Tag Archives: Five year old

Perfect Honesty Is Not Always Good For Childen.

Childhood, I believe is about happiness. Children need not know the truth about everything. I think we as parent sometime get too caught up in doing the right thing. What’s the right thing anyway? How do we know that is not better to bend the truth than to tell something to a child that he or she can’t digest?

I’ll tell you why I say this.

A few days after the earthquake in Japan my five year old daughter came to me and asked me what an earthquake was. It was a mama-what-does-this-word-mean kind of question. Now, whenever my daughter asks me a question,  I try and give her a detailed answer. In fact, we play a little game around it,  with the aim that she remembers the answer. It mostly works. So,  when she asked me about the earthquake,  I drew a little diagram, got out the globe, cut an orange to tell her about the earth’s crust and layers etc etc. She loved it.  That was that.

About three days later when I was putting my daughter to bed at night, she sobbed and sobbed and refused to sleep in her bed. She said that an earthquake might come at night. I told her that it won’t. She asked me how I could be so sure. After all, if the tectonic plates could bang into each other under Japan, the same could happen under India! I winced. Great,  I thought,  in my enthusiasm to teach her I’d given her too much information!  I’d gone and scared her.

Damage control, I thought. So, I launched into logic. And zones. India is in a zone that is not really prone to earthquakes, I told her (true) and that there are some countries that are more prone to them and we are not one of them. She seemed a little mollified, though not entirely. Phew!  (Still refused to go back to her bed). I had dodged a tricky question.

Unfortunately, there was more to come.  A few days later she asked me (and this is some sort of a recurrent theme, we’ve talked about this before, in snatches) about death. Agh. Not again, I thought. I was not in the mood for this.  But she was, and her questions were not general, they were specific. “Can babies die?” she queried. I decided to lie. “What about dad?”. I told her that only very old people die (One day, sometime ago, when I’d told her, on one of these bedtime question and answer moments, that mamas can die, she’d wept uncontrollably and clung to me for days) . So I decided to let her believe happy things. Why cloud her little five year old mind with unpalatable truth? Dad will be with you till you are as old as mama, and even after that, I said. “And you?”. Ditto, I said with a straight face. She thought, then she smiled. Not sure if she believed me entirely, but she liked the reassurance.

Like I said, and many may not agree, childhood is about happy things. Truth is for grown ups.

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The Sibling Factor..

I feel like a tightrope walker. All I seem to be doing, for, well, for a large part of my day, is the balancing act – between the kids that is.

Three kids – one five year old and then twenty month old twins – you can imagine the i-want-this-one kind of fights. To a new entrant in our house, the noise levels can be, well, just a wee bit overwhelming, to put it mildly. I am used to it, though; screaming is part of the general acoustics here. There is always a bone of contention, and that object, for that time, assumes such great importance for all three that nothing else can match its excellence and try as you might the one who has it will not part with it and the other two cannot be persuaded to play with anything else;  distraction tactics are met with flailing of the arms and, of course, some more screaming. No matter how hard I try to be fair and equal, there is always one kid (sometimes two)  screaming, or worse, sulking (this, mostly the older one) feeling betrayed and cheated. The younger ones like to express their discontent, at what they take for unfair treatment,  by prostrating themselves on the floor with shrieks that could pierce the Rock of Gibraltar.

The older one, on the other hand, has mastered the art of touching the raw nerves , of saying what she thinks will get her a reaction, and it does. “You don’t laugh with me the way you do with the twins”, or, “they are small, so you are always giving them my toys”.  She knows she’s being unfair when she says that, because I have been only too careful not to make her feel this way.  In fact, I have neglected the twins if needed, but not her, because I knew that it would be difficult for her to suddenly have to share everything, from her mother to her toys, with two more siblings. But, even then, at some level, she feels that I am not fair, that I treat her and the twins differently.

So, here’s what I think.  It’s a tough balancing act when you are a parent of two or more kids. In your mind you try and be fair, but that does not  necessarily mean that the kids see it that way too. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that they won’t.

I don’t know how my parents did it. I now realize what it means to raise three kids (we are three siblings too) and have them feel equally loved.  It’s a hard thing to do and my hope is that once they are grown up they won’t feel this way. Sibling rivalry can manifest itself in unpleasant ways, and that’s scary for a parent.

My kids are young right now and these are passing, insignificant fights, I know that. But, it makes me think, how will it be in the teenage years? When one of my girls is, say, 16, and the other two 13? Gosh. Imagine that.

These days will, in retrospect, look rosy and wonderful.

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