That was then….

Then…..

How long ago was it when my two boys could not speak one sentence without prefixing it with, “My mother said/did….”. Oh, it seems like aeons ago when I had been the centre of their small universe. No longer. Now whatever Mom says or does has to be wrong. No second thoughts about it. And if proved otherwise, well, they might condescend to grudgingly admit, “You were right for once.” ( !?) Well, that’s kids for you.

It is not just the dethroning that, that rankles. It is the comparison with the L&M that they subject me to. Make no mistake. Kids are very clever and know from where the jam and pastries come, if not the butter. So even if you do provide them with the last, they are wise enough to unfavourably evaluate it with the former two that their Dad provides. This singular factor is enough to tilt the balance in favour of their pater dear. Some examples of the lop-sided assessment of their parents’ temperaments that children make:

When father screams and rants about some emergency (usually as catastrophic as the misplaced razor or his inability to locate a pen), he is just “in charge of the situation and is upset because of the inefficiency of you-know-who.” They roll their eyes at the unfortunate you-know-who and run to find the things misplaced by her to placate their father.

Contrast this with the following scenario: the gas cylinder is leaking; the plumbing has broken and is threatening to flood the living room; the school bus has just left without the brats. And what is the mother supposed to do in such a situation? She is supposed to keep her cool while dealing with the several crises — that’s what she is supposed to do!

Perish the thought of screaming or ranting, a la dad.

“Mom, don’t get into a flap,” advises my first born, and “Don’t panic ma,” says his exasperated younger brother.

They have no doubts that their father would have managed the situation admirably. I am sure he would have too — if he could have located the gas cylinder or known that water actually comes through a pipe and not magically at the turn of the tap or even that the children commute by the school bus every day.

But you can’t argue with the logic of the boys. Perhaps it is because their Dad is the source of moolah and it would be calamitous if he were to take offence at their criticism and stop funding their endless bottles of coke or the tonnes of chewing gum, not to speak of the ear-splitting CDs that they play 24 hours a day. Did someone say anything about children being innocent? Hah!

So ingrained in them is the belief that Mom is a nincompoop that the following conversation could be taking place in any home:  “Dad, which is the largest bird in the world?” asks the younger one.

“Ostrich”, says Mom immediately with her mind shut. No sound of acknowledgment from the brat, who is hanging upon his father’s words — yet to form in his head. The great man in question looks wise, while desperately trying to remember how an ostrich looks like. His memory plays tricks on him when it comes to names. (What’s in a name?) Ocelot? Orang-utan? (No, that’s an animal!)  Viola! Wasn’t it the awkward looking bird he had seen several decades ago as a kid in the zoo? Once he connects the word and the image, he is ready with the answer..

Now, here is the crux. The L&M  would never give the monosyllabic answer the nincompoop mother has just given. Woe to her! He has to give an ‘explanatory reply’, if you please. So he launches into a soliloquy about wildlife in general and the African savannah in particular. Before doing this, he is of course careful to send the mother away to make a cup of tea for him.

Then, after merrily dispatching the koala to Africa and the rhino to South America, and making sundry other arbitrary transportations, he ends with a flourish: ‘…and ostrich is the largest bird in the world.’

Needless to say, when the mother returns at that precise moment with the convenient cup of tea, junior gives her a disdainful look, which says it all — ‘See, Dad knows so much!’

It is not always a game of ‘mom-is-a-dodo.’ Once they enter their mid/late teens, it is not father against mother, but their parents against others’ parents. It is the all important thing to impress their friends by presenting their parents in the best light.

You can assume the kid has become a full-fledged teen when his earlier boasts of “My father is the greatest looking guy” and “My father can lick yours anytime”, are replaced by a wistful, “Ajay’s father can play chess so well,” and an accusing, “Vivek’s father has no paunch and he is much older than you.” And at times a whispered, “Please tell dad not to sit in front of the TV munching namkeen when my friends come over. They’ll think that was all he did.”

Note that he would never make such requests directly to his father. It is all a matter of finance. Remember the cokes, gum, movies and cassettes? The needs have only increased over the years….

