Tuesday 19 July 2022

Toddlers vs teens

Now that I have 2 teenagers in the house and will be sending one half-baked adult out into the world in a year from now, it felt like time to address the rhetorical "Toddlers vs Teenagers - which would you rather have?" question. 

Well, gotta have both, obviously (what's the option?!).

Right. The answer as far as I am concerned is ......DRUM ROLL......

I will take teenagers any day.

With their smelly feet and armpits, acne and dandruff, moods and sullenness, hair and large hands and feet! Shall I go on drawing this generally unappealing picture? :) 

I just have these very sympathetic feelings for the underdogs you know. Toddlers are CUTE. Who doesn't like them? Certainly, even the kid-haters will good-humouredly set off the whining against the cuteness quotient.

But teenagers. Boy, they can be a tough breed to like. Tall, sometimes huge, they look like an adult but have none of the usefulness or know-how of one. They are unpredictable and moody. They eat massive amounts of food. They demand your time and attention and love and yet look the other way when you provide all of it. Arrrggghhh...they are infuriating!

Note: My kids were easy toddlers and are pretty easy teens as well; so not complaining here. These are general observations (my kids will call them sweeping generalizations!) based on all the kids I have encountered :)

Moving on...

These infuriating teens are also so vulnerable. Caught in the no-man's zone between childhood and adulthood, brains and cognition only partly developed (the brain is the last organ to mature; this happens in the early to mid-20s), misunderstood and misjudged even by the people who know them best, bodies growing in all sorts of uncomfortable ways, dealing with high pressure academic and social environments. One cannot but feel sorry for these poor souls. 

Research has established that the level of stress varies very little whether you have toddlers or teenagers. I personally think the difference is in what kind of stress. Parenting toddlers or very young kids creates a huge physical workload while with teenagers the exhaustion is primarily mental. Second-guessing what they are feeling, reading between the lines, worrying about risky behaviour or social media exposure, etc takes a toll on the parent's mental wellness. On the other hand, they are very well able to clean and dress themselves, navigate their social calendars, and under duress make their own meals and get themselves from one place to another without my help!

The old parenting wisdom is that you only have 18 summers with your kids. The thing is, when the kids are toddlers, 18 summers seems like light years away. It cannot come soon enough. Fast forward a few years and they are teenagers and that 18th summer is really really close and you'll do anything to have your sweaty stinky messy teenager lounging around your house for just one more summer.  

I never in a million years thought I'd say this. But I can now empathize with all those wannabe grandparents who are dying for their kids to procreate. It's not just some ego trip and carrying-on-our-family's-amazing-genes stuff. It's just plain old-fashioned "I need to smell that baby smell and feel that delicious baby fat and remember that feeling of wanting to gobble them up" stuff.

Gasp! I am going to be insufferable as a 60-year-old aunty!

Monday 18 July 2022

Summer 2022 halfway point

The summer vacation is half over! Amma-Appa left for India in early July. Their visit here, against all odds, felt like a gift while they were here and feels even more precious in the light of recent events. My mil fell down and broke her arm and hip and needed hip replacement surgery, all a few weeks before they were due to arrive here. So much drama and disappointments; upended plans and sudden expenses to fly to India. More than anything else, a sneak peek into our middle age and caregiving responsibilities!

In consequence, I have been a single parent for the past few weeks. I haven't had to fly solo for quite some years now and's really quite pleasant...The babies are all grown up and all they require is some light cooking. If I don't feel like cooking, we order's all very simple with none of the earlier complexities and guilt associated with a heavier caregiving load. Ads is busy watching (not playing much this summer) cricket, writing his blog, working on his essays, and working at Old Navy. We try and get some driving practice every now and then. Y is having a blast doing nothing much but that's what summers are for, right? I am making sure Ads and I are on track with the college project plan. I wake up by 5 or 5.30 am and go for a 3-mile walk. Do some yoga or strength training after I get back. Work on the garden, cook, attend some calls. Have an afternoon nap. The days are beautifully serene and restful and I am enjoying the time with my kiddos. Y and I watch a movie (or half of a movie) almost every day! 

I start a new job in a couple of weeks and it feels like this period is the calm before the storm. Once school begins in late August, we will finally be in the college admissions frenzy. I know the fall and winter will fly by as we get the applications done and dusted. 

We are doing "nothing". No exotic vacations, not even weekend road trips. Why, I haven't even managed to go to nearby Shenandoah National Park for a picturesque hike! Sometimes I do wonder whether I should be more "productive" but almost immediately my heart and head both admonish me for my silliness. I am here now. Fully present for my kids and family. That is as "productive" as I need to be!

I often wonder whether this newfound peace and acceptance is a result of the looming half-empty nest...perhaps I am learning to savour what's in front of me now rather than incessantly planning for the future. Or maybe it's just all those years of regular meditation FINALLY showing some results :) Whatever it is, I am grateful.