Rewind to this cute nursery rhyme that used to go so well with the then toddlers—“Johnny Johnny Yes Papa…eating sugar- no papa….”. This very rhyme related so much to the innocent bunch of frolicking toddlers who used to be usually all over the place, making mischief, playing games, throwing tantrums and teaching you and I some lessons indirectly (on the importance of telling truth and nothing but truth!!!).
And now, fast forward to today, when children are quick, clever, precise, smart, savvy, brainy and enormously witty. Back then, there used to be a need of a nursery rhyme to bring home the importance of telling truth to children. But kids of today outsmart even their elders. They are smart at catching elders off guard, when elders themselves speak a lie or two, and then they thus question them as to why elders spoke lies…Today’s kids are daredevils and they fear none!
One such smart matter of fact witty and shrewd lad happens to be my nephew. Oh! He’s an inexplicable source of energy, questions and clarity. Just like today’s generation of younger lot who know what they want with immense clarity, my nephew too falls into the similar category. He knows what’s right and what isn’t, of course of trivial day to day things which happen around daily life. I’m obviously not hinting at larger than life, complicated, philosophical aspects which children need not be aware of. I’m mostly referring to the mundane elements of life, and the limited world of children, and the limited things around which their innocent lives revolve.
So one day, my dear nephew’s class teacher gave the class an awe-inspiring lecture on environmental implications of using plastic. The children all listened with immense attention. On matters other than such practical issues, especially studies where their attention spans usually go for a toss, in this case where she spoke to them about the hazardous aspects of plastic, the kids listened and listened.
It wasn’t just the listening that needs a special mention here, but the assimilation and implementation which are truly noteworthy. That afternoon, when he returned home from school he was a changed boy. Not in terms of his mischievous behavior et al, but in specific terms of his attitude towards plastic.
As soon as he entered the house, he saw their maid servant carrying a plastic bag and going out. He quickly grabbed her bag, ran into the kitchen, and threw it away! Later that day when his mom returned from office with a plastic bag in tow, he reacted in similar fashion. He gave standing instructions to his grandparents that none should be seen around the house with plastic bags in their hands! He asked his grand mom where she carefully keeps all the plastic bags at home, and when she meekly answered him, this fellow quietly disposed off all the bags in one go, the following day. No one in the house could make out anything from his strange attitude of hatred towards the plastic bags. They tried to ask him, but in vain. He didn’t reply one bit. He wanted to be silent observer and analyzer of how all elders at home implement his standing orders.
Three days later after his first brush of hatred with plastic, his mom went shopping, and she came home with loads of plastic bags!
No sooner he saw that, he leaped on his mother and entered into a brawl with her as to why she wasn’t obeying his orders. Now it was all piling over, and hence she decided to probe into his behavior. After much probing she came to know about how their teacher had explained to them a thing or two on plastic and its bad effect on Earth. Everyone at home tried to convince this little fellow as to how it was an impractical thing, not to use plastic and that the whole world uses it nonetheless. But our anti plastic obsessed hero wasn’t the kind who’d give up on these sweet convincing.
He went a step further in his project- “say- no to plastic”. For the two following Sundays, he actually sat in his room with a pile of newspapers, with all attention, and made paper bags! He took his dad’s help for this joint craft activity and came up with more than three dozen paper bags! The following day was a holiday from school. But he woke up extra early, stood by the door and whosoever he met, he handed them one paper bag—right from the newspaper boy, milkman, maid servant, laundryman, to everyone at home got one bag each. Five paper bags were sanctioned for fruit, vegetable and grocery purchases at home. He didn’t even spare the guests who were expected for dinner at their home that night.
This visionary seven year old boy then stashed some paper bags in his school bag. That afternoon he got down the bus and started walking home from his bus stop. His sight fell upon a fruit vendor selling some guavas and apples round the corner. He immediately walked near him. The fruit vendor thought that he might be interested in buying guavas. But this guy had other plans! He picked up his pile of plastic bags, dumped them all on the ground and handed him the paper bags which he’d carried along in school. He promised to the fruit vendor that he would bring him more such good paper bags tomorrow, if he promises to sell his ware only in paper bags!
Wow! Now this is what I call hard core implementation; and going into the crux of the issue and uprooting the actual problem, even if it means going out of the way. This is a living example of practice what you preach, being exemplified by none other than a child. They say, don’t take people by their literal words. But here’s an example of a seven year old boy who not only took the words of his teacher literally, but went a step further at implementing what was preached to him.
This generation is thus too smart to outwit. They are bold enough to question you and me on our face- Papa..Papa—Yes Johnny?..Using Plastic?….Yes Johnny…And they have an ability to transform our thought process, if only we are ready to let go. This Johnny brigade has the potential to correct the wrong things going on this planet. All that they need is the right avenues to harness their potentials. And our wee bit encouragement is the slice of the pie that they need.