IIt was during one of the closings of 2020, I forget which subtype, that I decided to become an extremely Indian mother with my children (mixed race) by announcing that the two teenagers, Kid One and Kid Two, would be responsible. for the online education of his younger brother, Kid Three (year four, they can handle it).
This would involve doing all the things the school had assumed parents could just drop everything: sit down for lessons, complete homework, do science “experiments” with baking soda, and clean up the mess afterward. I took out the big one desi Mum Guns: “I did everything for you two – and what are you doing yourself anyway? In addition, it is a practice for when you have children: one day you will thank me. “
As expected, there were very loud protests. “You cannot assume that I will have children just because I have a uterus,” one complained. “I already feel anxious about not having exams ”, complained the other. As a parent, it is my duty to help them through the difficult times and make the right decision, so I told them that if they refused to help, I would cancel their phone contracts. Suddenly everyone was on the same page.
And the title of that page was Closed Parenting Is Too Much Parenting, someone else has to step in, and frankly, it could be anyone. I firmly believe, and spending endless hours with my children during the confinements has only reinforced this notion, that parents are not supposed to be responsible for their offspring for every waking second. There is a reason why they say that “a village is needed”, because if it were not so, no one would have a second (or third) child.
The Kid Three homeschooling delegation did not quite go according to plan. Zoom’s lessons themselves were fine, and the mandatory daily fight to the death between the brothers was never about the teaching arrangements he had instituted, it was always about the lack of a phone charger. No, my plan failed because the teens advanced Kid Three’s knowledge in various unexpected fields, and I stayed behind to clean up the mess.
One day, while watching Succession, Logan Roy was about to have a stroke in a helicopter, Kid Three interrupted to ask, “Mom, what is genocide?”
Things were exhausting enough without having to be parents to the level that this line of research required. Putting aside the most important question of the moment (is Logan dead?), I did a quick mental run of what it would take to give him a satisfactory answer and realized what a bad idea it was. If you are going to explain what genocide is to a child, you must choose one. I’m not saying that someone has a favorite genocide, but by choosing one to discuss in depth, you learn a lot about your own biases.
Why was he being subjected to this without warning? It was like being mugged by my own son. One moment I immerse myself in the most grotesque flaws of the Logan family and the next they ask me to examine my own.
“Why are you asking anyway?” Said. “Because Kid One said doing homework with me was worse than being in a genocide.” I looked at her, trying to keep my mouth from twisting into a smile, and said, “Oh well, that’s stupid. And bad. Go tell him I told you so. “Off Kid Three jumped in and I sent a terse text message with renewed threats of termination of the phone contract.
Then I realized that even with the threat of the most unpleasant consequences, I could never completely bend my children to my will, and I really can’t blame them. I liked to think that my parents forced me to do exactly what they wanted, but the fact is that even they, super strict, traditional, Indian, could not: I chose to live outside of India, I married a European, my children eat meat. and I am a comedian. This was not my parents’ plan, but they agree with it. As my mother says: “You are a pretty good wife, a very focused mother. You are like me in the way you tell your jokes, and like your father in all the angry moods you have. “
Even if my kids don’t behave exactly how I want them to, they will have something of me in them, and when that flourishes, everything will seem perfect. I recently heard Kid Two quietly sing the Hanuman Chaleesa (the 40-verse hymn for protection dedicated to the Hindu monkey god) in bed one night after being terrified watching The Conjuring 2. My children have not been steeped in religion, but I was overjoyed that she had absorbed my beliefs. I thought about scaring her the next night so it would happen again.
Of course, these moments of quiet joy don’t last long. A few days after the genocidegate, I was watching more Succession, wondering which of my children could marry someone as dark as Tom, and proudly thinking about my ability to handle the more tedious aspects of parenting. when Kid Three came in and asked tenderly, “Mom, what is thunder?”
“Honey,” I said, “sit here and let’s talk about the genocide.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism