It starts with a look. A cold judgemental look which seems to almost well, deride you.
Since the time my daughter turned four, I have been at the receiving end of such looks from an array of people. They ask me if my daughter is my only child followed by “oh” which implies that you fall into the breed of ‘selfish’, ‘want to live for myself’ parent category . For some it is just a customary ‘oh’ while some feel that just the ‘look’ is not enough. They believe in imparting wisdom to the less wise. So, they start off with the following:
- Your child is old enough to manage on his own (well, how do you know, you live with me?)
- He/she will be alone later in life
- “Poor kid” (bichara) all alone without a sibling to play with.
- If you have two kids , it will help you when you are old ( so basically procreate to ensure a safe haven when I am old and withered).
Out of all these justifications, which are often thrown at me ,like those darts aiming at the target, the one that annoys me the most is when my kid is being labeled as the ‘poor kid’.
It really unnerves me. More so because my shiny four year old does not seem like the one anyone ought to pity. She is an opinionated girl, who talks to wits end, who likes to mingle with children her age and most importantly who is ‘happy’ in the space that her parents have created for her.
It infuriates me to the core as, I as a parent do not give the right to anyone to give my child such a label. They may as well channelize their idiosyncrasies somewhere else if they so desperately feel the need to ooze out the yarns of wisdom that lay inside them.
Whether or not to have more than one child is the most debated topic of these times. Though here I would like to mention that I have no qualms against parents who have multiple children, I really don’t. Also I do not doubt the numerous advantages of having a sibling. But what fills me with indignation is when people try and enforce this decision of having two or more kids on others unwittingly.
They do not realize that the woman might be having problems conceiving, her financial status may not be conducive enough for her to take the plunge, she must be going through health issues, absence of family support or may be she just isn’t ready to be a mom again. The last point (she isn’t ready to be a mom again) is the most frowned upon in our society for reasons I fail to understand. It is presumed that since you are born a woman, you should have a motherly halo around you and love and compassion should flow through your veins.
Also, it startles me that men are never questioned as to when they are planning to have another child. Is’nt it amusing that they are never or very scarcely loaded with such questions. May be because it is the mother who has to carry a baby in her womb and it is the mother whose body goes through radical transformation, many a times bringing irreversible changes. But still, a child is the responsibility of both the mother and the father, so why the society at large assumes that if there is no child, the culprit must be the woman.
So, please stop judging parents who have a single child and stop labeling the child as ‘the poor lonely kid’ as labels are vicious. Stop projecting ‘single child’ as selfish, uncaring and introvert, as it can hamper the whole social milieu.