I met my friend Sandy, mother of eight-year-old twins Antara and Anhad, for a walk on the beach a few days ago. When I asked this staunch do-gooder why she seemed so preoccupied, she revealed that the twins had been insisting on buying Diwali crackers. "When they were little, we'd get by with a few phooljhadis. But now, when I think they're old enough to stop, they're really keen on bursting more! I just don't know how to say no. I don't want to deny them joy and make them seem uncool because of my beliefs, you know…"
Over our hour-long walk, we came up with an argument that (we hoped) would work with the little twins—and it has! So, how did she—and how can you—simply tell your kids, why the fun of crackers is just not worth it?
How it went down
While she could simply say 'no', Sandy is a democratic parent. She sat the kids down and started off explaining how everything they chose in life has to be weighed for positives and negatives. Once the kids understood this point, it was a cakewalk...
"In one simple line I asked them: 'Does it make sense that for 30 seconds of beauty, you're
A) causing noise and air pollution that affects dogs, cats, asthmatics and the environment;
B) supporting child labour;
C) supporting unsafe and unfair work environment for the children and adults working in these factories and cracker shops;
D) wasting money;
E) inhaling toxic fumes; and
F) playing with fire, literally!'"
After curious questions ("How child labour?", "Why unsafe?", "What happens to dogs and cats during Diwali?"), Antara and Anhad went to sleep with head full of thoughts.
The next morning, the twins declared they no longer wanted to burst crackers for Diwali, even if their friends were. "Convincing them was easier than I thought," says Sandy. "We really underestimate their intelligence sometimes, don't we?"
Tip: Plan a fun activity with the kids while everyone else is bursting crackers so that they don't feel left out of the celebrations. You can even join forces with other likeminded parents and plan a group activity to ensure that they have as much fun as their cracker-bursting friends.
You can go one step further—take them to an old age home/ orphanage/ community centre and distribute sweets and presents from the money saved. But they're kids after all, and forgoing the pleasure of crackers is a big decision at their age. Reward them with a present. Better still, get someone at the community centre or orphanage to give it to them. When they go back to school at the end of the vacation, watch how proudly they show off their little badges of honour!
How have you stopped your kids from bursting crackers? We'd love to know your story...