Reblogging an old column (yes I am big on recycling). This was published on May 14th 2010.
Life’s tough …when you’re a mom or a wife. But know what’s tougher? Being the mom of a teenage daughter AND the wife of an over-protective, paranoid father.
The battle starts in the morning, when she gets ready for school. She comes all dressed for school wearing shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. After all, it is summer and the mercury shoots up pretty high here. I bought her those shorts last summer. Four seasons later, the girl has grown taller and the shorts have become shorter.
And the drama starts. The weird thing is that both dad and daughter throw their questions and answers at me. Like I am some kind of conduit for their voices. Funny! I don’t remember her doing it when she wants him to buy her an iTouch. (Point to remember : I am the ‘nay- sayer’ in the family)
“Is that what she is wearing to school?” In his most controlled ‘my- temper- is- rising-please- tell- me- no’ voice.
“Yes”. That’s me doing my most polite ‘is-something-wrong – may- I-help-you?’ voice.
“Amma this is a perfectly decent outfit and I spent hours putting it together and coordinating it with the accessories.” That’s daughter dear in her ‘I-am- absolutely-fed-up- with- you-guys’ tone. (I know what she said is true. About the hours spent putting it together. I am the one who had to sit through her ‘costume deciding’ and accessorizing till she got it all ‘just right’ and ‘flowing together as one cohesive unit’. The girl cannot remember the meaning of concurrent when it is a word for her vocabulary test. But put down porphyrophobia in the context of her clothes and she gets all sesquipedalian!)
“How can you let her go to school in that…. outfit? She is exposing her arms and half her legs!”
In his opinion, she needs to get ‘long shorts’ that come well below her knees. I laud his efforts. He has just made an oxymoron. But the apple of our eye sees things differently. She is in no mood to appreciate the humor. “Acha, those are not shorts. Those are called capris.”
“Then wear capris.”
I try to sit him down and explain calmly that it is perfectly ok to wear whatever she is wearing and that she is definitely not dressed indecently… sometimes it works.
The trend among kids these days is to layer on several tank tops. My daughter likes to wear them too. Only, she tops off those layers with a cardigan or a jacket. She knows her dad after all, and sometimes is very considerate and decides not to annoy him.
That gives him apoplexy too. “Isn’t what she is wearing supposed to go under her clothes? Why doesn’t she have a ‘top’ on?
According to him, anything that has straps and a hint of lace qualifies as an undergarment and has to be decently covered up.
‘Acha you should see what my friends in school wear.”
He takes off on the whole culture lecture at this point. “No daughter of mine will go out dressed or rather undressed like that. This is not where we come from. Go inside and wear something decent.”
Sweet kid that she is, she obliges. But only after she tells him he should probably get her a burqa.
What is her name? is she a good student? Does she get all ‘A’s? Who does she live with? Are her parents together? Does she divide her week between various moms/dads/ stepfamilies/ girlfriends of dads/boyfriends of moms/ex-parents? Who all live in her house right now? How old are her brothers? Are all the males in her family (including the dog, cat, and a couple of hamsters) castrated?
“Acha I am just going over to borrow her math book. I am not going to marry her.”
A momentary pause… and then, “Why did she …….?”
“Let her have some fun. Don’t you remember how you were at this age? Did you not want to have fun?”
“Precisely why I say no.”
Once again, I try to tell him he needs to loosen up. The girl’s just thirteen. We have 6 more years to go before she is out of the dreaded teens.
He reminds me that by then, daughter number two will be a teen.
I quietly tear my hair out in despair! Life’s tough…
Reading this now, after three years, I realize that a lot has changed in the general outlook here. Yes, there is the occasional outburst as we come to grips with life. But I do think daughter number two has things much easier. Big sister has eased the way for her by fighting her battles too. But one can never say and so my fingers are still crossed. No one said parenting was an easy job!