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The meek shall inherit the earth after i'm done with it! I was a bored Brahmin bschooler who ended up marrying another one :) and now here we are enjoying the natural progressions of life....traffic, inlaws, bosses, kid, electricians, plumbers and money matters.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I worry which half.

I have always preferred one on one conversations to large gatherings. So I pick up conversations with people whenever I get a chance. Parties, airports, trial room waiting areas in shopping malls. Also, as a part of my job, I get the opportunity of going into people’s homes and spending time with them. Thanks to the dissimilarity this country has to offer, I have got chances to peek into homes of different strata, religion, culture, language.
 
While I do take notes on what is relevant for my category, I am human, and can’t help but compare my life with those I meet. Recently, I have had a chance to meet a lot of children because of the part of business I handle. I’d be lying if I say that some of my experiences have not left me wondering if I am out of date and too similar to my mother.
I grew up in a middle class joint family in Jaipur where I was the eldest daughter and my father the only working member. I have a sister and a brother& we lived in a beautiful bungalow facing a park. There were 3 bedrooms in the house but the kids didn't have one to themselves for a very long time because it was a joint family with frequent guests. Or maybe the concept of having a room for kids never existed.
My maternal grandma’s house was close by so whenever I needed some study time before my exams I was dispatched there. The need for some space never occurred to me! I found the concept of being alone futile and boring. There were two places in the house which were mine, the corner in which I put my school bag and a cupboard which had my dolls and a piggy bank.

It was only when my father got a job in Indonesia and I went to an international school, that I realized the concept of space. I was 12 then. While the house had enough space to host a gathering, our mother insisted the ‘girls’ share the room as too much privacy could spoil them. I wonder where she got all these ideas when she herself was brought up in a joint family of 4 uncles and 3 aunts and their kids and spouses and second and third cousins.
 
When I meet young kids today, I get slightly perturbed. 
 
An 8 year old boy recently told me that Saturdays evenings are meant for parents but Sunday afternoons are for friends so that he can unwind before he goes to school the next day. Apparently, a 12 year old girl speaks to her mom more on whatsapp than in real conversations. Reason? She has 5 tuitions (Maths, Eco, Hindi, Engligh, Science) and 3 hobby classes (Swimming, Badminton, Dance) in a week and meets her mother only for a few hours in the day. ‘I can choose to neglect some parts of the conversation if it is on a message. The phone gives me freedom to choose my thought and answer as and when I feel like.’ She likes contemporary dance because it gives her inner peace. (wtf!)

I stand speechless. I didn't understand words like unwind and neglect and inner peace till very late.

Another horrifying epidemic is the need to look awesome and up at all times. The number of accessories that kids have today are probably equal to what I wore on my wedding. While schools have strict uniforms, kids find a way to prove their fashion consciousness through neon earrings, watches, kohl eyes, wrist bands, pendants, temporary tattoos and even hair color. An 11 year old girl once told me that show enrolled for swimming class so that she could force her mother to take her to the salon and get a body wax.

All these conversations happen in homes where cupboards are stuffed and chaotic like overfed roosters in a coop. You’d pull out a handkerchief and a huge pile of clothes would fall on you. The bedsheet has infinite creases where they are sitting surefooted, happily BBMing. The computer table which they use everyday has coffee mug stains. Stains so old that there is a thick dust lining.  A number of times, I attend interactions where I don’t get a proper chance to look at their faces. Because they are looking into their phones while answering my queries. 

Sad.

Dear parents, where are you ? You just can’t keep the kids busy in numerous hobby classes and feel satisfied? Where will they learn cleanliness, respect, honesty and other virtues?

I can’t help but recall my mother’s jingoism for cleanliness. Each time our family had to go for an outing she’d make us clean the house before we’d leave, set the cupboards, wipe the kitchen slab. I could never understand why but funnily, I follow this principle till date. 
 
