“Children are so unpredictable.” I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard (and used) this statement. I suppose that is because our ‘predictions’ are based on adult standards, and not children’s. If we are able to keep our grown-up madnessses and irregularities aside, and raise our expectations to their level, we would discover that their actions and reactions are quite simple and straightforward! True, as a parent, that is one of the most difficult things to do.
Take the example of my friend, who decided to teach her daughter verb conjugation. The little one was often confused between ‘want’ and ‘wants’. After explaining the theory, they played a game where the little girl has to complete her Mom’s sentence.
It went like this.
Daughter: “…want a toy!”
Mom: “Good. My friend…”
Daughter: “mmm… wants chocolates!”
Mom: “Excellent. You’re picking up very fast. Grandma…”
Daughter: “…wants to see me!”
Mom: “Mamma and Dadda…”
Daughter: “mmm… want… a baby!”
My son is probably one of the best examples of an ‘unpredictable’ child. My blood pressure would shoot, my cheeks burn and I will be ready to explode when I know he is going to misbehave, only to discover that my heart had gone into overdrive pumping all that blood in vain. He would be ‘unpredictably decent’ (as per my standards) that day.
Like the day his friend from next door, C, came to our house. I called my son to me while the little girl was watching TV. Knowing the tiffs between the two, I warned him not to start one, and to let her watch whatever she was watching. He said: “No. I will go and change the channel. I want to watch Cartoon Network.” (She was watching Pogo, I think.)
I was sure within three and a half minutes, the girl would cry and run off to her home. I delivered a quick lecture on behaving, good manners and such, which he gave scant attention to. I sighed and resigned myself to what would follow, as he went to her.
As I watched in surprise, he went near her, took the TV remote and asked gently, “C, can I change the channel? We can watch Tom and Jerry in Cartoon Network.”
As my jaw dropped, the little girl nodded and said, “Yes.”
Writing was not an area my son was keen on. He admitted very frankly to me that he preferred playing or drawing or watching TV to writing. But his teacher says he needs “more writing practice” so what am I to do?
I ask him, don’t you want to read?
He says, No. It’s okay. I don’t want to learn to read.
So I resign myself to the situation: I will have to fight with him whenever I have to make him write.
One day we were at our seats, finishing one activity for school. He had to write 2 lines about his friend. I asked him what he wanted to write and helped him with the spelling. There was a knock on the door and it was the very friend whom we were writing about.
“We were writing about you,” I said to him.
My son showed the book to the friend, who is a few months older than him. The friend looked at it and slowly read aloud: “he – is – my – best – friend.”
I was delighted and praised him for reading it so well. My son burst into sobs and said he wanted to “learn to read fast too”. Surprised, I suggested gently that trying to write and read a little every day might be a good idea.
There is nothing more to be said, except that these days when he gets back from school and after ‘play-time’ with friends, he comes home, takes out a notebook and starts writing words, sometimes asking me how to spell them, sometimes not.
As a parent, every day is a surprise. Every day is unpredictable.