Lets be honest, we all crave for attention and love from our parents, the absolute kind. Although, we do have it, we want it on our terms. Where we don’t want to be reprimanded when we break rules..(its a different issue, that our conscious does that to us now..that we’re grown up). I remember as a kid, I sometimes wouldn’t mind getting sick. The attention that I got during such times, from my parents was most coveted. It made for the most important reason why I needed to be sick. Needed to stay sick a little longer!
All my transgressions, my noncompliance's were so willingly forgiven and forgotten. It made for a perfect situation to come clean to them, if I had done something wrong, without the scare of being censured. There wouldn’t be anything I could do wrong during this time that would ever get me in their bad books. Siblings would be encouraged to be gentle with me..and comply with me, however unreasonable sometimes.
Thinking back, my parents gave me quite a few opportunities to overstep rules, if I wanted, but sadly, I never could because, it happened only when I was sick. Ah! How brilliantly timed that was!
And the most precious moments of all, when they gently placed their cool hands on my hot tummy, to check my temperature. whenever my fever soared up. It had felt like heaven. I would insist that my dad/mom let them hands stay on me. It made me feel so good.
I had done my fair share of feigning sickness too, for this TLC. Having both parents working, time with them had been a sparse commodity.. I had practiced it enough to be considered an expert Hypochondriac. Who would figure out?
My dad was a licensed practicing Homeopath so, go ahead dad, if you could diagnose what was wrong! Wasn’t the cure based on recounting the right symptoms? But, if the symptoms were a creation, wouldn’t it need a creative cure? Surely, he had that in his pocket too..Just plain tiny sugar beads. It appeared just like the real medicine.
This tiny act had a lot of advantages attached to it. Apart from what I listed above, my parents would take off from work and if not possible, they would juggle their schedules so somebody could stay with us. Of course, I got to bunk school., and when I went back, I didn’t even bother to do the homework. I had been sick, right?!
Then, as I grew up something fascinating started to happen. Those symptoms started to disappear.. In college, during the exams, I sure got butterflies that I mistook for tummy aches but, appearing for the exams had been more important.
Now, that I am a mom, I never get sick. If ever I fall sick which BTW, I have no right to, I’m up as soon as the fever reducer does its trick, Just like my mom did when she had been sick. As soon as she had felt better, she was up and into the kitchen to cook dinner for us. She could not afford to take a rest, with a whole family waiting on her, for things to fall in place. The dinner on the table, the clothes washed so, we have a change for the next day, the house cleaned and I could go on.
Even hubby dear, who was no less a baby earlier, when he got sick, almost in love with his doctor (a very beautiful lady!), who, he used to run to, for every little cough, now, is a totally different person. I don’t even know on days when he would just pop a few fever reducers so, he can go about his job. We’ve changed, we don’t have the right to be sick or fake it or exaggerate symptoms for some extra TLC, anymore. The kids have taken that right away from us now.
My mom, who was a tech working in an aeronautical firm, who could not sit still for a moment. It almost felt sinful to her..if she even took a moment to rest.. I remember, in the 2 roomed space that we lived in, she would come to check on me as a kid, as I lay on the bed with fever..and remember as soon as she came in, that she had left something on the stove and rush back to attend to her chores.
I loved all those truncated minutes of attention I got from her..her loving touch, the feel of her cool sari (which I used to try on..during school vacations when she left for work) , the mommy smell from her body, everything!! Now looking back, I wonder why I didn’t once hug her tight and take a long breath. I had thought those days would exist for ever..If only, I had the wisdom of knowing, how fleeting time was….Reminds me of what Bill Waterson had written “Childhood is short and Maturity is forever”!!
I’m sure there are a lot of situations we’ve been in life, that we wish could have turned out different, that we would want to do different today. If my life had a rewind button, I would like to go back in time and hug my parents more than I did. We were not a family that showed our love by touch, by holding hands, by hugging, by kissing. It was more of a telepathic kind. The most sublime kind that didn’t need expression. It was just understood. We just felt those waves travel through air and reach us and made us feel so elated. But, today when my kids hug me tight and kiss me loud and wet, as they leave to their school in the morning, ( its amazing to see that its become second nature even for K to come and do that) …I have realized that I love this way of expressing love way more.
