‘Bringing up Bim’ lets us think about ideas of hatred and desire for revenge that are prevalent in society. How can you deal with the present times? Who is to be blamed? Read on to know more.
How steady is the hand that rocks the cradle? It could make all the difference in the kind of person your child grows up to be.
Thrice happy state again to be,
The trustful infant on the knee,
Who lets his rosy fingers play,
About his mother's neck and knows,
Nothing beyond his mother's eyes.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1983)
In the backdrop of the terror attacks and the current war, I find my mind wandering occasionally onto thoughts about mortality, hatred and religion. The constant barrage of images in the media isn't helping me forget, either!
For me, the most chilling image is not the one of Cruise missiles or the regular videos of the two main players expressing mutual hatred, but an innocuous photograph that appeared in a newsmagazine this week. The photograph shows Osama bin Laden with 21 of his siblings, holidaying in Sweden in the early 1970s. He was a teenager then, and he looked every bit as gawky and bashful as any teenage boy does. What a transition
-- from a seemingly normal teenager to a person with a price on his head, projected as a leader by a few, and a villain by many others. From a boy who was a part of a large family, to a person disowned by them at a later date. From a boy who looks so happy in the photograph, to a gaunt, aged man who rejoices when others live in fear. Why this transition? Perhaps an incident in his past was the turning point? Or perhaps he just chose this road, and never looked back... This is the question that concerns me. As a mother, I think a lot about how aggression is born, and how it can be controlled in our children.
When I look at little Bim, my one year old son, toddling along with his innocent smile, happily giving up his toys to his slightly older friends, I wonder how long it will be before he becomes possessive about his toys, his books and us, his parents. This is a natural progression, and to some extent, an instinctive one -- survival of the fittest and all that.
But I am talking about something more serious, something that carries over from the playground onto streets, market places. and airplanes. How do people direct aggression into something so devastating and disturbing that the whole world can come to a standstill?
The fact that there are people who agree to become human weapons for the sake of their ideals is terrifying. It suggests that the person's mind has completely been taken over by another. It then becomes easy to plant any ideas into their mind -- ideas of hatred and a desire for revenge. Things can happen in adult life to warp people's minds, but the general feeling is that it is during childhood that one learns values to help deal with things later.
So how do I bring up my child to be courageous, positive, strong and content? It's not something I have direct control over like, say, nutrition. "OK, Bim, here is your spoonful of iron drops and your cupful of courage." There is a lot of responsibility on parents bringing up a young child, and at every step there are bound to be questions. Are we doing the right thing? Is it bad to have only one child? If you have many children, will you be able to give them the attention they need? If you get your son a toy gun, is it going to make him aggressive? Or if you didn't get your little girl the expensive toy she wanted, will she hold it against you for the rest of her life?
It is particularly difficult for parents these days since we have just one or two children, and they are the constant focus of our attention. (Come to think of it, it can't be easy for the child either: "When will mom get off my back?") When I asked my mother, one of ten siblings, how on earth her mother managed to bring up all of them, she said, "Simple.we brought ourselves up..".
The age difference between siblings in those days made it easy for the older siblings to baby-sit. And there was always an uncle or grandmother keeping an eye them.
Things change though, and we have to deal with present times. When I look at Bim, I don't really think about what school he is going to get into, or what he will become, but I wonder how my husband and I can provide him the tools to help him cope with situations in his life. I don't have all the answers yet, but I feel that encouraging creativity, a spirit of adventure, and encouraging him to cultivate "friends" like books and music, would give him contentment during the good times, and provide a refuge during the not-so-good times.