It is with a heavy-as-lead heart that I am reproducing an analysis of our family, as seen from the astute eyes of our six-year-old.
I have found the child typing away with great concentration using her forefinger in the ‘Notes’ of an old ipad that my children are allowed to use over the weekend. She asks not to be disturbed when I remind her that her ipad usage allowance for the day is over as she is “only doing some writing practice” and “shhh I am thinking mamma”.
She is a sharp child, our R, but she is just learning to write and does mistake her Bs for her Ds. One has trained one’s mind to decipher her “so the bog jumps on the deb anb leaves sanb on it” in her class essays.
“She is not dyslexic Mrs Shroff,” her homeroom teacher assures me. Apparently this is very common in six-year-olds. Not one to put my maternal worries to rest easily, I seek Dr Google’s help. Dr Google too echoes the teacher’s sentiment regarding my child’s Bs and Ds.
Given these concerns, I am only too pleased that instead of playing ‘Dress-up’ game applications on the ipad, the child is learning to type and improve her comprehension skills. There is a default setting in place that I that emails the “notes” from the ipad to my inbox instantly. Bear in mind that R goes to an IB school where they are taught to follow the phonetic system while reading and writing. I am reproducing the note I have received after R’s writing exercise for the day is concluded:
Mama SaM Tims meyn
Olly VeRe meyn to Tiffiny
In English this loosely translates as:
Tiffany (our 9 month old dog): Naughty
Rania (That’s R): Nice
Zara (Her big sister): Mean
Mamma: Some times mean
Olly (our unfortunate geriatric dog): Very mean
Could this be the result of liking Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes so much that I subconsciously manifested one for myself? Is this how a normal six-year-old should be thinking?
I wonder what it is about my behaviour that has led her to declare that I am “sometimes mean”. This disquieting query continues to nag me and I decide to bring up this assessment of our family with R gently over dinner.
She laughs about it and isn’t too bothered about the fact that I have read her private thoughts concerning myself. With food stuffed in her mouth she tells me simply, “but it is what I think.”
“Papa is irritating because he wants to hug me and kiss me all the time. You shout at me sometimes so you are mean. Zara is mean anyway. Olly growls at Tiffany so he is mean as well.”
My poor unfortunate child, born into a vile family with grouchy animals and unkind siblings! My heart goes out to her.
I decide to get to work right away and disabuse the child of the notion that I am a mean mother. Opportunity presents itself immediately in the form of a school trip to a museum, which requires a parent to volunteer.
I am an extremely laid back parent and the last person to volunteer for a school trip. It is unlike me to willingly give up half my day to jaunt around Bombay in a school bus, but I know how happy this little girl of mine will feel to have her mother around during the class excursion. It is going to be a lovely memory for her as well as for me one day. I am all about making memories for my children.
When R returns from school she does not receive this news with too much enthusiasm.
“You really don’t want me to come on this field trip? I only offered to come as I assumed it would make you happy.”
“Oh mamma, it is just weird to have your mom on a field trip.”
She says “weird” like a grown up with requisite eye rolling and shrugging of shoulders to drive home the point.
“What’s so weird about it? Other mums often volunteer too for your class events.”
“So you should have let them come this time also. You’ll just treat me like a baby in front of my friends and do coochie coo, coochie coo to me.”
I assure her that I shall hold my affection back, rein in my emotions and behave in an appropriate manner in front of her friends. I ask her if she has any suggestions about where I should sit in the school bus.
“Annie will sit next to me, you can sit one seat away.”
“So am I supposed to say hello to you and chat with you? Or shall I just ignore you.”
“If you chat with Annie then don’t ignore me. Otherwise it is okay.”
This is twisted at too many levels I realize, but hold myself back from doing a psychological analysis of my own flesh and blood. Suffice to say this child confounds me!
Now that I have already volunteered, I cannot get out of this commitment to the school. I should have made my peace with being called a “sometimes mean” mother given that dragging my comatose body to a school excursion at 8 am isn’t going to help me to earn my stripes anyway.
But then parenting is all about sacrifices, isn’t it? Even if that make you unpopular with your own child.