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A regular schedule of extra curricular activities for children seems to be the norm. When, then, will they have the chance to just be children, and free to just be?
The park seemed to wear a dismal look. I couldn’t hear the sound of squealing children, nor did I spot a doting parent or a loving grandparent at the bench. Except for a child or so, this park in an upscale South Delhi Colony bore a deserted look.
I found a comfortable spot, and as I sat, watching my two little girls do the monkey bars and climb up and down the slides zillion times, a young mother I knew came by. It had been weeks since I had bumped into her or her seven-year-old daughter. On enquiring, she told me how busy life was, for her and her little girl. Coming to the park was out of the question because the child was busy attending evening classes to learn swimming, tennis, gymnastics, karate, chess, drawing, Odishi dance and classical music.
Yes, you read it all right. The child stays busy through the week including weekends!
Gone are the days, when evenings are spent playing with neighbors and friends at the local park or kicking a ball at an empty ground in the locality. In a metro such as Delhi, there are issues of sorts that push the child indoors after school. Space constraints, safety concerns, plus the busy lifestyle of parents are a few of the reasons. Not to forget the shrinking size of the family, with no companion whatsoever for the child at home, and the growing menace of hand held gadgets in our daily lives.
Parents thus, find it easier, to pack a child’s day with structured activities of sorts, keeping them not only occupied (presumably productive) but also away from television and technology.
Big cities today sports classes of every kind. From ballet to piano classes, sketching to tennis, Bollywood dance classes to gymnastics, name it and you would find them around. Centres running these classes are open to young students on almost all days of the week.
Such activities of music, dance, dramatics, and sports surely do wonders to a child’s self-confidence. And when you give them a chance to learn them outside the school, it’s also another opportunity to make new friends. Much as I acknowledge this fact and also admire parents who dedicate their evenings ricocheting between classes, I prefer not subjecting myself (and my child) to many activities.
I must confess though, that this decision of mine has many a time made me feel inadequate. There is this constant Fear of Missing Out, as I see parents around ferrying children for various activities. Probably that’s what pushes many other parents too. But I constantly make an effort to remind myself that what best I can do is just equip my child with a few extra skills, to help raise his confidence. I cannot over-schedule his life, not yet.
And that truly raises a valid question- How many is too many?
Each child is different and, has his own pace to learn, develop interests and pursue passions. It pays to not push him beyond his comfort level and, allow him to discover interests on his own. Give him that blank space in his daily time table, to dream, breathe and explore the world around. Strike a balance- between free playtime and the exposure to learn something new.
Published here earlier.
Image source: By Biswarup Ganguly (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
A blogger who writes on society and culture, hoping to bring about positive impact on as many people as possible. Read more posts on www.meotherwise.com. read more...
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Every daughter, no matter how old, yearns to come home to her parents' place - ‘Home’ to us is where we were brought up with great care till marriage served us an eviction notice.
Every year Dugga comes home with her children and stays with her parents for ten days. These ten days are filled with fun and festivity. On the tenth day, everyone gathers to feed her sweets and bids her a teary-eyed adieu. ‘Dugga’ is no one but our Goddess Durga whose annual trip to Earth is scheduled in Autumn. She might be a Goddess to all. But to us, she is the next-door girl who returns home to stay with her parents.
When I was a child, I would cry on the day of Dashami (immersion) and ask Ma, “Why can’t she come again?” My mother would always smile back.
I mouthed the same dialogue as a 23-year-old, who was home for Durga Puja. This time, my mother graced me with a reply. “Durga is fortunate to come home at least once. But many have never been home after marriage.”
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