Monday, February 20, 2012

To criticize or not to criticize!!

Sanjana was helping her 8 year old prepare for his 'spell-bee' contest. Word by word, she helped him learn the spelling, explained the meanings of words he did not understand, and assisted him in forming sentences with the words using it in its correct form. Then they reached the word that could have been the reason for the third world war to erupt.
“Now, spell  ‘Criticize’.”
“ No darling, it is spelled C-R-I-T-I-C-I-Z-E” . Do you know what it means?”
“No mamma ,I don’t”
“It means finding fault with someone. Let’s use it in a sentence now. ”
“Dad always criticizes me. He is my criticist”
She laughed.
“Beta it should be, ‘He is my critic’, not criticist.”
Hubby dearest was romancing his laptop on couch nearby. His ears tweaked at hearing this comment from his son.
“No beta, why do you think I always criticize you?”
“Dad you always find fault with everything that I do.”
She interrupted.
“Beta, people who criticize you are your well wishers.  If they tell you that you are doing something wrong, don’t take it as criticism. If I tell you about the mistake that you are making while skating, am I criticizing you or trying to improve you? If I just praise you and don’t find fault with your  technique, you will not know where to improve, isn’t it? People who just praise you may not really be your well wishers.”
He seemed to ponder over it for some time.  Then came a seemingly innocent question.
“Yesterday when we were going to Rashmi Aunty’s wedding, you asked Dad ‘Am I looking good?’ He said ‘The green sari would have looked good’. But you didn’t listen to dad’s criticism and argued with him. So if he criticized you , then he is your well wisher, so why didn’t you listen to him?”
Hubby dearest was quick to douse the fire before it broke out.
“Beta that wasn’t criticism, your mother looks beautiful in whatever she wears, I thought she would look prettier in green. It was just a suggestion,” he said with the look of a soldier who had just missed being hit by a missile.
“So if it was a suggestion why did Mom feel bad and argue with you? She said that you find fault with everything she does.”
Sanjana realized it was already quite damaging that the child was noting down every squabble they had, so she chipped in helpfully,
“Beta I didn’t realize it was just a suggestion, though I later did.”
He pondered a little more and came up with another missile.
“ In that case Dad, when you praised Sneha Aunty at the party and said she looked beautiful, you were not her well wisher and that is why you didn’t criticize her? I thought she looked pretty awful in her red sari.”
Hubby dearest wasn’t anticipating this at all. He looked at Sanjana and immediately recognized the ‘ Oh, so you were flirting with Sneha behind my back’ look. Secretly she was pleased that her son had found Sneha’s red sari obnoxious too. She stared at him and waited for him to answer, tapping her fingers impatiently on the table.
“ Err.. I was just being polite, beta,’ he explained trying to save his skin. “Now run and finish the rest of the spellings.”
“ I am confused. If Dad’s criticism was a suggestion and dad’s praise was ‘being polite’ then what is the actual meaning of criticism?”
She was wondering what to say, when he shot yet another missile, this time at her.
“ Maybe I understood what it means. Mom, criticism is what you give to Raj uncle from your office, isn’t it? Every time he comes with his report you tell him there are mistakes and he has to correct something. Then he has to correct and bring it to you and you find some more mistakes with it.”
“ Yes you can call that criticism,beta.”
“ But sometimes I wonder why you don’t tell him all his mistakes at one time. It will save him time coming to see you repeatedly.”
It was now her turn to become red-faced. ‘ This little brute had noticed THAT?’ She purposefully tried avoiding looking into hubby dearest’s eyes.
“Err…no, Raj is actually a little clumsy with his work, he makes new mistakes every time.”
Before he could continue, and the peace of the earth could be shattered by the third world war, she interrupted.
“Beta, now that you have understood criticize, let’s move on to the next word, spell Croak.”

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