When parents and children push boundaries

For quite sometime, I thought of the relationship between parents and children to be more like Goliath versus David. Then it hit me that we were made of the same fabric. So, why all the fuss?

A friend told me, in sympathy, “Look at it like this. God created Adam and Eve, his first children and look at the problems they gave Him. If He faced trouble raising Adam and Eve and that too in idyllic surroundings, where little distractions existed then you are excused. Look, how many times He asked them not to eat the fruit and what did they do? Disobey him. When He asked whose idea was it, they both pointed at each other. Simple instructions such as don’t smoke, don’t drive after drinking, don’t lie, don’t swear go unheard. Somehow, the “don’t” word has the opposite effect on all children!”

Another friend Neeraja said, “You spend years telling the children to walk and talk and then two decades later, you want to tell them to sit down and shut up!” The next irritating habit is when they quote you, word for word with the subtext. So, now everyone knows what you meant but did not say.

But the best thing about young people is when they do not like the path chosen for them to follow, they cut themselves a new path. When you, as a parent say, “Sorry I do not know all the answers”, they smile and say, “That’s okay. Neither do we”. Ignorance is no sin.

They truly amaze you when you go through a troubled patch and know that misfortune is here to stay. The optimism of youth is catching, they say, “Don’t worry, it will pass.” I ask, “How can you be so sure?” “Oh please, everything passes!” says a child wanting to will away the negative thing and turn it upside down. Youth is armed with optimism and strength. I guess they need to see the parent is armed with experience and wisdom.

In the ensuing burst of words about parents and children, I ask my oldest child, “If I was knock-kneed, cross-eyed and pigeon-toed, would you still love me?” “Of course ma...but you could never be knock-kneed or cross-eyed..” “Does that mean I am pigeon-toed?”, I sounded shrill. “Come on ma, when you get to your age, some things do start packing up…I mean, you are doing pretty good...but you are a bit pigeon toed...yes!” I began to move back to my corner in the boxing ring, where the two contenders faced each other! Parent and child.

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)

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