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Feeling board

The constant coverage in newspapers of how to beat stress seems to only add to the idea that being stressed is hip and happening, writes Sadhna Shanker.

india Updated: Feb 29, 2008 00:01 IST

She is perpetually surrounded by books, spending hours on the phone and in her night clothes, looks harried and doesn’t step out of the house. A tenth grader, she is going to face her first board exams in March. The house is inhabited by a strange child these days. Her smile has vanished; she actually eats whatever is placed before her without even a whimper; she says no to shopping and eating out; and looks preoccupied all the time. I can’t imagine that this is my daughter!

The young lady who spent hours preening before the mirror as she went through various sets of clothes, now lopes around the house dressed in what she would have earlier called ‘rags’. If I push her to change, she tells me that dressed like this she has no urge to step out and so can concentrate better. Her contact with the outside world is through her mobile phone that rings less and less frequently now.

All her friends are in the same situation. At times there is a flurry of activity on the net and the phone when some common problem is discussed. Otherwise silence prevails. The music system lies unattended and when she watches TV her face bears a guilty look. The ‘board’ child living in my house depresses me no end.

As a ‘board’ mother, I have ensured that there is no target percentage that she needs to achieve. Her decision not to take science in Class 11 has been happily endorsed. As ‘board’ parents, we try to keep the atmosphere in the house as normal as possible and encourage her to take breaks in fresh air.

However, none of this works. There is no let up in the peer pressure that suffocates this generation of over-achievers. The constant coverage in newspapers of how to beat stress seems to only add to the idea that being stressed is hip and happening.

For the last nearly four months the teenage froth of my daughter has vanished under the weight of the forthcoming exams. I eagerly await the end of the exams to reclaim my child, and dream of the time when she will ignite the house again with her tantrums.