Monday, June 27, 2011

Kids and the Bane of Stability.

My husband and I (we hope) have provided so much boredom in the guise of stability for our kids, that we are now officially stuck in the unbearable lightness of invisibility. If not for the stiffness and some wheezing and groaning, we could be the invisible residents of Skokie. Interestingly, this invisibility took on a completely different weight when I was growing up. Erratic as hell, my family left me confused to a great degree. Vacuum was another name for the adrift nature of things that occurred from the absence of direct parental involvement, which consequently allowed me to thrive well and additionally excite the age old debate of Nature versus Nurture. Trying to explore the middle ground, I haltingly asked my older one to rate our performance as parents from a scale of 0-10. I was ready to explode at any number below 5. He gave us a resounding 8.5. Fair enough I said. The other missing 1.5 I could fill in with some groundings. I don't know how he got that percentage but he is a Statistics-Math child and very sharp with numbers and understands those seemingly minute percentages with enormous consequences. It's the exact placement of the dot, whether in the middle of the forehead or before a number or after it that hold the key. 

My parents were invisible too, much more in togetherness. I didn't see them or hear them for periods of time. But in all this, I knew and felt that they were always there and as things would have it, are there even more now with a vengeance. Such is the power of parenthood. There and not there. Something like God. On the other hand, my earthly power comes from owning responsibility for both denial and acceptance. And I do like to exercise that once in a while with the kids. I do not expect them to be happy about it but what is a bit of being upset on their part compared to the vast array of opportunities that I envision for them. I have been called soppy and when angry have been told to stop throwing tantrums! I may not be the perfect parent or find my way in one shot but I am there in the vicinity, lurking somewhere, just like my parents, perhaps like a Bhoot. I like Bhoots (ghosts). 

My husband sighs our kids are not interested in anything. But he forgets how beautifully they play soccer. The older one moves the ball deftly with a purpose; the younger one blasts the ball with his power play. Both styles are admirable. Father forgets how many friends the kids have and how much they love hanging out. They do so in parks and play grounds where kicking and horsing around is as important an activity as any other. They enjoy movies and restaurants and concerts especially if they can sneak in for free. Half the pleasure lies in doing things surreptitiously. They are of the age when halting traffic by putting on emergency lights for no reason at all is the greatest thing on earth; running into unknown neighborhoods and playing a hoop or two on someone's private basketball court is a blast. They enjoy the spectacle of irate home owners running after them with base ball bats and yelling profanity to get the hell off their property. I am glad they do this outside our home.

I understand how many kids are ready, responsible, involved, focussed - but that's them. I was one of those kinds too and narrowly escaped becoming a complete burn-out. Some kids bloom rapidly while others do so erratically. I have both kinds. All I know is my kids are assured beings which comes from being free. They possess plenty sauciness and no visible gratitude for things which I feel should be done in this life at this time at that very moment. They ask why and aren't things supposed to be this way? They know nothing better. They are comfortable in their skin and if ever they feel rootless, I can share some of mine which stretch across many lands and oceans. I do however leave them a little confused with my joys at profanity. Nothing quite beats a volley of curses. For all parents, their child is the best; and so I am at peace with ours as well. They will eventually soar or flap or glide; they will see the world with all its beauty and ugliness; they will hopefully explore and continue to be in shock and awe at the absurdity of it all. I hope life will be kind and they learn to appreciate both the yin, yang, and twang.


  1. Neera Pant
    So very true, Jo..parenting a tough job and we don't take classes for that.. but I'm sure you are doing a wonderful job..I think we need to ensure they are happy but that too is a tricky thing..bhoot or no bhoot..
    June 27 at 8:56pm

  2. Vandana Shah:
    How well a mother understands her kids and their every move, thought and action, is so visible from your writing Joyce. Children never cease to question wisdom and actions of parents...we too have gone thru that cycle. Experience is the teacher of all. But you've done ur part in helping these young uns sit back..relax and watch em scale heights:))
    June 27 at 9:15pm

  3. Varshaa Agnihotri - so this is where i say thank god no kids!
    June 27 at 11:54pm

  4. Soma Ghosh:
    How I wish Joyce, that I could be like you, walking the tight rope so efficiently, knowing where to draw the line and where to stop expecting - very valuable lessons in bringing up a kid in the days that are upon us ... very well written :)
    June 28 at 12:23am

  5. Moushumi Johnson:
    Thanks for yet another very nicely written piece. xox
    June 28 at 4:32am

  6. Jaiya Venkat: Lovely are a real super mamma!!!! Great job Jo....super mom/great writer/artist/etc etc..♥
    June 28 at 1:01pm

  7. John Samson:
    liked it. reads well, some nice hues show through the yarn.
    June 28 at 4:37pm

  8. Urmila Samson:
    Very touching Joyce! Your best piece of writing yet! The part about the placing of the dot...the whole there not there very much there re. parents...the appreciation of your children's interests and the description of their masti...the soar, flap or glide...the yin, yang and twang! And through it all I could feel the crazy, earnest, warm, deep understanding, loving and loved mother. Sorry I didn't read some of your last pieces. Hope I find them and read them sometime.
    June 29 at 5:15am

  9. Abha Chadha:
    just read this again.. had to read it again and again to fully take it in.. very true and from the heart.. one of your best.. loved it..
    June 29 at 8:52am

  10. Sudha Ahluwalia:
    I misplaced my i'm lost for words.
    June 30 at 11:58pm

    Joyce Singha-Ghosh ‎:) Yes Sudha, I have to be careful as well where I place those words.

  11. WORDS OF WISDOM!You have an eye for observing minutely. i think every mom can relate to this blog as we all feel this change. kids will be kids and parents will be parents always, tomorrow our kids will again compare how they used to be when kids , the wheel goes on and on...this blog is indeed food for thought for all parents.