Amrita shoved Nik into the back seat of the car and herself got into the passenger seat in the front. She reclined the seat some more to make space for her bump that was still a good 6 weeks from the due date. Sensing the hassle that Amrita was in, Raghav turned the AC regulator to increase the cooling and pulled out a bottle of water from his door-side pocket holding it in Amrita’s direction. As he turned on the ignition, he caught a glimpse of his son who was sitting all glum and tight lipped.
‘Thanks for this lift. Though I was about to book a cab.’ Amrita said with a sense of relieve after gulping down some water.
‘Oh! I was out for a meeting with a client and thought of just checking with you. It so happened that the timing matched and I reached here just in time to pick you up for a ride. But where are your shopping bags? You said you were out at the food mart to buy stuff for the home?’ Raghav enquired as he drove cautiously through the evening traffic that was bustling in an urgency of the masses to return to their home.
‘I booked for their home delivery service. It’ll reach home by tomorrow.’ As Amrita said this she turned in her seat to glare at her son and looked ahead again, resting her head on the head-rest of the seat.
Sensing some tension between the mother-son duo, Raghav tried to remain cheerful through the remaining of the journey back home. On the way, he stopped over at the new food joint that claimed to serve the best waffles in town. This break seemed to lighten Amrita’s mood and helped turn Nik a bit more cheerful, though everytime he looked at Amrita he was visibly grudging. Raghav took note of this and decided to take it up later with Amrita.
Later that night, once Nik had been put to sleep and the couple were preparing to retire to bed themselves, Raghav broached up the topic,
‘So happened at the food mart today? You looked completely hassled and Nik too was out of his elements. I could clearly make out that something had transpired between you two.’ Raghav said, raising his hand and resting his head on it.
Amrita tried to find her extra cushions to support her bulging tummy and lied down facing Raghav.
‘Tell me one thing! Why do these people at the retail marts place all kinds of chocolates and mints and candies, just near their payment counters?’ Amrita was exasperated.
Raghav raised his chin in contemplation, ‘That’s because they want to cash in on that one trait of their visitors which will make them pick up things on impulsive while they wait for their turn at the cash counters.’ With a big nod of his head he turned to look at Amrita, ‘You get it, right?’
Amrita landed a blow with her fist on Raghav’s shoulder, ‘Thanks for reminding. But no thanks. Remember, I too passed out from the same MBA batch along with you. I know all this marketing strategy shit. But my problem is, it’s just so unfair to the parents.’ Amrita was so agitated that she wanted to sit upright, but it had taken her so much effort to adjust herself in a comfortable lying position that she dropped the idea,
‘Today Nik created such a scene at the mart. He wanted that useless candy pack that contains a peanut size chocolate and a mini toy. I refused to buy him that over priced thing and he threw a tantrum. Oh God! Everyone was looking at us.’ Raghav saw the horror that Amrita had felt at the mart, in her tone and her wide eyes.
‘Some were looking at Nik, thinking what a brat he was. And there were others who gave him a sympathetic look and saw me with contempt. As if telling me ‘why don’t to buy it for him? It’s just 40 bucks’. I mean it was a terror to pay the bill and walk out in a haste, pulling on a howling 5 year old’s hands.’
Raghav wore a smug expression as he adjusted his pillow to turn sideways.
‘Amrita, do you remember the KYC seminar we attended at Nik’s school around 3-4 months back?’
‘KYC? Oh yes, the Know Your Child workshop. But what’s that got to do with all that happened at….’ Amrita bit her tongue before she could complete her sentence and looked apologetically at Raghav.
Raghav shrugged and rolled his eyes, ‘So much for attending a 2 hour workshop with one of the best child psychologists in the country. No cheer up and go to sleep.’ Raghav straightened his back and turned the other way signaling that he was switching off his battery.
Amrita lay wide awake thinking about what Raghav had just reminded her.
Mr. Ramanath Murthy, the chief secy of the SSI group of schools. It was in one of the city branch of the same group where Nik studied. Mr. Murthy was a renowned child psychologist, counselor and educator. Every year he conducted a workshop by the name ‘Know Your Child’ where he helped the parents identify issues they faced at home while dealing with their kids and discussed the same in detail. He had a unique style of analyzing the problems raised by parents and provided unbeatable anecdotes that brought out an unfathomable perspective to the entire thing.
In the last workshop that Amrita and Raghav had attended together, this very issue about kids throwing tantrums in malls and shopping marts was broached up by a parent. Amrita still remembered the entire conversation verbatim
Parent: I really get embarrassed when my son throws a tantrum in the middle of a shopping complex. I do not want to give in to his demands and neither do I want to create a scene on the spot.
Mr. Murthy: How many parents face the same problem?
Almost 80% of the parents present raised their hands.
Mr. Murthy: That means it really is not the child’s problem. It is a behavioral characteristic.
Another Parent: But it really is very embarrassing!
Mr. Murthy: Let me tell you a story. As a young professional I had to travel a lot. In those days most travelling happened by train. Invariably there would be toddlers in one of the compartments in the boogie and they created immense raucous to keep light sleepers like me awake all night. I have to confess that I would swear under my breadth to those parents who could not manage their kids.
Around 10 years later when I was taking my first flight with my 2 year old daughter, I had the worst nightmare of my life. My toddler was a restless bag of springs, and just would not stop running around and wail if we tried to constrict her. I still remember the “embarrassment” I felt for having to travel with such uncontrollable child. There was this old gentleman who had been watching me getting hassled over my daughter. He walked upto me and gave me a benign smile. What he said next with a wink, has stuck with me till date. He said that,
‘You have an adorable daughter. She will give you enough memories to recall when you will be an old man like me. Do not fret over the mess that she seems to be creating. People who have had kids, completely empathize with you. And the younger lot will understand, when the time comes for them to travel with their tods, like you are today. It just doesn’t matter. Look at her and savor her valor.’
With a pat on my shoulder he went back to join his family.
With all the worry creases eliminated, Amrita took a deep breath and went off to sleep.
I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter