Adults Only

My wife is a nervous wreck these days. And I am only marginally better. The only person who is capable of any rational act in my household is my young daughter, which is just as well, because she is the one who is going to take the Board exams this week.

Since, in my current state, I am no more capable of cogent thinking than it is possible for a Shetland pony to perform open-heart surgery, I will let my daughter write this piece for me.

And here she gives some important examination tips to people who really need them the most —- parents.

‘Oh hi! I don’t know how to begin this. Okay, I will start off with Sachin Tendulkar. As your sons and daughters get ready for the exams, inspire them with the story of Sachin Tendulkar. Tell them about his single-minded dedication. Tell them about his unstinting work ethic. Tell them about his perseverance and excellence. And while they are learning all that, you take some time off to understand the story of another equally remarkable individual: Sachin Tendulkar’s father. Fill yourself with the fact that he never pushed his son to cricket. Get yourself acquainted with the truth that not once was he seen at the nets trying to tell his son to play straight or some such thing. When Sachin was learning to play, his father was probably busy writing.

If pushing your child is a crime, pushing yourself along for that is both criminal and stupid. Learn to relax. Ease that grip. And get this into your head: His father let himself be himself, that is why it was easy for Sachin to be his own self.

‘Hey,’ some of you may go, ‘we know this already. For, Aamir Khan said something similar in 3 Idiots.’ And boss, this precisely is the problem: You’re learning parenting from all the wrong sources. You don’t bring up your children going by what a film made for the box-office says. By the way, if Aamir as a student in 3 Idiots blamed the teachers, he, as a teacher in Tare Zameen Par, blamed the parents. In his next film, Aamir will probably blame, I don’t know, the electrician for the problems in our education system.

Talking of the education system, while you expect very high marks from your children, you actually have very poor opinion of the juniors who are recruited in your organisation based on their academic excellence. I know most of you often say, “These youngsters are just bookish. No real skills that are helpful in the real world”. Fair enough. But at least our excuse is we are created by our education system. But what is your excuse for creating this education system?

The other day, a well-learned teacher, while speaking on TV in one of the many counselling programmes on examinations, categorically pointed out that students should not in any manner get distracted and must give up stuff like watching TV. That was when it became clear to me as to what exactly is wrong with the education system in this country. You don’t get on to TV to essentially tell people: ‘Don’t watch TV’. That’s more idiotic than cutting the tree branch you’re sitting on. Basically, we’re letting people with IQ lesser than loggers’ to advice young minds.

I must also point out, if you take away sports, there isn’t much on TV for us youngsters to actually watch. Whether we change the education system or not, there is an urgent need to change the TV programming system in this country.

The people more annoying than pushy parents are the so-called open and friendly ones. It may seem cute that there are parents who think themselves to be some sort of pals to their children. They may talk their lingo. Wear their kind of dress. Watch their type of movies. Discuss their style of sports.  But believe me, and I know I am speaking for almost all youth here: At best, it is plain stupid. At worst, it could also be a symptom of early Alzheimer’s.

Youngsters can be social with their parents. But, let us get this straight, no youngster, once he or she enters the teens, would see his/her parents as a friend. It is not natural.  In case it needs to be specified (sorry for shouting here, but this has to go out loud and clear): YOUNGSTERS WANT THEIR PARENTS TO BE JUST PARENTS, which is to act their age, go to work, do their stuff, lead their lives in their orbit, leaving their children’s to theirs.

Find out from your son or daughter what he or she wants to do. In most cases, he or she will be actually clueless. Let them be. That is no crime. These things take time. Give them that. Remember, your parents gave you that. At any rate, you still aren’t sure what you are really good at.

Anyway, if you find your son/daughter good in one field, let him/her stick to that.  Don’t even attempt to push him/her into something else just because you think that is a good idea. Manmohan Singh was deemed a decent finance minister, but you thought he will do well as a Prime Minister, too. See what has happened. Now, both economics and the country are in the doldrums.

You can get away by blaming others for India’s sorry predicament. But in the case of your children, the buck stops with you.

In a world that measures success through the flow of bucks, they should never stop. ’

PS: If you find this piece stupid, let me remind you that I am only doing what my dad is supposed to do. If, for some strange reason, you find the piece sensible, I assure you this column will be back to its old self next week.