“The child is the father of Man.”
– William Wordsworth (famous English poet of the nineteenth century)
Ricky is eleven years old and one of the smartest kids I’ve known. He could comment on the latest elections; he knows which Bollywood star is dating whom. As he spoke animatedly about Gay-Lesbian rights, I wondered if he had lost the innocence of his pre-teen years. Was he maturing a little too early in life? My initial appreciation for him turned to concern; I asked his parents if they shower him with affectionate hugs; do they play with him, or is he deprived of the regular childhood frolic? His father insisted that their boy is now a serious student of world affairs and would soon begin his training for selection to the prestigious Indian Administrative Services. I thought it would be better for the boy to read R.K. Narayan’s Swami Stories or Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn rather than the rigorous study material for the IAS. But I shut up because I was clueless on how to convince his father that he needed training more than his son.
Childhood is the best of all the seasons of life, and the longer it lasts with happy memories, stronger the emotional stability in adulthood. We certainly want our children to grow up; we wouldn’t want them to be naïve or get abused. But the age of innocence is precious; it shouldn’t be developed artificially to manhood. We can’t sacrifice sweet childhood at the altar of maturity and growth. There is a natural way that learning evolves, and at the right age and time, a child needs to know the more abstract concepts of life.
To be continued…