You would think that as your kids grew older you would get better at handling them. You would think that the old proverb about practice making perfect might begin to apply to your life at some point. Turns out, it isn’t so.
I am not getting better at very many things with time and figuring out my children seems to top the list. Cooking and husband being next. But let’s stick with parenting, since after my last book that documents my thoughts, experiences and blunders as a mother, I seem to have become an authority on parenting. Many publications have written to me over the past few months asking me to do columns on parenting for them. It takes much mustering up of candour on my part to inform them that I am no expert on child rearing and sorry to disappoint them but if they only flipped through my book they would know that I am to parenting what Rosie O’ Donnel is to Size 0 or Kim Kardarshian is to modesty.
My older one is on the cusp of her teenage years and in chronological terms she is 12 going on Rottweiler. Her bedroom looks like a pawn shop with an assortment of strange, miscellaneous objects strewn over and under her bed and more bizarre items tucked inside the drawers and cabinets.
She prefers her own company or that of her books, her phone and the mirror to human beings and as I have stated before her mother, from being the pivot of her existence has gone on to become something to be embarrassed about. This is fait accompli and I accept it with as much equanimity as is possible of me.
She has opinions now and most of them are the opposite of mine. The clothes I choose for her are “grandmotherly” and “laughing-stock material”, the music I like is “too retro”, the movies and TV shows I recommend are “childish and uninteresting” and the places I want to visit with her she would “rather sit in my room than go there”. She wants to ace in her studies and as admirable as her self-motivation is it is accompanied with high degree of stress, the victims of which are other unsuspecting household members. I have now started keeping industrial strength Kali Phos (a homeopathic remedy known for its calming effect) at home to keep all of us in a Zen like state to be able to cope with routine teenage onslaughts.
Most of our conversations end with me resigning to my fate or her storming out in tears and slamming the door of her room. The one thing that I have learnt with time is to keep it anodyne by discussing the weather, the dogs and our money plant. Those kind of things save the day.
My younger one is seven now and cannot understand why her once tolerable older sister has become an angsty, impudent, snarky stranger whose longest conversation with her in the past one year has been, “Get out of my room.”
So perplexed and hurt is the little one by the pre-teen’s constant snubs that she has a dramatic outburst at least once every few days. Who do you think is at the receiving end of her paroxysm of tears and rage? Not the hormonal child sitting locked up inside her room, not the father in the office, not the sleeping dogs under the bed or the maids in the kitchen. The beneficiary of her grievances and her turmoil is her mother as it turns out. Lucky me.
The little one’s histrionics are usually accompanied with sharp dialogues, which seem almost too clever for a child her age. Yesterday I got told that I loved her older sister, her father, the maids, the dogs and even the goldfish in the house more than I loved her. Today during another outburst she asked me why I could not treat her at least as well as I treated the goldfish, who was allowed to swim and play by itself without having someone shout at her all the time.
In the denouement of this drama, after much persuasion, the child gave the waterworks a break and announced her new decision to me, the solution to all her troubles. “I am moving to another country, far away from you and the goldfish and every mean person in this building. I am moving to California.”
The older sister could not show restraint as usual and rolled with laughter at the goldfish example followed by this California announcement, much to the little one’s annoyance and then she added insult to injury by informing her that California wasn’t a country. Some serious amount of crying and door slamming followed this exchange. The situation resolved itself by my loading my gun and pulling the trigger on myself. Ha, if only. I had to turn to Kali Phos 6x as always, five times the usual dose does the trick for me.
And then people ask me if I am writing my next book yet.