So this close relative of mine, X, calls up to congratulate me on my daughter’s school performance, which incidentally X hasn’t seen. Oh but “Can you send me the CD – I would love to see the little star” was the helpful rejoinder. Send me the CD is the new, I have better things to do than take out time for you.
My child, a late talker had just had a fairly successful run with a speaking part in the school play. As her mother, I was obviously proud. Late talking or not – she had successfully done what she had been entrusted to do!
Building on this, X who had obviously not congratulated me well enough, went on to say , “Oh, but when she was small we were so worried about her. We wondered why God is doing this to us – no other child in our family was like this. I mean girls typically start talking a lot by two. Oh! But you are such a wonderful mother – you always believed in her!”. Errr.. I am her mother – believing in her comes with the job description. And you dear relative failed miserably in your attempt at ‘complimenting’ me! Fat lot of good your ability to talk did for you!
Dear Kidlet, please note. You owe me no favours. But here in lies a lesson, always keep an eye out for people who jump ship when it so much as quavers. And to the people who throw the, “No one else in the family/community/village/urban agglomeration was like you…..” line to you, just give them a sweet smile and say “fare thee well”. In any case they are not going to be there for the rougher parts of the journey.
Back to X, who wanted to know from whom Kidlet could possibly have gotten her histrionic talent from since it possibly could not have been from me. I can barely claim otherwise, even though I have put in some performances in my time, but modesty – ah that ill-fated virtue! Anyways, X hammered on, “ Must be from me… You know when I was in school….”. You get the flow. Darling Kidlet, be prepared for the times when you succeed. For not only will you have detractors when all you do can only be wrong, you will also have claimants to your success when what you worked hard for brings gleaming rewards.
Most importantly, hang on to those who listen to you and support you when the going ain’t that good. These may well be the people who will tell you the harsh truth when you need to hear it the most, but they will most likely not give up on you when the rest of the world does. It is never too difficult to be nice when things are running smoothly. I don’t say that you daren’t enjoy the companionship of people who come along in the good times – that is also a well-earned thing to savor! But fair weather friends are, well, just that.
And finally, young one, when you read this whenever you do – remember this: Never ever let anyone tell you that you do not measure up to this or that standard that they have set up for you. That’s what it is after all – a big fat ‘set up’ to make you feel perpetually comparable. And that is exactly what you DON’T need to aim for.
And as for ‘relatives’, next time they turn up with a comparative analysis chart of achievements, milestones etc. etc. hand them a copy of ‘Rose tinted fairy tales’ and set them on their way to ‘Infinity and beyond’ and get back to doing what you were meant to be doing. In short, a pinch of salt is what you need to neutralize the bitter and the sweet!
And a note to ourselves: As parents, we are at the receiving end of many such cruel, unthinking comments and we defend our kids as much as we can. But when your child really has a medical problem, it is best to steer clear of ill-informed ‘well wishers’ and instead surround yourself with people who care and can help. Your best bet would be professionals who are really trained and equipped to deal with situations like yours. It is also important to meet and interact with others facing similar challenges as you. Even if you do not know anyone like that personally, you can reach out to support groups online. Not only will you feel welcome and not judged, interacting with others may lead you to ideas and resources that you can actually use to help your child.
Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom