“How can I teach him to become a responsible child?”
I was driving home the other day with that question and much more playing on my mind. So much so that I could barely hear the car audio playing Madonna’s Papa don’t preach.
I had been a little worried last few days with the several times of hearing complaints from my Mom about how my four year old son, Tanav, was constantly watching TV after returning from school. There has to be a way out, I thought to myself. But what? And how? After all, my wife and I had tried everything we could, including scaring him that cops could come to arrest him. But, it was not working out any more.
I rolled down the windows hoping that some fresh air and ideas would enter in. And that’s exactly what happened, or so I thought . Although kids always want to have their way, yet the good news is that they are also logical and their mindset drives their behaviors. So, may be I just needed to convince him to start helping the family in some way, and that he would find that responsibility very satisfying!
It felt like an Aha! moment. Although it was perhaps an indirect way to teach someone to be responsible, yet my intuition told me its worth giving a try. I smiled to myself several times and although my car was crossing a flyover, I was feeling more like I had found a way to climb yet another mountain.
I reached home and managed a 1:1 time with Tanav before sleep time.
I said, “I have to talk to you about something.”
Tanav said, “Yes, Papa. Tell me.”
I love it when Tanav says something like that. I have seen that it is the 1:1 time that works if one wants the child’s undivided attention. Not when every one shouts at them at the same time. No one would like that, and we expect kids to take that nicely! Praise in public, reprimand in private. We remember this at our workplaces but forget it back home.
Anyway, I started, “You are a big boy now. And as one grows up, one starts helping the family in some way. See, Grandpa wakes up before everyone else in the family does, and fills water… in the buckets, bottles and water-tanks so that we all can use it all day long. All of us in the family are able to have water for drinking, bathing and flushing. All thanks to Grandpa! Did you ever even realize that?”
Tanav was touched. More so, when I told him that, “The luxury bubble bath that you and your sister take for over an hour followed by a shower is possible only because of Grandpa’s efforts in the early hours each morning!”
All he said was, “Really!!??!! Daadu is very sweet!”
I didn’t want us both to get carried away by emotion, so I quickly added, “Yes, he is. And so is Grandma. She takes care of the kitchen for everyone in the family. And Mom too, she gets you and Sohana ready for school, and helps Dadi with household chores.”
I was going to jump straight to asking him what he could do for the family, but Tanav intercepted, (with what now appears like an obvious follow-up question), “And Papa, what do you do for your family?“.
I was caught off guard but I still thought it would be an easy one, and so I started, ”I … I.. um.. ummm…. ummmmm…!!??!?!”
Oops! What do I do for my family? Do I do anything at all? I must be doing something besides going to office and earning money. After all, every one goes to work and the contribution I was referring to was meant to be more than just that! Besides, even if I said I go to office, then Tanav could say that he goes to school and watches TV all day to help his family! I couldn’t afford to take the risk of something like that being his answer!
Well, the reality is that what was meant to be a teaching for Tanav had ended up becoming one for me. I must have tried to defend myself then but I had learnt that I must genuinely start doing something for my family. I intend to get back to Tanav with a satisfactory answer soon, and before I end, let me ask you the same question, “What do you do for your family?”
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