I have a tiny one at home. A five-year old.
He talks incessantly, laughs monstrously, imagines creatively, and uses good adjectives like a pro.
A few days back, we were re-reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ and he creatively thought of how funny it would be if the hungry caterpillar from the book wormed out and fell on the ground. In fact, he built up an entire story on this which you can read here, however, this post is intended to point out how important it is to inculcate kindness in a kid, especially towards our tiny harmless co-creatures.
If I were to keep in mind that a kid thought of a caterpillar making its way out of a book and falling on the ground, the next thought I would have is that he or she would squish the poor larva.
However, he didn’t do that. He didn’t end the story right there by squishing the larva. He built an entire story by taking care of the tiny creature and budding it into a butterfly right in his home.
I’ve seen more instances of his kindness towards pets and people alike. Sometimes it makes me feel that he could be a 10 year old boy, but one look at him is enough to know that he has learned to be kind irrespective of his age.
Speaking of kindness, we all teach our children to be kind. We instruct, and we preach the importance of kindness. We read out stories of kindness from books. However, it is our own actions which speak more than our teaching. If we as parents show kindness to animals, both tiny and big, they remember our actions and try to imitate them. If we teach them to appreciate the smallest bugs and not squish them, they learn to appreciate the beauties of nature.
Instead of hurting a caterpillar, if we point out how beautiful it looks, how pronounced are the dots on its body, how its legs carry it from the head to the end of the body, our kids will also look at it with kindness and beauty and not really stamp it.
While I’m not saying that kids imitate everything parents do, or that all their actions are a reflection of parents, or that kids don’t have any individuality, I’m only pointing out how important it is for us as parents to show kindness towards smaller creatures and set an example before the tiny tots.
*Note that we are also definitely teaching him how to remain safe from harmful creatures.*
*Also, this is not THE only way to inculcate kindness in our children, but it is definitely one good way to do it*
The very hungry caterpillar from Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ came out of the book and fell with a ‘plop’ on the ground.
Ryan, a curious five-year old, heard the ‘plop’ and looked down to find a scared green caterpillar on the floor. Wasn’t this the same caterpillar he was reading about a few minutes back?
Yes, it was! It was the same caterpillar which was very hungry. Ryan looked closer and picked it up very gently. It was a scared, scared ringlet.
‘Sshh, sshh, it’s ok, it’s ok. It’s just me. I won’t hurt you,’ Ryan said.
Looking up with big round eyes, the caterpillar lifted one of its legs and squeaked ‘Friends?’
‘Friends!’ the five year old replied, and gave a high five to the little larva which toppled off with the impact. Picking it up again and patting its back, Ryan invited it to play with him.
The caterpillar was Ryan’s pet now. It had a sleep-over in his room that night. Both of them slept together, Ryan sharing his pillow with the caterpillar. The wriggling larva slept on its back with all its legs up in the air. Ryan slept on his back, his hands and legs shooting up in the air in his sleep.
The next morning, Ryan and the caterpillar were heard playing car games in his room. The caterpillar would sit on his Hot Wheels cars, and he would swoosh them through the room. The larva would go ‘Weeeeeeeeee’ during the ride down the room. The day looked promising for both of them.
Both of them were hungry soon after their morning games. Ryan fed his new pet a pancake, a chicken sausage, and fresh watermelon juice. Soon, the pet was so full of food that it slept off. The kid took it to his bedroom where it slept for three full days.
The fourth day, Ryan screamed:
‘Mamaa, come to my room!’
‘Coming!’ was the reply.
When his mom entered his room, she saw a beautiful butterfly fluttering all over in the room! Ryan was ecstatic! It was the same caterpillar that had turned into this beautiful butterfly!
However, it was not an ordinary butterfly. It was one that performed a lot of antics. It sat on Ryan’s car on just one leg, on one wing, on its head and twisted itself in funny ways.
While the mom and the kid were watching the butterfly, it fell down with a light thud. It was trying to somersault and hurt its head. Ryan ran to get some ice and rubbed it on the insect’s head. It was fine in no time!
The butterfly wanted to stay with Ryan in his house. The boy, being a very nice host, decided to go out to the garden and get some fresh flowers. He planned that the flowers would be put face up in a bowl full of water so the butterfly could sit on them and drink nectar.
Ryan and the butterfly stayed together since then.
**The story was entirely conceived by the five-year old boy named Ryan. His mom is just the social media channel for the story.**
Eating icecream with a four-year old is a hilarious event in itself. However, all my sympathies and empathies lie with the icecream being discussed. The creamy journey of its life turns out to be pretty bad if it falls in the hands of a 3 or a 4 year old. This is what happens.
