Once upon a honey-sweet time when you got married, you made a little foot-note in your dear diary how opposites attract. How you and your spouse are made for each other because you complement each other in habits and traits. For instance, one talks too much the other laughs too little, he loves the outdoors she loves her bed, she likes sweet and he loves spicy till his nose runs.
In good times the list is what sweet surrender (read adjustment-glossed-over) is made of. But once your tot arrives, the N-pole and the S-pole of the magnet called parenting often become infinitely difficult to make meet or manage, and at such times all magnetism-of-opposites goes flying out the window and opposition takes its place.
You know what I am talking about.
Mother says please don’t jump on the sofa and father says let him, kids need to have fun. Daddy says not to touch the laptop while mommy says why not, it’s the age of technology. Ma wants her to finish her homework first while Pa thinks what’s a lifetime’s supply of books when compared to an ice cream outing? Papa lets him sit in his lap to turn the steering wheel while mummy demands he be put in a safer seat. While this back and forth of commenting upon and contradicting each other’s ideas of day-to-day parenting continues, clouds of confusion descend over the child’s mind, and soon enough he finds the silver linings contained within them too.
This is what can transpire in a child’s head when the massive parental-continental drift over his deeds or misdeeds happens:
- The child gets confused about your parenting ideas and ideals. When he sees his parents openly disagreeing, he sees loop holes in the fabric of dos and don’ts, and your idea of parenting becomes an elastic piece of cloth in his mind, flexible with changing situations and moods – yours as well as your spouses. He sees no agreed-upon ‘good’ from ‘bad’, or ‘no’ from ‘yes’ from the very people who are supposed to be amicably authoring a rule-book for him, together.
- Confusion then turns into confidence, much to his glee. He realises he can maneuver his ways around situations which do not suit him and make successful those which do. The openings he sees, be they of doing, wanting or having, he then learns to twist to his own advantage with the help of one of the parents. If mummy spares the rod and daddy wields it, the young mind is always fully aware of who to turn to, whether for respite from the other half or as a last recourse for a certain demand to be met. An always-available leeward side of the mountain helps not in making him understand whatever values and behaviour you as a family consider an absolute must.
- As he sees his parents contradicting each other, he realises it’s ok to do so without any qualms, and learns to contradict you too. Of course, it’s a great thing to be able to see all sides of the coin, why not! The Argumentative Indian is a common sighting, and one written about too. However, at an age which sees things through a child’s mind, it can lead to unreasonable moments of defiant feet stomping and behaviour that may be considered rude. (And no, the child is not to be blamed for that, I say.) Also, making your spouse lose his/her voice in front of an impressionable child is not a very good example to set, no matter how trivial the cause or how stress-fully fuss-full the situation.
Parenting will always remain that Pandora’s Box of Situations that you can never be aptly and amply prepared for. No amount of insight, foresight or even batman’s super-sonic sight can make you see what’s coming or what’s to be done when the, er, toys hit the roof. As parents, all you can ensure is to agree to disagree but away from your child’s inquisitive eyes and ears.
Realise that that children need to know that the devil and the deep sea can exist together. And that, despite the behind-the-scenes drama, on stage the parents have to present themselves as one formidable force standing united against what the family believes is anything from fully faltu fuss to forgivable faux pas.
And while you are hammering out (alas, days of sweet surrender no more!) a Golden Mean of parenting which suits both your spicy and sweet taste-buds, remember, savoury is delicious too, and it is not just the right mix of sweet and salty but also ‘morally wholesome’, if the dictionary is to be believed! And then, the most important Law of Physics states – “opposites attract even better behind-the-curtains and within closed doors – especially if it’s about ways of convincing your better half that you are the King of Parenting or the Queen of all Mothers, or even the best argumentative Indian that ever was”.
Why not try it!
Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in