By Swapna Narayanan
Life is an emotional rollercoaster ride. More so, in today's times, where we have more avenues that tend to make inroads into our otherwise isolated yet busy lives. WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter et al are leading us to feel happy, elated, sad, dejected and a whole list of emoticons that pop up on our devices to enable us to react to the events that occur around us in our city, our country and the world at large.
One such event that sent me on a great rollercoaster ride recently was the news of a 13-year-old girl from Bengaluru, who went missing last week.
It all began with a message that I received indicating that a13-year-girl is missing from her home in my neighborhood. Oh my! Scary. Then prayers.
Soon came some relief after the girl was found. Complete relief, once I authenticated the message on the Bangalore Policeâ€™s website.
As in all households of today with teenaged kids at home, who incidentally are more updated with the latest news, it triggered a spate of discussions at home. â€śWhy did she run away, Ma?â€ť, â€śWhy Maths is so difficult?â€ť, â€śHas any kid been so scared of Languages or Social Sciences?â€ť And the most dreaded question of all- â€śWhat will you do if I decide to walk away because I lost Spelling Bee in the finals?â€ť
My emotions ranged from despair to dread. But, as any mother would do (and should do) I kept them at bay and ensured that all questions are addressed and settled using some funny banter as well as serious open discussions. Needless to say, I also had to unearth some unasked questions over the next few hours and answer them too. Just in case.
All settled, topic done and dusted, I relaxed.
But only for a few days, until I chanced upon a completely senseless television interview of the 13-year-old (not 18 yet) missing girl. And then came a flurry of questions â€“ â€śWhat? Really? Why? How on earth?â€ť
How can the media glorify this whole episode by making her a hero for surviving on Rs.610 across four cities? What about the parents? Are they capitalizing on all the social media attention given to them so far? Or are they scared to stop their daughter, lest she attempts to run again?
And that set me thinking. Are we missing something while bringing up our kids?
I am very proud that we are part of a progressive society and our kids are being given more space and choice. And there is no denying the fact that a kid today can do so much by the time they are in their teens. They can play all forms of sports and excel. They are academically brilliant (even last year we had two hundred thousand kids in India getting a full 10 CGPA in 10th boards). They have a strong penchant for music and are well-versed with the entire spectrum of artistes from MJ to Miley Cyrus. Gadgets - oh, they are born professionals in that zone. Teaching a thing or two to not only their grandparents, but even to us. They are strong, confident, and are ready to take on the world.
Ready? Hey, they have already taken on the world, right?
But then, off late, why am I not seeing these kids flying high? Why do I feel that unless channelized, they will have to crash land? And some may survive, while some may not.
I have never been a great science student, but I do know two things. One, you need a level ground to take off well and fly high and two, you must periodically come back to the ground for refueling - as life is but a cycle of events.
And that is the bit, the Emotional Quotient bit that we as parents have to empower them with. Something we cannot afford to miss.
Are we teaching our children to be emotionally strong? Are we enabling them to first recognize their emotions and then eventually regulate them too? Are our kids empathetic to other people or are we putting in such a high level of competitiveness in them that they are unable to empathize with anyone around? Do our kids speak to those around (and also us) with love and respect? Are our communication lines limited to only them asking for newer gadgets or expressing displeasure in the contents of the lunch box, or where are we going for our next vacation?
Unless, we give these kids a strong level ground that is enmeshed with the fabric of moral, spiritual, cultural and ethical values, our kids are going to be lost in the air. And that will surely push us a few steps back. No society is going to flourish with shallow rooted people who do not know how to regulate their emotions and do not show love and respect.
Unless acted upon, unfortunately, I am seeing a regressive world ahead.