When the trainers need training….

My 2-year old grand-daughter taught me the true meaning of the word challenge! Before my daughter landed here in Mumbai with her daughter, I reassured her that within a couple of weeks we’ll train her on important jobs. Soon I realized that it’s the biggest challenge of my life! Here are a couple of instances to illustrate this.
She gets up around 7am and the very first challenge is to make her brush her teeth. The moment you mention brush, she would run away protesting. But her persistent mother would never take a no for an answer and after a little struggle, she would manage to catch her and brush her teeth while the little one is looking for opportunities to escape all along! Rinsing her mouth with water is yet another struggle. One needs to use boiled water to make sure she wouldn’t gulp dirty tap water, although my suspicion is that she must be quietly gulping tooth paste as well as water!

Eating is the next big challenge! Children love to eat anything but what their mothers would like them to eat. If you offer bread they will rather polish off jam selectively carefully avoiding all contact with bread. If you offer Idlis, the side dish has to be, as any south indian would have guessed, sugar. Eventually, the side dish would turn out to be the main course!

Milk is a must for children and there will be no compromise on this, as any mother would declare passionately. But then our kid is used to drinking her milk from a feeding bottle and hence in her mind there is a strong association of feeding bottle with milk. So the challenge is to find ways and means of weaning her away from feeding bottle. She would refuse to drink milk in a glass thinking it’s a completely different drink. We considered a number of options to camouflage the appearance and taste of milk and finally settled for Bournvita renamed as Hot Chocolate. We had reasonable success with this innovative rebranding since the kid seemed to associate the “goodness” of her favourite chocolates with hot chocolate drink!.

Finally, the ordeal of breakfast is over and the poor mother would settle down to have her breakfast. Just then the child would announce – Aayi – triumphantly. That is the moment when the entire household gets alerted. Everyone in the house would give up whatever she or he is doing and shout almost in chorus: koinda aayi ponamam (the kid wants to do the big job.). Poor mother would jump out and run with the kid to where the potty is even as everyone is watching anxiously to find answers to their questions such as: has she already done the job before she announced it? If not, is she going to control until she lands on the potty. After a few anxious moments all the questions are answered. Depending on the final outcome, the entire household is either excited or depressed. Excitement is followed by cheering her up with bribes such as chocolates or candies or wafers! In the event everyone is depressed because the kid answered the call of nature much before she made the announcement, there is a debate on what went wrong. The kid’s mother would give sermons to the kid saying – don’t you know, You ought to do the job only in the potty, emphasizing on the word ONLY in desperation? Someone would advise the already frustrated mother: you know you should have taken her straight to potty immediately after her breakfast. The kid’s grand mother would support the kid saying: poor thing, she hasn’t understood what we are trying to convey. She probably thinks she has to sit in the potty after doing a big or small job!

My other daughter from the US would chip in on skype with her own sob stories of how her kid is also failing the ”potty” test. She says: I don’t understand how you guys trained us but it looks like an impossible task to make them understand.

If making them answer calls of nature is a daunting task, making them sleep is even more so. Mothers have to be at their innovative best as one single technique or strategy will never work. If story telling works on one day, singing a lullaby with lights switched off would work on another day! If the mother is already tired and sleepy, one technique that would always work is to force them to lie down on the lap with face down and keep tapping on her back non-stop. The child would then cry for a while and go off to her beautiful world of sleep. When she is asleep, one cannot help wondering whether such a sweet little angel is capable of causing so much trouble.
The challenges of bringing up children are plenty and one wonders whether the self-styled trainers themselves need training!

If all this is challenging and at times frustrating, are there any compensations? Yes there are plenty – When she comes running to you shouting ”thata” when you are back home from office is a great moment to relish. She would put her hands around your legs imploring you to pick her up. Her cheerful smile and spontaneous laughter are infectious and one would join her with equal excitement. Her untiring enthusiasm to keep playing throughout her waking hours is worth emulating. She is genuine in whatever she does – crying or smiling or laughing. Children, by nature, truly live each moment in the present without being told to do so while we adults have to be reminded every now and then.

Published in: on March 24, 2016 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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