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Friday, July 2, 2010


I was never a child-lover and I don’t claim to be one right now.
I remember getting irritated with a nephew of mine because he walked all over the place including my freshly laundered bed-cover with shoes on and his mom said nothing so I concluded he was a spoilt child.
I never had to change diapers or nurse nappy rashes because my two younger half-siblings were raised in a different home. And I am not married so I don’t have kids of my own.
I was never familiar with baby-talk or lullabies. I still don’t know how infants should be fed or weaned.
But as I grew up into a young woman (lady?) I started liking kids. “Adoring” is too strong a word. I just started liking them. I don’t know how, when and why (Maternal instinct?).
I love those wide, innocent eyes, the round, dimpled limbs, the toothless smile, their lisping chatter, their sprightliness (if they are not too mischievous).
I love talking to them, teasing them, and once in a while when I am in a wild mood, playing with them.
I have never done a crash course on child psychology but I think I understand kids pretty well and they understand me, too.
When you like them genuinely, they return the affection and that is what makes it so worthwhile.

My maternal uncle’s kids run into my arms whenever I visit them. (Sigh) These moments make life worthwhile.
One of my cousin sister’s son watched me with huge, imploring eyes as I turned to leave as if pleading me to stay behind and play a little while longer with him. I felt an irresistible urge to gather him in my arms and kiss him but I controlled myself.
Even the “naughty” nephew I mentioned is a cutie. He is round all over. And simply brilliant (he is always on a computer). Maybe he will outgrow his “naughtiness” with time.
Okay, I love kids and they (hopefully) love me. But I don’t indulge their every whim. I know when they should be appeased and when a “No” should be a resounding “No.”
And I know they respect me for it. Maybe even love me more.
One day, I went to the Swiss Bakery. I had an appointment with someone and was waiting when suddenly a group of maybe 5-6 little girls entered and started ordering for some goodies.
I called one to me, a cute little girl with a ready smile and asked her whereabouts. Then the group settled down on the sofa next to me.
They had ordered éclairs and maybe hamburgers (I don’t remember exactly). And “Pepsi.” I made small talk. They warmed up to me in no time (innocent beings).
Then I said: “Pepsi is not good for kids like you. Why don’t you take milk or fruit juice?” Not in the way adults usually speak. Just a suggestion.
They did not say anything but going by their facial expressions I knew they were listening.
They asked me questions. I answered them.
Suddenly the door opens and a Black woman enters. She must be a tourist. Her corpulent figure is covered in a pair of tight jeans and a flowery top. The girls burst out laughing. They are highly amused.
I make funny faces at them. And smile secret smiles.
The woman leaves. I ask them why they were laughing.
One says: “Her bottom is huge.”
Another quips: “Her hair is like Maggi.”
A bout of giggling ensues.
I then say quietly: “It is not good to laugh at other people.”
I look at their down-cast faces. Their eyes are lowered.
I ask gently: “Would you like it if others laughed at you?”
Then I give the final comment: “Funny looking people have problems.”
I know they have learnt a lesson so I brighten up and ask them if they would like to have anything else. The camaraderie resumes.
Suddenly, the door opens and a fashionable woman with a weird hair-do enters. The girls burst out laughing.
I can’t suppress a smile. I get up to pay my bill and turn to look at them:
“Remember what I said, girls?”
They are already running out almost shrieking with laughter. I run out, too.
Another incident. My uncle’s little son is a gentle spirit but one day he was acting difficult. He would not put on his slippers. I coaxed him but he would not listen. I went to my room and he followed. He was trying to play with me. “Don’t come here. You have not put on your slippers,” I told him in mock-anger. He went to the next room and started crying. Uncle lifted him up. I went there and gathered him in my arms.
“I am sorry. Please put on your slippers,” I said.
The stubborn little guy still refused but such incidences tell them what they should do and what they should not. I believe it remains in their sub-consciousness and will help them to be better-behaved in the future.
Next I have a bubbly, sweet cousin sister. She will be in Class X this year.
She adores me.
Once she told me that she is scared of losing me.
I prod her to study and do well academically. I ask her to read and when she told me that she likes funny, romantic and horror novels I bought her one from each genre.
She watches TV excessively. I told her it is not good. I told her to watch TV only till 10 PM. I told her reading has far more benefits.
She listened. Why? Because I was not commanding her. Just reasoning with her. Giving her options. Moreover she trusts me and my advice because I treat her like a good friend and confidante. Occasionally, I treat her to chocolate (she is still a kid).
So you see, sometimes to live with children and make them listen you get into their shoes and become a child yourself if needed. It pays.

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