Monday, September 27, 2010
Discusssion about parenting
So, let’s not talk about Bali, bali, bali for a second. Let’s take a different subject. Parenting, and all it’s high and low points, for example.
So, what do you do, when you are away for the weekend, in the North East of Bali, staying in a simple bamboo bungalow, with thatched roof, at the water’s edge, the waves so loud, there could be cause for complaint; the shower is a bamboo pipe coming out of the wall outside, but what more do you need? and the hammock on the front porch is in popular demand. Okay, so Bali is involved, just a little, the point being; you are in the middle of nowhere. It is night. You are a single parent, this weekend.
So, what do you do, if your eight year old, already well-known for stubbornness, who most certainly has a fever and is rocking back and forth, red-faced, tears dripping down his face, hands in his lap, moaning because he generally feels miserable, refuses your offer of a Panadol, which you know will, at least, bring his temperature down and help him sleep? Help you sleep.
First, you may try and explain in a soothing voice what the benefits are of taking a Panadol. You explain that, if he does not want to swallow, you can squash the tablet and mix it in water, to make it easier. You explain the disgusting taste, he is objecting to, only last a few seconds, if that, and that it seriously does not outweigh a night of sleep.
What do you do, when he still refuses?
“No, no, no”, he moans.
The bamboo bungalows stand close to each other. You hear your neighbors rustle.
When your eight-year old son wails;
“Are you going to force me, Mama?”
you can’t help but think of the scene in the movie Der Untergang (The Downfall) about the last ten days of Hitler and friends, in the bunker in Berlin, when Mrs Goebbels offers her ten children a deadly potion. One child looks her mother in the eye and asks if they really have to drink the potion.
“Yes” their mother says, stroking the child’s back, “drink up, my dear,” and the girl does just that, full of trust, because her mother says it is good for her.
That is how you remember it, anyway.
So what do you do?
When you feel his head, and it feels hotter than ever, actually it suddenly feels very, very hot to you, and you remember, but not quite clearly, there is an illness, a serious complication, that starts with a fever and a cough, which is often mistaken for flu - and suddenly you wonder what you will do if he becomes sicker during the night, and you see yourself waking the resort management and finding a driver and driving three hours to the nearest hospital.
Remember, there is no second parent to put all this into perspective.
“Yes, I am going to force you”; you might say, pushing Mrs Goebbels out of your mind.
“You must take it! “ a little loud, perhaps. (this may be the moment your five year old moves to the bed upstairs to sleep on her own.)
And then, when he starts no, no, no-ing again, rocking back and forth, a little faster, you may say that he is so hot now, it is dangerous. If his temperature does not drop, you will have to take him to the hospital.
This may persuade him. He may drink the mango juice, you have managed to find, mixed with a crushed Panadol and lie down, defeated, after you hugged him tight, saying: “Thank you, good boy, thank you”. (This may be when you hear a five-year old cheer from above.) Your son may fall asleep very soon after that.
The next morning your eight-year old could feel better, although the hospital may still haunt him and he spends the rest of the day asking about that, and what happens if a fever gets too high. You may have caused something, you realize, perhaps the beginnings of a fine hypochondriac.
So, what would you do?
With love S1