Dolly Koghar muses on the ‘good cop, bad cop’ parenting phenomenon.
A few mornings ago, my grandson burst into my bedroom, as is his usual; to either whine about going to school, ask for a Band-Aid for an imaginary scratch, or at times, to establish his ambition to resurrect Megalodons, or become Spider- Man, an astronaut, or a pop singer, like his idol, Justin Bieber. Occasionally, he’s on an intense quest to understand something utterly confounding. “How long more do you think you and Dadoo are going to be around?” he’d ask, followed by, “Since you are old, probably less than my parents, but then, how long do you think I will live?” But that particular morning, the excitement was of a more tangible kind; he needed an immediate audience for the one trick he’d mastered from the Box of Magic he’d chosen for himself a little earlier, as Dadoo’s 75th birthday return gift. However, typical of a six-year-old, he’d jumped the gun to show off a half-baked trick and not enough work had been done on what makes magic, magic. Worse still was his over-eagerness to share the trade secret with everybody, including the menopausal, cranky cook.
Nevertheless, as a grandparent, I did what we are wont to do and that is to applaud the act, as if he’d earned the Golden Buzzer on AGT. He took the habitual applause in stride, but this time, he quickly passed the credit onto my son, his papa, for not only training him with this magic trick, but also with teaching him most of what he’s learnt; namely, bicycling, dribbling a ball, rolling sushi, baking bread or shaking up a mean salad dressing.
One thing was for sure, his dad was creating tons of fun memories for him and his eleven-year-old sis, including their Saturday movie-night routine, when they snack on freshly-popped corn kernels with a touch of salt, sugar, and plenty of butter, oblivious that the smell wafts into my bedroom and activates my salivary glands. Then there’s the Sundays,
when the trio hatch up some super-fun recreations or cook- offs, while exploiting the whole house’s patience and
To the little chap, what he was saying was his honest truth; his father was super cool, from whom he had learnt so much; all fun stuff. Nevertheless, it struck a very raw chord in me, this was history repeating itself. I could not let this just pass without speaking up; not only on behalf of my poor daughter-in-law, but to bring perspective and closure to my past, and to serve a little justice for all us mummies on the planet; who spend our entire lifetimes wondering if we are too harsh and a tad too strict; wondering if, when they think of us, the mums, all they’ll recall is the, “NO! NO! NOOO!”
So, I brought to his attention that his mother was teaching him much more, to which he responded with a puzzled look – whereby lies the problem with child rearing. I’m not saying it’s the rule of thumb in every household, but in my house, the papa and dadoo are the amazingly wonderfully kind, nice, and really fun guys, while the mummy and dadee-ma end up holding the baton and getting stuck with the jurisdiction of correcting and disciplining, making us, the two generations of mummies, seem mean and fun-less. And, so be it! Someone has to do the ‘dirty’ work.
We mums are neither asking for gratitude nor an acknowledgement for our selfless love; but we are human, and we crave affirmation that we did right by you. Our hope is that when you become a parent and your kids drive you up the wall, you’ll look back and reflect, “Mum, I was young and naïve and although I knew, even back then, that you scolded me and chided me for my own good, I wanted to be ‘cool’ and so I argued and rebelled. So, here’s thanking you for keeping me on the straight and narrow path. P.S. I love you, though I almost never say it.”