We buy an icecream. The stick comes out of the icecream wrapper which gets crumpled within a flash of a second, and I hear ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and slurps of visual satisfaction as the entire icecream makes its grandiose show. Ryan looks at it from all angles trying to decide which is the best bet for the first lick.
Me: ‘Eat it fast. It will melt.’
My words fall just next to where the icecream wrapper was thrown a few seconds back.
After a complete visual survey, Ryan licks it. His eyebrows shoot high. His eyes become wider while his lips spread to his ears on both sides. I hear a never-ending ‘ummmmmmmmmmm’ which makes me take a sly look at the icecream. I find it still holding itself strong.
Somewhere close by, I hear the loud squeak of a squirrel. Ryan’s icecream reverie is almost broken and he looks up at a suspected tree with queer eyes. I notice the white droplet of icecream on his nose. One look at the icecream and I see it drip. One drop falls on the ground. A white circle; radius, circumference, and area undetermined.
That’s the beginning.
It’s starting. It’s starting to melt. It’s starting to melt.
The first tissue comes out of the wad that I bring along for our icecream sojourns. The top of the icecream is the low hanging fruit for him, and he works at it faster. I remind him that the bottom of the stick also needs some attention.
Me: ‘Eat the lower side too. It will melt.’
He looks at the lower side of the icecream. His warm mushy looks melt the lower end which rivers down his right hand, right down to the elbow. Had it been a few decades earlier with the same scene between me and my mom, by now I would have got a resounding whack on my back reminding me to eat it faster.
I am a more patient mother.
More tissues come out from the thinning wad, this time faster, one pulling the other, and the other pulling out more of the others frantically.
Racing against a trickling icecream is a tricky job for a mom. Jumping to my feet, I run to the store next to me and get a paper plate to hold the gathering white puddle. The icecream is in sad danger.
Soon I realize that the paper plate is not enough to hold the white liquid. It needs depth. I run back to the store and get a paper glass this time. What a strange turn of incidents for the icecream. The unsuspecting big bodied thing gets reduced to a mere colorless puddle that is collected in a paper glass.
Finally, it’s time. The momentous moment when the icecream soup is to be sipped. And it gets sipped.
The icecream. gets. sipped.
Here ends the sad life of an otherwise cool icecream.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a pic of the icecream being sipped because I was too busy wiping my hands off the sticky liquid.
“All day long, I sit at my sunny window, staring at the cerulean sky dotted with real birds and motor-birds. I look at the moms and dads who are forever running to work in their hurried best, and I feel so blessed watching them from my eighteenth floor balcony. All day long. When I’m not looking at the sky, I lounge on the sofa, twirling fresh hand-picked Red Globe grapes in my mouth, watching soaps on the tele and sipping on luxurious teas; the hedonism of my ‘housewifey’ life interspersed with peppery talks with my equally jobless friends about my MIL.”
That’s what I do being a stay-at-home mom.
Thank you for the amazing question, and yes, I do notice the enchanting disbelief in your eyes.
It would be a meaningless cliche if I tell you what the question is.
Stay-at-home mom. A term that a lot of people often use disdainfully while trying to figure out what these moms do the whole day, and while just shrugging them off as housewives who don’t know how to ‘kill’ their time. But that is not what I want to talk about here. The point that I’m trying to make here is that we often overlook the real strong women behind these mom-faces, and how we stereotype them as just ‘women with kids’.
Strangely, and sadly enough, what the world fails to understand is that stay-at-home moms have made a wilful decision of being with their kids at their formative years, a decision that is unparalleled in its own, and a decision that is a product of conscious deliberation and extreme gumption. They have not made a sacrifice. They have chosen to be with their kids wilfully. The sad part is that we often end up putting these women into a nondescript bucket without actually looking at who they are as individuals. We never ask them what they are capable of because we have already written them off. They are perceived as just the bearers and the rearers of babies.
I’ve personally tested two scenarios: the first, in which I’ve introduced myself as a mom only; and the second, in which I’ve mentioned that I’m a budding entrepreneur. The second introduction sparks interest and follow-up questions appear (obviously), but the first introduction dies a natural death at the mention of ‘mom.’ It is true that there is no intention to belittle, but not a single person has ever asked what I did before I became a mom.
