Living with a teenager is quite like living with an overly opinionated, randomly emo, rather ignorant, squaking parrot who you love to bits but want to silence by throwing a tarp over.
It has been a while since I wrote. Been a while since I even thought of writing, to be honest. In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and it it holds true even now, decades after he said it.
I turned a year older recently. Had my peeps around for a bite of birthday cake while TO manned or should I say preteened a live sundae counter. Kids were happy, dentists will be made happier still somewhere down the line.
The year started off well enough but came with a few hard knocks rather soon into the first week of January with us losing a loved family member and in March me losing someone very dear to me. My process of grieving is usually to write about my feelings or the person who has gone and pay them a tribute in some way but this time around it’s been rather hard and the words don’t want to come forth.
Apart from giving it time, I suppose there’s not much one can do but not everyone’s life is one we can celebrate in toto once they pass. Some lives you look back at and hope for all the turmoil they were in or caused, they gained a modicum of peace somewhere and didn’t feel agony or fear in their last moments. I find it a crushing thought to even imagine anyone I’ve cared about experiencing pain in their final moments. But one must try to accept what life throws their way, however jarring to the senses and move forward. I read an article sometime back about moving on vs moving forward; found it made sense. Posting it here for those who don’t mind a bit of gyaan but not an avalanche of it.
This morning when I started off with my morning routine of Wordle and a quick crossword, I realized how much TO’s influenced my life. The child isn’t a Ross Geller in the making from what I have understood. He can love dinosaurs and other buried prehistoric creatures without wanting to devote time in academia to truly enjoy it. The reptiles he loves have become integrated into our lives and our minds. One of the clues this morning in the New York Times Quick Crossword was Spitting _________ (a five lettter word) and I automatically filled in cobra. Once the crossword was filled, I found it was a different word entirely. Once upon a time I’d have been able to lead with the other word more easily but now life has a place which is dedicated to animal quizzes on road trips and amorphous plans around the world to see dangerous creatures or the slithering ones.
With summer break on the horizon along with exams, our days are busy and minds busier still. Hopefully the writing bug bites me again and I reenter the blogosphere properly and soon!
For those who are fans of the Hitchcockian thriller, this isn’t an attempt to ride on the coattails of it. But I was hard-pressed for creativity and my brain doesn’t function well without caffeine so an “inspiration” is what I’m working with since there are some similarities between me in my current predicament and Jimmy Stewart’s character from the movie.
I’m in a room from where I’m not in a position to exit too quickly. I’m Covid+ and have a less than desirable viral load. Red and TO are down as well but thankfully theirs seems to be a bit less worrisome. Kids are actually quite a bit like balloons. They feel down in the dumps and they deflate and the moment something perks them up, they’re inflated and soaring in the skies. Which describes my kid down to a T right now. He’s all flushed and cute looking from the fever but is uncomfortable enough to admit it and is lying down of his own free will. The moment the medicine kicks in, he’ll be whooping and hollering like he always is.
This room is the sunniest one of the house and I soak it up everyday for a few hours because on top of all the meds I’m putting in me, it’ll really push me over the edge to have to eat a vitamin D tab as well! Anyhoo, there’s a big clearing outside the window and I’m entertained by seeing big groups of people play cricket, kick around a soccer ball and also see the cranes move in the distance. I have access to the telly…but this is live!
In my daily life, I can be a bit of a lump. Give me a good book and I’ll be practically inert, moving only to flick the screen or turn the page. Since my Covid brain is extremely scattered right now, it seemed right to put this in here.. Spoiler alert- rock song!
Back to the narrative: I’m indoors. In a room. Am allowed to peek out while double-masked and remind my kid to not be a butthead and do his chores to help out his father who’s being a rockstar and a bit of a bossy pants. I think every husband might derive some sense of a pleasure in shutting the door on his wife’s face (all in the name of good health of course) and tell her to stay in and not come out!
I had a bit of anxiety yesterday (which I was unaware was anxiety) and needed to go for a scan to see if my lungs were impacted as well. The doctor pronounced my lungs “flawless” [sic] and gave me a prescription for the anxiety- “Don’t be anxious.”. Hmm..I wonder which strength that tablet’s available in. I did take advantage of the utterance to tell Red that something in me was flawless. All I can say is that when a person is stoic with their expressions, their eyes often pick up the slack. And how!
Stay safe everyone. Hoping the family sails through this bit of stickiness without too many bumps in the road. And I’m definitely hitting the road after this. I’ll be upto my eyeballs in antibodies and would be a fool to not take advantage of it.
Over and out from me and my flawless lungs!
