The other day Kiran posted a link to Susan Sontag's guide to raising children. It's Rahul's birthday this month, and like I tend to get this time of the year, I find myself very contemplative, looking at him and evaluating ourselves as parents. The 10 guidelines are very matter-of-fact:
Be consistent.We try to be. I think mostly we are. Vicky and I are not very disciplined people so this is not easy for us and sometimes the strain of sticking to a schedule gets to us.
Don’t speak about him to others (e.g., tell funny things) in his presence. (Don’t make him self-conscious.)I hated my mother and Mejopishi discussing me when I was younger. I always felt that I never had any privacy when those two got chatting. I learnt to live with it as I grew older but I notice it doesn't take much to make Rahul self-conscious. And when he is self-conscious he starts clowning around, usually taking it to extremes. It's just easier discussing him when he is not around!
Don’t praise him for something I wouldn’t always accept as good.YES. If I don't think I'll like it at 15 I don't praise it at 5 either.
Don’t reprimand him harshly for something he’s been allowed to do.Both Vicky and I could do much better in this department.
Daily routine: eating, homework, bath, teeth, room, story, bed.We don't have a social life because a certain Person in this household goes to bed at 8 and is usually ready for bed even earlier. 'Nuff said?
Don’t allow him to monopolize me when I am with other people.I try, boy do I try. Somebody please take this child aside and explain to him how rude his interruptions are! He just stands there and repeats himself until I am forced to throw him some kind of a response if only to get him to stop. Shades of William Brown.
Always speak well of his pop. (No faces, sighs, impatience, etc.)*cough* No comments.
Do not discourage childish fantasies.We don't. :) I love how he makes things up now. His drawings tell stories, and he builds the most fantastically absurd things with Lego. The wealth of detail in his creations, the painstaking labour he puts into it all, puts goofy grins on our faces. He knows we find something funny but he also knows we aren't laughing at him.
Make him aware that there is a grown-up world that’s none of his business.This is tricky because he has very little or no buffer from this grown-up world. No other children (mostly) and we tend to take him wherever we go because it's not like we have places to leave him. But we do explain and regularly reinforce that he is not expected to join in grown-up conversations or take sides in adult confrontations.
Don’t assume that what I don’t like to do (bath, hairwash) he won’t like either.It's weird having a child who likes to stay fully covered -- at his age minimal clothing was my state of choice (and according to some relatives, it still is) but there you have it. Mister T Rex is his own person and if he likes to go through life in pajamas with tails tucked in behind, who are we to find that strange?