Category Archives: Mother Anxieties

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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My Aggression My Guilt My Confession

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When I set out to read some self help stuff on how to tackle my aggression in reaction to tantrums thrown in by my 2 and a half year old Nick, I found very less material on the world wide net. What I found instead were numerous articles and write-ups elaborating on how to manage aggressive toddler behavior.

I sighed at the futility of trying to manage his rash behavior when I cannot check my own knee-jerk reactions to his one naughty act here or a tantrum there.

One primary reason for my impatience while dealing with my son is that being a working mother, I always have a long To Do list which impacts my willingness to be a little more patient. And over the years, I have got into a mold where even when I don’t have anything urgent to do, my mind is always on the run and thus resulting in knee-jerk reactions to Nicks naughtiness.

With this internalization, I continued my quest to look for material to help me towards a non-aggressive being. Well, I did come across some meaningful stuff.

Having read a lot of it, I did some introspection myself and the first step was to figure out when is it that Nick ticks me off? The little list went as follows –

– When he throws a tantrum. Eg. He wants to wear his party clothes instead of his night wear.
– He refuses to understand adult logic. Eg. He shall insist on having water directly from the tap. The concept of only filtered water for drinking does not
go down well with him .
– He involves himself in behavior which I feel are ethically and socially unacceptable. Eg. hitting someone, or, peeing in his pants.
– He refuses to calm down and sleep even after I have had a long day and am
desperate to retire for a comfortable nights sleep.

In hindsight, all of the above are a violation from my list of should’s and should not’s. And what I forgot to remember while reacting is that he still doesn’t understand the meaning of “should and should not”. He is only exploring his capacity to “Can’s” and “Cannot’s”. My aggressive behaviour is leading him to observe a repetitive behavior pattern and making him register the same in his mind as a “Can do” behavior.

So, what do I do about it? And How?

Taking cue from articles mentioned in clicks above, I decided to follow a couple of things –

Do Not Shout
I think the entire instance of shouting and reacting to what Nick has done, makes me feel worse once the moment has passed, because I am immediately repenting my shouting on the little monster. So the rule is, “Do Not Shout”. Instead go about doing whatever needs to be done with my mouth shut.

Take A Time-Out
I shall just move away from my child so that I will not be able to reach him and get back to him in a violent way. I can do this conviniently, coz there is my mother-in-law to look over Nick in the meanwhile. I know she too might react to his mischief, but will never get aggressive enough to casue any harm.

Evaluate
Well, my Mother-in-laws reactions to Nick’s behavior, especially on those which get me mad set me thinking some more. “How can you not be mad for such an act?”, is what I asked her yesterday. Her answer was, “I am equally upset about his behavior. But lashing back at him isn’t a solution. He doesn’t even realise what he has done. He just acted on his toddler impulse. But if we react to him aggressively, he will co-relate in his mind that because mom or grand-mom behaved in a particular manner, its ok if I too do so. So in the next opportunity when he can be angry or aggressive, he will emulate us.” I thought over it, and I think I agree.

She later told me, “Listen! what is it that upsets you? That he isn’t peeing in the loo yet? Every child on this earth eventually realizes that the bathroom is the place for pee and potty. Another 2 years or so and this problem will not exist.So why create a negative impact by reacting to something that’s not even a permanent problem. Rather being patient and taking it in your stride is a much better way to deal with it.”

Ummm! That’s kinda true. Most of what ticks me of is actually temporary stuff. So my new Mantra, “Be Calm. It Shall Pass.” 🙂

After all this introspection and internalization, when I get back home from office and Nick comes running into my arms with elation, the biggest reality strikes me in my gut. “I am his mother and I love him the most in this whole world and vice versa. So just learn to chill a bit and everything will be fine!”

Happy Parenting !

Will My Child Grow Up To Be What He Should Grow Up To Be?

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Oh No! Please do not judge me as a mother who has already set the goals for her son to grow up to be a doctor, or an engineer or even a dancer or musician for that matter. At the same time neither am I sure nor do I commit to be that liberal mother who might just take it in my stride when Nik might grow up and come up to me saying, “Mom! I want to be a communist activist! I will fight against the capitalist system that is ruining our country!”

