It pains my heart to write this.
We are all parents. We know the ways of our kids. I am the ’80s teen. I know even how way back in those days, we girls still cheated on our parents and got away with it. In an era where even short skirts were taboo, i have had among my friends circles girls who ‘crossed the line’ – if i may put it so. Who violated every single unwritten code in the morals and ethics book of their conservative, orthodox Hindu families. Today they are all happily married with grown up kids in twenties. Boys for their share smoked and boozed, as expected of them, behind their parents’ back. I have heard from my husband how boys from his engineering hostel even went to call girls. We are not here all saints from our turbulent teens. Many of us have erred, keeping with times. However that did not stop us from becoming what we are today. Every single one of us including the bold ones has made it, and that’s the most cheering news of all. What would have happened if the guilty had had to be punished.
In today’s world, our children are merely taking the next step in rebellion which is part of growing-up. Or coming of age. One of my regular cabbies told me once how a particularly addictive leafy stuff has spread like wildfire to each and every corner of Chennai, mainly sold in front of school gates and college entrances. Nobody made it to sports these days without a high from the campus. Or even to the examination hall. IT industry precipitated the matter. The acute stress levels chasing deadline after deadline cast the young men and women towards seeking a quick release. Parental and peer pressure nonetheless. My friends too aver how everything is freely available in the city and you don’t have to look far. Practically no locality is free of the net. Any government that is keen on securing the future of our youngsters must know where to look first.
I was discussing exactly this problem that I don’t even want to name with my son’s friends both in America and in India. They think this particular dried leaf one is no big deal and that they’re all canvassing to make it legal in India as it was until the 1970s when it was overnight declared illegal which pushed up its procurement costs and consumption rates. Now some vested interests even cultivate it for exclusive clientele. Some anti-social rackets naturally make a neat sum out of this as they get the younger gen hooked. Said the boys, it is tobacco which is worst but sadly or perhaps very cleverly its consumption is legal. I did not agree with the boys, but the same view is also held by my generation guys who are doing well in IT field.
I went for a single session counselling with a leading psychiatrist. One thing he told me was, the youngsters of today have to know if possible everything on planet. It is age-related. Or what you say in Tamil, ‘vayasu kolaru.’ They will eventually come out of this on their own by the time they hit their thirties. Only a negligible percentage become addicts. So he asked me to ignore if I might discover my son smoking or boozing with friends. He said, it was I who had to change not the kids. My generation has to wake up said the doc with enormous experience in the field who is also running a de-addiction center. I wanted advice on parenting with him. How to deal with a son in his twenties. Of course now my son is a father himself. I don’t have to keep an eye on him. Destiny has made him responsible. Some lessons, life can teach our children and it is better we remain mere observers. Sometimes it is okay to see our kids fail or fall. With a great restraint, we have to hold back ourselves from lending them a helping hand. The only comfort for our children must be that, whatever, we parents would love them unconditionally and accept them for what they are. And that we’d accept their choices wholeheartedly.
It is not easy parenting in this century although I am now finally heaving a sigh of relief. But I have an open mind compared to even my hubby who is a lot more conservative with rigid outlook. I got to mix with my son’s friends and came to know both the girls and boys of the 90s better. Believe me, even our girls seem to love the brown leafy or root powder! The first time I got wind of the youngsters’ habits, like any average Indian parent I was shocked to the core. Or you can say my heart almost stopped. My other thought was like, ‘omg what’s happening to my good old Madras!’ But I roused myself to reality. I think I am better in dealing with crisis when it comes to family than my husband who can solve complex industrial issues but not matters of domesticity. I have had hours of discussion with the boys on delicate subjects. I think our Indian govt also has to be practical. Now why are we updating on every front. Windows 10 to 11. How many Android updates. You check even our Cowin website. How fast they are updating with facts and figures gathered from stats from all around the country. I am asking this simple question: why cannot our government do an analysis on the emerging lifestyle of our youngsters. We simply cannot have all at the same time. If you want more and more money, you have to take more and more stress. And to beat stress you need a potent stress reliever. As simple as that.
