Long long ago my daughter resorted to bed wetting even at the age of three and in order that she may not feel upset my husband said ‘It wasn’t you my child, I did it. It was me.’ So it was customary for her to wet the bed and call out to me and say ‘Appa has done it again!’. I’d pretend to get angry and she’d say ‘Never mind appa, don’t do it again.’ I’ve forgotten how she got over the habit but I remember she got over it before going to a regular school.
Years rolled by and grandchildren came along. We’d take our grand daughter Megha for evening walks. We’d invariably ask her to use the rest room at home before we left home and once again before she finished playing and it was time for us to return. She has the habit of waiting till the last moment and announcing at the most inappropriate moments that she wants to do ‘pee-pee’. The few minutes she needed to go to the rest room would not be sufficient and she would wet her pants. Or we’d be returning home and just when we’d be reaching for the door, damage would be done. Her dad being rather strict would scold her for not being careful.
Brat that she happens to be, she resorted to another trick. She’d suddenly want to be carried on my back. ‘piggy ride amma please!’, and I’d give in. It was not that I did not understand. I felt that a piggy ride would perhaps ease things out. But no, I’d suddenly fell something warm trickling down my kameez and the girl had done it yet again! To top it she’d tell me ‘please amma, tell papa that you did it!’. She’d further tease me saying that people on the road would think that I had wet my pants! Just like her aunt I’d think but would try to save her from her dad’s wrath. We’d both pray that her dad would not be in the basement and use the toilet there to wash up and rush upstairs for a change of clothes! And did I notice a suppressed smile on my husband’s face or was it my imagination? Those were time when I truly missed India where a child could be made to squat behind a bush to relieve herself.
I think one thing that has not changed is childhood. Children continue to remain children whether in America or India. At the park where we took Megha I regularly met other parents and grand parents. We were all from different countries and cultures but the children were the same. They played to their hearts content and had to be invariably dragged home.
‘Okay, I’m goin’ home’ I heard a Mexican lady say. “Remember to say hi to foxie when she comes out to play with you’.
I was reminded of the time when my mother/aunt would threaten to call poochandi. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the bond that children share. I have mentioned in an earlier post how my kids preferred punishment to being separated from their friends. They can fight verbally as well as physically. But try separating them and you are their common enemy. I hear that when my grand daughters (from two sets of parents) got to spend time together they were constantly quarreling for the same toy/book whatever. Priya gave her daughter Megha ‘time out’ and made her stand in a corner. Two year old Aarya went and stood by her side pulling a long face as if she was saying ‘So what if we quarrel. We are still friends’.
My only request to parents of little kids, particularly those in India is not to snatch childhood from their children. Let them run wild once in a way for ultimately they’re going to love you for it.