When we had our first baby we were introduced to a completely new world, the world of first giggles, wobbly walks but most of all advice and suggestions. They came from everywhere and everyone. From the distant relative to the loud mouth neighbor, from a fellow shopper at the grocery store to the person sharing your bench at the neighborhood park….even from fellow travelers in Metro and buses. Do THIS, DON’T DO that, never try this, keep an eye for that and what not.
And though the suggestions varied from person to person depending upon their own backgrounds and the situation we were interacting in ( My LO throwing up food in the mall passage way leading to some fellow shoppers sympathetically suggesting that I offer her water and sit her up straight both of which I had done already ).
But anyway, the bottom line is there were lots of suggestions that sounded really good and noteworthy which we did. We noted them down in our head and in small notepads eager to apply them soon. But we were in for a surprise, a surprise that dawned on us slowly with time and opened our eyes to the real world of “No advises or suggestions can prepare you for what Parenting actually is”.
We soon realized that what seemingly worked wonders for other people might not even be relevant for us. And that we needed to create our own rules or maybe just accept the fact that there are ‘No Rules’ when it came to parenting in the real world. Here are some parenting lessons that we unlearned during the process:
Parenting Lesson No.1. Don’t offer candy’s to pacify them :
Now I am sure everyone agrees to this one. No candies, lollies, sugary drinks for kids and Oh fizzy drinks …oh no no that’s like a mammoth NO.
Or so we thought, until we found better! Shopping in a busy Tesco while returning home from a long day at a kids theme park, both me and my husband were dead tired and all we wished for was a quiet relaxing and quick trip back home. Almost as reading our minds, our LO started wailing. It started off as small sniffs and we ignored it.
But soon the sniffs converted into loud wails,Amy had spotted a balloon at a shop entrance and now she wanted it. We had no time to beg the shopkeeper to let us have the balloon or we would have missed our Metro, so we entered the nearest compartment almost shocking the other passenger’s with half of them jumping off their seats from Amy’s loud cries.
She seemed to be using all her energy from her dinner into this waling session. We exchanged helpless glances with each other, trying to escape the stares from our fellow passengers. And before I knew it, my hand escaped into my handbag and came out with a big pack of M&M’s I used to keep for munching during long tube travels. I offered it to my Lo and she grabbed it greedily with a loud wail (this time of excitement) almost snatching it from my hand.
She treated herself to the whole pack one by one throughout the tube journey ( ignoring our requests to just eat a few and return the pack to Mommy). But we had nothing to complain… she was quiet, the fellow passengers had returned to their slumber and we were no more a target to angry stares….phew! Thanks to all those well-wishers (of Amy’s tooth) who told us never to offer any sweets to pacify her….we can perhaps keep a few exceptions to this piece of advice!
Parenting Lesson No.2. Encourage them to finish their meals on their own, avoid feeding them:
I am sure the one who first probably came up with this piece of advice had a very obedient (and hungry) toddler who would readily finish her meals on her own.
My LO is different (Read opposite) to this! She doesn’t like food at all and prefers playing with it instead of eating. She rotates the spoon round-n-round (in her lingo) pretending she was beating coffee with it in her pasta bowl, ultimately throwing all the pasta out of the bowl.
When she’s really hungry she takes a few spoonful’s but half of its content is dropped or flies away before reaching her mouth. A lot of it is puked out if she discovers something which is even remotely not her favorite.
If I were to let her be for finishing her meals, she would probably be starving every day. So after watching her play with her food and deposit it everywhere except her mouth, I feed her all that is left on the plate. I have assigned 15 minutes to her trying to eat on her own after that I take over.
And I have no regrets, or shall I say I would rather have regrets than a famished child!
Parenting Lesson No.3. Engage with them on a one-one basis to keep them from watching TV, Tablet , Ipads, or any other bright lit screens :
Ever since she has learned new words like “NO, Stop and enough” (I suspect she picked it up from her last Nursery), she has been using them quite often.
Sitting peacefully in her car seat is one such situation where she uses these words more then often. Fearing heavy traffic penalties if we are spotted with a baby not tied to her car seat; we let her watch her tablet. We have even loaded her favorite cartoon shows in it. So that’s one hour of peaceful driving with Amy securely tied to her car seat. As for keeping her away from TV, we can maybe try that later!
Parenting Lesson No.4. Keep toddlers away from Junk Food:
I know I have to be a really horrible mother to violate this rule or take sides against it. But that’s real life you know! The one where you have a endless to do lists, the one in which you have a assignment deadline, the plumber and the guests for dinner all happening in one day .We all have such days and I dare you to say you don’t!
And during such days, keeping nutrition in the backseat, I rush to the nearest McDonald for a happy meal . I realize now why it is called a happy meal because it makes you so, so happy by saving you all the time from cooking, cleaning and feeding. My LO happily munches on her fries and chicken nuggets while I finish my writing assignment and attend to the plumber. So there, all sorted, thanks to the happy meal!
Parenting Lesson No.5. Never give in to their tantrums. No matter what!
That seemed easy. After all how difficult could it be to stay firm and say ‘No’ to their inappropriate demands. It is for their own good, right….wrong!
Or so we discovered, during our last shopping spree at the summer sale in the nearest shopping center. We had passed a swanky toy shop when Amy spotted a huge orange tiger (I am not sure if she is scared of tigers or if she likes them, I think it’s both).
So anyway, she saw this tiger and instantly decided to take him home, it was a big one and we had no intentions of adding any more soft toys to her already exploding toy box at home. The tiny spaces available in London apartments was always an important factor considered before making any purchases for house ever since we moved to London.
I was sure this tiger was too big to fit in any of her toy boxes and I could already see it taking up major space on the living room couch. I blurted out a big ‘NO’ to Amy as I realized this.
Amy however completely oblivious to our space crunch situation in London was hell bent upon adopting the orange tiger and wouldn’t budge. She neatly seated herself outside the shop and refused to move.
After a long session of threatening, shouting, ignoring that turned into pleading and begging we realized it was of no use and so we returned home with the big tiger. It still occupies a big space in our living cum toy room but we have gotten used to it now. As for Amy, she has already gotten bored of it!. Also Read “10 Reasons Why You are not a bad parent“‘
Disclaimer: That’s not a complete list, it cannot be completed because we keep discovering new rules we need to abandon every new day. Feel free to share your own set of un-learnings on the path to growing up (I meant your growing up, the little ones will anyway!)
Also Read 10 Reasons why you are not a bad parent