Child's soul as window to respect

Right In The Middle

How many times have I told you to put your lunch bag in the sink?” I shouted at my five-year-old daughter who goes to kindergarten. “You forgot to do it yesterday and the day before too. I am sure you will forget to put it in the sink tomorrow as well,” my authoritative mother’s tone was reflecting my irritation too.

Little did I know that it was going to be a very special day of my life in which I found my little one to have become, unwittingly, my friend, philosopher and guide. Her large, beautiful eyes stared at me, reflecting the hurt my harsh words had caused. “I am sorry that I did not do that ‘amma’! But, how are you sure that I am not going to do it tomorrow? You talk about positive thinking; this, definitely, is not positive thinking ‘amma’.”

Her voice quivered, her eyes swelled up and tears rolled rolling down her cheeks as she spoke to me.

Her gentle words hit me so hard that whenever I recall that day I weep in shame. It made me feel so small in front of my little daughter. I am sure I did not have that maturity at that age. Perhaps, the credit goes to her school teachers, who encourage and put value in children giving their opinion. My daughter is now located in a culture where children are respected too, I thought.

Yes, she was three years old when we moved to the US to pursue our research interests. She did not know a word of English. Thanks to her passion for reading and the public library system in the US, she not only excelled in the language but also got an opportunity to teach in a peer-learning programme to her American counterparts in school.

Since the heart-rending incident, I have learnt a lot of things from her, beginning from the pronunciation difference of ‘e’ and ‘y’ (‘v’ and ‘w’). Without her knowledge (or mine) I learnt from her the practical meaning of ‘respect’, ‘sincerity’, ‘honesty’, ‘integrity’, etc.

When I see how naturally she practises these all the time, not only have these words become more meaningful but they have helped me grow. I am sure every child is pure-hearted and takes things literally in the beginning and it’s the adults who twist their meanings (or arms). It is a blessing that one learns everything one needs in kindergarten. Well, it’s that time of the year to say “Thank you Teachers!”

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