Category: Tweens

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

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

It was N who reminded me that one activity on her list of ‘things to do after exams’ was pending. With just a weekend left for school to reopen we are struggling to get through said list. She had labelled this activity ‘N and mama day’. That reminded me of my resolve to set aside separate ‘we time’ for each child. Despite my best intentions that hasn’t happened frequently enough.

Though we try hard to look out for both of them, they do end up sharing a lot more than just their room. Individual attention is not always possible.

Why it is so tough

Even if you have a single child you might like to think about how much time you set aside to spend with him or her alone, away from your gadgets and chores, when you give the child your complete attention doing something he or she enjoys as much as you do. With two children (or more) it becomes even more difficult to make time for each one separately.

First, there are practical issues, specially in a nuclear family like mine where another family member isn’t around to be with the other child. Then there’s the fact that H and N suffer from a huge case of FOMO only and only when the other sibling is involved. So handling the ‘why not me?’ is hard.

However, they are growing up

…which is a great thing because they’re old enough to be left alone. Their interests are becoming more defined and diverse and they’re getting less clingy.

That they still clamour for alone time with me is extremely gratifying. It also makes me ever so aware of the time when they won’t want me around at all and reminds me to make the most of this time.

We are able to hold more meaningful conversations and share deeper secrets. That makes talking-to them ever so satisfying. Oh, they have plenty of secrets to share. You’d be surprised about the things they tell me when we’re alone. I have to remind myself constantly to keep my face impassive and my comments non-committal but It really is a lot of fun.

Also, I am hoping these moments will be the building blocks for the time when they will really need advice or support for serious issues as they enter their teens.

Here are a few more reasons why a one-on-one is such a great idea.

Why one-on-one time with each of your children is a great idea Click To Tweet

It is the best time to share secrets

If I were to name one single reason for alone time this would be it. One might think siblings, specially twins, would share their deepest darkest secrets with each other. Not true. I find they open their hearts much more readily when they are alone with me. We’ve talked about troublesome teachers and bullying coaches, heartbreak over lost friendships and all kinds of real and imagined insults.

It gives them a sense of ‘self’

Since when the children were babies I’ve encouraged them to be their own selves, to not be clubbed as two parts of a whole. Alone time reinforces the fact that as a parent I appreciate them separately for what they truly are.

It is great for their self-esteem

..because for that half hour or one hour they have mine or The Husband’s complete attention. And that tells them how important they are.

It helps ease off sibling rivalry

Individual attention takes away the need for them to fight for it. Oh it’ll be ages before they admit it, even to themselves. Don’t we all grow up believing our parents love the other sibling more? However, I am hoping once they realise they don’t have to fight for our attention the edge shall wear off their rivalry.

It is extremely relaxing as a parent

..because this is the one time I can agree or disagree with that one child without worrying about appeasing the other. It’s a huge relief to focus on one child’s needs, his triumphs and failures even if it is for a little while only. Also, I’m not sure this holds for everyone but my children are the soul of decency when they’re separated from their twin. They offer to carry my bags, aren’t fussy about food, pick up thoughtful gifts for the other one and even refuse a second helping of ice-cream!

And so we’ll be heading out to the mall for some girl-time. After all that ‘Things to do after exams’ list is sacrosanct.

Do you make an effort to spend a one-on-one time with your child? What’s your favourite ‘together’ activity?

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Here’s a scrumptiously wonderful book every tween is going to love. All Four Stars is the story of Gladys Gatsby, an eleven-year-old who is passionate about cooking. Her parents, on the other hand, are not. They are both working and don’t have the time or inclination to cook. The family lives on terrible takeaways.

However, Gladys cooks up complicated delicacies in secret, when her parents are away at work. All is well until one day when her parents walk in just as she accidentally sets fire to the kitchen curtains while making Creme Brûlée. As a result of that singularly bad piece of luck, she’s banned from further cooking experiments and her allowance is taken away.

Then, through a quirk of fate, she lands an assignment as a food critic in a frontline newspaper. The catch is – getting to that restaurant which is a train-ride away from the suburb where Gladys lives. Confiding in her parents and asking for help is out of the question. So how does she do it?

This is a story delicious enough to sate the most demanding of gourmands.

It’s a perfect read-aloud book
Each night after dinner, we’d sit with this one, the children and I, reading it aloud. The descriptions of food made H hungry while N started dreaming of a career as a food critic.

What I liked
The descriptions of food were absolutely delectable. The good ones (that she had at Parm’s house or out at restaurants) were mouth-watering but it’s the bad ones that H and N enjoyed most because they were hilariously funny.

I loved that Gladys sampled and enjoyed all kinds of food – African, Malaysian and Indian too. She has an Indian friend and the rather foreign descriptions of familiar Indian foods like chhole and raita and palak paneer had the children completely thrilled.

If you’ve read any of my earlier reviews you’ll know I love a book with great side-characters. All Four Stars had many of them – Sandy, Gladys’ friend and neighbour, Parm, her Indian friend, Charissa the most popular girl at school, the kind Mr Eng who runs a cosy grocery and patisserie and Mrs Anderson, Sandy’s adorable mom. Although some of them are rather stereotypical they all manage to do something to redeem themselves, to break the stereotype. That, I was grateful for.

There are bits on friendship – on making and keeping friends – on shared secrets and making plans which the children completely loved.

If I have one complaint it would be that the author didn’t do justice to the parents. They come across as uni-dimensional, too taken up with their work, barely bothered about their daughter and rather unkind. They did get better towards the end of the book, though, so that was something.

We talked about
Whether the punishment Gladys got was fair/unfair.
Could Gladys have done things differently? Perhaps, taken the help of other sympathetic adults.

What we did
– We read up all kinds of cuisines that Gladys talks of.
– We pored (and salivated) endlessly over food pictures.
– We made up a game of trying to describe a food to someone who had never known Indian cuisine.
– And we tried baking.

This book came to us through Enchantico – a delightful book-activity box we subscribed to. Read my review of the box here. It came with a cookie recipe, premixed flour as well as cookie cutters.

With all that help we had to try our hand at baking. The first batch came out near perfect. But then we got caught up in something and ended up burning down the next one and had to rush around dousing the flames in the oven.

So you see, there really is never any guarantee with cookies but the book – that’s a sure shot winner.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

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