Friday, January 27, 2012

Practice makes perfect or bugs perfect?!


Doesn’t every parent want to think that their kid is the smartest kid on the planet?  I am guilty of that thought too! Actually, if you come to think .. aren’t the kids all really?! In their own different way…but, sure! Some of them so adventurous, new languages.., new ways of thinking, new approach, with no fear of being dismissed, no fear of failure, while some, so comfortable in their own zone,  but too good in what ever they do..None of these to me, mean that one is better than the other. It just means some of them are risk takers and some of them like to play it safe. 

Some kids, very good thinkers, able to make profound statements, think deep, and some who love to be the happy go lucky kind. Some very artistically inclined and some multilingual. Some very good at articulating their feelings while some who prefer to not express as much.  Some clumsy at social skills but so good at motor skills..and vice versa.

Some hate to be put in limelight but, would love to get that much more attention from their family nonetheless. Some accept the fact that they like to be in limelight and don’t miss any opportunity to snatch one. Some so curious and some like taking things the “bindas” way. In the end its all their personality and I don't have a dearth in dealing with different personalities here in our home.

Sure they are all girls but, with personalities so varied and yet in a way all of these personalities are in some kind of a celestial sync with the other.

As best as we parents think we need to take them along a path, we would work best only as guides. Sure, we have the advantage of being experienced in life but, haven’t we also built up prejudices along the way. I remember there were so many opinions that I had as a youngster, influenced by my upbringing or the society I lived in, today those opinions have changed, some vanished and some totally opposite from what I was then. My experiences have added value to my opinions. (In my opinion, that is!)

In my view, these young minds are best left to explore themselves as they grow. We parents, sure should be available to guide them if they get stuck.. We should be there to warn them of any impeding dangers with knowledge we've gained from our past experiences  (or,  bias we’ve formed due to these very experiences)…what ever the case, in the end it is the kids who have to make a choice..which dream to follow or how. 

Ah!! so logical, so right.. all this sounds..and yet, I find it so difficult to practice..too theoretical for me!  I’m sure by the time I finish’re going to tell me…. your ways are so contrary to your opinion! Just like most of you parents, faced with this dilemma called, How to be the best parent?!

Even the tiniest tot has dreams. Aren’t you bombarded with the “I wish I could do …” ,  “I wish I could have….”, type-a things from you toddler or preschooler?!

Sure, Richa’s wishes change everyday but, this preschooler does have dreams too and to that end..she will try to achieve them in the best ways she knows.  The triplets now big kids..much aware than before, steer clear of making I want to be a ------, when I grow up.  P is too confused. She seems to find herself among the smart .. and yet she feels, if she continues in that direction, will it take a toll on her artistic skills? And would her pursuing her musical talent confuse the footing even more?!

“So, what should we do when we grow up,Mama, what should we become?!” , they have asked sometimes feeling too bewildered by this placement.

Suddenly, it dawned on them, this whole aspect of what they want to become when they grow up is much more complicated than they had anticipated. It had been so simple after graduating from pre-school, when N had wanted to be a cleaning lady when she grew up..and P had wanted to be a married woman while K wanted to a computer engineer. 

“It sure will be for you to decide when you grow up..the field of study, you desire the most”, we say (clearly setting expectations) but, with a lot of disclaimers, adding some more commotion to their already disturbed minds, that, I end up making stop obscuring the situation further.

Sometimes they get amazed by their own capabilities because they aren’t able to see a bigger picture, as we parents are able to.  N is amazed at the rate she’s writing paper after paper in the quest to get her article selected for some magazine.  The other day..she says..self complacently..

“Isn’t it amazing that I’m reading up all these books?!”, Modesty has no place in her room! But, her sisters bring her back to reality with what else they know. And with a Dad who’s such a voracious reader himself..she has no dearth of getting the best selections.

Sometimes as parents we need to make them aware of their talents to foster their confidence, and yet sometimes, its important to make them realize that being smart is not a means to an end.  It take 5% genius but 95% perseverance to achieve a goal.

Thus stressing on the importance of practice because, in the end what will get them to succeed is perseverance alone.  They get to hear the “P” word everyday…and it does bug them..because it takes away every free moment of their life, that they plan to have..but, they have no clue what they would do with those free moments if they had been left with it. 

In such a situation, if they don’t find themselves chatting with their friends on the internet, (Speaking of which…I’m amazed how or when, these kids pick up these tools so fast.. The other day I found N meddling with the “History” tab on the browser!!)  it wouldn’t take 10 minutes for them to get into an argument with each other, in that shrill escalated voice…

“N!!!! you are disturbing me when you ….”

“How would you feel..if I did it…”
”K!!!! did you listen to me .. when I complained last?!!!!”

A busy schedule for them saves them from all these squabbles and a voice tired Mom from shouting across the Palle hallways..

“Now…Cut it out!!! “  “You have 5 secs to stop that ruckus..!”

Not that I have a plan for after the 5 secs, that would be better than shouting..but, I don’t shy from using this tool anyways..

As much as I thought that we were overdoing this “practice” thing with our kids, the other day at school .. after their musical recital at the winter concert…their school Principal made a statement that made me think..they’re being given these lectures at school too!

She referred to this eminent Psychologist and Scholar  Anders Ericsson’s 10000 Hour Rule that says..It takes approximately 10000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill, to becoming an expert at a skill.   Which means that it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject.

The kids have been made aware of the importance of practice.  The triplets feel that they master the Ragas so easily they don’t need to sit down to practice for even 2, half hour sessions a week.  Their Dad’s usual statement to the kids..

“You know kidos, I don’t have the talent to produce a note in the way its supposed to be heard..but, with determination I can make progress. If I had even a fraction of your talent..I would’ve been a rock star by now!” ,

That, he’s made this statement so many times,  it won’t surprise me if  the kids are just going to snap back “100th time Papa!”, the next time he utters it..

And I don’t miss any opportunity to emphasize this myself. About,  the importance of practicing. Exercising the voice muscle! that’s what I call it!

“Its all muscle memory that’s going to help you make all the gyrations in the voice, that you see your Guru do.. Same thing with the instruments too. “ If your fingers have to get adept at moving smoothly..”P” is the key, I try to enforce.

It was like this Principal had spoken my mind and provided enough support to hammer this thought even more into my kids. She also set the ground for me to perfectly answer their question of

“What do we do when we grow up?!”

For something you genuinely enjoy doing for its own sake, stick with it, keep learning more about it, and after a decade or so, you can't help but get good at it and feel proud of yourself.

Talent is just the 95% thing that does it for somebody, its that 5% part, where you struggle to put in time and effort into practice, what people call perseverance that would take you that extra mile….is my constant mantra to my kids, be it academics or talent!  I plan to stick to this, until they will form a Union among themselves to boycott me if I repeated that again!

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