Category: growing up

How honest are you with your children?

How honest are you with your children?

Last week the dentist told us H needed a root canal. He was blissfully unaware of the discomfort about to come his way, thanks to the wonderful paediatric dentist he went to when he was younger. I, on the other hand, was more than aware of what it entailed having undergone a rather painful procedure in my thirties.

I tried to not let my anxiety show but it must have been somewhat apparent because H asked me, ‘Will it hurt?’ Torn between reassuring him and being honest I hmmed and hawed and tried to get away with a noncommittal answer. I should have known better because H has the knack and persistence of a badger when it comes to exacting precise information.

Finally I told him it would hurt but that he would be on painkillers so he’d be okay. Rather than finding it reassuring it freaked him out to the extent that he tried to tell me he was quite fine and didn’t need the treatment after all.

That made me wonder if it would have been better had I not told him it would hurt. Perhaps it really wouldn’t, given that I had chosen this particular dentist on the recommendation of a friend whose son had sailed through a root canal without much trouble. I wondered if I had made H needlessly anxious.

When the kids are young it is easy to fob them off with simplistic truths or with a distraction. As they grow, however, their queries become more layered and they want honest, precise answers.

So what I want to ask you is How honest do you think one should be with one’s children? More specifically, with one’s teen? More so, when it isn’t something as straightforward as a root canal.

When they talk to you about complicated relationships (with friends and teachers and believe me when I say, it can get really complicated), about life choices, about friendships gone wrong… how honestly do you answer them? Would you warn them about the pitfalls they might encounter or would you rather they go ahead with innocent enthusiasm and figure it out for themselves? Do you worry that your constant warnings might turn them into suspicious over-thinkers (That’s rather ironic, given that you’re overthinking this whole thing in the first place).

I know I do.

It’s a tough one.

A lot will obviously be guided by our own experiences and attitude but I sometimes wonder if, in our bid to tell them ‘as it is’, we end up over-sharing details that really aren’t necessary and we mess their world view. That the children are growing up, means we can talk to them more freely yet they don’t need to know everything about the world in all gory detail. Sometimes it is okay to leave them to find out things on their own.

That might of course mean that they will sometimes fall on their faces, they will get hurt but those are the lessons they will remember forever, way better than the ones we tell them about.

Five ways in which parents embarrass their teens

Five ways in which parents embarrass their teens

The other morning as we were walking to the bus stop I noticed that H’s collar was askew. Without thinking about it I reached out to settle it and he drew back like I was going to bite his head off.

‘What?’ I said surprised
‘Nothing. Just don’t do that,’ he said
‘Do what?’
‘Fiddle with my clothes. It’s embarrassing. I don’t even know why you come down to see us off to school. It’s not like we’d get lost from the building to the gate,’ he said trying to roll his eyes. He still can’t (roll his eyes) by the way, and I caught myself thinking how cute that is and stopped myself right there because apparently a smile that says ‘You’re cute’ is also embarrassing.

Seriously?? After puking on me in a flight, throwing a tantrum in the mall, flaunting underwear before guests, smearing banana mash all over me at a party (on my good top too, and I had to keep wearing it till the end of the party and pose for pictures in it), he has the audacity to say I embarrassed him

Obviously, the teens are on their way.

Everything I do these days seems to embarrass them – the way I talk (too loud), the way I walk (too slow or too fast), the way I dress (too bright, too strange), the way I laugh (too loud, again), everything. So here’s a list of the top five things that parents (like me) do to embarrass their teens – a sort of ‘do not do’ guide.

1. Fuss over them in public

Make that ‘any physical contact in public’. Do not settle their collars or their hair or tuck in their shirts. Don’t even brush off a speck of dust from their noses. They’re cool leaving it there all day rather than having their mum brush it off. And God forbid you reach out for a hug. They’ll probably not talk to you for a decade. Which might not actually be such a bad thing.

2. Talk loudly

This is such an unfair expectation considering that the only reason I talk loudly is because they refuse to listen any other way. To hold it against me is rather, as I said, unfair. But then who’s listening? When they have friends over, they can scream and shout and that’s okay but it still holds for you. You cannot even hum softly to yourself, not even in your own room.
Once during a football match a mom noticed her son’s shoelace had come undone and shouted for him to tie it up. There was such silence after that you could have heard a pin drop. Mercifully it wasn’t me.
Corollary: Cheering for them during a game is also a no no. Don’t do it. Their friends can, but you cannot. Don’t ask me why, just don’t do it.

3. Correcting them/their friends

I have a few house rules that I’m rather strict about and one of them is the use of proper language. So if I hear a ‘shit’ during a game I protest or if one of their friends asks me for a glass of water without a ‘please’ I point it out. I mean, their friends are like my own kids, right? So if I can correct my children I can correct their friends too, no? However, all I get for my pains are the most eloquent stares and then an earful later on. ‘Everyone says ‘shit’,’ they’ll tell me, ‘even teachers say it.’

