Plastic babies

I pondered over the title a lot and finally settled on the above. I wanted to be more mean but held back my impulsion. “Where is this taking us?” I asked the lady, “Ma’am this is going to give them an edge, just a bit of it….thats all our attempt”. The lady looked at me suspiciously and sensed this is not going down my throat. I paused and looked her into the eyes so she made another attempt. “But Ma’am, you only tell me how much time can YOU (note the emphasis on you) take out in a day?” Victim psychology, you see. I said ten hours with vengeance (I confess the number is exaggerated but I had to give it back to her) “So you don’t go to work, but not everyone is like you, no!” She just rubbed me on the wrong side. Yes, neither do I have a corporate job nor a business. I run a 24X7 emotional and social support system for my daughter and I am the proud CEO. I have had other kinds of job (the ones for which you get periodically paid) which were tough mentally and physically, but none to match the rigor that my current job needs. I have worked with different kinds of bosses and co-workers who are selfish, egoistic, sissy, MCP types. But none of these people have thought me to how deal with my current boss. I completely surrender and humbly chew my ego in front of her. Not even raising my voice I accept thy deeds and heed to her requests told and untold with love and passion. Because thats what Babycenter tells you to do. (pun intended)

Before I digress too much and start writing another blog…. This lady calls herself a child psychologist and counsellor and I happened to be at her newly opened kids play gym with my friend. First of all the term seemed alien…a gym for kids! Anyhow we went for the demo and were given an itinerary at the door. The room was swarming full of kids and mummys. Where have all the men (daddys) gone? I kept the thought to myself. The air was heavy inside. We tried to seat in the path of the AC draft which seemed meek at the moment. Then started the power point presentation. Who we are, what we do and how differently we do. Some lady emphatically chimed away…there is story telling, rhymes, physical activities, games to enhance their gross and fine motor skills, dancing and music sessions like hip-hop jazz but no bollywood songs we know that its not good for them. There is also readiness class during which we will prepare them to get ready for the school. We will teach them how to close their bags (both with velcro and buckles) how to place their boxes inside, etc. till now it was the mothers’ job now the babies empowered with this skill one responsibility off the shoulders of mothers ….The lack of oxygen in the room made me dizzy and I thought of walking out. But I raise my hand and ask a question. “So this is like a pre-school?”. I think she took offense, “No Ma’am, this is an extension to the pre-school. This is meant to enhance their overall exposure. It has become so competitive we will only help you to catch up to that level”. How? “Pre-school only prepares you to get admission but what about overall development. Like for example at the preschool they teach them animals, but here we will teach them about nature cleaners”. She thought she got me here, I also thought so. “But if a child is going to a pre-school then when will he/she come here. Even if they do when will they play outside and explore the world.” I asked. “Outside, where outside? where can you take them in Mumbai? Nobody has time. You only see, the husbands are gone all day and then the wives only will have to manage the kitchen, the housework, then the guests. But if you send them here then you can feel safe. We have foam flooring and aayas will see if they are putting anything in the mouth. Ma’am you might be thinking this is a money making business but I am also a parent, please be assured”. I stepped out wishing good for her business like charity endeavor. Because of her many wives will feel much more liberated.

There is a whole shift in the attitude of parenting. Parenting today has become a matter of management and convenience. And to help us in this administration various businesses and services have propped up making our life easy. All this in turn leaves us tempting to use more convenience. Gone are the days of grandparents telling bed time stories. How would they know what phonetics are? No way you are climbing that dining table, thats why we are sending you to the kids gym for 45 mins thrice a week M-W-F. Please don’t make a mess with the atta you can do it when your gym teacher gives you play-doh. No baby I can’t take you to the park, I have a salon appointment and nor can the Aaya because she will not understand that many things in the park are inedible for you. But no worries the teacher had emailed that she has made new cut outs of sunflowers, strawberries and earthworms for today’s class.

Where is this taking us? I ask again. Is this because we want them to be perfect? I have not met one parent who says I want my kid to be the next Beethoven or Einstein. Then why this mad rush towards perfection? This is what I am thinking about what others are thinking… we treat our children like a newly won trophy. We want to show off. Like we show off our spanking new car or watch or bag. How they do or perform becomes a direct reflection of our own performance. They become our score card. And nobody wants to see a C- on their cards. I dont know whats the solution. But I was wondering if not being perfect can be the next cool thing? What say?

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