Saturday, June 13, 2009

In the spirit of the game

A competitive spirit brings out the best in people they say - makes us want to raise the bar, realise buried potential. Its all very good when a competitive spirit is fostered in moderation and with accompanying traits such as kindness and sensitivity and knowing when to let go. But I think thats just me - lately I've been interacting with people who strongly feel that teaching your kids to survive in a dog eat dog world has to take precedence over any other 'old fashioned' values. I completely agree that our children have to be able to deal with a drastically changing world and be prepared for a projected scenrio few years hence when they will be semi-adults ... plus I don't want my children to be so naive that they are always the targets of the smarter, worldly wise ones. But, I think its taking things too far when 5 year olds are already cued in on the number game - "Aunty, look ... Rishi is standing 4th in the march past line and my sister is 1st!" or when 8 year olds already have poor self worth due to a perceived lack of material things ... "Aunty, we bought a new sofa set bigger than yours and it cost ... dirhams - aunty where did you buy Rhea's earrings from, are they gold, I don't like gold that much" or when kids start learning to lie if it means saving their skins - I know of parents who love when that happens because it apparently proves how clever the child is at getting by. What about a 7 year old who tells the house help that she must pick up her toys because 'we pay you to do that' and the child's mother ignores this by saying that "my daughter has an ego problem taking directions from the maid yaar". Ego problems at age 7? I remember thinking quite rightly as it turns out- that Ego was the name of a mythical creature at that same age. Respect for elders, basic consideration for another person's feelings, just plain good manners - what about those? More and more it seems that bad behaviour is being ignored due to plain one-upness. "If a kid hits you, hit him back" or this one set of parents who are ok with their child treating a neighbour's kid rudely because that same kid is their daughter's class monitor and apparently picks on her in school. And I get the sense that they would rather the situation be reversed and have their kid be this enviable, demi-god class monitor.

Little incidents are in my face all the time and there have been many times I have seen reflections of parental aspirations or ambitions in the way their kids talk and behave. This can't be good. Its disconcerting to be talking to a kid who is trying to interact with you as an adult. Then again I wonder, am I using a very Bohemian yardstick to guage what I should teach my children? Aren't they better off knowing some inconvenient truths along with their peers even if I disapprove? Because when my kid leaves home every morning, its this very competitive environment he is going to have to handle himself in and I won't be doing him any favors by making him a goody two shoes. And all these kids are basically great children, bright and individualistic - just about 50 light years removed from the way kids used to be.

I seem to have missed much.

5 comments:

rm said...

This is one of the dilemma the mother faces how to mould the future generation. Insensitiveness is the trend today. May be one need that to survive in coming days??? Then again one lighted candle can brighten up a dark room .

Joy said...

Kids at that age asking such questions can be shocking. However I do remember from my childhood that my neighbor's kid used to misbehave to the maid and ask her to do lots of things and maid would feel bad esp when the age of the kid is in single digit. But there are people who agree with what you say and teach their children sensitiveness... So its the balance between what to learn and what to overpower that needs to be taught.. I believe the same that we have been taught in a different style though

Gazal said...

being a teacher i feel we have to counsel the parents more than their kids about not pushing their kids about competition.

its easy to deal with kids than with their parents.

Hip Grandma said...

Kids can remain kids if only adults let them be. We have a few company quarters in our neighborhood that have outhouses meant for servants. Just because they've let servants uses these quarters the lord and lady of the house as well as their children in their pre teens behave so badly with servants that one feel like slapping them hard and proper. Adults actually relish the kid's bad behavior. After all he/she is a sahib/memsahib in the making. The world is heading towards disaster.No two opinions in that.

Suma said...

this is something i feel strongly about...
as gazal says, its the parents who need to be told off


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