No Innocence Left

If you have a good memory, you would have no problem recollecting a few cherished childhood Kodak moments. But even if you don’t, ask your parents or just take out one of your old albums from the back of your shelf. And notice how your eyes start to twinkle.

Playing in the mud, getting tanned in May’s summer heat, jumping like frogs in rainy Julys, trying to handle our over-packed selves in winters… you and I have done a lot. We were closer to nature (made possible because of lesser pollution and because Delhi was a safer city back then) and we were innocent little souls too. But this has remarkably changed, and perhaps not for the better. In fact, every now and then, there are news pieces voicing parents’ concern of how their eight or nine year old behaves more like a teenager. Just saying that the current generation is smarter by birth or that they have more exposure which leads to premature onset of maturity does nothing to aid.

While the parents expect their children to be born geniuses who are adept in everything, the entertainment industry is not helping either. The so-called “children’s” cartoons being aired are atrocious. There is so much corruption involved in them that as an adult, I felt disgusted. I can only wonder about the kind of impact it must have on the budding minds. Interestingly, the animated series do not belong to our indigenous brains; they are a gift of the global market. So now that we have apparently stopped aping the west, we are indirectly training our future generations to live a disastrous life.

I find it immensely ironical that today’s three year olds go to playschool but they don’t know how to play with clay! Because it is a ‘play school’, the child must study.

Why do we even care to harp about a child’s overall development when we do not let development take its natural course? And so try not being surprised when you see a very young child thinking about “love” and its verses. The reason is this. A child who matures at the age of 10 will become an adult by 16 whether or not you lower the age for drinking or consented sex. Furthermore, while he/she has already entered adulthood before time, earning money is not much of a concern; from call center jobs to part time jobs, earning money has become stronger a possibility. The kid no longer belongs to the ‘dependant’ population and after working for a few years, say a decade, will get tired of life. End result: frustration, longing for change, suicides, ruined health, extravagance and the list goes on.

Do our future generations have the right foundation? Living life in fast lane does not mean not living life at all. Evolution is not a computerized process which will work on our convenience and with our desired speed. There are some things that should not be tampered with and childhood is one.

Let a child be a child. Let them get dirty in the mud (they are not supposed to be Page 3 stars!), let them play in the sun, let them get wet in rain, let them make their own toys and stop trying to teach them everything. There are things which ‘experiment’ teaches a child and which an educative toy cannot. Let him/her tear the pages of their books; there is a whole life to read, the eyes need not be burdened at the age of three.

Let him/her observe, learn by themselves. Parenting is not about grooming the child so that he/she fits the bill and gets the approval of your social circle. It is about nurturing a human being. Hence it is imperative that we let the ‘human’ element remain because robots with emotions can be engineered but a life is born and should be left free to take its own course.

Meghna Baveja
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