We as adults have made children ‘unique humans with exceptional needs,’ sometimes for our own comfort too we separate children’s places from adult’s places. Children eating areas with special small chairs and tables. Separate play areas in restaurants for parents to eat without disturbance. We are separating our world from them without realizing children do not need special things or areas. They mimic us, they admire us, we are their ideals. They want to do what they see us doing. I remember my son was never interested in rattles, rather my car keys were his first rattle. He loved playing with pots and pans in the kitchen and I have never put door-locks on my cabinets. I have never installed a baby gate on my stairs, my babies have learnt to go up and down, when they were 6 months old, I would just stand behind and watch them crawl up and down. And now when they are older, they put the sofa cushion on the stairs and slide down on it like a rollercoaster ride. My girls want to take hijab because they see me wearing it while going outdoors, and get ready putting on their shoes to go outside. They have associated ‘hijab’ with going outdoors.
The most difficult job for a parent in the process of letting his child preserve his ‘khudi’ is the patience for mess. There are times when I haven’t invited guests at home because I don’t have the patience to clean an extremely dirty home, sometimes with stubborn splotches of food on the carpet and sofa which doesn’t fade even after a 6th time wiping them rigorously. When my eldest daughter was 2 to 3 years old, she had a pretend Ikea kitchen to play with, she would always borrow some of my water, real bread, real grapes, some food colouring and create a dish to serve us. Children always love to play with real things or pretend things real. Today when she is 9 years old, she bakes banana bread with her father and cooks’ caramel pudding for us, loves to fry an omelette for her younger brother. My mother used to tell me “children like to play with recycling bottles, real juice packets, lids, cans and all the stuff they see us using in the kitchen, spoons and forks and glasses.” I have seen they can build amazing castles with paper cups. They watch and create real life hacks from recyclables. They are humans in tiny bodies, in dire need of acceptance in the society and respect. However, it is our patience which is being tested sometimes I have to stop them from certain acts which increases my cleaning work, for example eating the mango ghutli themselves and rubbing it up on their cloths, on the chair, touching the table and my phone, eventually the ghutli is thrown in the cup of water and the cup is spilled on the kitchen floor. A European friend once told me, teaching them cleaning after the age of 7 is beneficial, this aligns with the Prophet’s Salalahu Alayhe Waslm teaching children salah at age of 7.