Aivey, my three-year old chatty box, was enjoying her cup of apple juice when her grandma dunk a melting ice-cream in her cup which seems to be 'nearly' empty. She has not been to any school yet, and so, her social network are only us (the family), her few cousins and the screens. When she saw what her grandma did, her prompt reaction was saying out loud, “not funny, nenek!!” Her words were nicely put, the intonations were right; her body language showed she was serious and she did meant well. We were stunned.
Growing up in a ‘cultured’ Malay background, when a child (especially as toddler like Aivey) was responding in such a way, some of us may find it rude. But I guess we shouldn't jumped into conclusion that soon.
Is it taboo?
I am guilty as charged for the words that came out from Aivey’s cute little mouth. Whenever she did something that was not meant to be done, I would throw the 'not funny, Aivey' remarks to her followed with my fake 'hahaha' laugh.
Just like us, kids do not how civilization works. All they know is from what were told, said and done. And that’s where our role as a parent came in. Be a good role model. Our children are the reflection of us. As much as we are trying our best to discipline them, direct them the right way, say the right things and even being straightforward and clear with the don’ts and do’s, they remembered it better of what they see and they imitate well, with intention or sub-consciously.
In this situation, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to explain to Aivey that she was wrong. Just because our ‘norm’ would find it rude, she was just being true to herself. This serves as a reminder to me. A self-conscious alert on ensuring how I behave is how I want my kids to behave.
So, what did I do?
- Children, especially toddlers, are like copy machines: they replicate their machines very well. Scenic in, scenic out; garbage in, garbage in garbage out. Pick your own game. For this case, I’m okay with Aivey’s imitating me. (Taste of my own medicine, though)
- Self-evaluate before we want to penalize them on things they ‘wrongly’ do. There were several occasions that I was being sarcastic to Aivey in such sense, therefore, she shouldn’t be punished for doing the same.
- Explain! Explain! Explain! Aivey may be just three, but how toddler’s brain works always a miracle. She picked up things fast. Of course, the explanation need to be done based on their age level. We can’t expect to lecture about what is acceptable and not acceptable in our culture at her age. Simplest is “you are absolutely right, Aivey. It’s not funny. But, nenek didn’t see that you are still not done with your drinks”
- Apologize. I told her “nenek is sorry she put the ice cream in your cup. She didn’t know you are not done yet”. Again, it’s our culture to think that adult don’t apologize because we don’t make mistake. That has to be change. If we are wrong, admit it
A happy ending?
Dealing with Aivey is straight forward. Once I explained to her, she let her grandma used the cup. She didn’t throw any tantrum, and everyone is happy.