Gratitude, being thankful is all fine and dandy. But if you still need something that helps you get more positivity, think about starting an Ingratitude Journal.
Rid yourself of your negativity. Don’t force yourself to be positive if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Vent it out, feel lighter and forget about your rant…if you can. Better out than in I always say! Because if feelings are legit, take notice of the ones tripping you up as well as the ones lifting you high.
Across the world children are heading back to school although what they knew to be a scholastic experience has changed quite a bit. In some places they have kids attending school a few days a week. In others it’s for a few hours whereas in many places in Europe it’s been business as usual for good long while. The word ‘bubble’ has changed the meaning it used to hold and it looks like the connotation is going to be with us for a while longer.
While most Indian states grapple with the notion of reopening the schools and when to do so, the ones which have already started off the process find that the adjustment to campus life isn’t a cakewalk; neither for the school, the parents and of course the children themselves. With schools that are offering the hybrid model of attending classes, it’s a stretch with allocating their teaching resources to cover both in-person and online classes for the same grades and do it without dropping the ball on the quality of education.
For the rest of us the raging debate of should kids go back to school without the benefit of the vaccine to will the third wave actually hit sometime soon; it is an ongoing balancing act to decide about resending the children to an environment which is more fun for them for sure, but is also less protected than the one they have become used to for the past 2 academic years. And while attending classes in pyjamas isn’t an addiction that can’t be dealt with, the entire discipline that surrounds the whole process of schooling is something that kids will still take time reacclimatising to.
From getting up at least an hour earlier than before to riding the bus and standing in the lunch queue to not being able to get up and stretch one’s legs in between classes or have parents pop-in for that quick look-in to check if the child needs anything, it’s a big change to get used to.
I was away from home while TO rejoined in-person school and Red messaged me saying the house seemed really quiet and empty without him there. Although there was a regular amount of strict parenting going throughout the day while he was attending online classes, there was something comforting about seeing him hunched over the laptop while I went about my day.
While I’m not seeing my child struggle with his disenchantment for online lessons any further I am also dealing with a regular worry of either him or his peers coming down with coughs and colds which could potentially turn into something more serious. And while this worry isn’t debilitating, it’s not something am able to shake off either. His environment was so well-regulated for so long and under the supervision of two adults who had no greater goal than to keep him safe; relinquishing his safety to others who are miles away is something I struggle with.
What makes it easier is seeing him head out the door without the heavy zombie steps he used to take towards his laptop at the start of every school day while at home. He comes back happier too and while I shake my head that the kind of stains he inevitably gets on the pristine whites of his school uniform, it’s this kind of normalcy that I had also missed right from the middle of March 2020.
Whether the pandemic is entering into an endemic stage, whether the third wave is nothing more than just a slight blip, whether the vaccine for children is genuinely going to help keep them safe; as a parent our worry never ends. It eases a bit when you check in on them while they’re fast asleep or when you see them eat their fill, play their hearts out with their friends.
And I sincerely hope that’s where the world is slowly heading back to; parenting shoving their kids out the door while they’re still putting their shoes on and the school bus is about to pull away from the curb or the chidings about leaving assignments till the last minute. Am mighty sick of face masks, sanitisers and social distancing. It’s not the kind of parenting any of us want to do. We all want to tell us our kids off for the good ol’ reasons that have been handed down to us over the generations.
Here it goes in no particular order:
- He calls you Bruh..mom and dad have left the building and Bruh reigns supreme.
- Angst is the name of the game.
- Being contrary is also the name of the game.
- Tantrums are usually lurking around the corner.
- Flashes of brilliance (I use the term loosely) can be expected.
- Hugs and kisses are still accepted but otherwise you end up embarrassing them by stepping into the room during online classes with your mere presence.
- Growth spurt has kicked in and is still kicking butt- usually the parents.
- Advice about music is being shared- by the child to the unfashionable parents.
- Eyerolls are the accepted form of communicating.
- So are sulks.
- As-if, what-the, effs are all de facto modes of answering and are often complete sentences by themselves.
- Everything is BORINGGG!!
- Parents are UNFAIR!!!
- Global issues (like the present pandemic) have specifically come into being to make their lives especially hellish.
- Bathing is optional. Also, when it’s indulged in, one must have a reservoir at home to accommodate musical talents of child that peak while they’re in the shower.
- Bathing without looking clean is a newly cultivated skill set.
- Feeling hungry while eating the main meals of the day are another newly cultivated skill set.
- The opposite sex is no longer dumb. Cooties don’t exist any longer.
- Excuses for not doing homework or household chores assume epic proportions.
- Parents have turned into insensitive devils who routinely torture the child…erm pre-teen for their own amusement. Ergo reinforcing point#13.
