“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
When you try to change your way of life it is a battle against your being, your beliefs. But when you are trying to change the way others, part of your life behave, it’s a battle with guaranteed discord.
I had mentioned about one such major conflict in my post here. In the days that followed, Pari and her obstinacy has grown manifolds. The tempest in my heart, seeing Pari harm herself just to satisfy her stubborn soul has been the leading cause of my anxiety. Every single time, I’d try to make Pari see how she could have done something differently, my father would interject, charge upon me trying to shield Pari. What sounds like his fatherly instinct at play, in real life acts as a dark screen, blinding Pari from seeing my point of view, gifting her a false sense of victory over me.
As far me, I would be furious of being humiliated by my own parent for trying to parent my child. While my father took it as his natural instinct to protect his precious grand-child from a seeming predator, he was failing to see how these encounters were affecting Pari’s psyche. Pari had started losing respect for me, one fiber a day. She knew I could not touch her, scold her or make her do anything against her will, simply because her grand-father would blindly take her side.
It would make me cringe, make my heart bleed and the mother in me couldn’t help but feel infuriated, helpless, depressed and worried about my child. I would lose appetite, stay irritated, couldn’t focus on work and on many days couldn’t even sleep properly. Finally, I made up my mind to confront my father in the absence of my daughter. I had to make him see my point of view. I had to stop him from interfering when I tried to discipline my child. I had to make him understand that I meant no harm to Pari.
As ridiculous it may sound, but I was scared, worried about the outcome of such a confrontation given my father’s bad temper. But, the mother in me had made up her mind. It was a do-or-die moment for me because I couldn’t bear it any minute longer. After the breakfast when my father is usually in the study, busy reading, that’s when I decided to approach him. As luck would have it, just then someone visited us and my father had to go out with him for something important.
All my preparation was about to go vain. My mother who usually never broached the topic of me looking worried (that has been the case since my existence. Unusual, yes, but that’s how it is) asked me casually what has been bothering me. And I like a parrot who had memorized a sermon, delivered the prepared speech to her. Halfway through when I’d started feeling heaps better, lighter and encouraged by the fact that though silent, my mother could see my point of view, I told her that she needn’t worry to be my messenger. I was well prepared to say it all to Papa myself that he had to stop stepping in every time I tried to discipline Pari.
This conversation happened while my mother and I were busy working in the kitchen. Both working on different benches but well-aware of the pain in each other’s heart. Being a mother myself, I knew my mother was able to see the validity of my request but was scared of the possible angry outburst on my father’s part if I broached him with this issue. After a ten minute silence with the ladle tinkling against the wok and the knife relentlessly chopping vegetables on the chopping board as the only sounds in the kitchen, my mother’s only words were, “I’ll speak to Papa, you don’t.”
The day went on. I got busy with my assignments and then the daily chores, almost forgetting about it all even my father returned home and we all had lunch together. Later in the evening, when Pari was her usual self refusing to eat dinner or to do her homework, I habitually started trying to make her see some sense trying to tell her the importance of eating nutritious food and more on similar lines.
After speaking for two minutes, I stopped. Because my father who was sitting inches away was busy watching the TV without a change in his expression. Pari was looking at him in anticipation of protecting her from me but he didn’t budge. Few minutes later, when Pari realized I had virtually cornered her, she obliged by eating dinner with me.
The enormous self-control my father was exercising to stay away was palpable in his silence even when he wore a mask like expression. But I silently, thanked the Almighty, my mother and also my father for seeing the sense in my plea. What might appear to be common sense could have resulted in a major conflict, heartburn and a volatile situation in our home had the events not turned out the way they did.
Things have changed dramatically ever since. Though Pari hasn’t changed much, but she knows it well that when I mean business, she better not mess with me. She knows, she won’t have an escape because her grand-parents won’t step in when I am disciplining her.
It has been just about 20 days since, but I can’t put in words the massive relief this small step has gifted me. I know I’m not as experienced as my parents and perhaps not as patient or forgiving with my child like her grandparents, but I am open to learning in due course of time. Parenting is one of those lessons that can be learnt only by practicing it. Pari is my responsibility and I want to take all decisions, I must as a parent, on my own. I am open to suggestions, but I am not ready to be made to do things that my heart or principles don’t allow.
I am aware I’ll be wrong many times, but I want to make those mistakes that’ll make me wise enough to not keep repeating them over and over again. This was just one instance, but encouraged by the outcome, I am ready to take up other issues and see how far can I stretch myself to lead a life on my terms.
The song on my mind: Ye dil sun raha hai is dil ki zubaan ~ Khamoshi