Celebrate your child’s childhood
It’s been almost a year since I have started writing this column, and today when I look back at those fifty plus articles, I realize they were filled with tips, suggestions, thoughts of being a good parent and raising children effectively. Today I would like to share an experience of an acquaintance I met during one of my travels which made me think on lines which I had never thought of. It was almost a month back that I met this lady at the Bangalore airport as I waited for my flight to Hyderabad for a training assignment. She caught my attention as I saw her wiping her tears and something inside me made me talk to her and comfort her. As we spoke and got to know each other, I understood that like me she also was travelling for work and thoughts about her child bothered her. For the next three hours, she opened up all that she felt like at that time, and I lend my ears for her feelings. I have tried to pen down her experience and feelings here:
“Time, It flies. It really does. It just feels like a few days ago that I was up on the operation table, attached to the catheter and the needle stuck in my spine making me suddenly feel that my body ended at my chest. My gynecologist, as sweet and as maternal as one could ever wish should be, telling sweetly to hold on. After long hours of pain and protest, all I could hear was a scream from my anesthetist, “Ganapathi Bapa Ala re” and I could see a red wriggling parcel held out for my perusal. I still remember the first time I saw my son, Perfect, from his curled up fingers to his wizened face, eyes that looked sharply at me as if he had so much to say but no language. He was a good baby, no trouble at all, I saw other babies give their mammas hell, thanked stars that mine behaved so well.
Well, he sure made up for all that good behavior as he grew up. His toddlerhood was most difficult- the delayed developments, the PDD-NOS diagnosis (atypical autism), the convulsions, seizers and hospitalizations. They were not only physically demanding but also mentally exhausting. And then there were terrible behavior issues ensued by the therapy sessions. It was a constant struggle. Imagine taking your child to parks, gardens, malls and then struggling with him and answering questions if all was ok with my child or facing those looks from people which meant is there anything wrong with your child? And it wasn’t just ,once it was every single day. My days and nights were mostly engrossed in the thoughts and worries that how would this child of mine cope up as he grew up? Will his ailments worse? Will he ever be a normal child? Will he also be labelled “differently abled”? It was a tough couple of years, long days for not yet three-year-old. Nursery, after school therapy like balancing the ball, stairs, obstacle course and then play games designed to improve his communication skills. Added to all this the traffic in the city, so he and me spent most time of our day travelling. Coming back home, we would push off to park, mall or any place where we could find children because I wanted him to interact with other normal children as much as possible, no matter if he spent the entire evenings in the mall, no matter if people thought he was strange, no matter they laughed at him. I wanted him to learn how to handle all that.
All these efforts were validated after three years, just few months back when doctors told us that my son was fine now, he was behaving and picking up like any other normal child. “Normal”. Trust me it was the most sweet- sounding word in the world and I can see it for myself. My six year old now plays with other children, is liked by them rather they fight to play with him. He has picked up well at school, is liked by teachers too. Now when I look back at six years of my child, yes those were the years of struggle and pain, yes! those were the years which drained me physically, mentally and emotionally, yes! those were the years of humiliation but I am glad that I did not succumb to any of those and let my child be a child.”
I am not sure if I could bring about that lady’s emotions quite well, but for one thing I am sure that listening to her, I was left in an awe, as usually parents in that situation, prefer not to expose their children to others in the fear of humiliation, in the fear of bullying that child may go through but here she not only had the courage to face it but deliberately let it happen for her child to learn. And most importantly she celebrated the childhood of her child, she did not restrict him from doing what a normal child would do. Sometimes we get engrossed in corrections and perfections so much that we forget to enjoy the childhood of our child.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)