I’m Applauding My Daughter Standing Tall Against Bullying Because She Learnt It Early!

I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry if you know me – I love dramas. And the best way for a drama to be executed is when it builds a point.

Parenting is such a complex and variant technique. One size can’t fit all, and we all customize it to our needs. My parents raised me in a certain manner – discipline played a pivotal role there; manners were the topmost priority.

If I have to look back at my bachpan(childhood), I recall a child who was aligned with good behaviour, complaint with no scope of back talking. My sister and I were raised to be respectful and kind.

Is anything wrong with that?

Nope. It’s amazing.

I guess these virtues make you a great human. As the saying by Jennifer Dukes Lee goes, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind!”

So that’s what I ensured with my child as well. Of all the virtues she imbibes, the ONE she carries the most is “empathy”! It was innate to her. Furthermore, she was deliberately planted in such an environment.

Every year, without fail, as she clocks an academic year, her report card comes with a line, “Mysha is the most empathic child in my class. She is generous, kind, and looks out for her peers.”

Do I like it?

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Yes! It’s nice when your children understand human emotions and help out others. That’s what humankind demands. But then that’s not what our society always supplies.

It’s great to be kind, but what should one do when you aren’t met with kindness? And that’s when I wondered that in an attempt to teach her discipline, I lost on touching on defence?

Human learns the best from their race. We learn from human history, from our surroundings present, and even from the analysis drawn based on forecasting. But then, I believe you learn the most from YOU! Your own experiences make you who you are.

A quick deep dive into my childhood made me remember how difficult it was for me to fight my battles. How easy it was for others to pick on me. How being nice made me relative to a pushover. How I found it hard to sustain myself in the company of the people who could be assertive.

In the process of ‘being nice’, I let the others lead. And mind you, the other will lead because he/she might not have been taught the same at home. Maybe they were taught to lead, and only to lead!

Before I forget, my intention here is not to accuse, manipulate, condescend, or rebuke anyone in any manner. The idea of my writing, like always, is to express and contemplate. That’s the only way, I feel, we have a productive conversation. And if anything, writing should induce introspection.

Like I was saying, it took me years to surface as a conversationalist backed with confidence. Of course, I still get jitters when I am thrown at unchartered territory, in an uncomfortable conversation, or worst, confronted by negative/mean people. Then I know how to walk that talk.

But I know it NOW, I did not know it back then and, only I know how I regret it. I often feel if I had the power to turn back time, I would have gone back to specific moments and opened my heart and been heard by the others.

I may still lose a conversation, but I will win knowing that I did not keep my words bottled up. I may have cried, and that’s okay because I will still cry, albeit for a different purpose.

Decades back, I cried because I couldn’t speak up, and insecurity led my way but, now if I cry, it will be because my emotions will induce my words and voice. The latter makes me more compelling.

Because I was habituated to being kind to others, somehow, some of them, (NOT ALL) started to take me for granted. When in a collisional situation I came home defeated, and the anger in my mother made her say, “Bas ghar ki sher hai!”(You are a lion, but only at home!) But then, no one at home taught me to roar!

How can you expect a child to roar at the world when he/she did not start purring in their capacity in their own home? I guess I was scared to be in trouble and, confidence was a far-fetched agenda!

It took me years to realize that I have a voice, clear and honest, and I don’t want to hear others over mine. I guess when I started to make the biggest choice in my life, I started my fight with my surroundings.

I am not saying it’s the right move but all I’m saying is that it made me put up the fight. And trust me, when you make a choice (good or bad), you challenge yourself the best and, then you prepare yourself for the consequences.

Also, no one can pick on a choice being bad, because we all make mistakes, we – as children, as parents, as a society – as a whole. All we can do is mitigate the risk but what we should not hamper is taking the risk.

Let’s be done with being coy and safe.

My husband’s mother walked out of her marriage when he was 10, and his brothers were 8 and 4. They were called out by many in their locality with “Arey inke maa chali gayi, shaadi nahi chali inke maa-baap ki.” (Their mother left them. Their parents had a failed marriage.)

I have no idea how those words must have sliced these boys. I come from a privileged family where relationships were in place. But everyone is not blessed in every sphere, and because I came from a privileged home, it helped me see these boys in a different light.

Judgment is not in my aura!

I see how the eldest of the three was built responsible, the middle one a ‘jazbaati’ (sentimental), and the youngest took years to come out of his shell. They share blood, and trauma and, they have built themselves differently because even though they are the Jawed brothers, they are unique individuals.

Abba (my FIL) was very protective of the boys, and when in trouble in school, he said, “Beta kabhi pit ke mat aana, naa, baaki main dekh lunga.” (Son, never come home defeated, rest I will manage.)

No, I am not backing this theory, and not condemning it either. I know where it came from. It came from a trench of his heart which made him tell his boys to fight back, as they were already fighting an ugly legal battle at court. He couldn’t take any more of it.

The worst of the fights is the one you put up with your own. I know it as I was made to fight my share! At the end of it, there is no win with your people, but then you need to finish that because you started it for a reason.

Shahzeel has his part of trauma which made him a fighter, I had my part of insecurities which led me to fight them internally. And now we both are raising a child, who is taught to be kind but not to fight.

Honestly, she didn’t need to as of now. So far, she has been blessed with an amazing set of peers and teachers but, occasionally she is met by unwelcome behaviour.

Filhaal(as of now), the girl has managed it by moving out of that conversation and staying away from the person in question. But then what will happen when you are pinned and targeted?

It will come because that’s an integral part of life and childhood is the most impressionable phase. I don’t want her to grow up regretting not speaking up at THAT moment.

Banking on my own experience I can very well say, you don’t uplift from those days when you did speak for yourself compared to the repentance of the days when you did not.

You don’t need to win an argument; you just need to be heard! And by the way, ‘they’ will call out your names either way so why not put up a fight and earn those labels with pride with “Chal aur de, tu bhi kya yaad rakhega!”

I know confidence is not what can run like blood from my veins to hers or I can make her sip it like water. It’s innate and fostered throughout childhood (at home and institutes), but mainly, it comes with life. The day you want to stand, you will need no back-up, you do STAND, tall!

Life will come to her at its own pace and there is not much that I can do about it. All I can do right now is to balance the art of discipline and defence.

I think she has shown ample maturity to gain the first aspect of the two, the second one needs work. As a guardian, (gender irrespective) it’s my job to introspect from time to time.

I learned from my folks and I channel and execute what I feel needs to work in my home. Be it my marriage, or be it my parenting style, I have always taken notes, but acted only on those which I felt were needed at my home.

Waqt key saath galat sahi ki thodi parakh hone lagti hai (With time you can gradually figure out what’s right & what’s wrong.) It’s not that our parents were wrong, but they were a whole different generation. They must have taken notes from their parents and edited them for their children. I am super refining and filtering what’s handed out to me.

I recently had this conversation with Mysha, wherein I made her understand that being a parent doesn’t make us right. Adults bank on their wisdom gained with age and experience, but then what if we bought the wrong thought?

I know it’s risky to make a seven-year-old understand heavy data, but I always get amazed by her composure and understanding. You don’t know how capable your ward is till you make them part of your conversation – an open conversation, which expects you to speak and listen even more.

I felt liberated when I told her that as parents her father and I could be wrong at times and, that’s when she needs to stand against us and show us the right and bring us to light.

To quote, “Stand against your father and me when we are wrong. We might not understand it on this ground, but on the bigger ground of the Almighty, we will be very proud of you!”

She nodded as I finished. And I smiled because I believe that a 7-year-old can make the call between right and wrong. But she will never be able to do that if I don’t believe in her, and so I will!

Life hasn’t been more uncertain than it has been in the last two years. Like many, I lost family members and people my age in 2021. You don’t want to but you do wonder if you will be there to see your child grow up to reach that maturity and learn to speak for herself. So, it’s best to make them learn NOW!

