Let’s talk about Freedom !
F for Fruits…..
F for Flag…
F for Friends…
F for Fire….
Let’s dig into another F as imperative as others may be more for basic human existence. I will reveal the other F, few words down this page.
Indian summers are exceptionally special for kids even if it’s 44 degree celsius outside . It’s special because of the summer vacations for roughly one and a half month with lesser study hours, playing and lazing around with friends, which they bask upon. It’s special because this fragment of the year we got to savour sweet nectarious Alphonso or Dussheri (names of famed Indian mangoes). It’s just special because of that extra scoop of vanilla fudge ripple which we can have at our wish. For my son( AB who is six now), it’s exceptionally special coz it is that portion of the time when my parents visit us to have some fun and frolic with their cute little chipmunk.
In our home solar system, I am like a sun for AB and his life revolves and rotates around me, come what. From daylight to twilight my presence is solicited; it doesn’t even matter that I have to be with him all the time, but that to be around him most of the time. If he does not see me at the least fifteen minutes at a stretch, somehow he will seek me like a hunter in a robe. To synopsise, I am his world.
Something unusual occurred on one of those summer weekends. As me and my best-half(my husband JB) got ready for our usual weekly grocery hunt and we playfully asked him,
“Will you be joining us for the spin?” in pure jest.
Pat came the reply, “No Mama, I will stay at home.”
It was surely unexpected. The boy loves these outings and to add more cannot stay without my presence for more than twenty(minutes). Anyhow the trip was quite quick and amicable but somber without my munchkin’s presence.
F for Freedom (Let’s talk about Freedom).
Not me but Wiki says, ” Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. It is a sacred and inalienable right that all human beings possess. It is the power to act according to its will, while respecting the law and the rights of others.”
It is a different story that I missed to tell you that I got a call from my dad after awhile in between the shopping expedition that you gotta come soon as AB is being unruly and creating fuss. Though he got his share of rebuke and ‘how to behave like a civilised boy’ advice after we returned. But when queried further about his unanticipated decision of choosing to stay at home than having a ride with us out, the six year old said ” I wanted to do what I want to do without any NO.” This NO was hindrance to his freedom.
When interrogated further what are all the things he want to do if he is allowed to without a NO, AB responded with this list:
1. Play all the time with no schedule especially avoid sleep schedule. Why can’t we not sleep Mama!
2. Play and litter and no need to tidy them up.
3. No study time.
4. More and more cartoon time.
5. His recent fancy is the bathing hand shower which he uses as a wall spray….no curfew on that too.
(You gotta be kidding me right !)
Such is the need or the innate desire for freedom for even this six year old boy that he gets the power or right to act the way he wants to, that’s why he chose to stay back at home that he can do what he want to do, when mom-n-dad not around. The incident is as simple as that.
But now comes the tricky and unavoidable inquest as a parent from this episode:
Should children be given more freedom? How much is too much?
In my case and in context to this article I want to dwell into this inquisition for small kids around four to ten years old. What is it that freezes us to grant our kids with all that laxity or liberty they fancy for! As any other devoted parent all I care for is my child’s saftey, well being and well rounded growth and development. And most of our decisions are reinforced and trimmed taking into hindsight these three cardinal factors.
Childhood is all conjured upon that magical, carefree, breezy realm where all that we care for is simple, innocent delights of life not giving a fig about the future. Ask any man and there is at the least one but for sure many treasured amusing moments of childhood in his/her heart safely harboured, which tops the best days of his life. And I yearn to give that childhood to my kid. I am truly inspired by this one quote by Mahatma Gandhi:
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
What if, we totally clip down any kind of freedom to our kids with the fear of harm it might cause, with our good intentions abound as a distressed parent! Surely, they will have fewer mistakes. But with lesser mistakes will be lesser learning. Can we then discount one of the primary role of a parent to nurture the kid to become a self sustainable human being? So are we up for this bargain! I guess no as that would be rather more harmful for my child in long run.
When it comes to parenting, there’s no magic pill or easy way out. I always say that parenting is like a job of an unpaid juggler. With practice and years into it, we succeed but then we cannot totally be failure-proof as we are dealing with lives involved.
Yes what I strongly feel with the incident that we did right thing by leaving AB behind giving that extra bit of ‘freedom time’ to him. It was because we were aware and confident of the safety net (in this case my parents) left behind to safeguard him. My lil boy will always cherish those precious moments of nothingness and simple joy, if once in a while we provide him the opportunity to explore new dimensions and new affairs in his own independent way assuring the safe and reliable support system around.
I am not against discipline. But that discipline is totally misunderstood as an act of retribution, dominance, strictness and restraint when it comes to parenting. Discipline is a must for any child to grow into a balanced and responsible adult. But, I believe in that part of discipline which focuses more on guidance, being consistent, mentoring or acting as a role model/walk the talk(as kids learn more from aping then preachings) and setting pragmatic rules for them to follow; which in turn will help them in coping with real life issues once grown up. Discipline for kids in that sense should be method of instilling or inculcating important life skills and making them well equipped with practical knowledge to face the challenges ahead.
“Discipline has to do with civilising your child so they can live in society,” says a renowned psychiatrist.
In retrospect I assume it’s not discipline alone rather a well balanced mix of freedom and discipline with pure unconditional parental love will aid a child to make responsible and sensible choices in life given any circumstances. And that’s what Freedom stands for – it’s not only an individual right but taking into cognizance and respecting others freedom too and even if you can have it all, making morally responsible choices.
To conclude, excerpts from the noted poet Khalil Gibran’s soulful poem titled ‘On Children’ which reflects a pensive mood and spreads a coherent message. It’s nothing less than a melody:
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand