Gaah! A Pre-Teen Lives In My House

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!

Discussions on life and beyond

TO’s ideas about life and death are shaped quite a bit by the things he sees online. And since he sees more grown- up content these days vis-a-vis Mickey Mouse Club House, Noddy et al, death is portrayed more in the Occidental way than it is the Oriental or Indian way. He’s seen characters who visit graves of their loved ones and thinks that’s the way we roll too. Of course, till now he’s been lucky to not lose anyone he really loves.

Last evening the topic of me and Red not being there came up. Dunno how exactly but it might have arisen out of the talk about TO growing up and doing things more by himself without our help or our supervision. And when he gets going about the future he paints a very elaborate picture. It’s seldom a few things mentioned offhand; it’s always a well-etched scenario.

So yesterday TO started off by saying, “When you and P die I’ll have to do things on my own. But I’ll visit your graves and let you know how I’m doing.” Instead of going “awww” I told him a bit tersely (I was in the middle of a challenging puzzle) that “we wouldn’t be buried because we’d be cremated as per our religion. To that the answer came, “I wouldn’t burn you!! (horrified tone). I’ll bury you so you’ll always be there and I’ll put flowers on your grave and if you become ghosts you’ll have a place to go back to after you come see how I’m doing.”

This kind of long-term logistical planning really needs a pat on the back.

The Best Laid Plans…

Red and I decided that reducing the amount of time TO spends on digital media is the best thing for him and us…now and long-term. And in order to do that, we need to switch off (literally and figuratively) from the stuff we’re doing and spend time with him; no matter what.

And so we (viz ME) embarked on this new and courageous undertaking (again ME) and decided that post-dinner walks would be a good way to engage him and stop him from turning into Al Bundy. The added benefit of digesting his food properly and getting tired prior to bedtime are also things we considered (still ME!!)

The first walk ended up being a crash course in the Godzilla-verse for me. It was Godzilla this, Godzilla that. King Ghidorah blah blah blah…Rodan blahx10, Mothra blahx100. All of them together blahxinfinity!!!

And it turns out, my kid’s the Rainman when it comes to Godzilla movies..anime and otherwise. He remembers all the dates or rather is creative enough to manufacture dates going back to the 50s when the Godzilla movies were released.

And this is what made me go, “Oh really?”A kid who has to be reminded to “properly” wash his hands post playing outside during a pandemic, remembers dates of the original Godzilla movies.

Never a dull moment with this one. EVER!

It’s A Hard Knock Life!

Enough with the wiping the drool! It’s a good look on me and it’s staying!

I have experience firsthand with only one child and that’s not counting the immature people in my life who refuse to grow up. I have one child. ONE. TO. But he might as well be part of a set of triplets the way he acts at times.

Dude…don’t harsh my buzz! Am in a Zen-kinda groove right now. Can’t hear anything about wet towels and messy closets. Talk to the hand.

One minute loving, sweet and the cutest kid in the whole world followed by split personality#1 who I would gladly leave at someone’s door along with split personality#2 who needs a whack on his butt before being left on someone’s doorstep.

I want it to be noted that am complying under duress and my fundamental rights are being infringed upon!

But all motherly love aside, it’s a tough time to be a kid.

Kids are meant to run free, be wild, let loose loud war cries, jump like they have springs on their feet and try to fly like gravity doesn’t exist. They’re meant to climb trees, wipe dirty hands on t-shirts, sneak ice cream on the days all cold stuff is off-limits and basically just do whatever their self-indulgent little minds tell them to do! But with the blessings of the Corona Goddess, life’s changed and not necessarily for the better!

Of course this fish is clean! They just washed it. Oh my hands? yeah..I washed them yesterday so we’re good!

The freedom to run out the door at will and share candy and chips out of the same packet is a thing of the past. Not washing hands is a crime punishable by a near court martial and soaps+ sanitisers are the new best friends they’ve been compelled to let into their lives. I’m not even going to touch upon the pain and anguish that face masks cause! Uff..someone call Amnesty International!

