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Boys to Men In 3 Hours February 18, 2012

Posted by Gomathi Reddy in Culture, Desi Indian, Love and Life, Parenting, Relationships, Women and Children.
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Every week I go to meet my son in his boarding school, I carry all those things that I believe he is missing about home – I plan for this “visiting day,”  a little ahead and try to get all his favourite snacks and chocolates. The day before I leave to his school, I make a list of things that I must buy for him – cookies, chips, a couple of his favourite cakes, and all those things he forgot to pack to his school, during his last trip home – his watch, his sports gear, his towels et al.  And he said he ran out of stationery, and so I made it a point to replenish it for him. I asked him in all earnestness, “So, how do the other kids in the boarding school manage?  Most of them don’t even have their parents visiting them, once-a-month! – Oh, they buy from the tuck shop – Then why can’t you get it from there too – Oh, but you’re coming anyway….. so you can bring these for me…can’t you?, ” he asks with his head tilted in the most angelic way.  Oh, my dear little fellow……I can only see the one I held in my arms, 13 years back.  “Of course I can,”  I blurt, a little red-faced!

I wonder why I must always do something to fit into that stereo type of being an anxious mother – but in all sincerity, I do.  Now, I worry, Am I robbing him of his chances of being self-reliant, by getting him all that he wants”   Oh, heck, forget about self-reliance – He is just 13.  Has a long way to go….after all he is no European – We are Indians and we are used to taking care of our children until they are in their mid-twenties, and only then we’ll have reason to believe that we’ve been good parents!  Well, like every good mother, I am trying hard to fit into that stereotype, lest I feel so un-motherly!

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Finally after all the planning, I got delayed, because I chose to play Samaritan to someone, that morning.  I rushed to school fretting and wondering if I would get delayed. And I was.  The school had recently introduced a few new procedures for security reasons, and I got delayed further, going through those procedures. I rushed through the gates to find my little fellow waiting for me.  I apologized for being late and he was cool with a relaxed smile.  “No issues Ma.  I just came out of my class.”  He was so happy to see me and gave me a shy hug,  as I reached out to him.

Well, I could see that he was growing up fast, his voice was showing signs of cracking, and he had lost all his puppy fat.  I felt bad.  I don’t know why I make an effort to fit into that stereotype of an Indian mother, who equates internal good health to being externally chubby – well I do, knowing pretty well that he is healthier in this school. In this school, he simply has greater opportunities to exercise his limbs, and there is plenty of fresh air, the water is clean and the environment is geared towards focused learning – yet I wonder if he’s doing well here!  With no basic requirement to stay worried, I turn to my next level of anxiety – is he having enough of an intake of fiber in his daily food!

This is my way:  even when he was at home, if I take him to the swimming pool, I have to take along four pairs of extra shorts, ‘just in case.’ If he goes out with his uncles or aunts, he’ll be expected to use only one and be careful, because he has only one another dry pair of shorts, with me, he will invariably jump/fall into the pool four times, after he has chosen to check out, with his dry shorts!

Well, I talked to him about school and his work and how he was enjoying his time there.  He narrated a few interesting incidents, we both laughed aloud and as I was listening to him, I browsed through his English notebook.  I caught a few good essays, good remarks and a few grammatical errors.  I appreciated him for the former and asked him how he’d differentiate a gerund from an infinitive. – I don’t know – what do you mean? You’ve written something here and I only want to see if you’ve understood the difference.  I might’ve at that point of time, now I don’t.  Then I go on to explain the difference, as he looks away but keeps nodding his head.  I flipped through a few more pages, and decided to close his book, when he said that he’d go for a quick lunch and get back.  I nodded in acceptance and asked him to take all those snacks and goodies and said I’d wait for him.  He left with a cute smile and then a little later I realized that I could’ve left the visitor’s pass in the bag with his snacks.  I waited for him to come back, thinking that he’d be able to take a quick run and get that pass back for me, because the dorm was just a 2-minute walk from where we were sitting.  He came back after a quarter-of-an-hour and I was in the mean time browsing through all his text books and notebooks.

Was happy that he was doing well and then I turned around to tell him that he may have to jog back to the dorm.  He gave me that “Whatttttttttt” look!  I tried to explain… I think I left my “visitors pass” in your snacks’ bag.  Can you please get it for me?  And the reaction is, “No way!!  I am not walking back, all the way.  Why did you leave it in my bag?  You know I’ve got to get back to my class room.  Instead of checking out on my Gerunds and Infinitives, you could’ve made sure that you left the visitor’s pass in your bag and not in mine! We spent two-hours talking about my subjects and we could’ve talked something else and now you ask me to go back to get your pass.” 

And he was whining, like never before……and then I took one last look within my handbag and bingo, I found the pass, tucked safely in one of those layers.  I flashed it to him with a smile and asked, “Can’t you walk back to the dorm, for Mommy?”  He gave one of those heavy, huge, no-no shakes of his head.

Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, boys grow up too fast to become men – Just under 3 hours!

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