Oh the things that you learn.

I have OCD. I have my way of doing things. In fact sometime ago, my youngest was helping me to fold the laundry and as she was leaving she mentioned very casually ” Don’t think that  I don’t know that  you are waiting for me to leave so you can refold the undies that I just folded before you put them away” Which incidentally is nothing but the truth. I like things to be neatly organized and if my daughter didn’t fold it the way I want, I do it again the moment she is out of sight.

I don’t clean any of my children’s room. It is their room and keeping it clean is their responsibility. I however do put away my son’s clothes in his closet. He and I have come in to an agreement on that. I just couldn’t stand him chucking freshly laundered clothes on the floor, on the chair or where ever he found the place to chuck them. The problem was with me. My son had no issues where he kept his clothes and he felt  if I had an issue, I should deal with it and in this particular situation, I could put his clothes away.  And since I am doing the putting away part, I get to do it my way, it is all color coded and follows a specif pattern. Formal outfits, pants, shorts, sportswear, t shrits in 4 colour groups, school uniforms and winter wear.

Few days ago, as I was taking the clothes from the laundry line ‘she’ asked me if I needed help and I said “sure”. She took my son’s clothes from the laundry line and I was just about to tell her how she should hang them in his closet. And that really was an issue faced by all mothers in law world over. ‘She’ is not my daughter in law yet, but she could be. The truth is eventually I will inherit a daughter(in law) and I need to get my acts together. Just as I won’t allow anyone to dictate how I should hang my partner’s clothes in my closet, I don’t have the right to dictate how ‘she’ should hang my son’s clothes. It really is her choice.

I don’t deny that I am tempted to go in to my son’s room when no one is in the house and sort the closet to the way I like. I considered doing it couple of times. But I do know that I need to let it go.

I also treat ‘her’ very well. There are two reasons for that. One of which is that one day, some other woman will inherit my daughters as their daughters(in law) and I hope they too will treat my daughters well. The second reason is that I want the best for my son. If I treat her well, (I am hoping that) she will treat my son well and that is very important to me. Yesterday when I went to buy the groceries, I bought her favourite tea (Honey and Vanila) and gave it to her.  No in laws ever bought me my favourite tea.  However, that shouldn’t stop me from buying it for  the girl my son brings home.

Plenty of good lessons I have learned in such a short time.

Circle of life

Life has a way of repeating events.

Couple of days ago, my son woke me up in the middle of the night to ask if it is with me if a friend of his came to stay at our house.

That was a very odd request at a very odd hour, so I asked for details.

Turns out that a classmate girl is having family issues where her life may be in danger and needs an urgent intervention. My son already had the car keys in his hand for he was  very sure I would say Yes. And I did say Yes, even though I was worried about a lot of issues.

The first reason I said yes was because 27 years ago, a friend of mine offered me a place to stay when I had no where to go. I was doing 3rd year Medicine and we were living in Bangalore. Amma had gone back to Kerala and only I and my sister younger to me were at home. We never got along (and will never). Once in a while, I used to go out late in the evening to have ice-cream (mint chocolate ice cream, it cost 10 rs then)at a small shop in the city with a friend who stayed few blocks away from our house. We usually went for the ice cream and then for a long walk and he dropped me back home. That particular day, my sister locked the house from inside and pretended to be asleep. No amount of my knocking could rouse her from her sleep. The worst was that at one stage when my friend and I were standing downstairs and contemplating our next move, we both saw my sister looking at us through the window in her room. Clearly she was not asleep and clearly she wasn’t going to open the door. Where was I going to go in the middle of the night? My friend(bless his soul) took me to his house and let me sleep in his room, while he slept in the living room, It was too late in to the night and he didn’t want to wake his parents up. (perhaps, he felt if his parents said No, I would be sleeping outside on the street and he didn’t want to take that risk). I know he got in to solid trouble the next day. But I was given a place to stay when I needed it and it is only right that I do the same to another person in times of need.

