Why do they?

 

I write this post as a concerned parent. And perhaps, I reflect the thoughts of hundreds of other parents like me too. Of course, I’m basing this on the countless conversations that I’ve had with plenty of parents who have kids around the same age as mine.

 

I am the father of a very active three-year old. As the parent of any toddler/three/four-year old can vouch, they are quite the handful. Perhaps, even more than a couple of handfuls too. In fact, I’ve often found myself wishing for a couple of extra limbs like one of the many Hindu gods – merely because we often have to juggle four different things, while running after these ‘very active’ kids.

 

My son is no different either. He has his moments of tantrums and stubbornness. He also has those moments where he will completely ignore you and pretends not to hear anything you say. There are also times when he has reluctance to do certain things; and a tendency to keep doing things he likes – repeatedly. He plays with some toys, but not with others. He likes to sing and dance, but not so much to write or paint. He even talks to his animals and toys; sometimes even to the characters in the cartoons. He can memorize lyrics to rhymes and songs even if he hears it just once; but then again, he has trouble recognising an apricot from a peach. In short, he does some things well, some really well; and some others, he does them differently. Just like every other kid his age, he is similar, yet unique.

 

But when people – strangers/neighbours – start to label toddlers with terms like ‘hyperactive, slow or having attention-disorder’ – it makes my blood boil. He may or may not have any of these symptoms; but why are people quick to label kids  – especially not their own? Why do these people feel the insatiable desire to find fault with kids and worst of all, compare ? Why can’t we just realise that these are little kids- each of them unique and differentnot a herd of sheep. They all develop differently and at distinct times; their backgrounds are diverse – their characteristics, even more so. Yes, kids these days, spurred on by technology and the rest – they develop a lot faster than you and I probably did at the same age. But even then, you’ll find that they’re all similarly dissimilar – from the way they speak to what they eat.

 

Maybe if we look closely enough, we’ll see that they have talents that are much more than a neat handwriting,  doing their homework properly or memorizing a bunch of things and reciting it back.

 

So, stop those comparisons. Stop judging them on the ability to hold a pencil  properly or draw a straight line without help. So what if they have trouble staying within the lines when they colour? Or they read better than they write? Or they sing better than they read. Or they use their left hand to write and not the right?

 

Just don’t squash their dreams and creativity. Not just yet.

 

Let them be kids a little longer.

 

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I may get crucified for this, but I’m increasingly starting to feel that one of the root causes for these comparisons, especially at schools, are some parents. While it is absolutely natural for a parent to want the best for theirs kids and make sure to give them everything they can afford, what isn’t are their ‘unrealistic expectations’ to train their 3-year old to say 15 different words for each letter of the alphabet or to write words/sentences even before they join preschool. So please do a favour and take it easy on the rest of us, please.

We’re only human. And we’re not in a race. And neither are our kids.

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P.S.

 

For those of you who don’t know me well – my mother is a teacher. While she has never made me feel it, I’ve always felt this unspoken pressure. Not just to perform well at school but also to set right examples and tread down recognisable paths. My parents have never wanted anything but the best, for me. Just like all of us would want for our offsprings.

 

But what they missed is talking to me – about what I was good at and what I wasn’t. About sowing those seeds that might have made me think, perhaps a couple of decades earlier, that ‘Maybe I could look at writing as a career’. It isn’t their fault. I didn’t know that I wanted to write either. But I wish they had spotted that fire that I’d missed.

 

So for those of you who are parents, and reading this, look for those signs.

 

[bctt tweet=”Don’t ask a square peg to fit in a round hole.”]

 

And to mom and dad – I know you’re reading this – thank you!

 

As a parent, I now realise how difficult it can be to hear someone else say that your kid is or isn’t doing something. No matter how well we know them, sometimes, it just feels bad. I know that you’ve probably had a lot aspirations and dreams for me. – some fulfilled, some not yet. I can only hope that in some ways, my writing has made you proud.

