Before I begin writing about whats exactly going on in my mind, let’s begin with a question about the game I am sure everyone of us has played at some point of the other. Snakes & Ladders.
What is the most exciting thing about the game of Snakes & Ladders that tempts us to play the game over and over again?
I have noticed this phenomenon being reflected in many forms in our lives. But ever since
parenting and motherhood stepped in my life I am able to see it better and in a different light from the way I have perceived it in my growing years. I am talking about the competitive nature of parents and their concealed/revealed desire to prove their kid is doing much better than the rest.
Till recently, I had always thought that the parents get competitive around the time their kids start their school lives. As the child grows, so does the desires and expectations of their parents. The outcome, every conversation between parents is like a virtual snakes and ladders game. Trying to let their child get to climb a ladder of admiration by throwing the dice of his achievements in academics, extra-curricular activities and even sports. The sole intention being, to bite the other parent with a pang of worry and inferiority complex for their child’s less superb performance like a snake.
Have you ever wondered who actually suffers at the cost of adult’s playing snakes & ladders trying to boost their ego or being snobbish of other children? Unfortunately, the kids are the real sufferers.
When we are talking about school-going kids or teenagers struggling to make choices about the subjects or the field they wish to pursue, we have individuals who have the ability to have their say in front of their parents. But, what I recently came across was something grave and disturbing to no-limits. The reason for my agony was, the kids in question were infants.
I had an extended stay in hospital at the time Pari was born cause of my medical condition. At that time, I came across several relatives of the patients in adjacent rooms. Many of them were the grand-parents of newborn kids born around the time Pari was born. Besides, the usual greetings the main topic of their conversation would be, what was the birth weight of your baby? is it a boy or a girl? On being told that it’s a girl, my mum and I would often (almost 98% times) be consoled that maybe next time it’ll be a boy.
It didn’t end with gender bias, but extended upto advises about how to ensure the baby has a snow-white complexion for she was a girl. Even though stressing was something I was strictly advised against, I couldn’t help getting furious at the ridiculous thoughts people had. My mum used to avoid small-talk with such people, but there were times when others just wanted to pour their mind or their worries (about having a baby girl, or her complexion,etc.) on my mum.
Why on earth would someone worry about such non-sense issues instead of celebrating the miracle of life, is beyond my understanding.
The snakes and ladders game started full on, once we had the masseuse come for Pari’s massages. I have no doubts in her expertise in the field for she has been practicing midwifery for over 40 years besides working as a masseuse for infants but her favorite topic of interest besides gossiping is telling mums about how well or poorly their kid is doing as far as achieving developmental milestones goes.
Keeping track of developmental milestones is important, but uselessly worrying if your neighbor’s baby started crawling before your baby or if the kid in a distant household is way heavier than your baby despite the same age is pointless. In my opinion, such futile thinking is a mere waste of time, with no fruitful outcome. When I would politely brush off the masseuse’s comparative accounts, she would jump on to narrate anecdotes on how her comparisons did good to the babies in the past.
I’ll quote one of her examples briefly for your understanding. The masseuse suggested to one of the mums that her son (then 4.5 months old) wasn’t as healthy as the kids of his age should be. The mother in reply expressed concern and requested for contact number of other mothers (who were the masseuse’s client) to get to discuss her plight. The next day she spoke to two other mums and they advised her to start feeding her son some semi-solids and solids to get desirable results. Without a second thought on the need to consult the pediatrician (to verify her doubts ) she started giving her son some mashed rice and the like.
The baby didn’t relish the meal for he was pushed to something new all of a sudden. But the mum pushed down three to four teaspoons on two occasions. The outcome, the baby developed severe colic, constipation and stopped feeding. The mum rang the other mothers again, the ignorant mums (who had not faced a similar situation) advised according their understanding only worsening the problem.
Finally advise from the pediatrician was sought. The baby was un-necessarily(for they could have been avoided) administered medications. Though he soon returned to normal feeding. It also turned out that the baby was actually healthy and had normal weight for his age. For the record, all the mums mentioned here are well-educated.
Who actually benefitted from this futile snakes & ladders game? No-one
Although we definitely have a sufferer at the hands of senseless competition among over-enthusiastic parents – the young baby who is just a few months old.
I am a new mum, yet to learn the steep curves of parenting. But, I strongly stand by the belief, every child is unique.
Never compare his/her development, ability, learning skills and even performance on scales set by others who have no scientific backing to their claims. If you are in doubt, seek expert advise. But, let your child be on his/her own.
Nature has a way and its own course of creating adults out of babies, let it work at peace and leave the game of snakes and ladders to be played as a board game and not with the lives of our dear ones.
Pic Courtesy: motivationalmemo.com
The Song on my mind: