Summer of 79′ and more…

biz260For those who follow the (un)necessary details might have noticed that I haven’t exactly been an active blogger last couple of weeks- blame it on the holidays! After the return of the daughter from college and beginning of son’s summer holidays my schedule seems busier than that of the school year. Anyone else feel the brunt of the holidays? The endless hours in the kitchen, the never ending mountains of laundry, the packed schedule of chauffeuring the kids, the warm summer hikes, long beautiful drives, endless conversations over food and wine…Sigh! Reminds me of the summer of 79′ and more when we were kids and had holidays without mobile phone, i pad, laptop and often, even a land line.

For starters summer holidays during our school days were not as long as they are now. Neither did our parents need to drive us anywhere regularly and most of  us did not indulge in summer internships, classes, courses, camps or jobs with  scheduled routine for the long weeks. I have beautiful memories of summers spent visiting both sets of grandparents living in different cities of India, paternal in the ancient holy city of Benares by the river Ganges and maternal in New Delhi, the capital of the country, both cities as different from each other as chalk from cheese. Benares entailed early morning walks to the river with an uncle/aunt who drew the short straw of escorting half a dozen giggling cousins between the ages of 8 years to 18 years, take a dip in the then crowded, kind of dirty water, splash around because swimming was prohibited by the hapless aunt/uncle who couldn’t possibly keep an eye on all at the same time. On our way back we were treated to hot milk, sweets and samosas and man, did we have fun! Delhi days were spent sans any cousins, just my sister and me with plenty to read, herbs to grow, visiting museums and monuments that the city was famous for. We saw the same museums and monuments every year and loved them without reservations returning home at the end of summer rejuvenated, refreshed, ready to begin the next academic year with renewed enthusiasm. Between these two cities and catching up with grand parents, our parents would treat us to a week or so of tourism in a place we had not visited thereby covering most the country by the time we were ready to fly the nest. Traveling is one of the best educations and what one sees stays embedded in the mind far stronger than what one reads. The memories of those days still  manages to bring on a smile, light up my eyes or make me erupt into giggles.

However, the summer that our children experience these days is completely different from the ones that we were raised in. I do wonder if they would similarly cherish the memories of the holidays even with whatever tourism we do manage to throw in. Gone are the idyllic days where days melted into evenings in a heartbeat, when trees were climbed upon and fences jumped over, when we played and read through the summer, when the word ‘bored’ was unknown in our vocabulary. The daughter had scheduled an internship through the summer even before she left college so that she wouldn’t be bored or idle during the long break. She even pored over job application for the few weeks that she wouldn’t intern. The son has a schedule of jobs mowing lawns, baby sitting, watering gardens, learning sculpture, spending time in the library and swimming with friends. She is 18 going on forty and he is 14 going on ten! Her maturity balances his childlike innocence so we the parents have the best of both the worlds with instances that make us roll our eyes in exasperation while others that make us laugh out aloud. They do not believe in spending days doing nothing and I thank God for that because I can’t fathom what I could suggest that would be attractive and interesting enough to this generation. Why can’t holidays be staggered so neither parents or kids are in a quandary as to how they would spend the days gainfully and not be bored? Families now are spread around the world and meeting cousins, extended families over summer is a distant dream. Each one is either an intern or an employee or a summer student or starting a start up or into research!

'What kind of internet-start-up camp are you going to this summer?'

The student today has forgotten how to relax and it is a worldwide phenomenon. Internships are becoming harder to come by and if one misses the golden opportunity one gets busy studying or joins a camp. Summer camps are sprouting all over with each promising something extra over the other, each advertising their speciality on reading, writing, robotics, chemistry, physics, geometry, sailing, climbing, hiking and I was nonplussed to read about a camp that taught how to run camps! You do learn something new everyday.

How is the summer treating you? Busier than usual or you are able to take a step back and relax?  Heres to a lovely summer to those in the Northern hemisphere and  not too cold a winter to those in the Southern…

Picture courtesy: & Randy Glasbergen.

To be or not to be-A Well rounded child..

Honey, colleges are looking for well rounded kids! Are you sure you want to give up foreign language? And music, you need music. Don’t tell me you are giving up sports! And what about clubs?

Seems familiar? Those are today’s helicopter parents or Tiger Mums and Lion dads living their children’s life. I feel quite sorry for those currently in high school.  A gifted athlete is expected to ace chemistry/physics, study nothing but  AP Calculus BC as a senior, be proficient in at least one musical instrument, engage in clubs, volunteer regularly and maintain great grades. Oh I forgot speech, drama, debate and a lot more.

At around this time last year we were one of the parents whose kids were receiving those self explanatory envelopes from colleges- slim and small with apologetic best wishes or big and thick with congratulatory acceptance. The husband and I were driving the daughter and her friends to a school engagement. Now I am sure all will agree that listening to conversation in the car does not classify as eavesdropping so we couldn’t help but hear the animated discussion going on. ‘Oh I got accepted into some and rejected from a few’, ‘yet to hear from my dream college’, ‘really, you got into Berkeley’! ‘Oh, she walked into USC on a full ride and he has been recruited by Cal Tech’. ‘Her parents must have done something really right for her to be accepted into so many colleges’! Huh. Parents?

6a00d83451db8d69e201116895da84970c-1Since when did college become about parents? To cut the long four years of high school short, the kids are vying to be that well rounded, grounded child so much so that childhood is long forgotten and eventually lost. Politically correct behavior overrides honesty and innocence and by the time they are ready to fly the nest there is an acute case of apathy, cynicism and saturation- only to begin the next race  of employment by the best.

The car conversation set me thinking about the lack of simple random chats about anything and everything beyond the focus of school, grades, clubs internships and college. There seems to be an underlying  sense of rivalry, partly evident and partly hidden laced with jokes and general leg pulling and this is not limited to the teens. Mind it, parents are not too far behind, in fact in some cases they are the leaders of the pack generating and nurturing the current mindset.

There is a constant endeavor to build, develop, accentuate, elaborate, augment, enhance that resume, that long, exhaustive resume beginning as a naive teenager, consistently showcasing a well rounded hard working child with excellent GPA combined with super SAT/ACT scores along with excellent essays, an array of extra curricular activities in addition to magnificent community service and eye catching internships. Phew! Is that what high school is now about?  A child excelling in one particular aspect is compelled to embrace much more without actual inclination or enthusiasm just to showcase a balance. Is a nice kid with average aspirations,  simple ambitions and zero aggression a misfit in today’s world? Will the quiet kid get beaten at school, college, job interviews by the illustrative one?

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of the well rounded child against a child following a singular self chosen path?


Picture courtesy: &