The issues I worry about

  1. My son’s IB final starts this Monday. I have always felt that there is no point running a marathon if you don’t cross the finishing line. I worry that all this dramas are causing my son too much of distraction. However, I console myself that whatever has to happen will happen. I also teach students who have come to the School of Medicine from various backgrounds and I know there is nothing that stops my son from achieving whatever he sets his mind to.
  2.  Allowing a  teenage girl and a teenage boy to stay in the same room is not an easy decision to make. Both are 17 and are past the age of consent. Callous as it may sound, what they do in the privacy of their room is their problem. Not mine. However, I am still an Indian and struggle with cultural issues. This morning, while I was in the garden, both of them came out and were talking to me and my Indian neighbor was walking his dog and I introduced the girl to the neighbor. I did worry about what he thought. I know very well that the opinion of a stranger is immaterial, yet I worry.
  3. Precedent. Am I setting some sort of precedent here? Would my youngest ask for the same privileges? I have always had the same rules for all three of my kids. I am not sure why I am even worried about it !

I am not stressed, but I am not very comfortable either. The Indian in me is desperately trying to get out and I wish this process was a little bit easy, that somewhere in me there is a middle ground.

You learn

Years ago, while living in Canada, I was at my Pakistani friend’s house when the postman delivered the mail. She is a very traditional Pakistani woman and I didn’t agree to a lot  of her parenting ideologies. She wouldn’t let her kids attend the school dance, prom etc and was paranoid about every second her kids spent outside her home. But what happened that day was something I will never forget.

So, she collected the mail from the mail box. Rushed inside, quickly opened the letter and then yelled “yesss”

I thought she won the lottery and can you believe how shocked I was when I learned that what she was holding was an Infringement notice (skipping the red light) from RCMP with a photo of her son’s car skipping the red light.

I thought my friend had gone in to shock, how else can you explain such a weird reaction.

After seeing my puzzled face, she explained

“You have no idea, how many days I have been waiting for something like this. My son had recently got his license and I was worried about him speeding. There is nothing more terrifying than receiving a ticket from the police. It teaches you that you are not a kid anymore, but an adult and there are rules to follow and consequences to face for not following the rules. After today, my son will be even more cautious while driving”

I thought about and felt she was right and saved the lesson in my head.

My son got his first speeding ticket. 20 KM over the limit!. He not only had to pay 259$ fine, he will have to drive like a granny till next April, cause if he gets one more demerit point, he will lose his license.

You have no idea how long I have been waiting to receive this particular letter. When my son came home, I gave him the letter and left it at that.I didn’t yell at him. I didn’t scold him.  which is even more harder for kids to deal with, for they are used to being admonished for doing something wrong. But now he is almost an adult, he doesn’t need admonishing. He needs to man up and face life.. He was miserable, but I do know that this was a really valuable lesson.


Enjoy the ride

I know the blog updates are becoming rather infrequent.

Here is the thing. I have reached a point in my life where I decided to please the only person who matters. And in this case that is me.

James Taylor sang the secret of life is to enjoy the passage of time (Secret 0 Life) and that is what I have been doing,

I stopped stressing on things that doesn’t matter.

One of the major thing was my children’s education. Although I am no way a pushy mother when it comes to my children’s education, I have always been worried about them getting somewhere in life. I wanted to give them the best opportunities. When Yaya declined UCLA, UCSD etc admission offers, I was disappointed. But I had always given her the right to choose and she is happy where she is. I now teach students who wrote the Gamsat exam with me. I would have been one of them if I wasn’t deaf.  I find it really odd that I teach them now. Life is really funny at times eh?. One of my student is a famous researcher whose papers I have read. After completing her PhD and Post doc, she decided to do medicine and wrote  Gamsat. The thing is, after PhD, you are not entitled to receive student loan, so she is self supporting herself by working 20 hours each week and living in a share home. I have another brilliant student who has done PhD in Chemical engineering and then felt that is not what he wanted to do and is now doing Medicine (Again self supporting by doing construction labour). I have a student who is the only child of a single mother with questionable past ( her words, not mine) and doesn’t know who her father is and determined to change her destiny. Interacting with students from various backgrounds, I have learned that if you want to get somewhere, then you can. All you need to do is to work for it.

Hardest part for me as a mother was to stand aside and watch.. When Yaya was in grade 12, during her study hols before the finals, she read novels. She even worked when she had two days off between her exams. It is the same with my son. He is currently binge reading Jeffrey Archer novels. His finals will start end of this month. I only ever studied just before the exams. So not studying when you are on study holidays used to bother me a great deal. But not anymore.

So all in all, I have changed. I decided to enjoy the passage of time doing things I want to do. In this instance, I stopped fretting.