~ By Savita Mohan
A quaint analogy occurred to me the other day as I braided my hair into a plait. In my mind’s eye I was interweaving a strand of guilt, another of immense love and yet another of the collective bits of wisdom I had picked up in my years on avid interest in child psychology. Page after page I visualized the injustices we, as adults meted out and empathized with children in general. Yet somehow, they seem distant and far removed from the specimens I conceived! They’re adorable, make no mistake. And when you really come to think of it, quite well behaved. Nevertheless, they have the power to make me froth with anger, stumble over my words and hiss through clenched, gnashes teeth and discover a remarkable resemblance to the wicked witch of the fairly tales I read them.
The guilt, generously garnished with the frustrations of being a young mother in a nuclear family, wells up until I stridently resolve, yet again, not to go into my wild banshee act the next time my kids provoke me. All it takes, the experts assure me, is to count slowly to ten.
Somehow, I never get beyond five. After having reminded my eight year old for the umpteenth time to put away his dirty clothes-which he stubbornly continues to deposit on the nearest convenient flat surface-or not to decorate our already untidy living room with his shoes and socks; or to return his books and comics to their rightful place; ad nauseum..and after having listened to what seems like a hundred ‘just-a-minutes’, I forgot all resolutions.
The timbre rises, the volume goes up by notches and finally, in a grand climax, I erupt! All Dwayne Dyer suggestions on how to handle such volatile situations fly out the window, or the nearest open outlet. My offspring, who earlier viewed me with much puzzlement, of late seem unfazed. They have come to realize, I believe, it won’t take long for the dust to settle.
Convinced by child psychologists that physical proximity in the first three years is an imperative for healthy emotional growth, I realized taking up employment. Showered with hugs and kisses, I sincerely believe my kids must have more than their fair share, if such things can be quantified. Junior, not yet two, however, firmly believes in the ‘more the merrier’ dictum. Cooking, cleaning, reading, working, whatever it is I am doing, when he demands a hug; which is practically always, he’s got to have it. Or else I have to put up with an unending litany of, “Mama, huddee, mama huddee, mammaa..huddee...eee!”
Thankfully, he’s still at the age when he loves to run little errands. The older one’s response to any request that doesn’t directly benefit him; like switching on the TV, for instance, is a prolonged “Tcchhh”! As if to say whatever is being asked of him is beyond the realm of fairness and justice. And yet at school, I am told, he cheerfully neatens up the class, washes his own plate after lunch and is reasonable responsible.
Let alone conversations with visitors or on the phone, even my thought process is interrupted constantly. Either it is the two of them squabbling over some possession that neither would have laid claim to if the other hadn’t; or just another demand for a “huddee”. The idea that not even my own thoughts are my own often threatens to throw me over the edge. At the brink of insanity, at the end of my tether, I am treated to the two cheekily chorusing, “Mamma, mamma, happy ho jao!” and the little one adds, “Mamma, patata”, which is his own queer translation for, “I love you”. The flashes of anger of minute before are instantly diffused. Not wishing to appear gullible, I stand back while a half-smile-half-frown recontours my face.
Strange, I muse, that while I lord it over my two little ones and expect from them exemplary behaviour, no less, the wind is sucked out of my sails, the moment I step out the front door. My sabziwala overcharges me and I don’t utter a protest, the auto driver takes me for a ride, literally and figuratively, and I comply, the government misfunctions and I, along with a million others, accept.
Some days, exhausted by the hurly burly roller coaster ride of parenthood, I try telling myself it is only a matter of time. But then, I am told, the joys and tribulations of parenting never cease-they only change.! I must, I guess, continue to throw around all my 44 kilos of weight, for whatever weight it carries.