Reenita Mal­ho­tra Hora

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation -

ffer­ing sym­pa­thy for deal­ing with my near-13-year-old is akin to of­fer­ing sym­pa­thy for the devil.

It's a phase, ev­ery­body says, she'll get through her teenage years.

Yes, but the ques­tion I ask on a daily ba­sis is will I get through it? On some level, Ilya has been go­ing through 'a phase' all her life!

As per the ba­sic laws of the uni­verse, my daugh­ter feels ex­actly the same way about me. In her view, the devil is chan­nelised through Mom's eter­nal nag­ging, with its ac­com­plices strate­gi­cally placed, en­cour­ag­ing her to nag : her or­tho­don­tist, teacher, swim coach.....

But Ilya is learn­ing to think through the is­sues. "Look on the bright side," she says, "by hav­ing me early, you suc­cess­fully man­aged to avoid a sit­u­a­tion where two women in the house­hold are go­ing through pu­berty and menopause at the same time."

I am not sure how to de­fine the cut­off be­tween wise and wise-ass.

Hor­mones were never the is­sue in our re­la­tion­ship. Rather, deeply in­grained drama queen ge­net­ics are the cul­prit. On a weekly av­er­age, I ac­qui­esce to my clas­sic wounded child syn­drome as I beg my daugh­ter for ac­cep­tance.

Why are you pick­ing on me? I ask sor­row­fully.

Why are you so neu­rotic? she re­sponds con­fi­dently.

Why are you an­swer­ing a ques­tion with a ques­tion? And it goes on. And on, and on. My hus­band stays out-volved as a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple. As far as he is concerned, Ilya and I are but mu­ta­tions of the same fem­i­nine co­nun­drum evenly dis­trib­uted. So, when we both leap at him to ar­bi­trate, his pre­dictable re­sponse is "Sorry, I didn't sign up to par­ent two teenage girls at the same time."

Leave me be, mom, she says. At least I let things out of my sys­tem. I'm not sulky and sullen like other girls at school.

In my youth, joi de vivre meant don­ning a pony­tail that swished in step with ju­bi­lance at the thought of a free week­end. For Ilya, it's about liv­ing life com­pletely un­fet­tered so she can mas­ter pho­to­shop skills or French, to have the choice to be a poor starv­ing artiste- en-Paris or the next DKNY.

Atta girl, Ilya.. She's the kid I al­ways wanted to be. So upon closer ex­am­i­na­tion of her bed­room decor, it makes per­fect sense how poster boy, Zak Efron, is a car­bon copy of the guy I was madly in love with all through col­lege.

So, I will turn a deaf ear to tantrums un­leashed each morn­ing as I re­lent­lessly nag Ilya to comb out her hair from the frizz that makes a per­fect fit with my own state of mind. If she can ac­tu­ally man­age not to miss the school bus, then I think she's demon­strat­ing that she is well on her way to Paris.

And ap­par­ently I need to be well on my way to Pun­jab. Ilya in­sists that my lack of par­ent­ing skills re­sult from the fact that I have strayed from my north­ern In­dian roots.

No of­fense Mom but a true Pun­jabi mother would have me stay in­side on a Sun­day with poori-aloo and an Akshay Khanna flick, be­cause it's too cold out­side to ex­ert my­self, she says.I grunt at the all-too-fa­mil­iar de­scrip­tion of my own mother. But you would in­sist that I can't sit at home while in­jus­tice is ram­pant out there in the world. Go for a hike up the hill Ilya, you would say, and con­sider it a metaphor for where you are headed in life. And by the way, wear a coat while you are at it.

Now, did I men­tion that I was a laid­back Mom? Reenita Mal­ho­tra Hora is a Hong Kong­based Ayurveda clin­i­cian. She is also the author of four books, has writ­ten for the NYT, and pro­duced for CNN and BBC. Cur­rently, she pro­duces the Sus­tain­abil­ity Asia chan­nel, Reuters TV. my grand­chil­dren on my still un­re­placed knees!

When Neha was all of 10 days old, the ini­tial eu­pho­ria that ac­com­pa­nies moth­er­hood and the mir­a­cle of child­birth, was still cling­ing to me strongly. As the weeks passed, with the great joys, tiny trou­bles also be­gan to rear their lit­tle heads, and I be­gan to un­der­stand that this whole par­ent­hood thing was not a tem­po­rary busi­ness but an on­go­ing life­time af­fair. I think that is one of the hugest shocks of recog­ni­tion for any par­ent.

And then, when Neha was about 6 and Ira 3 years old, my mother-in-law told me the wis­est words ever spo­ken. Af­ter a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult and tax­ing day with the chil­dren, I told her that I was just wait­ing for the kids to be older so that all these tire­some prob­lems of child­hood would be over, and I could 'stop wor­ry­ing and start liv­ing again'. She gave me a smil­ing look full of much pity and told me gen­tly that, alas, that was never go­ing to hap­pen .That as the kids got older their prob­lems only changed in na- Lilette Dubey has played all kinds of moth­ers on stage and screen, and many other roles as well. On her own ad­mis­sion, noth­ing con­tin­ues to give her greater ful­fil­ment than the one of Re­al­Life Mom

Reenita with Ilya

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