When I see Richa talk to people around her..to other kids in her class, with her Didi’s friends, in a gathering, I find her talking confidently, without any restraint, whatever comes to her mind, no filter between the brain and mouth. sometimes even to gain attention or impress other parents especially, her teacher. She is not trying to be friends or fit in. What can one expect of a toddler right?! Even if some inadvertent talk comes of her mouth..she is easily forgiven or..we just laugh it off. I find the other kids in her class behave the similarly too. No inhibitions, very assertive…they haven’t still found the “shy” monster to hover over them. Modesty not being their virtue.
She gives me instructions on how I should place her plate of food and water at the table..like I actually, learnt it from her. If I tell her that I’m going to stop feeding her..that she isn’t eating..She answers saying
“Mama..I’m eating, I’m not swallowing!!”
Its cute..the ways of these preschoolers. Playing teacher, maybe you decided to feign ignorance..maybe, you didn’t follow the same sequence of toasting the bread and spreading the butter on it..Then beware! they will give you a mini training course on the right way of toasting the bread and spreading butter.
Another time, when I spoke of the deer who was waiting under the steps outside. She had insisted that it was not a deer but a reindeer and it was waiting for Santa. I walked away convinced that , that might indeed be the case. Why else was that deer so confidently staying put in its spot, in spite of watching us, watch it from the window. It surely had some support ..that invisible Santa, it was!
She also is very particular of how she wants to dress up. Always interested in dresses that show off more skin!!
“Its so cold, you can see the snow outside”, I try to show her proof!
Crying and bouncing in frustrations is what follows.
She needs to dress her way, not because she wants to impress her peers. I haven’t seen her notice, how her peers dress in class.To her, this is the way she is going to feel good. She is happy with the 2 pony tails she wears everyday.
She has some dress codes. She needs to wear a “Lehenga” when its time to pray or to meet Aunt D( I wonder why she made this connection of an Indian costume with Aunt D ). The main point being..she talks what comes to mind and dresses as she feels, not influenced by any fashion trends. Carefree, unaware of any consequences attitude.
It reminds me that my triplets had been like that at one time too. They used to talk without any reservations, so cutely, many times, putting us in embarrassing situations when they commented about somebody inappropriately, so loudly! But now, they are so self conscious of what they talk. They have become very shy and elementary school wise too!
N used to wear 4 pony tails on her head at one time..Right 4! The 2 normal ones on the side..one tiny band, in the front that held her fringe and one at the back to hold that extra hair coming off. She loved this style. She felt like it was her signature. It looked different from all of her friends. She wasn’t bothered to fit in, then. She just loved being different. I had felt that she is one confident kid..
K had been a shy baby so, there isn’t much I can compare of her from then and now. P had been a bully when she was a toddler. The way she demanded a hug when she had done something wrong and she got reprimanded. That was her closure to the incident. Nothing else would matter if this wasn’t completed. The ring of that bass sounding cry is still there in my ears.
“I want a huggy”
Now, 8 years younger, she is the same as far as needing the hug..but doesn’t feel bold enough to ask for it…with the same confidence.
All this reminds me that Richa will soon become different too and I wonder how to make this carefree spirit of hers stay, as she grows. I think that will be a battle I am never to win because, this is the law of growing up, right?! That, kids start to get aware of their surroundings, aware of the expectations that are set of them, the different types of people around them, their friends, who they want to be associated with, their peers, the need to be liked by their classmates, the need to fit in, to belong to a group, to weigh, how cool their fellow classmates are, with the number of friends they have..and that omnipresent..self-consciousness. What if, somebody will mock them for what they just said or how they dressed? They don’t want to be different or unique anymore!! What if, some classmate at school will say “Eeewww”?!
This morning...Neha was totally confused about how she should wear her hair...She felt, it was long enough to be tied up but, disagreed on how I had suggested it to be tied up.
She wanted it tied in a way that wasn't working...She insisted on this, and I wondered why! A very good guess turned out to be true. Her friends at school were having their hair tied like that.
“Well fine, go ahead and try..but, you don't have long hair on the back of your head!” I reminded her.
“Why don't you hold them together on the sides..you will be able to have 2 ponytails..”, I suggested.
That felt very childish to her..She’s all grown up..right?! She’s all 8 years BIG…far from being a kid. OMG!! just a little knowledge of 3 years in school and they think..they are BIG! The rest of them..are kids. The kindergartners, the first graders, the second graders..They are kids. Not her!
The most important reason:
“What if my friends say Eeewww?”
I tried to explain her the importance of being confident.. Tried to explain her ..how trends start. How some confident person dresses a way and it gets into vogue. All this talk, did help her to come to a compromise on how she is going to tie her hair..but, I don’t think she bought any of my talk..or at least..she didn’t feel confident enough to be that person who, will start a new trend. But, when she returned that evening..her hair was still tied the way she left in the morning. Yey!!
K had hurt herself over the weekend. She had fell and, her teeth had cut the skin on the inside of her mouth..Now she had a BIG doubt of her own..
“What if my friends want to see the hurt, Mama? What if they ask me to show the hurt?”, she asked me.
“Show them”, I replied.
“Then, they are going to say “Eeewww” to me”, she said.
“Then don’t show!”, I told her unable to suggest anything that would be right in her perspective.
P was in front of the mirror, trying to decide on her hair style, if she should leave them free or bind them with a band. She had already spent a lot of time deciding that leggings is not something she can wear now…She prefers the boot cuts but, the leggings feel warm..she had thought.
Still, she chose the boot cuts over the warmth of the velour leggings. Style had already taken precedence over comfort. When she returned from her school, she was sad and crying.
“I wasn’t invited to my friends birthday party!” she cried.
I tried explaining her..it must have been inconvenient for her parents to hold a bigger party and they must have had a smaller party in which they called close friends.
She had wanted herself to be among those friends who made it to the party! Some of her classmates lived in the same community as the birthday girl, who made it to the party. It took a while for me to explain her that it was ok for kids to choose close friends and reminded her…
“You have your own circle of friends around your home too, right!”
“But, I want to be V and M’s friend too!”, she wailed.
“Why don’t you get friendly to their moms?!”, she demanded of me.
Not only was I supposed to get her to realize that friendship cannot be forced..but, now I was expected to force my friendship on her classmate’s moms, disregarding their schedules and whatever it is that we moms are busy with. How do I explain to this child that we grown ups need to feel that “click” in our minds to take friendships to the next level, that is, when we have the time and patience to consider a new social acquaintance.
“Look at the positive..You three are a group yourself, and, you didn’t need to do anything to belong to this group!”, I continued trying to convince them.
All this need to belong to a group..will surely be one of the struggles of growing up. Its bound to happen, that eventually, they will find that one or two or group of friends who, they will finally feel, they belong with. Until then..they are going to try to follow trends, and promise parties to their friends so they will get accepted among them.
Welcome to growing up my darlings!!