Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Parenting Parents !

When I planned my trip to India this year, I had some definite goals which were very different from the usual to-meet and to-do list ! The goals were all related to parenting parents !

I have heard from friends that parenting children is tricky because they are stubborn, cannot be reasoned with and have to be dealt with a lot of patience. They also need a lot of tough love, which isn't always easy because their tear-welled eyes can melt anyone's heart. I have realised in the last few days that this is exactly the same with parents !

For the last few years I have tried 2 things with them - one, asking them to move to a bigger and comfortable house and two, making them health conscious. Since I had miserably failed in accomplishing this through email and phone, I decided to try my hand in person.

The first road block is getting past all their pre-conceived notions. They are convinced that the area they live in is the only place in Madras without drinking water problems, excessive power cuts and burglaries! I can understand their reluctance in having to move out of a place they have lived in for the last 30 years...I am very attached to the house too because it is a place I grew up in. But the only way I can afford a bigger house in this area (where a 1000 sq.ft apt costs more than 1 crore!!) is if I take to smuggling! In spite of me explaining to them that they don't have to sell this house and they can come back here anytime they want, they still wouldn’t budge.

The second road block is making them listen to someone they brought up - "engalukku onnum theriyamala unna ivalo dhooram valarthu vitturkom ??" is a question I have had to answer almost every alternate day. My constant response was "apdi valarthu vitta neenga sowgaryama irukkanumnu naan nenaika koodadha??”. If they choose to live in small house, they should also choose to have only fewer items…but no….everytime amma gets a kitchenware (be it a ladle or tupperware), she insists on saving it for me …ada kadavule!

The third and the most annoying road block is their ''you are a NRI'' attitude. What drove me crazy was them saying – “You live in a pollution-free city and in a luxurious apartment, so everything here looks small and dirty to you”….and a part of it is not even true, I live in a small and simple apartment and I am not even that picky about keeping it spic and span and they know it (they have seen 1000s of fotos!!)….it is true that my thoughts about lifestyle and health have changed considerably after coming to Europe but not to an extent that I would consider everything back home small and dirty!!!

After hours and hours of argument, I finally resorted to emotional blackmail and told them that unless they took actions w.r.t the house and their health, there will be no discussion about grandchildren! For good measure, I also painted a very clear picture – where would we stay if Raghav got married and both he and I came home with our spouses to visit you? How would you come all the way to Germany to be with me if I was in the family way and the doctor forbade me from traveling, shouldn’t you be fit enough to help me?

This worked like a charm and showed once again how (desi) parents think of nothing else but their children and how every little and big thing in their lives revolve only around their kids !! They immediately started following most of my health related tips and appa is now house-hunting. I am keeping tabs on them and getting regular updates (so far, so good, Dear God, please do not jinx it). At this rate, I have to start worrying about my side of the promise…uh…oh…
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