I watched him pick up his toys and lazily amble towards the center of sand filled playground. It had not even been five minutes since he had been thrown out by the elder kids, because he was too small to help them build mud castles. But heart filled with optimism, he made his way once again. I spotted one of the elder kids, perhaps about nine or ten, point towards him and laugh along with his friends. For a moment, I wondered if I should step in. After all, he was my son. And I was a duty-bound father, who swore to protect him at any cost. But something stopped me. Perhaps it was instinct. Perhaps it was just the curiosity to see how far he would go. Whatever it was, I continued to sit down and watch my almost-three year old toddler march towards the battalion of elder kids, armed only with his sand pail and a plastic spoon.
With bated breath, I watched him enter the circle that the elder kids had made and calmly put his pail and spoon down. The biggest one of the lot, perhaps just shy of his pre-teen years, took giant steps towards my son, who was less than half his height. For some reason that I could not fathom, my son turned back and looked at me. And then he did the strangest thing - He smiled. Rather, it was a grin. A full toothy one, no less. Behind him, the other kid stopped a few meters from him. I tried to gauge the thoughts of the bigger kid by observing his facial expressions. But like an expert witness, he remained impassive. 'This was it!' I thought, 'I'm going to have to go and get my son out of there. Or else, it's going to be a rematch of David v/s Goliath. And this David was not going to stand a chance in hell!'
As I stood up from the bench I was sitting on, the bigger boy moved closer towards my son. Before I could rush towards them, my son suddenly hugged the elder kid. I stopped in my tracks, confused by my son's unexpected reaction. And as I watched, partially amused by the scene that was playing out in front of me, the elder boy knelt in front of my son and hugged him back. Within minutes, my son had disappeared into the midst of his new-found friends. It took me a few minutes to understand the impact of what my son had done. Instead of being deterred by the attitudes of the bigger and elder children, my son had decided to focus on the end goal of getting into their gang. He had embraced his earlier failures, learnt from them and adopted a new approach. And he had broken through their defense with merely a smile and a hug.
I sat back on the bench, happy and relieved. As parents, we had inculcated the right attitude and beliefs in our son. That come what may, be optimistic and you can find a way to succeed in whatever you do.
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