The lesson on contentment

He spilled milk all over the kitchen floor again. For the third time within five minutes. After screaming at him and cleaning up the mess, I sat down on the sofa, still feeling grouchy and a slight tinge of remorse for having raised my voice at him. These couple of days haven’t been too smooth – they’ve been choosy about shoes when we were rushing for the bus, we missed the last bus that would get us to school on time, they take forever to eat their breakfast in the morning and now, spilled milk. As I was running through all that in my mind, I realised the playdough advertisement was blasting on television and her eyes were glued to the screen and her mouth agape at the wonders of the playdough that turned into flawlessly beautiful ‘ice-cream’ effortlessly.

I sighed in my mind, knowing just what would happen right after the advertisement. She turned to me after the advertisement ended.

I sat up straight and got prepared.

She exclaimed, “Mummy! I like that playdough!” Oh yes, that was totally expected.

But before I could respond, she continued, “But I don’t want to buy it.” Now, that threw me off track.

Of course, I had to listen for her explanation. And she said, “We have no money to buy it, right, mummy? It’s ok. I don’t need it.”

It must be that “mummy has no money” argument that has stuck with her and I’m really pleasantly surprised by her maturity.

In the same breath that she told me not to buy a toy for her, she asked, “But mummy, can you buy my didi (little brother) a wallet? I have one, but he doesn’t.”

Now, that totally melted my heart. Never mind about the ‘we have no money’ bit and how asking to buy her brother a wallet contradicted that. Perhaps she knew that playdough costs a lot more than a simple wallet from the stationery shop. So, of course I promised to buy him a wallet. Who in the right frame of mind would reject that request?

Later when we were on the bus to school, I told her I was really happy that she has become so sensible. It was during that conversation that I realised that she has learnt one of the most important lessons in life – contentment.

She spoke her words of wisdom, “I don’t need another playdough set mummy because I already have one. And one’s enough.”

I had been thinking long and hard about how to teach her what contentment is when we first came across the word ‘content’ while reading ‘Today I am‘ by Mies van Hout.

IMG_4848I remember stopping at the word and her probing because I took longer than usual to come up with an explanation for what being contented means. I vaguely recall I said ‘being contented means to feel happy with whatever you have, even if it’s just something small.’ She just nodded quietly on the bus back then and we carried on to the next page of the book on the bus so I thought she didn’t quite understand it but since I didn’t have a better explanation then, I made a mental note to think of a better explanation in future for her.

Ah, but it seems that I needn’t do that anymore.

She has made sense of the word in the world of a 5-year-old. And I’ve never felt so blessed and contented to have the privilege to be mom to such a sensible little girl.


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