Little Men and Women

Written By

Ushasi Sen Basu

Little Men and Women Loading

Ever noticed how we’re trying to turn our babies into mini-adults? The pressure has eased on me, now that my child is the grand old age of 3 and a half, but when she was a baby; I was forever being given advice on how to make her do something earlier than the milestone.

As part of a mom forum, I see all sorts of ‘remedies’ to cure babies off their babyness (a term I got from a medical encyclopaedia). You have mothers trying to sit babies down on the potty when their heads are still bouncing about on their necks like bobblehead toys. They’re given solid food while entirely innocent of teeth. Speaking of teeth, there are mythical “methods” to make teeth and hair grow faster. And then, since all our traditional magic techniques are not numerous enough, we have to adopt unnecessary western nonsense like walkers to “help” babies along their way, because after all babies will eternally stay babies without our active round-the-clock intervention. (There’s a land far, far away where, without the advantage of our scientific techniques, everyone remains babies.)

Then we race to put our kids in school, so they can talk faster, socialize faster; basically get there faster. Wherever “there” is, I suspect it’s full of profit and loss ledgers and high blood pressure medicine. There’s a lot of frantic calculations if our children are born towards the end of the year – we shudder to think our children will be the oldest 2 year old in a class of 2 year olds. God forbid! The shame cannot be endured! Some discreetly doctor birth certificates to avoid this ignominy. No, he must appear to be precocious and always be the youngest to achieve whatever the achievement is in class at the time – drawing a line down the length of a page, or just sitting up all day without falling over too many times.

And this is all so that, by four they can be grand old men and women. The beauty regimens of little girls have been in full force for their entire lifetimes and now their minds turn to jewellery and make up. They’re dressed precociously as well, looking (probably because women dress younger nowadays— an entirely positive development) like mini versions of their moms. They dance; winking and gyrating in a startling fashion to ‘Sheila ki Jawani’ and compare the shades of their pink nail polish when they get together in the evenings.

A friend complained bitterly to me of the time she took her 4 year old son to watch a children’s movie. The child got restless within an hour of the movie, as is the wont with little boys. An elderly couple in the row before them glowered and muttered for a while, hoping that the hint will be taken.  Finally, when the disruptive presence of a childish child at a children’s movie could not be borne any longer, the elderly gentleman turned around and ticked the mother off soundly. Seems like old people tsking and glaring and expecting orderliness at No-job Wetpants Part 3 could be deemed inappropriate if one chose to see the other side of it.

Why can’t we just celebrate the babyness of our babies, the childishness of our children, while we still have the chance? This is not to be confused with a tolerance of ill-behaviour, but the acceptance of child-appropriate conduct.

I used to watch the babyish ebullience of my daughter at play, all gurgling laughter and coos of pleasure — and wished I could feel the same way about life. Then the frequent naps, being spoon-fed and having a person at your beck and call at all times; …this was the life! Let’s face it, it’s amazing to be a baby. No other time of life (except very briefly during the college years) can match it. Why would you want to force your child out of this state before his time?

He’ll grow up soon enough and you’ll wonder where your baby went.

Don’t come crying to me when that happens.

Read Children Learn Behaviour by Imitation for a psychologist’s take on this phenomenon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ushasi Sen Basu, 37, lives in Bangalore and is the erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of SiyaWoman.com. She published her debut contemporary literary fiction novel, 'Kathputli’ in early 2017, in both Kindle and paperback formats. Ushasi has been a professional writer and editor for over a decade. She also has an unpopular blog called The Crib that pokes fun at everything, including herself. Ushasi (aka Shashi, "U" and 'You-Over-There') loves literature and music, and dances like nobody’s watching. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl, who is the joy of her life and grudging guinea pig for many of her parenting experiments.

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