Then, the question that the title of this blog holds bold is, what is it that I am really scared of? Before I answer my own question, let me take you through a small background of why this question has been troubling me for a couple of days.

Around a week back, we took a family outing to a multiplex to watch Bajirao Mastani. Apart from the visual spectacle that Mr. Bhansali present to us, I personally found little originality in the plot. It was a period love story afterall. I felt I was watching a little twisted and “Marathised” version of Devdas or Ram Leela. Leaving that apart, one particular scene that gripped my attention and set me pondering was the one which included a dialogue between the female Protagonist “Mastani” (Ms. Podukone) and her son “Shamsher Bahadur”.

For those who havn’t seen the movie, I will elaborate on the scene a little bit. “Mastani is all chained in a prison along with her son and being coaxed into leaving “Bajirao” and the Peshwa territory, which she obviously refuses to because she deeply, madly, truly loves “Bajirao” and cannot think of a life without and away from him. Her keepers one day try and put her in fix by taking her son away from her in a threat to finish him off.

The exact dialogue there is “Bachche ko utha lo”(Pick up the child!). “Mastani” at that moment reverts saying “Bajirao ka beta hai. Khud chalkar jaaega” (He is Bajirao’s son. Will walk away on his own). This is followed by a series of courage enticing questions she shoots at her some 6 or 7 year old, to which the son responds quite dauntingly for his age. And then he hugs his mother and walks of with the guards.

And, this set my mind rolling.

On one hand my heart went out for that boy, who had been given that “Taleem” of fearlessness and heroic that runs in his blood. And simultaneously, my minds reeled with a daunting possibility that may be in reality this 7 or something year old must have clung to his mothers side saying that he does not want to go. It could have so happened that he was scared and pleaded to his mother to do whatever it takes to keep him along with her.

when I voiced my thoughts to my husband his reply that agitated me even further. He said, “Bajirao aur Mastani ka beta hai. Courageous toh hoga hi” (He is a son of two extremely courageous people, and so is bound to be courageous himself)

Since i had this reply from Ajay, I have been quite uneasy and unsure of how such expectations impact a childs upbringing and his future. In my own family, I have heard comments (or may be they think these are complements) such as, “His parents are so educated and extremely qualified. He is bound to do well in his studies.” This is what I say with a lot of humility, people say about my Nik. While I or Ajay have not started saying this aloud to Nik ourselves yet is because we realise that he is too young to understand and may be we should not impose on him the burden of of we made out of our lives. Yet I wonder, how long will it be before we too begin to do the same and make our son carry the baggage of our achievements and backgrounds on his psychic?

I know I have always carried the baggage of my parents expectations from me, which i feel has been a major factor in me doing decently well for myself professionally. And I think, something similar has been the case for Ajay too. Coming from that typical middle-class bckground, I would confess that we’ve not been very out-of-the-box in our approach towards life. While I do appreciate those among my peers who have made it big as social volunteers, e-tail entrepreneurs, I feel I have done decent enough given my circumstances and obligations.

Today I may enjoy and appreciate success stories of engineers turned musicians, economics graduates turned actors, promising investment bankers turned sculptors etc; but will I be equally cool about Nik taking up a path that would lead him to chose a very non-conventional profession. For example, I know of photographers who set out as amateurs but turned into professional full-timers just by virtue of displaying their work over blogs. How so ever exciting and a dream run kind of a story these may seem, am I prepared enough to allow Nik to experiment with his life?

And thus the question, “WILL MY SON GROW UP TO BE WHAT HE SHOULD GROW UP TO BE?” Am I providing or rather, do I have it in me to provide my children with a truly unbiased learning environment which will help him experiment with his skills and abilities and look for his very own niche in this jungle of a world? Will I not ever be influenced by the aspiration of being a parent to an academic prodigy or a sports genius or a gifted artist? How far am I willing to risk the perceived financial security of my children’s future and let them just be?

Let alone the professional aspect, am I even prepared let my children not be burdened by the do-don’ts of the civilized society and develop an independent view of what is right while making their decisions. Will I be strong enough in the face of the moment of truth to just let go and stand by my children in whatever they decide for themselves?

This only time will tell. Till then, Happy Parenting !