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How to be an Undercover Terrorist Disguised as a Parent

One of the pleasures of being a life coach is the chance you get to tick off parents for bad parenting. Little do they know that I could have done with some help myself in that area way back then. But let those be my dark secrets…

The moment your lump of flesh is born, shoot an email to Harvard and other prestigious colleges you have painstakingly identified in the career field of your choice, informing them that their future “topper” has been born. However, you also inform pompously that they will have to be patient for a few years.

Devote your days and nights cooing complex formulae to your thumb-sucking child, reading out Medical Journals, Research Work or World Statistical Reports to them in a bid to hurry up their growing up process. This would amount to often getting down on your own creaking knees to follow them as they waste precious time crawling on their knees and sticking their fingers into open electrical sockets or throwing their expensive toys at you.


Is Competition Good for Kids?

Several parents have realised that competition is so tough in the outside world that they must prepare their child to be one up even before they pop out. So, they begin the process while the baby is in the womb itself.

Off to pre-school he/she goes and off you go on your mission to educate him/her more than the other ‘dumb’ kids. While the others learn how to button their coats and tie their shoe laces, you teach your prodigy how to rattle off multiplication tables.

Right through primary, middle and high school, you scurry your ward off to various tuition classes and numerous skill development workshops. S(he) all but becomes a marathon runner, fitting in all these into his day. You keep an eagle eye on the clock. Not a minute of his/her waking up hours should be wasted. It’s a battle of “one-upmanship” after all!


Teenagitis

Come Teenagitis, and you start worrying about his/her mental sanity. For s(he) wants to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, useless social media, besides talking on that devil’s invention – a mobile phone. You promptly discipline him/her when s(he) wants to do a night-out or sleepover with friends in their home. “Preposterous!” You shout. And promptly launch on a long lecture on “When I was your age….”

And when the budding adult screams, raves and rants at the injustice of it all, you bring out the emotional card of, “You will understand when I die…” Your ward almost collapses with the emotional trauma of it all and now needs a shrink.

And when your conscience whispers to you about how much trouble you gave your parents and teachers, but actually had a burning desire to make it big in Biology, you ask it to shut up! For now, you tell yourself, nature has made amends by gifting you another YOU – a captive human, an extension of yourself who will fulfil every dream YOU had!


Who Chooses the Child’s Career?

And when s(he) goes into sudden school/college refusal, at first you give him/her long lectures on his/her goals, ambitions, success, focus and the life s(he) is cut out for. S(he) looks on with glazed eyes.

“But,” you insist, “I don’t want anything from you. Just become a microbiologist and see how wonderful life will become for you. I am sending you abroad.”

And suddenly your feisty youngster finds his/her voice and speaks up, “I have decided what I want to become – a DJ!” And finally his/her glazed eyes brighten up, “Or maybe a magician!”

That is the moment you collapse and meet a counsellor. You writhe in emotional pain as you say, “I have done so much for my child. Always been there for him/her – involved, attentive, sacrificing. Tell me, where did I go wrong?”

(Neelam Kumar has battled cancer twice. A writer of 5 books, including one with Mr Khushwant Singh, Neelam’s latest book ‘To Cancer, With Love – My Journey of Joy’ was published by Hay House Publishers in 2015. It is the first humorous book on cancer to come out of India. Neelam lives in Mumbai and can be reached at neelamku@yahoo.com)

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