Sometimes you get a slight breather from the myriads of stuff you've been tangling with over the years. And it is kind of interesting and instructive to look back....
She was one of those active types as a child. The type that rushes headlong into stuff because she needs to tryout what everyone else is doing. Including stuff , no one else is doing, because she thinks its so much fun.
Like when she learned how to cycle, from her brother, and was so thrilled with the balance, that she pedalled and pedalled , forgot the brakes, and stopped after she went headlong into a bush. Like the time she noticed that she could perform single-bar-somersaults on some restrictive bars put up at the lake side water entrance, and entertained all and sundry evening walkers with performances , till she once lost balance, fell down, and someone brought her home with a chin injury that needed stitches. Which of course needed two people to hold her, and one, a new male hospital attendant, fainted seeing all the stitching and blood, creating a separate crisis.
She took part in many annual days at school, besotted with the costumes, till swimming classes happened. And the excitement continued, but the venue changed. She took part in everything, fooled around once the classes were over, and once challenged her mother's friend to sit cross legged in water at the deep end, something she had been practicing. Her mother's friend got alarmed, and the lifeguard ended up putting a stop to this, explaining to her about the dangers of not being able to disentangle ones feet 15 feet below the water. She'd come home from workouts, and try lifting various people in the house, just to see if she was getting stronger.
Of course there was school. She loved things like English and history, and thought physics and algebra were a curse on mankind. It didn't help that the teaching was targeted at making smart people smarter and it ignored the folks below. And so she developed this thing, of not saying much in front of the teacher because she really didn't understand the lesson. The teacher added to that by making remarks like ,"You won't amount to much; you are no good at anything....etc"; difficult as it is to understand by us.
By and by, the school, as is the fashion today, got itself a counsellor person. And one day, her parents were asked to come see her.
Serious faces, some trying to read the mother, some, who knew the mother as a forthright person, secretly wondering how she would take this. And the counsellor very seriously said that her daughter was showing signs of "depression" ! When asked how she reached that conclusion , it seems the daughter remained quiet and uncommunicative in class. And wasn't very forthcoming in conversations with the counsellor. To the mother, who knew her child, this reeked of certain inabilities on the part of the counsellor. Did she study the child's history as a very young girl ? Did she talk to her friends ? Did she talk separately or otherwise with the parents ? NO.
It was time to move on. Explore other academic avenues. And Open Schooling gave an answer. The move was made, with the child's self esteem a bit scratched, but still intact. Sometimes, an ability, to not think too much about things, is a very useful thing. And the little girl was blessed with it. She thrived and flowered in the open schooling. She loved the mix of subjects and the way the knowledge was presented, and although the subjects were tough, she had immense motivation to study them. There were no ranks in class. The teacher would address the child as beta (=son), or beti (=daughter)....
School boards and college happened. She did well in the school boards. Percentages were useful and welcome but not the only important thing , and it was just fine that you put in, what was your best. Honestly. Which she did. College again had some very new subjects. And she found that although Maths was her Enemy no 1, the sort of maths she needed in the Food and Nutrition class , was interesting, and they allowed you the use of the calculator; they weren't testing your maths abilities, but your ability to decide how to get an answer to a calories calculation problem, something that you faced in real life. And so she excelled at the need based maths.
She has just got her final year results. And she has passed. She is now a graduate. She is also getting trained in some computer related software skills as well as skills that allow her to teach small children. Its a virtual weight of her parent's mind.
Our society, its mind spread thin over old thinking, rituals, age-old standards, new fangled opportunities and technologies, still thinks , that in any nice middle class home, having children who have graduated from college is the gold standard. Inability of someone to graduate is a cause of raised eyebrows. And discussions behind backs. Sometimes, changing your life to prioritise and help with your child's education problems, is questioned, and adversely commented on. Sometimes this concern shares space with time given by, say, the mother, to elder care in the family.
And so one learns to be strong, and focused, and recognize the wheat from the chaff.
But one wonders what would have happened, if the parent, on hearing the Depression diagnosis from a supremely unqualified unfortunately designated counsellor type, had subjected the child to medications and therapies . These kind of drugs can play havoc with your mind if one is unaware of the fact that they cannot be abruptly stopped and so on. In this case, the parents were lucky that they were medically bit more informed and educated since they read a lot and discussed things with their doctor friends routinely. And they knew their daughter. Well enough to ignore the errant counsellor person.
Which is not to run down counsellors, in general. There are some very outstanding counsellors around who do yeoman service in schools, instill confidence and self esteem in kids, and are full of useful knowledge and empathy. But schools seem to employ just anyone, without worrying about the quality, experience and their students.
But the most interesting comments upto now, have often come from those who are so completely immersed in careers, or in a life of such leisure, even the common sense emerges slowly.
The mother left a busy job after two decades and more, as it was then necessary to give more time to the young daughter and old folks in the family, simultaneously. As she now settles down, albeit slowly, to a slightly more relaxed life, one more responsibility in life sort of seen through, but several more on the horizon, a lot of those who criticised her decision to leave, thought her stupid to give up a source of income, often come up and ask, "But what do you do the whole day ?" ......
( Typical question from career types to housewives. But she has seen both sides. And equally enjoyed both. And been very busy at all times, particularly physically, within and without a "career" . After a long long time, she now treasures moments that allow her to read, meet friends, write, travel. Sometimes sleep. Spend time on hobbies. Sometimes just do nothing. She knows the problems are never over. But one must remain in balance to face whatever is served to one in life. And work honestly to find a solution)
But it's a typical question, asked by those, who despite "working", don't really know, that work isn't what someone else gives you, it is what you decide you need to do , and what you do, to solve a problem you face.
And so she, takes a deep contemplative breath, looks at her busy , questioning friends, gives them an evil grin, and says ,"Me ? Absolutely nothing !"