Things don’t always work according to plans. In fact, glitches are far more common. Plans for children often go wrong as children are more vulnerable to illness. Their reactions can range from an ‘it-can’t-be-helped’ acceptance to downright sullenness, or a plain unreasonable stance. Children are pesky, and it isn’t easy to gauge their reactions.
A child who was very frail after a vicious attack of viral fever was advised to drink plenty of fluids. That was the time to indulge the child. So the anxious mother stocked up on lemon juice, tender coconuts, Horlicks, Complan, drinking chocolate and the like. If the child drank them, it would make for variety, thought the fond mother. With the air of being able to meet any contingency, she asked her daughter, “What would you like to drink?” and reeled off the list. The child took a moment to think. Then she said, “I’d like some green tea.” The mother was flabbergasted. That was one thing she didn’t have. But she bore it manfully — rather, womanfully — and countered, “Drink up one of the others for now. I’ll get green tea presently.” She braced herself for a battle, but the daughter surprised the mother by capitulating. “The poor thing must be really weak, or she wouldn’t give in so easily,” thought the mother.
Then there was the time the child’s parents planned a holiday, an African safari. Quite naturally, the child was excited. She spent a lot of time reading up on the animals they would see, the weather, the food, the people and their customs, the terrain... “I’m going to travel light,” she declared, as if she were a seasoned traveller. She even added a diary and a pen to jot down notes. Just as the plans were crystallising, there was an emergency at the father’s office. It meant the much-awaited trip would have to be postponed. Disappointment was writ large on her face as he broke the news to his daughter. “We’ll go to Bandipur this weekend,” he said, his tone placating. “That would be nice. Animals are animals, no matter where you see them,” replied the youngster. Instead of tears and tantrums, such resilience made the parents sag with relief.
Quite recently, a large family group hit upon the idea of going on a picnic. Finding a date to suit everybody posed a problem. It wasn’t easy to decide on the location either — one was too near, one too far, the third too frequented... Then an uncle hit upon the idea of going to his friend’s farm. It was in the countryside — not too far, nor too near. There was a small house equipped with a functional kitchen containing basic supplies and a well-appointed washroom. It was welcomed with cheers. Unfortunately, the day dawned with a heavy downpour, which showed no signs of letting up. This was something the child couldn’t take. She burst into tears and sat in a corner, looking the picture of sadness. In an attempt to console her, the grandmother said, “We can always make it another day.”
“I am not interested!” was the ungracious reply between her smothered sobs.