I love rains. I most certainly do. To the extent that some of my friends are convinced that I was a peacock in my previous incarnation. There are some benefits rains bring apart from the magic and mystical fragrance. Like the other day, I was sailing in my car with Sanil (for those who live outside Gurgaon, roads shapeshift as rivers here in monsoon to add to the magic… and fun), enjoying weather and nice conversation over steaming hot corncob. I was feeling grateful that being stuck in traffic made it possible for us to have some quality time together (around 3 hours) that we were missing out on for one thing or another. You know how busy life can be, right?
So I begin by telling him that I would be going to the informal meet-up that we, the parents of kids in his class, had arranged. And here’s what I get:
“Oh, thank God! With any luck, you will get to learn how normal parents behave.”
“What do you mean… normal parents?”
“You know… they tell the kids what to do.”
“And… I don’t?”
“No… you give me… choice. Like if I ask you – shall I watch TV? You tell me – it’s up to you, should you?”
“And… that’s abnormal because?”
“Because you answer a question with a question. You make me think!”
Oh, I have always loved thinking so much that it didn’t occur to me that it could be a pain. And something abnormal. I was intrigued (after being taken aback from the ‘accusation’ of being abnormal, not that I had ever been a big fan of ‘normal’).
“I empower you. I trust you to make your own decisions,” I told him.
“That’s what is hard. If I watch TV, I feel guilty. If I don’t, I feel guilty wasting a wonderful opportunity! It would be so easy if someone would just tell me what to do.”
“Well… that’s not how life works. Although guilt is the most wasteful of emotions, you can’t dump your dirty work on others. With power comes great responsibility.”
“Yeah yeah yeah… every kid watching Spiderman knows that by heart. That’s what I hate.”
“Power or responsibility?”
“They are both the same. Why can’t I watch TV without any guilt when you tell me to take my decision?”
“That’s your inner voice talking. And I want it to grow so strong that you don’t have to look at anyone else for making your decisions. You choose your option and stick with it either way, knowing why you chose what you chose. Others aren’t as much expert on your life as you are.”
“But I am just a kid!”
“Therefore, we are starting with kiddie decisions you can make yourself – like watching or not watching TV. I am not asking you to make household budget or something.”
“No, kids remain kids until they are adults. Then they make their own decisions. Till then they are told what to do.”
“So you think they turn into these amazingly intelligent adults with the touch of a magic wand the day they turn 18?”
“No… but you could start at 16 or 13… maybe?”
“Why not 9? Or before? The later we start, the lesser impact it will have. I think kids ‘empowered’ at 16 will be so influenced by their parents that their own decisions will be no different than what their parents would have told them.”
“But that’s what normal parents do!”
“And who defines normalcy? And if you know so much about parenting, why don’t you be your parent yourself :-)?”
“Oh, come on! If a person knows a lot about dinosaurs, does that mean he can become one?”
<<And we both laughed>>
So as it happened I tried to go to the parents’ meet next day but couldn’t make it. Guess Sanil is stuck with this abnormal dinosaur, for now.
Here’s to abnormalcy!
(Owing to which we could have this conversation in the first place… ahhh! the rains and the traffic in the rivers!)
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