What kids need

12:29 PM

DH and I decided to watch this new movie called "Taare zameen par" and before watching it all I knew was that it was about dyslexia, a subject I can relate to since my sister was HIGHLY dyslexic and struggled all her childhood with it.

What I was NOT prepared though was to cry the whole movie as I was basically watching my family's story with a dash of Indian spice to it. Despite the sniffle and wet eyes I HIGHLY recommend this movie to anyone, and dare anybody saying this is an exaggerated story because the whole boarding school menace, slaps, tears, struggles argument and harshness is something I saw happening as a kid.
It's even more important for Indian parents to go watch that movie and then take a step back and think about what they are doing to their kids pushing them to be super achievers starting from toddlerhood and scold them if they simply can't make it up to their expectations.

As the end credit unfolded I was there sitting numbly trying to gather my spirit together but also thinking that in a way my sister has been blessed to be dyslexic in a country such as Switzerland, in India she would have been dead meat from 1st standard.

I was also shocked to see that finally someone dared making a movie on such an issue, because I've seen too many toddler with school bags twice there size and weight struggling to hop on the school bus told to hold a pen and start writing their ABC when they can barely draw a picture and being scolded by an well intentioned tutor for not writing it right on the line in the note book. Memories of Chennai keeps rushing back to me when I remember the servant's 3 years old kid practicing calligraphy with our teacher neighbour and being way too harshly reprimanded for not being able to voice "slanding line" while struggling to draw it when he was himself just starting to make his first few sentences in Tamil and all he wanted to do was scribble on his practice slate and have fun. It's only after a couple of months that his mom entrusted him to me because he was found of me and the tutor was pregnant and tired that the kid started having fun and actually learned to count up to ten in English in two session, just because counting on your finger is way more fun and makes more sense.

In India more than in the west education is a weapon and the key to success, so parents push their kids as soon as they are out of their diapers (and even before) with for sole goal to be the class topper. And who cares if it means spending 10-15 hours a week in tuition classes after school? The motto for the kids today is "Enrol in the best school, ace the final exam, get selected to go to the best college, get good marks and get good job" with a huge ladle of guilt "We are doing this for your own good child, we are giving you the possibility to have what we could not have" "Do not disappoint us" and if school wasn't enough kids are also supposed to be the best at cricket, soccer, swimming, pottery class, drama class, dance class so that mom and dad can say "Not only is my daughter her class's topper in physic, advanced math and chemistry, she also is a promising dancer and talented artist" UGHHHHHH!

GIVE ME A BREAK, year after year I keep reading too many Suicide report in the paper from kids disappointed in themselves for scoring just 95% on their final exam and letting their parent down. And those reports occur at the same time as the articles about who is the best student in the state with a score of 98% or so on the final test...bla bla bla...what's the point of scoring so high if it's to not know what you truly love doing in life and just go to medical school or engineering school because you've been told it's the best career path with lots of opportunities and good paycheck in the end?
My sister would not have made it past the age of 7 with that kind of pressure put on her shoulder, she ended up in a school for retarded kids, lost confidence in herself, lost trust in her dad for bringing her down, and just like the boy in the movie would have been discarded like trash if it wasn't for a teacher that believed in her and made her do the impossible and graduate from high school (4 years after all the kids her age but still). She was lucky to be in Switzerland once again.
She is now happy to be a help in a nursing home for the elderly, and even wrote a book she is waiting to have published...a book about her make believe world in which she would find shelter as a kid while the teachers, other kids and her dad would tease her and humiliate her.

Like many a dyslexic she has an IQ above 120 and is therefore considered a Genius, but the irony of our society labelled her as a lunatic, retarded, lazy brat who would be lucky to even have a job as a clerk in a supermarket.

Oh and on the side note, I had a struggle with numbers when my sis struggled with words, my teachers kept telling my parents how unacceptable it was for me to still count on my finger at age 15 for a simple addition, when all they could have done was to let me use a calculator since after all what mattered to them was not how I came to the conclusion that 15+15-6= 24 but that I came up with it. Like my sis I have a wild imagination, and a high IQ what saved me from the retarded school was that I had a strong memory and managed to keep well afloat and resigned myself to the hypocrisy of the system when my sister couldn't.

Today I'm 28, no high degree (I dropped out of high school rebelling against the system), but speak English and French fluently so that I can work as a translator and a teacher...I also have a training as an interior decorator. Do I fare less well than a kid who got all the honors in medical school? My answer is yes, because I do what makes me happy.

More important I had a mom who understood that a kid is just a kid and that my needs were quite different from what was expected from me.

It's a good thing that this movie is out now, since the school year in India is about to end in March...Parents, I urge you to take a break and show a true and genuine interest in what your child really wants and not what you think is best for them.


  1. let me send you another link to drive some traffic the MS way:

    will like to see your comment on the review, now that i know how aggressive u can get. that was my wife, by the way, who inadvertently ate your kup keyk. she didn't give me dinner, after i squealed to you yesterday. hyuk hyuk :D

    i loved this 'review' of the movie. Johnny Gaddar and TZP are two vastly different, yet equally daring, movies to be made by Bollywood's masala factory in recent times. we only wish TZP sensitises those degree-shops aka schools to educate rather than merely lecture...

  2. Sorry if I seemd a bit agressive about the Kup Keyk thing LOL, I guess it just thicked me a little to have my pic used with no link back to my blog :-)

    I still remember that entry LOL we had 2 regular kup keyk and 2 chocolate ones, and I had to take a picture of the second chocolate one before I ate it (it was hubby's one but I can't resist chocolate).

    TZP was actually touching a topic I knew very well as I said my sister suffered from dyslexia and even in liberal easy breezy Swiss school system she struggled, but she got a chance at graduation. My sister even got threatened of being put in a boarding school just as in the movie, the luck was that it's damn costly in Switzerland and my mom who is a KG teacher put her foot down on my dad's anger and had her see a therapist instead.


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