Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Tough Small Things

My friend is unwell, alone with a miserable cold. No, not quite. She also has on her hands a five-year old who is running a fever, has been told by the doctor to stay at home, and is making her climb the wall. Rather, all the walls in the house. I call her to enquire about her and whether she needs anything. She says that she is trying not to climb the next wall and pull her hair out in despair. Well, not in so many words, but the message is coming through.

Her son wants all her time because he is sick. Also, he received an invitation yesterday to a friend’s birthday party in the same block, on the seventh floor. You cannot even begin to guess the kind of dialogues she has been receiving from him so that he may attend the party.

Some examples,

1) “My friend, A…, attends parties even when he is sick.” In other words, you are the mean Mom.

2) “I was dreaming of the party all night.” If you don’t let me go, you are the mean Mom.

3) “I think I will go to God.” But I won’t, if you let me go. Otherwise, you are the mean Mom.

4) “I am a bad boy. I should not have been born to you.” In other words, if you don’t let me go, I am the bad boy and that is why you are the mean Mom.

I tell her this is pure blackmail and she should not give in to it. She says she may take him to the party for precisely ten minutes. Personally, I think she wants this as much; it would give her a reprieve from this constant battering at her motherly emotions. I tell her she should not take him since the doctor has told her not to, but then I leave it at that.

I think again. She should not take him to the party because you don’t bend the rules to suit him. Also, he will get sicker, he will spread the germs to other kids, he won’t leave after ten minutes, he will know that blackmail works.

It is not that she is not a sensible person. It is not that she does not know all this. But when it comes to her own child and climbing walls, she thinks that perhaps this little outing will change the scenario. He might cheer up and become more reasonable, and she might get some respite from being his only available mate and soul for some time.

I need to insist that she not take him, without sounding like an interfering busybody.

How tough small things like these are.

I ponder. I call her again. And I hope, indirectly enough, I bring home the point to her. That it be in several best interests to keep him at home. Tell him that the doctor has said no to parties. Be firm. Climb that wall.

She agrees with what I say. Gives me the story of how one of our neighbors had thrown a party for her kids when they had viral. During the party, the kids lolled around with sick faces and high temperatures while their friends had a ball and went home with extra germs to contend with as return gifts. She said that that woman needed to have her head examined. Of course, she would not take her son to the party. She would wait for her husband to return from his business trip in the evening and then hand over the responsibility of caring to him. She could collapse in a heap thereafter.

So my message is through, and luckily I didn’t ruffle any feathers. Friends are hard to come by, and I was taking a bit of a risk here, but then, all for a little sense.

With sensibility.


Bye for now.


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