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54 Comments

  1. O you said my heart out Sid.. I have been compared throughout my childhood.. and my education is not at all close to writing.. I am still discovering what I can do with words.. but really hope to improve what I write..
    Children or adults.. nobody is spared and it is sad.. only if people realize what they do sub consciously!
    Loved reading it 🙂

    Cheers
    Geets recently put up this awesome post : Do they work?My Profile

    1. Thanks a lot, Geets.
      We can all improve. I mean, we should never stop improving; it’s a conscious circle. But the sad fact is that people don’t seem to see the positive sides that each of us bring to the table. It’s always just labelling and comparing 🙂

  2. No two people are the same. Adults remember this but conveniently forget it when it comes to comparing their kids’s performances with that of the kids’s peers. You rightly said that people are as unique as everyone else. That is the age where parents need to identify what their kids are good at, expose them to different platforms and ensure that they get to experiment a lot and make them enjoy learning (not just in academics). Even now, when people enquire about my work they ask how much my friend from college is earning and how much more/less I’m earning. These are the same people who compare even Sportsmen and other people who shine in their respective fields with people from the past. Some people just cant stop drawing comparisons. It’s like a disease.
    Ashwini recently put up this awesome post : The Spirit of Chennai!My Profile

  3. Some people are very quick with making a judgement and I dislike such people. You cannot judge a plant before its blossomed into a tree. You have to wait till its fully grown to appreciate its beauty or vice versa.
    I was a craft teacher in a school for a year and I taught around 950+ boys of grades 1st to 4th. Craft isn’t something every one is good at but that doesn’t mean they are worthless. Kids that small are yet learning few of the things life has to offer. Sometimes it may take them years to figure out what they truly desire.
    Patience and understanding is the key, which all parents and teachers must acquire.
    I too wish my parents had paid more attention on my interests and had pushed me into those fields rather than pushing me on the not so adventurous path. I would have been a trained athlete and a highly skilled artist. But in the end if its destined, you do find the right way after all those wrong turns! 🙂
    P.S. I do hope people widen their horizons and let kids be kids and most importantly let them be themselves. Thank you for putting this out here into the world. Such thoughts can sometimes really change one’s thinking!

  4. Stumbled upon this blog while going through Uma’s blog. Glad that I did. The thoughts in this article are very much like mine. My son doesn’t like to write and draw, but is very good at speaking different languages and has a sense of leading his friends while playing. I want him to choose his own path and decide what he likes. I will just show him the different possibilities. Thanks so much for this lovely article. Will definitely share with all my girlfriend moms.

  5. They don’t really seem to be sensitive to the fact that their comments may be perceived as hurtful at all, do they! At every wedding I’ve attended, at least one person has walked up to me and said my son is the naughtiest kid they’ve ever seen, and they’ve seen quite a few in their day. Then they laugh like they meant it in a nice way, but I am not so sure.
    Whatever man, they’re kids! If I had the chance to jump around like I didn’t care, I would. Adults are just stuck up and envious of kids, I tell you!
    Sreesha recently put up this awesome post : Identity and Individuality: Questions That Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake Tries To AnswerMy Profile

  6. That was worth reading. Thanks. As a people we are rather nosy and are keen to interfere and comment on everybody else’s affairs. I fail to understand why we are so judgmental. I know I am not an exception either.

  7. Thats right Sid. Its time we stop classifying kids or for that matter, people too and try to slot them. Every child is different and his/her individuality needs to be respected & understood. I liked the Tamasha picture which is trying to depict this abstract theme in a commercial movie manner.
    Ash recently put up this awesome post : Sunset at 60 ?My Profile

  8. Well, Why Do They? A vicious cycle I think it is. Lets see….If I were to have spent an entire childhood of comparisons & labeling, what would happen in my adulthood? a) I could continue along the same line that I grew up on, with a ‘Give It As You Got It’ attitude and keep spreading the disease along to the next generation or b) I could wind up as an extraordinarily mature and sensitive individual, who will strongly avoid and revolt against these very trials & tribulations should they happen to his children!
    What say?
    A wonderful post indeed!
    Kala Ravi recently put up this awesome post : Creator At WorkMy Profile

  9. This labeling thing is not only the case for kids but for every damn thing I come across.
    Even at times I am guilty of labeling certain things and people, not kids though..
    I think with influx of information from all corners, today we are mostly very keen to see something, analyse for a a moment and draw conclusion about it (read label it).

    This is happening with kids also. I see around it in family. People also label their own kids, toddlers merely three four years old. What saddens me is kids being labelled by their own parents. This makes them learn that behaviour from their parents, not to mention the limiting effect it has on their mind.. 🙁

    Great post Sid by the way. Loved reading it as usual..

