Isn’t it funny how after one becomes a parent, one assumes that as a mom or dad, one is the storehouse of all forms of superior knowledge and that all lessons shall flow from parent to child. It is as if parenthood gives us imaginary wings of proficiency and we now have irrefutable powers of vision, perfection and of course we are the ones who can guide our tykes and teenagers to a life of fulfillment and success in every way shape or form. OF COURSE we do… ummm, if I said otherwise, a lot parents would stop reading my ramblings and that wouldn’t be prudent now would it ? But this time, I chose to focus on the 2 way street of parenting, the one that leads from the child to the parent and all that comes with it.
I have had the privilege of being Pritha Mashi/Pritha Aunty to kids from newborns to teenagers and believe me it has been, and continues to be, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It is not because, I get to pamper them silly (I don’t, coz their parents still like me!) but it is the richness they have filled me with over the years. Children, in every way shape or form, are God’s most amazing creations and then adulthood takes over and the Almighty decides to leave us to our own devices and boy do we screw things up or what :) ?
So what are some of these life lessons, which we often miss out as parents because we are too busy being parents?
Well to begin with – SIMPLICITY… I am not sure why and how but the process of growing up is inversely proportional to the amount of simplicity we have as children. I guess the ways of the world and incidents in our lives curb our enthusiasm towards laughing at the silly and simple things. It takes away the wonder from our eyes when we see a small bug or the surprise of seeing a little mouse or hamster. It is the ability to laugh and cry and wear our heart on our sleeves and react to the world around us without a mask. As a friend of mine pointed out to me, how we had stopped walking with a spring in our step for no apparent reason. She saw her daughter do it one afternoon in school and wondered why and when did we stop prancing on the sidewalks. Even the thought of it makes some of us choke in embarrassment and that, my friends, is the price of growing up.
FORGIVENESS is another amazing trait in children where, we as adults, fail quite often, some more than others. It is not as if children don’t have egos, Oh hell they do, it is not as if they don’t feel pain, physical and emotional, of course they do. But in spite of that, there is something about them that makes them forgive and forget with the ease that grown ups seldom find. They are so guileless in their expressions and the way they show and expect love that no matter how bad a booboo or sad a day, they wake up with a smile. This singular trait about them gives them the ability to be truly happy, something a lot of us have forgotten how to define.
Ever TRUST anyone like your little one trusts you? Not even your own little one, it could be niece or nephew. Recently a young man, almost a teen, who lives miles way confided me in about a certain young lady he fancies a wee bit, and even though he knows his mom and I are very close friends, he chose to tell me about her. My little baby girl, in spite of getting hurt on her forehead time and time again on my collarbone (kids make some jerky movements alright!!!), chooses time and time again that same spot as the coziest place on her mom. Children extend blind trust in us because they assume we will not do wrong, we will not think otherwise. As adults, it takes a while, if ever, to be that trusting. Granted our life experiences make us wise and prudent as they should, yet the look of open beguiling beautiful eyes when a 10 year old says, “ I will see you soon right? Pritha Mashi?” as you are saying goodbye makes for one very disarming moment, that as an adult I will cherish all my life.
Finally the biggest lesson I think we could draw from the little ones all our life is the ABILITY TO BE OUR TRUE SELVES. Not sure when exactly it happens, but somewhere along the way, appearences begin to count so much more than what lies within each of us. We adhere to norms that society rightly puts before us. We learn to measure the expression of our emotions, our laughter, our tears, else we are termed immature. We learn to put a filter on what we say and don't say. We learn to live up to expectations and parameters that are sometimes our own creations. Of course, it is necessary and that is how society and social decorum continue to evolve, but each time I see a child, and the unfiltered and unmasked emotion in their faces, I envy their ability to be so honest. I recently had the privilege of surprising my friend's children by picking them up from school on a Friday afternoon. While my friend sat in the car, I stepped out to meet them. Their joyous screams could have brought a police car to my rescue, or maybe their rescue ( coz they were screaming and I was being the grown up !!), but the memory of that unbridled happiness in their faces when they jumped on me to give me the biggest hug a lifetime, is what will brighten any gloomy day for me for the rest of my life. I guess, one cannot shine like pieces of crystal in this world else we would all be children all our lives and that would be terrible wouldn't it? ( dripping with sarcasm here !!!) , but the nonchalance with which a youngster walks out into the world, probably with not the most stylish haircut, shoes, glasses or gait, is what could put a lot of us "adults" to shame as we spend more time facing the mirror than our true selves.
I know as parents we are the “grown ups” but next time you find yourself with a cuddly infant, a slightly shy and gawky teenager or a prancing youngster, take a moment to let their vibes and energy sink into you. Their positivity and innocence will leave you speechless if you truly let it. Given we teach our young ones to learn from all around them, it doesn’t hurt to practice the same lesson does it. We all grow up in the end, some sooner than others, but if you can do it while still being able to laugh and cry at some of the seemingly silly things in life, you have learnt to enjoy the journey more than the destination …
In Luke 18:17, Jesus says that anyone who does not receive the kingdom like a little child shall not enter into it. While it is silly to be childish, it is not too old fashioned to be childlike is it? And as far as the distinction between those two, I leave that to your superior intellect.
Until next time, live, laugh and love like there is no tomorrow...