The other day at a gathering I heard two mothers discuss their children with much gusto. One was advising the other, “I UNDERSTAND children…my boy used to do just that, but I was firm…”
I listened, halfheartedly and and wandered off.
I have to admit that I do not understand children at all.
Yes, I am trying to raise two of them, true. I am also firm.
But do I claim to understand them at all?
No. Emphatically, I say, NO.
Over the years they have remained one of life’s greatest mysteries to me.
Let me elucidate:
I will never understand how a child who is supposedly so disciplined and well-behaved that she has been made a Prefect in school can leave the bathroom in such disarray that her father has a fit every morning.
I do not understand how their slippers keep turning up all over the house for me to trip on but cannot be found on their feet or when they have to go downstairs for something.
I do not understand how a child who climbs on top of the jungle gym, balances herself there and almost gives me a heart attack cannot walk to the kitchen without touching the walls with her grubby fingers.
I do not understand how they have perfect hand-eye coordination while playing games but cannot control the hand-eye coordination it takes to ensure that they only pour enough shampoo for their hair and not for the entire family along with the neighbours and the dog we do not have.
I do not understand how a child will share any food with her friends, eat it with their grubby hands and one shared fork and then will scream and not want to eat her meal just because her sibling touched it!
I do not understand how they cannot find the Math book that is under their noses but has a special radar that tells them each time I need some quiet because I MUST get something done. Yes, that’s when most emergencies happen!
I do not understand how the child I have been ranting at to “get out there and study, your exams begin in less than a week,” can suddenly sneak up behind me, give me a hug and say “Can I watch TV for just half-an-hour?”!
I especially do not understand how the child who cannot find my spectacles which are sitting in plain sight on my bedside table will be able to spot that left-over cake that has been hidden in an opaque box three rows behind in the fridge for her sister.
I do not understand how they are immaculately turned out and prettily dressed when going out but always look like something the cat dragged in when my friends come to visit.
I do not understand how that child who falls asleep at her desk by 8 pm when she has to study stays awake all night when her friends or cousins sleep over.
I certainly do not understand that the better dressed they are is always directly proportional to the mess that has been left in the bathroom, on the bed and the dressing table.
Most of all I will never be able to understand why, after a long long day when I have been my crabbiest best and have run after them the whole day to study, clean up, tidy the desk, fill the water, lay the table, do the dishes, go study some more, they call out to me from the darkness of their bedrooms and reach out and hug me and say, “I love you, Ma.”