Category: Tweens

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

N sits on the sofa in front of the television, her plate of food balanced on her knee, the remote in her hand.

‘May I watch TV?’ she asks.

Exams are two weeks away and the children have a Chemistry test the next day – that’s all I can think of as I take in her perfunctory query and her expectant gaze.

It’s hard, but ‘No,’ say I, ‘Eat your food at the dining table then get back to revision.’
Her face sets in a stubborn line and I realise it’s going to be one of ‘those’ days.
‘Why can’t I watch TV till I eat? I can’t study as I eat anyway.’
‘Because we talk while we eat and we catch up with papa,’ say I referring to our nightly Duo chats with the Husband. It’s a bit of a ritual that I’m reluctant to let go.

‘I don’t want to talk’, she replies.

H chips in bringing his best arguments.
‘Only for 15 minutes, till we eat and then we’ll get back, promise,’ he pleads.
‘No’, say I.
‘I won’t eat at the table. I’ll eat on the sofa,’ says N, not willing to give up with at least one small victory.
‘That’s fine by me’, say I picking my battles.

Ten minutes later, I’ve finished dinner. N sits with her plate full, dinner untouched.

I take up my book and walk away to my room.

After a while I hear the twins talking at the dining table as they finish eating.

Then, the door to my room opens slowly.

It’s N.

‘I’m sorry mama’, says she.
‘It’s okay’, I reply.
‘Are you angry’
‘No’
‘Can you smile please?’
I smile at her.
‘I’m sorry’, she reiterates. ‘I’m sorry I was rude and angry. It’s all these teenage hormones you know’.
I have to laugh out at that, at my little wise soon-to-be-teenager.

It’s a battle won – not against the kids, never that, it’s the battle against my temper that I’ve won.

The war is on.

*******

Trying my hand at Slice of Life writing.

My Travel Scrapbook – A #Review

My Travel Scrapbook – A #Review

When the twins turned toddlers we took our first steps in travelling with them. There was no looking back. Their curiosity and enthusiasm motivated us to step out more frequently as they grew.

The first time they took a dip in the sea at Dapoli, climbed a hill at Hathgadh, wandered through the Bhool Bhulaya of Bara Imambara at Lucknow and went Strawberry picking at Mahabaleswar are all memories we treasure.

At the cusp of their teens, I find travel opening the children’s minds in a hundred ways, making geography and history so much more interesting. They come back bubbling with excitement, talking constantly of all they have seen and I just want hold on to those moments, forever, as do they.

We have photographs, hundreds of them, but they’re more for me than them. Besides, we don’t make physical photo albums like we used to, and that makes them hard to access.

The Travel Bug

…reached out to me recently, to review ‘My Travel Scrapbook’. As I went through its pages I thought it was a wonderful way to keep travel memories alive. I have to admit I have always loved scrapbooking.

My Travel Scrapbook

…is divided into two sections – National Travel (Ten pages) and International Travel (Five pages). I think that’s a fair allocation, though I wouldn’t have much minded doing away with the International pages, for now at least.

There’s a map where children can  mark off places they visit. A section asks them to mention the State they’re going to and the cities they visit. While on that, we kicked off a great conversation on Indian states, how they were formed and why they divided (because we had gone to Uttarakhand recently). We didn’t even realise when we had segued off to discussing the Cauvery water dispute. You really never know where the conversation will take you once you begin talking to the children.

A tiny section asks them about favourite local foods they sampled (Petha at Agra, Dal Baati in Rajasthan) that encourages them to try different kinds of food rather than sticking with pizza, noodles and ice cream.

The book also has space for them to record their travel stories. They do accumulate plenty of them from train tales to local legends. Mine wanted to write about a quaint restaurant they’d visited where they discovered a tiny library and the little boy who sang funny poetry at the Agra Fort. Those nuggets are priceless memories to look back upon.

Of course there’s space for photographs and also a box for the children to make and stick their own peel-off stickers. There are some pre-prepared ones plus some blank ones too. I loved the wonderfully glossy pages and the small cheerful boxes. The layout is clear and easy, perfect for the younger tweens. The book makes for a great keepsake, something the children can flip through (as can you) for a bit of nostalgia.

What I loved most

is that this turned out to be a fun, no pressure exercise. It’s a personal account, much like a journal, so there are no benchmarks, no specific way for things to be done, just a rough guideline. That leaves the children free to do it their way. I love that the book helped cut down on their screen time and kept them creatively employed.

