A lesson learnt

A lesson learnt

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I enjoy writing. I’ve done it for a living. Sometimes I’ve liked what I wrote and sometimes I haven’t. But I’ve always managed to beat the deadline. But let someone tell me to ‘write without thinking’ and I draw a blank. My mind, as that of many writer friends, is so conditioned to think and analyse and correct that it has forgotten what it’s like to let go.

Today’s prompt asks us to do just that. It’s Free Write time at the Write Tribe Festival of Words on Day 3 and I’m stuck yet again. After staring at the computer for a while I gave up and decided to go get some work done to get the mind out of its ‘I am a big blank’ state.

I had to pick a gift for a friend so I walked over to a gift shop near where I live. It’s an amazing place – Warm and cosy and full of amazing knick knacks and deserves a full post.

As I walked in I spotted a little girl of about 10 with a dark mop of curly hair sitting in the shop ‘designing’ book marks. She finished one with a flourish and showed it to her mum, the store owner/manager, ‘How’s it mama?’ She asked eagerly. ‘You think they’ll sell?’ 

Humouring her, the mum called out to me and asked, ‘What do you think? Would you buy this for Rs 30/-?’

I turned from where I was browsing the wares and looked at the slightly crooked bookmark, then at the little girl’s innocent look of eager anticipation and  replied, “Yeah I think I would.” The mum however had no such compunctions. Said she, “I don’t think I would. You need to make the edges straighter and the colouring needs to be more evenly done.” 

Without seeming put out at all the little girl started over, diligently cutting out a fresh strip of paper and designing it again. Soon she was back to her mum with a much better piece. “How’s this one? Do you like the design?”

I loved the way the girl took her mum’s criticism… How positive she was. Perhaps she was used to it – this honest and frank evaluation from her mum.

Often in an attempt to spare our children heartache we tell small white lies. I know I do. That really doesn’t work in the long run. It would have been easy for the mum to put those crooked bookmarks in a corner of her shop. But then, when they would have found no takers how heartbroken would the little girl have been. Worse, she would have never trusted her mum’s judgement again. Even worse, if some suckers like me would have bought them (30 Rs are easy to spare), she would have been content with her efforts and would never have learnt to get better.
And so another age-old maxim proves it’s worth …. Honesty is truly the best policy.

A lesson for me too – Sometimes to get somewhere or to get something done, we need to stop trying too hard. Sometimes, the trick, is to let go. I just did!

I'm taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words -3

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34 Replies to “A lesson learnt”

  1. It's tough to find that balance.. constructive criticism is the best way .. but sigh it takes time to condition your mind to do it.. sloooowly getting there I hope .. but miles to go..

  2. Her mum did the right thing. She didn't criticize but she corrected her and her girl took it in a positive way (children do) to improve. a very nice post Tulika citing a simple example to bring a genuine point to the fore-front.

  3. A beautiful story Tulika and yes it is always good to be true esp. with your children. They generally tend to take your criticism positively. Mind you you should not sound harsh. They know that you only want them to do better.

  4. That turned out so great – beautiful story, Tulika. I can so relate, as I started out just like you did – sitting staring at the computer… writing about thinking, yes, new one. You did so well thought! Congrats on a good read:-)

  5. I honestly hope to be a similar kind of mom. In fact I strive to be this person all the time. Not to be harsh but yes evoke a sense of faith in people, making them feel that they will receive a good feedback from you at all times…


  6. This is interesting. I loved the way you analyzed the mother's reaction instead of judging it. To me there's a bigger lesson there. You are way ahead of the parenting game, Tulika. You just don't know it 🙂

  7. How wonderful…there's so much magic in children…they do teach us valuable lessons in life indeed. Yeah, I agree, honesty IS the best policy

  8. I used to do that., I mean the white lie. Now have stopped, the brat is a bit older and should know to take criticism.
    Lovely post and one that I will cherish always

    1. Yeah I guess when the kids are very young you cannot go all serious on them. As they grow they need to learn to take honest criticism sportingly.

  9. I have pondered on this topic when the kids were younger. It is better to be honest and put forward opinions in the lightest way possible for the kids to improve and learn. Kucikooing and false appreciations can end up being bad for the kids. A good lesson to learn. 🙂

  10. Wow! Loved this post and indeed I learnt a lesson too!! Kudos to the mom and double kudos to the little girl. They both are moving in the right direction. ♥

  11. yes, even I get criticized by mom for saying the truth to my kid.. why do they want to behave in a different way in childhood, and then behave differently when they grow older or teenage… when small, no scolding, controlling, criticisms etc and then show a different image when they grow older and continue to do the same..

  12. As long as the criticism doesn't hurt the child, I'm good . Some parents in their zeal to make sure their kids are at the top, forget that the children too have feelings.
    This story was cute Tulika and the little girl seems adorable! 🙂

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