Am I teaching my son or is it the other way round?
Today my 4-year-old refused to go to school. He just downright refused to wear his socks or even move from where he was sitting. The reason, he was about to have a stomachache. There are days when he doesn’t want to go to school and a little persuasion or some story makes him forget that he doesn’t want to go and… Problem Solved. But today was different. He just didn’t budge from the sofa. Ultimately, I gave in and he is at home today. Ten minutes after I stopped trying to send him to school, he happily declared that his stomach is fine.
So, what the heck was all this? A tantrum, some other problem, maybe a dislike for school or simply disregard for a routine (he has got my genes after all). It’s not every day that he is so stubborn about not going to school. And I don’t know whether I did the right thing in not sending him to school. Even when I knew that his reasons were simple excuses, I gave in. Because there’s one thing that being a mother has taught me. You just can’t enforce everything you want on a child. It’s simply impossible. Kids have unrealistically strong determination. They just don’t back down. Of course, you can force yourself through punishments. But most of the time, it’s just not worth it. In today’s case, I may have forcibly sent my crying and howling son to school. And eventually, he would have stopped crying too. But, what would have been the outcome of all that? He would have started not liking his school more vehemently. He may try some other, more sophisticated tantrums the next time that he didn’t want to go to the school. He may have felt sad that his mother was not able to understand. And what did he lose? Probably nothing. I don’t think he has lost much in studies, much to the chagrin of many parents. He’s in kindergarten for God’s sake. I don’t think the world has lost a budding scientist just because his Mommy wasn’t strict enough or doesn’t understand the importance of a day at the school.
I used to think that my son should do as I wish. No, I am not one of those Moms who thrusts her dreams and desires onto her children. It’s just the small things like finishing the food every time, doing his homework quickly without any distraction, wearing his pants straightaway after toilet, etc. etc.
Four years of raising a son, who can be as stubborn as me sometimes, have taught me that it’s okay if he doesn’t finish the meal every time. Sometimes, he may not feel like it. Just make sure that it doesn’t become a habit. And you always have an upper hand. For me, if my son hasn’t finished his meal and immediately wants chocolate or some snack or wants to watch YouTube, he has to eat the remaining food. Kids are so keen on doing what they want that they will do anything for that. And half a bowl of rice and dal (pulses, a daily food very rich in protein and very much disliked by children) is not going to stop them.
It’s okay if my son doesn’t stop until he finishes his homework. On the contrary, after every one or two words, he just sits, has a question or two for me and many more observations that he likes to share. The pencil becomes a spaceship or the eraser blocks a cruising train or he just has to poop. There is no fast way of finishing homework. You just learn to have all the patience in the world and have to find distractions of your own.
My son always without fail starts playing with his toys or cycle or anything after the toilet. He is simply not interested in wearing pants no matter what. That is one thing that his mother has to do and till she comes he enjoys the freedom that comes with not wearing pants or anything.
There are many such things that we may find frustrating about our kids. We just can’t understand how they don’t get such simple things. But that’s the way kids are going to be, at least for twelve years. And then you’ll be dealing with a teenager and be wondering all the time, how glad you’ll be if he gets reduced to a kid again. So, just enjoy what you have. You are not going to get these unlimited hugs and kisses and a constant following once your kid grows up. And you are going to miss that so much. There is no love so unconditional as a child’s. You may scold him, yell at him, or punish him, he’s still going to hug you, kiss you, and follow you everywhere (even in public washrooms) like you are the center of the universe. So, let’s relax a little and accept that our kids are not going to listen to everything that we say. We didn’t listen to our parents either. And enjoy the deluge that’s parenthood.