I AM MY KIDS' MOTHER

My Son and I

CONVERSATION WITH MY SON: MY MURMURING SON ... :)

Posted by Sonal Kulshrestha on Friday, June 9, 2017

What is with teenagers and incoherent talking? I know it is a phase that will pass soon enough but not before I have had a conversation on it. 

As I give my son a ride for his band practice, I ask him a question and I think he goes, " yeah I did it". I tell him that I can barely hear him and he's quiet. I tell him the story of the time his sister would make barely audible replies- thank God that phase is long passed. I remember feeling like the witch in the film Rapunzel repeatedly asking the daughter to speak up (except that the witch wasn't really Rapunzel's mother, but well at least the little girl thought that's what she was). So actually I felt like the witch in Rapunzel those days when my newly-turned-into-a-teenager daughter murmured away half of her responses to my questions. So as I recount the tale, I tell my son of my visit to the ear specialist. Yes, I actually did go because of her constant response of " I replied, it's not my fault if you couldn't hear it". Okay, it was because I was having itchy allergy ears too. But in the questionnaire that you fill out before meeting the specialist there actually was a question- do people tell you that you didn't hear them? Imagine my surprise at being asked that-yes, I had to put 'yes'. When the specialist saw me and went over the form I had filled, he asked me about that particular one. "So who are these people who tell you that you can't hear them?". I said my daughter. I also added, "I think she murmurs her responses though". Anyway after a complete checkup that involved subjecting my ears to sounds of different wavelengths, I was told I'm good to go. "Your ears are perfectly normal, ma'm", he said. As I thanked him and prepared to walk out the door, he added, "And by the way, Ma'm, your daughter does murmur". It took me a moment to realize what he meant. I laughed at his reference to our conversation earlier. 


My son laughs too when I'm done recounting the incident. To hammer home the point, I tell him about a friend's husband whose aging father can barely hear now. I tell him what my friend often tells me-that it amazes her to see her husband patiently repeat each sentence over and over as he tries to have long distance conversation with his dad each weekend for hours. I tell my son, when I'm old and I actually can't hear you, when the grand-parents/ other seniors he meets can't hear properly, be patient and speak as coherently as you can. I see it register, I can tell from his facial expression. As he prepares to get off the car, I want to leave him with one final thought. I tell him that wisdom is not that hard to constantly acquire. Wise are those that learn from the experience of others. With a quick bye, he disappears from the car. As parents we can only talk, talk and talk. Apart from making an earnest attempt at living that talk. Our hope is that our kids are listening.  Something tells me that they are ...

CONVERSATION WITH MY KIDS - ON FRIENDSHIP

Posted by Sonal Kulshrestha on Sunday, November 23, 2014

Friends

As parents of our kids, we want to impart illimitable wisdom to our children. As children of our parents, we know that we might not get a very receptive audience, but somewhere something will stay. And so the interminable conversations continue- even in the face of disinterested looks. Or do we detect some fleeting interest?

As we stroll down a busy street while vacationing in Washington DC, it's windy, and I want to distract my kids from the chilly weather. My husband and I joke about 'dropping by for chai' at the Obama residence- aka the White House. "I called and told Michelle to start the chai", I say. The kids laugh and we carry on the made-up scenario. We all laugh as each one adds to the diegesis as if we were best pals with Barack, Michelle, Sasha and even Malia. We start to wonder about what it is like for the friends of Obamas who do want to 'just drop by'. I see this as an opportunity to talk about friends with my kids.

I tell my kids that as life continues to happen you make many friends and probably part with just as many. Ultimately, the ones who are closest to your heart, the ones you strive to keep in touch with, ones you actively seek out to hang out with, are the ones who make you feel good about yourself. The ones who bring out the natural best in you. Those who in no way put you down- directly, subtly, indirectly. Literally, the ones who let you be you. 

"Mom, of course, you are yourself with friends", says my 11 year old son. "They don't have to 'let' you be yourself", adds my perspicacious daughter. At 16, of course, she is sure she is as wise as you can be. 

I am actually thankful for what they say as that means they do have good friends in their life. I don't want to lapse into painting a picture of a friend who is otherwise. I want to keep our conversation positive. I do not want to delve into negativity.

"You're exactly right", I tell my daughter. I don't want to take her confidence away- the trust that she has placed in herself and on her friends. "And you're right too", I turn to my son. "And always remember that. Be with friends where you don't have to work on being yourself, you don't feel like they're not 'letting' you be yourself. And more importantly, be that friend to your friends too". I see the satisfaction on their face, that they "know" what I'm talking about. I feel I'm ready to drop the topic and end on that note, but not without leaving with a final thought on friendship. In fact, on a final thought on relationships. So I say, "Looks to me that you guys have good friends. In future, you'll have boyfriends / girlfriends / spouses. Remember that your friendship with your significant other should be the same. For friends are those you love, not just for what THEY are, but also for what YOU are when you are WITH THEM".

CONVERSATION WITH MY SON- ON SEXTING

Posted by Sonal Kulshrestha on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It has been on my mind to bring up the subject of sexting with my ready-to-start middle school son. At 11, if he's old enough to get his own cell phone, I reckon he is old enough to have his first conversation on sexting with his mom. So said I to my daughter who thought its too soon to "torture the poor guy" with "your conversations". I beg to differ. Ready or not, here I come. I wait for the right moment for the first discussion on the subject. Of course, there'll be many more. Many many more. For as long as he's under my roof and even afterwards, he'll have to hear on the topic from me. 