    1. I agree, Simple girl. You said it perfectly – the comparison and labelling has been there for a long time. And probably will remain. I just hope at least some of us can see the ‘light’

  10. I believe every one of us can relate with what you said, Sid. But then I am confused why people do that again? I mean, we all know how stupid and hurtful these labelling and comparisons can be! Then why repeat that? What upsets me even more is when parents label their own kids as not smart or introverts as a negative thing. My mom used to compare me with other kids, especially the marks scored, used to drive me crazy. Thankfully, I refrain from doing the comparisons and labellings when it comes to my own kid. I would like him to have his own identity, not the one which I imagine he has or he should have!
    Vinitha recently put up this awesome post : To the WhatsApp Jokers!My Profile

    1. Why do they, indeed!
      I don’t think anyone who can relate to the post will actually label – but then again, i’ve seen parents do otherwise too.
      Let’s just compare kids to themselves 🙂 As long as they are moving forward, there is no cause for alarm.

  11. Oh it starts even before your kid is born, Sid. When I was pregnant there was this woman telling me my kid is going to have this or that deficiency or probably some other serious flaws since I wasn’t putting on weight like she had in her pregnancy..She had assumed that it was okay to say all that to me…Well, I don’t know why people don’t refrain from labeling kids, more specifically others kids and compare them to their own, who according to them are the benchmarks of kid-dom ( I know I make no sense but I’m just a rookies parent so you can very well ignore me :D)
    nabanita recently put up this awesome post : Pregnancy For A Working WomanMy Profile

    1. Seriously? But then again, I’m not that surprised to be honest. See, I believe that kids need to be at par with a standard curve – just to be able to make sure development is at par – but it shouldn’t be a source for worry either. A little deviation here and there – that’s never a problem 🙂

  12. First, imagining you with all those multiple arms. Imagine all the food that you can eat at once 😛 . Remind me, does the arms come with multiple bellies as well 😛

    Coming to labeling part. Almost everything these days is labeled, Sid. Let alone kids. Parents want their kids to ace everything. I have seen friends of mine who try to live their unfulfilled dreams through their kids. And mind you these are just toddlers. The parents have a huge career graph charted out for them. When I asked one of them what if the child wants to do something else. She clearly told me that since they were paying so much for the child’s education and giving him the best money can offer, he OUGHT to become what they want him to. I wanted to kidnap the kid and bring him home just so that I can let him be what he wants to be.

    Next, I have friends who are parents of little baby girls. And they are not happy that they have a girl child. You know what their worry is? My friend worries that she has to take care of the pregnancy of the child once she is set to become a mother. That is clearly atleast 25-27 years down the lane and yet people think of all this. It’s sad really.

    Strange, for a non parent this is quite a comment! 🙂
    Soumya recently put up this awesome post : Monday Musings #2My Profile

    1. Good lord! That’s one heck of a comment, Soumya!
      I agree – labels are everywhere; but setting unrealistic expectations for kids – especially at such tender ages, it’s not right.
      Thanks, Soumya! Really appreciate you leaving a detailed comment.

  13. Yes yes yes! I hear you! There are parents who even compare my two kids. For god’s sake, they are all individuals and just like adults they have their own personalities. Not anyone’s business, is it? Well done for speaking out Sid!
    Sfurti recently put up this awesome post : The WaitMy Profile

  14. Jeez!! people can be such a-holes no?! Hugs buddy!
    Ri is a good good kid – sweet, creative and an amazing person (I say person because kids have such individualistic personalities)
    Hugs to him and you!!

  15. I am tired of those know-it-alls. After this initial comparison, they now even compare between my two sons. How does it matter to anybody what my kids do? I plainly ignore them.

  16. Comparison has hurt us all in some way or the other.
    “You are not as good as your sister”, my brother was told. As a toddler. Imagine – what he would have felt. Today too, when we talk, he says the same thing. In fact, he is different and fabulous. Two individuals will always have different strengths and people (teachers, parents and others) need to respect that simple human trait. I am not a parent but I have seen mothers whine and talk how slow is their infant. (S)He is an infant. Give them time and they will find their way.
    Never read a rant here Sid so this one felt very honest and open.
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    1. Very true, Parul.
      Even parents tend to compare their own offsprings – which is even more baffling.
      So, you’re saying this was a rant? 😛 Ok, maybe it was 🙂

