Parenting: The Stuff They Never Tell You

I am a semi-helicopter mother and not proud of it. Here are some things I’ve gleaned in the past few years of parenting. I’m not sure how helpful this is but for those contemplating marriage and eventually kids, do read this once. It may give you a different perspective (read abstinence or hardcore contraception) or it may reinforce what you see and hear in front of you everyday anyhow.

So..here we go!

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#1 Having a conversation with anyone else barring your child is like being in a boxing match. It goes like this- you speak 1,2,3 and someone jabs you. You try to regain your balance and speak again 1,2,3 and this time it’s an uppercut.

There are rare conversations that you can have without being interrupted; till you decide to give it up and just focus on the kid. And guess what precious nugget comes your way when you do? It’s quite possibly something along the lines of – (imagine it being spoken in all caps) “You know what? My poop is all orange from all the nachos I ate yesterday!!” And you nod helplessly because you hung up on an overseas call with your BFF to hear about your kid’s bodily function.

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#2 Farts are important. If they stink, how loud they are. If you’ve noticed the abovementioned smell and noise. If you haven’t they’ll probably poop their pants trying to squeeze one out that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.

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#3 You have to watch everything you say. Literally. Imagine becoming a psychotic with visual hallucinations where the words you think materialize in front of your face. You reject a few and allow the rest of them to be uttered. If you don’t, the next time you may be subjected to a bout of , ” Gimme a break or a ” Oh for crying out loud!” from a 1st grader because you cut off digital media or pool access at pre-agreed upon times.

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#4 Pool times are deadly. The child *never* remembers that staying for too long in the water causes their skin to prune up. When you tell them their time’s up, they mimic dolphins and scoot away from you.

Wading into the pool and dragging them out leads to yells and screams tantamount to child abduction with people looking at you and your offspring in distaste for causing ripples in their recreation or serenity.

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#5 Some part of the body always hurts during homework or DEEEEP sleep to rival Rip Van Winkle’s comes on in droves and it goes away only when the threat of homework does. And then, the recovery is more miraculous than the walking on water phenomenon! Faster too!

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#6 Waking the child up in the mornings is a drama par excellence. The hands flung over the eyes a la Scarlett O’Hara, the burrowing into the covers like a mole and coiling up smaller and smaller like a worm or a snake makes you gobsmacked! One child going through all these changes in a matter of seconds is nothing short of amazing.

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#7 Say goodbye to your stereo and tv and tablets. The kid rules all and owns all. You don’t come in second. You don’t come in. Period.

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#8 Holiday destinations are decided by where the wild things are. Literally. The continent with the most venomous snakes, biggest crocs makes the cut. Relaxing at a beach? Sure…but can you also see the Inland Taipan or the Tasmanian Devil? No? Then it’s a no-go.

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#9&#10– these two are probably the most annoying IMHO. Your bedroom and your bathroom time are no longer your own. And that’s mystifying because why on earth would someone want to spend so much time talking to you through the bathroom door, wanting to know what you’re doing, when you’re coming out and even going to the extent of shoving their ever-growing drawings of dragons under the door for you to peruse while you’re focused on something entirely different and faar more important.

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They creep you out by looming over you in the weekends; the one time you don’t have to run and bundle them into clothes and catch the school bus. They whisper slowly into your ears, distorting dreams with reality; often shoving tiny fingers up your nose to wake you thoroughly and even body flop on your sleeping, unsuspecting self just to tell you they LOVE YOU. And you feel compelled to reply in kind while you blindly kick out, hoping to connect with that tiny butt and get them the hell out of your sacred sleeping space.

Ah parenting…what a ride!

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The Low Down On Having Your Kids

Kids are trouble. If our parents had known that then and unless they were full of the love of humankind our existence would be voided.

But this is a more realistic and non-candy floss way of looking at having kids. The making of the kids is probably the best part of the entire deal but then again it only takes about a few tries so you’re jipped in the end anyhow.

The birthing and that carnage aside kids are plain and simple parasites. You love them to bits and wouldn’t stomp on them or spray pesticides at them sure, but till they strike out on their own and sadly often, long after that, kids are parasites. Only this kind of parasitic relationship is one we encourage so in the end it turns out to be a whacked-out symbiotic relationship of sorts since we derive these gurgles of pleasure from them feeding off us.

And when I say feed, I mean the the kind of feeding that bleeds you dry emotionally and physically long after the actual weaning has been done and dusted.

YOUR life, YOUR space, YOUR bubble of YOU that is a kitschy mix of sanity+kookiness+idiosyncrasies is made to go on an undefined time out and it’s like you’re made to face the wall without being able to see your earlier self for an unknown amount of time.Do NOT pass go. Do NOT collect $200 and no hope for parole.

