There are umpteen times in my life when I have almost believed that I am not doing things the right way. There have been times when my anger inadvertently spills on my son whose grasping power and understanding of life is far beyond his years. And yet, I would be reprimanding him horribly over his academics. After all, I am the quintessential Indian mother despite the ‘coolness’ I seem to exude in my blog! Anyways, before I give in to my habit of digressing, I would like to reflect on why this series means the world to me.
Someone has rightly said – Thoughts that clog are like grime. They do not let the seeds of clarity germinate. Thoughts have to flow somewhere. And, that is how this series was born. I had to let the guilt ridden thoughts move out to get replaced by acceptance of who I am. So, while these free flowing reflections continued to give me those tiny bursts of optimism that, I will learn from my mistakes along the way, something happened yesterday. And, I wasn’t prepared for it. The guilty mother syndrome attacked me again.
Has it ever occurred to you that, life throws pleasant surprises and rude shocks when you least expect them? An outburst of euphoria or, a mighty wave of melancholia is what arrives as the outcome. Both have repercussions that impart life lessons of the highest order.
When Liz Hurley says those lines in Be-Dazzled – “Be careful what you wish for!”, the devil in her meant business. After all, it is the Devil’s job to feed the desires. And so, Elliot Richards learns it the hard way that no matter how and what you wish for, you can never completely be sure of what you really want from life. There is a portion of that contract with the Universe that, the Universe is supposed to fill in. And, that one section changes quite a lot for an individual. It is as if, you are always going to have a web of intangibles that shall follow you wherever you go. And, some of which you will never identify till the time comes. It is like, you fell down the stairs and, you tread carefully the next time. And, it is during that instant when you inadvertently burn your fingers and, you wonder – “Wow! I did not expect this to happen!” That is life. I get it.
And then, there are times when you have to seek out the intangibles and try figuring out ways to uncoil the tangles.
Yesterday, my son returned home with a black eye. Rather, a swollen left eye. My heart gushed out extreme anxiety and, my thoughts raced at a speed of million miles per second. It is not a sight a mother is prepared for. Especially, watching the gusty yet soft hearted six plus year old looking at you and trying to figure out how the incident need be narrated.
I could see that the patch below his left eye was swollen and, it pained him when I touched it gently. I gave him an ice compress and asked him. Cutting a long story short, he annoyed another boy verbally and got a physical take away from the boy who pushed my son. A hit against the bench probably gave him what was visibly big! I was angry. I could almost feel the steam emerging from my skin. I was supremely annoyed and, my anger could not contain itself. I was almost on the verge of riding away to school on my two wheeler with my son and, give a piece of my mind to the school. And then, the drizzle that had begun started transforming into a stormy rain outside. I took it as a sign from the Universe that, I must first calm down and think first. Think before you leap – is what the Universe whispered to me.
It took me almost two hours to control my own impulses and, finally ask my son in the most calm and candid manner – “What exactly happened and, how?”
Sadly, the son had complained to the teacher who had probably not paid much attention to the fact, given that her period was over for the day as she walked off. So, my son had to move around with a swollen eye for the whole day believing that teachers are too busy to hear him out. This part agonized me intensely. Teachers’ Day just went by, right? And, teachers who are paid to teach our children the rights and the wrongs, the good and the bad, the do’s and don’ts walk away when children walk up to them with issues. This hurt me very deep.
It was a good decision that I did not walk up to the principal and pour out my excruciating angst in the most acerbic manner yesterday. And, a misguided anger that is allowed to run has only burned bridges and, ruined relations. And, this was the first bruise that I was dealing with, after all. I had to address my anger in a way that it was heard in the right tone at the right time. The idea was to jolt the system out of a lackadaisical slumber that it was being watched intently without batting an eyelid.
And so, after unusually staying awake till midnight yesterday, I drafted a letter this morning. I made two letters, one that I sent through my son and the other, through a friend who is also a teacher in the same school. Within an hour, I got a call from my husband saying that he received a call from the school coordinator who wished to speak with me at the earliest. I called an hour later and, was pleasantly surprised when the voice at the other end not only apologized profusely but, also assured me that the teacher in question was to be called and questioned about it. She even told me that I could take it to the principal if I wished and that, the other said boy’s parents could be called and counselled too. It is here, I intervened and explained that I had no anger towards the child that did this to my son. The other boy is also of the same age as my son. They are absolutely in their element when they indulge in mischief and petty fights. However, it is the teacher’s duty to make sure that the children understand the boundaries of their indulgences. And that, is what I have an issue with, these days.