I am still figuring out how I have to go about it and, I know so many of us must be struggling with so much and more. All you need is a conversation, because like I said, life will keep working at its own pace and, you don’t know when your child will find her/his space to fly. But then it happens when you least expect it to take off.

It happened to me two weeks back. Mysha got invited to her classmate’s birthday party. Thanks to Omicron, it has been a very dull summer break. We were cooped in our homes, while the summer temperatures in December did their best to fry our brains.

So, when a birthday invite made its way to our home, Mysha was over the moon. The birthday girl’s mother did her best to keep a small outdoor gathering of six children with all Covid safety protocols in place.

Mysha reached there bouncing in the heat with the curls flowing down her shoulders. She chose to wear rainbow-coloured shorts and a matching athletic tee as a perfect summer outfit. I added sunglasses to complete her chic summer look (Picture added below).

After good three hours, I drove to collect her, and she came running with the return gift clenched beneath her left arm.

As she started hooking herself in the booster seat, I checked my car’s front mirror to reverse the car. And then as I placed my foot on the accelerator, I accelerated my conversation.

“What did you do? What all games did you play?”

This initiated the usual check-in drill that I do while walking her back from school or driving her back from an activity centre.

“It was so much fun. The cake was pink and, it had so much cream. I don’t like the cream, so I ate the cupcakes.”

Yup. The girl initiated the conversation with food, and sweets to be precise and I am not surprised. She is an Indian and, she takes her ‘meetha’ very seriously!

After five minutes of catching up, as I was about to park the vehicle in the garage she exclaimed, “Oh yeah! There were these three girls who kept looking at me when I entered the premises and kept talking and giggling quietly.”

I parked the car, turned off the engine, and made eye contact with her through the rear-view mirror with, “Why?”

“I don’t know, they were speaking very quietly. I could not listen.”

“Hmmm.”

“But then later when I was playing, one of them came to me and asked why was I wearing shorts while every girl out there wore a fancy dress.” She paused and continued, “The other two were standing behind her and laughing.”

“Were the girls wearing fancy dresses?” I enquired.

“Yes. All of them. One girl even had a big gown.”

“Hmm. That’s okay, their choice, you chose what you wanted to wear and so did they. It’s okay.” I had little to say at that hour, and trust me, I was not prepared to hear what she said.

“So, I told her…”

“Told who?”

“The girl who came and asked me. When she asked why I was wearing shorts while everyone was wearing a fancy dress, I told her I did so because I am a model.”

And with those last five words, my gentle lady slid her sunglasses down her nose with her index finger, just the right bit to add attitude and oomph to her words.

“You pulled your shades down stating because I am a model?

She smiled and nodded.

“Then how did she respond?”

“I didn’t wait for her response, I turned and started playing again, so she went away.”

And before I could respond, the model at my home ran inside to call her father so that they could perform their tradition of tearing apart the wrapping paper to assess the return gift.

I stayed glued to the driver’s seat driving thoughts and not the vehicle, figuring those dialogues in my head. And before I popped out of my car, I looked in the mirror, pulled down my shades, and delivered, “Because I’m a model!”

Damn straight, that’s one fine line!

Again, not condemning and not backing her up, but I got to be honest, I was proud. She stood by herself.

What a win! If only she could have flipped her curls with that turn, it would have been a supreme dramatic scene.

I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry if you know me – I love dramas. And the best way for a drama to be executed is when it builds a point, and there is no better building than standing for oneself.

I learned it late in life, she doesn’t need to!

Tameez aur tehzeeb ki taaweez zaruri hai, albatta saamne wala usse kamaaye varna miya, main kaun tu khaamakha! (A talisman of tact and manners is necessary, but the person in front should earn it!)

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About the Author

Saumya Srivastava

I did my MBA in finance and was part of the corporate world of market research for 5.5 years (on and off). I'm a mother of a beautiful and demanding baby girl. I' read more...

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