One of the bizzare reasons my father always wanted daughters was, he thought they were calmer (though he may have changed his opinion forty years down the line). Ours, my sister and mine, was quite a sedate childhood. I use the adjective ‘sedate’, when I compare it to the boy’s, I met in my residency, whom I later married.
When I saw him first, I couldn’t help noticing a scar on his forehead, I was reminded of Harry Potter (I’m an unabashed fan and at that point had just finished the series). I asked him how he got it, to which he casually answered, “Oh! I fell off the bed and broke my head, but thankfully no Jill came tumbling after”. We laughed then and another time, when I saw he had identical marks very close to the outer angle of both eyes. “This was when I was crossing an alley that was too narrow, and something was jutting out that I got scraped with”. “But then the other side?” I questioned. He grinned,”I had to go back through the same alley”.
It wasn’t until I fell in love with this fellow that I started realizing, what I found funny then about his injuries and antics must actually have been scary for his parents. I asked his mother when I met her, how it was bringing him up. She smiled and said, “It was a war zone at times but I would never exchange it for the joy he brought to our world”.
What follows is his mother’s narrative, I have heard many times over and now I finally put down in words….. (In Her words)
The similarity with the Potter boy just began with the scar. He was literally ‘the boy who lived’. Born a preemie, his paediatrician, my brother often says that as a newborn he had all the possible ailments his textbooks mentioned.
He survived all of that to grow up into a feisty boy who was fond of cars and superheroes. (Somewhere he still believes he’s Spiderman). He was curious about his surroundings. If you thought telling him that the iron tawa was hot would be enough, you didn’t know what you were dealing with. He had to burn his hand to gain the insight. Another time, his Baba and I had just bought one of those ‘unbreakable’ dinner sets that were all the rage thirty years ago and were marvelling at it when we heard a crash in the kitchen. There standing atop the table, our little one gave the verdict, “Baba they are not unbreakable. See I just tested it. The shopkeeper lied.” Oh that wide eyed innocence was so difficult to resist. Now tell me how do you love him and scold him in the same breath?
As he grew up, his pranks did too. Every evening I would tip toe in the building, before anyone caught me to update me on his latest mischief. But even the neighbors loved him for his innocence, and his beguile would charm even the most hard hearted. They would complain, get mad, worry for him, look out for him and eventually his antics would be the stuff to reminisce and laugh at the annual get togethers. I think he was a mix of Dennis (the Menace) and Calvin (and Hobbes).
Once he scored a zero in Maths. I was taken aback because Maths was his strong subject. To my shock and amusement, he did it on purpose because a boy was copying from his paper and hadn’t we told him, cheating is bad. Both ended up with a zero was an issue we had overlooked while passing on the wisdom. So we sat him and explained how it was his loss too. He nodded in agreement and we felt satisfied with our intervention. Come next exam, and he merrily comes home to tell me the same boy was cheating again so I again attempted the questions wrong. Before I could open my mouth, he tells me, “But this time, I erased all of them and rewrote the paper.” He scored full marks but I wasn’t sure how I fared!
He was a bright student but his curiosity tested his teachers’ patience too. And his mischiefs wouldn’t make it any easier for them. How many trips I have made to the school to be told about them. I had no choice but to tell them to take action as they deemed right. The teachers would realise that we were allies in this guerrilla warfare against the little tyke. We used these embarrassing sessions to our advantage. By admitting that he was wrong, his teachers would go on backfoot. They would give us insights into his psyche and behavior, his strengths and weaknesses. That definitely helped us in his upbringing. It was his brilliance and quick grasp at studies that would make most look the other side. He’s gotten away with murder with just a warning and a note.
None of this however was with a malicious intent. My boy was born with a heart of gold and he would always put others before him. May be people around him recognized that to forgive him for his mischiefs.
As he entered teens, our worry as parents was that his curiosity might lead him to extreme paths. At the same time, we didn’t wish to curb him either. His father I would say, was quite deft at handling him. Once a my son and husband were out when a ‘well wisher’ mentioned he had seen our boy roaming around with a girl during college hours. As our boy fidgeted, my husband enquired with concern, “Hope it wasn’t your girl along wasting her time. I shall take care of my son, thank you”, and moved on leaving the well wisher with a gaping mouth. He didn’t embarrass our son in front of him or say anything to our son later too. But I believe it had a huge impact on our boy. He felt the responsibility of implicit trust on him.
Soon to follow were the experiments with drinking. After one of the parties, he came home and puked away in the balcony. I was quite upset but my husband winked saying, ” May be it was the chicken or some food allergy.” Once sober, he asked him to clean up the mess and whispered into his ear, “Watch out and don’t let the chicken allergy blow so out of proportion that you stop getting it.” All of us knew it wasn’t chicken that Baba was talking about.
It was a roller coaster ride, bringing him up. He was born with a wonderful sense of humour and we crack at his PJs that he delivers with with such a straight face. Over time I have come to look up to him more as a friend than a son. In our toughest time he’s been our rock and I can feel nothing but immeasurable love for this lovable rogue of mine.
My advice to all young mothers is, that bringing up kids is not an easy job. Be kind to yourself and to them too. It’s a mix of love, affection, discipline, strategy and if I may say so guerilla tactics. Savour every moment of it, frame it in your hearts to save them from the ‘tricks of time’.
#AmWritingFirst Published – https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/musings-and-reflections/article/parenting-is-a-roller-coaster-ride