Editorial: A 4 year old in Sibera walked 5 miles to get help. What does your 4 year old manage?

I want you to carefully read the story I’ve linked here. Just read it. Think about all the skills this child possessed and employed in order to accomplish her mission. For those of you too impatient to read the linked story, here’s a brief: Four-year-old Saglana Salchak walked five miles through Siberian forests in order to help her sick grandmother (who, unfortunately, died) because her grandfather was blind and could not make the trek. All she had with her for protection were warm clothes and a case of matches in case she needed to light a fire. The time? At 5 a.m. The temperature? -36 degree celsius. Unbloodybelievable. Four years old. Let that sink in.

At a time when most parents are still potty-training kids and making them sleep in their bed with them, this little four year old has done a near-10 kilometre trek to fetch help from the nearest neighbour for her grandmother. Her parents might be in trouble for leaving her along with grandparents who couldn’t take care of her adequately but that’s a separate issue. And in any first world nation, this would be reported as a story of gross neglect. But all I can see in this story is a tale of the resilience, intellect and grit that all children possess.

This brings me, then, to the point of my communique to you: why, parents, why on earth do we coddle our children so much? Why do we continue to babytalk to them and infantalise them, causing them to believe that they can’t handle simple tasks? Why do we continue to feed them way into their kindergarten when they can feed themselves, even if they get a bit messy? I’ve seen mothers slog their rears off because, in their heads, their kids are still “babies”, even if said baby is 14 years old, lounging around watching something totally inappropriate online. And kids these days? They want all the privileges of being grown up without the responsibilities that come with it.

This morning, my mother, who is visiting me, was trying to sort her day out and said she needed to go out at 10 a.m. As my kids were unwell and at home, I assumed she would take them with her. However, she casually suggested that maybe they should stay at home on their own. My dad and I immediately pounced on her, shooting down the idea. But as I went in for a shower, I wondered, “Why not?”. Why not give them instructions, leave them food and let them learn to be on their own for a few hours? My biggest reason to not leave them alone was, of course, if some stranger came to the door and it wasn’t someone safe. Other than that, I saw no reason to not leave them alone as long as I told them what they were allowed to and what not. This train of thought has given me an idea for a summer holiday project: I plan to do activities with them that will make them self-reliant and be proud of their skills. We might get a little hurt here and there, but I think it’s worth the experiment.

What are your plans this summer holiday?

And now for the round up of our week here. Many of you would have read and appreciated stories on ZenParent written by Maitri Vasudev. She’s left our team to do different, more fun (according to her) things and in her place, I have a new colleague, Neha Malude, who will be taking over many editorial duties. I hope you will enjoy her stories just as much, if not more. In fact, one of the stories you enjoyed a lot was Neha’s experience of how her husband pitches in to take care of her baby. For those of our readers looking to get pregnant, here’s a great story on yoga that helps you boost fertility.  Black Lace picked some low-hanging (no pun intended) fruit this week with a discussion on the size of the penis and how it affects a woman’s sexual pleasure. And finally, summer is upon us, and how. If you’ve just had a baby, this handy guide to taking care of your little one in the summer will go a long way if you’re a first time mommy.

Until next week.