Whose Right is it anyway?

 Sudhagee is an editor and a communications consultant and it shows in her writing. Her blog My Favourite Things is a ‘little bit of ‘that’ and a little bit of ‘this’ and everything in between,’ as she says. What I love about her writing is the way she turns the mundane things into something interesting and makes you want to see, touch  and experience them. Read her Museum Treasure series and you will understand what I am trying to say. Her narration of things, whether a nostalgic event or a chance encounter is simple and deliciously interesting as is her perception and insight when she talks about other serious issues. I look forward to her comments on my posts for this very reason!

In this guest post Sudha poses a question on rights when parties on both sides are right (pun intended).

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It is about 3.30 in the afternoon, and a postprandial silence hangs heavily in a residential building somewhere in Mumbai. Apart from the sounds of an occasional passing vehicle, there is peace and quiet. All is well in this building.

But not for long.

The sound of a basketball being bounced off the ground is the first indication of change. One of the building children has come out to play in the common area of the building. He dribbles the basketball, tentatively at first and then more confidently as he finds his rhythm. The sound of the basketball seems to galvanise the other children of the building and within minutes they are all out of their houses ready to join the game. Soon the building is resounding with the sounds of the children playing and the basketball being repeatedly thumped against a wall.

Suddenly, the doors of one of the ground floor flats of the building opens and 85-year-old Miss D totters out brandishing her walking stick and shouting at the children: “How many times do I have to tell you not to bounce the ball off that wall? My bedroom is there and I get a headache hearing it go thump, thump, thump. Go and play somewhere else.”

One of the children says, “Who are you to tell us where to play? This is our society too.”

Miss D is taken aback and a little shocked at the rudeness. “Of course, it is your society too. But is this the time to play? It is only 4.00 in the afternoon and people are sleeping. There are many old people like me here who need to rest in the afternoon. You can come and play after 5.30 in the evening.”

Another child says, “Who are you to tell us when to play? We will play when we feel like.”

“Yes, we will play when we feel like, and where we feel like,” the other children chorus loudly.

By now, Miss D has been joined by her 75-year-old brother, Mr. D, who has also been woken up from his afternoon nap. “What is happening here? Why is there so much noise? Come on, all of you go home now. No one should be play with a ball here in the afternoon.”

Just then one of the children, who is upset with the basketball game being interrupted vents his frustration by kicking at the ball. The ball bounces off the wall and hits Miss D who almost falls down. The Ds, who now have possession of the basketball and threaten to destroy it. This sets off a fresh round of shouting and screaming by the children, and soon their mothers are also out of their homes joining in.

Welcome to my building or housing society, dear reader, where such incidents and clashes are—though not an everyday occurrence—fairly common. Ours is a small society, a ground plus 2 storied building with 16 flat owners and 48 residents, including 10 children and 8 senior citizens. One would think that such a small society would be able to solve issues such as the one described above, but actually the reverse is true. It is not for lack of trying—we have actually had a couple of General Body meetings just to discuss this issue—but we have just not been able to reach any consensus.

Consensus for what I think is a simple and clear-cut solution—fix playtimes for children on weekdays and weekends and during vacations in the common area, timings that would not inconvenience the elderly residents. In this way the elderly would not get disturbed and the children would still get to play. When I suggested this, it created an uproar among those residents with children: how can children’s play be curtailed, play is the only stress buster for them, it would be cruel to set timings for something that is so spontaneous, blah, blah blah. Then the outrage got personal. One of the society members, a mother of 2 children, told me, “What do you know about children? You don’t have any.”

“This is not about having children or not having children!” I said. “This is about taking the entire society’s needs into consideration. My suggestion did not say that children should not or could not play; it is only about play in the common area and that the afternoon nap of the elderly should not be disturbed.”

But that is not how the residents viewed it. Another resident, an academician by profession and a father of two children, said that children had the right to play as enshrined by the UN, and nothing should violate those rights. Not to be outdone, the Ds cited the rights of the elderly as enshrined by the UN. After that, the discussions degenerated into a rights versus rights issue, and which rights should get precedence. Things got so bad afterwards that the “two groups” would not talk to one another.

Five years have passed this issue erupted into a full-blown dispute in my building. Five years in which some of the children have grown up and some children have entered the playing group. Five years in which the society lost some of its elderly residents and gained a few more—both the Ds have passed away, as have two other elderly residents, including my father. Five years in which a simple issue is still simmering in our society. Five years in which one repeatedly got told that those who had problems with children playing were free to sell their flats and go and live elsewhere or shift to an old age home where there would be no children. Five years in which the children of the building have unconsciously picked up the language and attitude of their parents to such an extent that they are openly rude to the elderly residents of the building or those who they feel do not support their cause.

Today most of the elderly residents of my building have learnt to adjust in different ways. In my case, friends and family know that they should not call us on the phone from about 4 to 8 in the evening. Since we live on the ground floor and our flat windows open into the common area, we can’t carry on a conversation over the sounds of the children playing. An elderly neighbour, Mrs. P., gets palpitations from the sudden bursts of shouting from the children as well as the thump thump of the basketball. These days she prefers not to stay in her flat for long stretches, opting instead to stay with relatives from time to time. Yet another elderly resident, Mrs. S., unplugs her hearing aid in the afternoon so that she can have an uninterrupted nap. This also meant that when her husband fell in the bathroom one afternoon and called for help, she could not hear him. The neighbours could also not hear him over the sounds of the children at play. The poor man lay in the bathroom for nearly an hour before Mrs. S. discovered him!

