“But you have given her one mark extra!” I overheard when filling in for my Missus, who was unwell, at one of the Open days of my eldest B; she was in 2nd standard then. I turned to watch and was shocked to find a mother, almost in tears lamenting to the teacher, comparing her daughter’s answer with another girl’s “… and when both have written exactly the same. This is partiality. How will my poor girl feel?”
The so-called poor girl, oblivious of all this, was busy playing. You can imagine what effect repeat performances of this mother would have on the girl?
My learning curve just peaked! Till then we had not even thought on how to or how not to bring up B. It was 1984; B was growing well learning from all around in a joint family of 16; and a family that loved girls!.
That day I had my first serious talk with K, my wife, narrating what I had witnessed and started a discussion on how are we going to bring up B; and more so how not to do it.
From that time I tried my level best to attend all open day sessions of all my princesses and kept learning
One instance worth mentioning here is:
A girl was trying to tell her mother that she got “Excellent” for her drawing. But trust me, this mother had other ideas! She wanted to know how many corrects she got in dictation. 7/10? Before showing whether she was happy or not, the mother wanted to know how much her friend, who sits next to her got? And what was the score of the girl who stood first last exam?
What better way to tell a child that your work is always going to be compared with others! When the girl again proudly pointed to her Excellent in drawing, she was admonished, “no one will look at your drawing skills, they will notice your English”.
I took my wife to a corner and told her “We must remember, B is our child. A mix of both our genes and whether she excels in what she does or not is ONLY because of us. Our task is to nurture her natural talents”.
Every one is different and no two kids can be same. As a parent we cannot and should not search for one child’s quality in another nor should we persuade one child to be either like us or some other child. It is easier to accept them as they are and nurture them to excel in what they are good at.
It was obvious to us early enough that my second one H, was not as sharp as other two when it came to studies. I noticed her fascination to computers when I brought home a 386 in 1993 (she was 11 then). Noticing her stress when she was preparing for her 10th, I told her “your formal education will be just a formality. I will be happy if you somehow graduate but your life and career will be computers.” H was thrilled and took to studies with a renewed vigour. Today, she is not only a graduate but also an e-MBA (internet is one great teacher!)
We should nurture what is ours, so that it blooms to its best!
After all, we don’t try to get roses from our Bougainvillea plant.
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.