Let’s face the truth that being with a mini-me 24/7 is taxing and emotionally draining. We all have been there, and we all have felt isolated at some point in time. On the positive side, this is when moms make friends; at the park, the paediatrician’s, at daycares or at nurseries. During the time when I was a complete SAHM, I’ve made a lot of new friends who are moms; mostly stay-at-home. And what I’ve discovered is that behind a lot of these moms are actual strong identities, strong people, intelligent minds. In the last 4 years, I’ve met mums who have been Professors, Lecturers, Illustrators, Biologists, Language experts, and Artists. It has been fascinating to know such wonderful people from different spectrums of life who have revealed gems of personalities beneath their frizzy uncombed hairs and faces tired with babysitting. However, the same professors, biologists, artists are often quietly put aside as just mothers, with no focus on who are as individuals, or who they have been.
Having said everything above, it is also extremely positive to note that most of today’s SAHM’s have ignored the naysayers and are not letting themselves just be moms. They are fulfilling all their motherly duties, and are actually carving out time to nurture an interest, or a passion, or a business right from their homes. They are still growing as individuals while being moms. That is exactly what can bring about a massive change in the way they are perceived.
Ryan has ‘startup ideas’ very frequently. Almost every other day, he comes up with a new ‘startup idea.’ Not only that, he tells us his idea with a lot of excitement and animation. With rolling bright eyes, and hands gesturing the fluidity of his explanation, he ends pitching his idea with raised eyebrows and a question: ‘good idea?’ His mouth generally remains open when he asks this question and his eyebrows still remain highly arched in anticipation of a ‘Yes, Ryan, good idea.’ When I speak in the affirmative, the open mouth easily moulds into a smile. When he sees that the proposal is not met with a lot of enthusiasm, he insists that the idea is ‘really good,’ which, obviously, makes me break into a laughter.
We make sure to applaud his efforts, his thinking, and his explanatory skills each time he proposes an idea. Two of his lightbulb thoughts are as follows:
IDEA 1. He wants to repair torn pants. Hilarious right? He got this idea when he saw his dad disheartened one fine morning.
The dad was getting ready for office, and was about to wear his favorite trousers when he discovered that the trousers were torn at an unmentionable spot. And the tear was visibly there, unmistakable, and gaping. The dad gave a scream of sorrow, and on hearing it, the son ran to get some tape (scotch tape, precisely) to cover up the rip. He got some tape and insisted on putting it on the tear in the pants. I feel that the dramatic sorrow of the dad triggered the idea more than the ripped pants, and the entrepreneurial innocent heart came up with the thought of repairing torn clothes for ‘evvverybody.’
IDEA 2. The second idea is actually a good one. Very user friendly I must say. Ryan wants to build more ergonomic elevators by putting two control panels inside elevator cars instead of one!
It is remarkable that he noticed that elevators have only one control panel inside. Only people who are close to the panel find it easy to press the required button for a floor. If the elevator is a big one, passengers standing on the opposite corner have to make way for themselves to press a button, or request someone to do it for them. Ryan’s creativity processed really fast one afternoon, and he suggested having two control panels instead of one. He proposes that there should be two panels on two sides of the door or on two opposite walls so passengers on both sides find it easy to select their floors. The idea floored me, and I hugged him out of motherly pride.
I am yet to figure out the exact reason why there is only one buttons panel in an elevator car. Can you can be a good samaritan and tell me the precise reason for this design?
He has a lot more such lightbulb moments and we are cherishing them!
“Two times today I was metaphorically slapped on my face and told ‘What a terrible mom you are,’ once by a total stranger, and once by someone close. Seeing tears in my eyes, my 5 year old hugged me, and we cried together.”
That’s what a friend told me today. It left me thinking. This is not just one instance when I’ve heard this from a mom, it is probably the n-th time.
She also told me how sentimentally stupid she felt to not control her tears before her baby, and how unhealthy it was to have broken down in front of the kid. She explained to the kid that sometimes moms are sad, and that was one moment when his mom was sad.
What kept me thinking was that, often, we are judged instantly, and a judgement is passed that makes the person feel how incompetent she is as a mother. She may not even fight back, considering that she is tired doing it over the years and has finally found it futile to give it back, or probably, she is really hurt about it. Especially when the judgement comes from someone close. For a lot of moms I’ve met, it eats into their confidence and drags them further into a slump. For a lot of them, they may silently cry when the kid goes to sleep. For a lot of them, it moves them one step closer to getting depressed. For a lot of them, they may go into a rage right in front of the kid. Whatever their reaction is, the end result is bad.
