At the playground, my son who is three and a half years old was trying to find his own ground among a bunch of six year old. He wanted their attention and wanted them to play with him. He kept on pestering them until he caught one of the boys’ tee-shirts and wouldn’t let go. You would think childbirth was painful but watching your child being ignored, is more painful. For him it was all fun. For the other boy it was a person who was shouting and pulling him to where he didn’t want to go. I managed to pull him away from the boy and tried to reason with him the rules of play. I realized I was limiting him.
My child is not talkative but when his heart is happy, he sings on the main road or in a crowded market. He jumps on the footpaths and dances like really no one is watching. I have never stopped him because even though he looks eccentric to the others but there is joy in him which is so infectious. We all yearn to have a skip in our step like Mary Poppins did while singing her songs. We all want to smile and talk to random strangers and babble something so as to make a connection. He talks to old men on the road, explaining things in his own way bringing a smile on their wrinkled but beautiful faces.
So back at the playground, he was trying to blend with the crowd but did not understand the rules of play. There are rules to every play. These rules even while defining normal behavior mold us to become the subdued individuals that we become. The reason why people like to play with kids is because they provide a sense of freedom to be their hidden selves and probably relive their childhood. So while my child was disappointed that no one wanted to play with him, and all I could do was give him a hug, this one incident taught him how to ACT in society as per society’s norms.
Now imagine our children without the norms. Imagine if we let them grow into individuals who are energetic, loud and mischievous. Wouldn’t office be fun? Wouldn’t all routine jobs be play? Wouldn’t we love to go to office, the place where we spend 8 hours of our life and would it not be a playground? But alas we have been conditioned. The office is not a playground; it is a battlefield. Where, to get the boss’ attention or to compete with someone, you have to step over them. In order to get that raise you have to make presentations that won’t matter in six months’ time. In order to be successful, you have to highlight your colleague’s inefficiency. The corporate world has its perks, it offers friendships. Friendships that remain even after you have quit the organization. But you’re still always on your own. A simple race played in the playground, becomes a race of survival in the corporate world.
I know when my son is all grown up and handles these complex relationships he will not remember the battles of his childhood. He will not remember how he stood up to his seniors and held his ground, because the world as we know it has always taught us to never question authority especially that of the one who is paying your bills . But I hope that when he does stand his ground, he recollects the freedom that he felt in his childhood. Freedom which he experienced today by standing up against his peer group. That feeling is something which is there in each of us but only we don’t have the courage to let it rip.
November 12, 2013