What could be better:

Given that this is a scrap-book I would have liked a few more fun stickers (sun, beach, etc) to be picked from, and randomly stuck on to brighten up the pages.

Price: Rs 699
Published by: Curiosity Bug
www.littletravelbug.in

Final Verdict: This one is a keeper for the travelling tween.

Disclaimer: I was given a complementary copy of the The Travel Scrapbook in exchange for an honest review.

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’.

Sharing a room with a sibling

Sharing a room with a sibling

…can be a lot of fun.

Through most of our childhood my sister and I shared a room with our grandmoms. We got ours when we moved to a new house. I was in college then. We shared it till I left Lucknow to work in Delhi. We had posters all over the walls – Ravi Shastri, Boris Becker, Karan Kapoor – all our heartthrobs! Our pride, however, was a gigantic collage we had put together with our favourite ads and quotes.

Of course, we had our fights. Luckily we had two single beds which we would push together in times of peace and drag away during war. The memories that stand out, however, are mostly fun ones.

I’d hoped the same for H and N.

Sharing a room is a great way to learn to adjust

Everyone comes with a bunch of quirks and living together helps one look beyond them. Out in the real world we are not always fortunate to have like-minded room mates. Not for nothing did I survive multiple roomies at working women’s hostels (my first one was from Kashmir and my last from Chennai) and then later, the snores of my one permanent room-mate – the Husband :-).

It teaches you to respect boundaries

It helps children understand the concept of ‘mine’, ‘yours’ and ‘ours’, that there are certain things they can share and others which they cannot.

Most of all, it’s a great way to bond with your sibling

My happiest memories are of hours spent with my sister listening to songs of Shammi Kapoor (he was our eternal love) as also Elvis, Cliff Richards, Boney M and the Beatles on an old battered ‘tape recorder’ and mouthing dialogues of Sholay and Maine Pyar Kiya along with the tape.

H and N being of the same age have it a little more tough. Their books are constantly getting mixed up since they’re in the same class. It is a regular affair to find one of them foraging in the other one’s bag despite protests (How dare you touch my bag!), and coming up triumphantly with a lost book (See? I knew it was in there).

There are personality clashes too. N is more careful with her things and more particular about privacy and ‘space’. She likes and respects boundaries. H, on the other hand, can never even perceive a boundary. If he would, he’d probably step right on it!

Things became a bit crazy the time he used up N’s hair colour pens for painting a carton (He was making my birthday gift!). A huge storm, followed. He insisted they looked ‘just like regular pens’, which they actually do. She refused to believe that (Can’t you read?).

Despite all of that they’ve stuck it out together.

However, at Diwali last year, N picked out pink curtains. I have to admit they were gorgeous. However, H absolutely refused to have them in the room. I tried to pacify him with a beautiful blue rug, but he was adamant.

Striking a compromise…

Finally, I emptied out a shelf in my study and moved some of his things. He can now work on his assignments there and call it ‘his’ room too.

It turned out to be a good idea because they can now study in separate rooms and also sort out their dukh dard in some amount of privacy while still sharing a room.

That said, I have to add that nothing, I repeat, nothing can completely rule out fights and arguments. It is built into their systems, I think.

The other day I was busy in the kitchen when I heard them having an argument. Here’s how it went.

N: This is my room, go away.

H: I’m on my bed, the bed is mine.

N: You can come in only at night.

H: I can come in when I want.

N: Then I’ll take your room and you can stay here.

H: Don’t you dare!

N: Just you watch.

I know a stalemate when I see/hear one. With one eye on my bubbling curry I tried to bring about peace, to no avail. Finally, I bellowed out from the kitchen ‘This is MY house and papa’s and nobody else’s. You two don’t own a room, a cupboard, a shelf. Nothing! So there’s no humara – tumhara. Quit fighting.

It was at that precise moment I realised, our door was open and my elderly neighbour was standing right there, listening to only my side of the conversation. And now I’m sure he doesn’t think much of me as a mum.

Life’s not really fair.

 

Do you remember what it was like to share a room with your sibling? Do you think children, specially of different sexes, should have separate rooms?

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

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

I’m sharing a quote from the book 1984 by Gerorge Orwell. The first time I read it I must have been in my early teens. I have little memory of it perhaps because I would have had little or no understanding of it. Then I read it again some seven or eight years ago and […]