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Category Archives: Conversations

Man,woman or child?

Akank concluded it is easiest being the 12 yo at home. Not the husband or the wife.

She overheard a conversation between us- her dad who has been out of town for over a week now and me. In the week that he has been away, our pet dog has fallen sick, and Akank has had two visits to the dentist for an imminent braces job. Obviously, her dad feels awful that he has not been around when he was needed the most (his opinion) and he feels better when he is updated on phone. Akank has quietly been observing our long conversations over the week and finally popped this question last night – “Ma, is it a tough job to be the wife in a relationship?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer the question and so I said that being the wife isn’t a job, it is a role you play in a relationship after one is married. She looked up at me with an expression that said, ‘I know it is a role‘  and she further probed with ” My question was if it is easier to be the wife or is it easier to be the husband in a relationship “.

I knew she was out to nail me. She is close to her dad and if I said my job as the wife was tough, there would be some discussions when her father got home! Instead I turned the question on to her and asked her to answer it herself. She came back with a ‘ Ma, I have barely known you guys for 12 years. So I wouldn’t possibly know the answer to that question!’

I was not going to give up easily. I insisted that she evaluate the roles from what she has observed for the period she has known us. I also reminded her that there were several other husband wife couples that she knew and that was enough to make a fair judgement with her limited years of existence. She was in a spot now or so I thought.

“Well”, she began like she often begins her sentences now, ” The wife gets to stay home and keep house, sleep whenever she wants and boss around the children when they get home”. While I was busy frowning, she continued, ” while the husband gets to eat out, travel and sit in air conditioned rooms at work while the wife sweats it out in the kitchen” and before I could say anything, she closed with “so the conclusion I draw is that the best role to play in a family is that of being a 12 year old”.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Conversations

 

The party is over.

Conversations

‘Ma, is there a rule that only Caucasians have to party to bring in the new year’ asked Akank last night as we sat down to dinner at home, on New Year’s eve. We had discussed this a few times before but nevertheless, Akank has her way of bringing up the topic with the hope that she could exasperate us into taking her out to one. She also knows what the answer is going to be and she knows the next thing to say to you when you finish saying what she predicts you will say. So the conversation last evening went like this:

Me-  Akank, it is not like we have never taken you out for a New Year’s eve party.

Akank – Then, why aren’t we doing that anymore!

Me- You will get your chance to party when you are older.

Akank – But, I have been out to party when I was way younger than now.

Me- Well, that was because we were young and went to parties with friends and we took you along.

Akank- You are not so old that you have to stop partying! You are barely in your 40’s and Appa is not even 50 till next year!

I don’t answer this one. I already told you that we have done this many times before and I know what comes next. So, I just ignore her comment and busy myself with what I was doing. Akank pauses for a while and then mutters: Now, I have to wait to be 14 to party!

That caught my attention and I quickly commented that she got the year all wrong. She doesn’t become an adult till she is 18, I reminded her. What she said next is what has changed about this generation – Ma, are you going to control my life till I turn 18?

That made me sit up. Is that what it is called now?

Taking care of your daughter is control?

Keeping tabs on who your daughter hangs out with when she is not at school is control?

Making sure she has her school diary updated and all school work complete is control?

Feeding your child a healthy balanced diet that takes care of her growing years is control?

Making sure she respects everyone she interacts with and correcting her when she does not is control?

I had to make a conscious effort not to show any emotion in my next question to her. I wanted to know what she really meant. I asked her if she thought I was controlling her life now. After a moments hesitation, she said ‘Sometimes’.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Conversations, Growing up

 

Being 12 is not easy.

Another school year has begun. Akank turned a year older too. So we have a 12 year old in Grade 7 at home now. Not any 12 year old, please be assured. An assertive, confident, knows what she wants 12 year old. I wonder if it is the entire generation that is like this or it is the environment and the peers that make them the way they are. Gone are the days when what we said was irrevocably accepted as rules. Now everything we say is challenged, questioned and scientifically examined. Unless we can back up anything we say with a plausible explanation, the idea is not considered. Not much works because ‘I said so’ anymore.

