Last weekend my family and I went to a super mart to buy some groceries. While my husband stood in the billing queue, I decided to sit in the waiting area while my daughter’s plan included doing short dashes between both of us.
As this was continuing , I happened to meet one of our neighbors in the exact same situation – husband in queue, wife in waiting area and daughter doing some cardio exercises between both of them. As is natural with Indian parents,( or maybe it’s this way everywhere) when they fall short of conversation topics they start to discuss their kids; We ended up doing the same. School admissions is quite a safe topic to discuss and we started talking about play schools and formal school options for our respective kids. When I told them that despite being eligible at most schools, we had decided to delay formal schooling for our daughter by an year, I could almost hear the couple gasp for more oxygen. They could not understand why we wanted to “waste” one precious year of her life. The man eventually pointed that this will eventually end up in our daughter “losing out” to kids her age whose sane parents send them to 5 days a week, formal school in a class of 40+ children, as soon as they turn 3. As inviting as it may sound to some, we gave all of this a pass for another year for some reasons that are quite compelling for us. When that conversation ended I came back with a heavy heart, not because it instilled some sense of regret in me for the decision taken by us, but due to the fact that people are so used to running in their daily lives that they think it is the natural way to go, for their own children also.
It seems as if life is a match, where we are constantly battling the people around us. This mentality seems to start right from the birth, the folks of little infants compare whose child experienced teething first, , who starts to sit/crawl/walk first, who can talk sooner than the rest. Who can recite rhymes better, so on and so forth. The one whose child is meeting these tiny milestones sooner than others tends to feel like a winner and the other starts to worry if they are going to lose out on this race. Not only kids, we have invented various ways to help us feel superior to others. Better exam scores, better house, better car, better job, better looks, better looking spouse/sweetheart, better clothes, better social life somehow give us the sense of being better than the rest who score not as well in some of these categories. Likewise people experience a sense of defeat if someone ‘beneath them’ explores an exotic holiday destination first, wears better clothes or gets promoted first or ends up doing something that they feel he/she did not deserve. We assume that a child who passes out of school at age of 17 is better placed for success in life than a child who does so an year later. All because we value reaching the destination first and not the experience of the journey in between.
Sad, that we measure our success and failure in relative terms and hence make them sort of inversely dependent on success or failure of others. A lot of people around me need to be unsuccessful for me to establish my success. Yes, this maybe the world order established by the mankind, but it depends upon each one of us to decide if it is a suitable order.
So, if life is a race for you then you’ll probably not see me around, since I would have wandered off the track, to a path of my own choice.