Yesterday I forced myself to do something that broke my heart. The Brat’s stubbornness is legendary. It’s the bad stuff that my blog is made up of. Now I am equally hot-headed – as you can see from my comments – and that makes it difficult for me to remind myself that I am the older person, the parent, the one who needs to stay in control of my emotions and let him get it out of his system. If only it were easier.
So yesterday he got back from school and I told him I was taking them out in the evening and suggested a nap. The Bean obediently lay down and slept. The Brat said he didn’t need one. Fine, I suggested some quiet time. He lined up a row of AC and television remotes and began some game. A little later I realised he’d falled asleep.
I gave him an hour and got the Bean ready and then began to wake him up. He cried and wriggled and wailed and I carried him to wash his face, applied his sunscreen, dressed him and fed him a cool milkshake all the while talking him into a better mood. Please note, this is not easy for me because I was in a rush, I had errands to run along the way and the heat was getting to me too. And then just as we were ready to leave the Bean picked a book to read in the car. He threw a tantrum – it was one of his dinosaur books and he didn’t want her reading it. In a bid to reduce hostilities I siad I’d hold the book and read to both of them. At this point the Bean picked up a dinosaur and said she’d like to hold it all the way in the car. Now I don’t know if she was doing it to annoy him or not, but it really pressed his buttons. He threw a huge tantrum saying it was his. The Bean rarely plays with his dinosaurs so I don’t know why she picked one. But he has about 50 of them so I saw no reason for him to lose his shirt. I tried to reason, I offered him another, but he wasn’t having it and I didn’t think it was fair to take it back from the Bean. So I finally said I was leaving and he could come or not, as he pleased.
I went downstairs, cleaned my sandals before I wore them, filled a bottle of water for them to drink in the car, dialled my number so that the maid could redial me if she needed something. And basically gave him enough time to change his mind. But he was having none of it. I yelled out one last time that I was leaving and he could still join me. NOOO he screamed. I left with the Bean.
We were out for a whole 5 hours and he was at home with the maid. No TV I’d said, but he could go down to the park and play with the other kids or swim. He was so upset that he just sat with the maid when she took him down and didn’t even join his friends. I felt really bad being so heartless but on the whole I felt it was a lesson he needed to learn. We’ve had these tantrums before but it always ends with me either kissing him and hugging him and carrying him to the car or then losing my cool and picking him up and marching to the car. Either way, he cools off in a while and is fine. This time however, I wanted him to face the consequences of his choice and I left him alone.
The last few weeks have seen him get more firm on what he will do and not do, mostly ending in him cutting off his nose to spite his face. I want to help him but as someone who is guilty of the same crime, I am not really the right person. His birthday was an unmitigated disaster. Now that we live in an apartment complex we have to invite the kids who live here, we have our Delhi friends and now that he is older, classmates. The crowd was too much for our home. My cook was on leave and I got in a temp who came really late, delaying dinner, and the heat was unbelievable. Even with the ACs and coolers on we were all sweating, the plan was to take the kids down to play but one minute it was hot as hell, the next minute a storm brewing (this is the second time we have had a summer storm ruin the Brat’s birthday plans) and the humidity had us all cranky. I set up the cake and all the kids kept poking and licking the icing off it even while I was trying to put the candles on. The Brat wanted to light the candles and I said no playing with fire. And then just as I lit it, all the other damn kids leaned in and blew out the candles before he could (is it just my opinion or are kids getting more badly behaved everyday?) and he lost his temper – naturally, he’s only six! I would have lit them again but the room was full of people, everyone sweating more because the fans were off, and I couldn’t be sure the kids wouldn’t blow it out again and neither could I scream at them to leave his cake alone. So I gave it one minute of begging and then sadly let the Bean cut it because we just couldn’t wait any longer. Naturally he sulked some more and stomped off without even tasting the cake. I gave up – exhausted, sweaty, cranky and wishing I had thrown the party in Switzerland. Next year it is 6 kids to a kiddy movie and lunch. No need to return all the invitations we receive if it is going to kill us. And yes, doing it at McDonalds will also kill us. And oh – this is one birthday we have no record of because the OA and I were so run off our feet that we didn’t take pictures.
The long ride in to Delhi with the Bean suddenly made me understand what parents of single kids talk about when they talk about feeling complete. It’s happened to me before when I took only one of the children out, rare though those occasions are. I don’t sit there feeling like a limb is missing. It is usually for a reason that one is not part of the event and they are always in good hands. And when you live in the moment you realise that it is very easy to feel very complete. Not because the other child is not important but because the relationship with each one is so complete in its own way that you don’t need the other around to make it feel whole. Do I make sense? Any other parents of two kids who want to explain that last bit of gibberish I wrote?
And oh, I came home to a very subdued Brat who has promised to behave better. Let’s see. Tomorrow is another day.