Parents apparently

Arshid Malik

BEAT-THE-HEATWhen we were kids we used to be such gluttons that our parents would more than often upset with us for we would never cease asking for food. We had an incredible appetite amounting to that of, I guess, miniature giants. Our incessant demand for food and more of it led our parents to use a very peculiar yet not so derogatory sentence for us “Sirf Tchuy Yed Kunn” approximately meaning “all you think of is food”. We would gobble healthy meals at regular meal times and then feel hungry again and pester our folks for something more to eat. We were such voracious eaters that we would roam the streets of our locality for anything edible growing around which mostly included unripe grapes (yumm), grape vines and leaves, unripe figs, flowers and whatnot. But I guess what all we ate was quite healthy. In comparison to that what is it with today’s children. They just refuse to eat almost everything that is healthy except for foods (I won’t exactly categorize these as foods, actually) are potato wafers, ice candies and stuff – all loaded with carbs and God knows what kinds of chemicals and artificial additives. Mostly it is the packaging that these loaded not-so-food stuff comes in that lures the children besides the freebies.

Children, most of them, watch adverts on the television about cookies and all and fall for the freebies that come along. My kid wanted a health drink a few weeks ago. A change of attitude I thought if he is really going to drink milk but I had not perceived the catch. We went into a departmental store and picked up the biggest packing of the very particular health drink he wanted and along came a freebie, a plastic figure of a superhero the size of my thumb. I fell for the deal assuming that my kid would eventually have milk which is as a matter of fact very essential for his growth but I was wrong. My kid took the plastic figure and the immensely large pack of the health drink, still sealed, sits atop a shelf in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago I decided to slim the closets in our room. I wanted to give away all the clothes and stuff that I had not used for a long time to make up some space. My kid uses my closet as a dump for his stuff because I don’t mind and his closet is always overflowing. I meant to throw or give away his stuff as well, which he wouldn’t be using. So, while I dragged my belongings out of the closet I eventuated upon a huge stockpile of opened packets of cookies, I guess hundreds of them. I was puzzled for I thought that my kid had ate all of those cookies which I had purchased for him or he had purchased for himself over a period of roughly a month or so. What I discovered was that all of the packets had been neatly opened only to extract the small plastic freebies and rest was history. It took me three hours to flush out the ants that had settled inside this stockpile of unwanted cookies and thereof I arrived at the eventual reason why I felt like ants had crept inside my trousers whenever I wore any of them for by all practical purposes ants had actually crept in and an unassuming me had come to believe that I had grown allergic to almost every fabric that trousers are made of. All the same I was happy for my kid who had eventually avoided a lot of calories and sad for my pocket which had emptied out over quite wasted edibles.

We have kids in the family who survive on thin air, carbonated drinks, potato wafers and ice candies alone. Same hold true about other kids all over the planet. One important facet of this tragic story is that we parents apparently have very weak nerves. We cannot tolerate pressure, I guess. We do not want to upset our kid who is asking for a pack of potato thins and God forbid we would never bear to see him or her cry over such petite stuff. So the Morse-code for dealing with such problems is yielding to pressure without realizing the fact that we are, by means of keeping our decorum as modern parents who despise corporal punishment, creating more problems for our kids by shooing away a few which include “crocodile tears” and fits of anger when your child tells you in the face that he does not trust you any longer and that you are eventually not a good parent even though you have a stack-full of books and journals about good parenting back home. This is tantalizing exploitation, and we always fall for it. We as kids would go on crying for hours at a stretch for a single candy costing the fraction of a rupee and our parents would never even be bothered. Upon the significant realization that our parents are not at all bothered by our crying we would eventually turn to some adventure, wipe off our tears and go hunting for citric foliage around the locality and reach out for the same like goats.

Being a good parent means teaching your kid what actually needs to be taught and bearing with tantrums that children throw to exploit parents. Yes, it means being a little harsh and letting your kid cry for awhile. Crying is a very natural phenomenon quite important for human beings especially kids and we do not need to create a ruckus about that. I learnt a good lesson from some foreign colleagues of mine about parenting. They had a bunch of kids who to me on first impression bore every similarity to little agents of demolition for they would almost devastate everything that their eyes met and how would their parents deal with them – no not by offering them candies and stuff but simply raising their tone a little and saying out loud “you are grounded for one hour” to their kids, who would freakishly sneak into their rooms and were nowhere to be seen around for that particular hour their parents had mentioned. There was a certain kind o understanding between these colleagues of mine and their children; by all purposes they meant business. “Grounded” is a term which we are not quite familiar with. Well, “grounded” is a term very widely used by parents in the West in context of sensible punishment dealt out to children and to be “grounded” to be punished by means of often being confined indoors, or deprived of some pleasurable activity such as watching television, playing video games and stuff. I guess this term counts as part of an evolutionary trait that we have not yet arrived upon. By all means it is better than actually slapping a child or the contrary of offering them treats when kids throw tantrums.

Well, we as parents need to walk the extra mile to ensure the better future of our kids and say no to yielding to kids throwing tantrums and offering them unhealthy “snacks” which eventually kill their appetite and leave them grumpy. Besides the health hazards involved are slow but serious. So we need to take responsibility for spoiling the present and future of our kids and say no to unhealthy foods and show some patience when it comes to kids weeping a little or calling you a liar.

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