By Life Positive November 2013 The eternal quest of being a perfect parent can be harsh on you and your child. It made me a wreck until I gathered my wits. I was out for a walk, when a hoarding calling for admissions to a play group and nursery caught my attention. I stepped in to inquire for my 16-month-old toddler. I was urged to apply immediately for admission, lest I be too late. “What rubbish”, I wanted to say, but I swallowed my unspoken words. I didn’t want my son to enter the rat race so early, but I didn’t want him to be an outcast either. But putting the child in a play group when he has not yet banished diapers? Walking home, I overheard a conversation between two women where I learnt that most popular schools will teach my child the syllabus of grade ten in grade seven! I cringed. I do not believe in crushing my child with unnatural pressure. For a moment I reflected on the thoughts of Mark Twain when he said, “Colleges are places where pebbles are polished and diamonds are dimmed.” Is this what education will lead us to – a market of MBAs and engineers who will end up in loveless, ladder-climbing jobs? I will not destroy the natural un-blossomed talent of my little one. I will not feed him with a package of my unfulfilled ambitions, I pledged determinedly. Stepping under a bus-stop to take shelter from the rains, I overheard two mothers talking. “So and so school teaches debating skills, presentation skills and professional skills in grade four,” said one of them. “They also teach stress management and groom the child to face challenges,” said the other. I felt a thud in my chest. The “so and so” school will first put pressure on the child by teaching the syllabus of a higher grade, and then combat the damage with stress management training! In an obsession-driven society, we conveniently forget that our child is created in God’s image. Subjugating the creative intelligence of the child will slowly and steadily erase his innocence. Real parenting is not about manufacturing a perfect piece; it is about understanding innocence and letting it spill from your child’s eyes. Your child does not need any lessons in stress management. At this tender age, let him be in a class of flowers and drink from the river of silence. Nothingness is not easy to achieve when we grow up. But to a child, it comes naturally. Don’t rob him of this pleasure. What a child needs is your unquestioningly extended arms, not a career tonic fed day after sordid day, fortified with tuitions, homework and daily lecturing. Be a real parent! -Uma Bilaney Ramnani via email
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