Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Note to Aunt Edwina

Dear Aunt Edwina, I am sorry you found my four-year-old grandkid's behaviour annoying when we attended that family dinner at your house, an occasion to mark and celebrate a family event. The kid has been ill and was still on medication but we went to your dinner anyway, to show our support and to make the party 'merrier'.

The toddler already had her dinner at home. I knew she didn't want to stuff herself more at your house so we took a few things to keep her occupied and to prevent her from running around and tempting your dog to sample bits of her. I thought it was a good idea to let her do the activities and quizzes in her book.

I'm sorry she couldn't be persuaded to sit all by herself on the floor but insisted on sitting at the dinner table with the grownups. It was just unfortunate that she sat between me and your VIP dinner guest and that she somehow managed to 'hog' his attention just by inviting him to participate in the activities she was doing. I thought he was very sweet and accommodating... but maybe you thought the toddler was bullying him.

How was I to know you had taken offence? Why didn't you immediately tell me that the toddler's behaviour was unacceptable? I could have removed her from the dinner party and we could have continued with the kiddie activities in your sitting room. Or we could have gone home instead of lingering where the little kid was expected to act like a mini adult.

As it was, I found out only on the next day (after having poured good thoughts on you the whole evening) that my 4-year-old grandkid is "biadab and kurang ajar". And all because she had been talking to and engaging her neighbour-- your VIP dinner guest-- with the activities in her book. She hadn't been talking in an overly loud voice. She hadn't been jumping up and down on her stool. She didn't try to sit on anybody's lap. She didn't reach for any of the food on the table.

She didn't misbehave, Aunt Edwina. She behaved... like a toddler.

You don't have to believe me but she had been on her best behaviour that evening. For a child who can't keep still for two minutes, sitting on that stool throughout that dinner was an amazing accomplishment.

You see, she is a hyperactive kid. She was just born that way... just as some kids are born quiet and docile; or shy and timid; or autistic... you get the picture ?... she was born bursting with excess energy.

This child needs to run around, skip and hop, sing at the top of her voice, spin and twirl, laugh and giggle. She can't keep still. It's not her fault and it's not because she 'tidak kena ajar' like you said. I understand that that is how she learns so even when her behaviour wears me down, I don't condemn her or force her to sit still and keep quiet. I provide her with opportunities to shed some of her energy.

If she talks to adults naturally and without reservation it is because I encourage her to have conversations with adults... so she can learn new stuff, including how to converse, how to get her ideas across in a friendly manner. I strongly feel that kids should not be expected to keep quiet just because they are in the company of adults.

Therefore, if you say the child is ill-mannered and badly brought up, you need to talk to me... face to face... because it is me and my parenting style that you are judging... and condemning. You don't have to criticize the innocent kid.

Such a shame you missed that point, Aunt Edwina.

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