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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gathering cow dung and tending to cows..

When we were growing up, the thing that our parents, close relatives (lived with an extended family all the time) was "If you don't study, you will be fit only for tending to cows and becoming a cowherd!"

"ஒழுங்கா படிக்கலேன்னா நீ மாடு மேய்க்க தான்டா போகணும்!" would come the thundering voices..

On one side Krishna, the most lovable of gods was a cowherd! Yet, there was something that was supposed to turn us off as kids from tending to cows on an open field. It was the thing that people unfit to do anything else could do. Spend all day in a field with a stick on their shoulder watching cows, collecting cow dung and having to make dried biofuel from cow dung by mixing it with straw and making cow pattys (aka வரட்டி தட்டரது) and that was somehow a bad thing.

So instinctively, have been transferring my own growing experience to Jr. and the little one. When either one refuses to do her homework, the first thing to come out of our mouth is "if you do not study, we will buy two cows and let them live in our backyard and you can spend all your time collecting their poop! Do you want to keep "aLLiying" (collecting) cow poop for the rest of your life? or do you want to get a nice job, have a house and be able to pay for your kids iPhone Apps?"

Today I took this one notch higher by saying "if you don't study now, your kids will be collecting cow poop because you cannot afford to send them to a nice school and live in a nice house!" and then BAM.. it stuck me!

The whole idea that our parents were trying to put in our head was that if you don't study, you will end up poor like a cowherd! The fact that all you get to wear is a loincloth and get burnt in the hot sun and don't have enough to eat.. well, looks like our parents were not that good at sending the message!

We are worse!

Now, if we can afford to buy two cows and let them roam in our backyard, then why would the kids need to study? they are well off, no? That hit the message in my head after 30 years!

Well, as long as our kids look confused just like we were on what the big deal was with the cow dung, but look worried that "bad things will happen if they don't study" and if things work out the same for them somehow and they come home with grades, they should be fine!

We were sent this article multiple times on email forwards the last few days. Partly that article was what triggered this post.

It is funny that we are trying to be tough parents but we are not tough enough. Not even close. We push our kids but give in. We (especially me) have to do some more muddled messaging like "if you don't study then I will have to go pick up cow dung in my late old years. Is that what you want?"

Guilt works to a point. Then there are threats. Somehow our threats don't hold water right now because we threaten with cow dung!

"No TV!" .. now that might be a threat that will strike the point home.

Question is, do we have it in us to carry that through?


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I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...


aah! the attack of the superior chinese mom!! looks like i do not move on the same elite circles as does the rest of the desi crowd. i got forwarded this by a mere 2 of my fb friends and on one bulletin board i frequent.

btw, "if you don't study, you will grow up to be a farmer" was a constant refrain as i was growing up as well. guess what? we got conned!! farmers probably have half the blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol etc and eat double the amount of organic produce as compared to most amreekan desis! ;-)

- s.b.

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Rupa wrote...

hehe.....pay for Iphone apps...now that will surely get the mesage acroos loud and clear!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:06 AM, Blogger bitsofchocolate wrote...

Thanks for the WSJ article link. The content is rather shocking

Plus the self-congratulatory tone of the author is appalling.

A glittering resume does not equal success (or satisfaction or happiness or life skills for that matter)

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:02 AM, Blogger Priya Venkat Designs wrote...

My parents also said, "If you drink tea/coffee or eat paan then 'padippu varadhu'". I have been so scarred that I havent had tea/coffee/paan ever in my life. EVER!


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