Khushi Ke Pal Sang Khuljaye Bachpan
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.” And he said…
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday…”The first time I read these words, I fell in love with the poet. I hoped against hope that Khalil Gibran would pay a visit to my mom, read this loud to her, pausing only for dramatic effect. The rebellious teens had set in and mom was having a hard time clipping my wings. Not that she ever gave up, and not that I ever stopped trying. You see, we both had one thing in common, our gene pool. She was stubborn; I was her daughter. And then as it happened in all Bollywood movies of yore, I kept running, and running, my legs grew longer and longer, and before I knew it I was a mother to a teen. Mom, against rising music crescendo, had comfortably settled into the role of an indulging grandma. And I was left to fend for myself. It was payback time………..Dang it!
Luckily for me, the princess was way well-behaved than I had ever been. She probably gets it from her dad, thank god! But she had inherited that stubbornness from my gene pool, and my glorious temper. I was pitted against a more advanced version of me. Suddenly Khalil Gibran did not seem that enticing. My girl was growing up right before my eyes and I simply could not keep pace. That’s when I sat myself down, took the lemons life handed me and added the tequila. Okay, that was over dramatic. But I did sit myself down and went back in time. When I was a teen, I just wanted a chance to be heard – to tell my side of the story. I wanted mom to know that I was doing okay and my choices, even if they were wrong, I’d find my way to the right path. I wanted her to have just a wee bit of faith. (No, not the George Michael types, silly.)
Present time, from a mother’s point of view, it seemed totally irrational. Yet, somehow I knew I had to let go, at least a little. She would never learn to drive if I held on to the steering wheel, and kept my feet on the brakes. I also realized that no matter what, I could not child-proof the world. She would be having all sorts of experiences, and she would have to make do with what lessons she learned. Perhaps, not once, maybe twice or three times in a row, life would bring her down. But all this would eventually shape her into the person she is meant to be. I could not stop life from happening to her even if I locked her up in a tower, though that thought did cross my mind. Just saying.
So, I took the first step. I opened dialog, and this is what I have learned.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Not everything has to be difficult or be debated upon. There must be a healthy balance between a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’, always offered with reasoning. ‘Because I said so’ don’t work anymore than it did back in our days.
And so when she needed a phone, I gave her my old one just to test the waters and see how responsible she was. She proved herself, and so we got her a new phone that did not cost the universe. Of the Rs 9000/- we put in Rs 3000/- and she put in the balance Rs 6000/- from her pocket-money. Now whenever she needs something a little beyond the realm of ordinary, she knows she has to save money to buy it.
She learned the value of money. I learned that a phone, to her, is just another appliance like the TV or the fridge. Times have changed, we need to move on.
- The child is the father of man.
The world is moving at such a fast pace, redundancy is setting in every two years. What we knew is obsolete in so many ways. True knowledge is ever evolving. What was Bombay to me will always be Mumbai to my daughter. I knew a camera with a film-roll of 36 pictures, she takes selfies on her smart phone. I have seen a time without computers, to her the internet is her playground.
And so I chose to let her teach me. Yes, being a parent doesn’t mean you know it all, now does it? And so, I have learned what it means to be a YouTuber. I have also learned Snap chat is in and Dubsmash is out, One Direction is not the same post-split, and Taylor Swift and Superwoman are rock stars. DIY videos are cool and bling is last season. Harry Potter is the bible and A capella is the new cool thing to ace.
She was delighted to introduce me to her world, as she knows it. I was simply happy to tag along.
- Show, don’t tell.
Kids have this uncanny habit of emulating their parents to the tee, especially when the parents are not watching. They don’t become miniature versions of you just out of the blue. I have realized that my love for dancing, art and craft have passed on to the princess as legacy. She has seen me passionately do up the house or immerse myself in an art project. And I know she has learned more by the hands on experience than by what I could have ever lectured her.
So, I encourage her to follow what she likes. As of now baking has caught her fancy. I try to provide assistance as and when needed. She has been given full liberty to keep her room as she likes. The result, my kitchen smells divine even on school days and the princess insists on cleaning her bedroom before she leaves for school, every morning.
She has learned that passion is a key ingredient for mastery in any field. I am simply happy that she has not inherited my husband’s non-existent creative genes.
- This too shall pass
Before you know it they would have flown the nest, so make the most of the present. Their today is all you have, don’t waste it on the fears of tomorrow or the regrets of yesterday. Eventually, all of us will find that one thing that makes us happy, so will our children. They will make of their life as they are destined to. You are the means, not their destination……so in the great words of Elsa, “Let it go.”
In recent times I have realised the importance of the here and now, and so we try to make the best of it. The princess and I have gone on impromptu dates, shopping sprees, movies and what not. If I say I am a buddy, then I also value her inputs. I never leave the house without her opinion on fashion and make up. If I make a mistake, I apologize. Friendship can never be a one way street, right? It takes two to make it work. And as a new-age mom, I am determined to do so.
She knows I have got her back, no matter what. And I know that I’ll be there for her as long as she needs me, and even beyond that, because I am her mom. Her happiness means a childhood she can come back to, always. Khushi Ke Pal Sang Khuljaye Bachpan
I leave you with Khalil Gibran’s concluding lines
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
Here revisit your khuski ke pal with this video and tell me of what parenting means to you.