By - Dr. Pragya Mathur Kumar
A REPORT card with more negative remarks than acceptable to parents and marks way below their expectations was the bane of his life. Not that he didn’t want to reverse the picture but somehow, the question paper always turned out to be way beyond his expectation. The playground seemed like the place where his heart and soul truly belonged.
None could outrun him and the podium usually had a spot for him-at the top. He would sweat it out and practice, without parental intervention. So the story of a report card that left much to be desired went on. Like the gloating father in a TV advertisement, he would often hear long lectures from his Dad; about how his marks had always been close to the maximum or at least highest in class. The poor boy would look at the garlanded portrait of Grandpa on the wall-hoping that someday, he would speak up and reveal a different story about dad’s report cards…like in the advert!
There is one statement every teenager’s parent should remember: Smile a lot when you are young so that your wrinkles will come in the right places. Armed with a long list of expectations from the teens (bound to result in disappointment), frown lines become a permanent feature. Of course, there is always something to confront the teen with; the list being unrealistic anyway. So like a master eraser, the parent goes about removing any fun element that might take up “precious time”. One by one, meticulously working “in the best interest of the teen’s future”, small joys are eliminated from his life.
The morning ride to school is often preceded by a “Maths practice session”. While the rest of the world rests, this manifestation of human life is already on the go. The bus ride to school wipes out any traces of a smile that may have survived. There are practice tests and viva sessions lined up for the day. Have all the assignments been submitted? Stan Lee missed meeting so many real time superheroes …he’d have signed up these teenagers for his series…! The balancing act the young bright people are expected to master at such a young age would put many a superhero in a spin. The school, the tuition /coaching and of course: all the cumulative assignment for home: anyone willing to exchange it for a day’s work at the office?
So the Stress Building Board exam admit cards are out! The whole nation seems to be caught up in another kind of cold wave. Parents disappearing from social gatherings, TV sets going into hibernation, teens going underground …there seems to be a curfew in play spaces. The already few still playing begin to experience “pangs of guilt “which are perhaps infectious. This is only the beginning. In the days to come, parents will snap at the teen who makes an appearance too early at dinner time. The phone ring will bring along a battalion a queries ”who is calling, why is he calling, don’t you have the self control to ignore the ring and focus….….” even though it might turn out to be a wrong number-the missives have been
Evolution may not really be taking as many years as we think it does. We can see the transition in a short span-the cheerful, fun loving, playful, happy go lucky kids turn into somber, unsmiling, blank eyed, quiet robots. Programmed to attend classes, finish assignments in time and keep their “focus” on boards exams-the teens transition to unrecognizable beings once the board classes are in the picture. To add to the agony, there is an added pressure-entrance exams. No parent worth his name ever failed an entrance exam…or so the story goes. Fiction perhaps but repeated in the hope it will begin to appear like truth.
Will the lost smiles ever come back? Will the podium finish become a distant dream? Will the “friends forever” be lost never to be found again? While there is time, let us remember our own childhoods. Carefree, happy and fun. Sure we owe this to our kids …after all, they’ll get only one life too. Someday they will write our report cards, how about giving them have something positive to put in.
We are the bows, they are the arrows….meant to part of a future where we won’t exist. All they need are strong roots and wings to fly…and a little faith. Their smiles are lost already…how will their wrinkles come in the right places?
(Published in ‘Middle Space’ column of The Hitavada,06.02.2019)