Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm reading 'Heidi' again. I first read it some 20 years ago when I was 11 or 12. I loved it then and I love it now. I brought it from my last visit home thinking I'll read it to my 6 year old daughter. But when I tried doing it, I realised that the version I have is a little too advanced to be read out to her. So I'm reading it and telling her the tale in detail every night. When I read the book as a child, I read it from Heidi's perspective. Along with her, I fell in love with the mountains, the fresh air, the goats and the fir trees. I thought goat's milk and roasted cheese must be the tastiest food in the whole world! When I read it as a teenager, I tried to find romance in Heidi's friendship with Peter. When I read it now, I find that it is a book on child psychology, one that could help parents and teachers. It tells you how to treat a child and how not to. The grandfather treats Heidi as an equal, patiently answers her questions, lets her grow up free and happy along with his goats and loves her in his silent way. In Frankfurt, Frau. Rottenmeir suppresses the child's natural inquisitiveness with her rules and restrictions, takes away the things she loves most and does not even realise that the child under her care is homesick.The book also gives us a glimpse of the inside of a child's mind with all it's complexities. The part where Heidi suppresses her homesickness and unhappiness just because she does not want to seem ungrateful to the nice family she is in, is unbearably touching. I believe that is how children are. In all their innocence and amidst all their pranks, they do understand some large concepts like love and gratitude, much better than many adults. They are kind to animals and old people, just like Heidi is, wanting nothing more than to take white rolls of bread to Peter's grandmother and make it 'light' for her again. They believe in God implicitly and trust Him completely. The children can also teach the elders a lesson or two, like Heidi did by helping her grandfather get his faith back. Why is it that most of these qualities diminish and disappear as they grow up? I have no idea... but I'd like to think that 'Heidi' is probably an answer to my desperate plea for a 'Parenting for dummies' book!!! :-) And anyone out there who has not read the book, please do it....doesn't really matter how old you are!!!

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