I have often spoken about my relationship with Sr. T. We grew up in the same small town in Bengal. We were batchmates studying in different schools, had labeled each other as arrogant based on other people’s perceptions and went on to study in Kolkata in two adjacent institutions for three years before I moved out to Delhi. We suffered heartbreak in our individual relationships coincidentally at the same time and finally got in touch through Orkut in 2009 when he was working as a Doctor in Kolkata and I was heading a Bank branch in Mysore. It took us very little time to realize that we were meant to be together and in June 2011, we became a couple officially (a detailed post on our love story is available here).
Our honeymoon period barely lasted five months before I lost Ma to pancreatitis. Our relation underwent a sea change as he turned out to be my Rock of Gibraltar in the most vulnerable stage of my life. The loss was irreversible but the pain became bearable with time. Eventually, like almost every other couple, we started having fights about my OCD to keep things in place (read books only) and his frustration at my refusal to give up on eating out every alternate day. But our similar priorities and outlook towards life made the foundation of our relationship strong enough to survive tough times.
This was until Tuneer popped out into this world in September 2015. Trivialities suddenly started becoming issues. The decision to run the AC at 26 degrees (as I wished to) against 27 degrees (his idea of a perfect temperature for a newborn baby) almost led to a war-like situation at home. The kind of diapers that were to be purchased for the baby (disposable v/s reusable) and the need of a baby carrier (his refusal v/s my insistence), were few of the many items that put us at loggerheads. Penguin Dads like Sr. T definitely deserve a shout-out but the truth is that a few of them also end up giving tough times for opinionated mothers like me.
As Tuneer started growing up, our areas of disagreement extended to health, food choices and finally education. When it was time for us to choose a preschool, I wanted him to start early on while his father wasn’t even willing to let the boy go out of his sight before turning three. We reached a mid-path and enrolled him in a preschool at 2.5 yrs. Thankfully, the preschool happened to be the most preferred one for both of us (the Principal scores an extra point for making us feel so!).
By the time, the school admission saga began, we had understood our difference in roles as parents quite clearly. I was the hyperactive and way too involved mother while he was the laid back and stress absorbing father. There was a sense of calmness once we accepted that the other’s parenting approach was beyond repair. We had mutually agreed to disagree.
Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, the boy barely had any training for the future school interviews until the red alarm went off and the first school admission notice came out. Until then, Sr. T’s only expectation out of his son was that he should grow up to be a good human (the word ‘good’ has layers of definitions here). My focus was towards more practical things and I was concerned about the present situation of the kids’ refusal to answer any questions in the interaction.
If at any point, I shared my worries with Sr.T, the father, highly partial towards his only child would defend his son stating, “I studied in a Bengali medium school in a small town. If I can become a doctor despite such odds, then this boy will also make something out of his life. He is already getting much better exposure in this age of technology.” The man’s hangover of having watched the movie 3 Idiots for the 500th time was never going to get over.
Lack of options had made Sr. T agree to Tuneer’s formal learning for interview preparation. But after the first selection list was out, he refused to let the boy ‘waste’ any more time in such learnings. This, despite the fact that we were not going ahead with getting the boy admitted in that school. According to Sr. T, Tuneer had learned enough ‘routine’ answers to sustain all future interviews.
I have consciously tried to pass on my love for reading to Tuneer. We have our bedtime stories and most of the gifts or prizes from me are always in the form of a book. But how does one concentrate on reading when the father keeps signaling the son to come out and play with him! Sr. T has already made it amply clear that he is going to get involved in the boy’s education only when Biological sciences become a legit subject. Until then, his motto in life seems to be, “I won’t teach and I won’t let his mother teach as well.”
I also need to mention the second layer of support here – the set of grandparents who have long categorized me as an overly strict mother. No conversation is complete with my father and in-laws without their last words being, “Don’t scold the kid. This is his age to be mischievous. Besides he is such a quiet boy.” Basically, it is a continuous struggle of me v/s them, especially his father.
But let me give out the secret twist to the actual scenario here. Despite so many viewpoints, mostly contradictory to mine, the ones that mostly get implemented are decided by me alone. This is for the simple reason that Tuneer spends the maximum time with me while his father does a weekly visit and his grandparents take turns in coming to be with us. In conclusion, the final authority in matters related to Tuneer is mostly me (though I consciously try not to make it seem so evident!).
There’s one last point that I would like to mention before signing off for the day. Despite our disagreements and arguments, Sr. T and I consciously make it a point to let the differences out only in Tuneer’s absence. Because, as parents, we realize that what might be a casual fight for us could actually be a point of distress for the toddler.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post. I will come back with a fresh post on ‘I’ tomorrow again. In the meanwhile, you can check out the previous posts in this series here.