Feb 24, 2024

Stepping out of our comfort zones

This conversation happened a few weeks back.

D: Why don't you read fiction books, mummy? You are always reading serious books.

Me: I generally don't like to read fiction.

D: Whyyyy?

Me: My mom told me many times when I was a child that reading story books is a waste of time. She would only buy me General knowledge books. I never read any storybooks during childhood, except for a few Tinkle comics that I would buy at the railway station while going on trips. 

D: If she was alive, I could have explained to her why reading story books is so good. You can connect with the characters, you can feel happy or sad with them. There is suspense. You will also laugh at the jokes.

Me: I experienced it when I read Harry Potter, Ruskin Bond books, and a few others in my 20s. But my mind automatically gravitates towards non-fiction.

She came back after a few hours, holding the Kindle in her hands.

D: Let us do one thing. You always tell me to try reading more text-based books instead of comics or picture books. I'll read a text-based book of your choice and you read a fiction book that I choose. Let's call it our book reading session and we will read together every night for half an hour.

Me: Okay, let's try it!

We do these book reading sessions 3-4 times a week. We both tried new genres in these sessions.

She gave me Tiffany Nicole Smith's story books to read - The Bex Carter Dramedies series and Ava G Chronicles. I did enjoy reading them - quite a bit of teen drama on friendships and high school stuff. They remind me of the series "Never Have I Ever" on Netflix which I liked.

I gave her "Gita for Children" by Roopa Pai. After finishing it, she picked up "Ayurveda" by Vasant Lad (she is very much interested in the tridosha concept) and followed it up with "Gut" by Giulia Enders (some of the illustrations and diagrams in this book are quite hilarious!). 

During these book reading sessions, I don't ask any questions on whether she can understand or comprehend the topic of the book and the concepts being discussed. If she has doubts regarding certain words that are new to her, I explain the meaning. Interest and curiosity are all that matter. Whatever she can grasp for her age, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities are more than sufficient for now.

What's important is that I stepped out of my comfort zone to read fiction, while she stepped out of her comfort zone to read non-fiction.

Three observations from this experience:

(1) A deep-rooted conditioning from our parents can be reset by our kids if we allow ourselves to say "Yes" to new experiences.

(2) Parents may have strong opinions on certain aspects that influence the behavior and choices of a child, even after he/she turns into an adult.

(3) As parents, we are making important decisions on behalf of a young child. Though our intentions might be good, it is worth contemplating the impact we end up creating if we view the world in binaries (eg: GK books are good/story books are bad). It is better to seek a middle ground that allows scope for exploration. 

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