This blog has by far carried all the exciting and joyous moments of parenthood…moments of amusement, delight, surprise, pride, bewilderment that come along the journey of parenting…
However, the last thing I want to do is pretend that parenthood is all rosy. The reality is, that statement is the farthest it can get from the truth. Being parents makes you responsible for another individual every moment , 24*7. You are responsible for your child’s health, illness, appearance, temperament, behavior, social life, intellectual progress, physical growth and the hardest of all- YOUR CHILD’S HAPPINESS!
Parenting is HARD WORK. HARD, NEVER-ENDING WORK!
So, here, I will deal with the most confusing and least enjoyable aspect of parenting- DISCIPLINING YOUR CHILD.
Last night was an especially nice one. The kids were in an extra-merry mood because they accomplished an amazing piece of craft each. We even played a game before bedtime. Then,after several reminders that it was time to sleep and they have school the next day, the lights went out, they quietened and Ananya fell asleep soon after.
Ameya was quiet but not asleep yet. I was beside her patting her to soothe her into slumber. Then I noticed a wet edge on her comforter.
Me: Ameya, did you put this in your mouth?
Me: I know you did it. Don’t do it again. Now sleep.
And I continue patting her…
After about 5 minutes, I notice another wet patch.
Me: Ameya , you did it again?
Me: Amma will not get angry if you tell me you did it. Did you do it?
Ameya: No. My ecchal( saliva) dropped on it.
Me: Saliva dropping on it will not make it so wet. Did you put it in your mouth?
Ameya: No. My saliva dropped on it.
Me: It cannot be so wet with that. Think and tell me…
Ameya: I did not do it. My saliva dropped on it.
Me( for the 3 rd time): Saliva cannot make it so wet…
Ameya: My saliva came on it…
SWOOSH- A slap landed on her right cheek. She propped up and wailed.
SWOOSH- Another one on her left cheek….She wailed even louder…
She was sobbing now…
“Amma, I sucked at it by putting it in my mouth”, she said, between sobs.
Me: How many times did you do it?
Ameya( sobbing between breaths): 2 times.
Me: Why did you lie to me?
Ameya: You hurt me!- pointing to her left arm…( evading my question)
Me( even angrier now): Get up and stand in the corner facing the wall…
As she stood there sobbing, my emotions see-sawed from anger to guilt to fear to helplessness to defiance and back and forth and back…
Anger- more at myself than at her: How the hell did I allow her to pick up this habit?
The blame game: Everybody at home is encouraging this…
Guilt: Why the hell did I have to hurt her? Why do I have to lose my temper at this? Cant I think of a better way to handle this?
Fear: If she can lie so nonchalantly at 5, what will she do at 15?
Helplessness: Will this really solve the problem?
Defiance: She is my child. I know how to deal with it…
and back again….
As the moments of torment for both of us ticked, all I wanted to do was hug her and tell her its okay.
But I was determined to be firm this time.
So, all I did was to bring a glass of water and have her drink it. Then I asked her to get to bed…
Me: “Will you lie once again?”
She climbed into bed and lay there sobbing and I sat there watching her…
She sat up, stuck her little thumb out and asked beseechingly, ” Amma, will you be my friend again?”
My heart wrenched. I took her into my lap, soothed her and said( more softly, this time): “Only if you will not lie again.”
She nodded a yes, cuddled into my lap and fell asleep within a couple of minutes.
And I slept only in fits for the rest of the night…
My thoughts wouldn’t rest…Just this afternoon, she had regaled all of us with her imaginary tales of Thumbelina coming to her school…I did not mind that, I even enjoyed it! Did that have something to do with this? Do I stop her from doing even that the next time? Will it curb her creativity if I do that? Does the child not know the difference between a fairy tale and real lying? How do I teach her to differentiate? In all this, am I responsible in some way? If I am, then why doesn’t Ananya lie? What should I do with Ameya differently?
And I would snooze, never really finding an answer only to wake up again and find my way back to the questions….till morning came.
I woke them up for school. I gave Ameya dozens of extra kisses and hugs ( more for my own sake than for hers) and when she finally woke up, she was her usual cheerful self. The first thing she asked, “Amma, has my crown dried well?” ( She had made a crown out of paper last evening and decorated it with glitter and colors).
Its amazing how kids can forget and forgive. Truly live in the moment.
My mind triggered another train of questions- Has she forgotten? Is it good that she has forgotten or bad that she has?
We went through our usual rush in the morning…Brush, bathe, slip into uniforms, do the hair, feed them, pack lunches…
Then, after her milk, I asked her, ” Ameya, did you rinse your mouth?”
Ameya: Yeeee…..No! I will do it now!
First instance of a correction!
Then, while I was slipping on her shoes, she goes, “Amma, yesterday my teacher said I should help you.”
Me: With what?
Ameya: Like washing clothes, and cleaning the table…
Me: Did you tell her that you help me around a lot by setting out plates and watering the plants?
Second instance of a correction!
I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back.
So, did I do more good than harm or more harm than good?
Only time will tell!