All I’ll say is ‘My house my rules’.

4. Talking about baby stuff

This one is big. You see a toddler walking towards you and suddenly you remember yours when they were little. And you get all emotional and misty eyed and you strike up a conversation with the toddler’s mum, ‘When H and N were babies…,’ you begin enthusiastically until you catch sight of your not-a-young-one-any-longer giving you the daggers. So no baby stories, no baby poetry, no tales of cute antics or cute pronunciations, nothing. No nicknames too, please.

Note to self: Destroy blog before they turn thirteen.

5. Wear anything different

Once I went to pick them up from school and I wore a salwar suit, which is different from my regular jeans/trousers. And I got a, ‘What are you wearing? It looks funny.’ Funny? A salwar suit? I mean half of India wears it. Then one day I wore a dress and got the very same reaction. The thing is you’re not allowed to stand out. If you don’t normally wear makeup, you need to continue not wearing it, if you don’t normally wear heels, you cannot begin to do so now.

Basically you shouldn’t be heard or seen. You’ve to become invisible till they tide over their teens. Find a rock and get beneath it.

Here’s a better plan, though – This is the time for delicious revenge. So do your own thing and totally enjoy it. Suddenly we have the power. Between them embarrassing me and I embarrassing them, the latter is definitely the lesser of two evils, from my perspective of course. Moreso since I had all that practice as a mom to toddler twins.

PS: I have a good mind to fish out a wedding sari and appear in all my finery for one of their PTMs. Wouldn’t that be just priceless?

**********

I’m taking part in the Bar-A-Thon – the fortnight long Blogging Challenge and really stretching the prompts this time round :-). The prompt for today was ‘Lesser of two evils’.

The truth about love and growing up

The truth about love and growing up

A few days ago N came to me one night with a comb and a bunch of rubber bands. She said she’d seen a ‘hack’ on Youtube and that if she tied her hair up in tiny ponytails she’d have curly hair by morning. It was a bit nostalgic for me because I remembered my mom doing the same for me, although my hair used to be way shorter and we didn’t call it a ‘hack’ back then. I sat her down and I rolled her hair into tiny ‘bunlets’ (for want of a better word) and fixed them with rubber bands.

She woke up next morning and opened out her hair. Instead of falling down to her shoulders it stood out in a short wavy mass upto her ears. She pranced around for joy exclaiming ‘Oh I love it, I love it, I love it,’ and ended up with a, ‘It looks so good na, just like yours.’

And I couldn’t help but laugh.

I have to explain here that I have rather weird hair, neither straight nor curly. It’s kind of flyaway thin and wavy, impossible to keep in check. N’s on the other hand is nice and straight. But there she was, thrilled because her hair looked like mine!

This reminded me of a quote from the film The Truth About Cats and Dogs:

You know how someone’s appearance can change the longer you know them? How a really attractive person, if you don’t like them, can become more and more ugly; whereas someone you might not have even have noticed… that you wouldn’t look at more than once, if you love them, can become the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

Although spoken in an entirely different context it does hold true. Doesn’t it?

N’s teens are round the corner and the day is not far when she’ll want to be and do all things ‘not me’, but for now I revelled in her guileless affection.

And then there’s H. For all his grown up ways, his continuous (but failed) attempts at mastering the eye roll and his ‘don’t hug me in public’ he still seeks me out (probably on his way to the refrigerator) and gives me a hug or tweaks my cheek, the way I used to when he was a toddler.

They turned twelve this summer and yet I continue to see them for the babies they once were. I can now somewhat understand the very cliched comment that kids never really grow up for their parents. At times like these I do want them never to grow up, for the days to just stop so I can keep them close.

Of course I know that’s not possible and when this wave of sentimentality has blown over I will want them out of my way just as much as they want me out of their’s but until then, I’m going to savour the feeling.

 

Linking up with #MondayMusings at Everydaygyan

Another step forward

Another step forward

MM: They’re not old enough.
SM: We need to let them go.
MM: It’s dangerous.
SM: No it’s not. It’s just an amusement park for goodness sake.
MM: That’s the scary part. Don’t you read the papers? There was the time an entire ride came crashing down. And then there was the case of a child being molested. These are bad times.
SM: What about the hundreds of people, including children, who go to amusement parks every day, have a wonderful time and come home safe and happy? Hundreds and thousands across the world?
MM: Yeah well I’ll take them along some day. So I can keep an eye on them.
SM: Fuss around them, you mean! And nag them and caution them till they were driven out of their poor little minds and never learn to manage on their own.
MM: I don’t do that.
SM: You do and that’s why you need to let them go.

The subject of this grand argument was the children’s impending school trip to Imagica – an amusement park about 100kms from the city. And the two voices? Sane Mum and Mushy Mum. You do remember them, don’t you?

It took Sane Mum hours of convincing to get the Mushy Mum to agree.

Of course she had the backing of two very excited children who were in imminent danger of turning very very whiny if they didn’t have their way. Believe me when I say sometimes that’s the only motivation I need to do something. A reassuring call from the Husband sealed the deal.

