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“Mom, would you please let Maushi know that I am in the bathroom for a shower and not because of my anger tantrums.” Says my little one as I answer the door bell at 8 that morning in preparation for leaving for office as soon as my son and I are done with breakfast.
Now a 9 year old young man in the fourth grade, Nihaar leaves for school around noon while I, a single working parent leave for office around half past 8 every morning. Satyavati Maushi is an elderly 60 year old cheerful and patient woman who baby sits my son Nihaar for the morning hours each working day and entire days on Saturdays that I work. She has been with us for over two years now and gels well with Nihaar; sometimes tolerating his tantrums, sometimes understandably getting annoyed.
For the past few months, Nihaar had been giving me a difficult time, locking himself in the bathroom and staying in there for hours whenever he got annoyed or when things were not happening according to what he had anticipated. Once he wanted to escape studying and he sat in there for hours, at another time, he wanted extra chocolate to be put in his cup of milk and at yet another time, he didn’t like being shouted at.
As a single parent, having been this way for the past four years, this got me thinking…Am I being less of a disciplinarian in an attempt to over-compensate for the absence of the other parent? Should I be giving in to all his whims and fancies? How can such sweet chubby looking dolls be emotionally manipulative?
I was certainly past shouting, knocking or banging at the door. This was a time to calm down, sit, make myself a cup of tea and introspect. Yes, the bathroom door was always bolted from the inside. There was absolutely nothing I could do except use reasoning and get the kid to come out. At least he is inside the house and hasn’t run off somewhere. The first two times this happened, I’d sit and weep alone for a while trying to understand where I have gone wrong as a parent. As the bathroom locking happened more frequently, I kind of got use to it and began smartly using the time to finish off with my household chores like ironing, dusting, checking emails and even writing blogs!
Noticing me making the most of my time outside, Nihaar also began getting bored of the company of the wash basin, shower, tubs and buckets. He’d call out to me to bargain, “Ok, I’ll come out if we do only 3 of the 5 question answers in the Hindi note book” he said one evening after sitting in there for two hours.
“Aha!” I chuckled to myself as I sat sipping tea by the window, “sounds like a fair deal. I can be a little pushy and insist that he agree to doing all answers and that three isn’t enough.” Is what I thought but the compromise only seemed fair? Obviously, the little chap had realized that the bathroom is after all a boring place and not exactly the best solution to the problem. We agreed that he would do as he said and that I wouldn’t get angry at him when he came out. I reassured him that I had no reason to be annoyed so long as he co-operates and makes a win-win situation for the both of us.
Later, as we turned out the lights for the night and spoke of “going to the bathroom” for brushing before bedtime…”I am going in there to get sparkling teeth,” said I, “not because I am angry. What a boring place to spend hours in!”
The next day, having found the right time to converse with Nihaar, I sat him down beside me and asked what he thinks is the best way to deal with anger. “I am angry…” said I sternly, “all banks are supposed to be working this weekend because of the demonetization step taken by our PM. I wanted this weekend to chill. I waited for this Saturday-Sunday. I never dreamed that I’d go to office on a Sunday. Not only me, all bankers all over India. The nation is going through this financial transformation. We’ve been reading about it in the newspapers, haven’t we?” I spoke as I turned to face him.
He listened attentively. I went on, “I think all of us should lock ourselves in the bathrooms. Do you think that this the best solution to this situation? But there are so many bankers and so few bathrooms. All the bathrooms will be full! And imagine if villagers in rural India got annoyed for some reason…unfortunately few of them are yet to have washrooms in their houses. What will they do when things aren’t going their way?”
One look at his face and I could see that the message had got across. “So, you agree that all that we get or all that happens around is not always going to be as we desire?” I asked.
“Yes,” he smiled, “I think next time, I’ll sit in a corner for 30 minutes when I get angry instead of bolting myself in the bathroom.” He had come up with a milder tantrum. It was my chance to speak, “30 minutes is a little too much. I think 10 minutes is fine. Why waste so much time when there are so many wonderful moments to enjoy in life? What say?” I inquired. We both laughed and agreed.
I know now and believe that over a period of time he will learn that life isn’t always going to be the way we wish it to be and annoyance will eventually turn to acceptance of things which cannot be changed.