If there is one childhood memory which simply refuses to be buried in some obscure Hiding Room in my mind, it's my mom or dad, individually or in unison, reminding me how lucky I was or how unlucky they were as kids or a bit of both. Yes, you've heard that one too. And I'm sure you were as defenseless as I was when this was brought up in an argument. And I'm sure you secretly wished you had a kid like immediately, so you could try this secret weapon on him. To my utter surprise, a few older friends of mine admitted that while the memory of their experiences remained as fresh as it could possibly be, since they were still subjected to it, the idea of using this defense mechanism on their own kids seem to have been forgotten. It turns out that at least a decade and half of working life, 19 seasons of Simpsons, and three meaningless editions each of both the ODI and T20 World Cup Cricket seems to have rendered the parenting today into a soft, intimidated version of the one we experienced. Read on.
Anish Mukherjee, a 43-year-old techie remembers how scared he would be on the day his examination report cards were to be collected. Poor grades in any subject would mean he'd be forbidden from watching TV till the next set of exams, on the grounds of spending more time trying to understand his lessons. He still dreads the day his 12-year-old's Report Card PDFs are emailed to him. Poor grades in any subject would mean he'd be forbidden from perusing his RSS feeds till the subsequent set of junior's examinations, on the grounds of spending more time in helping his Prince of Wales understand his lessons.
Sugandha Malviya, a 38-year-old Web Designer fondly remembers how she used to work part-time at the British Library while studying in college, so that she could fulfill her hobby of reading voraciously, and buy more books. She's a firm believer that a child should be passionately involved in a hobby and as a parent, she'd leave no stone unturned to help her 11-year-old develop his personality. Last month, as Sugandha proudly claims, she took up some more freelance web-designing jobs to buy her momo the latest Playstation console for his birthday.
Hritvik Vaidya was not only a good student, but also excelled in extra-curriculars. The 46-year-old Investment Banker used to captain his school's quiz team, and led them to many state-level and some national inter-school quizzes. He continued to have a splendid quizzing record all through his Engineering and MBA days, and even made a mark for himself at Corporate quizzing. If he had one regret, it was that his parents had never really seen him win a quiz in his student years. Today, the Vaidyas positively respond to every Facebook quiz that their teenage daughter participates in.
Suniti Chadda, an Architect by profession reminisces how as a child, she was always seen, but never heard. According to her mother, Suniti would attentively listen to her parents discussing their day at the dining table, quietly finish dinner and then head back to her room to practice her sketching. But her upbringing, insists Suniti, has helped her immensely in meeting the demands of being a working mother today, at a time when children are encouraged to be more expressive. So at the dinner table, Suniti attentively listens to 13-year-old Disha's endless rants about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince IMAX movie, quietly finishes dinner, and then heads back to her drawing board in the study room.
While the world makes tremendous advances in Sciences & Technology, thus making our lives better everyday, it seems to have done little to make parenting any easier. From the sounds of it, parenting seems to have become more relentless than ever before. Now if only I could tell my folks that they had it much better than I ever will.