‘Let’s Spend Some Family Time’: The One Statement I Dread These Days

At the very beginning, let me clarify that I’m beyond grateful to be at home during the pandemic. However, that gratefulness doesn’t stop me from feeling the way I do about some other aspects of being at home.

I’m not used to seeing my parents around all the time since childhood. I may speak of it casually today, but it wasn’t easy in the beginning.

I used to burst into tears seeing my mother get into her car with Papa and leave for office and scream from my room’s tiny little window. I was audible, but they left anyway.

Nani used to console me for hours and then treat me with my favourite meetha pua. That, by the way, happens to be my favourite memory of my childhood. I can still smell the hint of cinnamon. And then Nana, being an educator and author, introduced me to something he thought I might find solace in: books. And he was right.

The crying, however, continued for a few more years. And then what was supposed to happen happened. We got used to it. We got used to the physical absence of our parents since they were always so busy.

With absolutely no fault of ours, my sister and I had made our peace with it. Having Mumma and Papa away meant long hours of TV, meetha pua, reading, playing and, well, becoming each other’s best pals. And trust me, after years of crying in vain, we were done with complaining about it.

And you know what became troublesome then? Having our parents home on Sunday (working, because well, there was too much work). It might sound strange maybe, but there’s only one family vacation I can remember from my childhood days. Mumma and Papa said that ‘they were working for us’ and well, what argument could we give to that?

Also read: ‘Break the Pattern Before it Breaks You’

We simultaneously started focusing on school, participated in every co-curricular activity, doing as many stay backs, because we liked being in school and having company. Now this goes unsaid, but I’ll just say it anyway – my mother and father couldn’t even make it to our annual day functions or sports day, or any stage plays.

And yes, you guessed right, it was because they were busy. And no, we were not hurt. We had gotten used to it.

Now, both of us are in college, but because of this pandemic, we’re all home together. But things aren’t quite the same – there’s now a constant pressure on us to spend some time with everyone.

And when we are not able to deliver as expected, we get to hear remarks like:

‘They’ve become too cool to sit with us!’

‘Zyada hi badi ho gayi hai.’

I know of quite a few people who have been in situations like this while growing up, even if the factors varied here and there. My main motive of writing this piece was not to crib, but to simply acknowledge this huge gap that exists between parents and their kids.

We didn’t want to stay away from you. You made us. And we became okay with that. No matter what reason you had, that doesn’t compensate for the fact that a communication gap exists – one that we grew comfortable with since you refused to give us the time of day. There’s also no point in playing a blame game or analysing why it happened in the first place. This gap happened, and we – all of us – let it happen. We’re all at fault. So what now?

Well, talking is always touted as a solution to any conflict and rightly so.

Parents, if you’re listening, talk to your children instead of passing remarks, and help them let go of this anger they have for you . Sounds complex? It’s the easiest way out. Didn’t get time to do family stuff earlier, well, you’ve now got a decent amount of time till I don’t know when. Turn this quarantine into a boon for your family.

It’s important to start such conversations, even if it is only for your own peace. After all, we’re the generation that has been breaking the silence on mental health and wellbeing.

Now that I’m finishing college and will be joining the working world soon, I understand my parent’s point of view and I respect their struggle a bit better. However, I might still be a little hurt, and that’s okay.

Your parents will probably have a tough time realising this and initiating such a process, after all, they most likely never intentionally widened the gap.

We are so used to keeping our parents on a pedestal that we expect to see godly traits in them. But that’s not right, they’re human as well. They’re imperfect, just like we’re imperfect.

Featured image credit: Aaron Burden/Unsplash