I quit my job a few months before my son was born. My seven years’ of cancer research career came to an abrupt halt. The so-called ‘climbing the ladder of success’ had no ladder to climb. Nor were there earnings, promotions, aspirations, professional accomplishments or colleagues to bond with. And yes, my résumé has a huge void now. When people often ask me, “Don’t you have plans to get back to work?” I realize I am looked at as insanely wasting a potential career and passing time at home, playing with a two-year old.
True, I might have missed a career. But for all these bonding times I have with him, my choice seems certainly worthy!
In the first few months of motherhood, I realized why a baby is called a bundle of joy. They simply feed, yawn and sleep. It was a serene time while I imagined him to turn over; to crawl. But when the bundle slowly began to unwrap, serenity began to become an imagination. Home underwent constant rearrangement for those beautiful photo frames and plant containers had to be protected from facing terrible fate in his hands. A year-big; running, climbing, jumping – half of the carefully bought home decor had to be packed to the attic. Another six months, that’s when I became the real inventor-mother, constantly inventing activities to make him eat – the most annoying and the most worrying emotion of a mother! And he becomes two. Uff! The troublesome two!
From the ‘bundle of joy’ through ‘the troublesome two’ eras, H and I have developed our individual parenting approaches. While H is a hard-core buddy parent, that is, handling him as the kid he is, I don’t heavily fall on to a single style of parenting. This grown-up bundle demands constant attention and with myriads of thought processes and pending works, I sometimes get annoyed and, as a consequence, try to control him. I instruct him at times, for the fear of, if not tamed young, habits and discipline cannot be instilled rightly.
However, as H always says, it requires a little thoughtfulness and efforts from parents to be that self-inspired, lively buddy to a child. He advocates to keep away the ‘control’ and ‘strict instructions’ factors in order to make their childhood merrier. I cannot deny, for, those moments when I became his crazy buddy were undoubtedly the most beautiful ones. Out of the countless memories, here are a few randomly recollected moments of how buddy parenting helped us create such beautiful bonding moments!
His pre-birth days, that’s when our bonding began!
“Hello, is 4.30 a good time to wake up in the morning?”
“Oh dear, I’ve puked enough. Please let me eat something now.”
Aww! I remember talking to my big belly during my long morning walks 🙂 In fact, I used to read aloud stories at night with the hope that he would listen and even understand them. Yeah, I was his earliest buddy – the one who envisaged the foundation of love and trust for him, months before he was born. And those were the best days of love in my own life!
How Buddy Parenting is Mutually Inspiring!
Little children have so many wonders to teach us, if only we are open to become their buddies and willing to unwind and unlearn our conditioning a little.
He has a great connection to water and I trace it back to his bathing moments as an infant. I used to let him do splish-splash with water as long as he liked to do. Stopping him in the middle of his play would only leave him weeping. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to spend longer times near water for the fear of catching cold and fever. But while I had let my little boy explore water, he helped me discover a new connection with this element.
Peek-a-boos and quietly crawling towards him make him bursts into roars of giggles. And we could never refrain from catching-on such a laughter! We cherished becoming insanely childish to match his age just to give him lots of such ‘giggle’ moments. Indeed, children need them a lot!
He enjoys watering plants at home but he needs a company while he does it. So I stand beside him every day and explain the names and nature of plants and narrate funny stories of how they grow, until he completes his job. And he has inspired me to learn some Botany at last; to unwind the guilt of my poor Botanical knowledge I had had all along.
Rains excite him. When he jumps in joy over the accumulated water in the veranda area, I let him be himself with nature. Believe me, I’ve made more paper boats in the last one year than while I was a child 🙂 And I’ve seriously relived my childhood along with him, sailing them in the rain water.
“Swumming” as he calls, is a great recent amusement to him. At just age two, he has already been into the pool a couple of times. He pairs with H and they have a fantastic swimming time together. I never learned swimming all my life, just to spare from the awkwardness of wearing a swim suit. But now when I watch the dad-son duo swim, I am greatly inspired and have finally bought a decent-looking swim wear 🙂
How Buddy Parenting can Create Fun Activities!
I don’t say a ‘No’ when he is in the mood to open his paint box. Of course, it is a lot of work for me after the play. But this picture often reminds me the joy of getting soiled in colours! Most often, he drags me in, on the event of sailing paper boats in coloured water, Ha! It feels extraordinary to bond with colours. Note: This was the first time I’ve ever got my palms painted like this!
“Amma, isy bisy spidy why sleep?”
“Spidy was awake the whole night to build his new home, you see there? So it’s sleepy now.”