- Screen time is a right more precious than Right to Life since life without screen time is no life at all.
- Selective hearing is firmly established.
- Very susceptible to sarcasm. It reinforces points #13 and #20 when indulged by the grown-ups of the house.
- Being largely unflappable in the face of parental ire and asking them to chill is par for course.
- Being a big baby about birthdays and gifts- still status quo.
Can’t imagine that age 13 will bring our way!
The brat is officially a preteen effective yesterday. He’s also officially a slightly bigger brat than he was before. I was telling Red that it’s as if I gave birth to a Valley Girl instead of a kid living in South India. But am told the rolling eyes, the general disdain for any parental advise and touchiness which goes from 0-100 in a nanosecond, is just a teaser of the years that will follow from next year onwards.
Harking back to my own tweens or teens- there wasn’t much of a differentiator there to be honest. It’s not that I was a model child but when I checked with my mom about the stuff that I did or didn’t do, she simply said that I did what was expected because there wasn’t any other option! And that seems heavenly for me now as a parent.
Our kids have OPTIONS! They shouldn’t. Not much anyhow. In a nutshell; I think keeping them alive, getting medical intervention when they’re unwell and basically making sure they don’t look like hobos looking for handouts is what’s needed. So the access to Netflix and every other kind of OTT, the choice of vacation locations amongst other new fangled expectations is the icing on the supremely expensive, uber rich and delicious cake that parenting the Get Zs has become.
Earlier a cake with a cherry on top was considered having arrived. Now there’s frosting (coloured), cherries, sprinkles (also coloured) and no nuts (allergies) on top of a triple layered chocolate layer which has chocolate ganache and chocolate flavoured butter cream frosting!
But seriously, it’s a mixture of difficulty+absolutely dafuqery parenting kids these days. TO’s taken to grumbling and mumbling snark at us more frequently these days. The ‘tude is crossing newer levels as well and I’m quite sure if these kids are not reigned in, we’ll all be facing a world there the adults have been taken hostage (properly this time around) and the small to mid-sized hoomans are ruling the roost and we’re all basically doing room service 24/7!
The plusses, if there are such things, are that you pretty much know what your kids are feeling. Not thinking, because thinking is all about screen time, games and self-indulgent things which make you want to slap them upside their head! The kids these days express A LOT.
Whether its angst, joy, anxiety, vulnerability..they express things at the drop of a pin. Sometimes while the pin is dropping even. Some more than others and as a parent from a generation where this level and extent of expression was relatively rare and therefore not encouraged much; it can take a lot of doing to have to discipline your child and then have a beady-eyed kid look you straight in the eye (yes, I am *that* short) and tell you that he’s very disappointed with the disciplining process and how it played out.
You try to take the moral higher ground only to have that smh-look leveled at you and before you know it the balance of power that was so firmly in your grasp is now slipping out like an eel and you are grasping desperately in front of a kid who’s poopy diaper you changed not so long ago.
So parents to Gen Z’ers…load up! It’s a bumpy road ahead but give thanks for the night when the imps…I mean our beautiful children sleep like they used to as babies and the remote is finally back in our hands. AMEN!
TO and Red have their little skirmishes from time to time. It mainly arises from TO growing into his teenhood and Red being the perennial good cop who realises that he can also be the bad cop from time to time instead of punting it to me.
This morning’s conversation with TO brought to light a streak of vengeance that seems runs a mile wide especially when it comes to someone who done him wrong. We’ve been pretty strict in enforcing bedtime routines since TO has difficulty getting up in the morning and going for his online classes.
Yes, it does sound ironical that a child can get up without too much rancour and board the school bus at 7am for his in-person classes but treats getting up by 8 am to join a class that starts at 8:20 am, just a few feet awake from where he’s been sleeping as a task akin to that of the Labor of Hercules!
Anyhoo, Red’s had a slight sore throat since yesterday and we let him sleep late this morning. When TO got up, I asked him to go check in on Red and ask him if he wanted a cup of hot coffee to make his throat feel better and immediately the temperature fell a few degrees and a very somber and frowny child turned me to and said, “I don’t think he deserves his coffee! He was up till late watching tv when he should have gone to bed. He has his work in the morning too! He sent me off to bed saying I have classes and he stayed up late…that’s what gave him the sore throat probably too! Does he really deserve our loyalty Ayu?”
Whoever coined the phrase about hell hathing (yeah yeah I know what I wrote) no fury like a woman scorned clearly didn’t factor in children who have had their screen time cut down by parents who then binged on their own shows without thinking about getting caught! I mean to deprive one of coffee as a punishment…oh the agony!