Last week, I accompanied a cousin to her friend’s house to drop something off. What I ended up dropping there was my jaw. And this is why.
My cousin’s friend Krish (name obviously changed, marna hai kya), was in the loo. So we waited in the living room, talking to his dad. Krish came out, and before he could greet us, his dad said, ‘Did you flush twice? I’ve been telling you it gets plugged if you don’t flush TWICE’.
Krish is 17. And at that moment, he looked embarrassed enough to do a Sita and disappear in the lap of mother Earth. His dad actually went on to elaborate, but I won’t spoil your breakfast because I’m sure you’ve got what I’m saying. I then struck a conversation with his dad about the ‘young generation’, just to confirm what I knew he’d say.
In the next few minutes, he spoke all about how reckless youngsters are, how they are alien to the importance of hard-earned money, and how they are wasting away their life Facebooking and competing over materialistic stuff. And, of course, how things were so very different 20 years back.
Well, you are right, Krish ke Papa (sorry for sounding like his wife, but I don’t know their surname!). Things were indeed very different 20 years back, and would be very different 20 years later. Just that I don’t see your son having been responsible for the process of evolution, and therefore, not sure why he should be bugged to insanity.
You know, I give due credit to those who remember their own zamana with much nostalgia and pride, because it is indeed true that we have turned more vain, materialistic and spoilt, in the past decades. But I don’t know if it serves any purpose to keep reminding youngsters about that, except to make you come across as naggers and worrywarts in their eyes.
So, if you are a parent whose blood pressure is climbing mountains because of the worrisome ways of Gen-X or a youngster who curses God every night for being born to annoying nags, here’s what may help.
1. Inhale. Exhale. OK, I’m just kidding. A deep breath never hurts though. Flashback to the time when today’s nagging parents were teenagers. I know you are itching to tell me how well-behaved you were. That you got 10 bucks as pocket money… and you used to save even that. And how dad was so strict that you couldn’t look him in the eye, let alone answer back to him a la today’s brats. Etc etc.But tell me honestly, are you really proud of the distance parents, especially fathers, maintained with children at that time? Yes, you were way more obedient, but to me it smacks more of fear than respect. Anyhow, that’s not even the point. When it comes to money and spending pattern, you’ve got to remember that it gets dictated by societal and technological evolution, which are beyond your child’s control. You can’t keep taunting your teenager over mobile phones bills, narrating stories about how you had to wait for years to get even the landline connection. Those stories are damn interesting, but I’m telling you, Graham Bell and his dead ancestors will haunt you in your dreams if you’ll continue to be sarcastic.
Of course, you have every right to question and curb excessive expenses, and there’s no way you should give a free hand to your Pappu because he’ll talk all night with girls and you’ll go bankrupt. Set limits, but don’t include a ‘taana about your own zamana’ in every conversation. It’s not your child’s fault yaar, that your zamana was different. Pick your battles carefully. While there may be no compromise when it comes to crucial things — like paying attention to studies or every outfit that your teenager wears may not be worth making a point about. Right?
2. And for you youngsters who are grinning ki aaj toh parents ki vaat lag gayi…wipe that silly smile off your pimpled face. And understand that it doesn’t take much to please the set of people who worked hard (haha) to bring you into this world. You will not be excused for behaving like morons just in the name of generation gap. Yes, in their day, your dad, too, grew his sideburns and your mom wore skinny jeans to be ‘with it’. But that’s no justification for you to compete with your friends who wear more designer labels and who have more Facebook friends. And yep, it’s not cool to rap abuses as if Satan himself has decided to enter your body and perform live. It’s plain stupid. Set your own limits and be patient when parents gripe about things. Because their expression may be annoying, but there’s no disputing the fact that they want nothing but your good.
3. Finally, to both parents and youngsters — it is possible to find ways to co-exist peacefully, and sometimes even enjoy the generation gap debates. While parents will have to curb the urge to go on and on and on and on and on (see how annoying it is when I write it like that, you actually DO it), youngsters will have to act responsible.
If your parents object to you not telling them enough before going out with friends every other day, why not do it? Here’s a tip. Make a word file in your laptop... that has fields like ‘I’m with...’, ‘We’ll be going to….’, ‘My friend’s phone number, in case you can’t reach me’. When you go out, take a print, fill it up and stick it on the fridge. Your parents will faint at how responsible you’ve become, and there will be no scope for nagging later. Try it. And hey Krish, flush it twice.
Sonal Kalra thinks life’s too short and what we want to remember is our parents’ love and not our showdowns with them. Will they please help us? Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org and facebook.com/sonal.kalra. Follow onTwitter@sonalkalra