There was once a beautiful market square near my daughter's school. One could spend the entire day browsing through quaint shops and art galleries. Of late, however, things have changed. Where there were once cafes and art galleries now there are tuition academies.
The neighborhood is well to do and mostly Asian-Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Asians like to mould their children in their own image.
Now every time I drive by the square I wonder if we have changed the education culture in the US?
When my first child was born, I saw in her everything perfect. I was convinced like every new parent that she was destined for something extraordinary.
Pretty soon I set about trying to improve on perfection. I had great expectations from her. In her I saw the next Einstein, Mozart and Serena Williams. At times I imagined her as a celebrated writer and at other times as a renowned artist.
And so we embarked on a journey of the never-ending activity classes. I enrolled her in one class after the other. She was taken to learn various activities. Our calendar was full and our tempers were frayed by the hectic schedule. I realised soon enough that she is no child prodigy but I was still not ready to give up. I made her try this and that, hoping to find the perfect match.
Somewhere along the way, she knew that she was expected to be the best and go to the best colleges.
In 2nd Grade, for parent's night, the children made a surprise project for us parents. Each child in my daughter's class had made a poster titled, 'What makes my mother happy?"
It was amusing to read what most seven-year-olds had innocently written. I couldn't wait to read what my daughter thought made me happy.
Written in her best handwriting were words that I'll never forget. "When I get admission to Harvard, my mom will be very happy." I stared in disbelief! All my pushiness and my demands were there for the entire world to see. It's then that I realised that I had become what I had vowed I'd never be, a typical pushy Indian parent.
Since that day I have tried to change but how does one let go of the beliefs that are ingrained in one's culture. I remind myself that it's not important that my child knows five languages, plays 10 sports or musical instruments.
I'm still learning how not to tell my children what to do but instead to offer them options so they decide where their passions lie and that they know I'm there for them whether they fly or fall.
Everyday I have to tell myself that childhood with all its innocence lasts but a brief moment so let me not take it away from my child for the sake of my great expectations.