I do not remember any time when I was a kid, 5th standard and above, I had asked my parents to sit with me for studies. I do not think my schooling had any kind of parent-teacher interactions. There were only two times my parents ever came to school. Once during admission into the school and once during getting transfer certificate out of the school.
The process was really simple. There used to be exams. There used to be report cards. Once the exams were over , there was an objective report card which clearly stated the marks I had got in each subject and the rank I secured in my class. The report cards were to be signed by my father. My father just used to look up at my mother and if she nods, then I get the signature. He just did not bother what I got. The governance model was very clear. He expected me to do my job and he expected my mother to figure out if I was indeed doing my job. No words were ever spoken. Everything was body language. No lecturing. If my mother yelled at me, he allowed her to yell at me. No cajoling, consoling or motivating me. If I even attempted to raise my voice against my mother, he will gently raise his head , look it to my eyes and give me a cold blooded stare that froze me. The message was very clear. This is not a boundary you will cross , my dear son. Ever.
I do not ever remember them asking me to study. Never, ever.
Whatever I had asked, guides, associated material and if I said I had to go to tuition to just increase my understanding or practice, everything was provided. If I did not understand geometry, I was supposed to figure out , how to fix that and there was no ‘google’.
I was not allowed to know the struggle they had to undergo to facilitate me with everything I asked. I guess I was reasonable in my ask and I cannot ever remember my ask being negated. Never, ever.
As a corollary, I was not allowed to complain to them on the struggle that I had to endure to get the signature in the report cards. I was allowed that struggle. It was deemed necessary. The message was “You, better do your job”.
If I had to study late, a hot drink, whatever was available that month would be kept in a flask and they would go to bed at their appointed time. If I had to wake up early, there would be the same hot drink again in a flask before I woke up. I was given a alarm clock and I had to wake up at the time that I had set for myself. If I had told specifically, please wake me up to them , they will do it, otherwise I had to do that. That behaviour was encouraged only occasionally.
They had their daily routine and it was more a ritual. They had to go to work travelling 40 odd miles using a combination of bus and suburban trains. The bus or train never waits for them and the rituals they had cannot be avoided, to earn their daily bread.
I think was the established parenting model for people who were born between 1970 -1980. I think it worked well, at least for me.
Fast forward , thirty years and I am looking at my own style. I think there is none. I guess we are either being asked to be over indulgent or over indulgent on our own, over enthusiastic, do not want to see our kids to struggle even for a nanosecond and kind of step in too early.
I write this because , whenever my son or daughter asks me to sit with them for their studies, my wife asks to sit with them and help them, I just go bonkers. My first and possibly first line of defense is
“No one sat with me. Why am I being put through this?”. I have cried, struggled and endured my out of this. I start shouting at everyone and get into a monologue about how we were brought up and why you cannot do this, why your school cannot take care of this, why we have to pay for school so much and endure this, what you can do on your own and do not care to stop at all.
I do feel bad after this eruption which are getting more frequent.
I thought I will figure out the truth.
The simple truth is I do not know to solve their academic problems. I cannot get right a 7th standard geometry or a proportion problem the first time around. I cannot do a fifth standard environmental sciences project. It is just not in me. The excuse is I am out of touch.
I skimmed, scraped through the surface and somehow sailed through.
I do not want my ignorance to be revealed.
When that is exposed, I counter attack with my position and the glory of my past.
Charles Darwin Said, “It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But the Most Adaptable”
I guess I am not adaptable, but on a lighter note, if I have to read geometry again to teach my kids, I might rather chose not to survive!
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)