What is it with mothers and the feeling that the kids are growing up too fast? I don’t get it. I mean, I get the feeling (all the time!) but not the ‘why?‘! Is it just that we get so used to the little ones depending on us for every single little thing that their independence intimidates us? The sense that they don’t need us anymore. I mean, the other day, Ka did tell me that she doesn’t need a mother anymore. She says she’s not a little baby! She also wanted to live in a separate house all by herself. That was it! That did it for me. I didn’t know what to say. I was so flustered, I caught myself saying,”Kanna, if that is how you feel, that’s fine”! She’s 5 for ‘the-big-old-banyan-tree’s sake’. I know that’s not a common expression. I hear people say ‘for heaven’s sake’ and ‘for God’s sake’ all the time. I used to too. But, I think I am done with that. If I am going to say something for somebody or something’s sake, it might as well be for something that I know exists.
So, let’s get back to Ka and her feelings and the feelings her feelings evoke in me. apparently my little one feels very strongly about me respecting her independence. She doesn’t like me dressing her up or giving her a bath or feeding her. So, I got…(take a wild guess!)…absolutely right! Thinking!! Yeah! Yeah! Big surprise! But, that’s what I do best and so I did it. I thought and I thought and I figured that she did need to be independent. So, I would definitely respect that. Also, I learnt another very important thing. I learnt to look at the whole situation from her point of view. She’s a 5-year-old who is nuts about going to school. But, she’s stuck at home with me till March because the school we liked the best doesn’t have kindergarten, and so she will have to join their pre-grade 1 program which starts in March. Now, that’s distressing for a 5-year-old who loves school and is addicted to learning. Secondly, she’s very social. Loves making friends and needs a lot of people to interact with. But, she has nobody to play with. The most fun she has through the day is when the cleaning staff come. What’s more? She has no toys to play with because all her games and toys are in the shipment which will come in February. So, all she’s left with are a few books that we brought with us. And to add to the problem is amma and appa’s list of acceptable behaviour! How on earth is a 5-year-old to survive all of this? And how in the name of the banyan tree is she to express her frustration or kill her boredom? After all, don’t we all know that an idle brain is a devil’s workshop?
In the light of these realisations, this is what I have decided to do.
- Like I said earlier, I really need to stop treating her like a baby except when she wants to be treated like one. The fact remains that she needs me less and there is nothing wrong with that. So, now she does almost everything on her own. She hardly ever calls on me for anything. And I am liking it too. In fact, Mr. M, the adult, is more dependent on me than Ka, the kid, is.
- Secondly, I have decided that from today, my time at the computer will be limited to half an hour through the day. Anything else that needs to be done on the computer, like blogging, ‘facebook-ing’, etc. can wait till Ka’s bedtime or till early in the morning. She needs my time and attention and I will not deny her that.
- There will be no list of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. There will be no time-outs, no yelling, no losing tempers, no disciplining. All there will be are questions. Whenever a so-called-bad-behaviour happens, questions will be asked about how she feels about it and what she thinks about it. If her heart says she did the right thing and there is no better way of doing it, she can continue behaving that way. The same applies for amma. If she feels I behaved badly, she can question me.
- We will spend more time learning new things together.
- I will try my best to not say ‘no’ to her for anything. She is a kid who does not make unreasonable demands, ever. And so, if she ever asks for something, I will never say no to her without giving it some serious thought and weighing all the pros and cons, no matter how small or big the request/demand.
And now that I have this in writing, let me tell you that I am totally aware of how challenging this is going to be. As parents, we all have a tendency to either follow exactly what our parents did or the exact opposite. To break away from that and think for yourself and then to actually do it is not an easy feat. Especially for someone like me who is emotional, short-tempered, impatient and impulsive. This is going to take a lot of energy and focus on my part but I am willing to put in that effort. For my daughter…and for me.