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Values & Education

The Voice Within

I am standing in the queue studiously analyzing son’s school report. After the summary for each subject, it is a long story on how intelligent or not he is, how his handwriting has scope for improvement, how he can be a little more outgoing in one class and temper it down in another.

The Voice Within - Be A Better Parent

More often than not, the only thing that stays in mind is the summary, unless there is something really bad, which thankfully hasn’t happened yet or something that he is extremely good at, which I get to hear only if I meet his football coach. As I see some ‘very good’, a few ‘good’ and an ‘excellent’ here and there, the temptation to peep into the sheets of paper in the hands of the next parent is is too hard to resist. My God! That kid doesn’t have a single good and only about one ‘very good’. She must be a prodigy! The next train of thought is totally predictable. What will come of our son, if he continues in this vein? Why can’t he be not just the best, but outstanding in whatever he does? The worry lines start furrowing my forehead and the heart beats sound more and more like Colonel Hathi’s march past.

As I fret about his Chemistry teacher’s remarks, a scornful voice camouflaged in a muffled guffaw startles me,

Have you forgotten your 1st PU Chemistry marks?”

How the heck does this person know that, I wonder and look around. There is no one even looking at me. I go back to Hindi. The teacher must have gone through some real pain to coat a few hard truths in sugar. As I prepare the grounding speech to be delivered back home, the voice starts again,

“Hmmm… you seem to have forgotten all the impositions in your high school class”, the accompanying laugh now sounds more like a snort.

The voice is vaguely familiar, wasn’t it just last week I heard it? Daughter was in one of her legendary moods. Shouting at the top of her voice, stomping her feet around, throwing a thing or two and finally getting a whack on her bottom and a detention to boot. I couldn’t help but mutter, “Where do you learn all this?” The very same snort and the voice,

“I know someone who was called typhoon by her sisters, he he he he”

The next time I heard it was a sunday afternoon. Amma, can I play X-box?” asks son. The answer is instant, “No.” “But I played half an hour lesser than my quota yesterday.”“Really? What about the study time that you missed through the week? Why don’t you keep track of that now? If only you had the same amount of interest in your studies as well… blah, blah and more blah.”

The snort turned into outright laughter.

“Oh my God! Isn’t that your mother coming out of your mouth? Seems like just yesterday I heard something similar, if only the poor soul was alive and could listen to this, ha ha ha ha”

Now this was getting too serious to ignore. I had to find out where this know-all was coming from. The school science fair was the last straw. Normally, I leave it to son’s own devices. What I tell others is he is very independent and I am so happy and proud that he does most of his projects by himself. Both of us know the truth, though. The poor boy has a heap of lazy bones for his mother.

This year unfortunately I made the mistake of talking to one of the parents. Her son was spending hours on the internet collecting information, collating it, making power point presentations, doing mathematical calculations to find the input, output, sales, or whatever. And here was our off spring, his bottom firmly ensconced in the corner of the living room sofa, feet firmly on the ground, torso leaning forward, eyes fixed at one point, two palms glued to two black owl like contraptions and fingers twisting up, down and sideways furiously. The comment that came out of my mouth was borne out of sheer desperation, “Why can’t you have a scientific temperament?”

The laughter was deafening and the voice was dripping in unadulterated sarcasm,

“As if his parents are Pierre and Marie Curie!”

Slowly, I am getting used to it. The snort is turning into an amused laughter at what once was. Now, if only it poked me before I blurted out one of those caustic comments of mine. If only we, as parents, thought for a moment about our limitations and weaknesses before blaming our kids and shouting at them.

Bindu Manoj dabbles in numbers for a living, dreaming of words all the while. A mother of two, wife to one, sister to four and friend to many, she hoards books by the score. An arm chair traveler who does some real life off roading now and then, she prefers the moves and shakes of jeeps and trucks to the cushy comfort of normal vehicles. Her wandering soul muses at and she reminiscence her reads at