“You don’t understand!”
What mom has not heard this at some point in her life? I had realised I would too, just that I didn’t expect the realisation to come true already. She s all of 4 for god’s sake.
“You don’t understand anything ma” she pipes again, her lips puckered, tears threatening to pour down those soft baby cheeks. The first time I heard it, I stopped in my tracks, stunned. That hurt. That really hurt. And I thought I was such a cool mom (yeah well..). It dredged up memories from deep within…
“Why did you make your brother cry? (He lost the game, and so he is crying, I didn’t make him! He cries anyway!) You don’t understand!
Don’t read while having dinner (But this is the latest Nancy Drew and she‘s just about to find out who did it!) You don’t understand!
Why didn’t you come first in class? (Because I can’t learn by rote as well as others. Why is it important to come first anyway?) You don’t understand!
How come you can’t have cabbage dosai? You like them.. ( I like cabbage and I like dosas but NOT cabbage in the dosas, yuck! ) You don’t understand!
Tie your hair. Wear a bindi. (Why do I have to? I like my hair open. And I don’t like wearing a bindi) You don’t understand!
Are you going to wear that top? (Yes, I happen to like it, and its just sleeveless, not transparent!) You don’t understand!
My mom and I would have clashed a million such times over the years, hurting each other, with little understanding. All that time, I was convinced my mother did it on purpose. She didn’t understand me or my needs at all. And I vowed that when I was a parent, I would be the coolest parent ever!
Cut the Flashback. Back to the grim present.
Looking at the hurt expression on my daughter’s face, I realised with horror, I WAS my mom. I had become what I have been striving so hard NOT to become (Don’t get me wrong, my ma is the sweetest, kindest most infuriating creature on earth, though my husband comes really close. Which is really a whole new blog post for another time)
And then it dawned on me – there is no such thing as a cool parent. That it is an oxymoron, a contradiction, an impossibility. You can be cool or you can be a parent, but you cannot be both ! ( Unless you are ok with having your children grow up to be selfish, fat slobs and wastrels that make nothing of their lives… God, there I go sounding like ma again! Help! ) But really, would I want to be cool in my daughter’s eyes, and allow her unlimited screen time, give in to every sugar craving, allow her to bunk school indiscriminately and turn a blind eye to her occasional rude behaviour? Should I rather be easy going, and trust that she knows what is right or will learn eventually and leave it to her to judge?
How does one find the balance between being firm and being a nag? Balance the fine line between letting go and being easy? Forget that, where is that blasted line??!
One thing parenting does is it helps you get used to things not going your way all the time, to put it rather mildly. Now, since I do have to get on with my life, I have resigned myself to accept that my pipe dreams of being that mythical ‘cool parent’ are not going to materialise.
I am – not- going – to- be -a cool – parent.
So there are rules of course – non-negotiable rules like eating vegetables and being wary of strangers. Some negotiable rules like bedtimes and TV time on weekends . And then there are those like playing in the sand and painting with fingers and jumping in muddy puddles – where I smile and turn the other way….
And sometimes, I whoop and join her.Shed the burden of being a parent and breathe the uninhibited joyousness of childhood.
And tell myself, I can be cool, its just that I will be the
Coolest GRAND parent EVER!
(That’s why they are called GRAND parents- they have the GRANDEST job in the world. Being a grandparent must be the reward for those hard years of parenting. They can just stick their thumb out at their hapless children sweating it out with their own and say “Ha! So you thought you could better us eh? Whatever you do, we will always be the cool one! ” )