I see other mothers and parents around me. Today’s parents are indulging and wise. Their children are always well turned out and seem to know much more about anything that I ever did. They have PSPs and cell phones and immaculate hair. Somehow, I feel like a misfit. And if you see my kids running about scruffily, I guess it’s my fault. Someone very wise (I forget who) has said that all children begin by loving their parents. Then they judge them. Sometimes, they forgive them. Keeping that in mind, here are ten reasons why I suspect I may not be forgiven.
1. I DO NOT AGREE with my girls except when they toe the line. I don’t agree with their choice of clothes, their hair, their shoes, I fail to be impressed when my girl wears my boots (yes, we’re the same foot size!) and cavorts around in a bid to be fashionable. Jeans or shorts and tees work fine most of their lives, as far as I am concerned, and I do not know what magnetizes them to those sequined pedal pushers or other silly dresses that shimmer…I do not allow kajal and lip gloss though all their friends around them are using them. When told I curtly ask them to go live with those families. Somehow I suspect they make faces, but they haven’t gone anywhere yet!
2. I DO NOT really CARE WHAT GRADES THEY GET: the other day I met my daughters at the club, I went from Court while they came in from school. They had a quick bite which consisted of fresh lime soda and a burger for one of them and a patty and a sprite for the other and I rushed them through their chocolate boats. That’s when I saw her. This lady had come with her son, he was still in school uniform, his school bag was open and his exercise books were all over the table. The mother is ambidextrous, with one hand she was inspecting each class-work while with equal efficiency with the other hand she was shoveling fried eggs down her son’s throat all the time berating him about his grades having slipped from A+ to A. I turned away shamefacedly and shooed by daughters away. Sadly, my girls are very so-so with grades; if they get a C I think that’s good enough. When they get a D I think at least its better than an E and when they get home an E, I think they at least have not failed. When they get an F, however, all hell breaks loose. My husband gets angry, I run from the room, my daughters are wailing and I am trying to look guilty. Later, much later I explain to my husband that it’s not so bad, “they will flower”, I say, he grunts in distrust, I’ve been saying that for the last five years!!!!! And sadly, my daughters have figured out that I really don’t mind what grades they get as long as they get promoted to the next class. For sure enough, in a while the crocodile tears have vanished and they are back to their normal loud selves….I think I am inflicting permanent psychological damage on them somewhere.
3. I SHARE my anger, my pain, my tears and my frustration. I do not hide in the loo and cry. I do not shelter my children from grief. When someone dies, I tell them about it, when I see something beautiful and a tear comes to my eye, I do not bravely brush it away. When I see a movie and a lump forms in my throat, I do not pretend I have a cough. I am proud of our armed forces, I am proud of our freedom fighters and our heritage. I see no reason to hide behind a wall of emotional indifference. When their beloved grand mother passed away, I insisted they come see her one last time, hug her once more. When they ask me about cremations or burials or rituals and generally awkward stuff, I do not hedge. I answer them as honestly as I can. When I’m broke, I tell them and they adjust their needs accordingly. They get my opinion, however wrong or politically incorrect it may be. I even use bad words in front of them. No, don’t look at me aghast, I believe every individual has a right to give vent to his or her feelings, especially when you are driving. The traffic gives us enough reason to go crazy, a bad word or two muttered under my breath or even louder, goes a long way in maintaining my mental balance. So the other day I heard this conversation between four children, two were my girls and two were my friend’s daughters. All four kids are age 12 to 8.
“do you know the F word?”, one asked.
“Yes, I also know the C word…..(giggle giggle)”.
“I even know five B words”, this was the youngest one!
I was relieved when the conversation ended with a lot of giggles and solemn assertions from all four that they know the words but also know they are not supposed to use them.
“not until we are very, very old,” said the youngest,
“or not until we know how to drive,” that was one of mine.
“And anyway not in front of any biggies!”
That was that.
Now what are the five B words? I can only think of three!
4. I DO NOT MONITOR what the girls watch on TV or read or listen to. Yes, I may put the volume down once in a while or scream at them to shut the damn thing off, but while they are at it, I have no clue whether that high-pitched voice is Justin Bieber or the girl next door. As my niece (she is a very responsible 16) puts it, I am too relaxed, I let them watch anything…..even movies meant for older kids. Well, I figure they’ll know it sooner or later anyway and if it isn’t on the TV they’ll know in school anyway. And “The Princess Diaries” cannot be all that more grown-up than “The Three Idiots”…so where do I draw the line? Yet, I have TATA SKY, yes, I lock certain channels, but somehow they seem to know it all anyway. I hear them animatedly discuss shows I have never even heard of with their friends and I give up. I cannot catch up with them, why even try?
5. I DO NOT KNOW the names of all the capitals of the world. When faced with a bit of text, I have to read it before I can begin to give even seemingly intelligent answers. I have forgotten entire text books that we studied as children and I do not regret it. My knowledge of current affairs is at best, vague and I have to look up the net to help them with their projects. I know people who ensured their children learnt at least a thousand words before they even got admission to school. (Do two letter words count? I always wanted to ask that parent but looking at the seriousness with which she was conducting her son, I refrained). In any event, I doubt I know a thousand words and I don’t think my daughters do either!
