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Parenting regrets are perfectly normal. We were not born parents, we just took a hands on crash course when the baby arrived and surely that is not adequate training for the most delicate, dangerous and important job in the world. So bumbling and fumbling along the parenting path, I can count a thousand things that I wish I could do differently, but these 5 are surely my biggest mistakes.
Not signing a non-disclosure agreement with my mother
Expectant parents, put this high on your to-do list. Get that stamp paper out and get your mother to sign and swear never to reveal your deepest darkest childhood secrets to your children. And if you dont, please understand the risks you run. Just when you have spent an hour educating your kids about the wonders of green vegetables and are only seconds away from getting them to eat that vitamin wonder filled bowlful, your mother will regale her darling grandchildren with stories about you as a kid, making laddoos out of your palak paneer and tossing it to the dog. Encouraged by their giggles, she will turn into an instant stand-up comic and recall every incident from your childhood where you did all that you now preach should not be done. Good luck with trying to restore order and reinstate your authority after that. You have been warned.
Not inventing a bogeyman
So Wikipedia defines a ‘Bogeyman’ as ‘a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults or older children to frighten bad children into good behaviour.’ In India you would know the bogeyman as Budha baba, kala bhoot, Babbar sher, Gabbar Singh, policeman, postman and different permutations and combinations of the above. With my firstborn I chose to follow the wisdom of hundreds of parenting gurus who warn that using a bogeyman today could mean risking your child having heebie jeebies relating to that thing forever. By the time my second child came, I was desperate for few moments of sanity and peace and tried the ‘scaring-my-child-into-obedience’ track. But I was too late - the older one would reassure the li’l one that no such thing exists and then the two of them together would just guffaw loudly and go right back to their mischief. Well, just as well ‘coz even a budha, kala bhoot called Gabbar would be no match for the kids of these days!
Uber cataloguing the ‘firsts’ of my first child
I have at least 5 complete photo albums of just her first year, not to mention CD’s (and backup CDs) that go up to Volume 11 and of course, detailed daily journals recording every breath she’d take and every move she made....God knows how I found that much time! For my second, I have a well. . . sort of single line entry in her baby book that ummm. . . kind of records the fact that she was born. Of course I have thousands and thousands of pictures and videos and yes, someday I will organise them properly on different media. But till then, I have to deal with the repercussions of my overefficient minute-by-minute babylog and explain to the second one how her story is so much more special and needs a little more time to catalogue - perhaps another decade?
Downloading ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen
Oh it is a lovely song, so inspirational and so catchy and yes, award winning too! But I wonder what crazed moment was it when I allowed the download of the singalong version on pretty much every device in the house. The ‘Frozen’ mania has hit our house hard with particular reference to this song and we have to go through a thousand renditions of it every day, including singalongs with friends over the phone! The encouraging parents that we are, we have put up with not only our own 8 year old’s cover version, but also the rendition by every 4, 5, 6 and 60 year old on youtube. Those eyes squeezed shut in concentration, the volume getting louder in direct proportion to the pitch of the notes, the forehead creasing up in the effort to get the high notes right . . . oh baby, just Let It Go ...please!
Installing WhatsApp on my phone
You know that fine line that comes up when you download any App that says ‘Click here for Terms and Conditions’ and we all ignore it and just click on ‘I Accept’ anyway? Well I’m quite sure WhatsApp’s terms and conditions included a warning about being automatically added to school groups populated and run by Tiger Moms. Oh they’re useful no doubt, especially when your children dart to the park yelling ‘No homework today’ and you greet them on their return with a screenshot of the homework list sent on the group. It is also a wonderful parent support group, especially when you need to reconfirm dates of a parent teacher meeting or put your collective parenting minds together to chart out positive suggestions to the school. But it gets a little intimidating when the Tiger Moms exchange exhausting details of their child’s after school activities and accomplishments and it gets downright suffocating when conversations about organising a voluntary activity in school degenerate into bickering and squabbles. But as a conscientious parent, you cannot leave the group lest you miss out on something. It’s a little like Hotel California - “You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!" And just a quick disclaimer in case any of the Mums on any of my school groups are reading this, you know this is not about you. . . right?