Parenting is exhausting. Rewards not always visible. Discernible, And it’s scary as hell to have a hand in how the course of someone’s life will shape up, how their personalities will blossom or not based on how YOU play YOUR cards. Having kids is the closest you get to playing God and that’s an area that’s fuzzy enough for humans with our heady mix of believers, heretics and agnostics. So, to willfully do that with another human being is nothing short of crazy! And it’s completely selfish. No one really needs kids. We just want to have them.

The saving grace (and there are many) is that you experience intense emotion in a manner that’s akin to a knee-jerk reaction, the love is fairly unconditional and makes you rise above yourself and put someone else’s welfare before your own. We seldom do that for anyone consistently throughout our lives barring our offspring. That does help you grow in some ways but it doesn’t stunt your growth either if you don’t indulge in it. And the crux is that parenthood changes you SO much and none of it is change you wanted or planned for. And it’s the change that the kids bring that we instinctively fight back against all our lives.

Loving your kids is the only safety valve to that bit in life. Or is it?

But you have to admit, if the little humans we pop out are cute lil things, the whole grin&bear-it becomes so much easier! Just saying.

Kids: Boon Vs Bane

The jury is still out on that one.

On one hand you can remember them as the cutest, cuddliest, chubbiest drooly monsters that walked around with a diaper-covered bum. And on the other hand you wish you could sedate them or keep them in suspended animation when they’re getting their best and most annoying bratty groove on.

At the risk of pissing off my husband, who is more predisposed towards liking the offspring and not wanting to punt him over the fence into the neighboring building, let me say that kids are the people who test your patience to the extent you want to chuck everything and join a convent or do a Hansel-Gretel with them and leave them in a forest clearing somewhere…preferably in a galaxy far, far away.

There are some day when praying for divine intervention does no damn good at all and the only thing that helps you get through things are longing glances at the booze cupboard or the promise of a weekend ending and school starting up again.

And kids really can be quite rotten. They are trying on the days they need to be angelic. They mouth off at the time when they need to be mimes and they stay up like owls on the nights you need them in bed and knocked out by 7:30 on the dot!

But if they always did what was expected of them they wouldn’t be kids at all. They’d be flitting about with wings and halos and spotless white clothes. Instead these oompa-loompas have decidedly tarnished halos and the wings which mimic the headless chicken scenario.

Oh well…c’est la vie.

 

Bedhair: A Quick Look

Have you ever had one of those days when you got up, stumbled to the loo, turned on the light and thought,”Dang! My hair looks awesome!” How’d it get like that? No? Well, that’s understandable…the likelihood of bed-hair looking good rather than freakish…well the odds are against it.

I can categorize my bedhairiness ranging from mild to oh-my-god-give-me-a-hat.

It can manifest in a mild cowlick a la Dennis the Menace that I either ignore or pat down with some water to the slightly creepier Bride of Frankenstein look. 

Btw, I chose Mrs.Frank as a reference point because a) Einstein’s hair is just so passe b) I am graying these days ergo…

Anyhoo, bedhair is only troublesome if you have to meet people. Especially people you don’t know and have to make small talk with while some other work is on-going in the background.

Nothing is makes conversation falter more than having a head of hair is which partly curled inwards and the rest is staticky and pretty much pointing every which way it wants. Some days there’s just not enough hair serum in the word.

I remember a scene from the movie Moonlight and Valentino (not worth watching) where Elizabeth Perkins wants to look more attractive for Jon Bon Jovi and gets her hair styled to get a “I just got down from a bike” look and when she sets out on a date with JBJ, he of the less than perfectly styled head of hair, rolls up the windows because he doesn’t want his hair to end up looking like hers.

But away from all the references, the way you wake up in the morning, makes a huge difference to how the rest of your day plays out. You can go from happy to hilarious to hillbilly in a manner of seconds. The worst situation is when you think there’s an intruder standing right behind you- your hair looks *that* out there!

So, slightly vain people…oil your hair a bit especially if it starts to frizz, don’t comb it with 90 brush strokes like you read you needed to do before bedtime. We’re challenging a lot of the gyaan the 90s threw at us and always keep a spray bottle handy…it’ll either help you calm your hair down or jerk you awake to see the intruder you thought was lurking behind you, was just you with an angry head of hair and grumpy countenance.

P.S: not a single bad hair day can compare to this lady though…so take heart…

The Malady of Summer Holidays

I’ve noticed that there’s a strange and inexplicable condition that happens to kids, especially mine over the summer holidays. They become deaf, louder, motor movements mimic being like marionettes with their strings cut or like mini Boomerang videos. Polar opposites but somehow they seem to be able to switch between them effortlessly enough.

