Childhood is all about getting mixed signals from parents. Before I get into what I really wanted to say, here are a few things I recently heard at a birthday bash for kids:
“No! No playing with the dog. Get on the water slide NOW!”
“I don’t care what everyone else is doing. You may NOT take your ice-cream outside! Sit here at the table, finish it and THEN you can go out to play”
“Stop crying. Look at all those girls staring at you”
“Stop sulking there in the corner. I’m warning you, we’re LEAVING if I don’t see you having fun in the next 2 minutes!!”
“Ok, that’s enough crying for now. Do you want all those boys to make fun of you?”
(My favorite) “No excuses. Everybody is on the waterslide and you must get on it too. Did you come to the party just to sit there and eat cake?”
Now, I am not at all against the parents who said these things. Hell, I’ll probably say them myself some day. But what I found funny was that the kids’ limited brains interpreted really confusing stuff from all these parents’ instructions:
– Dogs may SEEM like they’re fun. But a waterslide is much better. Trust me, I know (even though I’ve never had a dog or been anywhere near a waterslide all my life)
– Even though all the others are eating outdoors and doing just fine, you my child, have a special disability which calls for a flat surface on which to firmly balance your ice cream cone while you eat it
– You are not allowed to be a boy and cry at the same time
– You are expected to jump for joy and squeal in delight at a moment’s notice, even though you may have just been yelled at in front of your friends and a bunch of strangers. Suck it up, ‘coz life’s a bitch
– You are not allowed to cry in the presence of boys. It’s the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a girl.
– A birthday cake is NOT the greatest of God’s creations (NOOOOOOOO!!!!!)
Like I said, childhood is filled with mixed signals. (I know, this turned out to be a long one already, but now I get to the part that I actually wanted to talk about. So keep your head on, because it’s about to get interesting.)
Did your parents ever switch the TV channel whenever a kissing scene came up in an English movie? (I told you it was going to be interesting, didn’t I?) And did they also personally take you to see Indian movies in the cinema halls, where people in the front rows whistled and howled whenever the heroine’s belly-button appeared in EVERY SINGLE song?
Life was incredibly confusing, wasn’t it? And those know-it-all grown-ups think they are the only ones leading complicated lives.
The lesson the kids learn today is this: it’s not ok for them to watch Hannah Montana and her boyfriend kiss on the Disney channel. But it’s alright for them to go with their parents to watch the latest Bollywood (or Tollywood or Kollywood, etc.) flick filled with item numbers, rain songs, lip-locks and increasingly profane lyrics.
One would think the very common ‘A’ certificate in today’s desi movies would deter the parents, but to most of them it seems to say merely this: “Ok, maybe there are just one or two violent fights, an occasional cussword perhaps, maybe a rape and a couple of innuendos. But your kid is probably going to pick them up at school anyway from his friend, whose parents were ‘nice’ enough to take him to watch this film. So you might as well join the ‘good parents’ brigade and have the satisfaction of exposing your offspring to these elements yourself”
And so we have parents toting their tiny tots along to watch ‘Magadheera’, ‘Kaminey’, etc. And then these same parents are at home and begin to switch the channel or hit the fast-forward just when the two characters on the TV begin to stare knowingly into each other’s unblinking eyes. Something tells me the kid must be thinking, “I’m not stupid and I know what happens next. But I’m going to be a good kid and give you the illusion of control, you big, fat loser”
The weirdest thing of all is that India has no sex education, while China has got internet censorship (and neither policy is working according to plan). You don’t need a great deal of imagination to figure out why I named these two countries here.
Babies don’t exactly grow on trees, do they?