Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Something inside me...

“The project”, she said in a weary tone, that children sometimes use when they know their parents are not going to comply.

“Oh yes”, I said, somewhat absently. School homework was something I was trying to put past me for many years. Unfortunately it had reared its ugly head again through my children. This time it seemed that there was no escape. Eight-year old Niyati had a science project on butterflies. To be submitted the next day.

But principles were principles. I drew myself up to my full parent height and said, “It’s your project. I can help you with it, I cannot,” I emphasized, “do it for you”.

“But all mothers do it”, she said petulantly. Then with a huff she stomped out of the room. I was familiar with the eerie silence that would follow. The flinging on the bed. The tear-stained pillow. The refusal to eat. And the constant muttering about how “other mothers weren’t like this”.

By evening, the project was more important than either of our egos. And soon I was helping her get material on different butterflies. It was difficult drawing the line between what was legitimate adult assistance and downright cheating. Every time, ‘other mothers’ were placed before me. I still held my ground.

We finished late in the night. A completed chart with, what we had discovered was the “Painted Lady”, a brilliantly coloured butterfly found almost the world over. The next morning, she left with the project in sullen silence. I knew I had not been forgiven. It hurt. Then I remembered something I had read. A magazine article that had talked about being a patient parent. I smiled inwardly, knowing my turn would come.

By evening the project was submitted. And forgotten. Or rather simply not mentioned.
Come Sunday and we were off to the nearby lake for a community picnic. Racing ahead with her friends, she was as excited an eight year old as you could get.

The sun was warm and flowers seemed to bloom everywhere. I too was welcome for this change of scene. Suddenly I felt relaxed. Something inside me told me everything would be alright. And then I saw it! The Painted Lady! I raced to Niyati’s side, and excitedly pointed it out to her. She jumped up and down with glee. Rounding up her friends, she animatedly explained to them what the butterfly was all about and all the scientific data she knew about the little creature. When she finished holding her little educational conference, she looked up at me. And smiled. Finally, I was better than the ‘other mothers’.

Secretly I thanked the ‘Painted Lady’. A butterfly responsible for parent-child bonding! Finally, I had got a good grade in my project.
(c) Vaishakhi Bharucha 2009


  1. THIS ONE'S ME!!! YAYYY!!!!
    :D Love you mommmyyy!!

  2. brings me tears :) beautifully written and a lovely incicent too :) love to you vaishakhi and to niyati too :)-leenata