Being a mom myself, I feel these hard situations are rampant, and every mom has been made to feel terrible at least once for being the ‘kind of mom’ she is. Getting to hear one positive remark of being a ‘good’ mom is in itself almost rare. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not asking everyone around to shower great words for a mom because of what she does for a kid. A mom very well knows her duties, and all she does for her kid is unconditional. It is purely out of her love for the kid that she keeps up all night when the baby is unwell. It is purely unconditional love when she can hold up her own calls to nature when the baby is crying, and it is purely her motherly love when she can hug and console a crying kid the way nobody can do it. Sometimes, not even the father. Yes, I said that.
Since we moms don’t expect to be tagged ‘good’ by someone, we also don’t expect to be tagged ‘bad’ by anyone. Making a judgement is easy, raising a kid is not. There are ups and downs that all moms go through, but we are still trying to give our best shot to the kid.
What we need to tell our judgement gurus is to hold the judgement before they let it slip across their lips, and look for a better moment to explain things to a mom if situations are really not happy. It is easy to say ‘hey, you are incompetent as a mom,’ but it is difficult to step into the same mom’s shoes for a mere 24 hours.
It is not just another mommy rant. It is a genuine feeling.
(Note that Im not writing this for extreme cases when a child is being hit or abused. Im speaking for balanced women who had been/are in a decent career, and who know what comes out of their mouths when they speak. Im also considering single dads in the same boat.)
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a tiny, few years now. Though I’ve been true to the nomenclature ‘stay-at-home,’ ( I don’t know where else I would have stayed otherwise), I have been almost as much in a professional domain as any other working mom. It is just that I’ve not really attended meetings in person, or sent out worksheets, or talked to clients, or been to an office office per se, but I’ve constantly remained in mainstream work with the little time I had in hand. Now that I am making a direct foray into work, I looked back and revisited questions asked to me by other moms and some of my friends who have seen just that mommy face of mine. Here they go:
1.’You have a laptop?’ with eyebrows shooting up to the stratosphere. Im too flabbergasted to reply. What is the big deal if I have a laptop?
2.’You use a power bank? For what?’ Oh gosh, this one! What can a power bank do?
3.’Eh, you don’t watch Bigg Boss? But you are at home right?’ I fail to understand the connection between Bigg Boss and my being at home!
4. ‘Whose Macbook was that in your house?’ I reply ‘Mine.’ Pop comes the followup question ‘Yours??!’ The reaction is often surprising to me, and the reason could be that the people who asked me this were Windows users.
5. The master blaster question ‘What do you do the whole day?’ Again a question that doesn’t even deserve a rant. If I were to mention what I do from 5:00 in the morning till 11 in the night, you would want to run away.
It is fun and weird at the same time to answer questions of such an elevated nature. I have been honored to face such incarnations of curiosity, and I’d love to meet some more! Im sure there are a lot of such questions the SAHM group may have faced. What has been yours?
Flash tales from Ryan.
This happened a few months back when Ryan had just started formal schooling.
Aware that any food that drops on the floor is supposed to be thrown into the dustbin, Ryan makes sure that his food remains in its container and doesn’t really fall. However, being a kid, we all understand how ‘things just fall down on their own'(I am quoting him) when he eats.
Let me note here that he is a chatterbox, and we come to know of everything that happens in his class, or anything new that he may have seen at school. Well yes, until now, he is a radio station for his class.
Apparently, one day, a piece of fruit had fallen down from his snack box. Ryan, strangely, picked it up and ate it. When he came home, he started telling his ‘school-stories’ with excitement. Suddenly, he came to the fruit story. This was how the conversation between us went on:
Ryan with eyes rounded and eyebrows touching the stratosphere: ‘Mamma, today, an apple fell down from my snack box.’
Me: ‘Oh, only one piece fell or did all the pieces fall down?’
Ryan: ‘No, only one.’
Me: ‘Ok. What did you do with it?’ My happy mommy hopes were rising up to hear the word ‘trashcan.’ I heard it, but with a twist.
Ryan: ‘I ate it.’
Me: ‘What! You ate the apple that fell on the ground? Why?’ My happy-mommy hopes already dashed by then.
Ryan: ‘Mamma, I picked up the apple, and looked for the trash. But there was no trashcan in the class. So I ate it.’
My heart melted. I wanted to laugh out loud. I wanted to tell him the alternatives to the situation, but for the moment, I hugged him and laughed.
I love him for his spunk creativity and innocent spirit.
Writing & Blogging by Shailaja V
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