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There are two very commonly used proverbs in English: “Like Father, like son” and "Like Mother, like daughter.” Although on the surface level, they may look very gender-biased, they more or less indicate that children take after their parent(s). This may sound biologically plausible due to genetic and familial factors. But, an individual’s overall personality has a lot to do with their own basic inborn traits and their response to the world, even outside of the household.
I became aware of this too early as a mother that my child’s personality was a lot different from mine and that of my husband. We are both ambiverts and love to live in our own happy world, choosing our own public time. However, we have been challenged with parenting a child, who is always in the limelight wherever he goes. Initially, it used to make us a little uncomfortable when the entire attention would be focused on us as he would run around, talk loudly, mingle unhesitatingly with all in every gathering, steal everyone’s notice by partaking in every game and event in parties, and so on. There were times when I found myself being called upon on the stage by being virtue of the mother of my son, who would have already participated in whatever was going on. I would come back home and try my best to convince my little one to check with me before jumping into things. Before going out for a day outing with a big group of friends or a birthday party, I would give him pointers to remember in his little memory: “Don’t be too excited. Sit near me. Don’t walk away and join whatever is happening.” But, every time he would give me a puzzled look with widened eyes, making it obvious that we were not on the same page. He did what he loved to do, spontaneously and exuberantly, and our persuasions to tone down his enthusiasm didn’t make any sense to him, especially at his young age.
This kind of a forceful arrangement was not making the three of us happy in any way and was taking away the zeal from my son to go to social gatherings or among people. It was then I and my husband realised as first-time parents that we were actually unintentionally curbing his true self. In order to ensure our comfort, we were asking him to do things beyond his logic and understanding and making him uncomfortable. We pondered over the situation and decided if one party has to move its cheese, let it be us because we, being adults, have done it often already for others anyway. We decided to accept him the way he is without any pretence rather than moulding him into the typical 'like parents, like child' mode.
From that point, we've always let him explore the world in his own sweet terms - to enjoy, to experiment, to learn, to participate, to be in the limelight, to create his own space away from us, to make people remember him as him and not necessarily as our son, to connect with the world with his own talent and behaviour. In fact, we've started taking efforts to move out of our comfort zone and be hand-in-hand with our little extrovert. There have been moments of discomfort and embarrassment at times, but we’ve felt better upon taking everything sportingly and enjoying his spirit. His excitement and enthusiasm heighten every time he finds us participating with him or encouraging him; consequently, our filial bonding has strengthened further.
For, in this process, I have also learnt to be empathetic to his wants and desires. I always ensure I am there to oversee him and help him in case he needs me. But, I have let him follow his heart and build his own story of new experiences for himself. As I watch him grow, I feel happy to see a kid, who is inquisitive, adaptable, friendly, and an explorer. He is confident and fearless in taking up new roles for himself on his own, be it acting in a skit, anchoring on stage, trying out new sports activities like martial arts or skating, engaging in leadership roles like that of a class monitor or a school bus coordinator, doing calligraphy and crafts, etc. After all, childhood is the only phase when we do things without getting hindered by what will follow next or who will think what. And the more such memories of the childhood we have, the more confident and content we as adults are. Childhood is not about doing prescriptive things, but about exploring your imagination through innocence and celebrating the simple joys of growing up. I have decided to let my son live his life in his terms and not in my terms. I have unleashed his passion and energy, so he can enjoy his childhood unfettered: Khuljaye Bachpan!
As authoress C. JoyBell C. said, "the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway... let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”