Friday, January 09, 2009

Parental Expectations

I have been a frequent visitor at Stuff White People Like ever since I discovered this highly entertaining and frequently trenchant blog. For FOBs like myself who have not quite figured out the ways of the natives of their domicile, reading these posts can result in more than one aha moment. The particular post about everyone's child being gifted rings true from my own experience interacting with parents of other school-age kids. It is indeed a common refrain. The praise heaped on these kids is often disproportionately lavish in my observation.

But high-achieving desi parents (another demographic I am quite familiar with) are no different in this respect. Everyone's kid is the next business or technology leader in the making. If not that they are well on their way to path-breaking scientific research.
All this projected on the basis on their 8-10 year old being the gifted and talented program of their local school system. If the kid is artistically inclined, they will be signed up to learn all art forms known to man and will be displaying virtuosity in every one of them. In short, there is no desi kid who will grow up to stand in the sidelines, waving and clapping for the parade as it passes by - they will all be in that parade jockeying for lead positions.

God forbid if one of them wins some state level contest - word will travel fast and furious until every dark recess of desidom is enlightened and edified with this knowledge. The power and force of information dissemination can be an estimated by that even I get to know; despite being unacquainted with the parents of the kid in question, or anyone else with one to three degrees of separation from them. It is quite the amazing human network system that us desis have built.

Back in the day, desis used to be restrained in praising their kids. No matter how well they did, there was always room for improvement and someone else had always done better. If the kid got too vain, she would be admonished by the parents and encouraged to work even harder. It may not have helped the child's sense of self-importance but it most definitely built a desire to work hard and there is much to be said for the virtues of hard-work.

That seems to have changed quite dramatically. The average desi parent these days, will sit you down and run through the details of their child's latest achievements within earshot of the kid. As with a myriad of other things, we are probably borrowing from the play-book of the white people where we might have been better served by sticking to our tried and tested desi ways.


Anonymous said...

the bell on the right scared me to death

The Gori Wife said...

I love that you called yourself a FOB!