“How will you react when your son comes up to you and say, Appa I want to have a birthday gift that gives away a ‘nice’ return gift?” I asked the father of my child. Before he could decipher the real meaning hidden in my question, I added, “By ‘nice’ I mean something that’ll make him popular amongst his friends.”
An unusual conversation perhaps for the parents of a 16 month old to have; but yes, we had our little tete-e-tete about how we’d want V to grow up. I was driving us to work and something got us talking about a conversation that A had with a colleague. Both of them fathers to single children agreed that having two kids in today’s day and age meant earning a lot of money.
A – “I mean, school fees run into 40 – 50 thousand? What did we pay in school? Wasn’t it barely a few thousands for a quarter?”
Me – “Well that was 30 years back, baby and in Jamshedpur. We live in Delhi now! What can you expect?”
A – “I am certain I want V to study in an IB school. I know he may grow up to be a pseudo-rich brat with his head in the clouds… but we got to take a chance!”
Me – “That’ll make it worse na? All those demands. His tantrums. He will compare himself with his classmates. He will want fancy birthday parties and expensive gifts!”
A – **silence accompanied by a deep frown**
Me – “Try explaining to your son then!”
Me – “Look at our lives now. We barely spend an hour or so with him in the morning. All day he’s alone with his nanny. When we get back, we spend another couple of hours with him after which it’s time to sleep. And in between all of this if he asks for a favour, will you refuse him? And if you do, do you think he’ll take it well? Life only gets tougher from here!”
Me – “That’s why I wanted to home school. I am very scared of the environment that he’ll be pushed into.”
A – “Does home schooling give degrees?”
Me – “Yes. He can take the IB or NOS independently.”
A – “Our growing up was so much easier!”
At this point our conversation meandered towards other things. But the thought of raising V in a world that is so different from the one we grew up in.
I got a pocket-money of Rs 50/week when I was in plus two. Before that, pocket-money was not a regular affair. A tells me, V would surely ask for Rs 1000/week!!
Can I really relive my childhood with V then? Or is motherhood and all that is said about becoming a child again is too over rated?
I still feel excited at the prospect of receiving a book as a gift. Will he gift books to his friends? I loved my birthday parties that Mimi (my maternal aunt) decorated. Every birthday she was my chief organiser, she’d get the cake from Calcutta (yes, I still call it that) – a one Kg, special themed cake from Cookie Jar, she’d decide on a theme for the party, decorate the house accordingly, organise the games and manage the kids. Together she and Maa cooked the food at home and we all sat on the floor to eat our cake and chips. Later, we burst a huge balloon that was tied to the fan. The balloon popped out confetti and toffees for all of us to scramble and collect. At the door when I said good-bye to my friends, I thanked them with a small paper bag. Inside one could find a pencil, an eraser, a whistle and a few toffees.
I am not sure we arrived at a conclusion. I am not sure I have found an answer to my fear of having my son turn into a commercial, brand conscious consumer who wants very specific gifts for himself and his friends. I want V to grow up with the ‘innocence’ of childhood, if there is anything like that now.
The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.