Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Go to their world

Great parenting is about two things - i) Hanging in there and ii) Deluding yourself into believing you are outstanding at this. Being from a modern Indian family (ahem!), the wife and I have split things right down the middle. As it turns out, I am so good at my part that I can now share the gyaan as well.

I am working on some marketing ideas for the company right now, so am in the mood for pithy sayings. So, parenting can be captured in one phrase - "Go to their World"

Kids live in a part make-believe, not fully-formed world of their own. They are trying to make sense of all the inputs they receive. Let me provide a sample of what my son has said to me over the past few months.

After watching Ice Age, continental drift, he said: In earlier times, they could drive by car from America to here as the entire world was connected.

When he was told that he didnt exist when Amma and I got married,
he went "So, you guys got married 100 years ago?".
Me:  "Illa da, only 8 years ago".
G: "Then I must have been there, no?
Me: Dei, you are only 5 now. How would you have been there 10 years ago?
G: Why not? I became 5 year old and have been 5 for a long time no. Like that I could have been 1 year old for a long time, 2 years old for a long time no.
Me: Stumped.

It took me a while to explain to him that the seemingly static variable that is his age, is actually a dynamic variable. I really struggled. His idea is actually kinda intuitive as well. (His way of counting is also adopted by a few individuals. All of us know of people who have been at n years of age for more than one year)

We also had a discussion on girls that cannot be put in the public sphere.

Point is, they live in a world that makes sense with the info they have. They continuously adjust their world view with new information, But often, their original world view has its own internal consistency when viewed from the information they have. Its a shame that we rarely see the world from that limited but internally consistent point of view. I am sure it would be brilliant.

Often,we are just anxious to correct these inconsistencies and bring them to our world. But de-camping in theirs is probably a way more brilliant alternative. Once, my son was playing a planes war-game with his Grand-Dad. In about 30 minutes, the pillow dividing the two sides was called Line of Control and they were discussing names of fighter-craft that I did not know about. That evening, my son told me - "We should be careful not just with Pakistan but also China, pa". Hahahaaha Even Nehru did not get that insight before it was too late.

Kids laugh for silly things, they love repeating the same theme over and over again - traits that can be incredibly irritating from an adult point of view. Having said that, they definitely live in a more vivid world that they are more than eager to share with us. Often we do not have the bandwidth to take the effort to go to their zone. Because we know we can survive there for 10 minutes, but would be bored stiff in 20. This is where the "hanging in there" part comes in; better-equipped people should write on that.

I find that I can engage my son and play different games with him, but I lack the patience to stay in his world and engage him on his terms. In a way, writing this down is my bid to increase my patience levels and engagement levels. The most important trick while dealing with kids is to figure out how to engage them - it is way easier if we try to improvise in their world, than if we rush them into ours. 

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