Our housing society has a unique custom of welcoming new families by having a potluck party at new member’s house. In the party, every family would cook some delicious food except the new family and all would gather for a get-together. They would sit, chat, play and eat. It’s basically a family meet where the new family gets time to get acquainted with the new environment.
Six months back, a new family shifted in our society from Trichy. As our society custom, a potluck party was thrown to make the new family comfortable with all society members and vice versa. We had discussion over various topics like our society, city, kids, Trichy and many more.
When I went to serve sweet dish to the young gang, it felt good to see that Aisha, their 17 year young daughter, had easily mingled with others. All of them were discussing about their extracurricular activities planned for the summer break. To my surprise, every student was enrolled in two or more classes. I was curious to know about Aisha’s interest so I stood there for a moment to overhear their conversation. Fortunately, she was not running after so many classes. She said she plays badminton and learns classical music. Other kids were amused to know this. They felt that she was under-utilizing her precious time in learning only two things. They started counseling her to enroll in as many classes so that she can explore more things. Their discussion went on and I came outside their room with a smile.
Reema, Aisha’s mother, showed us the trophies, medal, and prizes that Aisha had won in academics, badminton, and singing. I could see her eyes shine with pride as she told us that Aisha was a district level badminton player. The party continued till late night.
Reema was full of life and she ensured that all her guests were comfortable and engaged. We bonded very well and became good friends. We started meeting frequently. We would talk for hours about our college days and laugh at silly jokes. But when I met her after three weeks, she looked very worried.
When I asked her the reason she told me that she was worried about Aisha. Her focus on academic as well as hobbies had deteriorated; she was not even giving enough time to her singing practice. Moreover her performance in inter- school tournament was disappointing. She was concerned about her. I asked her if everything was fine with Aisha. Is she finding this place unfriendly or is she anxious about the new teachers? She said no, she likes this place. In fact, they all are very happy to shift to this city & society. Now she is able to learn more activities. She is more exposed to the world, like others, she is also trying to become an all-rounder and we always encourage and support her. The only change is that she is not able to follow her old routines as she has so much to do.
Her last sentence was the answer to her worries. While talking to me even she realized this. I told her that Aisha is doing things under peer-pressure and a general herd mindset. She is just pursuing things that all her friends are doing. She needs to understand her strengths and take pride in what she is focused on. Also, she needs to be affirmative and say no when she feels overwhelmed. Comparing children is a trend that must be discouraged by parents and adults if we want to build a society with members having complementary talents. Children who do not focus on unleashing their own potential feel disconnected with life. The concept of Saral Education is based on exactly this fact. At various stages of life, we all face dilemmas and to take better decisions, youngsters must take charge of their thoughts first.
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