It was an insightful morning today. I was getting my 1-month-old to sleep after his feed so that we can get our day started. Noni is sort of jealous of me on this: Unta seems to love my arm couch better than hers. Even though I squeeze him like an orange. Maybe he feels super cozy! Ok, please don’t advise me on why I should not squeeze a 1-month-old like an orange. I already know I shouldn’t.
Anyway, like I said, Noni was a little jealous of this. So I told her – “Don’t worry. This lasts only up to a year. After that boys may not stick all that much to dads until they are bigger like 4 or 5.” My in-laws were there with us as this happened. My MIL was quick to agree and said, “Yeah! next year he’ll start playing with friends, running off to the pool and we have to run behind him asking him to be careful.”. I didn’t want to disappoint her saying 1 year is still too early to do that. But Noni and I just told her that, if he were to jump into the pool all we’d do is sit nearby and hope he will manage well. We don’t want to be the ones to teach him to be afraid of doing something.
My FIL joined the conversation and asked if there were other kids in the condo. Yeah, there must be many. We’ve seen a few and surely there are more. He added saying we should get him some friends then. I snapped back and said, kids can make friends better than we will ever do. All we need to do is shut up and not interrupt or correct him when he is trying to connect with other kids.
My FIL still felt the responsibility of finding him friends were ours. So he told us “Kids don’t know how to find good friends. As parents we need to find them good friends to hang around with”. He touched the wrong note with this. I snapped almost immediately and replied – “All friends are good friends. It is not about kids, even when they are adults we have no business telling them who to hang out with!” and left the conversation. I had to leave or the situation would escalate very quickly. Somehow I have grown extremely opinionated and intolerant to certain thoughts.
The reason I am intolerant to this thought is this: By trying to tell our kids who to hang around with, we breed racism and casteism. By telling them that some people are better than other, we are putting unnecessary separatism in their heads. Kids don’t see black and white. They can’t differentiate good or bad. And they needn’t. Absolutely nothing is bad. Everything that is bad to me is probably already very good to some others. So let us not teach them the differences. Allow them to form their opinions. Allow them to be. To grow. And to become human. And please don’t teach them to see people apart. That is perhaps the single most important reason why we see racism, casteism and other types of intolerance around us.
I hang around with a lot of people who smoke and drink. Ideally, according to my FIL’s definition, I have fairly bad friends. I don’t drink. And they haven’t asked me to either – making them excellent friends. They know I don’t drink and they honor that. They also know I don’t have a second thought about not drinking. So, in essence, it is me that makes them good or bad. Just like beauty, good or bad too lies in the eye of the beholder.
In all this, I don’t think my in-laws are bad people. To think about it, am sure my parents would have said similar things. They are just telling me whatever they were taught in their day. They are just ill informed and don’t really relate the two things: good people and separatism. I can’t change their opinions. I just want to ensure they can’t change mine.