It was a marriage reception.
A musician at the dais was ploughing his lonely furrow with just the violinist and mridangam player being the only two true listeners amidst the milling crowd in the hall which was extremely busy in chitchatting , trying their best to drown the music to nothingness.
As I was sitting bored there watching people around, I noticed this little boy of about four years crying aloud and trying to drag his mummy’s attention. His mother could not be so easily peeled away from a diamond studded woman with whom she was so deeply engrossed in chatting.
‘Oh! This boy is hungry’ was my instantaneous thought when I noticed the profound flow of tears and some characteristic facial contortions as he was crying and throwing up tantrums with his irritated mother.
As the mother tried to settle the matter with her boy with some harsh worded arguments and peacemaking efforts related to some matter of his outward demands, I smiled at the mother and said “This boy is hungry!”
The mother obviously did not like the trespassing of a stranger into her motherly duties and instincts. “Can’t be! He ate one full ice-cream hardly a while ago” she said curtly to me and dragged her son out of the hall.
I kept my mouth shut. How many times had I really succeeded in the distant past in convincing my own wife on such matters?
One theory of mine I was so much obsessed with is that if our little children cry for no specific reason and threw up tantrums, either they are hungry or need good sleep.
Till they learn to talk, what is the language of babies? Either they laugh or cry. Hunger, pain, restlessness, need for sleep – whatever be the reason, they cry. Over a period of time, by trial and error, mothers somehow get wind of the crying baby’s need and give a solution.
As children grow up and start talking, their vocabulary builds only gradually. Hunger, pain, discomfort etc are their personal feelings. But how do they know what appropriate word they should use to express it to their mothers? So, they would resort to crying, even though mothers might be thinking that it was not the right time for eating or sleeping. Moreover, in the age group of 2 to 5, running around, being playful, making mischief, exploring the wonderful world around them, being in company with other children etc are so attractive to them that many times they ignore eating and sleeping unless the mothers strongly intervene. At times, they would eat to half the stomach and run away to resume their playing; they may exhaust their energy so much in running around that they may need a good food or an un-time napping . Till they grow smart enough to express “I feel hungry or sleepy” they would only throw up tantrums for some silly matter and cry.
It is easily noticeable that at this playful age, children seem to think that eating a formal food is only a waste of time! It looks as though they are doing it as a favor to their pestering and obsessive mothers! Some children also seem to enjoy making their mothers pampering them with a plate of food in hand and patiently coming behind them wherever they go in distraction!
In effect, not all children eat to their stomach’s full at proper eating times; they may eat snacks and sweets at odd times and may not feel hungry at meal times; they may hoodwink mothers and escape proper eating, but feel suddenly and genuinely hungry at some other odd time. They might have lost a genuinely deserving sleep because the parents woke them up earlier (say, to catch a train or to go to temple) and they may feel sleepy at an odd hour to compensate the lost sleep.
Naturally, these little children will only cry and throw up tantrums, because that’s what worked best for them when they were babies. They are not mature enough to express them in word still.
It requires good motherly instincts, observation skills and patience to properly respond and meet the children’s needs.
Mothers! Do you all have them?