Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The need for argument

Someone had given us a plastic toy for Christmas that I couldnt see any use for. In general, if I received a toy that I could find use for, i would look for the next opportunity to give it away, so that someone else may find better use for it, at the very least to save me the trouble and the heartbreak of opening it and adding, in a very short time, something that lands up in the landfill.

Anjali saw the toy a couple of days after Christmas. As with all plastic toys, the color and shine attracted her and she wanted to open it. Husband and I talked her out of it.

or so we thought.

YEsterday, the girls opened the toy and had apparently been playing with it.

When I returned, they showed me the toy very proudly, with an "activity" that they designed that would lead me to the toy. Needless to say, I was not very encouraging when i found out that they had opened the toy.

"Its an useless toy", I exclaimed "You will not play with it for more than two days and then when i clear your cupboard I will have to throw it away"

"We will play with it!", said Anjali. "We played with it all day!", added Sophia.

From my point of view, I wasnt exactly scolding them,  but I wanted to make sure that they were able to justify their consumption and not mindlessly open toys just because.

"You cant learn anything from it", i said.

"Yes we can!", said Anjali. "We can learn about shapes, about sounds about...."

"And I am sure that you have so many other ways and better ways to learn about sounds and shapes", I said.

"IT IS NOT USELESS!", said Anjali.

Now, dont get me wrong, but I am one of those parents who think that fighting at home is a good way to prepare kids to handle things when people go at them when they go to the real world. Consider it like a defence against the dark arts lesson.

Later, I left the kids in the bedroom and went to the kitchen to get some water. Anjali followed me, looking rather glum.

"Whats up?", I asked.

"I am upset because I really wanted you to like our toy and we worked so hard to prepare to show you the toy" 

To give them credit, the toy was introduced to me with so much creative thought, so I can only assume how they must have felt when i wasnt too keen on it.

"Look", I said, "There are things that you will do in life that your parents wont like. And just because we dont like them, doesnt mean that we dont love you. Part of what we are learning as parents is to respect the choices that you make. So lets put it this way, even though I dont necessarily agree with what you did, I believe that you have it in you to make a good choice"

Anjali smiled, which made me confident that I had said the right thing.

Often, in the evenings, I ask the girls to tell me three things they enjoyed most about their day.

"I enjoyed fighting with mummy", they both said, independently.

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