Six kids – in the age group of eight to eleven – were playing in the garden outside my classes, this morning. It is Diwali vacation for them… So, every day, they wake up early in the morning – and mind you without their parents having to pull them out of their beds – according to the deal they had struck the earlier evening, and bingo... there they are in the garden, early the morning.
“Do you get up like this on your school days?” I asked them, today.
“NO!” was the chorus.
“What games do you all play?”
“Sir, this fellow likes to play ‘Complaint, Complaint’, teased one little-fellow pointing to his buddy.
“What game is that?” I asked.
“Sir, for every silly reason, he likes to run to our parents and complain,” explained another.
“Yes sir, he is the only one who complains all the time,” joined another.
“But, sir, they are BAD… They are liars… They don’t allow me…” the cornered little-fellow wanted to justify what made him complain every time.
“Come here beta,” I pulled him close to me caressing his little head, “Tell me what is your complaint against your friends?”
Well, I was not there to solve the problems of those six kids. “What happens in the playground remains in the playground,” yes, I grew up subscribing to that childhood philosophy. I was a shy and timid boy… There were many bullies around me while I played in my village grounds. But, I don’t remember taking our playground battles home… I don’t remember involving my parents or ‘big brother’ to solve our playtime issues... Most of us sorted them out, ourselves. But, there were some of my friends – who, like this little-fellow outside my classes does – habitually dragged our parents into the picture. He made a big deal out of every small-little-thing that happened while we played…
Every time I look at the adults around me – some of them highly educated and affluent – playing still the same childhood game – ‘Complaint, Complaint,” I smile and remind myself, that a tree can be shaped only when it a sapling… Now, it is impossible for anyone to change these hardened trees!
Why does a child cry? Because when it cries, it gets the attention it seeks… It gets what it wants – the candy, the cookie, the ice-cream, the toy, even a gentle puppy or cuddle… Yes, just as the squeaking wheel gets the grease, the squeaking child and the squeaking adult get the attention and the stuff they seek…
Luckily, if we look around us, the habitual complainants are far less in number compared to the sporting, large-hearted people. I see that right here among these six kids. Only one of them is the squeaking wheel while the other five wheels are happily on their merry-go-round.
Am I a squeaking wheel?
Happily, I am not.
Pic.: Pawan Khatri