November 7, 2016

Lessons I learn from parenting

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We are at the table, the husband, I and R, poring over Math sums, word problems that I remembered coming across in a much higher grade than R is in currently. The little guy is restless, as we plod on, tweaking a number here, twisting a question there. His fingers go up clumsily as he counts, miscounts, rushing to arrive at the solution. His eager face falls as we point out that the answer is wrong. Perturbed to learn from us that an answer (right or wrong) needs to be justified by being able to explain the workings, he looks visibly uncomfortable. The session clearly wasn't going down too well with him.

I notice his eyes prick with tears but blinked away bravely. I sense the fear, disappointment, and insecurities masked by his defiant tone. In an instant, my childhood flashes out before my eyes. I signal the husband and we change stances instantly. From anxious parents trying to teach a kid the vagaries of numbers, we relax and reach out to the little human in front of us who is battling complex emotions. We empathise with the child who's trying desperately to win a pat on the back, feeling embarrassed to admit he doesn't understand and yet trying to put up a brave front.

It doesn't matter if you don't know. What matters is you learn and learn it the right way, I hear myself say. Why the steps and the explanation, he protests? When you break complex problems into bite-sized ones, it gets easier to find the answer and it's also a validation that you've learnt the lesson rather than arriving at the goal without realizing the whys and hows. It helps to be organized and discplined in Mathematics. I elaborate.

The reply I gave was an epiphany to me. Didn't this logic apply to Life itself? And, how easily I parted with the wisdom I struggle to ingrain in my life! I almost felt like a fraud doling out sage advice to a child when the adult in me forgets to apply the same tenets.

Yet, I was grateful for how this scene played out. It gave me a chance to pause, reflect, and take stock. It was not a chapter in Math but a reminder of life-lessons. I became the student rather than the teacher.

In another scene, R came back beaten, not in the literal sense, from the playground. Another boy had been bullying him, using the age old tactic of needling, teasing or even hitting him on multiple occasions without provocation. Incidentally, the boy is a part of the 'friends' brigade and I've observed R pandering to his whims and fancies soon after the boy offers an apology that is mere lip-service.

Again, I found myself mouthing wisdom that I had shied from implementing in my childhood.

Standing up for one's defence and self-esteem needs to start early. Identifying the real friend rather than being desperate to fit into a clique will go a long way in having a healthy relationship with the self. A good friend will always encourage and someone who finds your weakness to hold it against you time and again will never be that friend. Asking for forgiveness isn't the same as feeling repentant. And, one must be able to differentiate between the two. 

These are Zen rules and I realize that I do not walk the talk at all times. I'm aware that my child will learn from observing rather than listening. In that sense, I'm being given a chance to redeem myself through the child and I hope to learn well and not squander away the opportunity.

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"Raise yourself before you raise your kids"-Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. 
I'm reminded of this quote and try hard not to merely preach or sermonize. Trying is the operative word here :-)

Do you feel similarly? Do share your thoughts.