My elder kid Mannan was a blessing in disguise, he still is. He and me share a special bond. He is the one who, with one look at my face, will know what my mood is. It is no secret that the relationship between a mother and a child is precious and unique. Any mother will readily accept with a smile that its not only the mother who adjusts, adapts and accommodates to the child’s needs, priorities and requirements, its also the child/children who learn to understand her voice tone, her moods, her stress and many a times knowingly/unknowingly the child provides her with the much needed comfort, understanding and support that she requires to efficiently shoulder the responsibilities that her role demands.
So when i acknowledged and praised my elder one does that mean that i love him more than my younger one? Can a mother have a biased or differential behavior towards one of her children? Can she?
I remember in my childhood days, in any quarrel or differences that we three had among ourselves as siblings, my mother always took the side of the one who wasn’t complaining and ended up diffusing all the anger, creating confusion in the mind of the one who was complaining as to maybe the other one was probably not as wrong as the one complaining was thinking her to be. Obviously at that very moment the one who was made to change her perspective used to whine,sulk and complain that the other one was mummy’s favorite, that she loved the others more or that she was always biased! As teenagers i am sure most of us would have gone through a phase of rebellion where we were the ‘I know it all person’ and the parent’s viewpoint seemed to be kind of outdated. So there did come a point where we as children would have judged our parents who were actually our first teachers, who taught us survival, life skills, moral science, languages, logic and reasoning way before we started our schooling ! The reality remains though that we understand their role and reasons only when we step into their shoes, before that as human as we are, we have freely taken the liberty of questioning their reasoning and behavior as and when we thought that only we were right.
Soham, my younger one who is a toddler of 3 years has a different personality than my elder one. I remember Mannan carrying sugar cubes for ants as a kid to help them in gathering food. He used to scatter it near their ant hills. Soham on the other hand has developed a liking for stomping on them where ever he sees them. On being questioned and reprimanded for his behavior, he quickly says, “woh toh mujhe kaat lenge na!” (If I leave them as they are, they will bite me) That was never what concerned my elder one at his age though, I wondered ! In a way he was right with his logic that he was choosing to kill them before they would cause harm to him but being a mother, I wanted to teach him to respect life, to not cause harm to the other without a reason, to let the ants survive and continue living in their natural habitat and that when he was stomping on them in the playground or the park it wasn’t them who were invading his space, rather it was the other way round. So many thoughts were in my mind while he was busy carelessly enjoying his victory of defeating the army of ants independently !
The month of August in Delhi is humid. A lot of ants, lizards and other insects are visible around. Despite of living on the third floor of my apartment I noticed one day that there were ants in the balcony of my house too. I came up with an idea and quickly called my younger one to show him the ants. I told him that the ants had come looking out for him as he was the one killing them without a reason. For a while he did get scared and believed me that the ants had successfully traced him back home to take him away. I told him to put some sugar cubes for them in the balcony and make peace with them and to promise them to never harm them without a reason. He did as I asked him to. Fear ! it can make one do the impossible. Later when he wasn’t around I swept the floor of the balcony and using the old time home remedy for repelling the ants, I spread some turmeric powder there to get rid of them. I felt happy that I was able to dissuade Soham from a bad habit even if it was by lying a bit. Lying, i know is a bad habit but which mother hasn’t used the magic of smaller, harmless lies for directing her children to a greater good? I remember my mom scaring me from biting off my nails or chewing off the eraser from the pencil as a kid saying that a tree full of nails and eraser would grow out of my mouth and ears if I continued to do so and everyone will laugh at me! Like I tell Soham if he doesn’t brush his teeth regularly cockroaches will start living in his mouth. I am sure if you ask any mother she will have a bunch of indirect, harmless, falsely cooked up theories and threats for ensuring that her children stick to the right habits and path in life.
We all are aware of the famous tagline/idea used in the advertisement of Surf Excel to ‘celebrate stains’ (‘Daag Acche Hain’ brand proposition), created by Lowe, the campaign which addressed the values a child can demonstrate, in spite of the presence of tough stains, to encourage a child to work for greater purpose of humanity, to extend help to one in need changing the perspective to ‘dirt is good if its got on your clothes and hands in the process of helping another’. The thought behind the advertisement seems so much like a mother’s way of thinking, the way she comes up with different ways to ensure that the right human values are imbibed in her children.
So a mother who thinks so much for her child’s welfare in every aspect of their life, can she be more inclined to think and work in favor of only one of her kids?
Not really…! With each child born out of a mother a portion of her life is actually passed on to it, her health suffers, her body permanently changes and yet she strongly stands beside each of her kids to look out for them and to ensure that each one of them is raised well to the best of her capacity!
Now when I am a mother of two, I remember observing the behavior of my mother when she used to care and worry a bit more for my elder sister who was born underweight and who required more help and care in that aspect, when I was the one to receive more scolding for studying as compared to my siblings as I was more careless on that front or the instances in which my mother always encouraged my eldest sister more than us, focusing on giving her the push and confidence to take decisions and move ahead in life. I can now understand without a strand of doubt that my mother, just like every other mother, knew the strengths and weaknesses of each of her child and accordingly she handled us differently, providing us the care and support which was required for each one of us to reach where we are, to groom us all to be individually confident, to ensure that we learnt and inculcated the life skills and values we required in our lives for our survival. As our strengths and weaknesses differed so did her approach to handle us but the final aim was always for the betterment of our lives! Maybe she came up with different tactics, she cooked up stories, was strict or subtle in her approach on different occasions, used different voice tone and contents of conversations with each one us depending on the situation but all of it was only and only for the personal growth of each one of us with the same amount of love !