Sridhar Ramanathan also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.
My father often used to recall an incident in his life.
Apparently he and our mother had a heated argument. My elder brother who was just 8 years old was watching this.
He went to the other room and appeared with a round placard with the word STOP written on it. He stood in front of our parents like a traffic cop, holding the STOP sign.
My parents saw it and burst out laughing. It changed the mood thereafter.
My father used to talk about what he learnt from his son.
When I was in school, I had started learning Sanskrit. My father had just started studying the Bhagavad Gita. He used to ask me to explain the way complicated words could be split and how to get the pronunciation right. My cousin taught me to play chess; my father picked up that from me. In all this, he taught me one of most cherished lessons. “You can learn anything from anyone; age no bar.”
I continue to learn from our daughter. These days I learn a lot from our two grandsons.
When I mention this to other people they think that I am unduly praising our daughter or our grandsons. They then miss the point. Learning from one’s child is not new to us in our culture. Lord Siva is supposed to have learnt the meaning of the Pranava Mantra from his younger son Karthikeya, popularly called Muruga in South India.
Not in all instances does the child actually instruct the parent. That could be very rare. Learning happens more by observation and reflection.
Yesterday I learnt from my daughter that ‘Watching is not observation’. I picked that from a conversation we had about ‘How montessori trains teachers’. I loved that. Watching is not observation! I remembered many instances in my life where I had learnt by observation and not by receiving instructions. What makes it work often is my willingness to be open and accept an alternate point of view. It did not work when I had a firm opinion that I was right, and I do not have to worry about anything else.
Another thing that works well is curiosity. Especially when you observe a child doing something and ask a question “Why did you do that?” The answers are great mind openers.