It is my fault, not his
One year ago, I had the chance of interacting with a family that had recently moved into the neighbourhood. They had a unique way of dealing with their kids’ mistakes; I call it unique because I had not seen other parents use this approach till then.
When a mistake occurred, they analyzed the reason behind it. If it was clearly the child’s fault, then they warned the kid. If the mistake was caused by the parents not teaching the kid something properly or not explaining clearly, they openly admitted it and owned up responsibility. I found this behaviour intriguing. “Atleast they are trying to attribute fault rightfully”, I thought to myself.
Recently, this approach helped me as well. It’s always a battle in my house during Hindi exams. Hindi is not our native language. We do not speak Hindi at home, and do not watch Hindi serials or movies and my son does not have many Hindi speaking friends to interact with on a daily basis. Hence it is extremely difficult for my son, a boy in the second grade to learn new words in Hindi and to write sentences.
Before every Hindi exam , it would take hours for my son to memorize and write a couple of sentences. I tried so many different tactics, but none of them seemed to work. He drew blanks in the answer sheet and left questions unanswered. I grew extremely frustrated thinking of all the hours and the turmoil for learning those two sentences, none of which he could recollect or write during the actual exam. He scored just one grade above failing and every time it was a huge undertaking on my part and his to keep him from flunking.
Day before yesterday, we underwent the same turmoil for the current exam. There was a lot of teeth gnashing, resistance, “NO”s and rude talk — all this just from me. There was also a lot of crying, “NO”s, “I want to eat”, “I am thirsty”, “I want to play” every 5 minutes from my son.
If he got the idea that I was going to hit him, though I tried my level best not to, he would start crying. And if he cried, he forgot everything that he had learnt so far. That made me angrier and the cycle continued.
So, day before yesterday, he slowly asked me something. I did not hear properly because he had mumbled. Usually he mumbles, when he thinks what he wants is not going to happen, or if I might say an immediate NO.
During these instances, I lose my patience, and bark at him “If you don’t say it loudly, I cannot help you” and storm off to another room to cool myself down. This time, I bit my tongue, and asked him, again and again, “what did you want to say”. Only after a couple of tries, I understood what he asked.
He was asking “Can I hug you?”
Immediately tears welled up my eyes. I said “YES” and we hugged silently for few moments. Neither of us talked. He cried while hugging. Then the crying reduced to sobbing, and then it stopped. I released him from my hug and told him “we still have to study”.
Then the conclusion often used by the other family came to my mind. “It’s not his fault that he is not able to understand Hindi properly, it is mine”. I realized I was not doing anything extra to help him be familiar with Hindi, outside of academics. In spite of that, I expected him to memorize new words, understand their meaning, and write new sentences with proper grammar. “It truly is not his fault that he is not able to understand Hindi properly”.
My facial muscles loosened a bit. “From today onward, we are going to watch Hindi serials, ok?” I told my son. And we started watching “Tamanna” on Hotstar, his first Hindi serial ever. I hope slowly I can incorporate more Hindi in the house so as to familiarize and keep throwing Hindi at him, in order for him to feel comfortable enough with the language and not be afraid of it.