain, heart and soul. The thing is – it’s not yours to operate.
Somebody else’s life is not your wish granting factory – not even your own child’s life is your life. And it’s high time that some people get used to this fact. I’m not talking about parents in general here. I’m talking about the usual crowd of people who have a role to play in pushing herds of chained students towards the threshold of Kota and Coaching Centers and Engineering Colleges and Medical Institutes.
Just stop it.
Your child will figure out a way out of this labyrinth, trust me. Trust them. You did. The people around you did. Then what makes you think that your child is not capable of the same. The world always figures out a way, somehow. And even when your child might get lost in the duniyadaari, let him – I beg you – let him get lost and let him find himself.
I know this might sound cheesy and not the least bit realistic, but we already have too much of reality to face that we stop dreaming. Maybe your son is not that great a writer that you allow him to drop out of an engineering college, or maybe your daughter is not that amazing a painter either that she skips her medical exam to be a part of an exhibition, but let them discover themselves.
Because they still, nevertheless, do have a heart to follow.
Your child does not need to be the best or perfect. He does not need to be the greatest one out there. What he needs is the right to do what he wants in life. Your job as a guardian is to look after him, to suggest him what is wrong and what is right, to tell him your experiences and memories, to share with him the knowledge you’ve gained.
What your job is not, is – forcing your experiences on your kid.
Sure, your child might be wrong in doing what he wants to do, but he’ll come back once he realises he is on the wrong road. Let him walk the path of potholes and puddles. Let him fall and stain his clothes. Let him retrace his steps to the juncture, and let him have the power to choose again.
Let him walk the same road again. Let him fall again, and let him come back again. Let him do the work that gives him happiness, and let him try and try and try until he is strong enough to mend the road his way – until he knows how to jump over the puddles – until he takes the other road.
Most of all, to all the grown ups – talk! Talk until it’s too late.
The least your child expects from you (and needs the most from you) is your support and your concern and your words.
Ask him what his favourite colour is, and ask him if he likes yoghurt for dinner. Ask him if he is happy with his friends, and ask him if the teachers are alright at his school. Ask him if the movie last night was good, and ask him if his favourite band just dropped an album. Ask him anything, ask him his name if you run out of question.
BUT, ASK. JUST ASK.
Words have a healing power that is greater than all the sciences of healing combined. So much so that it even is a cure. Communicate with your child, please. Don’t buy him the new iPhone and don’t buy him the new bike. You might have all the money in the world and all the intention of making him feel like your child while you buy him expensive gifts but none of it makes you the right parent unless you walk up to your kid, sit beside him and just stare into the night together and breath and nod to each other’s stories.
Hundreds of students each year take their own lives because of academic pressure. No parent wants it. So just imagine the number of happy lives, even if it just that one – that single one, that would’ve been living to see tonight’s stars if they had just sat together one fine day and talked.
Imagine that one more family: the mother whistling while cooking, the father watching the news behind his thick glasses, the daughter filling sheets of canvas with colours, the son mixing music to create tunes never heard before.
All because they spoke.
So turn off your phone and hug your child, no matter how awkward it gets for the both of you. Go ahead, do it. Hug him like he were seven years old. Take him in your arms, close your eyes and feel the blood in his veins, realise that it is yours, and tell him that the choice is his to make.
a student and human tired of the society’s way