Right now, I have a strange equation with my young son who has just turned 13. He has always been my little boy and he is a sensitive and caring person. He is also intelligent, works hard when pushed and excels academically and socially.
The last few weeks have seen me on the edge with him. I usually call him up from work to check whether he has completed his daily studies and in the last few weeks, he has been bumming off. He does the least bit he can to officially say he has done his bit for the day, but it usually involves skipping a couple of things that I had wanted him to do.
And yes, like all youngsters his age, he does not like being nagged or policed around. And he has enough of gadgets to keep him occupied: a mobile, the tablet, the television… and a little brother! As you can imagine, study time is quite chaotic.
But last evening as I made my routine call and he answered back saying he was unwell, I lost my cool. I have been doing it for a while now when we discuss his study. When he said he wanted to skip the homework as he was feeling unwell, I felt he was pulling a fast one to get out of the day’s homework. I clearly ordered him to do the homework I had outlined for him and be ready for assessment when I reached home in a while.
My personal interaction with him as I reached home appeared to me a complete contrast from my chat with him on the phone. He walked up to hug me and tell me he had missed me during the day. I hugged him back, saying ‘I missed you too. How are you feeling?’ He wrinkled his nose and shook his head.
I pointed to his books laid out on the table and said, ‘Well, finish your homework and then you can go to bed.’ Sullenly he hung his head and walked back to his books.
As the evening turned to night, I wondered at my irritated outburst over the phone. What was it that was making me treat him like an adult? I wanted him to be responsible for his studies, for his future. Every time I saw him while away his time on the net or with silly games, I worried about the books he has not read, and the music and plays he has not experienced. In my opinion, these aspects of any child’s culture critical to a well rounded personality, and I constantly worry about him growing up without enough exposure.
There are topics he loves and he is an expert on those, and then there are topics he could not care less about and he knows zilch about those. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was not him that was angering me when I checked with him on his studies. No, I believe, what is bothering me is the fact that may be I am not spending as much time as I would like to with him, and may be he is missing out on the reading, the exposure that I would like to give him.
I have also been wondering if I should chat with him on his future seriously and make him realize these are the formative years and the efforts that go in now will go a long way in determining his future. Should I tell him all this, will he learn, if I let him lead his life the way he wants? There are just too many questions in my mind and not enough answers. I guess, that’s what being a parent of a teen is all about: learning how much to control and where to let go. Looks like the road is a long one, and I will have to do as much learning in the process and he will! Till the next time,
~ Bharti Athray
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