My kitchen is my living room. I don’t watch TV (well, hardly!), and my kids know that I more or less live in the kitchen! So that’s where they gravitate to, and not just when they are hungry! It doubles up as the place I take my official phone calls (connectivity problems and all); it is the place for homework and studies, family fights, making up, scolding, praise, complaints and resolutions!
In the course of all this activity in my favourite room, I didn’t realise how much the kids were processing from just watching me in the kitchen! The day it dawned on me, I was amazed! They instinctively moved out of the way when I took something out of the oven, and onto the cooling rack. They knew I would head to the sink when I picked up vegetables from the crisper. I also noticed that they seemed to know how I liked things kept, where stuff goes, the correct bowl for shelling peas, culinary terms like blanched and sautéed, etc. Without having been told!
Isn’t it astounding that kids, even 2-year olds, are filing away so much of secondary information? The thought was an eye-opener! How much more were they filing away in the course of just being around people – when families conversed, when moms gossiped (clichéd, but true in my case), when dads cursed on the road (grin, also true), in the classroom, the playground, etc?
Parenting suddenly seemed all the more daunting to me. What if all this secondary info would catch up and somehow mess their grown-up lives? As I thought more about it, however, I knew there was only one thing to do. It was a (second?) chance for me to watch what I said, what I watched, and what I heard – like the legendary 3 monkeys!
All parenting manuals talk about leading by example, but to put it into practice is not easy. There is a way out, I thought. I spoke to my older kid, saying, “A, this is what Mama is trying to do. I am trying to be a better person, so that you and M learn from the way I act.” There, I had said it. And I felt better for it. She was surprised, and then evilly happy – it was her chance to watch me and catch me on the wrong foot!
That was a month ago – it’s been a tough month, I tell you! There have been times I wished I hadn’t confided in her, because I slipped up so many times! But, this works exactly like all good weight-loss measures – a lifestyle change is better than a crash diet, and this is what I am hoping to achieve – a lifestyle change and not a forced act. I also want to convey to my kids that nobody is perfect. On the days I slip up, I will have to show them by example that it is not the falling down, but the rising up after a fall that is important.
But this is the best thing about kids – they accept everything, even shortfalls, with their childlike innocence! They don’t judge. Aren’t they just wonderful? I am learning too!
Sharon Colaco D’Souza is a mother of two kids, a girl and a boy. She is a business management post graduate, and works as a content strategist for a living. She is passionate about home decor and design, and blogs at The Keybunch. Parenting is ‘that continuously-unravelling mystery’ for her and she views Parentous as a great place for parenting information, as well as a place to share her own parenting discoveries. She is currently working on a book idea on indigenous architecture and hopes to see it to fruition!