They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think I will need a whole village and maybe the next ten to raise both of mine. Or atleast to answer questions I cannot answer and do not ever remember asking my parents. I don't ever remember asking my parents what marriage was - for the longest possible time (and this stymies even me how I was that ignorant for that long), I just thought my parents were siblings like my sister and I are, and that my grandparents were siblings too, this somehow reinforced in my mind because both my grandfathers had a "murthy" in their name - Ramamurthy and Krishnamurthy. Like I thought Rajnikant and Vijaykant were brothers (I know - I must have been a really lame kid) And then one morning, I woke up and I just knew what the whole deal was about. I just never asked my folks questions about stuff that I somehow knew would earn me a mild rebuke or at the very least some form of a dismissive answer. I stumbled into my own answers through incorrect assumptions and convoluted conclusions. Kids nowadays are different. And let's face it - we as parents are too. I would not dream of brushing off questions about marriage and babies and death as being too much too soon(or atleast I thought so). Hence the quandary - How much do you tell them? How much is too much? ANd on greater questions like religion and being a vegetarian, how do you teach them to accept that they are one while others around them are another? I obviously did not do a good job with the whole vegetarian shebang because one hiking trip, Vinay turns to the two other sole hikers - both white, strappy males in their 40s and says loudly, in English "Hunters! Bad hunters! Amma, do they eat the animals?" Needless to say, we cut our trip short.
Sample (on the subject of marriage):
Vinay: Amma, are you married?
Me: Uh huh. Yes baby I am
Vinay: To whom?
Me: Why, to your appa!
Vinay: Oh. Can you get married again?
Me: Oh no, I don't think so. And who would I get married to anyway?
Vinay: You could get married to Varun (this softly) or how about me?
Me: Oh baby, you will get married to someone else .
Sample on death:
Me(in a scream): Varun! if keep jumping off the bunk bed you are going to fall and break your neck!
Vinay: So then he will die?
Vinay: He could die, right?
Me: Er ...we would have to take him to the hospital and the doctor would have to give him shots
(Now the "shot" word used to be enough to silence them both for a looooong time, sadly no more) So again....
Vinay: But could he die??
Me: Hey! WHo wants candy??!!!!
There are many times I simply bow to greater experience and influence and I let his teachers know. And they have been absolutely wonderful, guiding me through some particularly tricky ones and handling some at school in ways that I would never have dreamed of but which have worked out beautifully. Like the other day in the car, on our way back from school
"Amma, do you know some people have babies. And then some don't"
"And that's okay" "And then some people don't want babies -for a loong time. And that's okay too"
I sat there in stunned silence while my heart was just overflowing with gratitude to his teachers for patiently answering my inquisitive child his incessant questions while injecting a learning of acceptance in him.
So they say it takes a village.
I'll bow deep to that.
2 months ago