What You See Is Not What It Is

 

In a recent parents-teacher meeting I was told by my daughter’s class teacher that she has a ‘severe attitude problem’. My daughter, two weeks short of turning 11, as the teacher continued to tell, refuses to mix up with the girls in the class. She chooses to ignore them. I was not surprised by what I was told as my daughter shares just about everything that happens in the school. Only that I would not have used the word ‘attitude’ and that too bolstered by the adjective ‘severe’.

Some people just can’t make friends easily and my daughter happens to be one of them. I will not use the word ‘different’ for her. She just hasn’t come across like-minded people of her age. She does make an effort to understand their jokes, gossips, trivia and she just doesn’t get them. Last she told me that when she sat with another girl in the class, the girl asked her to not to sit next to her and the reason being : “I don’t like your face!” And another time when my daughter wanted to borrow some paints for the art activity, a girl snubbed her by saying that she didn’t have any to offer her and even if she did , she would not lend it to her.

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How do you expect my daughter to react? How would you react if you are told your face is dis-likeable? My daughter chose to ignore. I don’t see what argument she could have put up on this and she is grown up enough to know when exactly to complain to the teacher and when not! It must be painful for having been told things like this but she does not express her feelings to me – just plain facts.

Fortunately being in a co-ed school, she has the other gender to try making friends with and voila! she has 2-3 boys as her friends now. At least she is lucky to have this option. I have been to only all-girls’ schools which has its own set of pros and cons. But that saga is for another day. 

Coming back to the parents-teacher meet, given the academic and administrative pressure on the teachers I don’t blame them from forming opinions just on the basis of what they see. As a parent I am happy that I chose to refute what the teacher had to say rather than nodding my head in agreement and getting over with the once-in-a-quarter meeting on a Saturday morning as usually I prefer. I am happy that I am aware of the emotional roller coaster ride most children including my daughter, especially pre-teens and teens, go through in life, particularly in school. There are some scars from my school time that will remain unhealed forever and I am glad that I have them as I feel I can understand my child’s psyche better.

I daily look forward to her tales from school and usually it is these little episodes that gives me a better insight to her mental growth. Studies and sports can take a backseat. It is what in the mind that I try to delve in as this is what will shape her as a woman eventually.

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photo above: daughter using Snapchat and its filter

 

Old hands too many

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Two somewhat similar experiences last week made me think if it was something in me that needed to change or was it just ‘them’. By them I mean the older generation – who are at least two decades older than me. Eerily, both these incidents had similar themes: trying to tell off my 10-year old daughter in my very presence. The first was when she was surrounded, like everyday,  by her favourite stray dogs in the park. I was standing next to her. The gentleman who was on his evening stroll stopped by and told her to not to play with them as they could bite. The second gentleman happened to honk his car horn so loud while we were turning on the road on our bi-cycles that my daughter in panic applied the brakes there and then. He then happened to stop his car and roll down his co-passenger side window to tell me to tell my daughter to never apply brakes while turning   .

In both the above incidents I snapped at them, albeit politely (at least I thought I was polite). To the first one I said that she wasn’t playing with the dogs. Technically, she wasn’t ‘playing’ with them . They were just around her and she happened to like that. And to the second one, I said that if he didn’t honk his horn that loud she wouldn’t have stopped the cycle suddenly. The first fellow just left without any further advise and continued with his walk while the second one stopped his car again after we resumed on our bi-cycles to tell me that he only stopped by to tell me this as he would have told his daughter. I said a ‘thank you’ with an undertone of irritation.

Was it necessary for them to give their two bits when they knew a parent was present with the child or was I overreacting? Was it to tell me indirectly that I didn’t perform my parental duties properly and needed somebody with many years of more experience to tell me that? Or is it that that generation in particular believes in speaking its mind irrespective of the reaction and pass on their years of wisdom just to anyone and anywhere?

Yes I did feel sorry for the way I reacted. It also later on made me imagine that perhaps that they didn’t have a happy home where they lived with their grandchildren but couldn’t tell them off due to family limitations (evil daughters-in-law? rude grandchildren?). My imagination just took off to another level altogether as I perhaps wanted to cover up my guilt.

All in all, I am not claiming that I make a great and a perfect mother but really I can do without strangers, even in the garb of old age, giving me or my child (in my presence) a piece of advise when it is absolutely not required.

(illustration courtesy: thumbs.dreamstime.com)