Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Adult Question Series - But You're So Short

I visited Anjali's school 'Daksha' today on the occasion of their annual Academic Fair. It was a grand affair with all  the children displaying projects ranging from English riddles, Math problems, Science concepts and explaining their models earnestly. 'Good morning Uncle, Happy Republic Day' they'd begin and perhaps shake your hand before launching into the explanation of their project. Some would have a challenge and if you succeeded (most times helped by the unsuspecting kids) you were given stars. I gathered many stars in the English section. Anjali and Mansi made a complex drip irrigation model which worked rather well.

While in the science section I heard a young boy explain an impressive project he had prepared on forestation and deforestation. It was a lovely piece of work with trees, soil and grass -  all beautifully depicted. He had prepared well and spoke with a lovely, infectious smile and with lots of enthusiasm and energy.

I finished with him and moved on to the next stall when I heard a loud voice.
'You're in 4th class?' said the voice accusingly. It appeared that perhaps the man with the voice knew the boy in question.
'Yes,' said the boy.
'Really? You're in 4th class?' came the stupid question again loudly - perhaps hoping that the boy might demote himself voluntarily.
'Yes uncle,' said the boy.

'Arre but you're so short,' said the man with great sensitivity. I cringed inside wondering how the young kid must be feeling. All the fun of having made a beautiful project, preparing and explaining would fade now with this totally irrelevant factor of how tall he was. Of course there will be some helpful suggestion on what to eat and how much, whether the parents were feeding the right food, and maybe even a flashback of how well they used to eat when they were young. Obviously they have not eaten the right stuff going by their impaired brain development.

It's not the first time I have seen this happen. So many times adults revel in this - he is so short, so dark, so fat etc - talk right in the child's face. It's clearly not a fault - they are perfect as they are. Why feel superior by picking on little kids and messing with their life. Why make them feel less than, like something is wrong with them. Having said it the adults move on, content that they have messed someone up the kid and hopefully feeling better for it.

If you cannot say something encouraging, shut up. Take your insecurities, your failures some place else. But long as you are there, listen, let them speak, appreciate and smile. Make them feel good because then you will have secure people in the world who will become secure adults and leaders.

The more I see these stupid adult questions the more I feel that we should all be given one slap that is allowed - to slap an adult who does stupid things like these - and awaken them. Could be as helpful to them as they think their advise to the kids is. 

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