Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Are you going alone?
When will you come home?
These are questions that for some strange reason annoy young people. If the first question annoys you, the second one will irritate you even more and as for the third and fourth, you will probably be ready to blow a fuse; especially if one has to answer one or all of these questions to one’s parent / parents, more so when one is “grown up”. Legally speaking “grown up” is when one turns 18, the age when one can get a driver’s license and can vote or 21 or the accepted age of adulthood; children like to think they are grown up once they attain puberty and parents like to think their children are never really grown up, hence this extreme irritation and annoyance when considered still a child.
Take my case: it was strange that it didn’t matter if I locked myself up in my room for hours without telling anyone what I’d be doing there and for how long but the moment I opened the front door, my mother would ask where I was going. If it wasn’t my mother, it would be my father or the servant or just anyone who happened to be home. Even my dog would look up at me questioningly as though to ask “what should I tell your mum?” And of course the question would be followed by the other three which would have me give a blow by blow account of where I’d be, with whom and where and when I should be returning home. This was in the days when we had no telephones (definitely not the mobile variety) and used public transport. I might also add that though it was a safer environment, there were enough grizzly murders (the Chopra kids who were once our neighbours) and ghastly rapes and murders which naturally warranted these questions. But equally naturally as a teenager, these questions got my back up as I felt it was a gross invasion of privacy or sheer nosiness. But is it nosiness? Now as a grown person, I realize how important it is for others to know where you are going even if you don’t really want them to know.
In this day and age with increased connectivity one would think these questions have become superfluous because everyone is but a phone call away. But equally with greater mobility you can go further away from home and an increased awareness of the horrid things that can happen to anyone, make people all the more paranoid. Personal safety is something we take for granted but there are always those stray cars that can knock you down, a turn in the road that can take you down an unfamiliar path and get you lost, a breakdown that can get you stranded or even a health issue that requires someone to take you to the doctor. It is important for people to know where to start looking if you don’t come home or show up at the time you said you would.
And even if you are far away in another continent and feel it matters little to those you’ve left behind at home where you are going and what you are going to do, strangely it does. I know my daughter who was studying overseas would get annoyed even if I asked her what she was doing and she’d rudely say to me “Well what does it matter to you? You don’t know the people and you don’t know the place. So I can effectively spin any yarn I like.” Put like that it was very true. I mean even if she was struck by a tornado or caught in a shootout, I wouldn’t have been able to do a thing apart from the fact of knowing that she was there. But is that the only reason we want to know where a person is going?
There is something to be said for keeping in touch especially when one is so far away. A conversation about people you don’t know strangely opens doors to another world and keeps you somewhat connected to the person at the other end of the sound wave or email. And this is particularly true of children and their parents. Even if you feel that your life is far removed from your parents’ there’s something intimate about sharing details of a life your parent no longer is a part of. Meaningless as the questions may seem to you, they mean the world to them so the next time your parent asks you what you are doing or where you are going don’t get mad – just tell them.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through babyhood, toddler hood, adolescence and adulthood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood.