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Values & Education

Our Kids Are Our Teachers

As I was sitting down to get my early morning fix of writing, my then 3 year old came from the bedroom crying for me. He probably had a bad dream and had been looking for me. The moment I picked him up he was fine and started smiling as I was gently patting him while putting him back down to bed. He soon drifted off to dreamland.

I started to wonder.

I’m not nice to him the whole day. I give in to human tendencies which is in fact, a result of all his non-human behavior, more of a devil-crossed-with-monkey behavior (Not sure which one I am, the devil or the monkey. I think my better-half will prefer to be the monkey). I yell at him when he misbehaves. I raise my voice when he is nagging me while I’m busy. I wish I had more time for my hobbies. How does he still like me? Is it because he needs me? Is it because he trusts me among the selected few that he depends on for his protection? Is that the only reason to like me? Is it the instinctive human need for safety and familiarity?

I started to wonder more.

Familiar things are good. Familiar places are safe. Familiar people are welcome. It doesn’t however, stop with familiarity. Kids welcome new things. New people, with the assurance of a trusted caretaker quickly capture the minds of kids.

“Take comfort in familiarity while trying out new things”

A year later, he was interested in climbing. That’s what he would have done 24 hours if he had the avenue and opportunity. Of course, parents don’t want their kids to starve, so we curb their passion in the name of routine. Eating, sleeping, playdates, family time, shopping came in the way, but that didn’t deter him. He would ensure I deemed it safe and un-bothersome for others and try to climb everything. It didn’t matter whether he was able to accomplish it right away, he’d keep doing that, often unawares, even in his sleep. There were times I longed to keep the parent in me aside and give in to that kind of raw passion to accomplish something. My better half, again, would vouch for the endless culinary experiments I put the family through in the name of raw passion and accomplishment.

He kept climbing one particular wall that was too high, every day for almost a month and refused any help. Some adults passing by would see a struggling boy and assume he had a cruel, tough, unhelpful mom. They would be taken aback by his blunt refusal when they tried to approach him.

I realized kids are special, they inspire us by just being themselves, and there is quite a lot of learning from children to be done if only we keep our eyes and minds open. They do not know how to give up. It’s an acquired habit and unfortunately they do acquire it over time, mostly from parents. I’m reminded of the story where a group of frogs try to climb out of a well with a bunch of people witnessing the event. All frogs succumb to the onlookers echo of reality, “It’s too tough”, “The walls are too tall”, “Their legs are weak”, “Just give up already” and so on, except one. The winning frog was the one that did not succumb. The winning frog was the one that did not give up. That frog was deaf.

“Never give up”

I met a woman in a conference and we started talking about work, India, kids and eventually education. We were talking about the “groups” that we took in our eleventh grade and how we came to choose them. We went on to talk about how engineering and medicine were considered respectable fields as opposed to other groups. We were comparing how it was during our times and now. She went on to mention the conversation her niece had with her parents while choosing her group in Class 11. Her niece was in a school that offered either Biology or Math, but not both. She insisted on finding a school that offered both and went through pains trying to justify her choice to family.

“Who made the rule that you need no Biology if you want to learn Math? I cannot let a school make that decision for me. I am undecided right now on what I want to be, so what is wrong if I learn both so I have choices and options later?”

I was floored by the clarity. The kind of clarity I wish I had when I was 16. The clarity to know that you don’t know what you want to be in life. Yet.

“Stand up for what you believe, question authority”

These are just few of the life lessons we can learn from kids and not just our kids. They are all around us and they give us the strength and opportunity to be a better version of ourselves. Being a parent is a privilege, let’s use it wisely.

How many such young teachers have you come across?

Sowmya describes herself as a Flamenco lover, Zumba instructor, secret diary writer, fitness gossip monger, eating-disorderaholic, optimistic cynic, adventure seeker in the body of a mother. She blogs at Searching for my rhythm…