Five years on the rights versus rights issue is still going strong, and I am still not clear why. I am also not clear as to why my society residents cannot work out a solution, and why it has become an ego issue or a rights vs. rights one. When I was discussing this post with some colleagues at work, I was surprised to find that this issue is not confined to my building alone; other housing societies are also dealing with similar problems. But what puzzles and disturbs me the most why does it have to be a children versus the elderly issue in the first place at all.

Perhaps you can tell me why?

 

 

 

81 comments

  1. The one thing that stood out for me in this post was how kids have learnt from their parents or other adults around and are openly rude to the elderly. How much kids pick up from just watching and observing! This is why it so important to watch our own actions – we have no idea which kid is watching us! I have no easy answer unfortunately. I guess where multiple age groups, cultures, people of differing opinions come together clashes are bound to happen. Disagreements will arise. What is important is how we deal with those. Yes, as Zephyr says compassion is the need of the hour. A little give and take will go a long way. Lovely food for thought post Sudha!

    Zephyr, beautiful addition to the blog!

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  2. Vijay A. Rajput Prop of Vijay Rajput and Associates, Advocates and Notary Public · · Reply

    In the flat where the nuisance caused due to playing of any big games like Cricket or footballs. The Co-operative Society always frame rule under Bye-law No.169 of Co-op society for fixation of playing hours for children looking to the games which they want to play and area of compound available for such games by passing necessary resolution in Annual General Meeting moreover fix fine for not complying with the said resolution.

    Regds,
    Advocate Vijay A. Rajput
    23,Bal-Krishna Krupa CHS Ltd,
    45/49, Babu Genu Road,
    Kalbadevi,
    Mumbai-400 002
    Mob: 9869031299

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  3. […] that you agreed to contribute to My Favourite Things. (PS: I also got the opportunity to write my first ever guest post for The Cyber […]

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  4. […] positive feedback was conveyed yesterday evening and I am very excited now. The post, titled “Whose Right is it anyway” was published a short while back and suddenly I am a guest author ! Click on the screenshot […]

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  5. I came very late, and saw the anguish of having to put up with rude behaviour of children, parents.
    The attitude of children now a days reflects the parents dismissal of other people’s conveniences. ” me first and ,myself” is what I notice.

    I wonder whether those parents, who argue that old people should go elsewhere, will never become old? How will they get treated by their descendants?

    If the UN guidelines are for the children to play and not to curtail, the parents can go and shift their residence in a big area with a lot of playing space? Why should they stay in a flat at all? If you stay with 16 other families, dont you have to care for other’s conveniences too?

    WE too have these problems, though we live in an independent bungalow. The children will start yelling around 3.30 p.m. and my poor neighbor has to shout at them all the time. We live in a cul-de-sac, so it is very popular place for all the colony kids to converge.

    Thankfully we have an dog, but it is also counter productive. They keep ringing the compound bell, and disturb our afternoon rest, whenever their ball fall into the compound. WE ahd to caution them many times before giving the ball bakc. Sometimes, one rude neighbour also will ring the bell and ask. After telling him the unfair attitude, he simply says”he he sorry”.

    However, once when I caught them trying to retrive the cricket ball that fell into my compound, I explained to them that the dog will be let loose soon and he will play with the ball hereafter. That set them thinking. They said it is a very costly ball, and they will play carefully next time. I requested them that they should also get some money form their parents to replace the glass panes, that will break soon with these balls.

    They were convinced that the dog was going to tear their ball away. All of them begged that ball be given back, promised that next time they will play only with soft ball.

    Till date they are following it.

    I felt it was easier with the children. If the parents were there it would have ended in a fight.

    About the rude parent please read my blog at http://dreamspaces.blogspot.in/2012/02/road-rage-neighbour.html

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    1. oops Sorry for the spelling mistakes.:-(

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    2. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Pattu. When I wrote this post I ha no idea that it would generate the kind of discussion that it has. As I have mentioned earlier also, it comforts and saddens me at the same time that my building is not the only one facing this issue.

      As for the parents who ask the elderly to shift elsewhere—they cannot imagine a future where they would be old ! I cannot think of any other answer. As for asking the families with children to shift to a place with ample playing space, why didn’t I think of this before? 🙂

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  6. You are bang spot on when you say that such posts would be read by those who share this frustration or who can empathise here. But such is the case with most sensitive issues, isn’t it?

    Your daughter reminds me a lot of another person at her age – me. I faced a lot of aggression as a child. It was never physical aggression possibly because I was always tall for my age. It was always verbal aggression. I am not an aggressive person at all and withdraw at all signs of aggression, even today. I do get angry and over the years have learnt to use that anger constructively to counter both blatant and passive aggression. My parents, who are very mild-mannered, themselves helped and supported me through my growing up years by never encouraging any counter-aggression on my part and simply urging me to be polite. Those were tough years, but this has helped me a lot at work today where I face a lot of aggression every day, like any other working person.

