Recently, my seven year old NRI nephew, who visited me, made a very pertinent remark. We were at a restaurant, and my boisterous one year old daughter was running around and making merry. She was curious about the place and saw no reason to be confined to a chair. And all the waiters paused a minute to let her pass, did not reprimand us, and even made sure she was safe, when she went too close to a swinging door. One of them even volunteered to mind her as we ate. My nephew remarked, ” Its really nice to see waiters in this city seem to like children”
My nephew was born and raised in the US, a place where kids are expected to be in their best behavior while out. He has probably been shushed and reprimanded by waiters before. For him to see waiters volunteering to mind a naughty child was a revelation.
Its not just hotels. When I take my daughter shopping, shop attendants dont really seem to mind her mischief. One of them even told me, this is the age when children are curious, dont stop her from pulling the kurtas out, we can always rearrange them later.
This in sharp contrast to an experience which my aunt narrated about her daughter, another NRI. Apparently when her kid did some mischief in a shop in the US, the shopkeeper told her she ought to be training kids better.
I am not saying every shopkeeper or waiter in the US is a terror and everyone in India is an adorable person. And I agree that a certain amount of disciplining is needed, so that the child does not get unmanageable. But what I have realized is that in India, we are much more happy dealing with randomness and disturbances when it comes to children. We dont really expect our children to be automatons. Our education system may be placing importance on rote learning, but I feel, otherwise, to learn life’s lessons, we give our kids a lot more space.