6. I SAY NO to parties with strange names I have never hitherto heard of, I say no to canteen money save every other Friday, I say no when they want Coke or chips or other strange fried stuff when we go to the super market and I say it to their friends too. Any friend of my daughters who has had the unfortunate experience of accompanying me when I go somewhere shopping will be able to vouch for it. I say “no”. Loudly. Once we were in Scotland and my girls (they were 4 and 5) were poking all the soft cheese which for some strange reason were kept at toddler level, I grit my teeth and muttered “no” so loudly, some old ladies almost called the cops for child abuse.
7. I DRIVE my girls up the wall, round the bend and over the hill. I tease them mercilessly, and when they think I am done, I do it again. Sometimes I am cruel, I often send them downstairs to the night guard when they do not put the lights out on time, I tell them when their tummy sticks out or they look like something the cat has dragged in. I go on till they rant and rave and cry and then finally till they can laugh at themselves. We all need laughter in our lives, and who better to start with, than yourself?
8. I DO NOT DRESS the way other mothers do. I usually arrive for their parent teacher meetings and sports and most functions in Court clothes. My daughters insist it makes me stick out like a sore thumb. When I wear jeans, the top is not trendy enough. I don’t wear elegant designer saris like the other moms. So the other day when I went for my child’s school exhibition I ensured I was draped in a sari. My daughter took one look at me tottering about in those ridiculous heels and started turning away whenever I asked something. And ask something I did, the exhibition was on River Ganga and she was standing in front of something claiming to be the Kedarnath temple. I asked her questions till her ears fell off, no she did not know much about it. Neither did I, but you get the point? When they were small I used to dread the birthday parties they were invited to. At three in the afternoon on a hot summer day, twenty or thirty toddlers ranging from age 2 months to 4 years milling about in various stages of distress and there are the perfectly manicured elegantly attired diamond sparkling mothers daintily chit-chatting in the corner. And there was I and another friend, in our crushed FabIndia kurtis which we probably had been wearing all day……trying to look innocuous! Frankly, I got bored. So that was the end of my daughters’ partying!!!! Poor deprived girls!
9. I HAVE NO CLUE. I don’t know my daughters friends mothers except a very very select few, I do not meet and greet other ladies when I go to pick them up from school, I am not part of the ladies group exchanging recipes and maid and mother-in-law horror stories outside the school gates….In fact I’m lucky if I go for their sports day and know which race they are in! More often than not, I’m clueless. So every now and then I check the starting lineup and shake my head and sit down. A friend told me the other day I was making her nervous. Can anyone imagine MY distress? All the other mothers are busy taking photographs, by the time I find my daughter in the drill display and have my Blackberry camera switched on, the drill is over and I get a sea of girls running in the other direction. A friend told me the other day that she went to one of the school batch mate’s parties and discovered that some of them were visiting their after-life. I believe some trance like state or something. They’ve already been through their past-life and are now into the next! I went into shock. Me, I’m so confused with this life I would probably get lost in my after life and never return! None of that for me!!!! No I’d rather remain clueless.
10. I FORGET to sew buttons, stitch name-tags and similar stuff. So in the morning there is often a frantic rush for safety pins or water proof marker pens. Of course I’ve forgotten where I’ve kept them and then the car is honking downstairs while I am still chewing that last bit of thread off…who remembers where the scissors are! When they were small, I often forgot to ensure they took their Tiffin boxes or water bottles. The receptionist at the Montessori took to just sighing when she saw me yet again at her desk holding two water bottles in my hands. My children are seriously deprived. But I’ve found a way around my forgetfulness…I’ve told the girls they should be independent and it is their responsibility and not mine. Somehow, since then, things are remembered. More or less. We manage, I think, or am I forgetting something?
And last but not the least; when my daughters were small, it was one of my recurring nightmares that I would not know them from another child. Anyone know what I mean? I must be a lousy mother, I agree! After all it’s not like a golden glow adorns them that only a mother can see. Have you ever been to a Montessori school at closing time? I have, a few times and watching a sea of toddlers running towards the waiting assortment of parents, maids and drivers, I always was filled with a feeling of dread…now which one is mine? I’d desperately try to remember what they had been wearing to school that day, “was it a pink t shirt, or yellow, hell it may be blue!!!!” I drew a blank. I’d look around desperately until at last one bright eyed child would run to me and that’s how it would all click into place, yes this ones mine, she’s coming home with me!!!! When I started working when my younger one was a few months old, I’d sit in office and try to recall the faces of my daughters. Well, they had two eyes and a bright smile….but would I know them from the others? A recurring nightmare…until I got my act together and now they are old enough to identify themselves and I am old enough to know better than to ask!!!!
There you go. That’s enough to hang me. For now.