My relationship with my mom alternated between friendship and her being my mom. I was extremely independent, had a mind of my own and could be rather mouthy. My mom was incredibly understanding- my best friend and my greatest enemy all rolled into one. She was a friend but didn’t delude herself that it was her only role. She was my mom first and had no issues calling me out on any bullshit . She also didn’t particularly care to explain herself to her kids. “Because I said so” “I’m your mom and that’s good enough” ” That’s just too bad. ” “Life is so unfair.” So in all those huge altercations with Amma, I would swear ” I’m never going to be like you”. “You’re so uncool. ” I had this huge list of parenting things that I would never do. Looking back , I was a walking, talking, rebellious , pain in the ass.
One of the things that annoyed Amma big time was my brother and I fighting over chocolates. She considered it fighting over food and it was something that always got her goat. She didn’t understand why we couldn’t just share. While we didn’t seem to have any problems sharing other things , chocolates were a huge no no. We would argue and fight over who got the bigger piece. ” Aren’t you both ashamed to fight over food?” she’d go in Malayalam- between her tone and the Malayalam language the disgust over us fighting over chocolates was conveyed loud and clear. One time she got so mad, she took the whole bag of chocolates and gave it to the maid for her kids. And given that those were chocolates an aunt had brought from abroad, I was so mad!! She did hit upon a solution. One person broke the chocolate and the other person got to choose first. So we were careful to break it equally. Looking back, I don’t understand why she just didn’t get us individual chocolates. She always got us one and said, “Share. ”
Cut to 2014. In my home, we speak mostly English. While the kids understand hindi and malayalam, they both speak in English. Mom was visiting and we went to meet my aunt. My aunt gives my kids this big bar of chocolate and they decide to have it at once. Of course, in two minutes, the fighting began. I was quiet for the first five minutes. Figured they could sort it out between them. But hey, do they stop? No. it’s getting very intense. And in someone else’s house. I lost it. I rounded on them : ” Stop fighting right now!” And then I just continued…” Aren’t you ashamed to fight over food? Give that to me. Here, D .. you break and S gets to choose. And if I hear you fighting again, I’m giving that chocolate to jaya didi for her kids. ” There !! That should sort it. My kids are looking at me wide eyed. My aunt and my mom seem to have identical grins on their faces.
And that’s when I realised what I said. And I said it in Malayalam. In the same tone. The one I HATED growing up.
And here I was. Caught red handed. In Flagarante Delicto. In front of the two women who were very explicitly told that I would be nothing like them. All strict and not understanding and railing away at my kids. I had done just that. heck, I’d even used the exact words and tone!
Well played Karma . Well played.
It’s a different thing that, today, I feel that if I could be half the parent she is, then my kids will be fine.
But really, Karma, did you have to make me eat my words IN FRONT OF THEM?!!
Writing as a part of team Blue Lagoon.