    But children today are more aggressive for whatever reason and what worked for me 30 years back may not work for today’s kids. I don’t know if politeness will work today, but I don’t think aggression can be countered with aggression – it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

    I’m glad that you found this to be a thought-provoking post, but I’m sorry that it ruined your Sunday.

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  7. Very disturbing story. Spent a lot of time thinking about such issues, reading all comments and absorbing the frustration everyone has expressed in them.

    So, the education has not refined us. It has only made us worse by equipping with evil knowledge (like the one on UN enshrinement) to justify every indecent thing that we do.

    We almost have consensus on one thing, that is, the root cause of the problem is the parents. Where did these parents learn to be rude? From their parents? I don’t think so. 20-80 has become 80-20 in the last one generation only. As far as I have seen, the workplace has changed a lot of our people’s attitude. When they first join a company straight from college, they are nice and normal. After every performance appraisal, they work towards becoming more and more aggressive (in simple words, inhuman). That’s what their bosses want them to do. It’s only aggressive people who have succeeded in the corporate world. The civilized man has started chasing fellow human beings for prey instead of wild animals. So, where is the problem?

    I have been thinking of writing something on parenting. My daughter, like her parents, is not very street-smart. Whereas, all her friends, the entire generation, is so aggressive that every day she gets beaten up by one or the other boy or girl in neighborhood. Every parent teaches their kid to be aggressive and how to be so. They come running to fight if their kid is beaten up but they don’t care to say a word when their kids misbehave. We taught her to share everything, not to snatch anything from other kids and all such useless manners. Moreover, by nature, she was like that. Today, we are in an utterly confused state and so is she. When we remind her of the survival of the fittest, she tries to show some momentary aggression and fails miserably (eventually gets beaten up for that as well). I am worried about my elder years and more than that my daughter’s future. We don’t know how she is going to manage in this cruel world after our time (by the way, she is just four years old now).

    Let me tell you frankly, your post has almost eaten up half of my Sunday (shouldn’t be so sensitive, right?!). Unfortunately, such posts would be read only by those who share the same frustration – not the ones who are supposed to read and take a lesson from it. 😦

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  8. My niece does the same thing with my mother about the fan thing. And since both of them consider this matter to be sorted out between them, we do not interfere. 🙂

    Children have a right to play. More than that, they have to play especially. But this is also an age where due to the very way we live leads to unnecessary conflicts like the one in my building and in other places as well. This situation leads to a lot of wishful thinking that I hope will come true one day.

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  9. I’m careful about not troubling elderly.As a child I was quite ignorant about the things you have explained.And no matter how many times my mom told me I just could not get the fact that my grandmom felt cold with the fan on in summers.I’m ashamed.

    Children have right to play.And at times they are extremely noisy.I don’t know how to balance this issue.Yes I would appreciate a little more understanding on the side of the parents.

    “Five years in which the children of the building have unconsciously picked up the language and attitude of their parents to such an extent that they are openly rude to the elderly residents of the building or those who they feel do not support their cause.” ~ That statement hurt and I totally know whose side I am on.

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  10. Following a timetable may not violate UN stipulations, but will definitely violate and hurt something bigger–the ego of the parents. I pity the children as they are going to be the worst affected.

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  11. I pity the children whose parents do not think it is necessary to teach them compassion. I also pity the parents for the rude children they are creating. Following a timetable is not going to violate UN stipulations or whatever.

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  12. “Don’t worry beta, I won’t engage with you in any real manner till you’re 18.” That sounds like many parents I know would say, and at 18 the child is supposed to metamorphose into a mature, undertanding adult. Ha !

    Coming back to my own society I feel that things could have been handled differently with the elderly talking to the children directly over a period of time, without involving the parensta or the society. Somehow, I feel that this may have worked.

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  13. Havovi · · Reply

    Frankly I think this is a symptom of a much deeper issue in our society. I believe it comes from the assumption that to ensure the rights of those under 18 one needs to stand by everything they say and do. This is both plain stupid and downright condescending. “Don’t worry beta, I won’t engage with you in any real manner till you’re 18.”

    It is a matter of dismay (for me) to realise how many people refuse to think and process what a person under the age of 18 is saying. I do believe if we granted children the credit of knowing what they are doing, we would be capable of engaging with them as equals rather than adopting a one-response-fits-all kind of formula.

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  14. This is indeed a chicken-and-egg situation… and there seems to be no solution. But the fact is that both groups are actually children.. one below 18 and another above 70.

    Maybe the solution lies in adjustments from both groups… the children play, but try to make less noise. Thumping basketball against a wall is a very unfair thing to do. Similarly, the elderly have to sleep at times when children are not playing.

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    1. That’s an interesting way of looking at it. This is a difficult situation, but in no means a no-win one. I believe that if all the parties involved, including the children, are involved in a an open discussion on the topic, we may arrive at a solution that everyone will be happy with.

