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From the sidelines

R read out the passages from the book, loudly and clearly. The pauses were taken correctly and the intonation was spot on. The audience that was the extended family on the husband's side looked on in awe and admiration. R was the centre of attraction and he clearly loved it. Sometime in between, the spotlight seemed to dim out as the adults got distracted. However, R was not to be dismissed so lightly. He raised his voice above the din and demanded to be heard. The amused crowd decided to humour him. He was mildly interrogated on the meaning of random words and the answers came forth confidently. There was no embarrassment or inhibition when he didn't have the answers. The body language bordered on showing off, "Look at me, listen to me!" 

I looked on from the sidelines secretly happy, yet debating on whether to pull the reins in on him. I was simultaneously filing away these snippets that glared out in contrast to the person I was at his age. Personally, I shy away from being the centre of attraction. A lot of that has changed over time and I do not suffer from panic attacks like before. Yet, I prefer to be a part of a group rather than solo. Growing up, we were asked to imbibe modesty as a virtue. Proactively seeking to display talent rather than complying with requests at gatherings was seen as being a show-off, an oddity. This, coupled with my own personality, is so ingrained in me that I find it difficult to tell people about my skills. I would rather have them discovered by chance. I'm at a loss for an appropriate response other than nodding my head politely when some people completely fill up social conversations about how they excel at something and how they set themselves up for success. I cannot visualize myself doing that.

It is perhaps an offshoot of the mindset that I'm unable to enjoy myself. I balk at the thought of stepping out of my zone during a family function, for example, and announce to the audience that I have the perfect song for the occasion. I'm discomforted with the notion of having to promote my writing, asking, imploring people to read and comment. I call out to my readers on my post in the belief that that should suffice and if the written piece is worthy of a read and a comment, it will follow. However, the fabric of the society has changed. This is an era where you need to scream hoarse about how good you're and even then only hope to get noticed in the melee of the equally talented bunch of peers. The crowd out there is mostly bold and savvy. It calls out to people like me to come out of their shells and blow their own trumpets. Time will only tell if I can be comfortable with putting on the make-up and standing on the stage, calling out to the departing audience to stay back and listen to me.

I have been conscious in trying to keep my personality away from parenting. I succeed sometimes, fail at other times. That day, the person on the sidelines was not just me. It was that conscious parent. I refrained from intervening and let R be. It was his chance to discover his true personality without my need to impinge upon it with my experiences. 


  1. Nice read Uma! I am like you too, was nodding my head along esp. when you write about the blogging bit:) Today's times are really different, if one is quiet, just end up as a wallflower, often ignored..My kids don't take after me and I am really thankful and gently encouraging to that.

    1. Kids are also different, most in tune with the times, uninhibited and assertive. So yes, good for you and me :-)

  2. Gy is very different and pretty similar to me in some respects. She is the kind who will suddenly burst forth into song without provocation or refuse to open her mouth at all even when asked. I understand what you mean when you say that you don't want the parent in you to impinge on his behaviour. Believe me, you won't :) Each child is made different and we know that today when we see different kids in different scenarios.

    As for the blogging bit, yes, I completely agree. It's a narrow line to walk, be it writing or promoting it. Find a level your're comfy with and go from there. Everything else will fall in place.

    1. True, Shailaja, I'm happy to see shades of the personality I aspired to have in him and I hope he retains the flavour. Blogging is a different game today. I don't want to be talking to an empty auditorium but I cannot drag people inside or stop them from leaving ;-)

  3. Well written.. I could relate :) ..

    1. Thank you, Shubha..our generation was similarly brought up, right? :-)

    2. too...agree completely

    3. of course, branches of the same tree :-)

  4. Makes sense! Our parenting is usually focused upon what we think was not quite right the way we were brought up right?

    1. Hi Jaishree, long time :-) Well, in this case I was not exactly saying that our upbringing was incorrect. Merely putting down my observations with regard to the parenting background. In any case, IMO, parenting is quite complex and varies according to the child's personality. And, as parents we are always striving to maintain a balance and also keep doubting ourselves along the way :-)

    2. Talk about the doubts! They are born the moment the children enter the world! :D


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