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Old is gold

By Nickunj Malik - Jun 03,2015 - Last updated at Jun 03,2015

I was in a shopping mall the other day. Nothing unusual about that, other than the fact that I’ve been pretty busy lately and it was almost six months since I last stepped into one. But my neighbours were blessed with twin grandsons, and I was obliged to go to a nearby toy store to buy them arrival presents. 

I had not ventured anywhere close to a toyshop in a really long while. I had no reason to. Our daughter was at university and so was her peer group. There was no longer any need for me to agonise over kiddy gifts and thank God for that. Even at the peak of my young mum phase, when our child actually played with toys, I could never spot the right one for her. Each time, without fail, I would buy the wrong doll, puzzle or game. Her face was dejected the minute she unwrapped the parcel and the next day we would troop back to the shop. To exchange the gift, that is. Therefore I got her interested in books at a very young age and once she got hooked onto them we stopped making trips to the toy stores altogether. 

But on my recent visit I spotted a family. There was a husband, wife and their two children. The kids were running excitedly up and down the aisle. Actually, that is a mild statement. The boy and girl were almost tearing the place apart. They were throwing packets at each other, dropping the stationary on the floor, squealing at the top of their lungs and creating mayhem. I watched from a distance and waited for either parent to bring some semblance of order to the chaos but they looked on helplessly. I had noticed that modern families did not believe in using harsh corrective measures to discipline their children. 

When we were younger, we would never dream of misbehaving like this. Our mothers were strong disciplinarians; especially mine. She was also exceptionally good at administering slaps. Forget about making a rude comment in her presence, even the insinuation of one, would be rewarded by a stinging slap from her diminutive hand. The tingling sensation on the side of the face would take quite a while to subside. 

So when I became a parent myself I would warn my child about the smacking that was about to come, before smacking her. In most cases the warning was sufficient for the errant behaviour to subside.

However these days, parents had completely rejected the earlier authoritative manner of using punishment as a tool for raising well-mannered children. They tried to reason with them instead. Generally it did not work, like the scene I saw in the toyshop where the boy was now lying on the ground and flaying his hands and feet in the air because his every whim was not satisfied. He was in the middle of a massive tantrum. Right then, an elderly lady walked into the store. 

“Get up from the floor at once,” she announced in a loud voice. 

“Grandma! But I want those earplugs,” wailed the boy. 

“Here! You asked for it,” she muttered, pulling him up by the ears. 

“Ouch!” he exclaimed and stopped crying at once. 

‘Mom! You should explain to him why he cannot have them,” the father of the boy said. 

“I just did. I can demonstrate it to you too,” she glowered.


“No thanks,” he said, covering his ears. 

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