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Relatives who hadn’t cared to as much talk to us since ages, were now offering advice, as to how being a mother, I was ruining my son’s future.
I was born to parents who not only held a brilliant academic record but also made friends with parents of super intelligent children. It was pretty evident I had to fit in, for which I needed to excel, almost everywhere.
I complied, till seventh grade, when every mark I scored, every rank I secured was compared with everyone else, my peers. But then studies do get tougher and I loathed some subjects. The marks began dwindling and the constant comparison and taunts only made matters worse.
As if this wasn’t enough, my suggestion to opt for Humanities was cruelly declined, since Science and Engineering were supposed to be the tickets to a good life, job and alliance. And so much did I dislike engineering, that topping was a far cry, I somehow scraped through, which shattered my confidence and disappointed my parents forever.
When my son started schooling, I made a silent pledge, to never force academics on him. In fact I so hated the terms Topper and First Rank, I wouldn’t inflict those two curse words on anyone, least of all my son.
But then in our country, pressure of academics is inevitable and it does take it’s toll eventually. I fell into the vicious circle of marks and my son tried his best to make me proud. But he did find Mathematics and it’s concepts extremely difficult since beginning and gradually science got tougher too.
These two were considered the most important subjects of all, so just like everyone else I arranged extra tuitions, put in lots of effort myself, scolded, punished, but to no avail.
My tension and his anger rose by the day and once things at home got so escalated, that he threw his Mathematics books away in agony, crying out loud.
That’s when I saw myself, my teenage frustration, in him. The same face of desperation and helplessness of being pushed into something you hated, by the very parents who were supposed to understand you.
I couldn’t sleep all night, his anxiety and his voice ringing in my ears. I knew there had to be a way and I started by meeting his teachers. I have to say, the teachers were so helpful, talking to them made me realise, the world had huge career options other than engineering and medicine. And my son seemed to be liked by teachers as a well behaved and polite student, what more could I ask for?
Thankfully, the board had already come up with a choice between basic and standard mathematics, making it clear that students opting for basic maths wouldn’t be eligible for Engineering or technical courses, post tenth standard. Me with my husband’s support opted for Basic Mathematics for my son.
This was met with heavy opposition back home; my siblings, husband’s siblings and parents from both sides. Relatives who hadn’t cared to as much talk to us since ages, were now offering advice, as to how being a mother, I was ruining my son’s future. Some even went to the extent of telling us that being a boy, he had to study technical courses, lest he wouldn’t find a job or a wife.
But I had to put my foot down. Boy or girl, I wonder how career was gender related. And more than anything, I believe studies should be a journey a child should enjoy. There are certain fields suited for some, some arenas difficult for others, and all paths hold promise. Nobody would understand your child more than you, when the child displays keen interest in something, I can vouch for the fact that he would learn, perform and succeed.
Give him a chance to try and take up what he likes, and you will find your child content with his studies, his job, his life. Rather than throwing him into a life of perennial inferiority and depression, just to satisfy your own whims and of the society.
My son chose Humanities as I had wished long ago, and there’s not been a moment of regret. I couldn’t tolerate to see my youth’s reflection in him, the pain and angst I had been through. There are so many options open, so many career choices he can make, I don’t know what the future holds for him, or how much he will earn, but I’m sure he’ll do his best. With his head held high, with grace and confidence. My child is a bit off-beat but what’s the fun if all children blindly follow the crowd.
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