Children have a way of putting one to shame. At least I feel so. My experience as a mother cum teacher tells me that both roles have witnessed defeats at the hands of the most innocent looking youngster. Let me give you an example.
It was a hot summer afternoon. I had returned from college and was trying to settle down with a book in hand. My children were being unusually noisy that day. They were playing some indoor game and the occasional arguments, accusations and counter allegations were becoming a little too much to bear. Being a teacher I stormed out of the bedroom to silence them in the only way I knew.
“ Silence all of you!” I said “why this commotion? Bring out your rough notebooks and write twenty-five times- ‘I will not disturb mummy when she is resting.’
“Twenty five times….?” Protested my older daughter.
“You will write it fifty times.” I replied, “You are the one who starts trouble.”
“Mummy” my four-year-old son enquired, “How do I write such a long sentence? Can you make it short for me?”
My heart melted at the sight of his innocent eyes. I knew I could not afford to support him but I also needed to split the group.
“I am not punishing you” I said. “ You can come and listen to a story from me.”
“ I don’t want to listen to your story,” he wailed. “I want to be punished just like them. Give me something to write.”
My daughter was just waiting for the opportunity.
“Come here to me I’ll write it out for you.” She said.
Not waiting for my response she took out a paper and wrote in bold letters-
I WILL BE GOOD.
Just then a tiny voice squeaked from nowhere-
“Aunty, may I have a piece of paper? And should I also write the same as them? Or could I replace mummy by aunty?”
It was a friend of theirs who had come over to play and since she had also made a noise she perhaps thought that it was only fair that she should also be punished. And her query was pertinent enough. It was my fault that I hadn’t noticed her presence. I certainly could not punish other people’s kids! I was genuinely filled with remorse and guilt. I tried to cajole her to go back home.
“Why don’t you go home and come in the evening? May be we could go out for a stroll in the park?”
“Please aunty, do let me stay,” the girl was certainly not going walk into the trap laid out by me. “ I promise not to disturb you. Shall I run home and fetch my pencil and note book or could I borrow it from them?”
I was glad to be defeated by these little ones. This was not the first time nor would it be the last. They say victory is sweet but on that day I realized that defeat also could be delicious. These youngsters could transform punishment into fun as long as they remained together!