I have a confession to make: I am not one of those people who see babies and go ga-ga…no angelic motherly feelings are roused in my breast when confronted with a snotty baby… bells do not ring, music does not play and my dreams are certainly not sprinkled with baby powder.
Let’s face it: I’ve never been big on kids. Specially babies. More so when I have nothing to do with them. I know people who see a strange baby on a train and immediately start cuddling it or whatever and strike up conversations with the mother. I do not have the patience for it and am more likely to stick my tongue out at the baby than cuddle it and go “cho chweet!” I especially dislike noisy restless toddlers who will not sit still, be it at the airport, on a train, in the super-market or (horrors!) on a long haul flight. I want to whack the child (and the parents too, sometimes!) and hopefully have them duct-taped for the rest of the journey.
As a child, I was always the hero of several extra-ordinary adventures: flying motorbikes and jet skis and racing fighter planes occupied my mind. I never had time for dolls or soft toys…. I remember this one time someone gave me some dolls. My mother sighed, my father shook his head. Within a day dismembered bodies of the dolls with all their hair chopped off were found under the bed…. I never dreamed of a home or children..I dreamed of constant adventure and travel; sleeping under the stars and living off the land…The Three Musketeers, Indiana Jones and Mr. Spock all rolled into one!
But life has an uncanny knack of interfering with such dreams. Here I was, in my late twenties…married and all. I thought I was ready for it. (Don’t tell Hubby, but as things stand I still think I’m not ready for quiet domesticity!) And post marriage into this semi-joint family, for the first time in my life I shared my life with two children, my niece and my nephew… who were then all of two and three. They were adorable. They were the right age for spoiling and I discovered the joys of tiny feet pattering about the house without any of the rigors of potty training and weaning, which, luckily I knew nothing about then.
A few years down the line, my daughters came along. And they are barely 13 months apart. So you can imagine, for about two and half years I was either pregnant or lactating! Thenceforth all my adventures centered on my girls…. First came The Great Breast-feeding Escapade, then The Potty-training Capers along with the Mystique of The Feeding Time (The Story of the Mush that Jumped off the Plate) and the Exploits of the Sleepless Nights! There were times when my patience wore thin, there were times I felt like throwing them out the window. Don’t look at me in horror, I once mentioned this to my mother and she told me, “Everyone feels that way sometimes, it’s just that you don’t go around saying it!”
As my girls grew I grew with them. Yes, I guess I grew into motherhood. And I must admit it has not been an altogether unpleasant experience!
But thanks to the aforesaid handicap, I thought I was at a disadvantage. I had to do ‘the right thing’ for my kids. For a while I listened to everyone. When they said coke was better used as a detergent, I flushed away bottles of the stuff, when they said “Chavanprash” is good for them I stuffed it in their mouths till they spit it right back at me. When my Mom said Maggie was bad for them (No nutrition, only carbohydrates) I sighed and put it away. Till I realized there is no such thing as “the right thing”. How can there be, when each child is different? My girls, despite being siblings are as alike as chalk and cheese. They have their distinct likes and dislikes; each has their own way of handing things; each their own unique way of coping! So I gave up on ‘the right thing’ business and since then my girls have been brought up on a healthy dose of coke, Maggie and neglect.
I remember this relative once told me, “Oh, I only have the necks of the chicken.” I looked at her aghast. How can anyone like those icky things? Then she explained, “You see, I always give the good pieces and the legs to my husband and my sons. I only have the necks!” She sighed as if her heart was breaking.
Yuck. I decided then and there that I would never do that. My kids would not only have chicken necks from the curry but also learn to share the legs and the nice pieces. When seeing food on the table they would certainly not just pick out whatever they like and leave the rest. (Yes, I know kids, even adults, who do just that!) They would learn to share it with everyone else, and, if necessary, also refrain from taking it if they thought someone else wanted it too.
Now the years have passed, the girls are now almost 15 and almost 16. The adventures continue tirelessly, my mother assures me that the fun never stops and I am inclined to believe her! Our current adventure is Let’s Get Decent Scores in The Board Exams!
And the one thing I’ve learned from all this is that whenever someone praises my kids or says something nice about them, I feel like I’m ten feet tall!
And yes, they do eat their chicken necks too!