The child is father of the man

THIS is a line from the poem, The Rainbow, by William Wordsworth (1770-1850). It means that man is the product of his habits and behavior developed in childhood.

In other words, how we are as a child largely determines how we will be as a grown-up person. What we are today gives shape to what we will be in the future.

This, to me, is a call for us to really take care of little children, teaching them as early as possible the right things in life. Of course, there will always be differences among the different generations, but there are certain things that, irrespective of the different generations, should remain the same.

These are the essential things in life and refer more to the spiritual and internal things involving faith and beliefs, attitudes, habits, orientations, etc. than to the material and external things in our life.

These essential things can be expressed in different ways. In fact, each person will have a unique way of living them. But in their spiritual substance, they are the same and universal, applicable to everyone, irrespective of race, religion, culture, etc. We may call these essential things as the content of what we term as natural law.

Some days ago, I happen to visit my five-year-old and three-year-old grandnephews. It was a very happy occasion that comes to me few and far between. The older one was more active, of the choleric type. The younger one was sluggish with a very handsome smile. I called him, Shaolin, because of his chinky eyes. I had a grand time albeit a bit tiring, since there was a lot of movement and action involved.

There was just one thing that bothered me. They had, to my mind, too many toys such that they paid more attention to the toys than to me who, I imagine, they seldom see.

They already had digital gadgets, remote-controlled toys that roll, walk, run and fly. I can see that they were all fascinated by these toys. And I must say that their vocabulary was much richer than what I remember mine was when I was at their age. They were quite articulate already, but quite impatient too. They, for example, wanted their gadgets to get fully charged in 5 seconds only. The older one was literally counting the seconds.

Thing is when I restrained one of them from doing something for fear that he might break a precious house décor, he threw a terrible tantrum, shrieking aloud and giving me dagger looks. I was taken aback.

I know it’s not good to compare, but I don’t remember behaving like that when I was a child and when what I wanted at the moment was frustrated. What I also remember was that I had very few toys, and I was more attentive to the persons around me than to the toys.

And so I told my sister to please sweet talk these little boys so as to learn to give more attention to the persons with them than to the toys. They have to learn how to control their temper.

I believe that this observation of mine is not an isolated one. I hear the same things from many people who come to me for a chat. Yes, something has to be done. We need to study the matter more closely and come out with strategies to address this issue properly.

We need to help many parents in their task of forming their children at an early stage. If the child is father of the man, we can just imagine the kind of society we will be having in the near future if the children of today fail to learn the basics of filial piety, respect and cordiality, social skills, etc.

This, I think, is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly./PN


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