From a child's mouth

From a child's mouth

Muhammad Ali once said, "Children make you want to start life over." This simple yet profound statement resonates within the walls of my home almost every day as I interact with my daughters. Often, I try to give them precepts on life, however, it is they who inadvertently teach me what life and living is all about. The unvarnished truth, lessons on humility, the tenacity of purpose and objectivity are only some of the life lessons that my children have imparted to me. Listening to them gives me a fresh perspective, and washes away any angst that might have accumulated over time.

For the Annual Day in school, my younger daughter had been given a part in the play based on the novel Matilda by Roald Dahl. She was extremely excited as it also happened to be one of her favourite books. To ensure that one student did not have too many lines to learn, each character was played by two or more students depending on the length of the role. One of her classmates and my daughter were given the role of Miss Trunchbull, the mean headmistress in the novel. My daughter got two scenes and her classmate got two. Things progressed well. However, just a week before the enactment of the play, my daughter came back home looking hurt and sad. When questioned, she told me that one of her scenes had been given to the other Miss Trunchbull, so now her classmate had three scenes and my daughter had only one.

As is the prerogative of a mother, my hurt and sadness were more acute than that of my daughter. Not only did it seem unfair but this change in the eleventh hour, I rationalised, would put a dent in my daughter's morale. I decided to contact the teacher and ask her for the rationale behind her decision. My daughter, however, discouraged me. "Please don't ask my teacher anything," she said. "Why?" I questioned. "Aren't you upset about this? Don't you want to resolve this?" "I am upset, mama, however, there is nothing to resolve." Her response baffled me and we got into a conversation that resulted in astounding results. "It is simple," she said. The other girl was doing a better job than me. She is a better actor than me. Yes, I do feel a little sad, but what ultimately matters is that our play does well. If I get my part back but the play does not go well, I will be even more disappointed."

All I could do was hug her tightly as in the face of her wisdom my words seemed juvenile. Her big-picture thinking completely demolished my detail-oriented perception. Often in our personal agendas and pursuits, we forget what we really need to focus on. It is the simple mind of a child that has the potential to look beyond the unproductive and concentrate on the truly relevant things in life. As adults, we become more and more self-seeking in our thought process and a child can take us back to the basics to reveal the joys of shared responsibility and collective success.

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