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  15. Very thoughtful post Sudhagee. It’s indeed sad to see things turning out in this fashion. It may be due to children today having fixed tight schedules. They have dance classes, drawing classes or tuition classes to attend at various times in the day which leaves them with very little time to play outdoors with their friends. It’s sad to see that while at one hand parents are so eager to push their child forward by sending them to the various coaching centers on the other hand, the very basic lessons in life are conveniently ignored by them.

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    1. Thank you Arti.

      Children today are indeed stressed out with the multiple activities they do or are forced to dao. And play is the only time that they can truly let go. And, unfortunately for them with decreasing places for them to play ans well as decreasing time to play as well, what is happening in my society and in other places too was bound to happen.

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  16. AlkaGurha · · Reply

    This shows how intolerant we have become….I have lived on apartments for last 20 years and faced similar issues. Parents are also to blame, as they do not rein in their kids….

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    1. As I have mentioned in an earlier comment, I am reassured and disturbed at the same time by your comment: reassured that I am not alone in facing the problem and disturbed that it could be a universal problem.

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  17. Thanks for the essay Sudhagee. It comes down to compassion and understanding doesn’t it? But ego is hard to handle, because ego see nothing but itself.

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    1. Very well put, Otto. It comes to compassion, acceptance, tolerance, understanding and of course, ego.

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  18. There is no solution to this problem. I remember similar situations when I was a small girl. That was around 20 years back. Nothing has changed since then. You cannot choose your parents and also your neighbours. Everyone is a bully nowadays until he/she meets a bigger one, be it in colony, school, college or office. There is no solution, at least not in our country.

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    1. In spite of situations remaining the same, increasing intolerance and bullying and the fact that we cannot choose our relatives and neighbours, I continue to be hopeful. I refuse to believe that there is no solution.

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  19. Sudhagee.. the parents of such naughty and bad kids who talk so rudely to elders.

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    1. 🙂 I wish. Oh ! how I wish …

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  20. This problem is difficult to be solved at least in our country with varied type of people & their ego/mood etc.Just as companies/clubs/associations have bylaws, similar bylaws about children play timings can be one option. All the members have to abide by the rule.

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    1. No amount of rules or laws can bring about change unless the people believe in it and truly understand its need. Besides, when my society members do not even consider this whole thing as a non-issue, the question of taking it to the level of a bye-law is unthinkable !

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  21. I cannot tell you how moved I am by this post. Two reasons: One is the arrogance of youth that I see around that does not seem to have the sense or sensitivity to extend the required courtesy to senior citizens and Two the lack of parenting skills that extend beyond the thought of the selfish ‘my-family’. What do parents’ do about the children’s ‘right to play’ when they have their exams? They don’t tell the school that such burdensome academic training can take a hike while their children enjoy playful pursuits to ensure their holistic developments. These very parents complain about hours and time when during exam season there’s any bit of commotion about the building. I don’t believe any amount of meetings can solve this problem. Its about people realising that some day they too will be old and will need the rest and privacy and their children, who they never taught the value of respecting the elderly and their needs would never bother to show them any concern as well.

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    1. We live in a hypocritical world. You’re right, Journomouse, when you talk about child rights not being talked about during exams or when the children approach the board exams and are sent to coaching classes after coaching classes. Then of course it is preparing them for a future. But then accoring to a parent from my society, being aggressive and tough is also preparing for the future.

      Let’s see what the future brings for all of us, including them !

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  22. I think a lot of these parents are not thinking about the fact that one day they also will be facing old age… and will require to be treated with compassion. As u sow, so shall u reap… they will learn this in good time. 🙂

    In my housing society, kids play after 5pm. It makes sense the harshness of the afternoon sun wears off by then. And they get to play till 8pm or so. It sounds fine to me. It’s a little sad why your neighbours cannot be sensitive to this predicament 😐

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    1. I would not want anyone to disturbed in their senior years. I have seen how much the Ds, who I have mentioned in my post and my own father suffered for want of some peace and quiet in the afternoon. This time was important for them as they were unable to sleep at night !

      I would want them to be treated with the compassion, concern and understanding that every person needs at this stage of their life, just as I want children to enjoy their playing and their childhood. If only the two groups and the adults in between could agree on a solution !

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  23. I read a comment above which ended in someone getting a good hiding..
    Oh yes that is what is missing if this was me some years ago my father would have slapped me , I think he would slap me now too if I am rude to someone.
    The kids were rude simple I will say and parents who support them well what can I say to that, they will soon be at that age when the thump thump will hurt themm tooo..
    Sad such a situation arises amongst such a small group where instead of looking after each other its ended up in all this problems.
    I don’t know what the solution is yea a good hiding would do the trick.

    People on the whole have become inconsiderate.. all of us we all need to look into ourselves and we will find that we tooo do such things , not consider others when it comes to doing something we want to… We don’t think it is wrong as we are right but it may be wrong for others….

    So we all need to change and the day we realise ourselves what we do is wrong things will change for sure.:.. but that day will never come because who is right?

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    1. But who do think actually deserves a hiding — the parents or the children ?

