A few days back I was driving my five year old son to school because we missed his school bus. Normally when this happens, we catch the bus from one of the next few picking points within our locality but this time we were so late that we had no option other than driving all the way to school.
There wasn’t much traffic as it was early in the morning, it was mostly school buses and parents dropping their kids to school. There were two cars and a school bus ahead of our car and soon we are on the main road leading to school which had many traffic signals. On the first signal, all three vehicles ahead of us jumped the red light, I was about to do the same when my son asked, “Papa, why that bus didn’t stop at the red light? Red says stop!“.
For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. How could I tell him that even I was about to jump the red light like others had he not asked that question. Luckily there was enough distance between the car and traffic signal, I immediately applied brakes and the car came to a halt right before zebra crossing.
Feeling guilty, I could manage to say only this, “Yes baby, they should have stopped at the red light“. After this incident, the first thought which came to my mind was what’s the point of sending our kids to school if we ourselves defeat the whole purpose of it by contradicting what they learn in school by our actions. After all, kids learn more from the action of their parents and teachers than their books.
And it’s not just about jumping red lights. How many of us can confidently say that we follow all or even some of the good things we were taught in school? Do not lie, follow traffic rules, help the needy, respect the elders and do not laugh at the others to name a few. Would our kids really follow any of those unless we follow them in our day to day life? If we jump red lights, our kids will also do that when they grow up. If we lie due to whatever reasons, they will also do it for their own reasons.
All of us want our kids to grow up as good human beings but we take so many shortcuts in life without giving enough thought about what examples we are setting for our kids. We can always try to justify it saying that we are only being practical but deep down, we know that we are guilty.
Since that day, I haven’t jumped any red lights or broken any other traffic rule as per the best of my knowledge, irrespective of whether my son is with me or not. I have also become more conscious about what I say or do in front of him and he keeps my actions in check by asking questions whenever he feels I am wrong as per what he has learnt in his school. He has taught me a lesson for life and hopefully I will always follow it as a good student.