The Private Lives Of Children
When my kids were still babies (though I still maintain they are babies only), as a new mother I learnt to recognise their cries and decode their needs. With time, I could sense they were hungry, unwell, or that they were being naughty or testy. As they started speaking, this unspoken and immediate cognizance of their needs and wants has diminished, though not disappeared entirely. I am mostly prepared for melt-downs and tantrums caused due to hunger, tiredness, stubbornness.
That time I was very clued into everything my kids did, no. of diapers, feeds a day, what toys they played with, which book was interesting enough to be torn apart, the roll of paper tucked in the cheek.. Let’s just say, they had no secrets from me. When they went behind the sofa, I knew invariably the need for privacy to soil the diaper. Alternatively, unfailingly, I knew confidently that every single time I would sit down to eat, my daughter would declare, “kakka” or hungry as soon as we set out for the shopping.
Now they are little people, with lives of their own. They go to school, have friends, likes, dislikes, opinions, unique personalities. Sometimes though I feel I don’t understand them or all of them. Not that they hide something from me, but for kids sharing is not something that most adults do. Pay attention, I say ‘most’. 🙂 It is not easy to admit that you just don’t get your child sometimes, even though it is in a nice way sometimes. Since an adult’s approach and expression for an issue differs from that of the child, there can exist that little blind spot of not knowing everything about your child.
From my elder kid, questions like what did you do at school don’t get me anything. Nothing, or just played, seem to be the normal response. Language could’ve been an issue earlier as she did not know a word of Dutch when she joined school here. The class teacher told me that she had been pinching a few kids, perhaps in sheer frustration of not being able to talk with them. She could also not explain why she has come back with a single different sock on one occasion and a different skirt on the other and who it’s been exchanged with. Mystery remains unsolved.
But the biggest puzzle was when she kept telling me for 1 whole year of school that she has a brother at school. His name is R and his mama comes to pick him up. “How can he be your brother?”, I asked. “Because I want one“, not that, pointing to her year-old little sister. That did explain a bit. The husband offered no explanation whatsoever. 🙂 The two sisters are good friends now and the brother has disappeared! Life moved on. The beginning of this school year saw Maths and reading. I am surprised how easily she has picked up double-digit addition without much ado. “It is easy, Mama!” Then again, I can’t understand or rationally explain away this fear of the hex (witch), which scares her so much that she will go from one room to another chaperoned by the little sister.
A big revelation is the way they read us and emulate us. The other day, my daughter was praying for a smiling mother, and to that the little one chimed in, not a lazy daddy. The lamp in their room has been fused and replacement is pending. Or my elder one who wants to be a plant in the next birth, so she can stay in the same place and not move around. Perhaps she will change her mind after knowing that the only option will be green. The other day she had collected all her used art papers and kept them in her drawer for Mamma to make her grocery list.
My little one sometimes goes to school with two pig-tails. When I pick her up at the school gate, the hair is mess of tangled curls. “But E does not like it tied up“. And why must she care for what E thinks. E is her best friend for most days – when A pulls my daughter’s hair, E pinches A. Once when we met another parent with her kids in the library, the young ones greet each other with hugs and smiles. I am surprised at the rapport and wonder how my little one even knows these kids from another grade. I was secretly pleased by her concerned enquiry about my cut-hand months after it happened. And how she described the emergency trip to the hospital. “Mama is a brave girl, she does not cry”. No remorse whatsoever though in raiding my hand-bag to check for chocolates yet. But Juff (teacher) says like this, “already another adult figure whose word can make them question our authority”.
With my elder daughter demanding my time and attention on most occasions, I feel I’ve neglected the little one on a few fronts. Especially reading out to her or singing rhymes. So, I am surprised or rather not, when she sings the ABCD song – ‘ABCD….Z, How I know my ABC, next time don’t you sing with me’!! Some truth in that, I have not taught her the alphabet. Sometimes, though, the two of them chatter in Dutch and then almost everything they talk remains a secret to their father!
Do you wonder with regards to blind spots about your children? Why they do the stuff they do and why they think in a particular way? How do you get to know about their day at school, with friends, what they are thinking?
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.