“Sometimes it’s the mistakes that turn out to be the best parts of life.”
Yes! The mistakes we make as young parents are great learning experiences, as the little learners we groom, showcase our teachings in totality. Toddlers imitate parents, caretakers and friends they spend time with. They also show a lot of mood swings. One morning Toddy was up in arms. She was screaming, shedding tears and we celebrated a ‘Tantrum day.’ I was tired of being patient and we were about to make natural truce by sleeping over it when Toddy just fell down and broke her crown. Yes! In a few seconds the bumpy bruise began to show on her forehead. She was crying uncontrollably and I somehow blurted out, “Oh! See you killed the ant.” I began to clap and Toddy calmed down. Ah! What a relief it was for me? We called it a day and went off to sleep.
The next morning my little one went on a ‘killing’ spree. Yes! Her eyes looked bigger as her eyebrows were stretched out and arched to make small hills. And she either slapped the harmless creatures or stamped on them. Oh! I tried to stop her but she was venting out her baby frustrations on those tiny living creatures. She went around ‘slapping’ and ‘stamping’ and her smile exhibited she was enjoying it as an achievement. Oh! I was so miserable but Toddy had learned it by heart.
By evening I was aghast especially when my angel turned monster and took position, lifted her foot and aimed at the colony of ants near a pot in the kitchen garden. Oh! She went stamp! Stamp! Stamp! I just marched towards her, caught her by her shoulders and gave her a shake-up. Yes! She screamed at me and ‘rap’ she gave a tiny blow to me with her hand. Oh! I felt as if I had lost it in life. I somehow controlled myself and decided to work towards a solution.
PLANNING QUICK AMENDS
I realized that mornings are the best to bring about a change of tack as the positive vibes and great energy levels prove to be a boon. I gave a warm hug to Toddy and held her close to my heart. Next I tickled her to make her laugh and played with her for a while. Then I opened her cute lunch box to delight her with salted French fries. I picked one and kissed it before putting it in my mouth. My little monkey did the same and looked quite cheerful with the whole affair. We happily shared the delicious fries but when the last one was left Toddy grabbed it and gave me another ‘rap’ with her little hand. The first thing that came to my mind was ‘Ouch!’ Quickly I feigned a ‘cry’ and began to wipe my tears which weren’t anywhere around. I continued to touch the spot where she had slapped. Toddy was moved and she began to hug me, kiss my hand and mumbled, ‘hurt …mumma hurt.’ Then slowly I smiled, picked her up in my arms and gave her a warm embrace. I carried my little one to the colony of ants and asked her, ‘Say Sorry to ants as you hurt them.’
Oh! Children are such pure souls. The next moment Toddy almost squeezed a few ants to tell them that she was sorry. I kissed her instantly and hugged her. I was guilty of giving her a negative idea but all of a sudden relief trickled to make me feel light. Now I was a bit more careful with words and actions. Not only this but we started spending more time by engaging our little one to creative pursuits like clay modelling, colouring, playing etc. to channelize her energy levels.
ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT MISTAKE
To err is human. Yes! I made another significant mistake without actually realizing its repercussions. Quiet a scholar that she was, Toddy was in love with books. She showed great interests in shapes, colours, pictures, songs and stories. We were great ‘talkaholics.’ I would just create stories and we would put up in-house puppet shows very often. Her toys would enact the roles assigned by us. I was the narrator who would very often tell the story of a doll who was kind and so nice. This meant the doll did not beat anybody and loved everybody.
The back drop to the mistake I am about to share was yet another common place phenomenon. As young parents, my husband and I just couldn’t give up our finicky behaviour. We could not tolerate even a bit of dirt and were too fussy about even a speck of grime. On top of this we used strong tones to exhibit our distaste. When Toddy would dirty her hands, clothes or just anything we would tell her in unison… “Oh! This is so dirty and black.” Even dark brown mud was described as “dirty and black”, the lovely doll who was otherwise a beautiful blue eyed blonde would appear “dirty and black”… just anything that was not clean became dirty and black.
Yes! We associated the colour black with dirt or something loathsome. This went on for a long time… almost two years. I still remember a friend brought a cute Negro doll for my little one. She had a small nose, some freckles here and there and dark curly hair. Oh! She looked so adorable and we called her Lolly. But slowly I realized that my darling daughter would never assign a good enough role to her. Children of two to three years of age understand all the more, absorb ideas, learn fast, imitate and therefore are very quick to implement the same. One day as we prepared our self for a story session, I asked Toddy who was a little over two years, “Why don’t you tell a story to little Lolly. She is so small and pretty.” To this Toddy retaliated and said, “Lolly is dirty… Lolly is black.” Ah! This was a Himalayan blunder. We had instilled this in her mind with constant revisions. Oh! This was bigger and ghastlier than anything we had done as parents. This simple teaching was a root or a fresh beginning to apartheid, class bias and all the other social evils that emanate from discrimination. Yes! We were guilty but we accepted our blunder and began to set things right. Believe me it took a long time to erase our innocent but nevertheless wrong doings. But our continuous efforts and constructive mindsets helped us to reinstate positive inputs. Thankfully our hard work bore fruits but it was a journey fraught with challenges and self correction more than anything else.
BEWARE: YOUR TODDLER LEARNS THROUGH OBSERVATIONS
Another important revelation was that children learn by observing us. If we are angry over small things we introduce them to rage and anger, if we hit them, off and on, then we groom them to become bullies and if we are impatient with their follies and failures then we are diminishing their self esteem. All we need to do is accept our follies and consciously give our babies great positive inputs in an enjoyable way. In fact in our case positive impressions actually introduced Toddy to the spiritual concepts of unconditional love, contentment and happiness in small things which resulted in a great self esteem.
Our mistakes turned out to be the best parts as they made us into conscientious human beings who were (and still are) quick enough to realise them and make amendments.