Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kids and Maids - 2

I have written before about why I am uncomfortable with children being left entirely in the care of maids.  Once again, I reiterate that I know that many people don't have a choice, but yet, I have to stress that leaving kids with maids calls for far more monitoring than is currently done, from what I see.

Here's another incident. Puttachi's friend K was visiting, and both of them went to the park to play.  There, a child X, of the same age as Puttachi's came out to play, accompanied by her maid.  Puttachi and K were on the swings, and the child apparently wanted to play on the swing too, and there are only two swings..

So the maid came over to Puttachi and said, "Your father is calling, Go go."   Puttachi, with her newfound street-smartness, said, "No, I can't hear anybody, I won't go."  But K got up and said, "Let me go and look."  The moment K got up, the maid caught hold of the empty swing, and the other child came running and sat on it, and both of them laughed and laughed at K.

K felt sad, and Puttachi felt sorry for K.  So she also got off her swing, and they went to play the seesaw.  No sooner did they sit on the seesaw than X said she wanted the seesaw.  So the maid  came over again, and said, "Really Puttachi, your father is calling."  Puttachi refused to believe her, but K again said she would go and see if it was true.  Puttachi asked her not to go, but K got off.  Sure enough, the maid came running, caught the other end of the seesaw and tried to get X to sit on that end.  But Puttachi was angry, and she sat down hard so that the other end of the seesaw was up in the air and wouldn't come down low enough for X to sit on.  Meanwhile, K came back, confirming that indeed, nobody was calling for Puttachi.

So this maid lied to and cheated another child to get X to play whatever she wanted.  So what is X learning?  I have already noticed a sense of entitlement in that child.  Added to it, she is being told that cheating to get your way is okay.

Puttachi told me, "Can you believe that that aunty did this, Amma?  When  you want something, you have to ask politely. I would have given her my swing in a while if she had asked me.  Instead of that she lied to us."

I'm troubled by this.


rajk said...

I do agree about the 'teaching to cheat' part, but what I'm really kicked about is Puttachi's streetsmartness. A big high five to her!

Shachi said...

On this post, this is bad, bad for the child.

I read the previous post too, and all the comments.

I work, and my daughter went to daycare, and the son will go soon. And I live in the US, so I'll speak for what I do here.

This is how I make it work:
- We kept the kids home upto a year...actually a little more than that (until I nursed them). Both of us took ALL the leave we could get (paid and unpaid) so that was like 9 months+, rest of the time parents helped out.
- I had kids at a time in my career where I could get flexibility to work from home as much as I want. I invested 10 years of hard work before I got this luxury.
- I switched to part time for a few months when the daughter started daycare. Hubby did the same. So our daughter who turns 3 this week, has never gone to daycare 5 days a week, 8 hours a day.
- We have no maids to cook, clean, etc. We do have a gardener, and occasionally (once every 2 months) call someone to help with the house. Stuff like windows, doors, blinds, lamps, ac vents, etc that we don't clean routinely, they help out.
- Kids get the socialization they need in daycare, eat lunch, and nap. They eat breakfast and dinner at home, go to activities with us, go to the park with us, go for play dates with us.
- BOTH of us have put our careers in cruise mode...no promotions for a while, no working long hours, no work related travel, no meetings off hours.
- Each of us takes atleast 2 vacation days every month (that's 4 total days) to do fun stuff with kids, or just to be home with them. These are impromptu.
- When they are sick, we are with them 24x7. Daycares here don't allow sick children anyway.

On top of this, finding the right daycare provider is also key. I feel only a mom who has done this with her kids (preferably more than one so that she has more varied experience) can do a good job. Exceptions are everywhere but I am talking about norm. Recommendations matter big time - make sure you pick someone who has nothing but good referrals.

Now, on choosing to continue to work: I feel, if I have invested 6+ years in studying for some profession, and 10+ yrs working in it, it's really unfair to chuck it all away. It's terrific income for the family too. Do you want women to just be moms all their life and not grow in other professions? What about our daughters? what do we want them to do when they grow up? Not everyone can stay home for X no of yrs and get back into the workforce when they please. I have countless examples of frustrated and depressed moms who quit work when their children were born, and now want to work but there are no appealing jobs. Even my own mom who made the same decision when I was born (I am her eldest child) always laments that she could never have a career. Money also matters - not just for survival but for self-esteem and independence as well- it is not easy asking money from your spouse for small small personal expenses, gifts to friends, charging mobile phone cards, etc and not being asked how much you spend each month....it can be a big reason for conflict between a couple. I can continue, but there are countless benefits to women working. Quitting I feel is the easiest option to choose, not necessarily the best one for yourself, your child or your family.

In summary, it is possible to achieve an acceptable work-life balance if you choose to work on it diligently. It requires careful planning and execution, but totally doable. And a good infrastructure that supports working moms is essential in all countries. IF we had that, we would not face this dilemma and guilt.

Sorry for the long response!

Radhika said...

Smart Puttachi. Definitely the maid influences the child's thinking. May be you can put a word to child's mom if possible. But that's a delicate matter too. In my daughter's school, a boy tore the notebook of his classmate and poured water on it and threw it into the dustbin. When second boy's mom complained to the other parent, the first boy's mom said your son is bullying hence my son taught a lesson! Now what would you say for that. Here, it's the mother who would be influencing the child's thinking. It would have been nicer if parents discussed and seen where the problem was and why the child behaved like that.

Shruthi said...

RajK, me too! I was so pleased :D

Shachi, I can see you feel strongly about this, considering the size of your comment :D I have already written reams about how I support and understand people's need to go to work and their need to work from home and their need to not work, and their need to just laze around. Depends on person to person, and nothing is right or wrong!

Radhika, very hard, tough decisions :(

Veena Shivanna said...

So well written and agreeable, it need not be maid it is probably the person who is the first care taker of the child. Many a times, I have seen it happening even if the grandmother takes care of the child. Just to make it work, the Ajji/Ajja put a wrong thought into kid's mind giving a message, 'its okay to be unfair once in a while'.. These are survival tricks kids pick up as they grow. Its important for a parent to guard him from these influences to an extent possible.

Shruthi, I was reading a parenting book recently and I was pleasantly surprise/happy to see lot of points coincide with your thoughts. All your parenting posts can be collated and published probably! A well written and first hand experience. alva?

Shruthi said...

Veena, all I say is just common sense (I hope!) :) and I'm pretty sure I'm no parenting expert.. just sharing my thoughts and hoping it will help people!

Gayu said...

Kudos to you for being so frank and sharing your thoughts with us here. I read you earlier post as well. Now I have an example where there is no maid involved, however the grandparents behave in such a way.

The grandmom, especially, doesnt bathe the child (5 yr old girl), gives only rice to the girl (as its quite easy to for the girl to eat), makes her sit in front of the TV the whole day. talks all kind of nonsense in front of the girl.

And the mother is working (she has too, for some reasons. Its a challenging situation here...the grandparents are involved. If anything is said, then the granny asks the mother to sit at home and look after the child.

What do you think, could be the appropriate way to deal with it? Please suggest...


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