I remember someone once told me, “God does the best quality control job. You will hardly ever find 2 individuals who look and behave alike in the same household.” True and am certain most of us relate to this.
Let me start with my (elder) sister and me. If she is a perfectionist (for everything), am not. If she likes to be punctual, I learnt that very late in life. She is extremely orderly, and my cupboard, handbag and wallet are always a mess. She is an extremely intelligent (I mean academically) person, and I just managed to scraped through. She is perfect with her dressing and etiquettes and it’s a struggle for me if I have to dress up (well).
I see the same with my 2 girls. One is perfect with her work, cupboard, upkeep of her toys, etc and the other can’t care less. One likes to be on time to the bus stop, the other is always asking for more time. One needs to be told that this ‘belongs’ to her and it’s her right, the other ensures that she gets more than what is her ‘right’. There is a constant struggle in the house (as they are growing), with each one fighting for their space and their needs. The elder one has to be often told, that she can impose some conditions and can be a bit pushy. The younger one has to be ‘always’ told, that she has got it way early in life! If one likes bournvita, the other only drinks strawberry milk. Despite these differences, they manage to strike that balance.
Of course when we had my 12-year old nephew visit us in the summer, the equation was even more intriguing. Here was a boy (almost a teen) amongst these two girls. A boy who I needed to give his space, his freedom but also unknowingly keep an eye, and manage all emotions (from the 3-year old to the 13-year old). The balance the three brought in seemed perfect. Nobody's demands seemed bigger or important. Each one made space for the other- from the TV shows they would watch to weekend outings the family took. He taught me to 'chill' and stay 'calm' (as much as I could).
I wonder if my mother noticed so much difference in her daughters and did she have to make an effort to ensure we both got our due. Or did she let us fight it out? Times have changed so much now. Kids are far more aware, they have more access to information, and they are very vocal about what they ‘need’. So somewhere I feel, our parenting role is a bit more complex in today’s world. Though in no way do I undermine what our parents did for us. I think the challenges were different then. Our parents were only busy ensuring all our ‘wants’ were met. With today’s generation we are forever playing the ‘bad policeman’. They need to be ‘watched’ and ‘told’ always.
Tuesday: I went on this day-long field trip with my elder one’s class. I was warned that it was going to be ‘hot and long’ day. For me it felt like I was heading for a 10km run. And indeed it was. With 20 ‘active’ kids around, getting them to do any task in an orderly fashion was the challenge. I could see a huge difference in the way even their teachers handle them these days. They talk to each other like adults. That’s probably the biggest difference in our upbringing and theirs. They are questioned about every act of theirs and are asked to think. We were only ‘told’ on what is right and wrong. From my kids I have learnt, there is no ‘one’ right way or wrong way. I think that’s a big learning. It’s made me more acceptable, more broad-minded in my thinking.
And on that note the (‘hopelessly) trying hard to be perfect mother hopes my mother’s way and my way ultimately cross paths somewhere and lead to the same destination.