by Melanie Minnaar who works in corporate marketing communications and is currently enjoying her maternity leave. Mother to ‘archangels’, Michael and Gabriel, wife to an IT consultant she is an information-junkie, hooked on technology and online social networking. You can tweet her @MelanieMinnaar
I’ve been thinking about how I could teach my toddler a moral lesson or two in the build up to Human Rights Day. On reflection I think he has already grasped the principle rather well.
You see, where adults tainted by years of existence and trying to remind themselves of, and regain, what they are due – children have a polar opposite approach and first claim what they think is rightfully theirs and the job is left to parents and caregivers to pry back what they can. Kids expect to have a roof over their heads, food when they’re hungry, refreshment when they’re thirsty and the means to purchase whatever is required. A very ‘can-do’ attitude. Good for them – lifetime of management for us.
We are hardly allowed to say ‘bad words’ to our son never mind threaten him with his life (“Mom, only bad people say those words”). A friend of mine has a 6 year old who actually told her mom that she would be depriving her of an education if she didn’t allow her to go to school even if she has a cough!
When our 4 year old asks “do you love me?” we’ve also learnt that while replying with an affirmative ‘yes’ or ‘of course’ is not only short sighted on our part but also showing lack of insight gained in our nearly 5 years of parenting. You see, when Michael does this he has generally been up to some sort of mischief or devil-may-care – and he knows it (the joys of being raised with a Catholic conscience)!
There was an incident when his dad threatened him with the wrath of mom for spraying pool water into the lounge. From behind the bedroom curtain there came a voice “mom, do you love me?” to which I devotedly replied “yes, I love you very much”. There was an audible sigh before he came happily traipsing through my room to his dad as if he was wearing an invisible force shield.
He has this innate sense that ‘someone’ should be looking out for him and that he is protected by some fundamental privileges. He is right. Isn’t that the premise of the declaration of human rights?
In our experience the article most requiring some effort to entrench would be the first one; it says that “all human beings are born with equal rights and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”; you try explaining that to a toddler on a playground…
Happy Human Rights Day everyone!