I felt a pain when one of the kids told me, how we the parents still could be luckier generation while their grandparents (our parents) could have been the luckiest of Indians in last 2000 years, for they not only lived in a peaceful era sans wars, but also were surrounded by green unpolluted environs; there was no reason to chase money; life was simple and sweet. Many of the boys and girls of 90s still aren’t yet married. And they already say, they do not want biological kids, and that they would like to go for adoption. S*x life of the kids also has hit an abysmal low compared to our generation. Stress is playing a spoilsport in every front. Such a listless generation is what we have in our hands. So disillusioned when I see some kids. Of course, not everyone is in such a deep despair. I hope the Khan kid is not targeted. A wrong is a wrong whoever does it. But then when you have a kid of the same age, you think twice before judging. As a parent, my heart goes out to SRK. This must not happen to any parent. I have caught kids redhanded in compromising circumstances. I ignored them but reported on them to their parents behind their backs. My friends are mature and know how to handle things. They never stir the hornets’ nests. How to untangle situations and get the kids without least damage is the knack of parenting, with not even the kids knowing. This kind of wisdom is god’s gift.
I do not deny that some mischievous elements are flushing toxic substances into India. Neither am I justifying abuse of any kind. I am vociferously against both. But we need to take care that we don’t hurt our children. They are still our kids. I felt bad for SRK and wife Gauri. Stars and billionaires also have families and more than all emotion and heart. We cannot keep bleeding them so cruelly like this. What kind of sadists have we become to rejoice when a celebrity suffers, only because he made it big. Well, let us allow law to do its duty. This social media trial of the starkid is unwarranted and heartless.
The cleanup of Indian Gennext has to start right from the capital Delhi. Let every school and college campus be combed which is a Herculean task I know. Reforming the youngsters must be our priority, not penalizing them. We gain nothing out of turning them into anti-establishment. Engaging the younger lot productively is the greatest challenge of our times as their attention span is shrinking. With more of economic comfort, they lack the drive to excel or prove a point. Boredom is one good reason for kids going astray. This is really nobody’s fault. It has to happen. It is natural for lethargy to set in given that we have cushioned them from rude jolts of life like our parents never did for us. In Tamil again we say, ‘muppadhu varusham vaazhndhavanum kidayadhu, muppadhu varusham thaazhndhavanum kidaiyadhu.’ This is merely a cycle. For my generation and my parents, growth was fueled by desire for better standard of living. None of us even owned a telephone or car. What do our sons and daughters dream of? We tae them on exotic holidays, we shop for the best brands for them. They have had everything in life without working for anything. They lack nothing and that is exactly the problem. The low they feel is perfectly understandable. How many of them are on the verge of bottomless abyss called ‘depression’ – just ask parents like me. There is not much to fight for, we have taken it all making things easy for them. This i am saying after having hearty talks with 90s kids.
Let us forgive our children and move on. Time is the best healer. I have handled personal crisis with my patience. How many secrets a woman’s heart can hold. Right from my teens to now, i have known secret gays to hasty abortions. Sometimes just keeping quiet will do. Things will work out for better by themselves. As for the kids of 20s, they are still our children. If they err, we have to embrace them and let them know, it is ok. We can chastise them politely but convincingly as we have the right. But to bring them about without damaging them must be our mission. I do not believe in harsh punishments. Neither am I for political agendas or selective targeting. ‘Kalavum katru mara’ one more Tamil adage to quote here. This too shall pass. I can only close with the unflinching trust and belief in our kids that they will be over the bend with time. All we need to do is to be there for them when they make it on their own terms.
PS: Hopefully our media covers equally Adani port as well. Again from Tamil, ‘aanai poradhu theriyalai, poona thaan paavam panni maattiyadhu.’