Then began long hours of counselling and cautioning.

Don’t read in the bus you’ll get queasy.
Don’t go to the washroom alone
Don’t board a ride alone.
Don’t eat before a dangerous slide, you might throw up.
Don’t accept help from a stranger.
Don’t talk to strangers at all.
Stick around with your teacher.
Look out for each other.

Are you even listening?

Then they were off

Finally, with bags full of muffins and chips and mints they were on their way. Not once did they turn back to look after we dropped them to school, thought MM rather regretfully while SM thought that was a good sign.

Back at home..

..the house seemed a tad too quiet, even to SM. This is the quiet all mums, mushy or otherwise, cherish most days. But today it seemed almost ominous. I worked listlessly on a some half done articles, then roamed aimlessly about the house pretending to put things in place.

I checked the phone every few minutes for messages from school.

And then the phone buzzed. “The children had breakfast at McDonalds and have now reached Imagica.”

I cannot explain how comforting that was.

I focused on the mental picture of the children sitting down at McD’s with their best buddies around them laughing over fries and burgers, loud and boisterous and happy. And that was when I began to relax.

The anxiety demon did come by in flashes through the day but I managed to keep it at bay helped along by another message that all was well and finally a third one saying they were on their way back.

It was nightfall when I went to pick them up from school. H sat in his class reading his book, an assortment of weirdly shaped merchandise by his side. ‘I bought all of this,’ were his first words even as the hugest smile lit up his face, which morphed rapidly into an absolutely horrified expression when it seemed like I was reaching out for a hug. Oh okay, no hug then, thought I retreating. Just a smile and a hand clasp and we were on our way to N’s class who is way more forthcoming with her affection. She hugged me willingly and smiled saying, ‘I got you a gift and one for bua too.’ That completely warmed my heart.

We walked back to the car, H limping along from a bad blister which he didn’t seem to notice, as he fought with N for attention, talking nineteen to a dozen.

24 hours later the conversations continue to flow , the stories just don’t seem to end. They had stuck by their teachers, behaved responsibly and wonder of wonders they had even sought out each other to ask how they fared after the worst of the rides. I would gladly send them again for that one single reason alone.

Here’s what I need to remember:

My first trip out of town was pretty late in life – during graduation on a Geological tour with the teachers. I remember little things like ordering my own food or buying chai from the vendor in the train gave me such a thrill. When did you step out of home out on your own? Was it easy to convince your parents?

Picture Credit: Pixabay

Can a parent ever let go?

Can a parent ever let go?

This past week, in a bit of a coincidence, I’ve stumbled across multiple stories from friends – children and parents – who’ve disagreed with each other over important life-decisions like the choice of career or life partner.

It’s heartbreaking – this disagreeing with people closest to you, this not being able to understand each others thoughts and motivations.

Desperate children have been driven to the brink of suicide because they haven’t found it in their hearts to rebel. When I was younger I’d wonder why parents wouldn’t let them learn from their own mistakes. It seemed like such a logical thing to do.

As a mom now, I am no longer so certain. My children seem such a part of me, like a physical living part of my body, my heart, that it seems only natural to reach out and stop them, protect them from making mistakes. Separating myself from them seems the hardest thing I will ever need to do.

I wonder where I will find the courage to let them do something that, to my mind, is clearly a disaster. Would I be okay if they left the tried and tested to strike out on an unknown journey? Would I be okay, for instance, if one of them chose a career in music over academics, or would want to try their luck in Bollywood or strike out in the jungles as a photographer?

Would I be able to let them go? And yet be ready to have their back should they fail? Without a hint of ‘I told you so’? And then when they’re back up on their feet, would I be ready to let them make their next mistake? Be ready to have their back yet again?

It’s not going to be easy.

As I’ve grown older, possibly wiser, I’ve known some people who rebelled against their parents and found happiness. Some didn’t. Some heeded their advice and found happiness, others didn’t.

The thing is, one never can tell with life.

While children follow their passion, parents have to be the voice of reason. Click To Tweet

Ever so slowly, I hope they learn to balance their passion with reason, on their own. And I hope I’m around till they learn to do that. As their parent if I’m even writing this post, thinking I will have to let them go someday, it’s a step forward.

Meanwhile I make this promise to myself..

that I shall keep an open mind and respect their wish to follow their passion.

that I shall always always place their happiness above societal pressures – a lesson gifted to me by my parents.

and most of all, I will never close the doors of communication.

And I hope when the time comes, the children will give me and my concerns a patient hearing. And then, if they choose to go ahead despite it all, I shall find the courage to stand by them.

***********

 

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Follow me on Instagram

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Of Roasted Apples and Warm Winter Evenings #BookBytes 14

Of Roasted Apples and Warm Winter Evenings #BookBytes 14

Here’s my pick for this week’s Book Bytes. “I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream….. I know how the nuts taken in conjunction […]