On the rare days kids get up early, they’d like to laze around, catch up on all the cricket scores from the previous night’s match and not necessarily spend their time “productively” or do a quick check to see if everything’s ready for the day’s classes.

Their parents on the other hand, mean mothers especially, intervene; insisting on them heading outside to catch some sunshine, walk or cycle and start their day “on a good note”. Pcch! Cinderella had it better!

I would do my chores but am a bit busy finding out about the state of the world while I drink my morning cuppa. Check back with me in a day or two or ten.

Moms get in the way of everything! Making friends with dogs, petting dogs, getting a dog! I mean who wants to worry about a tiny thing like allergies when faced with years of boisterous fun with a fellow tail wagger…wait that came out wrong. My child is not a puppy. He merely acts like one.

Moms are also the worst when they start outlining every area of the body which seems dirty and needs scrubbing. Offering to do it themselves if it’s not done properly the first time around.

And the insistence on baths is just mind boggling! Why would someone bathe twice a day? Once a week is enough isn’t it? And just who is going to be looking at the back of someone’s neck with such pretty eyes, chubby cheeks and a killer smile gracing the visage?!

Poor, poor kids…what a hardship it must be to have to live well, sleep on time, change clothes and not look like a hobo, eat veggies&fruits and be clean.

Selectively Linguistic

My native language is Bangla. Am not entirely proficient in it. I can speak it but the “purists” can usually gauge that I’m not one of them. Apparently it reeks of being an “outsider” aka from outside the hallowed boundaries of West Bengal.

I can manage to read and write it but it’d be better if I didn’t. I can manage better with Gujarati and can more than scrape by in Hindi. Not counting English here since it’s the global ‘must-have’ language we were brought up to regard and revere.

Red’s native tongue is Telugu. He’s proficient in speaking, reading and writing. The less said about his spoken Hindi the better. I’ve written a few blog posts trolling it and he hasn’t been a happy camper.

The Offspring (TO) has chosen English as the language he’s most comfortable with and is sticking to it with the tenacity of barnacles on a sunken ship. See…all those years of cramming figures of speech in my head finally did some good.

Anyhoo, back to TO. He has been spoken to, yelled at, cajoled at, cooed at in both the languages Red and I speak in but somehow it was the whole water&duck’s back scenario.

But every now and then, he slips up and answers, verbally or non-verbally, in response to a question asked in Bangla. And it makes me annoyed and smug at the same time. Would it hurt his otherwise perpetually busy mouth to speak a few words in other languages? Especially if they’re a part of his cultural make-up? But noooo…one cannot hope to prevail upon children of today over these sentimental issues. They (the kids) are pretty pragmatic and don’t see much value to doing the ‘little things’ which make their folks giddy with happiness.

This morning over breakfast at a resort we’re staying in, I asked him if he wanted a repeat of his soupy noodles. I asked him in Bangla and he shook his head no. I asked him again just to be sure and he said “No”. When Red asked him a bit later, he still said no. So no was the way to go.

But am onto his little tricks. He pretends he doesn’t get what I’m saying when I speak in a different language but I know better. No kid can spend 7 years being scolded in a language and not pick up bits and pieces. No sirree!

Although, and am just playing devil’s advocate here, given his Bong genes that are predispositioned towards food and gluttony, he could just have memorized every tense of the phrase containing the words ‘eat’ and ‘more’. Going by my luck with this boy, it’s far more likely that’s what he did.

There go dreams of my conversing with him and teaching him the mix of Banglish (Bangla+English)+Hinglish (Hindi+English) I usually speak.

I is sad. I is annoyed. These kids! #smh but since every parent’s goal is to get their kids to do things without telling them 20,000xs or throwing stuff at them; as long as he answers back in ONE language I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Siiiiigh.