Parenting a toddler can be so difficult. This week we attended a birthday party for a four-year-old friend. Everything was going well until it was time to leave. It was at that moment, Feisty Spice, my two year old daughter, decided to scream NO! and hole-up in a bouncy house. I finally had to crawl in and drag her out, kicking and screaming. (Her not me) She didn’t want to go.
Embarrassing as this was, I fought the urge to make excuses. She’s jet-lagged. She didn’t have a nap. She doesn’t usually do this. She….fill in the blank. And the reason I didn’t make an excuse was because I’d just visited the home of a little girl called the Living Goddess in Kathmandu.
Just as the name implies, the Living Goddess is a little girl who is the incarnation of the Hindu Goddess, Durga. Throughout the years there have been several child goddesses, who are all chosen around the age of four.
Mythology tells a story about a young goddess who is befriended by the king. For disputed reasons, either because the queen was jealous or because the king made advances toward her, she went away. But, she promised to return in the form of a young girl.
Because of this, the Nepalese have an elaborate system to choose a girl who houses the spirit of Durga. After a series of trials and rituals that include leaving the young girl alone in a room full of decapitated water buffaloes, she is declared the Living Goddess, and the spirit of Durga comes to dwell inside of her. The girl is removed from her home and family to live in the middle of Kathmandu where she is precisely cared for, worshipped, and fawned over. People pray over her. Bow to her. Leave offerings to her. She can do no wrong, and her every whim is catered to. She is even visited by the king who receives a blessing from her. (And this is a girl as young as 4!)
Unfortunately, all good things must end. When the girl reaches puberty and begins to menstruate, her days as a goddess are over. She is returned to her family, given a small compensation, and left to live a life of a normal mortal. Ugh! What a rude awakening! All of a sudden, you aren’t perfect.
It is a controversial practice, and it left me thinking about my own parenting. If I make excuses for my daughter, assuring everyone around that she, like the goddess, can do no wrong, I’m doing a grave disservice to her. I mean, how can she learn that her actions have consequences, if I act like she’s faultless?
And like that little goddess who is thrown out when she starts her period, that’s exactly what would happen to Feisty Spice when she enters the work force. Her boss isn’t going to cater to her every whim and think she’s perfect. And if she acts like she’s superior, I have no doubt the boss would kick her to the curb along with her baggage full of self-importance.
I’m sure the parents of the Living Goddess receive a multitude of benefits for having a daughter that’s perfect. And likewise, I would love to have the admiration of my friends for being such a fabulous example of motherhood. But, I have to admit, sometimes my child’s behavior, STINKS! As much as I’d like her to be perfect, I don’t want to create a little monster who can’t be wrong. All I know is that I am going to do my best to correct bad behavior and not make excuses for it. I just hope you won’t judge me too harshly when my daughter won’t share with yours. Despite my best efforts, or hopefully because of them, she isn’t a Living Goddess.
Countries Visited to Date: 98
Number of Countries Left: 106
Country to Visit Next: Russia (I’m packing already!)
(Living Goddess Photo #1: Courtesy: Wikimedia: Photographer: Manjari Shrestha)
(Living Goddess Photo #2: Courtesy: flickr.com: Photographer: Izahorsky)
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