There are other instructions too: no lungis for dad and housecoats for mom. They had better be dressed in their best or else be guilty of disgracing him for eternity. I bite back the question, ‘Do your friends’ parents wear three piece suits and Kanjeevaram saris at home?’ But I would never dream of actually asking the question. I am perfectly teen-trained, you see.

And I never, ever make the mistake of going anywhere near his room when he has company. If it is a girl, I am afraid even to breathe in the vicinity, for fear of being accused of ‘eavesdropping ‘or ‘snooping around’ with my ‘suspicious’ mind.

Then there are times when he can’t be seen alive with his parents. If we go out, he walks either a couple of steps ahead or behind us so that some friend or acquaintance of his may not mistakenly connect us to him. If we try to either catch up or allow him to, he would bend down to tie a perfectly tied shoe lace, muttering between clenched teeth for us to go on, PLEASE, the last said in a strangled whisper.

And now…..

The brats have grown up and have suddenly become very protective of their parents. It is an amazing turnaround. “You carry on with the news, Dad,” says the older one, after introducing his friends to his father, whose accomplishments he describes to them in glowing terms! (You can’t blame the L&M if his jaw is hanging open and he shakes his head to clear his hearing!) His wife hovers around anxiously as I climb the stairs and warns of impending obstacles in my path; the younger one holds my arm if it gets dark when we go out; he brings home doughnuts for me and munchies for his dad to go with his TV news! And no more ‘mom-is-a-dodo’, please – just look at all the promotion he does for my blog! (Makes me wonder sometimes how we will be treated when we become really old! Rather looking forward to it ;))

So, all of you folks out there going through the ‘critical phase’ take heart! It is temporary, with promises of better times to come!

37 comments

  1. […] had always looked up to Dad as the provider in the family. (Oh, boy, don’t I know about THAT! — Mom) He did a lot for both Vikki and me. This included getting us into things only […]

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  2. Vinni brought you jujubes and doughnuts …? Sigh!!I wish I had such luck :p
    Fantastic post .. Oh I missed so much in all those days . Today is a good day ..wacky Wednesday for me
    Absolute delight

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    1. We do have our good and bad days don’t we? the boys can be a pain and pleasure by turns too. The latter more, because they understand and appreciate their mothers as they grow older. 🙂

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  3. Jayashree Venkatesh · · Reply

    Simply Amazing .. My mom would love your posts 🙂 .. Introducing her to your posts soon.

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    1. Welcome here Jayashree! I am sure your mom would love them. She must have a bagful of her own post material. why not start a blog for her, unless she has one already? Come again:)

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  4. Jayashree Venkatesh · · Reply

    Amazing Post 🙂

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  5. Awwww z…what a lovely post this is! and boy u must be so glad the “mom is a dork” phase is over…Pheww…kids 😛

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    1. Welcome back NN! Missed you so much! Sometimes I get a sneaking suspicion that they are humoring us and still think ‘mom-is-a-dodo’ 😀

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  6. Well I’m looking forward to reverting to the kid as all of mine grow up. It’s called payback time 🙂
    Enjoyed your post, as always.

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    1. Payback time is right! When one of the boys left the light on everywhere, we used to threaten that we would do the same in HIS house and it had the desired effect 😀

      we get the pampering and they get to put up with brats! What say?

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  7. He he he 😀 😀 😀

    Loved it. They say parents turn into kids n kids into parents… as they grow old 🙂

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  8. I am planning to take a printout of this post and show it to Amma. I’m sure she will agree with you. However, if there is anything that we need, then it has to be Amma. No direct approaching Dad for my sister and I. Ma is the bridge and we always need mediation for even this. But we are still Daddy’s girls 😉

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    1. Hope your Amma likes it. Do let me know her reaction!

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  9. Where did my comment disappear? Had written such a lamba chauda one yest..:(

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  10. Lovely writeup…its amazing how you have put so much in such less words..

