“Mummy, mummy”, a little girl cries out aloud in her soprano voice to grab her preoccupied mother’s attention.
“Yes darling, what happened?” the mother turns to the daughter absentmindedly.
Taking her mom’s hand in hers and looking wistful for her age she asks, “Mummy, if I am walking on the road, and I trip over something and fell and I am hurt and there’s blood on my knee, will you feel bad that your daughter is in pain?” she rattled it all in one breath, looking expectantly at her mother.
“Of course baby, I would feel very sad if you are hurt and in pain”, the mom responds instinctively though totally puzzled by the question.
The little soul looked reassured with the reply, while I was completely bemused and smiling, looking at my three and a half year old honeybunchie’s hypothetical line of questioning. All I could do was hug her then.
She is a bit of a drama queen, especially high on melodrama. So had she really tripped and injured herself and acted like a little-poor-thing for some extra pampering and attention, I wouldn’t be surprised. But conjuring up a situation and gauging my reaction to it really made me wonder as to what was going on in her little wayward head.
In one of my recent blogs, I had mentioned how an illness brings in that extra touch of care which emotionally and mentally gratifies us more than any physical benefit of it. It basically satisfies our subtle desires for attention and importance. But this didn’t seem to be a plausible explanation for my munchkin’s concern. She has enough antics rolling out of her joyous self to attract our attention. And I feel she is a bit too young to really look for self gratification through a physical condition.
As I went over her systematic concern for her hurt, I could only understand that she needed my self- assurance there. Sometimes as parents life is frustrating with the kids, and in that fit of rage, a few harsh words always escape the roving tongue. But how they permeate those stubborn yet impressionable and gentle minds is amazing. She is a very playful but mischievous and obstinate child who wants it her way each time, for which she is often chastised and castigated by me. Thus, I presume my furious words pinched and scared her somewhere, for which she needed a lot of self assurance. A certainty that she is still the apple of my eyes and her pain makes me suffer.
I can relate to this emotional tumult as a grown-up too because when I have had rifts with my husband, similar questions have popped up in my head though I may not have asked them explicitly. When there is some sort of fissure and discord between close and crucial relationships, assurance is what you need the most. You have these self doubts crawling up your nerves that if something untoward happens to me tomorrow, will it pain and matter to the other or not. An acknowledgement that I am still special, important and valued in the other’s life despite all the conflicts, chasms and chastising, is what consoles the distraught mind. My daughter in her innocence could ask me for that acknowledgement straightforward, but we as adults might not be able to do the same. Though internally all of us yearn for it anyway.
I hope I have put my princess’s worries to rest. Though, she has asked me the same question atleast twice again but more out of fun now. In fact the other morning she went a step further and enquired why would I feel bad if she is hurt? I simply told her because I love you so much, and if you are hurt it will sadden me. There was such a wide smile plastered across her face as if the sun just shone out on her. How we all wish to hear that “Love you” so often but don’t go around saying it that much to each other as adults.
Processing this entire situation struck me with something unusual. My daughter asked me if I would feel bad for her, but in the same context not very often does anyone ask, “If I would be very healthy or kind or smiling or successful would you feel happy for me?” Strange isn’t it? It is natural and apparent that a parent suffers his child’s pain and rejoices his child’s joys. And the same holds good for other close relationships. Yet we look for self assurance only in unpleasant and inharmonious times, not otherwise. Do we undermine the value of happy-time-support or assume its presence by default? I guess the second is truer. Imagine you made a great accomplishment and are overjoyed about it but the other significant people in your life neither share your excitement nor express it. It will derail your morale and hurt you sharply. This clearly shows that a happy-time-support is equally needed even if not asked.
I guess the happy support group in our lives is much larger and wider hence, we don’t really doubt or worry about its availability or presence. On the other hand, the people we share our pain with or expect to be affected by our pain are few and most cherished. Their assurance and love is what we seek and what hushes our doubts.
It’s funny how my little doll’s single remark could be such food for thought. And I feel the innocence in their naughtiness is the most beautiful thing about a childhood. You don’t wait for love to be shown, you just ask for it when you need to feel it.