This incident happened today evening in front of me when I took my child to play in the kids’ park and it disheartened me.
I am using the actual dialogues in Hindi, translated in English later, so you can imagine the tone this lady was talking in.
I take my child to play every evening in a park which has many slides, swings and see-saws. He loves to run around and slide. He is still learning to maintain his balance on the swings and hold himself firmly. He pointed towards the swing and made sounds to make me understand. I took him there and was waiting for our turn. On one swing was a little girl swinging very happily and she was around the same age as my son. On the other swing was a mother holding a school bag on her shoulder, helping her daughter sit on the swing who was in her school uniform. I saw her trying again and again but the girl was not able to sit, she slipped. The girl must be around 8 years old. I went to her and offered some help. I held the swing tightly with one hand with my son in the other arm so it doesn’t move for the girl to sit comfortably. She still couldn’t sit. I understood from the little girl’s expression that the girl might not have used such a swing earlier so she couldn’t figure out how to sit on such a small surface that had no back-rest to it. Her mother said, “Sit the way you sit on a chair by folding you legs a little.” The girl tried, but still couldn’t sit. This continued for good 5-7 minutes.
Suddenly her mother started getting irritated by this and cried at her, “Ye dekh itni chhoti si bachchi baith sakti hai side wale jhule pe tujhse nai baitha ja ra?! ( Look this little girl beside you, she is sitting so comfortably and you are not able to sit on this swing!)” The little girl felt a little ashamed. She looked down and refused to sit on the swing then. I didn’t like what happened there so I asked the little girl politely to try again and said, “Aap kar loge, itna pareshan nai ho, apko ispe jhulna hai na toh baithna bhi seelkh jaoge. (You can do it, don’t stress over it, you want to swing on this so you will eventually learn to sit on it too.)” Her mother and I tried again to make her sit. Again she couldn’t sit. While helping her child the mother started getting angry on her for not being able to sit on a swing. She started blabbering words to her. The little girl by now was feeling ashamed of herself for not being able to do such a simple thing. I could also see the fear of her mother in her eyes.
I could notice the lump in her throat, also the tears that her eyes were holding back so strongly. Before she could cry I said,” Arre aise kyu chhod diya apne, sab kuch ek baar mein thode hi seekh jata hai koi, dhire dhire try karoge toh seekh jaoge, chalo hum firse try karenge.( Why did you stop trying? Nobody learns everything in one go, you will learn it slowly, it’s OK, let’s try again.)” And her mother didn’t leave another chance to make her feel worse about it. She called another girl, little younger to her daughter and told her to show how to sit. That girl who must be using that slide everyday jumped on it within a fraction of second. The lady started again, “Dekha kitna asaan hai ye, aur terese ho nai ra hai, ab tu bolna mat mujhe garden leke chalne ko, ek jhule pe toh baitha nai ja ra hai tujhse! (See how easy it is and you are not able to do it. Now don’t ask me to get you here in the garden, you cant even sit on a simple swing!)” And the tears couldn’t be held any longer. The little girl started crying. Trust me it was not a normal crying like generally children do. I know this because at few events in my life I have done the same as a child( my parents never did what this lady was doing but there were other reasons for it). I could see myself in her. I could understand that child by her tears as once I was like her- shy, no self-confidence, ashamed of making my parents feel embarrassed because of me and such low esteem stuff. I saw anger for herself in her eyes and face. I know what she was thinking. She was really cursing herself for not doing such an easy task. Her hands froze but eyes still wet and teary, she went away from her mother and kept crying loudly. I ran after her with my baby in my arms, but her mother stood there.
I was trying to calm the girl but she was not ready to come to me as well as she was shamed in front of me too and I was a stranger for her who might also be thinking her as a loser. I asked her to stop crying as it was perfectly fine to not be able to do a thing at once. I told her it’s fine if she doesn’t want to swing now, nobody will ask her to. I asked her to come to me as I wanted to hug her and tell her that she is still a very smart girl and she will learn sitting on that swing if she wanted to. She ran to her mother and the lady pulled her towards the swing. ” Ab bol tu mujhe roz yahan aane ko, garden jana hai garden jana hai karti rehti hai roz, le ayi tujhe yahan, ek jhule pe nai baith sakti tu. Ruk tu ghar chal fir batati hun. Baith na ab ispe…baith…ab kyu nai baith rahi??( Now you dare ask me to come here again. Everyday you irritate me to take you to this garden, I got you here today and you can’t even sit on this swing. Wait and watch after we reach home. Sit on it now…why don’t you sit now…huh??)” This was a shocker to me!! She actually pulled her daughter while saying all this and forcefully started throwing her on the swing to sit. I immediately stopped her. I told her this is not the way to talk to your child and this is nothing to get so angry at, she will learn it. The lady didn’t reply and pulled her daughter to come home with her and again kept mumbling sentences that couldn’t be heard but expressions told that it all continued. The lady kept walking ahead and the poor little girl kept crying loudly running after the mother.
This disturbed me so much. I don’t know what that lady would have after they reached home- would she hit her?? or not talk to her till the girl cries and begs her to talk to her?? or not serve her food?? or tell this to her father who might be worse that the mother??
Maybe I was overthinking and that incident might have ended there itself. I am not the kind of person who would judge anyone by just one act of a person so I don’t know whether that lady was already in a bad mood so reacted this way or maybe she is really what she showed there. Whatever it was I can only conclude one thing from it – IT WAS WRONG!!
First of all the lady made the girl feel ashamed by comparing her to a one year old baby girl who was swinging beside her. Like really!! You just can’t compare anyone in this world on any basis! No one even has same type and same caliber people in one home then how can one compare two different kids who live in different backgrounds!! Parents don’t have their children like them then how can a child be like another child.
If a child is not able to do something that you and others consider as “simple” doesn’t mean it is actually simple for that child. You don’t know the struggles in a child’s head who is judged by his/her own parents everyday.
If any one of you does such a thing(even if not to this extent or even once in a while without realizing) , Please stop it. I know such things are very common in many homes and parents shout at kids for every small thing and keep them scared always but think about that baby you held for the first time, its the same one you are talking to now. Kids are delicate and they need to be handled with lots of love and care.
Children are not our property but we are just there to nurture them and protect them and not control their lives to such an extent that the child feels suffocated. Realize this now, before your child loses his/her self-confidence completely.