Never have I been so conscious of my own shortcomings as I am now as a mother…to watch how I react every time I feel something. Then again, I think, by monitoring how I react, am I not killing my son’s spirit of spontaneity? While my lovely son has brought back the many delights of childhood in my adult life…the child in me longs for the freedom to be!
If I’m angry, I try not to show anger. If I am impatient over something, I try to be calm. If I get a sudden fright, I try not to scream, lest I scare away the little one. If I get hurt, I do not howl, lest I’m teach my little one to howl every time he hurts himself. He is watching me at every step…every move I make becomes his role model to follow. Or adds to his confusion, because I am not perfect. But when I teach my kid, I teach him to be perfect. You should not cry over little things. You should not shout when angry or irritated. You should not run around when out. You should not hit someone just because they have annoyed you or taken your favourite toy before you could reach it! Etc. etc. etc… If my child goes to a shop and asks for things he likes, I tell him don’t pester. If he looks at things I know he likes and doesn’t ask for them he is suppressing his feelings because he has been taught not to pester.
I wonder why we lay so much stress on being good, doing the right thing, teaching the right behaviour? What happened to childlike spontaneity? Or is teaching behavior all about ingraining the childlike spontaneity with good reactions and actions? What’s wrong, I say, with howling for 10 minutes when you hurt yourself? What’s wrong with hitting someone who has hit you? Oh! the confusion called motherhood.
At one end we teach our children to express freely, and in the same breath we teach them to monitor their feelings and not display extreme behavior. The balance between teaching good behavior and encouraging natural instinct is a fine line one needs to tread very carefully. The secret, I guess, is to guide and not teach or preach. But who on earth has been able to unravel this secret?