Curse of Being Today’s Child

Their progenitors, as kids, led fantastically peaceful lives. They ate, played, slept and ate, played, slept. They stringently adhered to this routine, seldom deviating from it. These were the pre 21st century kids in other words the mammas and papas of today.

Due to some wicked conspiracy of time, the happiness and peace of mind experienced by these people were not inherited by their offspring. The youth brigade of the 21st century seems to be oblivious of what it actually meant to be a child once upon a time.

Time erodes memory. The memory of the parents, guardians has been wiped clean. Spotlessly clean. They seem to have forgotten their childhood days. Their days of being blissfully ignorant of the ways of the world, their days of soaking up the sun in their holidays, the days they would spend playing hide and seek, and other childish games for hours on end. The parents of today seem to have a common mission-to not let a child be a child in his childhood.

The parents of today are victims of a world which is hankering after money and success. They must have slogged day in and day out to make a place for themselves in their respective professional fields. But have they forgotten that all this happened when they were young adults and not young children? Instead of incessantly nagging their children to not waste their time on trivial pursuits and devote themselves to productive activities, they should practice the concept of live and let live.

The worldly wise, highly experienced parents, who have seen the good bad and ugly, seem to have a very one dimensional line of thought. Though, there may be exceptions but these are few and far between. All parents want their children to be flawlessly perfect. They want their children to aim high, work hard, then work harder and harder still. No one seems to want an ordinary child; they all aspire for superhuman children who go to school, top their class, rush back home, drown themselves into the seemingly unending ocean of homework, then get down to mugging up all the ‘knowledge’ that their textbooks contain, then rush to dance class, music class, painting class, tennis class, karate class and any other class which specializes in teaching children any skill on the planet. On top of that, they want their children to get 90 percent marks.

These parents treat their children like robots, they don’t want the children to falter and complain. They don’t believe in letting their children learn from their mistakes. They believe that their children should rather learn from the mistakes these ideal parents made, once upon a time. Instead of reassuring their children of the fact that they’ll always be there to help the child stand up on his feet when the child falls, they chart out a strict routine the child must follow right from his days as a toddler if he his to succeed in the game called life. Individuality, self expression, creativity, desire to pursue a particular activity, or venturing into the unknown and finding one’s own ground is not very acceptable to them. Most believe that when you can make a decent living by travelling down the beaten path, then why must one want to take the road less traveled.

So they persistently haunt their children to study get marks, get into the IIT’s and IIM’s. They send them off to coaching classes where a teacher will ingrain the belief that if you do not get 90% or make it to the premier institutes of the world, you have no reason to exist. Who cares if the child has good interpersonal skills, is affable, a good orator, painter, dancer or poet?

Then there are those parents who treat their children’s achievements as their own. They would rattle off the list of their child’s achievements at the slightest provocation; they would want everyone to know that their child is a trophy child. They would casually slip the fact that their daughter got a 95% in her boards. And you can see them gloating on belittling the poor parent whose child is just an average creature. Afterall, it’s a world preaching survival of the fittest and their child is fit to be a part of the mad rat race that lies ahead.

The parents are not the only culprits; media seems to be their partner in crime. The newspapers splash the board results across their pages, give tips to children to not be consumed by stress, to study in a particular way for a particular time, to revise, etc. In fact the board result and related trivia is given utmost importance by the media. When our parents were children they did not have 24 hour news channels that kept going on and on about the boards, the toppers. The media has successfully converted this particular set of exams into a majorly hyped phenomenon. The world ‘boards’ itself sends shivers down a student’s spine. Plenty of children turn into insomniacs before the much eagerly awaited board result is declared. If some children are unfortunate enough to fail their boards, they try to escape from the ignominy by resorting to extreme measures. They see the board result to be the meter gauging their success in future.

The whole world seems to be against children being children. They want them to grow up and dawn the cloak of responsibility from an early age itself. They want their children to surpass small pleasures which childhood is meant for and resort to mindlessly working and slogging. The question is not if we want to see our children grow up, it is how soon and at what cost?

Every child is gifted and must be treated so. Why should the adults inflict so much torture on these young minds? It seems to be the curse of being a 21st century child.

Apurva Joshi