I find the opportune moment when I head out to pick my daughter from her band camp. My son asks to join me, not realizing what he'll be getting himself into. I'm happy. After all, car is my favorite place to have candid conversations with my cuties (fortunately he can't read my thoughts- there would be lot of rolling of eyes otherwise). I decide to be upfront with him, "I wrote a piece on having a conversation on sexting with your sister and ever since I've been meaning to have that conversation with you as well". I instantly see the "oh no" expression cross his face. Next, his eyes dart at the door and the road, as if contemplating changing his mind about joining me. Finding no escape, he braces himself for the inevitable, but of course, not without a fight. "I already know what it is, Mom. We were given a flyer about it in school. I already know I'm not supposed to be doing that." Undeterred, I say pretty much what I had told my daughter, "There was this beautiful Cincinnati teen, Jesse Logan, who had committed suicide after picture of hers that was meant for her boyfriend's eyes alone ended up being circulated around her high school. The incident had occurred in 2008, sending a shiver down the spine of every parent". I tell him that as a boy, 'not doing it' means much more than simply not texting any private content, not sharing any private content and not forwarding any private content. It also means not pressurizing any girl to text you anything private either". His response is "I know, I know, why will I? In fact, how will I, I don't even have a girl friend." Now I totally feel how much harder it is to have the conversation with my son versus my daughter. She was indifferent and had that uninterested look. He, on the other hand, has the look of can't- believe- I-am-having-this-discussion-with-my-mom. I start to wonder if I should have let my husband take it on, like he had suggested, but I wanted my son to get a woman's perspective. Next time, it'll be my husband's turn, I think. For now, I want to finish what I started, least it will remain as an awkward memory in his mind rather than a 'moral value that he imbibed that day' memory (I wish). Not letting the turmoil of my thoughts show, I continue calming, again saying what I had told my daughter, "sadly, incidents like these are happening everywhere. In this age of constant and instant communications, the expectations of intimacy is high at  every level, yes, even virtually. We hear of pic pressure- boyfriend asking/ pressurizing girlfriend for a private picture. We hear of the picture going viral upon break up. We hear of the ridicule and the humiliation that the girl is subjected to. We hear of a life lost- because someone did something simply because they could, because today's technology provides the means to". Again I hear, "I told you, I already know." I couldn't resist saying, "You think the boys who did those things didn't know?". He is silent. By now I'm almost pitying the little fellow. Ambushing him like that when he's a really nice person I know. But then I also know every mother feels that way about her son. But I'm willing to drop the conversation and give it a rest for another year probably. To my surprise, he says, "How about this? Since I already know, how about you just remind me occasionally?". "Okay", I say, eager to let him off the hook and at the same time loving this new suggestion, especially since it came from him. This is what I come up with- "once every year, around your birthday, I'm going to simply tell you to not indulge in sexting in any form- to not encourage, neither support; to not ask for, neither send". He agrees and I am content. 

CONVERSATION WITH MY SON- IT'S A WOMAN'S PREROGATIVE TO CHANGE HER MIND

Posted by Sonal Kulshrestha on Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This happened an year or so back, but a recent event triggered the memory of that conversation with my son. I clearly play out that day in my mind-

WomansPrerogativeMy son and daughter are arguing- "You said you'll play basketball with me", he goes. "Well, I can't anymore. I have lot of homework", she goes, I watch this scenario, too tired to intervene and half hoping the issue will resolve by itself as it sometimes does when they somehow manage to arrive at an agreement that is half-pleasing to both. It soon becomes evident that my wisdom [;)] is what will pave the way to peace again and so I abandon the thought of taking a quick "jhupki" and get up. Allow me to side track a little to explain "jhupki" to those who are not aware of the terminology. 'Jhupki', although is more commonly known as power nap, the latter does not quite convey the utter longing behind the concept. I simply have to have my 'Jhupki', unperturbed with the happenings around. So to get that 'jhupki', I had to resolve the situation fast.

"It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind", I tell my son. He seems confused, clearly he was expecting me to side with him. "What do you even mean? And do you even hear her lame excuse?".

"No matter what the reason, a woman has the right to change her mind. If a girl says 'yes' to you ten times, but the 11th time, she says 'No', then, 'NO' it is. Always remember that. Now. Through your dating years. Always." I say with all the right emphasis.

Now, I don't remember my daughter's reaction to it, but my son is not quite satisfied. He says, "What about the boys, Mom? Don't we have the prerogative to say no too?". "Of course, you do too". I say. I tell both of them, always remember, 'Don't Say Yes, When You Want To Say No', I throw in another of my favorite saying, with emphasis again.

I did get my 'jhupki' that day. But I can't, in all honesty, claim that my kids never argued on similar subjects again. In fact, what triggered the memory of that conversation was an almost identical situation. My son and daughter, now 11 and 15 respectively, were arguing over some promise that she made to him, that she wasn't going to be able to keep it after all. There's this movie that they had decided to watch together but she ended up making plans of seeing it with her friends. I always do try to let them work things out first, so as I watch I hear my daughter say this to her little brother-

"Now listen carefully. Say, your girl friend promises to watch a movie with you, but changes her mind and sees it with her friends instead- be a gentle man about it. Okay? Remember, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. It's my prerogative to say No, and say NO I do. Besides, I don't want to say yes when I want to say no"- with that she took off. For some reason, my son simply went, "Oh well!"

I can't even begin to describe the thoughts that cross my mind at that moment.
  
#1. She gets it! Even though the target disciple for the imparted wisdom was my son, I'm so glad my daughter understands and works with it. After all, she's the one who I hope will make full use of it and will not feel obliged to give in to any boy's wishes in any form whats-so-ever.

#2. He gets it! Or maybe not. Perhaps not yet. But with a big sister ready to recapitulate it at every opportunity possible, he soon will.

#3. Oh no- she's going to use it against him to walk out of situations to suit her convenience. Oh well, it'll be a  learning experience for both of them :) 

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