To a child Love is spelled TIME
Vaishali is a 9 year old girl. Her parents are Sheela and Raj. Both are highflyers in corporate jobs. Vaishali was an unplanned child.When they got married, they had no plans of starting a family for at least five years. However, life had different plans. When Sheela discovered she was pregnant, she was upset and even contemplated terminating her pregnancy, but Raj would hear none of it.
Eventually,Vaishali was born. Sheela couldn’t wait to get back to work. In the months she had been away from work, Raj and she had gone over several scenarios and finally decided that hiring a full-time nanny was the best thing to do.
After a series of bad decisions, they finally found Papamma, a young widow who was looking for work and came highly recommended. Things worked out and Sheela and Raj rose in their careers, happy that Vaishali had taken to Papamma so well.
Vaishali had the best of everything. The best toys, the best clothes, a fabulous room. She got her very own computer when she was 7. She was a bright, healthy child and did well at school. Sheela and Raj were proud of her and secretly proud of themselves. They were amused that Vaishali spent so much time online.
Life couldn’t be better, could it?
Then one day, Sheela got a call from Vaishali’s school. They wanted her to meet the Principal. Pretty sure that Vaishali had done something amazing, Sheela happily made an appointment with the school.
She met the Principal. What happened next was something Sheela couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams. The Principal asked Sheela if she was aware that her daughter spent time online.
To cut a long story short – Vaishali had been shopping online. And had brought her purchases to school. Apparently she had also bragged to her classmates about how she could order pizza online whenever she wanted…in fact, just about anything she wanted. She also talked about her “online friends”.
Sheela’s head was spinning as she left the Principal’s office. She had to talk to Raj immediately. They met at his office, where Sheela filled him in on what had happened.
Questions plagued them.
- How could Vaishali spend money without their knowledge?
Then they recalled that her bank account had a debit card that she knew how to use.
- How had they not noticed the transactions in her account? They had only deposited money there and never spent from there.
- If Vaishali bought pizza online, how come they didn’t know? Sadly, the answer to this was guilt. Both returned late from work and there were days when Vaishali was fast asleep by the time they got home, or was about to go to bed. If she was awake, the cursory questions about how her day went, did she eat well – were all answered satisfactorily.
Their anger collectively turned to Papamma. Was she not responsible for keeping them informed about what Vaishali was doing? They decided to take her to task.
The conversation backfired on them when Papamma accused them of never spending time with their daughter. She started pointing out occasions when they should have been there for them, but weren’t. Even doctors’ visits had been Papamma’s duty. After delivering a few home truths and having a showdown, Papamma walked off in a huff.
Defeated, Sheela and Raj were now trying to process all that had happened over the past few hours. They knew they had to take action. But what?
Both were in a dilemma. They decided to talk to a friend, who also had a daughter the same age as Vaishali. Now this was a little embarrassing, because they hadn’t been in touch with this friend for a while. The last time the friend had invited them over they had made excuses not to go.
Still, they couldn’t think of anyone else, and Sheela phoned her friend. As it turned out, it was the best thing she did. Not only was the friend understanding, she listened patiently. Discussions followed. Sheela and Raj were now willing to do anything to make things right.
Here’s what they decided when they returned home:
- One of them would spend time with Vaishali every day, which meant coming back home at a reasonable hour, even if it meant working from home.
- Leverage digital parenting. Their friend had mentioned an app that they used to manage and track their daughter’s time online.
- Limit Vaishali’s time online and make sure her activities were monitored.
- Go out on a short trip at least once a month together. It was not too late to bond with their child
- Visit Vaishali’s school once a month to meet the teachers.
- Have frequent get-togethers of their extended family. They had not had one for years
- Go spend time with Vaishali’s grandparents and also have them over at least once in six months.
- Ensure that Vaishali spent time outdoors in the evening, playing in the park rather than becoming addicted to computer games.
- They knew Vaishali loved art and music, and decided to enroll her in a hobby class that she went to twice a week.
This was a good start.
What about Papamma? She was a good woman and her duties were reorganized. She also got more time off.
I am glad to say that today, things are much better. When we heard about this, we were as worried as Sheela and Raj. The good thing is both were willing, and Vaishali was young enough to feel thrilled with the changes.
Considering that we now live in the digital age, using various parenting apps like eKavach, we’d be able to avoid such unfortunate incidents in the future.
One thing bothered me, though. How did Vaishali use her debit card? Then I was embarrassed to recall that my son also knew how to use our debit card when he was 5. Double embarrassed to say he remembered the PIN number while I had to refer to something.
Parenting is tough, to say the least.
And the more I live, the more I realize that to a child LOVE is spelled TIME
What do you think? What’s your reaction to this story?