How would you define the innocence of childhood? Perhaps it is the laughter of a young child at play, singing and dancing, as if no one was watching. Or the ability to speak your mind out without any pretense or sugar-coating, unmindful of the consequences . Or the blind trust in the goodness of people. Or the naivety in believing in ghosts, angels and fairy tales. The feeling of being blissfully un-self conscious. Or the capacity to imagine without boundaries.
The other day, I was telling my mother about how my 4 year old kiddo embarrassed the hell out of me by acting out at his classmate’s birthday party. It took a lot of convincing from my end to make him understand that he’ll have to wait patiently for his birthday to come and not be upset about his friend’s birthday coming before his. To say that his behaviour mortified me would be an understatement. To my surprise, mother simply laughed it off and reminded me of an incident from my childhood where I’d behaved much worse.
‘’All children are born innocent. Don’t look at your kid as someone who is flawed and needs to be corrected. You’ll end up stifling his enthusiastic spirit.’’
The truth in her words made me ruminate. I realised that I had stepped into the shoes of a parent with a wrong assumption of what it entailed. I’d been the doting parent all along, but I’d also been an ever-watchful one, looking out for him and often ‘correcting’ him whenever he said or did anything which wasn’t right by my book. All along I’d been emphasising more on trying to ‘fix’ my kid rather than understanding that his unbridled curiosity was sincere and untainted. It is true that kids are spontaneous, perceptive and highly focussed in what they want. It might make them behave in a certain way which may appear to be mean or selfish. But rather than trying to find out what circumstances prompted his unacceptable behaviour, I’d focussed on merely correcting his behaviour alone, which wasn’t entirely the right approach. Reprimanding or punishing him would surely yield short-term results, but, in the long run, I’d only end up ruining the parent-child connection. Being an over-zealous parent who was constantly trying to correct him and bring him up in the ‘right way’ would have soured things and made parenting a long struggle, rather than an enriching experience. Thankfully, I realised that in time.
And when I looked at my sleeping boy that night, I realised that very soon he’ll be pulled out of his kind, old world of innocence and brought into a cold, insincere world of malice, greed and meanness. It broke my heart and I promised myself that I’d try my best to protect his innocence as long as I could, before he grew up to the harsh truth that the world is.