Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Big head Small heart Syndrome

I pondered all evening to reason an incident that happened earlier today. I didn’t come up with anything fancy but what I want to call it should say a lot. I call it the ‘The Big head Small heart’ syndrome.

My daughter Akshara had been asking me all week to take her to the children’s play area in our apartment. I couldn't take her on a weekday and finally took her today. As we neared the play area I saw 2 kids playing there. Their father stood close by watching them. Akshara saw the kids and asked me if she could play with them. I asked her if she knew them and she said no. She anyway did not wait for my answer and ran off to play. One of the kid looked the same age as Akshara and the other one looked younger. She went to the 2 kids and it looked like they first introduced themselves and then started to play. They played the swing and the slides and ran behind each other.  They seemed to have good time. After about 10-15 mins, another father came with his kid to the play area. That kid too quickly joined the other 3 to play. I and the 2 other fathers stood at a distance and watched them play. Once in a while one of us would call our kid and ask them to be careful. Otherwise we 3 fathers did nothing but stand or look at our smartphones.

We were there for about an hour when it started to grow dark. I called Akshara back. The other fathers too called their kids and soon Akshara and I were back home. Once home, my wife asked Akshara if she had a good time. Akshara explained how much she liked to play the slides and also about her 3 new friends. My wife asked me if I had spoken to their fathers and if I knew them, and I said ‘no’.

Later in the evening, I thought about my wife’s question and realized all I had done was stand in the play area for about an hour and do nothing. I had not spoken a word to that other 2 fathers. It was not just me, I did not see the other 2 fathers talk to each other either. So effectively, we 3 fathers had spent an hour each doing nothing while our kids had introduced themselves and had a good time playing.

‘What is wrong with me’?

Agreed, it did not occur to me to introduce myself to the other 2 fathers and talk to them, but at least couldn’t I see and learn from my daughter? If a 5 year old kid could talk, make friends and have a good time, couldn’t I at least follow her lead? Do I now have to learn, to learn from my daughter?

If this is any consolation, with me there were these 2 other fathers who did nothing too. They did not initiate a talk themselves nor did they follow their kids lead.

I see 2 patterns here. The kids followed one pattern while we adults followed another. The kids spoke to each other, played together and had a good time even though they had met as complete strangers. We adults stood there either doing nothing or browsing our smartphones, without even trying once to talk to each other. I remember, I used to be like Akshara when I was young. I used to make friends and play. Something changed as I grew.

Think about this –
We pull out our smartphones the moment we enter an elevator full of people. We play games on our tablets as we wait at a crowed airport or a railway station. It’s not the smartphone or the tablets to be blamed. It’s just that we change as we grow. Our heads become bigger and our hearts become small. Making new friends or talking to people become difficult. This is what I call the “Big Head Small Heart” syndrome.


~Narendra V Joshi