Thursday, March 06, 2014

Wisdom in Diapers
5 life-lessons I learnt from my 1-year-old son

Last month my son turned one. When I take him out for a stroll or go visiting, I always get asked ‘oh he is one already….so does he walk, talk, do random-thing-that-babies-are-supposed-to-do? What all has he learnt?’ As I was sitting and going through his photos last evening, wondering how fast time has flown (and how stubbornly the pregnancy fat has stayed put), I realized that this little bundle of baby fat, itching-to-bite milk teeth and bum-in-diapers has taught me so much more about life than I have taught him.

I know I will never get asked ‘oh he is one already…..what all has he taught you?’ So here’s the answer to that non-existent question.

1. As a child I never shied away from asking for anything (whether a second helping of cake at a birthday party or some more comic books from my parents). But over time, society, age (sob!) and a constructed sense of etiquette taught me that asking is rude/indecent/greedy and a whole set of other adjectives. But Little Fellow has just been around for a year, doesn’t know what society is and cannot even spell or say etiquette. So he asks. When in want or need, he asks!

Propped in his pram, he goes for a stroll everyday. Everyday he passes by groups of old ‘grandpas’ and ‘grandmas’ sitting on the benches. He doesn’t even know them, but he grins at them, calls out to them in his baby-speak, wiggles his little finger to beckon them over and then with outstretched hands demands that they free him from the clutches of the pram and walk around with him in their arms. Every single day some grandpa or grandma obliges and achy-wobbly knees apart, carries him around. (while I go about wheeling an empty pram!)

My lesson: Ask and you may get, don’t ask and you will never get! So just go ahead and ask for it!

2. Little fellow has just learnt how to walk. He walks around the house, his legs spread slightly apart, wobbling like on a slightly tipsy Friday night. It was quite entertaining to watch him go through the entire process of learning how to walk. First, he would just try to lift his upper body from a sitting position. Then came the standing up phase. He would stand, he would lose balance, he would fall, he would get up again..and again…and again. It didn’t take him long to figure out that sticking out the bum is a good way to avoid falling on your face or hitting your head. It was his ‘safe landing’ trick. Even now when he is walking, at the slightest hint of losing balance, he sticks out his bum as far as he can…and then comfortably lands on it.

My lesson: Try and try till you succeed; but as you keep trying, also learn how to fail safe and land on your bum.

3. My husband and I both have a full-time job. So it is my parents who take care of Little Fellow at home. Ever since the first synapses in his brain kicked in, he started forming a map in his head of each one of us and what we can do for him. So anytime he is hungry or sleepy, he walks over straight to mom and starts tugging at her clothes. If he wants to be taken out for a stroll, dad it is. My husband is his go-to-guy when he wants to play. And I am the cuddly-wuddly bit (sigh!). Little Fellow also has a little equation worked out in his head for visitors. Women = hold you, kiss you, put you on the lap and sit on the sofa yapping away all evening. Men = hold you, throw you up in the air and catch you, take you around, let you play with keys….you get the drift. So when we have guests, he immediately locates the man in the group and goes to him.

My lesson: People are awesome to have around. Understand what they are there in your life for. Play to their strengths and your interests.

4. ‘Rules are meant to be broken’ is something that I have both heard and said oft enough. An old-school professor of mine once said during an examination ‘ copy if you must, but be smart enough not to get caught doing it’. My professor would have been super proud of my son.
He seems to have grown a new-found love for all little specks of dust, dirt, food or just about anything else that he finds on the floor. As he crawls or walks around, anything that stands out on the off-white tiles goes straight into his mouth. After doing the ‘baby please…pretty please’ nice mom thingie (with no success at all), I resorted to good old mommy’s-big-eyes-and-serious-face act. So now he knows its a rule. No eating stuff from the floor. Now comes the best part. When he finds something AND he knows I am looking, he comes over and obediently hands over the little speck to me. BUT, if I am not looking (and he checks that from the corner of his eye), it goes straight into his mouth.

My lesson: If you are breaking rules, you better be super-smart about it!

5. When he does something entirely unacceptable (like trying to put his finger, or my phone, into my cup of hot tea), I raise my voice a bit and do a pretend shouting, hoping that it will dissuade him from doing it ever again. How he responds to it is really interesting. Step #1: He shouts back at me in an equally loud voice. If I still have my big-eye-serious-look on, Step #2: He starts grinning and laughing, testing if I will budge (which, sadly for me, works many times) If not, Step #3: He comes over, hugs me and plants a big slobbery wet kiss on my cheek. (a surefire success). And if after all of this, I am still hell-bent on being a no-nonsense-mom, Step #5: He starts bawling. He shuffles around these steps depending on my mood and the intensity of what he just did. Usually by Step 2 or 3, I am a molten mom.

My lesson: There is no ‘one’ way to deal with a situation. Be creative in how you approach problems. Try anything and everything!


Anonymous said...

I hope he grows up soon enough to teach you that writing is absolutely beautiful, especially when you are awfully good at it. Guess who this is from? :P

shama said...

u r excellant in expressing ur perceptions very very clearly ...plzzzzz atleast for the sake of the almighty who gifted u dis beautiful continue...n do have a hard copy made on a handmade paper n stack it away in a wooden best wishes to u petu!!

Neelam Prabhugaonker Shetye said...

@Anon: Hmm....difficult to say. Let's play 20 questions on that and I will identify who you are :))

@Shamabhabhi: Thank you :) And bingo for the wooden chest idea :D

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