An Equal Childhood?
I know the title sounds like it is from one of those Indian authors who can weave an Indian story in English so well that it almost feels like reading our life and thought in subtitles. I hope you noticed the question mark here because I am questioning if this concept is at all feasible or another one of those things to harangue the community of parents and add to guilt quotients.
At some point of time whilst growing up, contrary to what our parents claimed, some of us may have felt that our sibling was given more than his/her fair share of due. It could be attention, education, pocket-money, affection, respect, freedom, opportunity, etc. For the intangibles, one can never be sure, though they are equally important too. Tangibles can be quantified and can be argued for, and defended if the case may be. If you have been sangfroid in the face of these small little indulgences, someone outside of the family may point it out to you.
In the earlier days when a family had a lot more children it was understood that the one with the immediate need will get all the attention, or resources. And the others will fend for themselves and look after the younger siblings to help out Mother.
Let me tell you my own case. I have a brother and we both have had – what’s that word – equal, pretty much equal childhoods. However, for higher studies his path was made a bit easier. For me, it was assumed that I would fight my way through or make do with merit. Of course, one can justify that he is a boy etc but we are living in today’s world, of equal opportunities. Strangely, I don’t hold it against him or my parents. They said he needed it at that point of time and it’s a very jealous sibling who does not wish the other well in life.
When my girls were born I promised I will give them this equal childhood. But I realised that equal does not mean same from day 1. My elder one had all of me for a good 2.7 years, my younger one had to share from day 1 and was a patient baby, would wait for me to deal with demanding big sister, soiled diaper et al. Then there was the time I tried to put my elder one in a creche here, so transition to school would’ve been easier. But since I was a stay-at-home parent, the costs were mind-boggling and in our slow decision-making process we lost the place. But you know what, when my second one was born and a term before school I did put her in the crèche. It was more for me because I needed a break from having a baby around all day. Maybe I will have to answer that one to my very observant and sensitive older one.
Then there is this thing about personalities. This also affects how parents bond with the children. My elder one is of a serious disposition and on the quieter side, so we deal with her on that level. My younger one is a crook and prankster who can never sit quiet. This also means lots more disciplining in store. When my older one was born we were still settling down in a new country, which affected our outlook and decisions. The younger one has the advantage of me having navigated the schooling process and the language to quite an extent. So I am more at ease with talking to the teachers, volunteering for occasions, etc.
I believe the only constant that we as parents can give to provide that ‘equal childhood’ is unqualified love, attention to their needs and wants, spending time with them doing various things, creating a secure and loving environment at home and working on their self-esteem. I don’t think one should get bogged down by the demands of equal childhood because it is difficult and unessential as we are dealing with different people and personalities. Deal with things as they come and take decisions in the best intention. However, I do try to adhere to equal or same when my two little ones are waiting for me to slice the cake and give them their share. Or those M&Ms for that matter.
Vibha, aka Chatty Wren, is a full-time mother to two delightful little girls. She blogs at http://wrenwarbles.blogspot.com about her life with her little ones, ups and downs of living in a foreign country and anything else that catches her fancy.