Kids dole out some pretty neat lessons as I’ve found to my delight and, sometimes, embarrassment. Most recently, in the course of a writing workshop with 9- and 10-year-olds. Some of them were there because they wanted to “become famous authors”; others because their mothers wanted them to be gainfully engaged for at least some part of the long, summer break.
Whatever the reason, it always amazes me that these fidgety numbers are willing and ready to sit down and do whatever writing assignment is set, no matter how boring or random it may seem to them. Equally, they shoot their opinions straight from the lip, all spice no sugar, with exceptions of course.
They were writing about somebody they admired. There was Albert Einstein, A.R. Rahman, a grandmother and so on. This 11-year-old wrote about her six-year-old brother. Unusual, right? The person she admires the most? And why does she admire him?
For one, she wrote, he shows his affection in so many spontaneous ways, easily and happily every time. For another, she said, he has no problems saying sorry if he thinks he’s done something wrong. Again, easily and happily. Very good reasons, it seems, to admire a person. Clearly, you’re never too young to set an example.
At the same workshop, we had a little “situation” with a 10-year-old girl. Nearly everyone in the workshop thought she was a boy, but no one had articulated this. It so happened that the opportunity came up and there was a high-pitched “Girl-a?! I thought it was a boy!” Immediately everyone began piping up, despite it being brought to their notice that she had a girl’s name. But when one child said, “Really, I can’t even make out if it’s a boy or a girl”, I interjected with a “That’s really, really rude” and tried to take control.
But the girl in question beat me to it. “It’s not rude,” she said without missing a beat. “It’s weird, but it’s okay. I get it a lot.” And she went back to writing.