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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Of Sense and Sensitivity

The EO is a sensitive boy. So sensitive he makes me cry. So sensitive that he makes me worry. So sensitive, that I stay up nights worrying about his survival in this cruel, cruel world.

When he first joined Montessori, he was just 2y and 1m old. The first week, the moms had to accompany their ‘babies’ and stay in class with them, to ease them in. The actual class had been divided into three different time slots, so that the first-timers could get the hang of the routine without too much of a crowd being around. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It was only for an hour and a half, and after the games, the songs, the puppet shows and tiffin break, class was over. The teachers (three per class and all of them PYTs), got down on their knees and said ‘Huggy time!’ Some kids hung back looking uncertain and ready to cry, some shuffled up shyly and some zoomed in at full speed! Yes, my EO was one of the zoomers. However, he didn’t stop there. With arms still outstretched, he turned to all of the mommies, squatting precariously on the six-inch high benches and approached each of them for a hug! To say they were zapped is of course an understatement, their eyes wide with a “What the..?” kind of a sentiment. But of course they all obliged, how could they not? Here’s this adorable boy with curls flopping onto his forehead and his big, chocolate coloured eyes full of love, offering a hug…just like that, no strings attached. Who could resist? The EO made sure he gave all the mommies a hug and didn’t miss out on anyone, finally stopping with me, his very own Mamma. I held him the closest and the longest, my whole body filled with light. At that moment, I could actually feel my heart cry a few tears, having witnessed the beautiful sight of a child’s innocence, sensitivity and love.

A few weeks ago, he was spending the night at my mom’s. I was out with my YO and the Man I Married had gone home early and was relaxing in bed. MIM called our EO to chat with him and our son asked his father what he was doing.
MIM: I’m lying down in bed.
EO: Where’s Mamma?
MIM: She’s gone out with your brother.
EO: You mean you’re all alone? Please go to your father right now!
How sensitive and perceptive for a not-yet-five-year-old to feel his beloved father’s 'aloneness’ and to try and remedy it! I walked in around ten-fifteen minutes later. MIM told me about the conversation. I was touched. I called up my EO to tell him that I’d come home, that I loved him and to say ‘Good night’. Before I could get a word in edge-wise, he started to scold me and said, “Mamma, please go home RIGHT NOW! Baba’s all alone.” After I reassured him that I was back home, we exchanged ‘good nights’ and ‘I love yous’ and I put down the phone, wondering where he gets this streak of innate sensitivity and goodness from? And more importantly, just how blessed am I?

These are just a two of a whole bunch of memories that I cherish. And they continuously serve to remind me how sensitive my EO is. My boy loves looking through albums at my mom's place. Each photograph comes attached with a story that Maa-Janoni is never too tired to tell, no matter how many times he may have heard it before. My boy frets, worries and cries whenever a loved one falls ill. If a classmate is being scolded, he rushes to his/her defence and if a friend is hurt and crying, he'll do everything in his power to make him/her feel better.

He's a friendly little chatterbox, my EO. Can't sit quiet for a minute. He makes friends wherever he goes, age, sex, class no bar. I can see people fall in love with him all the time. It's impossible not to respond to his eager eyes, open smile and delightful innocence. But, there are often times when children older than him, big boys of between the ages of seven to twelve, ignore him. I can see the hurt in his eyes and way his shoulders droop at the pain of having faced rejection. He either stares after them longingly, wanting to be included in their 'big boy games and chatter' and not understanding why he can't. Sometimes he runs back to me and buries his face into me, trying bravely not to cry. It takes every ounce of will-power to not get up and give those boys a piece of my mind.

But sometimes, I can't help but intervene. Like recently, when he was trying to make friends with a six-year-old boy in his karate class. The EO asked him twice, "What's your name?" The boy pointedly ignored him and all this is happening in front of me. The third time my son asked, he was rewarded for his troubles with a kick in the chest! Something in me snapped and I yelled at the boy, "How dare you? How dare you kick a boy who's younger than you and who was only trying to make friends with you? Haven't you been taught any manners?" The boy didn't even have the the grace to look shame-faced or say sorry. He just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Was I right to lose my cool? Could I have handled the situation better? I don't know. You tell me. But there was something so heartbreaking about the scene.

Which brings me back to my fear. How will my beautifully sensitive boy survive? Lately, the world has become full of ugliness and pettiness. Bullies rule, corruption and lies build the foundation of governments and there is no sense of fair-play anymore. Acts of charity and goodness go uncelebrated and people are so busy running after crores, that we don't value what's truly important anymore. So how do I shield him and his younger brother from it all? Or should I?

What do I teach them when they're getting hit or smacked around by other boys their age? Not to turn the other cheek, because I don't believe in that, but should they complain to an authority figure or learn to give back as good as they get?

Tell me, tell me how I should do this without jading their world view? For how long do I help them hold onto their innocence? And most importantly, how do I keep his sensitivity intact?

Tell me all you good people out there, am I making sense?


Mama - Mia said...


aren't these the questions all of us are facing today?!

and while we worry about sensitive kids, we dont even want them to be otherwise! i just keep saying that i will teach Cubby NOT to initiate any violence or fights! but if someone hit him, hit em back!

LOVED this post too! am linking you in my mext post, just like that! just to say this is a must read blog!!



the mad momma said...

oh babe i've blogged about this so many times. i wish i had an answer....

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear MM1 and MM2,

Thanks, both of you. This really is a stumper, isn't it? But I can't be a lioness all the time, right? Yet, when I see the disappointment and rejection in his face, hear my heart roar!

Good to know that I am not alone!

Vidooshak said...

right now, we are lucky that Cubby seems to be as sensitive and loving as EO. even now, he stares longingly at people in parks and kids in parties who do not smile back at hime. not having been a parent for 10 years, i do not understand what it is that makes some parents fail at inculcating simpler values like empathy and sensitivity in their children. is it just a lack of time on their part? is it inborn nature of the child? is it merely a phase kids go thru?

i feel u were perhaps correct in giving the 6 year old a piece of your mind. maybe he'll be more friendly the next time. or maybe not. either ways, it is more important to *somehow* make EO understand that everybody is different and not everyone is friendly. until then, he has you to hide in, when the world "rejects" him. i guess he will go thru a phase of being very loved to being very rejected, until he is in his 20s and finds his sea-level.

this was a beautifully written and very cute post. EO just ended up making another fan

Still thinking said...

Can ppl who are not mothers comment on motherhood and emotions? :p

Nice post, something to delve on when do I have a kid.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear V,

Yes, it's up to us to shield them and hug them when hurt and rejection stares them in the face. I am with you on the bit about not understanding why parents can't inculcate the values that matter in their kids.
And I know Cubby's being raised by two great parents with all the right values. I salute you both!!

Hi Still,

You know your opinions mean a lot to comment away!!

Cheers to you both!