Standing on the Sidelines

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  • 28 Jul 2016


 As I watched my son charge around our building playground, I realized that being a parent to a little girl is so different from that of being mum to a boy. It’s like you’re the mum of a little foot-soldier frequently in combat! My son was with a bunch of kids, age group ranging from 3.5 (that’s him the youngest), to 4 till about 7. They were playing football, which meant my son ran wildly in whichever direction the crowd ran, often got jostled by the bigger boys, fell and lagged behind. I think he got to kick the ball 3 times in the fifteen minutes they played.

My heart was in my mouth most of this time. The surface was concrete not grass, and I longed to get him out of the game and on safer turf. Instead, I let him play, because it was clear that he was loving being part of the boy-gang at last, no matter how painful or how short the time may be. He followed his idol everywhere (a 4-year-old boy that I had very mixed feelings about).

Sure enough, I saw him push my son violently, once, twice and that’s it I yelled. Across the playground, my yell unfolded like the tiger-mother I am, and he stopped. Ten minutes later I saw the older boy horsing around with my son again and sort of hitting him. But this time my son hit back and I was thrilled.

I broke it up, but I told my son ‘there is no reason to do everything he is doing, and if he hits you, give him back one’. ‘I did’ he piped, ‘yes you did’ I said, giving him a brief hug. Two minutes later my son was at my side whining that his idol wasn’t letting him play with him in the sand pit. This I could, and did stand back from, ‘sort it out’ I said.

Where do you draw the line?

It’s a hard one, children have to learn to navigate the war-zone that playgrounds often are. I certainly won’t be able to shadow him past 5, he will have to take his knocks and build the resilience and tougher exteriors that children do with time. He’ll have to manage, but while I watch from the sidelines, dying a little with every shove he gets, and miming a hi-five at at every fall he takes and gets up from, I will remember to look to my now 6-year old daughter for courage.

At three she was a sugar-cube, incapable of saying boo to a goose and actually scared of flies! Dissolving into tears when other girls wouldn’t play with her, so shy, I almost despaired. At 6 she is the leader of her gang in the building and a little virago on some days. 

There is a lot to be said for letting them loose amongst the cruelty, casual indifference and general mayhem of playing with other kids. Even though there is often blood, sweat and tears. In the end, they are that much stronger, forging friendships along the way, some perhaps to last a lifetime. As parents, we must stay watchful, but let them be, allow them those scrapes, bumps and fights. They may emerge scruffy and bleeding, but the better for engagement with their peers…after all what is childhood without friends, including the bully you hated and the best-friend you still love.

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~ This article was written by Naomi George for JobsForHer ~

Naomi George is a 36-year-old mum to two children, a three-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. She lives in Bangalore, is a keen yoga practitioner, and a fitness enthusiast.  Her professional experience spans over 12+ years experience in Account Management, Client-Servicing, Business Development and Marketing in the advertising, event management, tourism and hospitality industry. Naomi's book ‘Mum-Me’ was published by Harper Collins India, the book is a chronicling of the journey that new mothers go through with handy hints, advice and lots of laughs along the way. She is a freelance corporate trainer, her focus is on programs aimed at women who are returning to work, and equipping them with the necessary confidence and tools to have a successful career alongside motherhood.

She will be hosting a workshop with JobsForHer very, very soon! So, keep in touch with us for more information.

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