A lesson learnt the hard way.
Being a mother the best lessons I learn from my girls. Children are like freshly kneaded mix of plaster of Paris. They take the shape they’re molded into. You got to be the best example that you want them to see, understand and accept. As they grow, they start getting mature enough to use their brains, make choices, make decisions and have their own views about right and wrong.
There is nothing called bad parenting. But once in a while we all make mistakes. Like every other spheres of life, we make mistakes in parenting too. And then it’s a guilt trip. If you ask me these guilt trips are good. Provided they don’t get prolonged. They give you an opportunity and ample time for self-introspection.
Recently I was face to face with one such mistake of mine.
Ever since I’ve quit my work life I could feel the change in my children. They’re happier. They have started interacting more. They have started taking initiatives by themselves. Teachers have been telling me about their magical transformation from quiet and sensitive kids to lively and engaging kids. All is well except the time schedule.
The kids go to a day boarding school which works from 9 to 5. We wanted to shift them to a non-boarding school since I was home. But then they do not want the change. They’re happy with the current school, their friends, teachers and are performing well. A change might disturb their current setup. Thus we chose to let them continue here for another year or two. The trouble is that they get a lot of homework. And since the firstborn (Anu) is in fifth grade, she gets work in all five subjects which needs about two hours. So basically, after school between 9 to 5, she has to compulsorily spend another two hours (on most days) completing her work. This leaves her stressed, irritated and unhappy as she has no time for playing, reading story books, watching television or anything else. Apart from that I keep bugging her to finish her work faster so that she can be free for a while.
This happened a few months ago. Precisely speaking in July.
One day, I realized that there was a note (about not completing some work in one of the subjects) from one of the teachers which Anu hid by pasting the pages of the diary. When we confronted her, she mentioned that she was scared of me as I scold her very loudly. I yell and that makes her scared. I felt really shameful when she was telling this to her father. If my child is afraid of me so much that she has to hide things, I am the one to be blamed. It’s my failure as a parent. I decided that I’ll work upon this.
But then the attention span on anything these days is just for a few minutes or seconds. Time kis ke paas hai? Duniya mutti mein karni hai. Dhaud lagani hai. I forgot all about it and moved on.
And then the PTM happened where the class teacher who had complained about Anu not taking any initiatives about two years ago was all praises about her. At last when I complained to the teacher about the above incident, she sweetly asked Anu to go out with her little sister for a while. The teacher then told me that she knew all about it and that Anu herself had told her this. She was ready to go and get punished by the principal, but she was scared of getting scolded by her mother. She told me that Anu was shivering out of fear. The teacher mentioned that knowingly or unknowingly I had started expecting my children to compensate for the extra time they were now getting from me. I was shocked and ashamed beyond words. So much that tears started flowing non-stop. Thankfully the husband was there by my side. It was a sudden and strong blow. It hurt at the right place. And may be at the right time too.
I am really grateful to the teacher for having told me all of that. I learnt my lesson. A valuable one.
I realized that Anu is growing up (really fast) and however much I love her I need to give her space, respect her individuality and control my urge to scream and scare. I thought I was being a friend to her. Her confidante. But if she remembers the good times spent with me, she will also remember the yelling and screaming fits of mine. I have to work upon myself, nurture myself as a mother to help her walk through the right path, help her make the right choice.
Today, after four months, I can’t say I have stopped yelling completely. But I have improved. I try and help them as much as I can and then give them their free time. Finally, I have Anu coming and telling me about her day (and her mistakes) all by herself as I have promised to listen to her without yelling and I try to provide solutions for correcting her mistakes. She’s now more confident too.
We all need to nurture ourselves if we wish to set the right examples for our future generations. Self-nurturing is important to be able to nurture the young ones. I took the pledge to work on my temperament, become a no-yelling Mom and help make it easy for the children.
As a first step, I met her principal and requested her to see to it that the children aren’t burdened with homework after they leave the school at 5 in the evening. She was very accommodating and assured me that she’ll look into it with immediate effect. While grades, scores, awards and accolades are necessary for boosting their self-confidence, the most important thing for any child is a stress-free childhood. Work towards providing them a healthy environment that helps them develop into beautiful human beings.
P.S – Anu, I am sure you’ll read this some day. Just want to let you know that your mom loves you more than anyone else. You made the same mistake I had made as a child. And what hurt me more was the fact that our reasons were the same too. It was my insecurity knowing that you were making similar mistakes like me that made me totally unreasonable. I’m extremely sorry my child. Forgive me if you can.