They say, it’s not easy being a pre-teen and even harder parenting one. I say parenting for kids of any age group has its highs and lows. My elder daughter is about to be a teen very soon. No one in this world prepares you for what happens when kids start growing up and are constantly trying to use and experiment their new found confidence and independence. There’s no manual, road map, or guide to fully prepare you for the years of parenting.
My elder daughter’s final exams got over recently and she along with some of her classmates decided to go for a get together party at Flurys, an eating joint, just outside of our complex. They were meeting at 12 noon in the lobby of our building. My daughter was all dressed up and ready at 11:30. “I will be back by 1: 30, bye bye I love you”, she said animatedly pressing the lift button. It was 11:45. The lift door closed before I could reply her back. I came inside and got busy playing with my younger daughter who was upset as her Didi had deserted her for some get together with strangers.
I started feeling uneasy as the time ticked beyond 1: 30. It was 2’O clock now. I looked outside my balcony, the roads were all deserted and sun was beaming with all the heat it had. “Shomoy khoob kharaap boudi“, my maid said and I panicked more. I could hear every second ticking on the clock. “It’s already 3’O clock, she said she will return by 1:30!!” What if they went to some other place which is further away…after all they are all of 12 years. What if one of them is feeling sick? Has there been an accident!! Kidnapped!!! Na…that’s not possible…or is it? Arrgh! My stomach started curling up from inside. “Aami ki dekhe aashbo (should I go and find out)?” my maid said in a pacifying tone. I should not have allowed her to go alone with her friends outside of the complex. I should have given her my phone so I could contact her.
At 3:30, I could take no more ….I decided to go find my ‘lost’ child. I opened the door to go and kick some kidnapper’s ass, and there she was…standing and smiling.
I don’t believe in raising hands on kids, but I swear I slapped her thrice in my mind.
“Why are you so late?” I screamed.
“O, we could not decide on the menu so we got late” she replied.
“That’s it!!!… you could not decide what to eat and lost track of time, here I pretty much lost my mind.”
“Mom, chill, why do you get so worried, have some confidence and trust in me”, she said with much ease and no expressions.
I said, “When you become a mother and reach my age, you will understand”.
When you become a mother and reach my age, you will understand…. suddenly my mom’s voice echoed in my head. I quickly came back to my room.
‘Ye pehle ho chuka hai’. As cliché as it sounds, but these exact words came to my mind.
I must have been 10 or 11 years old. One afternoon, I went to my friend’s house, which was a little far away. I was a proud owner of Atlas cycle. No distance was far enough; my cycle glided me to her place in no time. My friend and I played all day long. Around evening, her father said to me, “beta..ab ghar jaao” It was then when I realized that I have lost the keys of my bicycle while playing. It was already too late. Though I wanted to walk back, it was getting dark and uncle insisted that my friend’s elder brother would drop me back home on his scooter. While I was sitting on the back seat of the scooter thanking my stars that I didn’t have to walk all the way back, I heard my name called out. I looked around and saw two ladies shouting my name and 10-15 people had gathered around them. It was my Mom and my Bua. They had a fair idea of the colony where my friend stayed but did not know which house. I asked bhaiyya to stop the scooter and nervously walked towards my mom.
Yes…my mother did believe in beating up her kids. My friend’s brother saw this and fled the scene in a millisecond. My mother was crying and hugging me and getting angry at the same time. I was brought home and lectured whole evening by everyone around. I could not understand all the hoopla going on. I was coming back as fast as I could!! Late evening, my mother fed me with her own hands. I asked her, “why did you come after me…I am a big girl, I was coming back!” She said lovingly, “you won’t understand it now…wait till you have children of your own.”
I was overwhelmed with all the memories of my childhood. It took me some time to gather my thoughts. Later I went and hugged my daughter. She said, “why don’t you trust me mom, I was coming back!!” I just smiled and gave her a kiss. My younger daughter said, “When will I get to go out with my friends?”
“Not very soon darling….” I replied immediately.
I guess worrying is just a part of being a parent. It is tough to let go of being over protective and always be there for your child. They have to create memories of their own path and life. Inevitably, little girls become big girls, then women. The parents who understand this and have the resolve and emotional energy to accept life’s changes will be able to build a deeper, more powerful set of memories of life with their children.