Anumita tells us that children should not be excluded for the calamities at home. Here she discusses one such real-life incident and shows how the child was happy when he was made a part of the solution. Read more about responsive parenting, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Rony (name changed to conceal identity) walked into the room and everyone hushed up. He watched his father signaling with his eyes at his mother. She turned away and pretended to look in the oven and wiped her eyes. Rony knew something was wrong. He asked but his father said that it was nothing and that he need not worry. Rony could feel the tension in the family, as dinner was such quite affair and both the parents hardly ate.
Next morning, while getting ready for school, he found his father up but not ready. Rather he was in the home-office shifting through papers and checking things on the computer. He bounced into the room and asked his father that how he had an off day, while he (Rony) had to go to school? His father snapped back at him.
Confused, Rony came to the dining table and sat down to eat his breakfast. He asked his mom, why daddy had a holiday and why was he mad at him. His mom mumbled something and told him to be silent and eat his food. That day and some more after that, Rony could not perform well at school. He could not concentrate and was snappy. His class teacher felt something was amiss, especially this 3rd grader was a very happy child and she had never seen him behave in such manner. During recess, his teacher watched Rony sitting on a bench alone. Another red flag went up. She approached him. Sitting down beside him, she casually asked if everything was okay.
Rony’s eyes were fearful and confused at the same time. He was withdrawn. He told his teacher that he did not know what was happening at home and he felt that he might be responsible for what his parents were going through. He told her that his dad was not going to work and he seemed angry all the time. He had seen his mom crying too. He also let her know that his parents were not divulging anything to him, even though he had asked them. The teacher reassured Rony that it might not be his fault. She said she would try her best to work it out.
The teacher was concerned about Rony’s school work deteriorating. She sent a little email to his mom, mentioning the lack of interest and anger which Rony was experiencing for the last few days. She asked if it would be possible for her to come over or give a call, then they could understand how to help Rony out.
Next day, Rony’s teacher got to know that Rony’s father had been laid off. He was very upset. He had never been in this situation ever. To add things up, Rony’s mom had just got to know that she was pregnant. The father was the only earning member. Financial insecurity had made their family go through deep distress. They did not want to tell Rony anything, because they both thought that Rony would not understand and that he need not bother. The teacher sympathised with the family.
During the conversation, the teacher said that she has no rights to advice a family on how to run their home, but she is concerned that this exclusion of Rony from the family calamity is causing Rony more grief. He lives in that house and he has the right to know what is happening. Children are more resilient than we think. They can feel our tensions and stresses.
Taking the teacher’s advice, Rony’s parents took out time to sit with him. They discussed the facts about the situation, and then they discussed what steps that had to be taken to rectify the not-so-favorable conditions. What sacrifices each might make. They were surprised to see him listening and even smiling. They all made up a plan of what each must do for the time being to keep the family in a smooth sailing condition.
When the conversation was over, Rony smiled big and said that he was very happy that this was not his fault and the whole family had worked it out together. He was thrilled to be a part of the solution, no matter how small, in the time of crisis.
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Photos from the internet.
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