“There is a reason why we all behave the way we do!”
Priya* is the only daughter of her parents. Mother is a teacher in a reputed school and father works for a multinational. Priya has been a sort of rebel all along.
Some months ago, her parents had brought Priya to me to be enrolled. When parents come to me with their young ones for admission, I always I speak from my heart and try to prevail upon the student… “It is between the teacher and the student… and not teacher and the parent,” I keep reminding them, “If a fine rapport is established between the teacher and the student, everything else just flows.”
Many students understand this. So, there is no need for me to complain to their parents. There is no need for me send the students home… summon their parents. All such routine ways are not called for once student understands his or her responsibility. Yes, I try to sort out the issues between ourselves without involving the parents.
However, sometimes, I have to.
In Priya’s case, things went on smoothly for the first two weeks or so. Then, the troubles started: She started bunking; I started calling; she started giving me reasons, excuses, promises… and, she would again break her promises. Still, I avoided talking to her parents. Then, parents - when they came to know, on their own, about the situation - came to meet me. I learnt that their daughter had been giving them this kind of trouble for years now. They pleaded with me for my co-operation, which I assured. I, once again, tried to prevail upon the daughter… Priya promised me that she would be now serious. I trusted.
Things went on smoothly for a couple of days. Then, again, the old pattern repeated. This time around, Priya would not pick up my calls… This would leave me annoyed. Messages through friends, at times, worked, and many times, didn’t. I spoke to the parents. “Sir, she is blackmailing us,” the mother told me on the phone, “she threatens us saying she would drop out from studies... run from the house!” Then, in a choked voice, she cried, “Sir, what should we do?”
Like me, this mother, too, was a teacher. I am very sure, many a times, she must have been asked the same question by parents of some of her own students: “Ma’am, what should we do?”
I had used my best magic to help Priya… but, it was not good enough!
Only last morning, another mother had called me up: “Sir, can I see you any time when you are free, today?” From her humble and concerned tone, I realized that she was worried about Vikram*, her young twelfth-standard son, who studied under me. He had not come to my class for one full week… and, like, Priya, his attendance had been erratic and commitment level was too shallow. All my counseling and cajoling had not paid off. I had kept hopes, lost them… and, hoped again… and, lost again!
“In the afternoon, when this mother came to see me, she described me about her son’s behavior patterns before the Board exams. “Sir, he is refusing to give the Board exams; he says I will not go to the college or any classes… If you put pressure on me, I will leave home!” She continued, “Sir, he did the same thing before the tenth-standard Board exams. We had very difficult time… Somehow, we made him give the exams and he just managed to clear. We all are, once again, going through the same hell at home… We are telling him not to take any tension… just study how-much ever he can… just appear for exams… and, it is okay even if he is unable to clear.”
I was told that Vikram was under medication for a mild depression, and, the young man was not aware as to what was he treated for!
The lady had come to make just one request. “Sir, please do not put any pressure on him for a few days… Let’s just leave him like that for some days. I am sure, he will come around!”
I did not know these things about Vikram before his mother had come to talk to me. All that I was focusing on was that Vikram was not regular… he was casual, lacked commitment… he did not measure up to my expectations. Yes, what I wanted from him was seriousness, commitment and goal-oriented hard-work. In the process, I had overlooked the subtle issues related to his mental development.
Now, here was Vikram’s mother… She knew what she had to do: handle her son with care; save him, somehow. There was life ahead and she knew her son would do decently well in life, if she stood by him when he needed her the most.
I quickly grasped the importance of this mother’s plea, and did not wait to promise my assistance. “Don’t worry ma’am,” I said, “I will not put any pressure on Vikram. We will, together, help him let go off his pressure… We will see that he gives exams and does decently well. I am there by Vikram.”
Mother thanked me and left… a lot relieved.
“Sir, what should we do?”
Priya’s mother, a teacher herself, had cried in pain.
Probably, the same thing, which Vikram’s mother had done: understand your rebelling daughter and be by her side!
Yes, it is tough for a parent… and, it is tough for a teacher, too.
But, then, that seems to be the best – and the most sensible – way out of that ‘hell’!
Perhaps, as long as a parent and a teacher
really, really loves and cares,
there is going to be this way out. This hope.
Yes, only from such state of our hearts that we will be able to say what I had said at the outset:
“There is a reason why we all behave the way we do!”
I mean, we all: the parents, the teachers, the children, the students… and everybody else, in life!
* Names changed
Pics.: Vivek D'Cunha