I had another Ah-HA! experience this morning while “attempting” to explain to MLM why something is desirable and why something isn’t. People (parenting experts, those whose kids are no longer a pain-in-the-ass and those who are blissfully childless) usually say that it sets a bad example to communicate with a growing child using largely negatives viz “NO”, “NOT”. “DONT” et al. However, given that the vocabulary of most children who aren’t prodigies or savants of some kind are largely rudimentary till the middle school years, it becomes a tough job navigating the world of communicating what you want with what your child can comprehend.
But I have finally realized the biggest challenge I face day in and day out while trying to bring this boy up- I have to be an adult in the face of his childishness. And therein lies the rub. I no longer know how to be a child and he’s not reached that stage where he knows anything else but how to be a child.
Just a few minutes back, I had another locking-horns session with my offspring. Reason? He’s been using a turtle stencil to draw outlines on an otherwise pristine ivory colored wall. Again.
The first time this was noticed and commented upon, he apologized. In a flash. And went off to do whatever it is he does when one road to mischief has been shut down. Today when I noticed the second drawing I called him to ask why he had drawn on the walls again when he knew it wasn’t appreciated at all. He simply replied that he wanted to. No defiance. No attitude. Just a simple statement of fact.
And that in nutshell is how children usually are. While some are more compliant, for reasons known only to them, others are more willful in the sense that they are guided largely by their whims. A state that many older people fall back into in their advanced years.
But try as I might, I couldn’t explain to MLM why I was upset. He finally came up with a solution of wiping it off with water. But the crux of the problem escaped him and it entirely escaped me how to clue him in.
As adults we live with and in cliches. We stay in the lines. It starts by learning to color in them, writing within in, standing in them and also driving in them. We don’t always turn into lab rats or hamsters in their wheels but we become regulated. And can also see the benefits of such a life for its opposite is chaos in some form or the other.
But a child, especially one right out of early childhood is all about seeing his or her environment as a giant canvas, playground or anything without boundaries. They want to color furiously all over the paper. Never mind that the dam fruit they were to color got buried under the strokes. They want to scribble on walls because that’s the largest unending surface that surrounds them everyday. They want to climb higher, use the bed as a trampoline because everything that gives them a sense of freedom, even briefly, is exhilarating. Never mind that you’ll be replacing the mattress or the bed springs will poke through before long. It’s just so much more fun than just calmly lying down somewhere and sleeping.
And this is why I blogged this. Right here and now. So when I’m about to have an aneurysm tomorrow or day after from whatever my son wasn’t supposed to have done but did so anyhow; I can take a quick peek at this post before my head blows up. Hell! I’ll have to clean up that mess too so I might as well read these pearls of wisdom and count to a 1000 and keep telling myself there’s always school and the next summer holidays are a year away.
Isn’t that what it all boils down to in life?
It isn’t always celebrating the things that go well or in accordance with our plans or even making our peace with the things that don’t. It’s finally just existing with what IS.
Sometimes we are able to do it gracefully and other times it takes a lot of plodding and prodding to get through each day.
There’s a saying by Oscar Wilde that people often smugly quote- ” There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”
I’ve found that while tragedy might be too strong a word for it, it does seem difficult to comprehend and accept ,what you sought out, opted for even isn’t all that it’s cut out to be or even worse…it’s not what you want. Is inadequate.
So you shuffle the deck a few times and hope the next hand is better than the one that has you staring in bafflement.
Or you chuck the cards up in the air and don’t care if they scatter all over; since it’s mimicking life in doing so.
And some of us painstakingly make a house of cards. Trying to balance each card over the other and anxiously watching whether they stay up or come tumbling down.
In the end you either end up with a steady house you used up all your cards in making and are proud of or you decide to call it quits after you reach a plateau and are still left holding a few cards for later.
It’s all about playing with the hand you were dealt.
People often introduce their spouses as their better halves. Or bitter depending on what time of the day you run into them or during which pet peeve they seem to be exercising; but the fact of the matter is that you do feel like something’s missing when someone in your family or your everyday existence is away.
