Have you heard your parents talk about their ‘Aksharaabyas’ or the ceremony of initiation to formal education? For the foregone generation, it happened at the age of six. Till then, at any given moment of the day, there was enough to learn in the undivided family set-up that was very much prevalent then. That included sharing (things and emotions), yielding (to grown-ups and to beloved ones), rearing pets (cows, dogs), indulging in adventures (games and sports), learning social, familial and personal values by watching the family members practice them and above all, enjoying the company of the big circle of kith and kin.
You and I, we have had the privilege of enjoying at least a part of this lovely long list — at least during the summer vacation, when all the cousins assembled in the grandparents’ home. But today…? With most of the mothers also being employed, that too in the tiny one-child nuclear family, children eventually turn out to be ‘adults-in-waiting’, thrust with responsibilities (of fending for themselves) and stressed with expectations (of living up to our expectations). And all that happens even as he is yet to enter the school. May be we should throw the blame on “the changing times”.
Well, facts aside, let’s explore the brighter side, the next positive step ahead: Considering that you are parenting / baby-sitting a pre-schooler, let us discuss a list of suggestions. But, even before venturing into the hyperactive, energy-filled lives of the toddler, it is mandatory to sport armour (TRUST) and shield (LOVE). Without these two softest arms of the universe, I take the pleasure of warning you, you will be vanquished.
If you don’t have a playpen for the child (God bless you!), shock-proof your home. Please make sure that no open electric sockets are within the child’s reach. Self-locking doors need to be reset, so that the little one does not get locked up inadvertently. Should that happen, guard your reaction: Do not panic, help your child handle the situation. Describe pleasantly and precisely his way out of the locked room. Bathroom doors need to be always latched — lest the little one reaches the water-filled buckets — the danger zone.
Stoves, microwave ovens, cooking dishes, knives, scissors and the iron box ought to be far from the child’s reach. It is absolutely necessary to guard all kinds of medicines under lock and key. It is best not to leave even simple ointments, cosmetics or even shaving creams within his reach, as he may probably want to try using them as a tooth paste and end up consuming innocently. Of course the first-aid kit and the child’s pediatrician’s contact telephone numbers should certainly be at a reasonably known common place.
On the other hand, communicating families where the family members, especially the parents, converse frequently and affectionately with the little child have a positive probability. The adults can actually educate the child that some things need to be handled cautiously or only with the elders’ permission . And that they KNOW that he would abide by their reasonable expectation because they TRUST him totally. These include a huge list of fragile / expensive items — newspapers, magazines, books, crockery and cutleries, – why- even mobile phones, CDs and television remote controls… Trust me, the ‘secretive experimenting mood’ rarely arises in the child of such a family as his mind is conditioned automatically in a ‘mental discipline’ frame work. The need to hide such precious household things doesn’t arise, because LOVE and TRUST reap their rewards: zero damages assured.
Now you are playing a laudable dual role: You are not just a responsible parent, but also a social worker. Yes, you are creating reliable and wise adults of tomorrow. Yeoman service, it is!