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James Baldwin once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Yeah! I am sure this quotation resonates with most of you. You tell a child - not to scatter the colors around, not to tear pages, not to put the Lego pieces all over the house, not to scream, not to throw tantrums when you are tired after a long day-out, not to spill the food all over the table mat and chair, not to spill the drink on the floor – and they will do exactly the same thing. I guess it was some law of Murphy on repulsion between order and obedience in the mother-child world, which Murphy forgot to record … perhaps because his mother asked him to record it!!!
Nonetheless, you utter the word ‘Shit’ only once in a blue moon and you are sure your child has not only listened to you intently but also has grasped it and is now ready to use it over and again as an integral part of his language. In such cases in fact, you become like a character of a horror movie or of Big Boss, who is living with the consciousness of being under constant scrutiny of your conduct by a little mischievous member of the house, who is powerful enough to catch you unawares even if you accidentally slip once! Ufff…
While I have been managing this difficult balance between my pre-motherhood and post-delivery selves, for the last couple of years especially I have to constantly remind myself of what to speak and what not to speak in front of my son. And, the self-imposed restriction continues from language supervision to behavioral acts too.
However as they say, ‘old habits die hard,’ I too could not overcome one of my habits - my addiction to coffee. My efforts to ensure he eats all the nutritious food items by imitating the other family members also lured him to show a fantastical curiosity in this drink, which under no circumstances, I could offer a little child. I often tried to offer him milk whenever I would have my cup of coffee, but milk has never been his favourite. In fact, he would have been glad if I removed this particular drink from his daily regime. He blatantly refused to accompany me with a glass of milk and insisted to have only coffee, which he sweetly referred to as “the light brown drink.”
I could manage to make him eat all vegetables and fruits by saying that the rule of the house is that everyone eats everything and that there is no exception to anyone. And now if I denied a drink that I visibly relished so much several times a day, it would only instill more curiosity and eventual disbelief in him toward me. So, I really couldn’t ignore him for too long.
Just on one such day, my husband landed with a box of Junior Horlicks
that he found in the local grocery store. I had heard long back that milk was nutritious as it was and there’s really no need to mix anything in it. And, so until that point of time, I had not bought any nutritional supplements for him. However, the man of the house thought otherwise. He claimed that he had a brilliant plan, which would shoot two birds with one stone. If I started mixing this newly introduced grocery item to our household, I could offer our son “the light brown drink” while having my own cup of coffee. The daily struggles of coaxing him to drink milk could also be taken care of. While I was still doubtful of this master plan, that day my husband proved to me that there is something called paternal instinct also.
Yes, it worked! The first day we served him his milk mixed with the malted milk powder, my son was overwhelmed to get what he had been asking for sometime now – ‘the light brown milk.’ He sat down with me. While I was taking my coffee sip as I was doing my work, my son started reading a book sitting next to me, sipping his drink in the same style. I was apprehensive if he would retain his interest as he didn’t like milk at all. But, he continued with style, imitating me … as if he were quite used to drinking it for a very long time.
My life became easy with one simple idea. He started drinking milk everyday without any fights in the house. I really didn’t need to convince my mother or myself any more that the nutritional quality of milk was a myth as that was not a challenge any more. Additionally, he started getting all the nutrients that were added to this malted drink in terms of DHA, Choline, milk calcium and other daily nutritional requirements, which I was not sure if I was offering appropriately until that point of time. And, as my son is growing, I am also upgrading my purchases based on his growth requirements appropriate for his age. In fact, I’ve started to carry this drink when we go for long trips to ensure that the food-on-the-go doesn’t leave my child with improper nutrition even for a few days. Till date, my husband takes credit for being the reason behind my son’s successful habit of drinking milk.
Image Credit: MomJunction