It was raining cats and dogs that day, very cold afternoon, I was expecting my class students to arrive late for the class but surprisingly four students came in before time so we started chatting while waiting for others to arrive, kind of warm up time. While chatting, I causally mentioned a boy’s name from another batch with reference to something and to my surprise, suddenly a six years old cute-little first grader screamed in excitement, “Auntieee, that’s my boyfriend’s name____”
For a moment I didn’t understand what to say, I was stunned but then immediately looking at her age and sensitivity of the topic I said, “Good, you have a friend named _____wonderful! but you know, it’s a common name in India.” I thought I could change the topic but before even I could complete my sentence, another girl said, “Auntie, she is saying BOY-FRIEND…” Uh,oh now I didn’t have any option but to continue the same topic so I said, “ Wow! A friend who is a boy-Boyfriend-great!! When I was of your age I too had few friends who were boys-Boyfriends.” now I could see irritated faces around me, the third girl chuckled and said, “Auntie, she is talking about Boyfriend- Love.” By then couple of more students came in and showed great interest in the conversation.
Finally the cute little first grader couldn’t take anymore she has to clear my misunderstanding she stood up and said,” Auntie, I said Boyfriend-Boy first friend later and you are saying friend first and Boy later.” Indeed, a good point by a six yrs old, her confidence was praiseworthy.
With an innocent face I asked, “soooo, how does it matter what comes first- Boy or friend?”
Rolling her eyes as if I have no clue, she continued,” Auntie, we could have many friends who are boys but there will be only one boy who could be our boyfriend. Boyfriend- like in the movie, love.”
After such a wonderful explanation I couldn’t disagree anymore & I said,” Wow! Thanks for explaining to me that was nice. So it means you are good friends, right?” maintaining the same innocent look, just to understand more about her views on this.
“No auntie, we are best friends, we are together since Nursery, now I am about to complete my first grade… we sit together in the class, we play and eat together, I share my food with him etc….” She replied enthusiastically. I nodded my head in agreement but by then other students came in and we had to cut short our interesting conversation in the middle.
The following week when the same six yrs old girl came for the class, she looked pretty grumpy, so I asked her, if everything was ok, and her answer almost shook me.
She said, ”Auntie, Today I broke up with my boy friend____.” My instant reaction was like “Whatttt?”
“Yes, auntie, he said I was not his friend anymore and he started playing with another girl, today he even ate lunch with her, I didn’t like that. Very mean.” She said sadly. I could see her emotionally disturbed, angry, uncomfortable and it surely affected her deeply.
It made me think, should the little girl be disturbed so much because someone was not playing with her or was she disturbed by the lack of attention/importance given by this so called ‘Special person’. As parents we come across such incidences pretty often during our kids growing years. Some kids handle it confidently, some by crying, some by getting angry and some by not showing any reaction at all… Generally kids are like, you are not my friend, I am not your friend, I won’t play with you and kids move on & after sometime become friends again. Every child handles it differently but we,parents need to monitor our kids reactions to such emotional situations and guide them accordingly.
The cute little girl’s story didn’t end here, the following week in the class when we were talking about how babies grow and how parents help them to become independent and confident and how we all should be grateful to them for that etc… The same little girl said, “Auntie I too love babies they are so cute but you know what, I will have babies without marriage… Marriage is not good.” I couldn’t stop myself but relate her sentence with the earlier experience she went through… I am confident, these are not her own words, she must have heard somewhere either media, her peers, or adults talking, but look at the impact it had on her, At such a tender age she might not even understand its meaning at all but these thoughts are getting planted in her mind unknowingly. I am not discussing here if such thoughts about marriage are good or bad, what matters to me the most is that our kids are getting emotionally weak and are unable to handle such situations and getting adversely affected.
I believe, we, parents, play an important role in our children’s emotional development. Our behaviour, reactions, relationship to other family members/people surely have a great impact on our young children. We need to take that extra step to make our children emotionally strong, provide them the emotional learning to handle emotional challenges they face every day.
I know our kids many not even remember their early growing years but their childhood experiences can shape their adulthood. Raising children in a positive, secure, encouraging environment supports them in growing into emotionally strong, happy and successful adults.