“It’s night-time. Sun went bye-bye to his house. He sent Moon for the night.”
He asks a lot! What is important during such times is to acknowledge his little questions, think like how his buddy would and answer in his language. It creates engaging story times which doesn’t always happen on a fixed time or come from a neat fairy tale book. And I often admire my spontaneous stories 😆
H requests him to pick the newspaper from the doorstep in the mornings. Whoa! You must check the feeling of elation when he hands his dad the paper! H also makes him join during the morning exercise hours. Though he doesn’t actually follow many of the movements, I’ve noticed that including him in our daily activities gives him a good feeling of being recognized as an important family member.
He has learned alphabets, a few numbers, several words, shapes and colours now. But he was never forced to sit at a place to learn. Most of it were with the interactive learning toys available today. And I don’t restrict his alphabet-learning to books alone. I ask him to read the alphabets on the sign boards on roads and on price tags at stores. Also, while H is reading newspaper, he would point to different objects in the paper and ask H what each one is. H has always patiently explained even when he would repeat the same question ten times. That’s how he learnt names of most objects. The best part of buddy parenting is making learning fun.
Sometimes, we simply need no reason for a chat session with our little buddies; we just need time. Though he hasn’t started conversing fluently, he gets busy chatting with H about his own world of cars and colours. Awh! Best buddies, they are!
How Buddy Parenting makes Parenting Responsible!
Understanding what interests him and what puts him off is an integral part of parenting. The more interactive I am with him, the closer I identify his interests. With what he seemed to be constantly excited about, vehicles are his passion for now. When I take him to the play area, he feels see-saw and slides boring though other kids of his age find them interesting. However, I don’t force playing on him. Instead, I take him on long bicycle rides for that’s exactly what gives him that zeal – the feel of being able to drive by his own.
It is amazing to witness how letting him to observe helps him to learn things. I don’t instruct him to do anything at home. However, with what he observes me doing, he tries to re-enact them perfectly. Believe me, he is already helping me with the laundry work. And I usually carry him on my waist while working in the kitchen. However, I didn’t realize he would have observed cooking so well until I bought him a toy kitchen set. He carefully placed the grains I’d given him for playing into the toy vessels and kept the vessel over the gas top. He turned on the knob and what surprised of his play was that he then waited for a while to let the contents cook 🙂
Making him eat healthy needs double-extra efforts from me. In order to give him dining company, I have Kellog’s Chocos along with him while we watch the Kellogs ad on my tab which is exciting for him; which also reassures me to have fed him a healthy food! And this is one of the best TVCs that reinforces the concept of healthy buddy parenting.
Our walls are close to completion with his wall art 😆 Initially, I would come screaming when he begins to scribble on the wall. But his buddy H consoled me telling that it’s after all the cost of a white wash. And I realized the worth of unleashing his creativity when I listened to his wall stories. In the picture below, try to spot men doing exercise, woman holding umbrella in the rains, dolphins playing in water and yellow cars going ‘guuuuuuuuuuuu’. Yes, the stories I told you about!
How Buddy Parenting helps Positive Psycho-Emotional Development!
When he spills his snacks on the floor, he will come running to me for a confession. What more can you admire in a two-year old?! The feeling of being accepted forms the base of a trustful relationship. Children tend to hide errands that they think might not be accepted by their parents. Though at times it is annoying to see him pee on the floor, I try to gesture my acceptance with a “It’s okay buddy.”
The first day we took him to the pool, he wouldn’t dip even his toes into the water. H did a great job in unwinding the fear in him by protectively holding him and slowly made him get in. And now he wouldn’t leave the pool! Little children might be frightful of darkness or heights or water. Constantly reinforcing their fears doesn’t really help them. Rather, parenting must aim to replace fears with their strengths.
Yesterday, when he cried for the neighbour kid’s toy, it was difficult to distract him. I finally had to promise him to get the same toy from the shop the next day. Sometimes, it becomes embarrassing and unpleasant by his bad behaviour. As the mother I am, I would have yelled at him to bring the situation to control. However, I constantly remember H’s buddy policy that we are responsible to impart him a guilt-free childhood. Guilt is the worst form of burden to childhood. No matter how adamant or naughty one is, children shouldn’t be cornered to be overloaded with the blame. If polite explanations doesn’t work, it’s better to divert their attention than to make them feel guilty.
Well, this list is never-ending because every moment of my life now is a happy bonding moment! Tell me, what amount of salary package or career accomplishment can replace this happiness and satisfaction in a mother?!
Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert parent nor biased towards any one parenting style. The intention of this post is just to share a few happy parenting moments.
Header Image Credit: flickr.tumblr.com