I watched as my son stirred in the bed today morning. He was about to wake up. He opened his eyes, sat up and said “Sorry!”. In a split second my mind was racing to find the reason behind the sorry. Why did he say that? Did he wet the bed, spill the milk, lose his new car, hurt someone, break something in the house?
I asked him what happened.
Mamma I brought something from my friend’s house. [Pause]. Without asking anyone.
For your reference – The kid had been dropped off at a friend’s place the afternoon/evening before while the husband and I had to go shopping for fans, geysers, lights, exhaust fans, mirror frames and kitchen countertops. Phew! And whoever has been to City market/BVK Iyengar road knows that is no place to tag a kid along while shopping.
My whole body and mind went onto alert stage. This would be an ideal case study for the practical exam of Parenting 101: How to handle delicate matters without losing your cool and getting the message across!
I was calm, very calm outside. Inside too actually, or else the conversation would be very different from what it was.
I asked him what did he bring? He fished 2 toys out of his pocket. A Ben 10 thingumajiggy and one of those Hotwheel kind of cars. And then came out a few coins. He had been sleeping with these in the pocket after dozing off in the car on our way back from their home.
He said sorry again and from his face you could make out he knew he had done something wrong. So in a see-the-silver-lining-in-the-cloud way, I felt good that the concept of right and wrong was there in the kid’s mind.
He said “I took it without asking A, (the friend), or P aunty, (the friend’s mom). I took the coins from the piggy bank.”
My usual self would have gone ballistic by now, giving all gyaan about why he shouldn’t do it, why this was wrong, what would the friend and his mom feel, what should he have done, and the whole schpeel.
But today for some reason, I let nature take it’s course with a few prompts, of course!
So I said, “How do you feel about it?”
He said “Not good. I shouldn’t have done this.”
So far so good.
Me: “Do you think this is a good thing to do? Taking things from anywhere without permission from the people who stay there?”
N: “No. We shouldn’t take anything from anyone’s homes or even shops without asking them.”
Me: “Or paying for them when it is in a shop.”
Me: “How would you feel if your friend takes something of yours without asking?”
N: “Not nice”
Me: “Hmm. I wonder how A will feel when he realises his toys are gone.”
N, with eyes wide open, the thought of that striking him: “He will not like it. He will be sad. He won’t let me play with his toys ever again.”
Me: “Hmm, do you think there is a solution to this? Can we do something to make it better?”
N: “Yes, I will say sorry to him. Hold my ears go up and down (now where did he get that from? Discussion topic for the future!) And promise that I will never ever do this again.”
Me: “I think saying sorry is a good idea. Should we also tell P aunty about this? She was the grown up in the house whom you could have asked for permission.”
N, a little reluctant: “Umm, if I tell A, won’t that be enough? I will just say sorry to P aunty.”
Me: “That should be ok, i think. Can you tell me why you did it?”
N: “I really liked these toys and wanted them.”
Me: “Hmm, what did you think would happen if you had asked A for it?”
N, shrugging his shoulders: “He would have said no.”
Me: “He could have said no or yes. But we don’t know his answer because we did not ask.”
N: “I know. Asking is good because when we ask, we get to know things we didn’t know.” – The mantra we use at home sometimes
Me: “What do you think we should do next time, we really like something at someone’s house or in a shop and we want it for ourselves?”
N: “Ask them if we can share it for sometime. If I really like something in a shop, I will tell you or daddy and we will add to my wishlist and buy later.”
Me, taking full use of the self discovery and problem solving by the kid, pushing it a li’l bit further: “What will you do if your friend says, no you can’t have that toy?”
N, looking at me as if that wasn’t possible: “I will request them again and if they say no, I will show that toy to you and you can buy for me the same one” Big grin on his face.
Me: “That sounds like a good plan. We can discuss if we want to buy that toy later on. Let us remember this the next time.”
N: ” Ok, mamma. Next time we go to A’s house, I will take all these back and give it to him. Can you keep them safely for me?”
I am not particularly proud of what N did but then there is a first time for everything and it is our responsibility as a parent to guide them and raise that voice inside which guides their conscience. But I am happy that he realized things himself and was willing to work on a solution, there was no drama from my end and the communication lines between me and N were not damaged
I hope the message has gone through and if not I shall repeat and reinforce.
Have a lovely weekend folks