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  24. I dont want to get into rhetorical arguments about how rude children are today, and how much better it was long ago. But I do take the point that children can show some empathy and obviously some mutually non-violating arrangement can be made.

    but I also think, this has a lot to do with diminishing urban spaces. Ideally, nobody should have to make the choice. But there it is.

    Sudha, as usual very entertainingly narrated.

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    1. Thank you, Sumanya. Your comments and insight are much appreciated. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world 😦

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  25. Thanks to Zephyr I have discovered another great blogger ! The problem is universal Sudha. And it’s not only just kids playing or making noise. We face problems like cars honking loudly late in the night, using loud sirens while reversing and hogging parking space. Like you I stay on the ground floor and many a times I have spent sleepless nights thanks to honking cars and noise made by people who refuse to lower their voices in consideration of people sleeping at this late hour. The attitude these days is “Me first and I give a damn abut you”.
    The brash attitude, arrogance and lack of compassion that the adults display gets passed on to the kids. It’s true – Kids do learn by example and unfortunately sometimes the parents just don’t set a good example!

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    1. Thank you, Ruchira 🙂 Your experiences as a ground floor resident has echoes in mine as well. And it saddens me tremendously that this is a universal problem.

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  26. It is sad to know that people cannot be adjusting towards each other. I would say that it all depends on the parents of those kids to be tolerant towards the elderly and their needs as very soon they would themselves be in that age category.

    There has to be some discipline when we stay as a community and the needs of all the society members should be considered. Kids can just adjust for a couple of hours in the afternoon and this lesson will teach them to be tolerant and accept everyone.

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    1. The idea of living as community or a society no longer exemplifies what the words mean. It is just a bunch of people or families living together in shared premises with some common area. Some arrangements like these work; some arrangements manage to co-exist; while in most there are levels of friction like in ours.

      I have lived in my current society for nearly 15 years now, and while it wasn’t the friendliest of places it definitely wasn’t as bad as it is today. And every resident, including me, are responsible for the way it is today: some by being overtly aggressive, some being passive aggressive and some (like me) who have withdrawn from the activities and interactions for various reasons.

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  27. Hello Zephyr, i can see how such problems crop up. How can kids be so rude??? I am dumbstruck. Are we sending the kids to school to be a good citizen or some arrogant person. Kicking the ball, passing rude arguments to elders, i would have put my head in shame and thoroughly bashed my son if he did so. No this really outrages me to no limits. How can that happen??

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    1. Sumana, the schools are not to blame though I can see how they can become easy targets ! The problem, in my opinion, lies within the family and family alone.

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  28. This problem came in our society too but our association governing memebers are very strict with the rules, and they fixed the timings and also prohibited the children to play at certain areas, as cars pass thru them frequently and it was dangerous.

    But in today’s time when children have so little time with so many activities and lack of playing grounds nearby, elders should also be child friendly and adjust a little.

    And last but not the least, parents must teach their children to respect others and learn some values and manners.

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    1. It’s good that you have a strong and strict association, something that is required these days.

      I totally agree that there has to be compromises all around, with elders being more tolerant and adjusting and the children getting a little discipline with regard to their play routine. As for respect for others, this lesson is needed more by the parents than the children, I feel as the latter only follow the former’s example !

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  29. The parents are seriously setting a bad example for the kids. These parents must not forget, that it won’t be long before they themselves face a similar situation! Would they then leave thier houses? What would be the ‘right’ then?

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    1. I don’t think anybody has thought that far ahead, especially when they are caught up in the daily grind of making a living, bringing up children and securing a future for them ! So the question of what would be right does not matter, at least now. As for later, who knows ?

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  30. I must admit, I started out reading your post and laughing out loud. But wasn’t laughing towards the end. Intolerance, lack of empathy, rudeness aren’t qualities that help people co-habit. Of all the suggestions above I liked the safety nets idea a lot. Also, re timings, perhaps the happiest middle ground would be timings for loud noises. As long as kids can play in the afternoons without using their vocal chords or balls that go thump during nap time? And finally, is it possible for members of the society to get together for games (energetic ones or housie, for example) once a month so that there is some kind of bonding between neighbours?

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    1. About 10-12 years back, the adults used to gather every day to play badminton in the evenings, after work. Then the number of cars increased and parking space became more important than playing space ! Nowadays, we meet once a year during the Annual General Body Meeting, though the committee meets once a month.

      What you say has a point, maybe we should try and meet over a non-competitive, fun group activity. Thanks for the suggestion, KayEm 🙂

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      1. Perhaps even get someone to teach you all singing together in harmony – altos, sopranos etc – slightly difficult to master but you’d enjoy the challenge and the community feeling it engenders instead of the discord. Don’t take the trouble to respond to this Sudhagee, that’s just me getting carried away!

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  31. Nice article!! Reminded me of my childhood when my dad used to shoo away my noisy friends 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Giribala. Actually my grandfather also used to shoo away us kids and then complain to my grandmother that children did not play with him ! 🙂

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  32. Co-operative societies have almost no cooperation – that is my experience too. This mainly happens because we lack to see the ‘other side’ of the coin. Parents take pride that their children are aggressive – they are taught to be like that. In the process we forget that what we give, will return to us some or the other time but in this vary life!!

