.. is something that depends on how we view it, is something I’ve come to understand.
I’ve heard people pass judgments on NRI children for numerous faults(perceived and read) of theirs. To be honest, I am yet to meet those NRI kids who seem to be super fussy, or refuse to mix with people in India. Most of our friends kids have a wonderful time in India, just like daughter always did. All the years we lived abroad, we used to make a yearly trip to India, and had never found daughter facing any trouble fitting in. She made friends easily with her cousins, and always had a wonderful time in India. One of the reasons why it was quite easy for us to take the step of moving back to India.
A few days after we came here, we were at the apartment play ground, when some other girls came to play there. Daughter wanted to join them, so I asked her to go ahead, and try saying a ‘Hi’. She did, and much to her surprise, they saw her, heard her, and yet chose to ignore her completely. She was surprised and upset. That incident made her worry if her new school mates would be just as rude. Thankfully, she made friends with other children who had joined at the same time as her, and she was happy. She’s had company and she slowly started making new friends as well. Once in a while, I would hear of children being a little rude- and that I would ask her to ignore. There would be instances of some child telling her that she can’t join the group and other stuff like that. Which I’ve just asked her to ignore and find someone else to play with. Mostly, she’s been happy. Her friends are nice and sweet, and she feels happy around them.
Yesterday, daughter was cycling and I was walking beside her when I overheard a bunch of kids talking. They were almost ragging one of the children. There was this ‘leader’ who was leading in her taunts. She said rather unkind things to this girl, and the others followed suit. Finally, the poor kid, was almost in tears, when they started berating her for crying like a baby. Until then, I wasn’t sure if I should intervene or ignore, but something snapped in me. I couldn’t just watch them. So I walked up to them and asked them what was going on.
Immediately one of them said, ‘She’s crying for no reason’.
So I asked her, ‘Did you say anything to make her cry?’. No, came the answer, she just cries for no reason. So then I told them that I heard everything that they said, and to say the least, they had been very unkind. I also told them that if they don’t want to play with someone, that’s fine, but it is wrong to bully someone like this. I asked them to think how they would feel if someone did the same to them. Thankfully they seemed to understand and they apologized and played nicely with her the whole evening. But it made me sad to see how easily children learn this tricks of picking on people, of creating groups and leaders..
As some one was telling me, people encourage their children to be street smart, mistaking bullying behaviour for assertiveness and smartness. Being assertive is a wonderful trait in any child, but walking over others and bullying is another thing. From what I’ve seen in the few weeks that I have been here, it’s quite a common assumption that a child who is a bully is actually street smart and that is something positive.
Another friend was mentioning how her child(6 year old) was called a ‘Fool’ just because he was playing in a playground in which others were playing as well. The saddest part was that their mothers were right there, and nobody bothered to stop that child. My friend was mentioning that her son is quite sensitive and this sort of things affect him.
It really makes me wonder, just when being bad mannered and uncouth, has become a good thing, and when being street smart meant walking over others. And just as all NRI kids are not bad mannered, all Indian kids are not perfectly well-mannered either.
I’d rather have my daughter grow up gentle, assertive and standing up for the right causes – no matter which part of the world she grows up in. If she is considered non-street-smart, so be it.