Making small kids talk their heart

There is one benefit of being a tenant, you can shift home whenever you feel like. We shifted home to avoid travel time (traffic jam) when my husband changed his workplace. We again shifted home when my daughter got admission in a school 11 Km away from home. We shifted to a place that was in 1.5 km vicinity of her school. Though, her school has bus and cab facility, still we shifted to minimize her travel time. In morning, my husband used to drop our daughter to school and in the afternoon, it was my turn to pick her up from the school. It was a great feeling to see her after 5 long hours. She always liked to stay back in school for an hour and enjoy in her school playground. I used to sit on the stairs and watch her playing. After feeling satisfied, she used to come to me and share her school stories. We also had a ritual to visit Haldiram’s on every other Friday, where she would enjoy her dosa and would talk her heart. Her sweet, cute and not so important concerns (gossips) were articulated there. We both used to eagerly wait for those Fridays. All was going great until a day came when government decided to extend metro line and divert all the routes.

I love to cycle and I used to pick my daughter on my two-wheeler, my bicycle. With this metro construction work 1.5 Km distance changed into app 4 Km with additional diverted traffic. It became challenging and unsafe to cycle in such bad traffic condition with my 5-year daughter. Reluctant we were, but we had to opt for bus facility provided by school. I convinced myself and my daughter that bus is better than cycle. Bus would save her from heat, dust, rain and chilled winds as in Delhi we have extreme weather conditions. We all agreed to this change. My daughter started commuting with school bus. My husband drops her at bus pickup point and I pick her up from there. My daughter never said anything about it and I also focused on good aspects of availing bus facility. Because of the construction work, Haldiram’s became less approachable. Our dating became irregular. I must say that kids have a wonderful capability to adapt. She never complaint about this irregularity.

Slowly, I noticed that I was missing her thoughts on school events, her friends and her teacher’s remarks. Whenever I took her to Haldiram’s, she would tell me things else it was normal talks like who did what and what hurt her. That means she discussed issues of utmost importance to her with me and that clearly means only her conscious brain was talking to me her subconscious brain stopped articulating, tough, it was growing and learning so many things. This was the time when the mother in me got worried. I don’t only want to know obvious and visual things about my daughter, but I also want to know what is she learning or internalizing subconsciously.

I analyzed what made her speak mind and heart with me earlier. Was it the ambience of Haldiram’s? Was it the taste of dosa? Was it the effect of seeing many others talking to each other? I was happy to know that they were stimuli but not the complete story. I got to know that there she got a feeling of ‘free time’, time when I won’t ask about her homework or how her day was or cleaning her room or any commands and requests. There she felt like treated as it was always my request to visit Haldiram’s, her favorite place. There she felt complete in charge to decide what to eat from a list of available items, though, she always chose dosa. But the feeling of choosing her own thing was very satisfying for her. And by providing all these unasked things, unknowingly I was running the show there and making my kid so overwhelmed that she would start with a line “Aur ma, kya chal raha hai life me?” How much I started missing her opening line. I also dreaded that if this continues then she might even stop communicating her feelings to me as she would approach teenage. It would be too late to open the communication at that time and I would be out of her trusted inner circle, wherein we discuss anything and everything.

I thought of a plan. I requested my daughter to get ready – in her favorite dress along with her heel sandals. She smiled to notice that I asked her to wear heels which generally I discourage. She asked where we were going. I said, ‘it is a surprise’. Then we walked to a nearby shop and I bought a 5 Rs chips packet for her. I started sensing her happiness. Then as soon as we entered our society gate, I suggested her to open the packet and have chips if she wanted. She happily hugged me and opened it. With first chips in her mouth, she said let’s go to society park and sit on a bench. I agreed. She smiled and offered me one chips, which I accepted. I don’t eat chips but I accepted that offer to respect her offering, which she noticed. We reached to the park and as we sat on the bench my little wonder said,” Aur ma, kya chal raha hai life me?” I loved that moment and my heart was jumping with happiness. I said in a very normal, regular and composed tone“sab badhiya. Tum batao” and she started sharing her things. It felt as if I got her back.

From then, I think of new plans, surprise her in a good way, treat her well and give her a sense of ‘free time’. It works every time. She lets me into her mind and heart. She enjoys our talk.

We parents tend to think that it is natural for kids to not tell everything to us as they grow up. My home is a lenient place where my kid has a voice and she is respected. She is our only child so we give her our maximum undivided attention. We parents never had harsh communication between us and we never discarded each other’s opinion in front of our daughter. She is academically bright and is an active girl with lots of opinion about so many things. We read story together, daily. She is expressive about so many things and yet she stopped expressing her ‘not so important things’ with me. And it was such a subtle change that was difficult to notice. She was adapting with new arrangements and a young mind has so many things to learn and cope up with. I don’t think she deliberately stopped gossiping (that became trivial in her opinion) with me. She was adapting and she took this also as a part of the process. For me also it took 7 good months to notice the change. I am happy that I could notice it and do the right thing on time. We are back gossiping mother-daughter duo. Good gossip about herself and not bitching about others. Gossips that give me a friendly space to correct my daughter’s understanding. Gossip that allows me to make her learn important things outside school curriculum.

Please do share your ways of making your kid talk to you what they regards as ‘faltu baaten’ or gossiping.

Happy Parenting.

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