We all or at least the people born in the 80s, like me, have grown up hearing this question,
“What you want to be when you grow-up?”
and every time I faced this question, I used to feel very puzzled and I had different answers to it every time, ranging from a Doctor to a Fighter pilot to a mountaineer. Now since I had my next generation in front of me, I thought it becomes my chance to throw this question. So, one fine day I asked this question to my loving daughter and the response that I got, gave me a food for thought.
Sunday afternoons are usually slow and that is when I get a chance to grab some siesta and relax a bit from my demanding schedule. However, that is when my affectionate daughter also gets a chance to catch up with me. So, I always have to make a choice whether to take a nap or spend some “alone time” with her, as my wife has a ritual of afternoon nap, which nobody dares to come in between. Since I had come back last evening only from my week-long travel to Coimbatore, I decided to get some rest. But as the fate would have it, she comes to me and inaudibly says something, mindful of the fact that her mother doesn’t like to be disturbed while she’s asleep. I, half-asleep tried to decipher what she wanted, asked her to repeat, now this time carefully watching her hand and lip movements, understood her. She wanted to ask me if she can watch TV for some time. We want our children to be honest and obedient, but who knows it comes at a cost of your priceless afternoon nap. Nonetheless, I immediately gave my OK for TV, making sure my slumber is intact. She immediately went out and switched-on TV.
I lay in bed, trying to sleep again, but I always had this problem, once woken up from sleep it is really difficult get back. After about 10-15 minutes of tossing here and there, I came out to see she’s completely glued to TV and enjoying her favorite show, “Peppa Pig”. I really loved the smile on her face, after a while she realized that I have come out and not sleeping anymore. She jumped and came to hug me, which she keeps doing, umpteen times a day and I love it every single time.
I sat beside her enjoying the look on her face and suddenly started day-dreaming about what happens when she grows up, etc. I don’t know what came to my mind when I asked her,
“what do you want to be when you grow up?”
I had never expected to hear this kind of an answer. She very gullibly and almost immediately answered,
“can I not be just me, even when I grow-up?”.
I was not at all prepared for this answer, I was expecting to hear a similar kind of an answer like a doctor or an engineer or something of the sort that I have grown up with.
What came as an innocent answer, started a chain of thoughts in my mind.
“should I prepare her for the real world?”
“is she too naïve to face the harsh realities of this world?”
“have we not been making her aware of truths?”
“is she living in a fantasy world?”
We all keep hearing the phrase, “there’s a lot to learn from children” and my 7-year old (now almost 9 years old) is no exception to it. That day she taught me to “be real” for real. It’s in fact important to always be yourself and love what you are. I guess, in this rat race we have apparently forgotten “what we are?” and “who we are?”. I really thank her for bringing me back to basics.