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    1. I actually call them “Uncooperative Housing Societies” ! Don;t you think that term is more apt? 🙂

      You are very right when you say that children are taught to be aggressive and politeness is actually ridiculed. There is unhealthy competition and one-upmanship are the ideals presented to children.

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  33. Living in a large society with 9 buildings and 200+ flats, it is but obvious that there will be children, aged people, and many opinions on everything – from when to start and stop the water supply (we have a major issue and get water by tanker – but that’s not the issue being discussed) to whom to penalize and when.

    Luckily, there are many large areas for kids to play (a sandbox for younger ones to an open ground for the older ones) which are comparatively isolated from the buildings by gardens, trees, and the very simple fact that the architect designed them to be at the rear of most buildings. Hence the kids are not the issue.

    As an aside – do kids really play these days? My playgrounds used to be filled with kids previously – nowadays the only kids I see on the swings are the collegians speaking to their boyfriends on their mobile phones while hiding from home.

    My issue is simply a different one. There is a doctor whose clinic is on our ground floor. Being renowned in his field, he gets a lot of Medical Representatives (Pharma salespeople for the laity) every evening during his visiting hours. Now, for the sake of sanity in his clinic, he has banned the use of mobile phones within the waiting room. These MRs, whose bread is based on the amount of exercise their jaws get, come outside and chat on their phones. This would be ok if they kept their volumes down, but no. Loudly they jabber, creating quite an issue for us. Every evening, they would disturb us on the upper floors whose windows face the same side the clinic does.

    We took a escalator approach to this headache. Each step we persisted for a week. First trying to speak to them, then speaking strongly to them, then speaking to the doctor, then writing him an official complaint, then finally complaining to the society. Being a big society, there is a huge council, whose orders are to be considered gospel, and cannot be overruled by unitary members. The society then sent an official reprimand to the doctor, telling him to tackle this problem. Nothing much happened. We wrote a reminder. Ditto.
    Finally, we brought the issue up in the AGM. Seeing our boldness, members suffering from the same issue with clinics in other buildings also raised their voices. One member also pointed out that society bylaws disallowed any commercial activity in any residential member’s flat. Since these were doctors, their clinics were allowed, but any individual member had a right to send a legal notice to the society why commercial activities (ie medical clinics) were being run from a residential flat. Bingo. The doctors, scared, agreed to any solution we came up with.

    Presently, what we do is have one security guard each whose duty post is changed to near every clinic during their visiting hours. The guard then patrols the clinic door and allows only non-chatting visitors/patients/relatives/MRs to sit outside the clinic. The doctors pay separately for one shift per clinic per day over and above their society maintenance bills.
    Has worked quite well till now.

    My point here is that if there is a society that follows a certain set of laws, or the model bylaws, then a decision or bylaw has to be set during an AGM, or if drastic or immediate action is needed, then in an SGM. Whatever the the decision, there need not be a consensus, but majority ruling is how the decision has to be taken. Every member has to vote on it. Once the decision is taken, it is cast in stone until the time for a review or the next AGM. Any member who breaks this rule (in your case, if any kid is playing during the disallowed time, the member whose name is on the share certificate and in whose house the kid stays) is immediately liable for a penalty – which should be specified in the decision.

    Once implemented by majority rule, everyone tends to follow it. Those who are directly affected by it tend to bend their issues around it, since they too want to live in harmony. Those who break the rules – they better pay the penalty. You’ll not need to collect the penalty more than once or twice.

    Best of luck.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your society’s experiences, Grond.

      My society is, to use a rather cliched term, different. For one, we are a small society of just one building and 16 flats. Two we should have been one big happy family, but we are actually 16 small, nasty and perhaps dysfunctional, families. Three, the question of penalty has not worked for anything except for late payment of society bills. Four, we have many issues in our society (read Umashankar’s comment) and nothing has been resolved. The issue of children is perhaps the longest running one.

      I was on the committee about 7 years back and before this issue really blew out of proportion. I had tried to get the committee to discuss this issue, but like I said they do not take me seriously where children are concerned, as I don’t have children and can’t really understand their side. And since I have elderly parents, I am biased towards them ! So all in all it was a lose-lose situation !

      Thanks for your wishes. I’ll need it sometime in the future when I decide to take up this issue again.

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  34. That was so sad to read. How can people be this insensitive? Children need to understand that their playing should not affect somebody else. I am actually amazed at the parents’ attitude. Surely, they should be the ones with compassion, and explain to the children why something is not right, why every residents’ views need to be understood. My neighbours are elderly, and we take extra care that daughter does not run up and down stairs in the evenings after 7 – because the noise carries to their house. Yes, she is a child, but she also understands that it is important to be considerate about others. These are just basic considerations, right? And essential to a child’s upbringing – in my opinion.
    We are in danger of becoming a very insensitive society is all we can do is talk about our rights..

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    1. Children will only understand about others’ needs if their parents understand and demonstrate that themselves. Your 7-year-old is considerate because you have demonstrated that 🙂

      Only an insensitive society will talk about rights; a sensitive society will implement them with the responsibilities and duties that come with it. And we know what kind of a society we live in !

