The Teacher, the Learner…

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S was, I think, barely 2 and had just started expressing her mind when I first got a lesson in parenting from her. We were so used to both sides of the family laying claim to her and going, “Ah, she looks just like her Atthai (Tamil for “Bua” – father’s sister),” “Ooh, she speaks just like her Mumma did when she was little”, and so it went each time she walked or talked or danced or just about sat!

Families all around us find great joy in discovering these connections. Why do we do it – is it a need for us to relive our pasts through our children? Is it a need for us to find a hook to hold on to our futures? Are we struggling to find a piece of ourselves in what we have created? Are we trying to make sure a piece of us gets carried into posterity? Are we happy to just create and step back or are we trying to mark our produce, to make sure everyone knows that we played a role in making this…

We scoffed over these family deliberations and pretended to not be affected or get dragged into, what we saw, as unnecessary comparisons at an early age. Till one day, I finally fell for it, as she played around.

Me (Sneaking up, with the oft-asked seemingly innocuous question): “Who do you love more, Mumma or Appu?”

S (Without bothering to look up): “Both”

Me (Trying harder this time): “When you grow up, who do you want to be like – Mumma or Appu…”

S (Looks up and straight into my eyes): “I don’t want to be you or Appu. I will grow up to be me.”

The hard hitting truth of life, laid bare by a simple, honest answer from a child. It is a moment engraved in my mind – the words, the tone, the matter-of-fact simplicity of the look that will stay with me forever. One of the many moments in my journey as a parent when I was humbled into becoming a learner…

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The post has been written by Parul (Workshop Guru, Khel Planet).

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