Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let them Be

This was written for the point of view coloumn.

I had always told myself that when I get older I am never going to spell the “g” word – generation gap or compare how it was when we were kids. I knew it sounded condescending and I hated when the adults uttered it, especially when the comparison was unfair. Yet, I found myself thinking on those adult lines.
I was meeting a group of ten-year-old girls, tweens as they are called now, as a part of an assignment. They all were smart, confident, chirpy and smiling. No trace of self-consciousness or inferiority complex and far too assured.
They knew exactly how they wanted to be captured on the camera with their dolls, designer bags, lips painted red, with a pout which would put Angelina Jolie to shame. All this at the age of 10.
I was amazed and aghast in turns to see the young adults/women, who are a representative of what the kids of today behave and think like. I had this terrible urge to take them by the shoulder and shake them and tell that “when I was your age....” Almost as soon as the thought popped in, I choked back on the words and of course the action. For once instead of rebuking the kids and dismissing them as vain, I tried to be fair - to their age and the times they are growing up in.
I know that girls of my age, when we were growing up, would have died to possess the adult hand bag or heels or apply nail paint. But, we weren't allowed to. “Act your age” was always dinned in to us. Plus add the fact that it wasn't exactly a consumerist era. No malls, no extravagant shopping trips; it wasn't a land of plenty then. So you grew up simply without frills and fancies – without any option.
Now that the malls and brands are coming to town can we shun them altogether? Can we disregard the abundance and raise the kids as they were in 70s and 80s? I don't think it would be wise. It's just not possible to go into a flashback mode.
A better idea would be to equip the kids with the effects of growing up too fast, to teach them the importance of money and to see beyond the trivialities of shopping in a mall. Let them grow without a stunted, myopic view of the two extremes: “I am celebrating my birthday at Pizza Hut” or “I don't celebrate my birthday. My mother says that we should always think of the poor, so we donate some money instead of a party.”
I would like to repeat the oft-heard catchphrase of the kids - “Let us be.”

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