From the Editor’s desk: Seen that viral Whatsapp video of the child being beaten by the mother?

I am sure over the weekend all of you must have the seen the video that was going around of a little girl, possibly three or four, who was being taught to learn numbers. That video left me enraged and tired all at once. I was so deeply triggered by that video it took me a good hour to return to normal, and even then it was on my mind all day, even the next day.

If you haven’t watched the video (we aren’t publishing it here), there’s a woman filming a crying, frustrated child as she tries to identify numbers between one and five. When she doesn’t recognise the number 4, the woman teaching her slaps her across her face and asks her to identify the number again. The child is terrified, frustrated and in pure agony. She can be seen  repeatedly asking the woman who is filming her (we can’t determine she is a mother, tutor or another relative) to talk to her with love — “Pyar se poochho” says the distressed child who is unable to focus on the numbers because she is so terrified. My heart was in my mouth seeing the child’s pure agony and pain. I have no faith this girl won’t grow up and need therapy if this is how she’s going to be brought up for the rest of her life.

There are few things that came up when I was thinking about this whole video.

1. Younger mothers who don’t think about the responsibility of parenthood invariably end up being angry mothers. Also, mothers who have had some level of dissatisfaction in their marriage and/or life situation tend to be angry mothers. If this woman with this child was a mother, then it’s very, very clear that she’s a very angry woman and the child is taking the brunt of it.

2. Most parents don’t read up about what a child is like, when a child is ready to be educated, what is the age a child is ready to understand letters and numbers. In a frantic effort to create a child who will be smart, parents end up scaring a child for life. I doubt this child is ever going to enjoy math in her life, or even learning. She might score high. But enjoying it? I doubt it greatly.

3. Children aren’t ready for math till they are six years old. I would go as far as saying even for reading and writing, children are best taught by the time they are five and a half or six. So getting frustrated at a child who does not write when she is three years old or can’t recognise a number when she is four years old is a parent’s fault. The child is not a fool. And an unprepared parent is going to make the child feel stupid for the rest of her life if they don’t understand this.

4. This is my constant complaint against Indian parents. Large majorities of Indian parents want academic excellence for their children at the risk of emotional damage. And then when the child grows into a troubled adult, they curse their fate saying, “What have we done to deserve a child like this?” When the child grows up into an adult who wants emotional distance from the very people who birthed them, the parents wonder what is wrong. I am not saying happiness is the only thing you should teach your child to chase. I am saying equip the child to deal with all that will hit her or him. Equip the child with compassion and not competition.

If you haven’t watched the video, don’t. But if you are the kind who is pushing your 3 year old to do well at school, then do watch the video and see if you find yourself in that angry mother.

The other thing that enraged me today was this piece of news that upholds a section that says a husband raping his minor wife is not rape. Anyway in India we don’t recognise marital rape. It’s a lot worse when the Supreme Court upholds a constitutional provision that allows a man to rape his minor wife. If I start on rhetoric, there’s the rest of the afternoon to go on with — from child marriage laws to families who continue to get their underage daughters married, from the idea of consent and how to educate men in our country about it to how to get marital rape recognised as an offence. But all I want to say at this point is that I am fearful of the country my daughter is going to go out into. And so should you be. If we are all fearful and angry enough, I believe we’ll slowly begin to make a change.

As much as I love Mondays, this one has been depressing. But that doesn’t mean it has to continue being so. Let me give you a roundup of what’s been happening last week. If you’ve already looked at our website, you’ll see we have a spanking new look that I am verrrrry excited about. Do take a minute to write to me and tell me what you think. I’d really like to know. That apart, here are some stories that I think you should check out.

For new mothers, here’s a list of six foods you shouldn’t feed your baby in the first year. Good list, this one. Some of them even I hadn’t known. Just like I never knew how awkward sex can get. Here’s a list of embarrassing things that no one tells you about sex (and you wish someone would have!) This next one is my favourite last week: A love letter to your sister in law — specifically your husband’s sister. Check it out. And finally, here are some reasons that you’d have never guessed as to why your baby is refusing solids!

Go on, read and tell us what you think.

Until next week.

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