From swimming to eating right, and keeping enough change on you, there are some good lessons in here.

Parenting confessions What I learnt from my child in 2016
Features Parenting Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 12:57

It's that time of the year when people take stock of the 12 months that have gone by, and sometimes reflect on how they might have done certain things differently. When you're a parent especially, the year behind you is sure to be full of joy, regrets and guilt.

But parenting can also be an opportunity to learn, however small your child. After all, children often have an original perspective of things and come with their own understanding of life and the events around them.

We asked a few parents what they'd learned from their children this year.
 
"I learnt that a child who doesn't want to be found cannot be found," laughs Mumbai-based Jayalakshmi. She'd purchased a GPS tracker device for her five-year-old son but when he realised what the device was doing, he removed it, and threw it into the basket of another child's bike. 
 
Jayalakshmi ended up tracking the wrong child. That there's no substitute for human intelligence is a good lesson for all parents who've become app-dependent!
 
Chennai-based Rajalakshmi is a baker. She was inspired to take up swimming this year because of her nine-year-old daughter, Sasha. "Sasha has never been to class. Recently, we had a family get together in a resort...every child in the family but her could swim. She was sitting near the pool and staring. Suddenly, she got up and jumped inside. I screamed and asked someone to pull her out. I could see her kicking her legs and trying to swim. She fell once, twice, thrice...and finally, she swam like a fish!" 
 
Rajalakshmi, who was watching, decided to give it a shot too and discovered that swimming was not as hard as she'd thought it was. 
 
Sid, a stay-at-home father to a four year old, and a writer, says, "I learnt that it's very important to keep a piggy bank full of change (and spare buttons). You never know when you might need it!" Indeed, that's a lesson many parents have learned post November 8. 
 
For Dhivya, who lives in Singapore, the way her five-year old twins adjusted during a trip to Bali came as a surprise. "They didn't fuss at all, they ate what was available and behaved well," she says. 
 
Dhivya says their joy in the small things in life has taught her to adapt to situations without complaining, and to enjoy life as it comes. When she asked them what they wanted in return for their good behaviour, they said a kiss would suffice!
 
Pavithra Sudharshan admires how her young son knows to eat right. "He will never eat a spoon more just to finish the food. If he's done, he's done. It's a healthy habit to follow," she says. Given how often adults overeat just to finish what's on the plate, this is an early childhood instinct we'd do well to remember. 
 
For 41-year-old Lakshmi, her 16-year-old daughter has taught her not to gossip. "She doesn't like to talk behind anyone's back and stops me from doing it too. I'm trying hard not to gossip!" she quips.
 
"What did I learn from daughter? How to say no," laughs Amrutash Misra. "She says it like a boss." His daughter is 3.
 
One can even learn from a newborn. Chennai-based Saranya's daughter was born at 25 weeks, a preemie. She fought hard for her survival, even when her parents thought she wouldn't make it. The baby now is a year old and Saranya and her husband can't be prouder.
 
Sridevi, who lives in Muscat, recounts the time when her husband was driving the car and stopped for a pedestrian to cross the road. "See how slowly she's crossing! As if she's on a leisure walk," he grumbled. 
 
Their six-year-old daughter, however said, "Don't get angry daddy. Maybe that aunty is not well today." Sridevi and her husband were pleasantly surprised by her ability to put herself in the shoes of another. 
 
A child can also be a mirror to what goes on in the family. A parent who wished to be anonymous said that she'd noticed her child hitting other children and shouting. She realised that this aggressive behaviour was something he had picked up from within the home and has resolved to change this. 
 
As for New Year resolutions, most parents hope to be more patient in 2017, but they already know that's going to be one resolution that's impossible to keep!
 
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