I’m the kind of mother who believes in allowing our kids to be ready for something without “forcing” them. You may have noticed this when I talked about how I toilet-trained my first born. Now, this isn’t something that started when I became a mother. I have had it in me for the longest time. I remember when after Secondary School, I was teaching students in class six. I needed to punish some students for not doing their homework. There was one student who was crying his eyes out even before the punishment so I told him to let me know when he’s ready for the punishment or if he’d want me to change the punishment. Just imagine that! It’s funny to think about it now. Hehe.
Of course, there’s that voice in me that always worries that this mindset does not always work so I try to warm up to the idea of being a bit flexible as and when I need to. Sometimes, if an action must absolutely be done, I will try to use dialogue or coercion to get the person to do it rather than force.
Some time last year, I took my kids to the beach for the first time. It was one random Sunday when there was a “one-week” meeting for a neighbour who had passed and there was so much noise! You know, the kind that even causes the building to vibrate, I kid you not. Not willing to stand the noise any longer, I got the kids into the car with my friend and we drove to the Titanic beach at Sakumono. Oh, these kids disgraced me! They were afraid of the horses and afraid of the sea as well! The horses, I understood, because I figured it was bigger than they expected. But the sea? Why? We stayed there for a short while and then went home. Thankfully, the program was done.
The next time we went to the same beach, this time with a friend with older kids, same reaction from my boys. Asempa would at least be curious to get close enough to the sea and then run off but Ayemye would have none of it. He just found a place to sit and played with the sand instead.
The next time, it was a swimming pool. It was one for kids so it was very shallow; the water probably got to their knee level or so. Same reaction from both of them initially, but Asempa was so curious that he threw a bottle cover into the pool and then said he was going to look for it. He got inside and declared he wasn’t scared anymore. Ayemye on the other hand? No way. Like I tried everything, but his no was no.
A few weeks later, we went to another beach. They both played in the sand and wouldn’t go near the sea. At a point though, I just carried Ayemye and stood near the sea with him. We were both quiet watching this amazing creation of God. I noticed he was awed by it. I tried to get him to get down but he wouldn’t so I just kept carrying him and observing the sea. After a while, we went back to the sandy area where they were playing. He got down and played a bit in the sand.
And then! He came to me, held my hand and starting leading me to the sea! I just followed his lead. When we were about 2.5 metres close to the sea, he turned around and I followed along. Then, he turned back to the sea and kept going until we got to the shoreline. When he saw the first wave coming, he turned away briefly, then turned back in time for a little water to touch his feet. Still holding my hand, he led us further into the water. This time, when the wave came, he stood put. He led us a bit further again, and allowed the water to touch his feet once again. What did he do next? He bent down and touched the water. He seemed so mesmerized. I was too! Every bit of this warm up process touched a special place in my heart. We were there together for a few more minutes and then we had to go. Guess what? He didn’t want to! He held my hand so firmly to get us to stay. I wish we could have stayed longer but we really needed to go at that point.
As a young mother, I am still figuring out when it’s ideal to let them be and when to coerce my kids to take a certain action because I feel there is a thin line between the two. But I will never forget this day when he held my hand when he was ready.
Photo credit : iwaria.com