Who exactly is a new born parent? Just every parent with a new born child, groping in the dark, even as he or she marvels at the God given gift before them! Perfect fingers and toes, delicate pink nails, round little eyes, a nose uniformly flat till it perks up later in life, every part a miracle of life! Benjamin Spock deafens with his ubiquitous advice, as well meaning friends and family members offer long homilies on what to do and what not to do. Most of the time, these opinions clash, as do titans who have booming voices that drown all else!
New born babies are smarter than their inexperienced parents. They know the right buttons to push to reduce the latter to blubbering masses, much akin to the Chinese [or is it the Japanese] form of torture that ensures that they do not sleep at night. So new born parents end up, bleary eyed and cranky, fighting to keep their peepers open even as Baby dear sleeps the day away in blissful oblivion, emitting tiny snores intermittently. Food has to be conveniently ready at the touch of a switch, and the switch of a bottle, to prevent the emergence of a baby Ghatotkach, all set to prove his rakshasa identity.
And just when the parents feel that they have mastered everything that they need to manipulate their wee offspring, off he springs, turning into a human dynamo, crawling on his knees at full speed or wobbling his way, clutching on to everything fragile along his path, be it glassware or crystal. A parent suddenly grows a gimlet eye, taut nerves and a supernatural sleight of hand, all weapons to control his little ball of energy, and stop him from eating anything and everything in sight.
The next age is even trickier, as mental faculties need to be sharpened along with physical endurance. This is when one’s little girl begins to speak her mind. She cannot help experimenting, whether at home or outside. A big toy store seems the perfect place to check her lung power, as well as stomp on the floor in a strident tantrum. The parents’ normal reaction is to wish they were invisible, or that they could switch their daughter off with a remote control. This behaviour is better nipped in the bud with suitably firm action, as the little miss is only testing the waters. One helpless nod, and her parents find themselves floundering in hot water! As one old adage goes, many smart children do not smart at the right places!
Teenage is the age of rebellion! Parents know next to nothing, nothing that makes sense to their rapidly growing youngster. In the words of Gibran, “You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts”. Peer pressure increases till the sun and the moon revolve around that one gang of precocious badly behaved adolescents, who wear tattered jeans and unruly locks, sporting tattoos and rings God knows where. They are ultra ‘cool’, the ‘YO’ gang, the rappers and the ragamuffins, who wouldn’t be caught dead in well styled clothes. College days are meant to be lived out in enjoyment, and cutting classes, sitting in the canteen, going for movies and paying money for adequate attendance to be able to write the examinations, are all the best part of growing up – at least that is what it is called!
Then one day, the young person suddenly grows up. The torn jeans and scruffy T shirts give way to smart trousers and semi formal shirts. The locks are mercilessly chopped off, the tattoos carefully stowed away, and the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, a vulnerable maturity in sight. The dreaded interview season is looming in the horizon, a natural consequence to all the exams and tests that go into making men and women out of raw clay. Salaries and job contracts pop eyeballs, as the brand new generation white collared employee moves into his new mode smoothly, reversing into a parking space all his own, and a sanitised cubicle the size of a cubby hole, as his soul dwells “in the house of tomorrow”. A whole new world awaits him, or her, as the case may be, as proud parents fluff their collars and preen, even as they are bewildered at the speed with which their children have grown, and how! Child is father of the man, in Wordsworthian parlance, and the parent still gropes in the dark, as life comes full circle once again, “for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday”. And suddenly Kahlil Gibran’s words make perfect sense...
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
Could anyone have said it better than that?Picture courtesy: freeclipartpics.com
The original of the article published in the New Indian Express on 13th April 2010