Free Will Of My Little Devil

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One fine day last week Nick started throwing tantrums that he didn’t want to go the school. I thought may be he is finding going to school very taxing after the 3-day break that he had to take due to his viral fever. But I observed that since then every morning he has been extremely reluctant about going to school and would start crying the moment I would drop him off at the school gate.

This behavior of his got me worrying as he has been going to Montessori for almost 10 months now, but never did I find him unenthusiastic about going to school. Rather all this while he has been be extremely excited at the prospect of meeting his friends and the outdoor play time at school.

His sudden turn of attitude really took me by surprise and gave me enough reason to ponder upon what could have possibly gone wrong. This post is about my course of investigation into this matter and my conclusions.

Let me warn you readers, that toddlers are and extremely unpredictable species. You could be caught off-guard with toddler logic and not be able recuperate from it for a very long time. And I write this post while I recuperate from the turmoil that I went through this entire week while I tried to figure what was going on.

For three days after Nick started throwing tantrums while getting dropped to school I only tried to reason with him saying that, “My child, one has to go to school to grow into a big boy. You will become a strong boy if you go to school.” etc. etc.
But no pep talk seemed to be working. So today morning I took another approach. I made him sit on my lap made him comfortable and assured him that I wouldn’t force him to go to school. And then the following conversation followed –

Me: So we won’t go to school today. Are you ok with the idea?
Nick: Yes.
Me: Will you not miss your friends like Amreek, Tejas, Anushka (name a few more of his playmates) and playing with them?
Nick: I want to play with them.
Me: In that case you have to go to school dear.
Nick: Nooooo…
Me: Why? Does your Miss (the instructor) scold you?
Nick: (looked up into my eyes, very teary eyed himself) hmmm..
Now this came as a little surprise to me. But I was completely convinced that the instructors could be insistent but not rude with the kids. The Montessori was after all run by an extremely experienced lady who had been running it for more than 16 years and did not believe in hoarding in large number of kids to make profits. She was very clear with her belief in inducing only as many kids in her system, as many she could tend to personally.

Me: Why? Why did the Miss scold you?
Nick: No reply.
Time for some prompting.
Me: Do you bully another kid?
Nick: (shook his head in negative)
Me: Does she scold you when you play in the garden?
Nick: Nope.
Me: Do you not speak your rhymes when she asks you to? (getting a little impatient now)
Nick: Naah. (still extremely grim faced)
I held on for a minute. What could be other areas which could instigate a stern behavior from an instructor? As I thought over, I realised that Nick had not been having his lunch at the school. This I could say, because everyday I sent a tiffin box packed with him to school, which would return with signs of little or no consumption.
Me: Does Miss force you to finish your lunch box?
Nick: (still looking down) I will not have any lunch at school.

Bingo!
Me: You don’t want to have tiffin in school?
Nick: No.

Me: Okay then! That’s no big deal. Today you may tell your Miss that you told mamma that you wont have your tiffin. Alright?

A winning smile on my little devil’s face !

So that was it. Nick didn’t want to go to school because he didn’t like being coaxed into having his lunch. And all this drama for my devil’s free will !

Conclusion of the story: You can’t beat the logic of a 3 year old with reasoning. You have to somehow work around their convictions without forcing anything onto them and make them feel heard and empowered.

P.S. : I had packed vanilla cake with coconut truffles for lunch today. The box came back empty and clean !

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