Whenever Sheldon Cooper said “I’m not crazy, my mother got me tested” in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, I was able to relate to it. Because, I was tricked into meeting a Psychologist when I was thirteen.
It was a Friday evening and my dad said we’re going to going to Anna Nagar to meet his friend. He didn’t spare the details, but he said we’re gonna go in an auto-rickshaw. I should’ve suspected it when the Auto Rickshaw was involved because we never took an auto. We always traveled in government buses or train. But, the excitement of going in an auto-rickshaw clouded my thoughts.
Even though my dad was normal during the auto ride, my mom was extremely nervous. I could sense it because she was too silent than usual. Again, the auto whizzed past Ambattur Estate and I was having the time of my life.
After a thirty-five minute ride, the auto-rickshaw came to stop in a pleasant neighborhood in Anna Nagar. I got down in front of a house and I saw a lot of vehicles and people waiting outside. At first, I thought someone was dead, but later I came to know it was my common sense.
The board in the front of the house said Dr.Sathish, Psychologist. I asked my dad what’s the deal and he said the doctor is a friend, and he was the one who invited us for a visit.
At this point, I knew something was wrong. And, with whatever was happening in my school, I was fifty percent sure that the visit was a setup and I am the patient. But, I didn’t want to make a scene and end up getting shocking treatment (you never know!)
When we went inside and sat in front of the doctor, he asked my parents what’s the problem.
My dad said, “my son is not studying well”.
“You should’ve taken me to a coaching center then,” I said to myself.
“He never focuses on his studies. This time he just got ninety marks in all the subjects.”
“Ninety is good right?” asked the doctor, looking me curiously.
“No doctor. Ninety is his total score after counting the marks he got in all subjects”
“Oh!” Exclaimed the doctor.
There was a moment of silence, to mourn the death of my academic performance.
The doctor then said “I’ll talk to him. Please wait outside.”
After my parents walked out. The doctor started asking me questions like “What color do you like? What you hate about studies?” and stuff.
I was angry for three reasons. One for my parents not taking the time to understand my problem. Two for tricking me into meeting a doctor. Three, on the doctor for asking random questions and possibly thinking about shock treatment at the back of his mind.
After asking all the questions, he said “After reading something, close the book and try to recollect what you had studied. This will help you remember more.”
I said sure.
He then told my parents “I’ve taught your son some techniques to study well. Monitor his improvement and visit me after a month” and collected three hundred rupees as a consultation fee.
Poor mom and dad didn’t know they got scammed. They paid three hundred hoping I would become the class topper within a month.
Later that night I told my parents nothing was wrong with me and if they ever think of taking me to a psychologist again, I’ll leave the house and never come back.
The reason this happened was my parents thought I was not able to study. I was not able to focus and I was a poor performer.
They never knew how hard studies were, how hard were the teachers, and how difficult it is to survive bullies at school. They believed in the education system so much they started believing something was wrong with their son.
Parents sometimes lose track of their kids’ mental health in the interest of chasing behind academic standards.
Until my 9th grade, I used to wake up at 4 AM and take a bus to Egmore, which is twenty kilometers from my place, to play tennis at Tamilnadu Tennis Association (TNTA). I start back from Egmore at 6:30, come home, get ready, and go to school. In the evenings, I had a music class. I felt tired all the time and was not able to focus on my studies. My teachers constantly kept telling me that music and sports won’t do me any good and I’m gonna end up begging for food someday (those were the exact words of my Biology teacher). With so much going on, I was taken to a psychologist so that my parents could understand what problem I had.
One good thing is that early in my life I decided that I don’t want to excel in sports or music. Those were the things my parents wanted. I did not want to be famous. I want to live a normal life. Have fun. Maybe write a little, do small yet creative projects, and move on. So, I quit music and sports (I hated them anyway) and focused on my studies.
From my tenth grade, I never went below eighty percent. I got good grades because I loved what I studied and I did not feel tired all the time.
Sometimes parents want a lot of things from their kids. They want them to be a doctor, lawyer, and engineer at the same time. I know someone who said that she wanted to make her son a doctor who was studying commerce in high school.
If you’re a parent or going to be one, put yourself in your kids’ shoes and see if you could take it all if you were them.
If you think late-night calls and continuous meetings are taxing for you, imagine a kid taking classes all day and coming back home to do more homework.
Understand what your kid wants and give it to them. Join them in classes they like instead of assuming that they will like it.
Don’t assume things like your kids needs psychological counseling. Talk to them, understand them, and offer them options. Don’t surprise them. They’d like a cake as a surprise, not a Psychologist asking them what is their favorite color.
We’ve all been kids and we’ve been through a lot. Let’s not do this to our kids.
Until next time 🙂
Originally published at https://karthikpasupathy.com on November 9, 2020.