Children Are Not Machines

Early in the morning, we wake up flustered. We wake the kids up. We are delighted when they wake up quickly, brush their teeth and get ready for school. All within an alloted time of X minutes.

We feel good when we are able to step out of the house on time. We feel angry and anxious when we are running behind time. We yell, we threaten, we curse, we cajole, all to get these little people to fit into our scheduled time.

In school, we ask kids to queue up to go from place to place. It’s orderly, we say. Reading, writing, eating, learning, all falls nicely within alloted time. We want to finish all the things we planned, within the time frame we planned.

When the kids come home, we want them to follow a timetable. We believe that it’s good for them.
“Don’t waste time dilly dallying.”
“Don’t take forever to bathe.”
“Change out of your school uniform NOW.”
“Quickly take out your homework and finish them.”

During dinner time, we want the kids to finish their food during dinner time. Wasting food is bad, we say, better finish everything in the plate. We are happy when all the food is finished, within the alloted time for dinner.

Finally it’s bed time. We want the kids to brush, change, go to bed, before a certain time. Any delay is a sign of defiance, and drives up the cortisol level of parents.

If all tasks are completed within the alloted time, we feel that it is a smooth day. We feel that we have done our part as parents. We feel that we have cooperative and well-mannered kids.

We congratulate ourselves. Such efficient kids.

But children are not machines. Why must they run their day like clockwork?

What if they want to sleep longer?

What if they want to take a longer route to go from classroom to the canteen?

What if they want to read storybooks, rather than learn Maths that day?

What if they don’t feel like eating?

What if they just feel so comfortable in their sweaty uniform while relaxing on the living room sofa?

What if they just want to talk about some remarkable that they saw on the way home?

They didn’t ask to be efficient. But we think it’s a way of life. We think that we are doing them a favor.

Children are not machines.


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