Childhood is a wonderful time of life. Human mind is never more curious, imaginative and bold with its ideas than in childhood. Children never fear to experiment. Be it colours, taste, clothes, anything, they are always excited to welcome change. But what happens to this carefree, free attitude once we grow up? Why do we put chains around our minds? Why do we limit our ideas? Why do we not want change anymore? Isn’t change the very definition, the essence of our existence? The cells in our body change and that is why we continue to live. The air we breathe changes, the water we drink flows, even the food we eat changes for it grows from a seed to a tree. When our existence depends upon change, then why do we hesitate to welcome it?
But the best thing about being a child is the originality. The originality of ideas and of thoughts. Because once the child grows up, she becomes a sponsored product, the sponsors being the parents, teachers, relatives, friends, and so on. A child is the most moral person around. It is the social conditioning given to her which adulterates the pure innocence and morality of the child.
A child is naturally moral. She doesn’t know how to lie, pretend or hide. What brings about the change then? I think it’s the conventional social norms created by us ourselves that force the child to give up her natural morality and colour herself in the hues of the “conventionally moral society”. What causes this now? The most plausible answer to this question is the fact that we see children as smaller adults, and not as children. We expect them to fit into our conventional code of conduct and follow our thoughts. This fact is so true that it is evident in the very basic elements of childhood, say toys. French writer Ronald Barthes has raised this point very effectively in his article, “Toys”. He says that the toys children play with these days are nothing but a miniature version of the adult world, prescribing the exact social roles they are to fit in, and diminishing their ability to think, imagine and create. And most importantly, their inherent curious nature, for they accept these toys and the social roles they connote without any question. For example, the unreasonable convention, that girls play with dolls and kitchen sets while boys play with monster trucks, moulds the children into the orthodox gender roles since the very beginning. This is where all the manipulation and adulteration begins.
Childhood is the most blissful period of one’s life. I find myself missing my childhood very often and I know everyone does. It is the time when we don’t have to worry about deadlines, assignments, ECA’s, competitions, the paramount question, “log kya kahenge?”, and most importantly, as of now, Semester examinations! So, why not let it be like that? Let’s not focus on moulding the children into a particular shape. They are not clay pots, for crying out loud. I am not advocating relentless freedom, but we must give them the freedom to be themselves, at the same time inculcating in them a sense of responsibility. I agree that a designer garden looks nice with all the organization and symmetry, but isn’t it the wilderness that naturally attracts us?