For a long time now, our conversations have bordered on the lines of yelling. Another reason why I have not enthusiastically updated my blog. What do I tell my blog? That I have issues with my 12 year old? I am not able to make her see reason anymore? She is grown up now and does not have to listen to reason anymore? But memories of her growing up has to be recorded somewhere for posterity. So that someday when she has her own children to bring up, this could serve as a guide. To show her that she was not easy at 12 either.

What are the things we argue about, you may ask. Well, where do I begin? You don’t remain a favorite parent when you repeatedly refuse to allow her to take her iPod classic to school. Listen to this –

Akank -Everyone has an iPod.

Me – So do you Akank.

Akank – What is the point of owning one when you cannot take it to school?

Me – Word. But when you are sending a $400 dollar worth gizmo to school with a 12 yo, one is not too sure you will see it again.

Akank- Oh come on ma, no one is interested in my iPod Classic. They all have an iPod touch!

And so it goes on.

She has been wanting an iPod touch ever since her last want was met. She wanted a Yamaha digital piano instead of her PSR keyboard which “didn’t do any justice to her maturing music skills”. “I need higher octaves to practice my music and my hand span can accommodate more keys now. I won’t ask for anything more if you buy me a digital piano!” What we missed was the I won’t need anything more…. ‘for a few months’.

Then began the request for an iPod touch. “I am not asking for an iPad ma. Everyone has an iPod touch! It is so cool to be able to download apps and play games when I am on the bus. It gets really boring on the way to school”. She managed without the iPod touch for a few months with the iPad I own. She downloaded about fifty games among which I kept losing sight of the few apps I downloaded.

On her 12th birthday, her dad indulged her with the gizmo of her dreams- a snazzy smart iPod touch. We even let her take it to school on her birthday. That evening she came back home to tell us  that her ‘social life rocked’. However, it did not take too long for her to go from ” You guys are the best “to “You are so mean” when we refused her the permission to carry it to school everyday. Now it is back to “Can I take my iPod classic at least?”

The latest quest is for an account on Facebook. I have denied her an account for a year now and she was alright with the rule that she had to be 13 to have an account. Now that she is in her 13th year, she has stopped seeing reason. So it goes –

Akank -When can I have a Facebook account, ma?

Me -Not until you are 13, love. You know the rules?

Akank – All my friends are on FB. They are all bonding and sharing and doing fun stuff there.

Ma -There is nothing special happening on FB plus you meet your friends at school everyday. Bond with them there.

Yesterday when she got back from school she had this to say to me – ‘I have a message from my friends for you ma. They asked me to tell you to hurry up with the decision to allow me to have an account on Facebook’.

Sigh. I am giving up fighting. I don’t want to be thought of as mean because I didn’t allow my daughter on Facebook. I have agreed to allow her to open an account with a few plausible conditions.

I will soon have a 12 yo as friend on my Facebook list of friends.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Conversations, Emotions, Growing up, Trouble

 

Summer jobs, easy money

It is common to find hand written or typed posters of services being offered by children, in the condominium that we live in here. A few days back, our neighbors daughter, who is a year older than Akank, had taped a typed poster in the elevator console that announced that she was available to baby sit children over the summer vacation.

Yesterday, I asked Akank if the girl had been successful in finding a job. Akank was doubtful because she had seen the girl spending time with friends in the park near by. I asked Akank if she intends doing something similar over summer. Since she loves books, I suggested that maybe she could read to the kids. She gave me one of her don’t – be – ridiculous- ma looks and said no one would pay her to read books to their kids but she said she probably could walk dogs for pet owners. And the conversation progressed like this-

Me – That seems like a good idea. You could charge them two dollars for a half hour walk.
Akank- Two dollars is low.
Me – Why would they want to pay you anything more when they have their maids to do it for them for free?
Akank- Ma, five dollars is easy money to make for walking dogs.
Me- ( finding an opportunity to drive home a valuable point) No money is easy, Akank.
Akank ( nonchalantly) – Yes it is. I have to just open your wallet to take out a five dollar. That is easy isn’t it?