  17. I’m not a parent, but can imagine how frustrating it must be when people try to label your kids. Honestly, I think that sort of thing carries on long past childhood – some people seem to need to put others in boxes and categorize them without really getting to know the person inside! Human nature?
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  18. What can I say to this Sid – the comparisons and the judgments are maddening. What makes it worse is having two kids of the same age and ENTIRELY different ones at that. The judgments only get worse – “She is so well-behaved but he simply cannot sit still. He is an ace at academics but you’ll have to think where she fits in”… and this from friends and family members and even teachers at school – with no concern that both the kids are present and listening in. How insensitive and unthinking adults can be! As parents we have to work extra hard at negating all of this. I think both of you together are just right for little Ri. You’re setting a great example for him by following your heart. He’ll know being a square peg is the best way to be because it’s different and hence ever more special.
    Obsessivemom recently put up this awesome post : Of ‘well-meaning’ adviceMy Profile

    1. Oh yes! I can so understand your plight, Tulika. A distant cousin of mine has twins too – each different as chalk and cheese. Thanks for that. And knowing you, I know you’re doing everything in your power to make sure your little ones are growing up more confident and ready to take on the world.
      Let the rest of those bleating goats, well, bleat 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

    1. Thanks for saying that, Aditi. What people don’t seem to realise is that all these comparisons ‘hurt’ the kids even before they’ve started to understand things. Their self-esteem drops and it’s always an uphill battle from there. I know – I Was one of them. I still am, probably 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

  19. Sid I know I might sound a little trite but this is actually one of the best stuff I have read here because one can see the anguish through the words so clearly. So many parenting posts are bore for me, no offense but this one here compeltely has my attention. Because this is my number of advice all around. In fact I have had serious fights with friends who go on to say, ‘Oh boys are so naughty’ or ‘Girls are so easy to parent’ I mean you have already put them in a spot. Already bucketed them 😐 *phew* This one felt really good! The mini rant I did in comment 😛

    1. Not at all, Richa. In fact, I’m glad you said that. I know that parenting posts aren’t really for everyone. In fact, this was more of a rant – hence why the anguish. We love to bucket everything – kids, too.
      Thanks for sharing 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

  20. As a mom I face this everyday. .my son is around 2 and half years old and he’s not yet started talking yet..He just has a very few words in vocabulary..its majorly due to him getting very less chance to mingle with kids and as we stay away from home..We don’t have much friends and relatives coming home..

    There are ppl who keeps asking ohh he’s a too slow at picking up and I feel totally bad at times.. I am totally with what you say….
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    1. I can so relate to that, Bilna. It’s just crazy, isn’t it? Let them pick up stuff when they want to. This society and its need to ‘make everyone run the race’.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

  21. People have a knack of passing comments, be it kids , be it anyone. Probably, because they want to show their superiority by pointing others flaws. But, yes kids are different. They are learning and have a lot to learn and such calling could be a negative impact. And it will take a whole lot to change people.

    Nice post, btw. 🙂
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    1. I mean, it happens with adults too; but atleast they can defend themselves. oh well, we live and learn. And hope for better future.
      Thanks for stopping by, AK!
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

  22. Comparison has always existed, Sid, in some form or the other. So, at some point, it is not really going to go away. The best we can do is build up the kid’s self-esteem, knowing what we know and making them realise that they are fine the way they are. Yes, it’s tough and very challenging, but we can do it. For, do we not learn from the errors of others? So what if we make some mistakes too? That’s fine. As for those who talk, well, let them. Don’t let it bother you too much. You’re doing fine, as you well know 🙂
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    1. I agree, Shailaja. Comparison is always going to be there – but, it’s so difficult with these little kids; i mean it;s not like they understand. All they see is them being compared to other kids – whose parents have probably been making them read and write since they were babies. I’m not high on self-esteem. I just hope we can make sure Rishi grows up with a bit more confidence than me 🙂 Thanks a lot!
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

  23. Oh I am so with you on this, you know how many issues I have had, in essence you speak for me also. I guess comparison is the problem, rather than seeing and accepting each child for what they are, there are so many high expectations from them. At 3 or 4 years they are expected to behave like adults, and in the process they carefully carve out all their uniqueness. Now a days I keep telling people S is a square peg, he wont fit your round hole.
    Jaibala Rao recently put up this awesome post : My ConfessionMy Profile

    1. See, the fact that S and Rishi seem to have similar ‘characteristics’ is a testament to the fact that kids in that age group do behave similarly at times ; there’s not much we can do without feeling bad but chugging ahead. Keep faith, Jaibala. We’re doing a good job.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Why do they?My Profile

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