The first time my son uttered the word “bhoi” I was visibly zapped. We were playing dark room with a torch, he, his dad and I and he looked at his own shadow on the wall. He hugged me tight and said it again. Bhoi. He was telling me that he is afraid. For firsts, I didn’t realize he felt that emotion. And second, I didn’t realize he could get scared of his own shadow, because he had enjoyed hand shadows earlier.
It reminded me of my brother. He was a brat as a kid and grew up with the fear of ‘dhor re’ (just a call out for the old man to come and get him), this one call always managed to tame him. I would be lying if I don’t say that I have flexed my parenting muscle when I threatened my boy with a lizard, but then one night I discovered that he had almost begun shaking with fear. What began in jest was soon thrown out of the window. The father and I decided that the lizard will never be a threat to him. So very funnily we make a charade of shooing the invisible lizard in our house.
But despite everything, something had gone wrong somewhere; my son in a short span of time had begun to express fear. It is wrong to assume that kids don’t feel afraid. Even a baby wakes up with an alarm and starts crying. My son at two sadly doesn’t smile in his sleep as much, but there are days when he wakes up crying. The other day he woke up from his siesta crying for his spoon. It seems his cousin had taken his and so we had to give him all his spoons to prove that she had in fact hadn’t. Children are scared of violence. So even as much as we like, the father and I don’t raise our voices (at each other) before him. Needless to say, we don’t hit him either. Things often get to an extent where we are sometimes pretty inept. “He is not scared of me,” his father says. These are times when “No, don’t do this” is just not heard.
Read the rest of the post on Parentous.