Years before I had Baby G, in fact, long before I was even married, I attended a colleague’s house warming party. The house was beautiful and there were a lot of people I didn’t know. There was a perfectly calm lady drinking whiskey and coke at 12 noon (it was a brunch) and seemed completely unfazed by her 3 or 4 year old kid who was jumping on the brand new couch in a Spiderman costume, mask and all. I was surprised.
The thing is, this kid was hard to ignore. He looked like he was on a diet of Red Bull, full of energy, and was unstoppable. At one point of time, when he tried to jump over my head and crash landed on me, I wanted to tell his mother to control her kid or teach him some manners. I mean, who likes kids that could (possibly) dislocate your shoulder, right?
That was the day I decided my future kid was not going to do this. That was the beginning of my list.
Yes, long before I had a kid, I had a list of things that my kid would never do. These were generally things that kids did that seemed to annoy me, or made me laugh at their parents’ embarrassment, and I would secretly tell myself that obviously, my kid is *SO* not doing this. I was going to raise a well behaved kid with a perfectly rounded personality, yes. I had complete and utter faith in my abilities to have full control over what my kid did, or didn’t. I was completely and utterly foolish, obviously. Because, the first lesson of motherhood is that you can’t control anything.
Shocker, yes. But true.
I became a mother and it took me half an hour to realize that nothing I thought is going to happen, smoothly at least. From that first half and hour, to two years down the line today, it’s still the same.
I couldn’t stop her from crying then, no matter how much I held her close and sang to her (that’s what I had thought will sooth my child).
I couldn’t make her wear pretty hair-bands because she just wouldn’t let it stay for longer than 3 seconds (She had gorgeous hair and I had planned on us sporting similar hair accessories).
I couldn’t stop her from being obsessed with my phone even when I made sure I used it when she’s not around (I hated kids who kept staring down at their parents’ phones instead of running around and playing).
Apart from these three, here is the list of five things I thought my child would never do, but is already excelling at each of them anyway.
- My kid will eat well and eat healthy. Everyone these days knows that this is practically impossible because kids just don’t eat these days. Every mother I’ve met in the past year has sung the same song to me in a defeated voice – My Kid Doesn’t Eat. I say the same thing to them. And what we really mean by this is that our kid won’t eat spinach, avocado, or even the fuss free chapatti-subzi that we make at home, but they seem to like French Fries when a stranger at the next table in the restaurant offers them and they keep standing next to his table asking for more. And if someone who isn’t very careful, offers them a packet of potato chips, they polish it off in no time. So unfortunately, good food, they don’t eat. Fast food and junk, they love.
- My Kid will be well behaved in public. I decided this when I was myself a teenager, and I now know better. Baby G is generally well behaved but the moment a stranger says hello, (and is not offering a French fry as mentioned above) she will just ignore him or her. I smile at the stranger and tell Baby G to say hello back to the nice lady / nice gentleman and she will cross her hands across her chest, exhale wildly and say “NO!” Sometimes she also adds a loud “GO!” aimed at the stranger in question. In Malls, she refuses to walk, crying with thick tears on a mere suggestion that she’s a big girl now and she should walk. But then you enter a store inside the mall and all she wants is to run along the rows and rows of neatly kept stuff, pick things up from display and rearrange the shop. Once she even opened a pack of crayons to color the floor. (Yes, we had to buy the pack, what do you think?) And she will cry if you now want to pick her up. And oh, yesterday she pushed a kid who was trying to get on a swing in the park.
- My Kid will not watch Television. Okay so this one is true, Baby G has no interest whatsoever in TV at all, but the thing is, now I hope she watches toddler channels for at least half an hour when I can sit nicely alongside her and have a cup of coffee in peace. So in a way I did achieve this point, but it doesn’t hold its ground when I am the one who wants it to change, right? Plus, a little TV watching never hurt anyone, right?
- Prefer the phone to me. Before Baby G could even sit on her own, I would endlessly judge parents of older kids who let them use their phones. What about the radiations? Their eyesight? Phones are bad, everyone knows that, and my kid will not be one of those kids who are addicted to it, I decided. Wrong. Baby G is obsessed with our phones. She has done everything to make us accept defeat and hand it over to her, from crying nonstop from 20 minutes to throwing things around in the house. Let me remind you, she’s just two. The only relief is that she hands it back to us happily if we tell her she can splash in her pool.
- Play with water all through the day. Once there was a neighbour of mine, whose 3 year old would only and only play with water. He would transfer it from one glass to another, he would spill it on the floor and then roll in it, and he would just open the tap and keep washing his hands. Not my kid, I thought. Bam! Wrong again. Kids just love water and it should be okay with parents, only it isn’t okay when it’s cold outside or when I am about to have guests over and the couch is drenched with water. On the bright side, we can always lure her from whatever she is doing or insisting on doing, by offering her to splash in her pool. Thank God for small mercies. Plus, she is so giddy with happiness in the pool that you forget all your worries, start to laugh along and join her in the pool yourself. Kids are adorable, aren’t they?
The thing that I didn’t know back when I mentally made this list, and I now know, is that Kids aren’t to be controlled. You try and teach them by example, what good values are, but you should never expect to have control over what they do or don’t. They have their own personalities and they are quick learners. We should just let them be kids, really.
This is the childhood our kids will remember, so let’s give them a great one. There is plenty of time for them to behave according to the million rules of the world, but for now, why not let them have fun?
I’ve made peace with the list, and with other things like a messy house and a favourite white top which now has chocolate stains because, that’s the right way to raise a kid and it’s damn fun.
Aditi Mathur was born on Feb the 14th and since then it has all been awkward for her. A strong believer of “Whatever!”, an ex-advertising girl, a once-upon-a-time blogger, an out-of-place Army Wife and a real-life social person, she has now given up everything for her adorable almost-nine-months old daughter Gauri (Um, also for Twitter, actually). Stalk her at http://damonologue.blogspot.com or @adicrazy on Twitter. Or Not. Whatever.