This is a sponsored post for Kellogg's Chocos #Khuljaye Bachpan Campaign and was first published on MyCity4Kids.com
"What do you want to become when you grow up?" my friend asked.
"I want to become a secret agent, like James Bond!" my little one proudly replied!
Yes, at the tender age of four, this was what my little one aspired to be – James Bond!
Needless to say, my friend was shocked to know his lofty aspirations. Clearly, she had expected him to say ‘astronaut’ or ‘doctor’ or even a ‘fireman’. But no matter that he was also introduced to the usual Mickey Mouse, Mowgli, Mr. Bean, Spiderman; and more recently, Iron Man, the Avengers et al; it was somehow James Bond who had caught his fancy!
Honestly, at that time I just thought it to be one of these "phases" that children go through – you know –the I-shall-only-wear-yellow-socks-everyday phase, the I-shall-only-sleep-to-a-certain-music phase, the I-don't-suddenly-like-milk phase, the no-veggies-only-peanut-butter phase etc. But as days passed, he started taking his "agent" training more and more seriously. He played for hours with his Nerf Gun and also talked about making a car that would run on solar energy and become invisible when an enemy tried to catch it; not to mention, as Q would put it – a car that had all the usual refinements!
He also enrolled for karate classes and when he turned five, I felt it was time for him to learn swimming! He had no opinions either way, but then I asked him, “an agent needs to know how to swim, right?” and that did the trick! So that year, during the vacation, we began a beginner’s summer schedule of swimming for him; and along-side his (now favourite) Karate classes, his swimming coaching went superbly well. Really good, that is, until we came to the end of the summer.
Having taught the children basic level swimming – that included holding their breath and swimming across a short distance – the instructors decided to up the ante in the last few sessions and show off (for the benefit of the parents), by having the children jump at the deep end of the pool and swim to the edge. All in all, an activity that would last a few seconds but would involve fearlessly jumping off the deep end of the pool!
And this is where my little Braveheart had a problem. You see, unlike most children his age, my little one could read pretty well for his age and he figured out the meaning of the 9ft written on the edge close to where the kids were supposed to jump. He took one look at that 9ft sign and ran to me saying he had had enough of swimming and he wished never to come back there again! No amount of coaxing, bribing, even dangling the "agent" carrot would make him go back there.
That was two years back. Since then I have tried everything I could to make him go back and take up swimming once again. But he has now decidedthat he just does not want to do it. And I have finally made peace with the fact that this is going to be the extent of his swimming for a long time to come.
Meanwhile, when we were still struggling with this whole swimming thing, my little one surprised me by showing an interest in learning the music last year! I was skeptical at first and was keen that we think about it only if he is really, seriously willing to pursue it. “It’s not a small investment,” I told him; “it’s a lot of time, effort and money to be spent on a whim!”
But he insisted. We took him to a few coaching centres where they told us that he was too young to be enrolled. But he persisted. And finally, we found one teacher who was ready to give him a chance. “I can’t promise anything,” he said; “the child is very young.” But we were determined and finally the teacher accepted.
That was a year ago; and my little one has been diligently attending his music classes for almost a year now and the teacher too seems to be happy with him. And now when I look back, I can clearly see the difference in my little one’s attitude in something that he did out of his own interest and something that I almost forced him to do!
We many times think that children are too young to know what they want. And as parents it is our duty to give them what they don’t even know they want. But we forget that children too, have a mind of their own. We parents are mere facilitators; with a job of exposing them to the right things at the right time. But which of these activities to pursue and for how long, should be the children’s choice not ours!
I realised I was making a huge mistake by asking my little one to go for swimming when he clearly didn’t enjoy it; but thankfully I checked myself in time to ensure that I let him make the choice of what he wants to do. After all, what really matters, is that my little one has fun doing what he does!
Today we are all so charged up, that the moment a child shows an interest in some activity, we find the best possible coaching classes for the same and send the child on his way! But this isn’t fair to the little ones. We need to let them enjoy their hobbies! Formal training for these hobbies, if any, can always be given once they are ready and willing for it.
It is only when we let children be children and enjoy their childhood that it will be really an awesome childhood for them. And we need to really listen to our children ta ke Khuljaye Bachpan unka because frankly, children know best what they really want!