I remember when I was a little girl, in the 80s. We used to play for hours in the streets with our friends, until my mom or grandmother had to call me in because it was getting dark. Climbing the neighbour’s tree and onto his roof to see what we thought was the rest of the entire country. Street soccer where the boys always cheated the girls into believing that they were better. ‘Elastics’ and hop-scotch. I even recall one time when 3 of us decided to climb into the yard of the only aunty on the street that had a pool. She wasn’t home so we made ourselves at home, towels laid out, splashing around in her pool. She came home of course to find us there and it was complete pandemonium! I don’t think I’ve ever scaled a wall that fast in my life… or ever needed to after that!
So coming back to 2017 I can tell you one thing for sure – kids of today are a whole different kettle of fish. Not only do they need to be stimulated every hour of every day but they also nag… a lot! When we were little we were just given one disapproving look and we would be timid little puppies sitting quietly without any further eye contact. Today its arguments and explanations and the simple “because I said so” doesn’t work anymore. Kids are far more confident and challenging; they want to know everything and can prove your old wives tales wrong with a Google search. They’ll teach you how to use your new washing machine and know about the latest ruling against spanking in South Africa. Don’t be surprised to hear about politics at the supper table either.
What fascinates and can frustrate me sometimes is how different each child is. It certainly is true when they say that each child comes with his or her own personality. As parents we try to treat each one equally and in many respects, this works. Equality in chores, in spending money, in play dates with friends and scoops of ice-cream on the weekend. But when it comes to the emotional needs of each child, this is something of a learning process. A journey to discovering your child and yourself and one that will have you in bitter tears, filled with joy, wanting to pull your hair out and changing your perspective on life; all in a day.
In fact, I don’t think parents of our time were as in tune with emotional development. No one thought hard about how to phrase things so that their child wouldn’t be negatively impacted. “When I die then you’ll know” was a common threat to lazy children in Indian households. Parents weren’t hovering around to see that their precious nugget wasn’t bullied on the playground or rather, waiting to pick a fight with the child who inadvertently pushed your child while sliding down the slide. Kids were much freer and it helped make them all the more independent. Today, turn to that same Google and you will be bombarded by parenting advice, how-to’s about every stage of your toddlers life, do’s and don’ts regarding your teenager and whether breast really is best.
Honestly, when I think of my 3 kids, they are each worlds apart in personality and their emotional needs. No amount of research can properly prepare any parent. My eldest is a thinker, passive and a good sport. He is willing to try new things, reads books at a phenomenal rate and is naturally excellent in academics. This could be as a result of me spending loads of time reading to him even when he was still in nappies. My second and middle child is impulsive, a real live wire, witty and mischievous. He is resolute in his pursuit for sibling fairness and justice (usually because he gets scolded the most and rarely isn’t the culprit). He is compassionate and has a kind heart but also wants what he wants, by all means necessary! It takes an immense amount of patience to deal with him and homework or studying. He has the potential to invent something life-changing if he puts his mind to it or to become an advocate for a people that need him.
Then my little girl, the one that receives the most attention for various reasons. She is strong-willed, a premature baby who won’t let an idea go. She has an inquisitive mind, often leaving me speechless with the type of questions she asks. She is the apple of her father’s eye, talkative and energetic. At seven years old she is a determined little person who I hope will one day become a leader for all the right reasons.
It’s taken me a good few years to figure this parenting thing out and still, I learn each day. The way I handle situations with my children changes from day to day. And sometimes I think I get it wrong, other times I still doubt about whether I did the right thing. All I hope and pray for is that each of my children grows up to be well-rounded, emotionally secure individuals who know who they are and what they believe in. That they realise what their ultimate goal in life is and what they need to strive for. And that in the end, I did a good enough job with them so that I may also reap the rewards of raising good, kind, caring, thoughtful, non-judgmental and content human beings who will contribute to the good in this world.
This article featured in a new book that was recently published called
SAFFRON a collection of personal narratives by Muslim Women, edited by Dr Zaheera Jina and published by African Perspectives.
Click here to purchase the book online directly from the publisher or you can find it at selected Exclusive Books stores.
This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2018.