It is a period of child’s attempts to recognize the world around him- mother, father, other people in the house. He/she may be attracted by a few things like toys, colourful things, certain voices and familiar sounds. This is the dormant phase of life, and may be the most difficult part of child as he/she cannot speak in any clear language or way but has to convey his desires of hunger, love, care, change of clothes, etc.
He remains oblivious of the ways of the world. In early childhood, the child becomes active. He/she runs around in the house, in the garden, neighbourhood park, streets and play schools. He is attracted by anything and everything that comes his way. With the age beyond three-four he becomes naughty and highly active in almost everything. He goes to school, learns to read and write, plays games of his choice, makes friends in his school as well as in the neighbourhood, and is extremely fond of toys and food such as chocolates, ice cream, cake, pastery, etc. Among the list of his favourite pastimers is added TV watching-especially various types of advertisements, the cartoon programmes and other action-oriented shows. He is so engrossed in the action that he becomes restive, laughs heartily and keeps sputtering his innate reactions every minute.
A child matures in many respects as he/she enters the teens. He/she becomes choosey in his/her dresses, eatables, games, friends-even TV programmes. Since he/she is active and in good health, the outdoor life becomes more attractive. There is a marked difference between the childhood life of a boy and that of a girl-all along-but this difference is more pronounced during the teenage.
A twelve-year old boy has more and varied outdoor life than a girl-at least in Indian society. A young boy goes to play outside with his friends in the evening, more frequently, and for longer hours than a young girl-who either spends her time in the house or chatting with nearby female friends. Her life is more restricted. Her desires, goals and pursuits are cast in the feminine mould.
For a young boy, this phase is that of direct and unrestricted interaction with the world. There is however, a great deal in common in the life of a young boy and a young girl. For both, it is fun, enjoyment within the overall discipline in the school and home that matter most. There are no major worries-financial or otherwise though the capacity to spend money as one pleases varies as per means and status of the family.
The age between 15 to 40 years constitutes youth. The early part of his period, i.e. up to 20-21 may be regarded as an extended childhood-one is still at studies. However, by this time the major issue about what stream of education one has to pursue and what one aims to become after the completion of education have been sorted out. One may have already joined a medical, engineering, commerce or hotel management line.
The mind is occupied in further pursuit of these lines as required from semester to semester or year to year. There are no financial worries in this early part, but the young boy or girl begins to understand the financial limits of the family and shelves out ambitious pursuits and overreaching demands from parents. A sense of maturity has already embarked on him/her.
As one completes one’s education, there is the worry to get a decent job. But that is perhaps the only worry at this time. There are no health problems. Instead, the youth is a stage where one is at the prime of one’s life. He/she can run for hours, lift loads of weight, and has the enthusiasm and self-belief of moving mountains. Youth are not only zealous; they are great planners of time.
They chalk out their schedules of doing things and passing their time in fun and enjoyment. Chatting with friends, roaming around in the city, window-shopping, eating their favourite dishes take priority. The biggest attraction, however, is the friendship with the opposite sex. For a young boy, having a girl friend is like a goal of sorts. For a young girl, the desire to have a boy friend may not be as evident from her behaviour, but this desire is nursed at the bottom of her heart.
The life of the youth takes a turn as soon as they get a job. They become more involved in their profession as the time goes by. There is ambition to rise higher in the organisation they work for. This period is marked by professional jealousies and worries.
The parents want their well-settled son or daughter to settle down in life. Matches are arranged through social calls or matrimonial columns,- and the nuptial knots are tied. Life takes another turn. This perhaps is the most blissful period of man’s life. The young couple experience deep satisfaction through physical relationship and conjugal love. They roam around the country-even the world and discover the meaning of companionship.
The enjoyment of sexual relationship decreases as one becomes a father or a mother. But achieving that status is more than a compensation for this decrease. The sense of responsibility increases much higher as the child becomes the epicentre of their life.
The subsequent years are spent in raising the child and working to secure his/her future. If another child enters the family, the responsibility becomes doubly confirmed. This is a period of great understanding between husband and wife-to work for the common good of the family-as both assume their specific responsibilities. Their love becomes deeper and goes beyond physical attraction. A sense of respect is added which gives higher dimension to man-woman relationship.
The old age does not arrive at the age of 40, though the youthful fervour is gone. One may be said to be in their middle age between 40 and 50. This is very interesting period of life and is marked by great changes in one’s attitude-to others as well as to life in general. One is greatly surprised-in fact shocked-as young people start calling one uncle or aunt. But one gets used to it as time goes by.
The youthful attraction fades away, and grey hair replace the black. Past fifty, people start thinking about their old age security. Pension, insurance and other regular schemes start attracting them. The children start settling down in life. They have their own families to care.
A middle-aged person feels happy when he/she looks at his prospering family. If the son or daughter is still unmarried, finding a suitable match for him/her becomes the top priority. Once that responsibility is over, one starts thinking about grandchildren. If one is nearing retirement, one contemplates about properly investing the large sums of PF, gratuity, etc. likely to be received.
Old age is the age of maturity, wisdom, knowledge and a sense of achievement. One is not as innocent as a young child and not as exuberant as a young man, but one is at peace with oneself. Mind does not go after material pursuits. One becomes more religious, tolerant and even withdrawn from mundane affairs.
The biggest disadvantage of old age is that it brings physical weakness, disabilities and a number of diseases. Sometimes it becomes difficult to cope with them. One feels ignored and isolated when the other family members remain engrossed in their pursuits.
It is time when people tend to get closer to God and spend more time in meditation and worship. The debate as to which period of life-childhood, youth or old age is better-will continue for ever. We can conclude by saying that each stage has its good as well as bad points.
A child is free from worries but is ignorant and vulnerable; a young boy or girl is attractive, enthusiastic but is at times reckless in actions; an old man has experience and knowledge but is physically weak and bereft of energy. The best course of action is to know one’s limitations and assume one’s responsibilities at each stage of one’s life.