We were having a get together at a friend’s place, and while the adults were busy chatting, the kids were busy bringing the roof down with all the noise they were making! All of a sudden one of the kids fell down and the kid’s mom and dad both let out a short scream!
Even as I wondered whether it was the child which fell down or his parents, the mother ran to him, consoling him and the father frantically rubbed his head. To me it looked like the mother needed more consoling than the child! In the midst of that entire hullabaloo, I saw the child suddenly freeze in shock for a short while, before crying so hard holding his breath that I was sure he would turn blue if he held his breath any longer! Even before anyone could say anything, the harried parents made an abrupt exit with the child in tow and the other parents nodded sympathetically!
The other kids continued playing, and a short while later, my younger one who was hiding under the dining table, hit his head on the underside of the table in the excitement of being found out. He came out, rubbing his head, but still laughing in excitement and jumping about. While I made no effort to show too much concern, a friend pulled him aside and began rubbing his head. She urged me to have at look at him, while my son tried to desperately free himself from her hold. He was more interested in running off for the next game of hide-and-seek. I casually called him over and checked his head for a bruise and asked him if he was ok. He said he was fine and that was the end of the story.
But this sparked an instant debate on my casual attitude and how I was not showing the required concern as a parent! I tried to argue that concern does not mean putting the child in shock and making him feel that getting hurt is a big deal. I tried to reason that kids ought to get hurt so that they learn how not to get hurt in the future. But the other mother’s would have none of my argument!
One friend said she always supervises the kids when they play in the park. She doesn’t want some kid to bully her kids or cheat them off their turn at the swing, or play in the mud. I confessed that I never do that only to be rewarded by shocked stares. My kids come home from play like little piglets that have rolled about in the mud and thoroughly enjoyed themselves too! I tried to argue that playing in the mud and sand was good for the kids. Losing a turn at the swing would make them more street smart and they would learn how to negotiate fair play with the other kids. Being bullied by some kid would make them stronger and they will eventually learn to tackle the bully. It would be such a shame to keep protecting the kids all the time and not let them learn anything by experience. I swear I could see some mothers almost faint at the thought!
One friend said she is distraught that her daughter is so fussy with food. I almost stifled a yawn at that! Don’t kids and ‘fuss over food’ go hand in hand? Show me one child who eats whatever is fed to him or her, I wanted to say. But, I kept mum this time and let the other mums do the talking. I was already a pariah! Shortly, she was flooded with umpteen solutions on how to make the child eat. And the advice came from all those mothers who I am sure face the same situation at their own homes!
One mother was unhappy with the projects the school was expecting the kids to complete. And almost everyone agreed that the projects are for parents rather than for the kids. There were serious discussions on where to source what and how to get maximum marks for projects! I was almost ready to leave by then, not having anything useful to contribute to the discussion. If parents are going to get busy doing the kids project, what are the kids supposed to learn? At home, I let my son draft the content for project and I help him with correcting it only if required. But I never do the writing work for him. It takes a little more effort on the child’s part, but the satisfaction on his face is unparalleled.
This over-the-top style of parenting is something I do not get. How long do we expect to be around the child, guarding them from dangers, and spoon feeding them? Wouldn’t it be better to let them learn from their own mistakes, and not from your advice? Let them be bullied, so that they can learn how to tackle bullies. It will let them become stronger. Unless they come to you for help, don’t interfere.
Let them roll in the mud, if they enjoy doing it. Let them make the wall their canvas, let them paint or write whatever they want to on it. I have one graffiti wall in my house where the younger one is allowed to scribble whatever he wants to. You and I cannot do all that, can we? So let them enjoy their childhood any which way they want to. Let them work on their problems and try to find ways out of it. Guidance is a good thing, hand holding is a good thing, but doing things on their behalf is definitely not!
My name is Shubhangi Srikanth and I write under the pen name Titli. I started my blog “The Little Princess” and it helped me channel my thoughts in the proper direction. After having worked for more than 12 years in the Pharmaceutical and Banking sector, I now freelance as a content writer for medical and health websites. I have two adorable boys, who have taught me more about life than I could teach them. Being a mother is one of the most fulfilling roles of my life, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!