“Don’t climb trees”, “Don’t eat raw mangoes”, “Don’t swing too high”, “Don’t listen to such high music”, “Don’t eat so much pop corn”, “Don’t…Don’t….Don’t…”What a lot of restrictions we parents impose on children!
The very pleasures we indulged in as children, we forbid ours to taste. What thrill there was in climbing trees and peeping through the clusters of leaves and eating raw mango plucked after a perilous climb. The same mango, washed and neatly sliced and eaten in the clinical atmosphere of the dining room lost its twang- the sour mango whetted our appetite as nothing else did.
Yet we deny our children the same pleasure. Oh! The thrill of going high- high on the swing. The wind rushing into the face and for a moment one felt like a bird, soaring into that cottony region called sky. Why do we forget that when we chide the youngsters for swinging high...
Ye we deny our children the same pleasure
“Don’t “is a word we use too often, curbing the adventurous spirit of childhood. That wherein the children discover the joys of nature, last for too short a while, so let them savor every minute of it. Coming home from school, my neighbor’s six year old son has such a good time in climbing in and out of pot holes, splashing in puddles of water and kicking around pebbles. His mother groans about the condition of his shoes.
But the little fellow has such a look of bliss on his face that a pair of shoes seems worth sacrificing. Children love playing in mud just as we did when we were young. We selfishly think of the dhobi’s bill when they soil the clothes- why not think of the simple joy that they derive from mother earth? They won’t play with it after a couple of years, their creative urge has to find an outlet and they turn to nature. Admire the things they make with a little water and mud, see the things they fashion out of it through their eyes and relive your childhood.
Climbing trees, playing marbles, collecting caterpillars and generally looking like a “chimney sweep” all belong to the magic of childhood. A fall from the tree may result in a few broken bones, which sets the maternal heart aflutter, but the little victim himself is proud of his “wounds” that he feels a hero. The fall adds to his stature amongst his friends.
My niece and nephew are always comparing the “hurts” they have and vie with each other in getting them. You just cannot cure this masochistic tendency. Moreover a fall or two adds to the child’s Kaleidoscope of experience which leaves a more lasting impression that your constant “don’ts. The next time he climbs a tree, he will make sure he doesn’t fall.
As for eating raw mangoes the worst that can happen is a sore throat or an upset tummy, both of which he himself has to suffer. This again impresses on him that for every pleasure there will be a pain too. Isn’t that a basic truth of the philosophy of life?
A world of make-believe contributes a good amount of thrill to the youngsters. “Why does it rain” the little one wants to know, “Because the gods are crying when the children are naughty and trouble their mummies”-the little one looks up at the weeping sky and resolves never to be “naughty” again ; but alas! The class teachers soon tell him it’s just a matter of “evaporation and condensation.”
Let’s encourage them to believe in fairies and elves and fairy god mothers chased by wicked witches on broomsticks. Let them wander freely in the wonderland of talking cabbages and jumping turnips. Let’s not squash their imagination with a “don’t be silly, there is no Santa Claus.”
Childhood is made up of fantasies which are slowly left behind in the nursery as time passes, just as the snake sheds its skin. Give your child something to remember in later years, so that when he has nothing but memories to keep him company, the communion will be a happy one.
Talking about his childhood fantasies which made him believe that fir trees touched the sky, hood sadly asserts that “I’m further off from Heaven then when I was a boy.”Let your child indulge in that thrilling wonderland of superman, batman and the like instead of nagging him to read “something sensible” all the time.
Childhood is the “Golden age” of life, so why not help our child crowd it with precious moments? Leave them to their own devices as far as possible and let their inherent talents flourish. Parents have a way of thrusting their own unfulfilled ambitions on their children and expecting them to live up to their ideals right from the time they are in their knickerbockers. Why not let the child discover his own interest and help him achieve his own ambition?
Don’t doll up your child in her best party frock and make her sit like a debutante just to satisfy your ego. Why let the child reflect their parents’ affluence? Rich or poor, a child is a child for all that, and his fingers itch to stick into the icing on a cake just as it does, to pick up a snail. He’ll do neither of these, when he grows into an adult. For that matter, in what way are we adults better?
Smoking, alcohol, gambling etc are vices, yet adults take to the. In what way are we qualified to tell the young nit to do this or that when we set such a bad example ourselves? The Next time when you tell your child-“don’t”-------- do look into your own life and see “how many don’ts you are doing”.
Don’t kill the pleasures of childhood.