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Children as great teachers

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I used to hate putting my child to bed. It might take anything from 1 hour to 2.5 hours. You might want to have your child sleeping at 8pm sharp, but that will never happen. He’ll toss and turn, he’ll play around, he’ll do anything except sleep. In the past, this used to vex me, because I was mentally counting the personal time that I had left. I love my kid, but hey, I’ve been looking after him for the good part of the day, and daddy needs some personal time alone to be ‘myself’ again. Out of 12 waking hours, surely having 2 hours alone is not an unreasonable request?

Apparently so. Just 5 mins ago, my son finally fell asleep. We tried putting him to bed at 9pm, so that was 1.5 hours of trying hard not to doze off while trying to make him doze off. It was only after a few months of dreading this nightly routine that I came to the realisation that it was not him who needed to sleep on time, but me who needed to let go of whatever is on my mind and live at the present with him. That thought freed me from the shackles of a regulated schedule and made me fully enjoy being with him. Yes, even those fussy moments when he just didn’t want to sleep.

That’s the essence of being a parent. It’s not so much about the kid who needs to adjust to you, but more about you adjusting to the kid. If you see children as spiritual mentors who are here to educate you, then things are much easier. What have I changed to adjust to my child?

1. I started reading more physical books. I have a few e-book readers but in order to inculcate the habit of reading to him (or perhaps the culture of reading), I’ve been borrowing more physical books from the library. If we’re not reading to him, we’ll be reading in front of him. I seldom see a child that is a voracious reader and the parents are not. Not impossible, but it’s just less likely.

2. I’m using an electric toothbrush for almost a year now. I wished I had it when I was much younger because it was such a great cleaning tool. But it seems I will now have to switch to analogue toothbrush now because I need to teach him how to use a toothbrush real soon. There are reports of children having very bad tooth decay at a very young age. As a compromise, perhaps in the morning when he’s up I’ll use the analogue one, and when at night after he fell asleep, I can use back the digital one. At least with that, I won’t have to sacrifice my tooth for his!

There are many such incidents but I think I’ll not bore readers with such mundane details. Suffice to say, before you want your child to change, perhaps you as the parent should begin and lead the way. Children are super sensitive towards double-standard. You smart, but they are not stupid too.

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