And she burst into laughter seeing how I reacted and to tell me that she was just joking. Or, I hope she was.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Conversations, Humour

 

The morning after

Akank gets better organized with her work, eats her lunch till the last scrap, completes all classwork, enters homework in her school organizer and updates me on her lessons at school, the day after we have an encounter at home. I have read articles, received advice from family and friends, on how children have to be treated as responsible people, how it is not advisable to ever raise your voice or be annoyed at them. Major pooh-pooh. I call that methodology impractical. I have seen it not work with Akank. There have been days when I have been blessed with immense patience, understanding and good humour and on such days home work lasts over 3 hours. Then there are days when I am short fused, irritable, crabby and easily annoyed. Home work and revisions get done in half the time.

Two days back Akank and I had a face off after school. The next day, she came back with completed classwork, lunch and entries in the organizer. Even the books that she had collected for deprived children in Bintan, that was rotting in our library for weeks on end, were dropped into the collection box at school. When I asked Akank what brought about the change, she shrugged. I observed that the show down seems to have worked well and she was quick to say this –

‘ Not really. I was sitting in the school bus thinking about it. Then a thought occurred to me. Piece of cake. As soon as I got to school, I completed everything on my check list. I realized that I was delaying it all because I didn’t really want to do them. I even stuck the cover of my portfolio that was falling apart. My teacher had reminded me of it a few times last week ‘.

No, I am not celebrating yet. I have a strong sense of deja vu about all of this. I know this will happen again. And yet again. Till then I hope to have more days filled with immense patience, understanding and good humor.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2011 in Conversations, Humour, School

 

The mantra – No one did it.

I knew there was going to be troubled times ahead.  Show me a parent who has not needed to raise her voice to make her tween see her point. Show me a tween who has never been shouted at. Akank and I will miss that list many times over. If she makes me happy 83% of the time, she upsets me the other 17%. It’s just a number, don’t do the math.

Maybe its the age and this phase will pass. When we were kids, I think it was the boys that got shouted at more often than girls. At least, at home, my brother seemed at the receiving end of my dad’s wrath all the time. I could get away with murder. Or a bad report. The tears would be my savior- it still is!  No dad could bear see his little girl weep.

But tell me, what is with the girls these days? Or is it just Akank that does not shed a tear in fear of not completing some assignment or forgetting an important file back at school. I remember being a nervous wreck  about such things at school. I would complete assignments and submit them on time even if it meant only to please the teacher. With Akank, when I point out unfinished work she says, ” No one had the time to complete it”.  And If I argue that point this is how the conversation shapes up.

Me -Oh come now Akank, let us not assume that everyone else is like you.

Her -No really ma. You can call anyone and find out. ( an open dare to see if you will pick the phone and call)

This is when you begin to doubt if you were over reacting. So you settle for a ” So when do you intend to complete this work?

Her – We don’t have EngHum ( English- Humanities) tomorrow. So the next time I have it, then.

Today she had an EngHum class and I asked if she had completed the work that was unfinished.’ Oh that? No, I didn’t. I forgot”

And I say to myself, at least the child is not continuing to pull wool over my eyes.

 

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Conversations, School

 

Matters of the heart

Akank wanted to let me in on some girlie secrets one evening last week. She swore me to secrecy and told me not to let anyone else know. This post is not about what her secret is. I do not want to jeopardize the trust that Akank has in me.  When Akank told me about it, I reflected back on what kind of secrets I had when I was her age. Did I have any? Of course I did. Would I have dared tell my mom about it? Heck, no. In the days I was a little girl, there were stricter norms. I was close to my mother and I would tell her all from school. Every little fight I had, who said what and who I was best friends with. Ask my mom today and she will remember a few details from my school days that I myself do not recall. However, girlie secrets were off bounds. It’s not that I did not trust her to keep my secrets. It’s just that in the days I was a little girl, moms expected girls to behave and follow decorum especially when we were at co-ed schools. My mom would have lost sleep over any girlie secrets, had I confided.

The fact that my 11 yo considers it safe to talk to me about her secrets makes my heart swell with pride. I have assured her that I will  be a good sounding board, a confidante, friend and anything else she wants me to be. And she knows that when it comes to academics, I will go back to being a parent.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2011 in Conversations, Emotions