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Changing Childhood- Diary of a mother

There are myriad of colors to the life. Some shades pleasant and some shocking. I have been experiencing various emotions corresponding to the shades of life. I am thrown out of balance at times and at times thrown in pool of thoughts. Today I want to share my thoughts about the changing scene of childhood.

I met a young cousin of mine who is trying to get in a good business school. He was little disappointed because he was turned down by the one he wanted to get in. I told him he should not lose heart as he still had a chance at the others institutes. He told me this one had their curriculum covered by e-books which were loaded on to the i-pads and they had to key in their assignments online and appear for minimal ‘written’ exams. He further informed me that the education system was changing and moving on to more modern and state of art techniques.

I must say I was quite impressed and felt bad for the young boy who was obviously aghast for not getting in. But I was also pensive. I did not quite agree totally with this changing educational scenario. Around the same time I noticed my 12 years old son glued to the TV with standard excuse of summer holidays. After my chiding him a few times, he got up with resignation and went to his room to play at his computer. He called his friend over in the evening to play a match over ‘playstation’. Much to my dismay I realized that he hardly ever go out to play.

I remember, it use to be quite a task for our mothers to get us back home to eat, to sleep or to just be during our holidays. There was so much ‘out’ of the house that we wanted to get done before being tied in the routine of school days. There was no fear of tanning or sun stroke or getting hurt or falling down. There was no fear of life probably. But today life is full of fears, menias and disorders. Did my mother fear when I paddled miles to go to meet a friend? Did any mother fear traffic like these days?

Although I hate to admit it but more than the kids, it’s we parents who have changed in the outlook. I went to the school bus-stop alone after I turned six. My son is double that age but I still see him to the bus stop right outside the gated campus we stay in. I never permit him to go out on his bi-cycle, not even to the hobby class that is less than 500 mts and away from the main road. I have seen my friends worry about all types of allergies and discuss all the potential supplements to be given to the children. It scares me. I wonder about my competency as a mother. So many times I feel I am not doing enough. I am so un-aware about the nuances of the modern parenting.

But then there is so much of conflict within myself… I am not even sure what is correct and what is appropriate? My own childhood where I could study and had all the time in the world to do what I pleased or my son’s where knowledge is boundless. His syllabus send shivers up my spine, missing one working day means upsetting the entire schedule for months. Swimming, singing, dancing and painting are not hobbies anymore. They are the extracurricular qualification of the children. Time management these days means how well can you incorporate multiple activity classes in your day. There is no collection of stamps anymore. There is no collection of ‘ Nandans’ and ‘Champaks’ and hence no exchanging of comics or story books. Our children are exchanging the gaming CDs and DVDs. Birthday gifts these days are the latest gadgets. Samosas and Chhole Bhature are so passé in this time of pizzas and burgers.

I am not against technology or advancement. Neither do I oppose innovations in education but I think everyone needs to think about striking a balance. Adopting what is necessary, at the same time not letting go of the ethnicity. There is a lot of thought required before anyone can give a verdict on what should be. But until then one thing that all the parents can do is to stop expecting too much out of our children. We should let them be the children that they are and not bear the onus of materializing our dreams.

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Renu Handa

Academic/Science/Research

Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

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