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Some months ago when I got myself embroiled in an unpleasant argument at a park, I realized how important it was to look at your children from others’ eyes especially at a public place.
One evening while strolling at some distance from swings, where my daughter was having a nice time all by herself, I noticed a middle aged man halting his walk and approached her to say something. As I increased my pace to find out what was happening, I saw my daughter getting off the swing with a bewildered expression on her innocent face.
“What’s the matter?” I asked feeling perplexed about what could be the issue.
“See, these swings are meant for younger children and not for kids of her age group, who leave them broken as it cannot bear that much weight,” he clarified his point but I found his objection debatable. Maybe because, I guess the mother in me was not in a mood to see her child from others’ eyes.
Since I had been a frequent visitor to the place and had seen children of my child’s age group using that particular swing which did not bear any sign about the age group, I could not resist asking him why he had picked only my child. To me it appeared like the case of a negligent inspector, who allows many to flout rules but randomly catches a few and put the entire burden of lawlessness on a few heads.
The argument was brief but slightly bitter. I believed the guy, though not a watchman or any office bearer of the park was only performing a public service. I genuinely liked his concern for a public place but what really irked me was “why he specifically picked my child and made her vacate her seat, while allowing others to enjoy”. If he cared so much, he should have asked every child his/her age to decide who could sit or who should leave. I was really enraged and did not leave before expressing myself in a few hot words.
After some time, when I had mellowed down and regained my sense of reason and rationale thinking I reviewed the situation much more positively.
At that time, when this incidence took place my daughter was just nine, but her well-built physique, add a couple of more years to her actual age. That fellow naturally picked her, while ignoring the other petite-light weight figures, giving them a benefit of doubt. To him she must have appeared as a big girl with more weight. While I still thought he was not justified in his approach, the incidence taught me how as parents we sometimes need to take stock of the situation from other eyes while dealing with our young children.
My daughter’s tallness (not usual for kids of her age) often becomes an impediment for her to act her age freely. If she along with her friends indulges in something totally childish and funny, any outsider may feel that a big girl has ditched her own group to join the younger lot. I may still see her as my bundle of joy package of love, but for the world she is a young girl at the threshold of entering teenage.
Children grow up fast, but often we, parents (usually with a single child) yearn to hold on to their cuteness for a little longer. Letting them sit in your lap, feeding them with our hands, enjoying their crazy antics or smiling at the sight of a favourite toy by their side are a few things which remind us that their childhood is still not over. They can be sober and show a great deal of decency when they reach that age, why make them shed innocence and childishness much before their time, we may think so. In the confines of our homes we are free to lavish them with everything to keep their childish streak alive. But when we step out, there are certain things, we need to leave behind.
Why I say this is because the guy did not at look my daughter as a child having a nice time, on the contrary he saw a grown up child breaking a swing. As a mother, I knew she was not that old or heavy, but from the other person’s perspective she was a big child inappropriately occupying a little child’s place and that was the very reason he spared the rest. I now feel I too should look at her from an outsider’s view point and forewarn her to avoid facing similar situations, which can be both embarrassing and annoying.
The outside world is often not too forgiving. The cuteness and lovability which parents see in their child irrespective of their age can be perceived as an anomaly by others. Here, I don’t mean to support any flaw, any deviation in the behaviour/speech pattern to go unchecked.
P.S. I really wished the park authorities mentioned the weight limits with swings, had they done that the guy must never have said some really nasty things to me.