I challenge anyone who breeds to maintain their poise. Nothing about having kids is conducive to sanity. We go from cool to uncool in one stroke. What’s more, kids deconstruct your uncoolness to you on a daily basis.
They hate their name, their house, their car, and, please, can you arrange some urgent plastic surgery; they want to stop looking like you as soon as possible!
Since I start my day screaming at the top of my voice – ‘Get up, it is almost afternoon!’
I remain high-pitched throughout. So whatever I say, including that the house is on fire, my kids’ first response will always be ‘Keep it down!’
Kids go out with us only at gunpoint. They sit twitching, constantly looking over their shoulder, lest someone spots them and tags them ‘loser type’ for having no one else but parents to socialise with.
On PTA days they coach us carefully on what to wear and how to conduct ourselves. Apparently, we talk too loudly, make bad jokes, call them by pet names, and, horror of horrors, start singing. ‘Mom!’ our descendants go from time to time. They watch us with the same expression that a terrorist would a bomb; they are sure we will mortify them, it is only a question of when.
If the kid ever makes eye contact and actually addresses you, get ready to cough up some cash. At all other times the apple of your eye is not to be seen. They are looking for life in Mars while you are looking for life in your own home.
Children are plugged into so many devices; midway through so many of my world-famous classic lectures they have asked, ‘are you talking to me?’ I am always competing with Beyonce for their attention. When they fall asleep, I tenderly unplug the various wires attached to their skull and watch their ears quiver in the night air. I hope elves will come in the night and repair their eardrums.
When they were smaller they did give me some marks for my mommying. As I baked toy cakes in toy ovens or set up doll houses, they occasionally looked up from the TV to make encouraging noises. ‘That’s nice,’ they’d say.
But soon they declared me childish. I’m disobedient, unruly and I talk back. During my worst temper tantrum, they call me ‘cute’. I am also not allowed to see certain films because of the adult content in them. Kids are always watching out for us.
If we insist on dropping or picking them up from their outings, we must dress in boring funeral clothes chosen specially by the small fry and keep out of sight at all costs lest their friends are traumatised for life by an unguarded sighting of us.
Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, but they become instruction manuals themselves, so that we, the clueless parents, can be educated round the clock on how wrong we are doing everything. My own were born solely to criticise me; the wise visiting kings of the Magi, guided here by my bad hairdo.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.