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"Everyone in my grade has a boyfriend. I want a Boyfriend too!! " expresses an eighth grader Megha ,petulantly to her mother.
They were arguing over an expensive short skirt the Girl wanted to purchase and Mom naturally wanted to avert this purchase. There was an upcoming Birthday party and though Mom felt , Megha had tons of clothes ...Megha was persistent.
The rejoinder had come to mom's query "Why do you need one more skirt? What do you want to achieve exactly?"
Mom dear had no idea how to now Rise up to this New Declaration that the Girl had thrown her way. There was stunned Silence while Megha sulked and refused to eat her lunch.
Mom Withdrew into her own thoughtful Silence for she too was thrown off guard .
Exactly how on the earth her little girl could have one at this juncture of life ??
Was it something you went to the Super Market and get for her Girl because she was throwing a Tantrum???
Was it a Tantrum??
She was aghast at the idea of Her girl strutting her stuff to win Male attention!!!
Her heart constricted at the thought of her little girl in the Arms of a Guy in all those clothes...the so called Modern outfits everyone wore!!
Oh God!!! Where she had gone wrong?? If her in-laws were to hear this plea...they would blame her for all the freedom ( according to them) she bestowed!!!
With so many rape Cases she was hearing what was she going to do???
How can she stop her?
She was so young and nubile and had just got her Menstrual cycles six months back!
She would have to follow her to check on her friends.
What kind of shameless girls is she interacting with? What are they doing in school ...no wonder so many proxy periods, it gives them all kind of time to be up for all kinds of mischief!!!
She decided to change the school and stop her from meeting any of her friends.
She almost felt like the Witch who locked up "Rapunzel" in a tower . Even if that did not work that many years ago what chances were there that it will work Today???
Temptations were all over. She had already Deactivated Megha's all Social media accounts. What more should she do to Dam her Girl's precociousness???
Till now she had a Map guide to direct her How she did her Homework? How to deal with Exams? She dipped into her own childhood experience bank to guide her but now...
She was hysterical and in a fit of desperation she decided to meet Megha's Tuition Teacher Arpana. She was a Counselling Source for many of her anxieties. Though she had misgivings of discussing private issues,she had to risk it.
As she was ushered in the room ,she burst into Tears and Angry betrayed outburst. She felt, she no longer knew her Daughter.
"I want to change her school" said a Mom with sparks flying in her eyes of anger doubt and distrust "She is upto no good,is that what we send her to school for? To get a boyfriend???"
"How in the world will I speak about Sex education? I cannot even discuss Sanitary pads with her??? her voice edged on hysteria.
"My In-laws will blame me for raising such a characterless Girl" Tears glistened at the edge of her eyes.
"Mrs Choksi, How many schools do you think you will change?" came a cool soft voice that kind of calmed her sense.
This was one thought even she had at the back of her mind. Now it was mirrored in the soft reserved collected pose of Arpana.
"I want you to hear me out a little hmm??"
She silently agreed...she had no choice and she had said all that she wanted to.
"Every school will have children of your Megha's age and the Girl boy attraction is universal across all cultures...
"..but when we were in eighth we did not go around seeking Boyfriends...!!!" she interjected acidly
"Think carefully Mrs Choksi we all had our fair share of crushes...people we liked...only our parental expectations were stringent and we knew it so not all of us expressed it super vividly...We as parents are lot more liberal in hearing our kids various expressions ...think back to your childhood you knew your Mother or Father never opened their communication channels wide enough to allow any talks more than what marks did you get ?? You will go to this College and take this stream! Matter closed! This willbe done and you had to do"
"I hated so many of their decisions so I promised I will spare my children such treatment" she added.
"True and so your communication channels are wide to allow your child to express her innermost desire..."
"But this is so disagreeable...People will think she is characterless!!!"
"Mrs Choksi...for a minute let us simply understand where your child comes from! She is growing up and becoming aware of her Feminine self. When she means boyfriend she wants special attention that validates her. It brings her appreciation from her fellow mates . As yet she does not mean it in sexual context at all though that time shall come soon too!"
Her eyes widened with Disbelief ...
"I am not affirming or dismissing her...all I am pointing out is her thought process. Wearing a certain make up...certain type of clothes...talking a certain way must be accepted way in their group of fellow beings who hang out together"
"Yes,all girls in her group wear atrociously short clothes"
"Mrs Choksi, labelling brings no solution. "
"How can one wear such clothes?? They are not even comfortable!" she almost yelled
"Megha wears them comfortably I suppose...Does she shop independently?"
"No , I and her Dad shop with her but till now she was young so it was ok but now she is growing..." her voice trailed as she realised her own trail of thought.
"It is the accepted dress code for Her groupies today...how will you make the Discernment between the moment she was young and the moment she is growing???"
She continued "You cannot lock her up too"
Mrs Choksi was getting agitated by the minute. "I will tell her father to take over,I am done with all this"
"Mrs Choksi, we as parents must see this time as an adolescent Wave...Children are passing through ups n downs...if we traverse with them...we will still be with them...if not we will lose them in the vast ocean of life...forever..."
Mrs Choksi was silent...absorbing
"We too were young ...we went through infatuations and relationships though in a hushed manner but we did. We like to pretend we were flawless but we had our fair share of turbulences when we would have wished our parents hear and understand us. Today our children are at the same delicate stage of Adolescence,Curiosity... Trials n Errors of relationships, choices...they deal with more as Sexuality and Such stuff is "in their face" all the time through social Media and such Avenues"
We need to look at our children without labelling and threatening...and yet setting limits...not after...but before ...
"They throw tantrums and do not listen to us"
"Sometimes they do not I agree ...but when we communicate ourselves as vulnerable parents willing to listen and Speak...we might forge a balanced relationship with our offspring...share our concerns too instead of being strong all the time...Say what is acceptable and share consequences if there is Discontent and Dissent. "
Each child is unique and each household unique...Each parent will have to undergo this trial and error with their children but most important offer understanding and share a conversation instead of sulk offs or Ultimatums...They are exercising their power too...Feel in Control and let them feel in control too...
Mrs Choksi realised that a Monumental tide of Change awaited her...it was a tall order to raise a young girl...for she will have to shed her old patterns and adopt new...she will have to learn to be her Girl's friend so she needs less of a Boy friend...but most importantly accept her need for a boyfriend at emotional level as part of growing up process and not necessarily a physical manifestation into a headlong relationship.
So much work was pending...She thanked Arpana and moved out into her own world where only she had to find navigation Tabs into her Daughter's heart!!!!
By Sonnal Pardiwala.
© Sonnal Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved.