Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Most places I take my daughter to, there seem to be one common scenario. She is first asked her name, little small talk and then starts a weird way of playing - "I will take your mom with me", "Your grandmother is mine" kind of statements. Now, she is a pretty talkative and friendly kid. Usually does not hesitate much to interact with people. But when such scenarios arise, I clearly see her expressions change, she isn't sure if she can trust this person who wants to take away people close to her. She immediately responds with a "No, I want my mom/ajji" and then avoids interacting with that person.
I recently visited my hometown with my daughter. Always love being in the town and house where I was born and brought up. Peaceful city, greenery everywhere, sweet memories and familiar people make me want to go back again and again. However, when these familiar people interact with my daughter, I see them in a whole new perspective as a parent!
First was the house-help. She was delighted to see the little one and started talking to her. My daughter hesitated a bit initially but gradually reciprocated. Until ... Until that lady started making statements like "Whose toy is this? I will take it home." Or when we are out of sight, say things like "Your grandma went off leaving you here". We sensed my daughter's anxiety. My mother gave the house-help an earful saying that is not how you talk to a kid; if that was the way she spoke, the kid would never ever talk to her. The lady, though uneducated had enough sense to realize her mistake and did not repeat it. But first impressions matter a lot even to these young minds. The whole one month I was there, my daughter felt insecure in her presence. She kept saying "Jayalakshmi ajji will take my shoe/toy/whatever" and wasn't too happy. We kept telling her that is not true but her tiny mind had already made an association.
Next was the neighbor. She is an extremely helpful and resourceful person, we are on very good terms and she has helped my mother in every need of the hour. My daughter however never seemed to get along well with her. For the same reason. She made similar statements too. "Your grandmother will stay at our place. She will not come home". Now, such statements make deep impacts on their brains.
And then were the other "aunties" I met during our day-outs. I do not understand why one needs to speak to a kid this way! Forget kids, even adults will not like it. If a stranger I just met told me that he/she will take my mom with them, won't I get angry and insecure? First thought would be "Who are you to take my loved ones away? Why would you do that to me?" When we adults cannot think of being away from our loved ones, how would babies who consider their (grand)parents to be their world feel about it?
In contrast to the above scenarios, I also took her to couple of other houses, where she spent hours together talking to those new people without any inhibitions and enjoyed her time thoroughly. Not once was she asked or told about her mom/ajji being taken away. The chatterbox that she is, it was fairly easy for them to strike a conversation with her and keep her engaged in many different ways.
Most of such statements come from elderly people who seem to have dealt enough with kids or grand-kids. These people find it funny to tease young minds this way! They do not seem to understand the impacts of their statements. No offence to anyone but it is to such people I want to say - There are so many other ways to play with them and talk to them. Just try to be one with them, listen to them and see how friendly they get! And if you cannot think of any other way of interaction than such teasing, it is better you just say hi and leave it at that!!