Teachers have to be given a free hand when disciplining children. Unfortunately, the current generation of parents harbor an extremely antagonistic attitude towards physical enforcement of discipline in school. And it is precisely why, children have started taking teachers and elders less seriously than before. It is even more unfortunate that the teachers too have taken a step back and, have resigned to the fact that nothing can be done about it. As long as the pay check fills in monthly bracket, a teacher rarely gives in to retrospection on whether things could get any better.
It is at this point I reflected on my own childhood. A recent post on Teachers day by a very senior lady that I adore, triggered some painful incidents that I battled when I was at my low. This honest voice reminded me about how teachers day also highlights the scars by a few ones that made you feel out of place, miserable and low during the growing years. I have had two odd teachers of that kind and, although I never spoke about them, I still feel the hurt at times, especially for those moments when they have just disliked me because I belonged to a different state. I remember one telling me bluntly that I wouldn’t fare well in her subject in my tenth boards. I went into a depression and, it took my mother 48 hours of constantly feeding me with optimism that, one misguided teacher’s remark should not break my verve to succeed and that, I must prove her wrong by faring well. I still remember my mother’s words – She is your teacher and, life is teaching you through her that life will be unfair and that, you will fall. But, you shall rise too!
Those words have come a long way for me. The hurt remains in a quaint little portion of my heart because, as children, we embrace our teachers as our second mothers. Rejection from them is simply not acceptable to us. But then, leaving aside the two, the other teachers were gems and, it is their oodles of confidence in me that pushed me up the ladder.
Life is unfair, the statement rings true nevertheless.
Today as a mother when I sent my son in the bus, I felt every ounce of pain and trauma my mother would have felt every time, I cried, fell, failed and bruised myself in miserable ways. But then, my mother is made of steel. When she saw me battling a life threatening condition four years back, I saw the gumption with which she took care of everyone, especially my son who was just two years old then. Her faith that I will return back hale and hearty moved the Gods, melted the Universe and, gave me the will to fight back. Although we do not necessarily agree on everything, I always fall back on my first teacher – my mother when I am lost in tides of ennui.
So while I was gathering my nerves a few days ago after having given a verbal lesson on why my son needs to take care of his stuff in school, an incident happened the same evening and, a new Pandora box presented itself. My son was annoyed with me that I did not allow him to go with the neighborhood gang of elder boys to one of the boys’ homes. Although he hid his resentment, I was hurt that he could not understand my point of view, especially when I wasn’t aware about the boys’ families too. Technically, our clashes have begun. And, his resentment is sure to turn into defiance in coming years. I am aware of that too.
So, when the son returned with a black eye, the guilty mother in me broke down yesterday. All sorts of thoughts made me feel that I wasn’t making him tough or maybe, I am restricting him too much and what not! It is then, my mother calmed me down – “Look! He is not a cotton candy. He is a young boy that will make a fine gentleman one day, given his genetic make. But then, he is also going to get hurt. You cannot stop that. And, you must not. He will face those unbearable moments of confusion when peer pressures will eat into your equation with him. He will be frustrated with you at one point too. Be prepared for that. Deal with it. You will feel miserable about yourself too. It is natural. But you are your own solution as much as you are your own problem. You cannot get a perpetual good name from your children every single time. Nor can they meet your expectations every single day. It will never happen. So, don’t go after the “I am the best mom” tag. Just be the regular mother and, you will know that complexities in parenting are regular too!”
I guess, I have to learn to accept every moment with the flow. And, I have to start reiterating to self about the importance of faith in myself and in my son and that, as a team we will cross the hurdles as they come, one at a time. The emotional mother in me finally reached a truce with my practical side. And, I hope the truce lives happily ever after. Again wishful thinking, right? Ha! Who can control the fickle mind?
Back to business.