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No, the relationship between a child and an adult isn’t a game of drawing and erasing lines. Nor does it do us any good to go ahead and start reading between the lines or giving it a complex meaning or an abstract interpretation. Yet, this is precisely what buddies do – at any age. My son and I have grown through the years as buddies and I have watched this happen umpteen times in so many other homes as well. You will be off the mark if you think it was always my son who was being taught… even I had a lot of learning every time. And this continues even now when Pushkin, my son, is in his late twenties and married. There is no end to a life that loves being interactive, instructive, participative, and open to bonding well.
Let me start with NOW
I’ll take you back in time, put back the clock, remember the past, and write about what we did years back… but let me first tell you about how the social media brings the two of us together.
No, I am not going to say that I was one of those expectedly social media illiterates and that my son taught me the value of this virtual interaction. I have always been pretty savvy about technology… but then there are always things that a 50-something will overlook that a 20-something will know and understand. One such thing is a holistic understanding of hashtags. Let me add here that my son is and architect and now in London and we interact on Whatsapp and through emails, Google Hangout, DMs on Twitter, and Facebook. So I wasn’t surprised when one morning I read this message on Whatsapp:
‘You really need to take care of your Instagram hashtags, papa.’
I wrote back, ‘What about them? I’ve read that people reach your Instagram only through hashtags and so I make sure that I use as many as possible.’
I got not just a long email explaining the advantages of relevant hashtags but also had a long discussion on one of our Sunday Hangout. Yes, he did convince me that more hashtags are not the best thing on any social media platform. I did learn a lot, as usual… but what I never expected was him telling me, ‘You know papa, I just love the spirited way you embrace all social media platforms and blogging. Just following you in the virtual world lays before me a vast vista of learning. Thank you for this.’
Well, learning and teaching aren’t always obvious but if you’re open to them, they will be there to guide you. I am glad that even without perceptibly teaching him, I was acknowledged as a teacher… now this is what buddy parenting is all about? Isn’t this how some of us will describe our khushi ke pal?
It is moments such as these that that empower relationships and keep the child live and kicking inside an adult. Relationships remain fresh like the morning dew that lets the light from the universe pass through it to reflect the world in a cheer that is so vital for existence. This is what unlocking childhood is all about and this is what needs to extend beyond a confined definition of age.
A small mention of THEN
This happened when Pushkin was four. We were visiting Jabalpur and one of the places we went to was the Chausath Yogini Temple that is near the river Narmada and the famous Marble Rocks in Bhedaghat. No, Pushkin wasn’t much interested then in knowing about the Kalchuri Dynasty, Mughal invaders, heritage, Goddess Parvati riding Nandi, or the postures of the 64 yoginis… but yes, he was more interested in watching young divers diving into the river that flowed below. When we were told that we will need to climb 150 steps up a steep incline to reach this temple, Specky, my wife said, ‘I don’t think a four year old can do this.’
We thought for a while and had almost decided not to go to the temple when I turned to him, pointed upwards to the temple, and asked, ‘Will you like to go there?’
‘Yes,’ he replied.
‘We will not carry you. You’ll have to climb all the stairs.’
‘Yes,’ he said.
So we started the climb. I kept telling him how tough he was and that such climbs will surely turn him into a really strong boy. All the way up he was looking at me, listening, nodding, and climbing. There were moments when he stopped, looked around, smiled, and then climbed. All the one hundred and fifty steps. Without a single sound of protest. Without a grimace.
I was pleased. I thought I had taught him the importance of being tough. But what happened at the top was to surprise me. Pushkin asked for his sketchbook and pencil and sat down on the edge to draw the divers diving into the river. He didn’t want to forget that act. So when we went down, we went near the cliffs where the divers were and clicked pictures for him… memories are vital!
That was one of those days when we knew what was wanted from each of us and loved the way we responded to every call.
The choices with us
Great relationships are not about instructions being forced upon you but all about knowing how important they are and accepting them. Kids do it. Adults need to awaken the child in them to know to do it. This choice is always present and never hidden from view… we simply need to keep the eyes of our mind open.
When we teach, we erase a line and every time an adult is receptive enough to learn, he or she has made an attempt to draw a line. Lines have this wonderful facility of these two diverse worlds living in them.
I guess it is only fair to put the subtlety of the bond between a parent and the child and the child in an adult in poetry:
Only learners can teach
And real teachers learn
Only buddies can reach
Where others drift or turn
Be ready to give
And open to receive
Then a bond shall live
Not pretend or deceive.