This job is leaving me brain dead. I dint say this, N did, and she’s right. Crafty has been mentioning how work is pretty much driving her up the wall these days on her blog. I empathise with her. My situation is better but not drastically so. The not-so-cool part about being able to string words into a sensible, (mostly) grammatically correct sentence is that you get to do all the writing /documentation at work. If it’s the year end, then that’s the only thing you do. Its fun for about 4 days after which it becomes tedious and unexciting. I mean there are only so many way in which I can express how absolutely great our health interventions have been and how absolutely fabulous they have made the lives of hundreds. I have been writing non stop for a month and a half now. Therefore when it comes to this blog, I am speechless. Or rather wordless. Its not that there aren’t enough ideas floating around in my head, it’s just that the though of writing any more unleashed terror in my mind. With grit and sheer will power I have forced myself to write this post. When you are upset with something, you will be amazed how easily the words flow!
Just the other morning mom and I were driving to the market to shop for groceries. We must have been a few meters away from our building, when unexpectedly, quite out of the blue, a kid on a bicycle coming from the opposite direction cut right in front of our car and zipped passed. It was a narrow escape. Had we taken a second longer to press on the breaks or had he taken a second longer to cross in front of the car, we would have collided. We wouldn’t have suffered any great damage, but he, on his flashy geared bike would have broken a limb for sure. I twisted around to catch a glimpse of speedygonzalvis and correctly identified his as a kid from our building.
Ever since the incident we have been trying to track him down, not to give him an earful but to tell him , with all good intentions, how traffic rules work. If he wants to cycle around the block for a few more years, he had better learn some traffic rules.
But as is the case with most things that you really want, you don’t get them easily. Normally we bump into speedygonzalvis all the time- in the lift, the staircase, the lobby, the parking, in the morning while leaving for work, in the evening when coming back from work. For two whole days, we kept our eyes and ears open for him to no avail. Finally, we caught up with his last evening. We were leaving the building when he ambled in. Mom called out to him politely and in her typical manner went about explaining what had happened that morning. Ten seconds into the explanation, speedy’s mom walked in, looking none too pleased “Kya hua?” asked the mother who is normally nonchalant about everything that concerns her kids. We explained in brief how her son was cycling on the road throwing caution, and traffic rules, to the wind and how we had averted a potential accident. For once in the 7 years that I have known her, she actually looked upset about what she heard about her son. She explained how they had recently lost a family member to reckless driving and how her son refused to listen to her. She complained that he though he had become too big, always trying to do things independently and how she and her husband had been telling him to stop cycling. Mom took on from there, addressing speedy “Independence is good. You are a big boy now but you have to be responsible as well. No one has a problem with your cycling as long as you do it carefully” Before she could finish her sentence, speedy walked off. Just like that. Left his spot and walked right into the building towards the lift. I was stunned and appalled, speedy’s mom was marginally embarrassed and my mom, undeterred by his behaviour and hell bent on getting the point across to him, was too busy calling him back. He dint bother coming back, till his mother instructed him in that typical warning tone that only mothers know how to use, that indicated if he dint instructions immediately there will be hell to pay. He dragged his feet, came back to his original spot and looked here and there distractedly. We dint really have anything else to say to him. I dint want to say anything after the way he had just behaved. We wrapped it up with a smile and a repeated request for responsible behaviour on the road.
We went our way but speedy and his attitude stayed in my mind, in a disturbing sort of way, for much longer. There were lots of aspects about the incident that I dint like. To begin with, the way he was riding his cycle was, if nothing else, downright scary. Road accidents are not uncommon and as a cyclist you are terribly exposed, which just means you have to be that much more careful. I agree he is a 13 year old kid who is out to show the whole wide world how independent and cool he is. And as a 13 year old he is bound to behave rebelliously and do exactly as he pleases irrespective of everything and everyone else. I understand all that. What I don’t understand is his parents’ approach in brining him up. We’ve seen this kid grow up in front of us. Not once in the years that we have lived here, have we seen either of his parents being involved in what he or his sister do. They are for all practical purposes, on their own. That means they play whatever games they like, in whatever manner and with whichever friends and no one says a thing. About a year back, speedy and 3 of his friends began playing football in the parking area every evening. The parking lot isn’t too large a space and everyone worried about their cars being damaged and their window panes being shattered. We must have told them a hundred times that they were no longer small kids, their kicks were getting really strong and they were capable to inflict real damage on the small kids playing alongside and the cars and building. No one cared, neither the kids nor their parents. Then one fine day we found a conspicuous dent, the exact shape and size of a football, on our car. At our wits end, we confiscated the football and told speedy and his friends that if they wanted the ball back, their parents would have to give a written undertaking that they will bear the cost of all damages caused by the children. The act was aimed at getting their parents involved in what was happening but the kids never came to collect the ball. They were found playing with a brand new one the very next day, bought by group leader speedy’s loving parents.
The cycling incident was the first time I saw speedy’s mother actually react in someway, or rather react in the right way, to something her son did. Most of the times, she doesn’t seem to care. May be this time she thought of the serious harm he can cause to himself and panicked. Her response to the situation was to ask him to not cycle. That’s obviously not the answer to the situation. Of course he can cycle, he just has to be told how. And that means you have to spend time with him to explain things to him and may be take your overweight self out of the house and go with him on one of his cycling sprees and watch him from a distance. Just like you had to take him and his friend to the open playing field in the evening instead of letting them play in the parking lot. And what’s wrong with independence? It’s a good thing, and it’s naturally progression. Your kids are going to become independent as they grow up, you can’t stop it but you can guide it. Introduce independence in an appropriate manner, with the need for being responsible woven in and adequate monitoring till complete mastery over tasks is gained. How is stifling kids and not letting them enjoy the sense of control and achievement that being on their own brings, serve any purpose?
And what kind of child walks away when he is being spoken to? He may want to show the world he doesn’t care about what it has to say about him, but can he really translate that desire into action? There have been hundreds of times when as a teenager I wanted to answer back or in some cases not answer at all to show my disagreement with my parents, and there have been a few incidences when I have done exactly that. But I never had the guts to walk away when either of my parents was talking to me. That was stepping over that invisible line that made your behaviour totally unacceptable. Even if I would have had the courage to walk off, I would never ever have done it in front of a neighbour. It may have been excruciatingly frustrating but I just wouldn’t be able to do it. It wouldn’t feel right. Showing your displeasure or disagreement is one thing, being disrespectful quite another. It’s a fine line and one that is subjective to what our family values and rules are. But it exists, and to me, if you have the indecency to walk off while 3 adults are talking to you just means you weren’t disciplined right and that you hardly respect your parents. A lot rests on the parenting you received and it isn’t your fault if your parents did take it as seriously as they should have or were too self involved to care about what was happening in your world. So its not fair to blame you alone for the way you are shaping up;but at the same time, if you are so smart as to know how to misbehave you are also smart enough to look around and learn from others who are doing things right. When you come over to collect funds for the SOS village and smile sweetly at my door, how do you forget to smile as sweetly when you meet me in the lift? If others kids smile and say hello, why don’t you follow them? Behaving like you have never seen me, or seeing through me while I like an idiot smile at you, is nothing but rude. I don’t think respecting elders and possessing manner are a thing of the past or that in the name of adolescent you should be allowed to get away with anything.