I talked to a woman whose daughter is getting admitted to a new school (and hostel) this summer. felt nostalgic to hear her concerns about leaving her daughter in a hostel. But I realised something quite interesting. She was so sure about her daughter’s uniqueness as also that she would make something ‘big’ in her life. That big, I realise was quite the stereotype.
Parents always try to differentiate between their children and others, especially early on. They emphasise their kids’ uniqueness. It gives a sense of individuality that every kid is unique in his/her own way. It is also a sort of romanticism with the idea that one’s kid is special, that he/she can do anything.
But as he/she grows up and beomes a teenager, the individualism seems to fade away far too quickly. It mutilates into an inertia for social order. This is often seen in reluctance to embrace ‘unconventional’ things that the kid wants to pursue, other that the established practise of engineer, doctor, lawyer etc. There is a paternal concern that those paths might not leave them with a good social ‘reputation’, much worse – even harm their present ‘reputation’.
On deeper thinking of the romanticised childhood individualism, we find that it was only limited to oneself. While parents distinguish their kid(s) from others’ in terms of capabilities, they incorrectly group together the others’ kids into one bracket which serves as a basis for distinction. Taken for all parents, this is no individualism as such.
From the childhood, values of life and society is incorporated in kids which are not supposed to question. And when they face situations which contradict those values, it presents a dilemma because they have not been given any basis for accepting those ‘virtues’.
Similarly, private rooms, exclusive toys etc. are provided for kids from a very young age. This is generally a way to inculcate a sense of self and identity. Simultaneously, they are expected to be behave ‘appropriately’ in public spaces, escpecially as a matter of parent’s social stature. This leaves a lot of kids confused as to whether their identity is within them or it comes from the society.
When the individualism is passively masked by an unacceptable mimicry – an adopted, or rather imposed identity which conforms with the social order – the life of kids is slowly suffocated by insignificance, which becomes a way of living. A way that subtly desires to feel real, just for a moment.