Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Return to innocence

-By Swetha Amit
Children’s day....which falls on the 14th of November every year, happens to be the birthday of India’s first Prime Minister...Pandit Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. This revered person was known to love children immensely and was fondly called “Chacha Nehru” by them. It was desired that his birthday be celebrated all over as children’s day.

Childhood is a stage in our lives that makes us walk down the memory lane and look back at those nostalgic days with misty eyes. It is a phase with a carefree attitude, devoid of worries, shouldering responsibilities and stress. It’s also the most treasured stage that would make us return to innocence at any given point in their lives.

The beginning stage from birth till we attain puberty indeed consists of fun- filled days. We can recollect instances where we were given attention by everyone, from family, relatives to all elders as we were considered their little darlings. A great support system existed in the form of our favorite grandparents when we were scolded by our parents for trivial issues of either having stolen a chocolate from the fridge or upsetting a carton of milk. Immense amount of time was spent with our grannies and grandpas by listening to their stories, hearing about their childhood days, playing cards with them and going out for small walks in the neighborhood parks. Ironically, the same people whom we loved spending time with at this stage are considered as nagging nosey parkers by us in the next stage, of adolescence, indeed embarks the strange twist in life.

It was a phase when we had lesser tiffs with parents over petty issues like not doing our homework on time, watching cartoons or playing outdoor games for a longer duration than intended. A stark contrast to this is the relatively serious issues in the later stages - which consisted of arguments with relation to the opposite sex, parties, alcohol or our clothes. It reflected a pampered self indulgent age which consisted of our demands being met. Our little minds then could think of nothing beyond than having this birthday party with a huge big cake, inviting all our friends, playing games, and blowing balloons.

A stage where we didn’t bother what we wore ate or spoke. We could eat as much as we wanted without having to worry about gaining a few inches around our waistline or worrying about the jeans not fitting us. A blemish free life; where numerous varieties of chocolates were eaten without thinking twice about a zit appearing on our nose. A carefree life; where excuses were made for whatever we spoke in haste as we were considered ignorant little imps who would squeal and shout in glee.

An age where we had the maximum number of friends and did not have to worry about “fitting in” with the crowd. No issues like wearing the right outfit, listening to the cool music or being seen in certain “hangouts” were even means of evaluation for our peer group. Fights with friends were usually over petty issues were immediately patched up, unlike the complexed ones that exist in our later years.

“The more the merrier” was the concept of the 8 year olds to play games like hide n seek, Kho-Kho and other outdoor games with both genders. We could also recollect moments of playing with dolls and indoor games like ludo, snakes and ladder. Reading the various comics, fairy tales and Enid Blyton series were past times for this age group which took us to a different world altogether. The enchanted woods, magical lands of the faraway tree, whizzing away on a wishing chair, the elves, fairies and wizards, mythological tales, comic tales of the Tinkle, the various cartoon characters stimulated the young curious minds to seek more information from this enriching hobby.

A phase where we didn’t have to worry about facing board exams, competitiveness, coping up with higher education pressures, dealing with ones sexuality, fighting with a friend over a short term crush, jealousy over another persons attractive appearance or dealing with feelings of inferiority.

However in the present scenario, it is seen that the concept of childhood seems alien as kids are forced to grow up too quickly due to the certain circumstances. A lifestyle of the dual parent working exposes them to the feeling of independence and handling of responsibilities at an increasingly alarming rate, wiping out their carefree young days. The advent of technological advancement has precipitated the exposure to adult sites, which have enhanced the worldly wise knowledge onto the little minds at a rapid pace.

Use of mobile phones,ipods,access to American sitcoms on television has robbed the innocence out of this beautiful stage, depriving them out of the enjoyment of the a stress free phase. It seems that from the age of three, kids are given the direct promotion to the puberty stage as the facts of life are known to them before the age of 12.Also, the pressures of the academic institutions today where exams are held even at a kindergarten level, invariably cause the anxious parents to drain the children out of their energy levels.

It is true that our erratic lifestyles leave us with very little time for ourselves to enjoy the little things that once made us happy. Whether it is munching our favorite flavored ice-cream cone, accompanying our kids on a ride in a theme park or building a castle by the sea side with the little ones. A feeling of self consciousness engulfs us as an inner voice conveys that we are too old to do such things anymore.

The fast paced life of the metros and other places have left us hard pressed for time as well. Increasing levels of competitiveness has robbed us out of our childlike enthusiasm and our youthful appearances. Psychology says,” there is a child inside everyone which refuses to grow. Allow that child in you to come out once in a while and retain that young glow.”

Are we really succumbing as victims to the aging factor? Are we deliberately avoiding small things in life that give us pleasure and replacing them with alcohol to gain a feeling of “being high”? Are we forcing ourselves to age faster than we should? In other words, are we responsible for killing that little child present in us?

Something definitely to ponder about.
Written for www.msn.co.in



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