Friend of Tibet

Sowmya Rajendran’s The Snow King’s Daughter is a favourite with both my kids. Β Those of you who haven’t read the book can read the review on Saffron Tree (linked in the first line) and see if you’d like a copy.

We read it often and we’ve marked Tibet out on the huge map in the nursery and we often talk occupation and refugees and what not. Not in a political way, but in a simple easy-for-a-four-year-old to understand way.

A few days ago the Bean was at the dining table eating her dinner when she looked up and said, “We really need to tell the Chinese to stop being mean. They have to free Corbett.”

And then she was most annoyed when the OA and I fell off our chairs laughing at her. The OA wanted to correct her but I kicked him under the table so he shut up albeit unhappily. I just wanted to enjoy her babyness for a while more. She later remembered that it was Tibet and has corrected herself.

I’d put up the blooper on Facebook and a friend asked me how she’d heard of the Tibet issue and why such a young child knew anything about it at all. I think you’d need to read the book to realise that there are simple ways to talk to our kids about racism, injustice and other sensitive topics.

As for her age, I often wonder why we talk to kids about religion, God, teach them prayers and what not, when they’re too young to truly understand and make choices. After all most of us continue to practice the religion we were brought up in, justifying its failings and accepting every word of it as true, simply because it was fed to us so young. And it’s perhaps one of the most contentious and complex issues on earth, with saints and learned people struggling to put their thoughts in order. And yet we don’t think twice before feeding it to our kids.

Since I’m rather clearly not getting on to the religion train with both feet, I’d rather give them other things to believe in. I’d imagine its a lot easier to read up on environment, science, history and politics and find your beliefs. Things that to my mind are indisputable and leave no scope for confusion or double talk. It’s why they go to bed after ensuring that the taps are not leaking and lights are off, more religiously than bed time prayers.

It’s also why we marched around the dining table after we’d found Tibet on the map, all three of us shouting, ‘Free Tibet’. And I know I’d rather they believe in this and hopefully someday do something real for the cause than have any other beliefs that justify the bringing down of a mosque, the killing of a missionary and his young children, the defiling of a temple or the chopping of a tree.

Before we had the kids people often asked us what beliefs we’d bring them up with. I guess I have an answer now.

By the by, I am madly tripping on this song, this week.


21 thoughts on “Friend of Tibet

  1. Yay! My comment brought on this post? (Humor me, will you?)
    I saw a copy of the Bhimayana at a friend’s place a few weeks ago and it got me thinking about children and belief systems and then when you mentioned Bean and Tibet, it sort of reinforced some of the things I was thinking of – mainly, that it is never too early. ‘Cause you are right – some of the the things/ beliefs that I find most indisputable (leaving religion aside) are ones I imbibed/ learnt as a child.
    Will go listen to the song now. That Parineeti girl, I like, though I didn’t watch that Rickie Behl movie.

  2. I really like how you teach your kids to have their own opinions and think for themselves! In 10 years or so, we’re gonna be reading the Brat or Bean! πŸ™‚

  3. I am always at loss when trying to explain such matters. I’ve heard a lot of things left unexplained to children stating “Abhi baccha hai”, but realize that there probably is a way to explain something in terms that a child at whatever age can understand. I just haven’t figured out how…will definately check out ‘The Snow King’s Daughter’.

  4. You inspire me, woman. Really, really inspire me. πŸ™‚ Thank you for this post.

    I am ashamed to say that I myself do not have much knowledge about the goings-on in the world, leave alone talking about it to others. I do realise the need to learn, and have started in my own small ways.

    I would love to read the book. Will try to get hold of it. πŸ™‚

  5. Hey MM, this is not on the post but on the songs you link to. Strangely you and my husband pick the same kind of songs and hear them on loops. I usually dont tend to like these songs the first time, then I happen to hear them on FM, slowly they turn favorites and I start singing along….. πŸ™‚

    Aren’t you guys, who pick these numbers, incorrigible & hardcore romantics? πŸ˜› Tell me I am right πŸ™‚

    • and may I say ‘ditto’. you qualify to be my little sis but i am amazed by your wisdom and maturity. i need to befriend your mom on fb to find out how she and your dad raised you-clearly they were a huge success:-)

      amen to your post!

  6. I think you should talk to children more, try to make them understand things, ask for their opinion etc. It’s how they grow. It is what is called education. Having a healthy discussion. I was kind of under assumption that you did all this, even before you write this specific post. But, what surprised me about the post was that you were discussing not only the common issues, but specific ones too. Glad you do. πŸ™‚ I’m sure your kids know more than I do.
    And now the song is running in loop on my laptop, and has got stuck in my head.

  7. Lovely post. I love Soumya Rajendran’s blog, I should started buying her books, though my daughter is too young now. And I completely agree with your. My dad, 20 years ago had the same philosophy. He used to buy us books about gods both from the religious and the atheist points of view; he did this everything else. My husband and I feel the same way and want our daughter to make up her own mind about things, especially about religion, god, vegetarianism, etc. And kudos to the new crop of Indian writers (and to you and Saffron tree for publicizing them). We can now educate our children about world events in an age-appropriate manner.

    • Oh its been the topic of discussion among friends too, but I refused to blog about it and give it more publicity. I’m hoping the product just dies off the market. Has anyone considered the health hazards of something like this? Ugh.

  8. I agree. I’d already decided long back that kid is not getting brainwashed with any religion. Introduced and exposed to all, yes, but not made to follow any. It will be her choice to make. Not mine.

    Here after so long but looks like I’ve to rush off again. The child has found q-tips to munch on.

  9. We have the Snowking’s daughter as well..picked it up at Bookaroo last year and read it everytime we drive into Delhi….lovely book…..there is also one called Bulla and Hangul…..beautiful!!!

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