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  35. Its a sad world…with parents believing their kids are ALWAYS right and behave as if any misbehaviour is either cute or worse, smart. Where being rude is considered being correct and talking back to elders is learned as legacy. Empathy becomes a word only to be read in books.
    The problem is rooted in the mindset of parents who can’t teach their children to be respectful to elders, who think that the world should bow to whims of their children just as they themselves do.
    but strangely, there have been instances where the elderly have also been stubborn to a point of being deliberate… And then all you have to do is wonder if the situation can really be improved?

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    1. Thanks, Shraddha for bringing the point of the elderly being stubborn. I often wonder if the elderly Ds mentioned in my post could have been less belligerent, if only they would not have confiscated some of the games of the children and spoken to them nicely instead of talking down to them… I wonder if things would have really escalated to the level that it is today.

      One of my friends who read this post said that with just 16 flats, you all should be like one big family and not 16 families !

      Like

  36. I am sure a strong governing body can get both the sides across the table and arrive at a consensus. Why can’t all the residents vote?

    But what’s shocking is – instead of reprimanding their kids for unacceptable behaviour, the parents are encouraging hostility!

    What they don’t realize is the bad example they are setting for their own children.

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    1. Purba, ours is a small society. We just have 16 members, out of only 4 are members without children at present. The 6 committee members are all with children and this issue, as far as they are concerned, is a non-issue ! Once it had come to a vote and the “issue” of setting play timings lost.

      Reprimanding kids is out of question for various reasons: (a) the parents themselves are like that, (b) some parents feel that rude behaviour is necessary as one needs to survive in this competitive world, (c) such behaviour makes them tough… I could go on !

      But the what do I know about children? I don’t have any, as one of my neighbours likes to remind me of now and then !

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      1. Shall I tell you one thing straight? After reading all this and getting reminded about similar stories I heard from friends, I strongly feel that the uneducated people back in my village are far better mannered than these idiots who speak multiple languages and earn in six/seven digits.

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        1. I agree with you here, Bharathiraja. As I have found out over the years, education or degrees as it means in India, has no bearing on good behaviour. On the contrary, it does make many people arrogant. I do know that I have made a sweeping statement and generalised a entire category of people. But this generalisation is based on my experience.

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  37. Very unfortunate situation and the society should have tried to intervene and fix timings after consulting both parties and their conveniences. We often find something similar happening here. Of course, I can understand the plight of playing children as my son is in the same age, but we have timings and a netted area to avoid injuries to others. But, it does become problematic at the time of summer holidays. The only saving grace; we have villas so less noise pollution and more open place not encroaching upon others’ rights.

    And like Zephyr pointed out, not only elderly but we need to teach our kids to watch out for younger children, ladies, pregnant women, pets etc. Within our layout, everyone except the one driving the vehicle has the right of way. We really need to have more empathy and teach our kids too.

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    1. Children need to play. It is a natural instinct for them and in these days of the general stress that they have with schools and coaching classes and what not, this is needed more than ever before. I think all of us in my society recognise this fact. But what all of us do not recognise and acknowledge is the fact that we have elderly too living in the building, who need their R&R in the afternoons and for a quiet time during that period. For this, empathy is required and that is something that is sorely lacking in our building.

      It is heartening to know that your area has at least agreed upon timings. 🙂

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  38. This is due to the problem of attitude of the parents from whom the children learn. It is visible all around in form of intolerance on road, general rude behavior, and exhibition of street smartness, jumping queues etc. It has nothing to do with rights ,as rights and responsibilities go hand in hand!

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    1. Rights and responsibilities do not automatically go hand in hand, R. While people demand their rights, they quietly or conveniently forget or ignore the responsibilities that come along with it. So while some people of my society quote “child’s rights” to protect their playtime, the same child’s rights is conveniently forgotten when one child bullies another child in the building !

      Like

    2. While reading the post & various comments, I was framing my comment too. But stopped here, as you have penned my thoughts.
      Its not ego of the parents, but the wrong notions of parenting that today’s generation has. They like their children to grow unobstructed – at free will. Unfortunately, it will be too late when they realise that they have unleashed ‘wild’ adults in the society.
      The increasing road rage is a glaring example of this new age parenting.
      My first post on my blog is on such smart children supported by their smarter mothers.

      Like

      1. Hey Pratibha, why don’t you give the link to that post? I remember that one.

        Like

      2. Read Pratibha’s post on a similar subject here. She wanted me to give the link to it. Here you go, Pratibha! http://kachhalemon.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/smart-%E0%A4%AC%E0%A4%9A%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%9A%E0%A5%87/

        Like

        1. Pratibha · · Reply

          Thanks Zephyr and Sudhagee.

          Like

      3. Smart children indeed and smarter parents, indeed. I read your post with pleasure at the way you have written it and horror at the response of the parents. And also a sense of familiarity as we have had similar incidents. Nothink irritates me more than the inane comment, “Jaane do, bachhe hain.”

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  39. This is a universal question you’ve raised here, Sudhagee! I have no doubt that similar situations are present in many housing societies.

    In our housing society, there have been such clashes over children playing noisily, alarm systems of cars going off at all hours without reason, people washing their windows and the water flowing along the outside walls into the flats underneath, among other things. Some disputes have been settled amicably. Some have been going on for years.

