My son Jai is a mini stick of dynamite! He is like a rocket that comes shooting in and out of our lives. He has a fertile imagination and a happy-go-lucky nature, which is great. Great, that is, until he has to study. He then becomes this moody, sulky boy, who keeps putting his studies off. We would end up having arguments and many tears would fly, from both of us. Every day, when he got home from school, I would try to get him to sit down and study. He would say, ‘but I’m hungry’, ‘but I’ve got to have a shower’, ‘but I just want to watch the TV’ and so on. My temper would become hotter than the rotis at dinner time, and we would both be upset.
I realised that I was being forceful and demanding. I was making him miserable before he even started studying. No wonder he didn’t want to sit with his books and no wonder we were growing distant. So I looked at what was missing in me – and I imagined us sitting at the table studying together. What I saw was Jai and I laughing, drawing pictures and talking. He was writing, and so was I. We were playful. And I realised then that I wanted to be THAT MUM – the mum JAI WANTS me to be, not the one that I WANT TO BE. That was a revelation! I took on being a mum who was being innovative and fun. Who would think of fun activities and plan them.
The following day, Jai was reading the newspaper – an article about the space station and astronauts. I started a conversation with him. ‘Jai, what do you think the astronaut does if a rocket part breaks in space?’ I asked him. Without looking up, he quipped back, ‘I don’t know – order it from Amazon’ and I laughed. He looked up and smiled. I replied, ‘Well, that might take a while. I reckon they would have a 3D printer where they could print parts,’ Jai looked over curiously and asked me to explain what a 3D printer was. I did so, and he was intrigued. I then said, ‘ One thing that would be really important, would be to know how to calculate surface areas, and volumes. Also being able to increase and decrease the ratios. To get the parts the right size in the 3D printer, or you would waste a lot of valuable resources by having to reprint if you got the figures wrong’ He looked over at me and went to get his maths book. He opened it up and showed me triumphantly, ‘ Look – that’s what we’ve been studying! This is in my exam…’ then he carried on reading his maths book, working out surface areas and ratios. It was amazing! He didn’t move for more than an hour. The must have been a record for studying.
From then on, we did things together – set an exam timetable, made the boring subjects fun, used Khan Academy to change the pace and much more. The most beautiful part was our relationship. I got into his universe – and I could see much more from that perspective. And he also got to know my universe too, helping me with writing my science fiction novel, the Ojas Chronicles and playing charades. The result is that his grades are 30% higher now and his teacher commented on how much happier he is and how he is concentrating more.
I thank him every day for what he taught me. Because of this incident, I am a better mother, boss and friend. So consider being what your child WANTS YOU TO BE, not what YOU WANT TO BE.