“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” –Angela Schwindt (Home-schooling mom from Oregon, USA)
One morning, last week, I was driving my kids to school. My fourteen year old turned the car radio on and my sixteen year old told him to turn it off as she was trying to focus on some last minute reading for class. I told my son, “Arjun, just enjoy the peace. Do you have to listen to music? Just recite Gayathri mantra in your head a few times, it will calm you and center you and it will be a great start to your day.”
There is a lot of traffic in the morning and we were running a little late and I was stressed about getting them to school on time. To my annoyance, I saw that a car had blocked the left lane as it was trying to merge in the right lane and I needed to make a left turn. I could not go past the car and by the time it moved into the right lane and I was able to move forward in the left lane the light had turned to red. I was annoyed at the cars in the right lane who were whizzing by without letting him merge even though he was holding up the traffic in the left lane. I was annoyed that I missed the green light. It wasn’t much to be getting worked up about but lately, as I am getting older, I seem to be getting angry rather quickly in certain situations. So until the light turned green, I kept cribbing about how people can be such morons on the road and after listening to my outburst for a while, Arjun intercepted me and said playfully with an amused expression, “Umm, Mom, maybe you should start your day by reciting Gayathri mantra a few times, don’t you think?”
I just burst out laughing and my displeasure was dissipated by his quirky comic relief. His comment made me realize that I need to have more patience and I should not let little things like that bother me. Since then, I have made a conscious decision to be in a place of Zen and not let the foolishness of other people ruffle my peace.
Not only do my kids end up teaching me important life lessons like patience, they are also curious and inquisitive beings. Someone has rightly said, “A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.” In my heart, I thank God for Google. I bet all parents increase their general knowledge just by finding answers to the trivia asked by their children. One day, on a trip to Walmart, Armaan asked me if I knew why it was named Walmart. He said, “Publix is named Publix because it’s for the public, Food lion sells food and thinks it is the king of grocery stores just as lion is the king of the forest, but why is Walmart called Walmart?” Without batting an eyelid, I handed him my phone and told him to look it up on Google and in an instant he told me that it was named after its founder, Sam Walton. He also proceeded to tell me that Sam’s Club is named after him too. Now, of course his question does not qualify for something a wise man would not be able to answer, I should have known about Sam Walton, but you do get my point about kids asking too many questions! When my kids were younger they had a million questions which started with why? Why is the earth round? Why doesn’t the tooth fairy come during the day? Why is the grass green? Why is God invisible? Why are there four seasons? And so on…..
I am quite technologically challenged and my kids have helped me overcome that. Kids nowadays, can figure everything out. They do not need manuals or instructions. My youngest knows all the features of my iPhone much better than I do. A few years back, he taught me how to flip the camera to take selfies and my world has never been the same, I am quite the selfie addict, much to my husband’s chagrin. He told me to turn the Bluetooth off when my phone would beep unnecessarily for reasons unknown to me. I hardly ever use Siri but Armaan taught me that she could tell the weather forecast, set my alarm and answer my questions. He loves conversing with her even though he knows that she is not a real person. Some excerpts of his conversation with Siri:
Siri, do you love somebody?
This is about you not me.
Siri, I am in love with you.
That's sweet but it’s not meant to be
Siri, are you real?
Sorry, but I have been advised not to discuss my existential status.
Siri, I am breaking up with you
Goodbye would be more appropriate
Siri, I don't like you
After all I have done for you?
Armaan is the kindest, nicest, sweetest human being I know. He never judges me if he comes home from school and the house is in a mess and all I want to do is nap. He always considers me the best mom in the world. I remember, once on a trip to a store, I went around in circles till I found a parking space little far off. While walking towards the store, I saw that there were two parking spots really up close which I had missed and so I told Armaan, "Dang, how did I miss these spots?" Armaan told me,” Mom, think about it like this, since you left them , it will come in handy for someone else, so you did a good deed for someone else" His words made me feel instantly better, I do like helping people. He is all of eleven and wise beyond his years.
My daughter loves to read and she is a self-learner. She will not let us help her with homework and she tries to figure out problems by herself. She questions the various religions and beliefs and is a critical thinker. I have had to read up on theology and philosophy to answer her questions about God, heaven, hell, after life, reincarnation and so on. She told me that Gandhi was in correspondence with Leo Tolstoy and they discussed violence, love and why we hurt each other. I thought I knew all about Mohandas Gandhi as I grew up in India but I did not.She always enlightens me with little nuggets of knowledge. She grows her hair and gets it cut to donate it for wigs which can be used by cancer patients and she inspires me to do so too.
We think of children as little people but they end up teaching us big lessons. They are imaginative and creative. My boys used to make bows and arrows from the wood they collected from our backyard forest, my youngest made a chandelier out of an inverted small umbrella, some dixie cups and yarn. They look at the world with awe and wonder, they believe in magic,they have open minds and open hearts, they stop to see the rainbow and to chase the beautiful butterfly.
Rabindranath Tagore has said “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man” Children don’t see color, race or religion until they are taught about that at home. I love the quote by Jess Lair, “children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” In my journey of parenting, I am enjoying the company of my kids and their wisdom.
They introduce me to their choices in books, in food, in movies, in hobbies like cooking and painting and in music. It is a joy and a blessing to see their beautiful petals unfold and to see them blooming beautifully and growing into their own personalities.
About the column: Midlife Moments is a slice of my life as a forty something part time reference librarian and a full time mom to three children. I am a simple and honest person and I write from my heart with honesty and humor. These are simple essays on day to day life filled with interesting interactions and observations. I hope that the readers can relate to me and my experiences and we can all connect and join in the conversation.
About the author: Mona Verma has a master’s in English Literature and a master’s in Library and Information science. She grew up in India but has been living in South east USA for the last 18 years. You can read more of her blogs at : https://www.richlandlibrary.com/user/417