    Thanx for letting us know the other side of the story…

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    1. Welcome here Udita! I find it so endearing and encouraging to find youngsters being such sports while commenting on my posts:)

      The other side will surely become ‘this side’ one day?:)

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  11. neerja tiwari · · Reply

    lovely blog
    loved the way you wrote
    do connect with me on twitter
    wud be mighty pleased to make your acquaintance
    My twitter handle yearning4d_sky

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  12. neerja tiwari · · Reply

    i could so identify..
    loved the way you wrote
    connect with me as yearning4d_sky on twitter

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    1. Welcome here Neerja and thanks for the comment. It is a universal truth that kids cotton up to their dads — the reasons could be different, that’s all. 🙂 Thank you for the invitation. I might just take the plunge one of these days…

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  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Place Free Ads, Vineet Rajan. Vineet Rajan said: Hilarious blog post by mom http://bit.ly/cU4KaN #parenting #teenage #cybernag […]

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  14. hehe. we weren’t so bad! And you make look all dorky !

    By the way, i just realised the easiest way to make up for all the goofy things we did as kids. Feed you more and more doughnuts!

    See how simple life’s become now!

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    1. ……make *us look all dorky…….

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    2. ‘look’ all dorky???!! Better read my reply to Journomuse on the second half of your comment! 😀

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  15. Whoa!!!I I just read it more then once!!!!Personally it was my fav post frm ur pen 😉

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    1. That was a lovely comment Witty Jester! Thank you 🙂

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  16. You showed me the exact picture of what I’m going too face in the future, and honestly, I’m already a bit scared! Nevertheless an excellent and hilarious account of a smart husband, his equally smart kids and an assumingly not-so-smart Mom! 😛
    A Jr is a Papa’s bhakt from now itself…he’s very partial to him…and when they’re together I’m almost like a hindrance…and while they bond gloriously I’m left to sulk in a corner 😦
    May be ‘se they have us around them at all times they start taking us for granted! But yes…I’m sure that when kids grow up these cute childhood instances become fond remembrances 🙂

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    1. Yeah right, the bonding can make us feel J, but as you say they see us around so much that it is like ‘ghar ki murgi’. Make no mistake though,tney have separate slots for each of the parents and that’s a big comfort!

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  17. Truely AWESOME post ! Could relate to all the things you mention……sorta….been there, experienced that !

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    1. Thanks chits!

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  18. hehe..so damn funny and so true…though I have no kids of my own I still remember my teenage angst…plus I have many friends with kids who are behaving the same way you have described 🙂

    Teenage is such a weird phase..you are confused as to who you are…but the older we grow…we understand our parents much better…

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    1. Teens are always full of contradictions and confusion and they can’t make their minds up about their parents, one way or the other. My mother complained about me all the time saying that my older brothers and sisters were not so rebellious! but beneath all that bluster, they are kids, aren’t they?

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  19. Awesome post ZM.
    As i see it, when we’re kids our parents who are in the prime of life are like all-powerful people who sometimes 😉 appear tyrannical. Hence the highly effective and time-tested strategy of “divide and rule”! I guess every kid has taken one parent (usually maa 😉 ) into confidence to get the other one to bend to their will. But then as we attain adulthood, our parents age into middle life and the occasional niggle metamorphoses into a nagging pain. As medical issues increase and the signs of years of toil for us show up, we finally realise that our parents are aging and that it is now our turn to step up to the plate and make them feel proud of us and the way they have brought us up! Hence the protection 🙂 and the attitude: “You don’t say anything to/against my parents or you have me to answer to! Grrrr….”!!!

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    1. Oh yeah, parents appear tyrannical! Wait till you read my post on that one! It is a comfortable feeling to know that kids feel responsible for and protective about their parents as they grow older. Aren’t we lucky? 🙂

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  20. ha ha ha ha… seriously, Vinni brings u dough-nuts?? now i love him all the more 😀

    my parents nvr had this issue… nvr brought any friends home and if i asked questions i wud be promptly handed over the encyclopedia…. 😀

    P.S : plz to accept my gtalk request… the email id ends with 1402

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    1. He used to bring jujubes when he was younger and his pocket money could only afford that! You should see his face light up as he watches us enjoy the treats!

      Good for your parents. Being around the friends of teens can be ticklish, believe me! 🙂

      Ok, I will. but i haven’t got any request, or have i missed it?

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  21. Really amazing so very true… :))

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    1. Welcome here A2! That was fast! thanks for the comment. Do give a link if you have a blog. I would love to visit:)

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