The specific keywords that they don’t seem to comprehend are these:

  1. Get up.
  2. Slow down.
  3. Enough.
  4. No more (pool time, t.v., iPad, laptop, playing with water…till infinity)
  5. Get out of the pool.
  6. It’s late.
  7. Come home.
  8. Go away.
  9. SHUSH.
  10. GO. TO. SLEEP!!

Barring that it’s the same ol’ symptoms of childhood+boredom+curiosity all rolled into one delicious little buck-toothed package of silliness!

Free-Range Vs Helicopter Parenting: Indian Scenario

I am all for being a hands-off parent. I really would like to be able to observe my child, see him grow rather than always be present while he is doing his thing. For someone who has been a SAHM from the first moment, it is quite a treat to be able to see your child interact with their environment, peers and the world at large without literally (and figuratively) pulling at the leash.

However and this is a big however, the concept of Free-Range parenting  isn’t always viable for the Indian mindset or for that matter the pan-Asian mindset.

While I cannot comment knowledgeably on a generic Asian temperament per se, let’s just say that it allows for a lot less permissiveness in the interaction between children, young adults with the adults they encounter. It’s not borne out of a compulsion of seeing the kids become “docile”, “controlled” or even submissive but out of a Father/Mother knows best funda which seeks to leave decision-making in the hands of an adult till the child reaches the sensibilities of an adult and can take independent decisions and their consequences.

And that’s ultimately what any parent worth their salt is concerned about- consequences. Children primarily lack the ability to make judgement calls before a particular age sets in and I personally believe that for quite a few people, that age usually starts in their late teens or early twenties. The reason being that while they reach this age the gamut of experiences that they go through are more definitive and they pay more attention to the learnings that arise out of it, rather than having the moral of the story outlined (if you will) by their parents the way it was done during their early years.

And let’s not even open up the can of worms that includes predators et al. The world is a difficult place to navigate even for adults. Children with their innocence/lack of experience aren’t always able to gauge with certainty who they should place their trust in. A child is a child for a reason. Despite being conditioned to be responsible, or inherently of a more compliant nature, a child can lapse into carelessness, callousness and self-indulgent behavior because knowing altruism, benevolence or how to do the right thing isn’t what the doctor ordered for a 7 year-old.

And to expect them to be any different is to expect munchkin-sized adults to be walking around while looking much cuter than the normal-sized ones.

And what does this have to do with being a Helicopter Parent Vs. A Free-Range one? Well as adults we learn about balances and being a parent is the toughest balancing job in the whole world. The tightrope walking kind of pales in significance because there isn’t always a safety net and the worst case scenario is far worse than any of us could begin to fathom. So it comes down to this…is it better to suffocate your kid as a helicopter parent or not know where your kid is or doing what and to what extent because you’ve eased up too much on the free aspect of free-range parenting? Isn’t even a mild case of paranoia a given for a parent? Or do we actually sleep better knowing a 10 year old will definitely look both ways before crossing the street or a 5 year old knows what intuition is and is guided by it?

So while I veer more to the side of helicopter parenting (much to my chagrin) on matters of education, teaching of good behavior and imposing of rules et al; there are times when I can wear the mantle of a free-range parent as well. And I can give a good amount of leeway only because I stayed close, watched every step and made sure the most avoidable dangers could be identified and well…avoided. Some days I hop,skip and jump all over the place being both kinds of parents because the situation and my innate nature demands it.

But know this, no amount of parenting will help if an asteroid hits the earth and wipes away all of humanity. All you can do is know that you are being true to yourself while you bring your child up and despite all the time-outs, angry glares and whatnot if your child is genuinely happy to see you first thing in the morning and runs to tell you about every scrapped knee to every new bug he spotted on the road, then maybe, just maybe you haven’t screwed it up.

Just something to think about.

 

 

Which Mythical Monster Are You?

Since my posts end up being about the (crab) apple of my eye I thought why not ask around and see if I’m the only nutcase attempting to raise a child or if there are others out there who see themselves as being demonized by their children in the sanity-ebbing job known as parenting.

Here we go! Please take a few seconds (because am sure that’s all it’ll take for you to identify your very own style of dealing with your child) and go through the questions.

P.S: Why a poll and why monsters? Well…we are the bad guys when we get in their way of what they want to be doing or when we enforce things on them- like nasal aspirations, medicines, food et al.

Thought I’d find out which monsters are keeping me company out there in the parenting world. And who am I? I am a dastardly combination of a harpy and a lamia which either makes me a hamia or a larpy. Take your pick.

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