As you grow older and come to a stage in life where you’re somewhat midway between your past and your future, you begin to retrospect the hell out of your cold wintery nights.
Or at least I do. I have always been a thinker, and I find peace in retrospection, in reiterating things in my head, in conversing with myself while I am in deep thought – Trust me, there have been times, where I have had full blown soliloquys framed out in my mind, as I lay in bed, wrapped up in blankets with silence for company.
I do ponder a lot about my past, slowly uncorking facts, gently untangling the knots and all at once, gaining a much better understanding of my own soul. The more I think about my past, my childhood and those years that were formative for me, the more I feel the immense sense of pride in my upbringing.
I am absolutely proud of how I was brought up.
I don’t know if my family purposely brought me up in this fashion, or it was just an accidental sequence of events, but I am pretty sure that this blog could help young parents with my perspective on this subject.
My first reason Why I Am Absolutely Proud of My Upbringing is because I was not given too many nice things as a child. It might be ridiculously surprising to some, but I didn’t have a cot, or a pram. Instead, I slept on the bed, right next to the people I love. As I began growing up, I didn’t have as many toys as my friends had. I had to earn the right to ask for a new Barbie doll when I wanted one, and I would really be jealous of my friends who had myriad number of toys at their disposal – At the time, I would be really bitter towards my family for not providing for me the same way how my friends’ parents provided for them.
I am not saying that they didn’t pamper me, but let’s just say, that they didn’t spoil me with choices. And that is something I thank them for. They made me realize very early on, that materialistic pleasures don’t make you happy. They ensured that my mind was cleared from the rubble of toys that every child today has access to, which led me to occupy myself with other consequential things in life. They made me understand the difference between necessities and luxuries and how, even as a child, we can learn to prioritize.
Of course, as parents, your baby is the apple of your eyes and you would want to bring the moon down for them – But don’t pamper them to an extent where their independent thought process is lost, where they begin expecting the same level of indulging from life and where they are unable to detach the concepts of happiness from that of buying things.
The second reason Why I Am Absolutely Proud of My Upbringing is because I was always given great exposure. I watched an abundant amount of TV growing up, I watched all sorts of things on TV – From cricket to news to soap operas. I remember doing my homework in front of the TV during the afternoons. Although it might sound like an unorthodox rule in the house, watching TV made me smart in a lot of ways. It made me aware of things.
I was exposed to music very early on in life too – I listened to a great deal of casettes and began singing as well. It helped me explore the depth in things, it helped me explore my own emotions and it encouraged me to be creatively inclined. I was enrolled into a drawing class, where I learnt to colour, sketch and paint, and it was an excellent outlet to let out all the bottled up energies that a child has in the most resourceful way. I was exposed to dancing, where I would choreograph an entire function with my best friend, coordinating on costumes, finding sponsors and running the show – Dancing on the stage in front of hundreds of people not just encouraged the diva in me to wake up from the slow sleep of adolescence, but at the same time, heavily influenced the entrepreneurial flair within me, right from start.
And last but definitely the most important factor – I was exposed to books, and lots of them. By the time I was ten, I had read the unabridged version of Mahabharat (a book of over 500 pages, scary to look at for most ten-year-olds) written in Bengali. I read English, Hindi and Bengali with aplomb, and I never shied away from genres – From stories of Lord Buddha’s reincarnations to Panchatantra to Satyajit Ray to Goosebumps, I had read it all.
And then came along, Harry Potter and Jhumpa Lahiri – I still remember wanting to have the newly released Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire from the Scholastic Book Fair at my school, and just like all other things in my life that I wanted, I had to fight for it.
The reason I am so proud of my upbringing is because my grandma bought me that book on that very day with the little money she had saved, because nothing could come in between a passion that was slowly bubbling to take form.
The final reason for me taking pride in my rearing is because my father gave me independence, freedom and trust from a very young age. He gave me the independence of making my own decisions in life, he gave me the freedom to be myself and explore the extent of my decisions to its fullest abilities and most important of all, he trusted his own upbringing.
He had absolute faith in the values he instilled in me and he trusted that these values, these principles were strong enough for me to never derail from the path of right.
He gave me the independence of making very important life choices. He gave me the freedom to go out at night with friends and not once called to check, not because he didn’t care, but because he trusted me to make the right choices. And I think, the combination of all of this made me into an adult really quickly, because I began to take pride in this trust and this freedom.
One thing that led me to think in this way, was when our wedding trailer was ready and he had interviewed for the same.
For those of you who have watched the trailer, you might remember that he says, “From the beginning, I was confident about my daughter’s choice – I knew that whatever she has chosen, must be good.”
That floored me, really – It made me sit up and take notice.
How simple, how effortless – He knew that if I had chosen my partner, he must be good – Because I have chosen him – I, who is the by-product of his principles and values.
Not trusting my choice would be to not trust his own values.
And that is exactly what all young and old parents should do.
That is exactly how I plan to bring up my children.
I look at plenty of my peers, friends around me who struggle with things as simple as cooking their own meals or washing their own clothes. I see young adults disrespecting their elders blatantly, without realizing what they are doing. I see a lot of immaturity, helplessness and instability in people my age where, for them, erecting and maintaining a simple life for themselves seems like a huge task.
I don’t blame them at all.
I blame the upbringing – You wanted to make your child’s life comfortable, so you hired a maid, who relentlessly cooked, cleaned and provided for you and your family – Hence, your child today is unaccustomed and helpless, unable to ensure the basic operational necessities of running a household. I blame the upbringing because you could not make your child self-reliant, making him heavily dependent on others for his own needs.
I blame the upbringing where people today do not address their elders respectfully, because somewhere down the line, you forgot to inculcate the same in him. He has grown up seeing his parents shouting at his grandparents, so it makes it okay for him do the same in his adulthood.
And therefore, I thank my upbringing a million times.
I thank my family for not spoiling me silly. I thank them for not giving me whatever I wanted. I thank them for teaching me the value of necessities. I thank them for letting me do my own work. I thank them for never hiring a maid to do my chores.
I am ever grateful to them for investing heavily in me in areas where I could blossom, things which could shape my personality.
And most importantly, I thank them for letting me be.
I thank them immensely for not throttling my freedom into bottles of societal medians, for not suppressing the effervescence of my adolescence into the doctrines of common expectations, and for not looking after me so much, that I would never have learnt to look after myself.