Growing up on a diet of fairy tales, fables and Enid Blytons, there are some stories that are etched in my mind and come to fore at intervals.
As I stood along the back wall of a huge community hall watching cute little kids sing small bhajans or recite shlokas off key, I looked around to see some interested faces capturing their kids in a camera or a handycam. Unless it was their child performing, parents looked listless and tired. Driving back home, I was biting back words. I did not have it in me to go gaga over mediocre performances. Perhaps if it were my child performing over there, I would have ooh’d and aah’d and thought that my little star was shining bright. I don’t know.
I thought back to my childhood. Growing up my parents and grandparents called a spade a spade. As I practiced beginners steps from my bharatanatyam class in the space separating the main house from the outhouse of our old style home in Coimbatore with my cousin in tow, my granddad used to smile and say I looked like an elephant stomping on dung. It was all taken in good spirit and I either went on to improve or gave it up altogether. When I sang off key, siblings would imitate a donkey braying. It was what it is. I either had talent or not and it was fine.
Looking around me now, I see friends reward their children for pooping in the potty with candy, or little ones being told “Good Job!” for just being themselves. While I am guilty of spoiling my niece rotten, I am also cynical about our tendency to reward kids for everything. What happened to good old competition and wanting to excel at things? How about putting a child on stage because they are exceptional? When did everyone start getting As for effort? Looks like I missed the bus.
** Now don’t stone me. I probably will eat my words if ever I do become a mom.