My sister-in-law took the black dress off the shelf. “It’s perfect!” she breathed. “Perfect” is what I also thought about it. I had already liked that dress for myself and I wanted it. So I just showed her a few more dresses, stressing that they were superior to the black one she had chosen. She was doubtful but since she trusted me she left the black dress and bought something else. As soon as she was out of sight, I quickly grabbed the black dress and stuffed it in my basket.
I looked at the person sitting in front of me with growing frustration. Why couldn’t he do what I was telling him? He was giving me reason after reason for why he couldn’t do it, a list of his reservations. I didn’t have time to listen to all of that. I knew I was in the right. I just promised him some money and that took care of his reservations. Reservations indeed!
My friend’s child died. I was tired of seeing her crying! I mean it is not end of the world. So I told her to get a grip on herself and stop crying. Didn’t she have other kids to love?
My sister hugged me but I shook her off. She always has to hug and show affection at the most inconvenient of times. Ok so maybe she is nervous before giving her presentation and needs some comfort but can’t she see I have my hands rather full at the moment!
By now you must have a very bad opinion of me. I am unsympathetic, I bribe, I manipulate and I am impatient enough to shrug off a hug. Thankfully the “I” in these cases is figurative. Yet the truth remains that these behaviours are ugly but many of us practice these behaviours on a daily basis. Don’t agree? Let me explain.
A few weeks ago I watched a video on Facebook in which a grown man was pretending to be a four-year-old, while his dad was trying to put him to bed. It was hilarious! But after I finished laughing I starting thinking what if we change the scenario the other way round? What if we start treating adults the way we treat kids? The answer to this bit of question was not pretty at all!
All of the above scenarios are taken from real life but the kid was replaced with an adult. So let’s go back to them but this time with the REAL cast of characters.
Mother was preparing dinner and the baby was playing with his favourite spatula. It had kept him busy and happy while the mum was busy with other stuff but now mum needed that spatula. It was the only one which could reach inside the blender without scratching it. But the baby didn’t want to give it. So she gave the baby another spatula telling her how much better the new one is compared to the old one, it can even make a sound! Confused the baby let go of the first spatula and started playing with the second. Without feeling any guilt over the manipulation the mother went back to cooking!
A mother had to keep an appointment and at the very last moment before leaving the house the toddler pooped. Not only he pooped but he wasn’t willing to change. He had lots of reasons and reservations about not changing at that moment. (Not wanting to go out being one of the reasons.) Frustrated, the mother promised to buy an ice cream if the toddler agreed to change. The kid learned to let go of his reservations, no matter how strongly he believes in them, in face of a treat, a bribe!
A little girl’s favourite toy broke beyond repair. Tired of her crying, her father told her to stop crying this moment. Hadn’t she other toys to play with? Yet the grief of that child over that broken toy was as enormous and overwhleming for her as the grief of a mother whose child may have died.
The house was full of guests and the hostess was harried trying to keep everything running smooth, making sure the food was ready in time. But her little son was feeling uneasy in front of so many new people. He wanted to hug his mother, to be carried by her, to be comforted! But she didn’t have time for that now. Yet toddlers can feel equally (if not more) anxious and nervous in a house full of guests as an adult facing an auditorium full of people.
The same things which look ugly when done to an adult suddenly look normal when done to children. Why?
We all know the famous hadith where Rasulullah, SAW, was present in the house of Abdullah bin Aamir, RA. Abdullah was a child at that time and his mother called him to her saying she will give him something. Rasulullah, SAW, asked her what did she intend to give him? And she replied she intended to give some dates. Rasulullah, SAW, told her that if she hadn’t given him anything, a lie would have been written for her (in her deeds).
We learn from this hadith the enormity of telling lies. But we miss one of the most crucial lessons of this hadith that children are people too. And we are as much accountable for our interaction with them as we are for our interaction with adults.
This doesn’t mean that we have to give in everything a child says or demands. Saying “NO” in the right places is also our duty as parents. So do so, but mind your words, mind your actions and mind the fact that you are answerable to Allaah for every word and every action your direct towards this little person.