Am I a good mother?
This morning, we had a fuss because my daughter had homework and she remembered only in the morning. When I asked a few times the previous evening if she had any homework, she said that she did not remember. Maybe it was true. But this morning, when she fumbled for her math notebook, putting all the other things of getting ready for school like eating breakfast, dressing up etc. in the 1 hour we had, my husband and I both got angry.
It was not something that required our help. In fact, if we have to help, we will have to first refer her notes or the textbook. I am probably a person who gets impressed easily. I have never set very high targets for her. I have never pressed that she should be better than others. But I am glad that she seems to catch the lessons that she is taught in her class and she does fine on her own. On the contrary, she does not like me correcting her work. I sometime think that this is not good because it probably means that she would not like being corrected or like being advised, even if they are for her betterment.
Anyway, the fuss started and you know how it is once it starts. It does not end with a word or two. It continues till it gets so bitter. She cried. She thought she disliked school. She sometimes thinks she could study at home – which in our case is not possible. I explain to her all the good sides of being at school but she has her own pain points – her friends ignore her; Her teachers scold her even if she did not make a mistake; Her classmates make fun of her; Her teachers say that her section is the most naughty or worst and so on. I tell her that if her friends ignore her, she can always be friends with someone else. If her classmates make fun of her, she can ignore them because when they see that it does not impact her, they will stop. In a crowd of 42 students, teacher will not always see who exactly did something, so it is okay to be scolded mistakenly sometimes – or that she probably did something in her teacher’s opinion, even if she thought she did not. Her teachers comparing her class to another is a way of encouraging them to be better because we grew up that way – of being compared to others, and telling us that we are no good. That is the way of inspiring us, of motivating us to be better. You will remember this statement most parents used during our time, which was in the 1980s and 1990s: nan roka khi zai or Dorji ga khi zai (citing the name of the person your parents compared you to, it would go something like, you should eat Dorji’s poop).
So I dropped her to school. We went later than the usual time but we were not late. When I drop her, I always stand by the fence as she walks down the ladder to her school and watch till she disappears and can see her no more. I did the same this morning but as I watched her this morning, my urge of hugging her was so strong. I wanted to hug her and tell her that it is okay, that I love her. But I told myself that this much of scolding is all right, that it is for her own good, that she will find it in her to see the positive in it and it will not impact her negatively. The dilemma of being parents is not finding that fine balance – should we scold them, or should we not? How should we raise them? How do we make them find the positive from the mix of all the things that they experience? And this is harder when your child is someone with a mind of her own. And all of these then makes me question if at all I am a good mother. And when everything seems to fail, all I can do is pray that it will all turn out well.
[Dear Dechen, please know that mummy is proud of you for the person you are. You do not have to be extraordinary in the conventional norms. We often forget that 10 is still a child. I am sorry if we made it bit more harder for you today. And remember that we (your teachers and us) are still driven by the way we are brought up and that is why, we are inclined into thinking that scolding, downgrading someone, almost to the point of being scornful is what encourages a child to grow up well. I hope you will be able to grasp that positivity in all the scoldings you receive from mummy and daddy and all the others whose intention is to help you grow up as a resilient and sensible person.
As you walked to your school this morning,I stood by the fence till your little figure disappeared from my view, tears filling up my eyes, longing to hug you and pamper you and tell you that it is all right. But I was telling myself that these are all for your betterment and praying that you would actually see it that way.]