First came Smitha’s post, then it was Roshni. The last straw was a conversation with a colleague. Her brother was planning to bond with his one and a half year old son over the weekend. So what, you ask? Well, it has been meticulously planned by a parenting club. They conduct weekend sessions for parents and kids with classes from child psychologists, pediatricians, counselors, child care givers and the likes. These sessions apparently teach you how to be a good parent, develop a healthy relationship with your children, and turn them into a perfect combination of an angel and a wunderkind. There are specially designed games, dedicated time separately for mothers and fathers and what not and all these conducted in some star studded hotel or resort with brunch, lunch or high tea thrown in. Mind you, these are for what you would call normal, healthy kids and their seemingly normal parents. Whatever happened to good old parenting, I wonder!
I have been accused of proudly spanking my kids, giving them too much freedom, being too casual a mother, not taking care of their health and nutrition, talking to them about adult stuff, making them do things on their own, in short, being a total monster. Then there is a close group of my friends who thinks I am ok, some even think of me as a super mom 🙂 No prizes for guessing whose opinion I value.
Smitha asked whether we would tolerate bad language in kids and I said I wouldn’t hesitate to give mine a solid whack where it hurts. And oops, that really hurt a reader who thinks we should be really careful about the kid’s sentiments and what they would feel and how nothing should be taboo so they are ready for life. To each her own was my response, but then it really set me thinking and took me back to a time when son was about two or three.
My weekly super market visits were a nightmare. Our pact was he could buy one thing of his choice, either a pack of juice or a small chocolate. There was a bakery on the way back, and trouble would be waiting for me there in the form of Kit – Kats and Cadbury’s milk chocolates arranged very artistically at the window. The act would start with a loud wail from junior and a firm no from mother, slowly progressing into higher decibel levels and finally culminating in a scene where you would find an angelic boy rolling on the floor with tears streaming down his face and a draconian mother dragging him and literally throwing him into an auto. The climax would be enacted at home with the sound of a loud whack on a baby bum, supported by a background score of a reggae mix of hoarse shouts and fading blues. Those were tough times for both of us, it set the tone of our relationship and now when I look back, boy, am I glad that I stood my ground! Today, he is a mature, independent and intelligent 11 year old (at least, that’s what people seem to think 😉 ), who knows his limits and what his parents consider as right and wrong.
Doesn’t he demand things that his friends have, you ask. Oh yes, he is like any other boy of his age, who would absolutely love to have an i-pad all for himself, free access to internet, games and FB, a pair of F-50 football studs, Real Madrid or Man U T-shirts in his wardrobe and a holiday in Madrid, Spain. And he shamelessly asks for these also, albeit with a grin on his face. And that grin is the real payback for me. The boy knows what his parents can and not, what is a want and how it differs from a need, and hopefully what the really important things in life are.
The journey with daughter has not been any easier either. It wrenches your heart to not give in to perfectly shaped quivering lips and angelic eyes with a tear drop just waiting to fall off from them. It is hard to ignore their arguments of how their friends have and do it all. Our answer is a firm and never wavering, “this is how it is in our home, you are free to take it or leave it”. I used to be scared to death when I say that, would they take it literally , I used to wonder. After some years and two kids, I now realize they are not dumb dolls. They sense and grasp things much better than their parents. Their mind is a sponge that absorb and retain stuff pretty efficiently. What they squeeze out entirely depends on what we pour into it, though.
Roshni mentions her friends who are fiercely protective of their kids. I have seen parents who will not let their thirteen year old children walk down to their gate to get into a well chaperoned school buses. Yes, I too feel terrified about what can happen in the big bad world out there. It is a jungle with wolves in sheep’s clothing, tigers waiting to pounce on you and vultures ready to devour you. But then doesn’t it also have peaceful deers, elegant peacocks, graceful giraffes and powerful elephants? As parents, aren’t we supposed to show them the beautiful scenery along with the things that mar the pretty picture?
Son reads the newspaper end to end including page 3 gossip and bollywood reviews. He wanted to watch ‘Kai Po Che’ after reading the review, and then saw the book on the shelf. Isn’t it too early for him to read such a book, a friend asked with genuine concern. Having grown up in a house where the only thing that was never considered taboo was books, the thought did not even cross my mind. Yes, there was some so called ‘scenes’ in ‘Three Mistakes of My Life’. But then, I would rather have him read about the magic of ‘making love’ before he learns about ‘having sex’ . On what grounds do you deny a book like that when he has started joking about periods and sperms ? Don’t be shocked and wake up to the fact that they know more that what we give them credit for. Both of us have turned into excellent actors, we have learnt to mask our shock and turn them into grins. We want our kids to feel free enough to come and discuss anything under the sun with us rather than relying on some dubious source. We take care not to shout at them while we may be screaming inside about what they are talking about.
I am no super woman who have perfected the art of parenting with a pair of super kids with impeccable manners. They bicker, fight with each other with their tooth, nails, hands, legs and their whole bodies. They still try throwing tantrums, son has started walking off in a huff and a puff, daughter wails, stomps her feet and screams at the top of her voice. They play in the hot sun, run in the rain, shower their head with sand and dirty their feet in mud when they can. They are sometimes allowed to eat a biscuit without brushing their teeth and and sleep in dirty clothes. Son reads anything that he can find at home(that reminds me, need to hide that Nancy Friday book for a few years more ;) ), daughter goes up and down in the lift all by herself.
Yes, I am a monster mom that way and rather proud of it too. Because I believe my kids have their hearts right where it should be. They might do things that they are not allowed to, their conscience would poke them real sharp, though. In the end, I guess that’s what matters the most!
Son, “Amma, what’s the meaning of Leah?”
Amma, thinking of cousin’s daughter by that name, “That’s a short version of Elizabeth”
“Ammmmaaa…nooo…’liya’ in Hindi?”
Now, with ‘that’ grin on his face, “so what is the meaning of cochlea?”
A friend in school told him this joke, in case you are wondering 😉