If you tell a child one plus one is two, it is always two for them. It does not change according to the time of day or the presence of a headache or based on who’s asking. Trust me, we adults are like that. All our rules have exceptions, all our laws are adjustable. (Sometimes we call it ‘being human.’)
For instance, you keep repeating to your child about the importance of keeping his hands clean, eating from a clean plate or drinking from a clean cup. The intention is, of course, to inculcate the idea of hygiene into him. Then one day, while visiting relatives, he points to one of the glasses in which they have offered juice and says, “This glass is not clean.” As per definition, he should get full marks and a pat on the back. Instead, you snap, “That’s okay. Be quiet and drink the juice.” Tell me, who’s unpredictable?
My parents once told me that if anyone borrowed money from us, it was difficult (and at times even unkind) to ask it back, even when we needed it very much. Many ‘friends’ had apparently borrowed from them and the money was never heard of since. They could never bring themselves to ask. I took it to mean that we should always ask for our money if we lend it. Soon after, a child borrowed one rupee from me for something, and the next day I went and demanded her to ‘give my one rupee back’. I did not want to make the same mistake my parents obviously did. My mother was shocked on hearing of this. I did not understand why she was upset, isn’t that what she had told me to do?
When my son began to pick up reading, one of the first words he read without help was ‘Free’, because he saw it on many of the snack packets that came with free toys. It was important for him to identify that word, when he went to the supermarket with us. He began to associate it with tiny toys. One day, I saw him reading bigger words from a fruit juice packet. After which, he asked me what ‘cholesterol’ and ‘fat’ were. I tried to explain them as best as I could. He immediately asked me if we get them free with the juice, pointing to the inscription on the packet: “Cholesterol-free, Fat-free.”
If ‘Free’ actually means free, it should always mean free.
The world is indeed an unpredictable place to grow up in. Is it any surprise that little predictable Math equations become unpredictable bursts of headache when they grow up?