In Indian households, especially like the one I grew up in..”Respect” was the key word to remember! I think that’s the story for most Indian Families. We end up touching our parents feet more often than their hearts. The other day, I was watching “Outsourced” and the main thought in that episode was on this line.
“Respect your Parents..The writing is all over the wall”!!!
You think as you grow up, and as you become a parent of 4 kids, you get wiser 4 times over ( only wise enough to decide not to have another kid, I guess! because, they don’t stay toddlers for ever!! right?), you can control your flit mind, you can maintain your direction of thought..but, some things were never meant to change, like my art of digressing!
So, coming back to the topic I started off with, Today even though, I am a stay at home mom, with all my attention for my kids, that I missed with my working parents, I find that my kids are still, in the same boat that I was in. They love all that extra TLC, when they get sick. They enjoy those moments, when they cannot do anything wrong to make me upset, except if they got sicker. They adore those moments when I wouldn’t care a damn about their infringements, the only care on my mind being, to see them get well.
On my part, I find my shoe size has gotten as big as my parents. I find myself feeling the same feelings as my parents did. Nothing else mattered to them, than to see me get well, when I fell sick. I feel the same for my kids now.
I don’t care about their school work, they don’t even need to go to school, for an extra day or two or a week. They can watch TV for the whole day, if they choose to. I won’t be mad, even a tiny bit (as K would put it!) . They could keep the messiest room and I would still pray the same prayer, that I used to pray to god, when my parents got sick. To make them get well, so they can get on with their effort of making me pull my hair off my head.
My kids on their part, are playing the role of the attention seeking moppets that they ought to be. The most difficult thing for them to accept, as they recuperate after a sickness, is the fact that, they are getting well. So, these are some of the things I see now-a-days when they get sick.
After a week of sickness, N got better and was packed off to school by the end of the week. The next week, P got sick. She happened to get better 2 days ahead of N. Already fine, she walked around for another day..with the bowl in her hand, because she was supposedly nauseous in spite of the fact that she was relishing different foods, the whole day.
Her kid brain forgot to let her know that my mommy brain is smart enough to figure this out. These are precious days for her and I let her have them. She got to be with me, home alone, when all the other siblings were at work….I mean at school!! And later, when the other siblings came home they compared notes, if their sick day schedules matched up! And who had the most fun.
“Mom, Did you take N to the store XYZ when she was sick last week?”, P asks
“Yes, we were out of bread and needed to buy that”, I said
“Can you take me to the store also?”, P asks
“P, I don’t need to buy anything today, and Its better we stay home so, you can relax!”, I say.
P frowns in disappointment.
Later when N and K are back from school. They hug like long lost lovers.
“P, I missed you at school”, K and N say.
“P, Did Mom take you out with her?”, N asks
“No, she didn’t”, P says
“I got to go to the store with Mama”, N brags.
“Mama, did I fall sick often when I was younger?”, K asks, already feeling bad that she isn’t sick and comforting herself that she had gotten her share of TLC when she was younger, I mean, a few months ago!
“Yes..now you have gotten stronger”, I reply, actually proud of myself, I had gotten successful this time, in keeping the sickness from the other 2 kids, blame it on better quarantine, or better immunity. Not spreading the germs myself, from one kid to the other.
I don’t think any amount of hugs would make K feel better. That, she doesn’t need to be sick to feel my love. Wouldn’t she still have to finish her homework?! She will have to go to school the next day, as usual. She still holds that innate dexterity of making me mad with her careless omissions.
Simple colds, coughs, tummy aches, during childhood are very treasured moments for the kid as much as we parents hate to see our kids be in that situation, they love to experience these moments, without of course, the doctor’s needles! That’s the first thing that concerns them..at the mention of the doctor.
“Am I going to get a shot?”, holds the most weight. If they were given a choice, that should decide if they need to go to the doctor.
So next time, they plan to be sick in a way that doesn’t need a doctor’s visit but, that could give them a break for a day or two from school.
Keep trying!! I think. Each of these episode equips this mom, better to deal with the sickness and get them back to school quicker!!