Deer Mummy and Daddy

Happy Marryage Annivarsury! I love you too and I will always be a good girl.

–      Aarti

Mummy showed me this note when we were doing the Diwali cleaning. I’d written this when I was 5 years old!

“Why have you kept this for so many years?” I asked her, smiling.

“Wouldn’t I?!” she said. “Your Daddy and I just love this note! It’s your very first piece of writing!”

“Oh come on Mummy! ‘Piece of writing’??!!”

“Why not? You expressed yourself. You tried to put into words what you were feeling! If that isn’t a piece of writing then what is?”

My face glowed with pleasure!

We found more ‘works of art’ in due course in the form of an essay and a story I’d written in school for my English Project.

The essay was on the topic “My Pet”. I have never owned a pet so I had to be imaginative. I wrote about owning a pet parrot! How it would imitate everyone and steal chillies and guavas, how it would sometimes disturb me by squawking loudly when I was studying or doing my homework and how I would feel bad later if I got angry with it. I described in detail just how attached the entire family was to it. Some parts of it were really silly and unrealistic! For example I’d written that the parrot had once argued with me like a lawyer pleading a case and that later I’d discovered that it had picked up the jargon from a crime show on TV! My teacher (Mrs Anupama Vinod) had put a big star and a remark, “Very Good! Always keep your imagination alive!” Honestly, if she hadn’t been so encouraging, if she’d told me to go and learn to write a ‘proper’ essay without such flights of fancy, I would not have developed an interest in writing!

For the English Project we’d been told to choose any fairytale or any well-known short story, keep its first half as it is and change the second half. I chose ‘The Ugly Duckling’. In my version the wild geese welcomed the ugly duckling into their gaggle and enrolled it in school along with their goslings. The ugly duckling being a bright pupil passed all the qualifying exams with flying colours, went on to attend medical college and became the famous Dr Drake! (It stayed ugly, by the way). The reason why I still love this project is that I enjoyed writing it tremendously! I wrote because I wanted to and not just to get a good grade. Again I owe my teacher (Mrs Jyoti Savale) tons of thanks for appreciating my work. It instilled the belief in me that I can write well and it made me want to write more and more often!

It really makes a difference when someone lets you be creative and do whatever you want to without putting any unnecessary restrictions. Take the case of my neighbours who stay in the bungalow opposite my building. Their grandson has a deep interest in gardening from a very young age. Right from the age of three I would see him happily digging the ground and watering the plants. On his fifth birthday, his grandfather bought him a set of gardening tools suitable for tiny tots. How delighted he was! When he learned to read properly they gave him good books on gardening. He truly enjoys this hobby and is getting better at it with every passing day. Now imagine what might have happened if, instead of encouraging him, his grandfather would have told him to stop mucking about and spoiling his clothes. He would undoubtedly have felt sulky and would have either become rebellious or withdrawn.

Little children who are allowed to scribble to their hearts’ content on the walls of their rooms are more likely to develop their creativity than those who are dissuaded from doing so. Ofcourse you don’t want the house to look messy but you can reserve one wall for these beautiful expressions of art! Your son or daughter may not become the next Pablo Picasso but he/she will always have good memories of his/her childhood and thank you later for it! Drumming on utensils or boxes or tabletops, making craft articles from waste like vegetable peels, rough paper, old cardboard boxes etc, wanting to do some cooking are examples of other activities that show tremendous creativity which should be properly channelized. The same goes for those who like to experiment; like taking apart your toys and reassembling them part by part, coming up with novel ways of doing something, observing plumbers and carpenters and mechanics with fascination and later on trying out on their own whatever they’ve  observed. Not only do these children enjoy their life but they also learn useful concepts in the process. They learn to work at grass roots level. Some people thus find their true calling and go on to become pioneers in their own fields!

Every coin has two sides though. When allowing young minds to blossom one must make sure one isn’t getting carried away. Today with so many reality shows being aired on various channels, enthusiastic parents sometimes forget that the focus should be on your children enjoying their childhood and not on earning money and getting to be in the limelight. The world of glamour is very appealing and in turn misleading. It can make or break your life. Do we really want to expose innocent angels to that kind of harshness? Sometimes, children just want something to be a hobby and not their bread and butter. They want to pursue their interest because they feel good when they’re doing it and not to get any accolades or to prove their worth to the world. By forcing them to take a professional approach rather than a personal one, you are actually stifling their growth rather than enhancing it!

I guess every one of us has been appreciated by someone or the other atleast once in our childhood and it made a difference to us, didn’t it? Let’s extend the same kindness to someone else out there! Who knows, it might just be the very thing that child needs… It might just make a difference!