During this summer holiday we spent a lot of time away from Red. Three weeks at my mom’s place and another three weeks while he was away on a work trip. And it’s been a long, long summer because of that.
I am the first to crib when he gets home since he works long hours; long undetermined hours truth be told. And my interaction with him is usually about two hours in the morning and hour or so at night when he returns. I crash before he does because the human hurricane zaps my energies by dusk and it’s an utter luxury for me to lie in bed in darkness and just not do anything before I drift off.
And I did all of those things during this summer vacation as well but the biggest change was Red not being there. The occasional IMs, calling him up to tell him about something funny that the offspring did, the on and off whine about coming home early for once etc etc just went POOF!
Instead we would catch up while he brushed in the morning and we ate dinner, while we were waking up here and he was about to head out for dinner there and the distance didn’t feel too much but somehow the time didn’t pass as quickly either.
I guess it’s about getting used to a person being in your life that makes the difference. The daily dance you do right from tugging sheets while sleeping to making space in front of the sink while brushing to waking up to the first hit of the caffeine…it’s a routine and a very good one. You want to be able to see the familiar faces everyday. You want to be able to open the door to the familiar face everyday too.
You don’t want to be limited to Skype to find out how each other’s days went and trips should ideally be taken together or for a short duration where the person’s back before you missed them.
Of course the goodies brought back help. Albeit slightly. What you’d much rather do is remind them to switch off the bathroom light, not leave the wet towel on the bed and come home early for once. It is what gives that stamp of yourness in your life and that’s what it is all about at the end of the day.
And now I will very generously wait till the jet lag leaves him to start up about our very own brand of ourness. Well…I’ll wait till tomorrow at least seeing that the man’s passed out and still in another time zone!
MLM got acquainted with the telly pretty early in life. He used to have frequent bouts of cold and cough and feeding him would be a nightmare…dragged out for hours on end with precious little going down the gullet. Also there were the days when nebulization was de rigueur. The television would captivate his attention long enough for us to feed him and nebulize him. It was a godsend. But television is also a double-edged sword…it does stunt your child’s growth by keeping him sedentary for long periods and not give them opportunities for two-way communication.
But necessary evil that it is there are still those shows that this child has been positively influenced by. He learns about the environment and the animals by watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. He learns about acceptable behavior from Noddy, Oswald the October (sappy as hell as it may be) and problem solving from Maya the Bee. The artistic side or the creative side was tweaked by I Can Cook and Mister Maker.
So while I do wish that he didn’t have as much affection for the idiot box and preferred to spend more time outdoors, the fact of the matter is that he is learning from the t.v. His vocabulary is growing…he mimics a lot of things he hears on the television, he affects new physical mannerisms and does get a glimpse of the world beyond his immediate surroundings through it.
So what’s the ultimate downside you might ask? I have to record everything I want to watch since the t.v. is entirely his domain :p
We test drive a car before buying it. We ought to be able to test drive our spouses, partners too. Here’s why-
- You meticulously switch off the lights and fan when exiting a room. Their motto in life is to forget it. Always.
- You hang your wet towels out to dry on the clothesline or drying rack. They feel a bed is the best way to get the job done. And somehow never seem to leave it on the side of the bed they sleep in; its always on yours.
- You love to read in bed. They act like a minute beam of light is blinding and continue to toss and turn till the bed seems to be suffering from tectonic movements.
- You watch/read mainstream movies and novels. They watch award-winning foreign language movies which are dark and dreary and someone always seems to die or be dying and read books which are as straight and uncomplicated as a jalebi (or pretzel, take your pick).
- You want your bathroom tiles to be “cheerful”. They raise eyebrows at you and say just pick something where the grime won’t show up and keep mumbling about the ridiculous adjective of cheerful for bathroom tiles!
- You usually know where your essential accessories are. They need a map. Everyday. Without Fail.
That and many more reasons are why you should know a person beyond their favorite color and food.
You just might end up shivering next to a person who ends up rolling themselves up like a spring roll in a comforter meant for two while you ponder about whether you would be justified in kicking them of bed altogether.
OR in time you could gaze upon your giggling offspring and say isn’t that the most beautiful face ever? They would agree.
So it works both ways 🙂