Bloggers Marathon Challenge – Day 5
“Madam, you are overprotective.”
I couldn’t help being perplexed whenever I heard the above words. What exactly did people mean by the word “overprotective”? Isn’t it a parent’s duty to protect his/her child? As far as I was concerned, I was just being a good mother, not “overprotective.” I was only doing my best for you and that included making the best decisions for you.
As a result of my “overprotective” nature or my desire to be the “super Mom who raises super kids,” you went for swimming classes even when you were too small to clean your backside on your own. Eager to save you from the ignominy of being the “average” or “dumb” kid in your class, I literally forced you to take part in several competitions and attend several extra classes even when you had not yet learned to read or even speak properly. Like many other mothers, I felt that all this was essential in today’s competitive world, and as a result, we almost drove ourselves nuts when you were in Class I. And all this happened even before you turned seven. I consider it to be my biggest parenting blunder.
I admit I was wrong in thinking that you were a bit of clay in my hands and that it was my duty to mould you into the person I wanted you to be. Yes, I ought not to have thought that you were a blank sheet of A4 paper on which I could write beautiful thoughts. Today, I know that you are neither clay nor paper. You are a rosebud in the garden of life, free to bloom at your own sweet will. You are a fledgling in the parental nest, in the process of getting strong enough to fly into the open skies and seek your fortune. My job is just to help you get strong, support you, be your friend and ally, and pull you back whenever you rush headlong into a mess.
So this summer, you finally got the opportunity to exercise your freedom. You really enjoyed yourself, didn’t you? Right at the beginning of the holidays, I asked you, “What would you like to do?”
You thought for some time and said, “Nothing!”
“What about a summer camp?” I persisted.
“No!” you said.
“How then are you going to spend your time?” I asked.
“I will play at home,” you said.
Oh no baby!! The modern competitive world says that children ought not to play at home. It is a damn waste of time. You ought to learn how to play chess so that you can show the school authorities that you are some kind of grandmaster in the making. You ought to attend some camp and fill someone’s coffers with riches. You ought to prepare for next year’s Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF) or learn next year’s maths. You ought to do anything, but play.
So I asked, “What about skating? Are you planning to say goodbye to it?”
“No,” you said, much to my relief. “I will go but not every day.”
“And drawing?” I said. “Don’t you think you need to do something about that gosh awful handwriting of yours? You must show some mercy on your Class II teacher. The poor lady has to actually read what you write. Drawing can fix your writing.”
You saw some sense in that, I guess, because you said that you will go for drawing classes when you don’t go for skating classes.
“Great!” I said. “You will then go for skating and drawing. You will also spend just one hour with me daily learning some useful concepts.”
“One hour!” you howled. “Nooooo!”
“Oh come on!” I said. “The day has 24 hours and I want you to sit with me for just one hour. That gives you 23 hours to do whatever you like.”
You turned this over in your baby head in silence for such a long time that I hastened to explain further. “It’s not like school,” I said. “No rote learning. No writing. No tests. I will just teach you some interesting things. And you will also get as many breaks as you like.”
You finally realized that it was not as terrifying as it sounded and agreed.
So this summer was your own. As a result, the adults in this house had multiple nervous breakdowns. You nearly wrecked your bicycle, but learned to ride with just one hand on the handlebars. You created deadly weapons with old toys and tree branches to frighten imaginary armies. You climbed trees, played with mud and water, and destroyed your clothes. You spent a lot of time with your chickens, entertained them with stories, and fetched worms, millipedes, ants, insects, and other goodies from the garden for them. You roamed all over Kudla with me and ate endless ice creams. You learned how to climb over the parapet on the terrace, leap on the windows, and then climb back up again. You turned the house upside down, but you lived life to the lees. On the brighter side, you learned some cooking. I feel blessed whenever you offer me cool drinks you made on your own. You may be the world’s number one head eater, but you are also a gem.
You have sweetly informed me that you do not wish to go school. Unfortunately, baby, freedom is not all about doing exactly what you like. It’s a bit complicated. You have to follow the Law of the Land. You also have to follow Mother’s Law. You might have chucked your drawing and skating in May, but I cannot allow you to chuck school.
Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” I know these are big words for you right now, but I also know you will one day become big enough to understand them.