Bringing 'taare zameen par'

Bringing 'taare zameen par'

Being parents of a teenager, we have been there and done that. All the mistakes, that is.

The other day the idiot box screened “Taare Zameen Par,” a film about a dyslexic child and his family’s attempts to cope with it. “I don’t want to watch it,” I declared, smug at the thought of being a “perfect” parent, giving my child enough space to make his choices. Or so I thought. Having seen the movie in snatches  before, I hadn’t liked the way the father treats his son not to mention the condescending attitude of the “hero” who comes to the boy’s rescue. But my teenage son insisted. 

As the movie progressed, I saw in it flashes from our immediate past. Being  parents of a teenager who is at the crossroads of making important decisions about his career, my husband and I have been there and done that. Done all the mistakes, that is.

As the onscreen father worried  about his son’s future, I recalled the manner in which we had tried to talk our boy into opting for a “safe” career choice like engineering or architecture which would assure him of a job in a fixed time period while he wanted to pursue pure science and research, which is a long haul and full of uncertainties. That’s conventional wisdom, isn’t it? I was reminded of how blissfully oblivious we were as he was being pulled into the rat race by his peers who were all preparing for competitive exams.

It all came flooding back as I watched  the scared child on screen hugging his mother tight. On occasions, my son too has held my hand firmly and sobbed inconsolably. Being a stay-at-home mom, I have borne the brunt of his mood swings – the highs and lows of the turbulent teenage years. All I have done is lend him my ears and at the same time convinced him to keep his options open. Our constant interactions have ensured that now he confides in me and shares  his fears and frustrations.

“Now it’s boring,” my son startled me with his remark as the onscreen parent-child conflict appeared to have been resolved and the film was inching towards a happy ending. He was sending us a message, perhaps, hoping we had learnt our lessons well. He still often quotes Albert Einstein, his hero, to make his point: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole  life believing that it is stupid.”

Watching the movie, I had a lump in my throat, not when the child was alone and confused but when the father wept like a baby at his follies at the final denouement. It choked me to know that we had been on the same page as him. It goes without saying that we, as parents, had been guilty of the same mistakes, convinced that we had given our child a conducive environment to realise his potential.

As the credits rolled by, I knew we were not out of the woods yet and still had miles to go.

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