She said (and still says) that the bathroom floor needs to be dry at all times (At all times!!). She made us clean the computer with a dry toothbrush and the combs with boiling water. When on a bed, she’d constantly keep removing the creases from the bed-cover. She taught us the 4 steps of putting the bed and how to use Brasso polish on metal statues.The sequence of setting a dinner plate (salad, chutney, subzi, dahi, left to right) and books (height-wise starting left. If the width is more than average put it flat). When a guest comes, offer atleast 4 snacks with tea because 2 is too less and 3 is an odd number.

Unfortunately today, I don’t follow half the things that I learnt from her. I’m a working mom and probably don’t spend the required time with my child. My son is 2 years old and I’m already shortlisting hobby classes for him to keep him busy and ensure that he has something to talk about when he grows up. I’m pretty sure that he will start using words like privacy much sooner that my generation did. While he watches me put the bed and clean the book shelf, he also watches me faking a response to him while I am surfing internet on my phone. He also watches me order pizza when the cook doesn’t turn up. Like me he will also imbibe only half the things he sees.
 
I’m worried which half.

8 comments:

Rhea said...

totally agree with you! this "WTF" (whatsapp,twitter,facebook) generation (of which i also happen to be a part of)is way beyond what is expected of "normal" kids. But I am glad that we belong to a family which still holds on to its roots. Though some traditions may be futile but yes, the basic morals will always be important.

Namita Pai said...

You reallllly got me thinking PS.
While our moms have ingrained so many lil characteristics,values, quirks in us-- I wonder if we will ever be consciously able to pass them down.
But on the other hand, I m sure we will have our own style and chutzpah to add to our children's lives! Isnt that what evolution is all about :)

And btw.. you are a complete star mom! :)

Rakesh Sharma said...

First off young lady you have one of the most awesome couple as your parents. Secondly Bringing up kids and parenting is really very simple if one comes to think of it. Just Act, Think, Do ,and Behave the way you want your kids to grow up into with a liberal dose of communication ..I may qualify that as Touch, and voice. and in real terms that's what your parents did and that's why you three are such lovable kids ..

Pritam joshi said...

Dear Parul,
When my kids express their opinion then I look back and wonder why I didn’t ask same thing to my parent , don’t forget my generation is older than yours , where gender discrimination was a big factor .
Every generation has it pros and cons
I think change is good, kids are asking questions and its better if they ask us directly.
This is WTF age so we can’t blame kids as we brought this on them. As well as not having enough time to teach them about politeness, cleanliness, kindness, and honesty…….these are universal virtues. You can teach them up to certain level but mostly its social responsibility of society we live in.
You tell them to be truthful but if society we live in teaches them something else unknowingly than end result will be different.
I agree with Rakesh that it’s not very difficult just think Act and behave in a manner , they way you want them to grow up, though easier said than done…………………….
Feel proud………You are doing a fabulous job …………..

Parul said...

Dear all,

First of all i want to thank you all for reading my entire post.
Second of all, while I understand that parents from all generations faced such quandaries, I worry if I am being complacent.

Hope children will turn out Ok, if not for us atleast for themselves:)

Varun Ramanan said...

They say that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, and that excess good can eventually lead to evil. I am probably pushing the limits of imagination but one could draw inferences from the comparison. In an attempt to provide all possible good to the children (read tuition, hobbies, technology etc.) parents are probably underestimating the time required to be spent together to pass on the other good stuff (read habits, values, civic responsibility etc.). This probably fits snugly into their work culture and lifestyle as well. And therein lies the evil. Our parents always had the extra hour to spend with us irrespective of if it was spent receiving a surprise ice-cream treat or a more familiar thrashing.

As an aside, I was really interested in reading through the section where you observed kids wanting to look awesome all the while. I personally felt a moment of tremendous disconnect, given the complete apathy I display towards my outward appearance. However, I really wonder if the next cool thing is going to be a panda figurine, key-chain or fridge magnet.

Finally, this would have been a perfect setup for a lunch / after-work discussion. It is unfortunate that I have to wait at least two months before I get that opportunity.

Keep blogging.
Cheers

maggi said...

Thoughtful! Need to chk wat i need to do for my kid

vipin said...

I started with the search for mondelez marketing team and ended up here. I am being dragged to read all your post one by one. I don't have kid but still it have elements of my life. 4 snacks, I remember that well. Good luck