    As Richa said, it seems to be a problem of ego, as well as most of us wanting to get our way all the time. If only we could remember that we all have not only rights, but corresponding duties as well.

    And it would also help if we could cultivate some empathy as well,- putting ourselves into the other person’s shoes and trying to understand how they feel!

    Like

    1. Manju, I am reassured and disturbed at the same time by your comment: reassured that I am not alone in facing the problem and disturbed that it could be a universal problem. In these days of growing intolerance and egos , empathy is a little hard to come by.

      And most people do remember their rights, but forget the responsibilities and duties that come with it !

      Like

  40. We live in an accomodation/building provided by the employer, and although huge grounds and spaces are available, literally across the road , for the children to play cricket/football , for a while, we were plagued by kids chasing balls running in front of cars returning to parking spaces or leaving in the evening, as well as hurting folks of all ages going and coming from the market. If you tell the children to play elsewhere, the parents take it as a personal affront. Then it becomes an issue of seniors and juniors.

    What we found out was that some kids were coming from outside to play with the building kids. Which was also OK, except when a couple of cars were bashed in on the sides with big stones, and footprints were seen all over the bonnets. Turned out that the fellow from outside was a bit of a hero, and did this because he didn’t like being asked to play elsewhere. He was a bit of a class bully, so the children kept quiet, but opened up when we asked around,. That put a stop to the wild playing in the compound.

    Another time, some extra enthusiastic, but wildly misguided parents here, set up a badminton court at the entrance in the middle of everything, and used a rope instead of a net. Left it on after dark, and my husband coming in on his two-wheeler after work in the dark, was unable to see it, an was hit by the rope on the face /neck and fell down. I wrote a burning email to everyone demanding answers (which itself became an issue), on who decided on the court, whose permissions were taken, and all kinds of uncomfortable questions. Turns out , no residents were consulted. The thing was taken down, we kept getting solicitous enquiries from the others(we are the eldest senior citizens) , and then then one day the so called installer of the court/net/rope, called to ask after my husband, who didnt want to make a fuss, told him he was fine, and it was the sharpness of the rope that hurt etc etc. To which the man asks ,”So if the rope was thicker, it was OK ?”……

    Sometimes I wonder what education means, and are these the values you pass on to your kids. ? I can see why the kids in your building rudely back answer .

    In my time, 50 years ago, if I had done something like that, my folks would have given me, what was then called a “proper hiding” ……

    Like

    1. ”So if the rope was thicker, it was OK ?” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this, though. I can think of many similar situations from my own society, but it would be really tedious to share them here.

      We have a bully in our building too, a 14-year old boy who prefers not to play with his peers, but those much younger than him–about 6-7 year old boys. He bullies them and hits them and nobody dares say anything to that boy, including the parents of those bullied. One day, my mother who was watching from our window, could take it no longer and marched out to speak to the bully’s mother.

      Any guesses to what the mother said? “He is a boy and is naturally aggressive. The other children have to learn to deal with it. This is one of life’s lessons. And aunty (my mother), you are out of date with parenting. Your style is old-fashioned.”

      So the bully and the bullied continue to co-exist in the name of learning life’s lessons and entirely new values !

      Like

  41. Two of my favorite bloggers on the same site is a thrill!
    Sudha, your society situation is very unfortunate to hear. I do believe this is an ego issue as well as the fact that it is ingrained in us, that everything has to happen our way or it is the door way. More unfortunate is the fact that if the section is in the minority, they will not be heard. Compromising is not something that we understand at all. 😦

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    1. Thank you, Richa.

      I think as a society on the whole (and not just my housing society), we are growing very intolerant and with that comes bigger and bigger egos. That is one of the reasons that we have so many big and small issue confronting us today, issues that can be overcome with a little compromise by all sides concerned. I hope that I can see that day, one day.

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  42. Maybe some compassion is in order? It is anyday better than a consensus in such matters. Parents should teach children that others’ needs have to be respected too. That brings to mind one incident when I was walking in a housing society in Delhi, where the children were playing. I was trying to save myself from the cricket ball as I walked when a girl of about 10 or so bumped into me. My cell phone which I had in my hand along with my purse fell down in different directions and the battery came out. The girl was with her mother and neither of them stopped or said sorry. As I was groping for the battery, one boy of about the same age as the girl came and helped me find it and put it back again for me, telling me, ‘Aunty check it if its working.’

    Two kids, same age, same society but look at the difference! I guess this is where the elders come in. Children do learn by observing them. Did the little girl’s mother stop to help me or even say sorry?

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    1. In my last letter to my housing society committee, a couple of weeks before my father passed away I wrote a rather impassioned letter pleading for compassion and humanity and requesting for some quiet in the afternoons, as that was the only time he would sleep. I got no response and no respite. FYI all the committee members of our small society have children. Compassion can work when human beings have feelings for fellow human beings, and consensus works where we do not care for fellow human beings.

      I am not surprised that the girl did not stop to say sorry. Children learn by observing and if parents do not set the right examples, how will the children learn?

      Like

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