Other Side of the Mirror: Family wars
By: Bikram Vohra
Have you noticed how we spend most of our children’s early years teaching them to walk and talk and then the rest of it telling them to shut up and sit down. In thousands of homes these wars are fought every day.
Why should I sit down.
Because I said so.
So, I have to listen?
Because I am your father?
That’s a reason, sorry, that’s based on erroneous premises, the Gestapo has been disbanded.
That is how it starts and before you know it, you are into this major conflagration about child rights and child abuse and wait till I am earning and I can escape this prison. Our arguments with our daughters had a distilled yet surreal quality about them even though they are now grown up.
We fought about hair.
Darling, we have guests coming for dinner, put your hair right.
What’s wrong with my hair?
It’s scruffy, and we want you to make the right impression.
Because you are our children and we want to impress our guests.
Why can’t they be impressed with my hair like it is?
Because it is messy, you should look groomed.
Looks fine to me, I mean, this is the way I am, take it or leave it, why do I have to fake it to make it, grooming is for horses…
You are not faking it, you are putting your hair right, what’s with you kids, can’t you just do what I say, put your hair right.
See, you can’t win an argument so you yell.
We fought about posture.
Do you have to lie across the couch to talk on the phone, sit up straight.
What, whatwhat, what’s with you, dad, bad day at work, one sec, it’s my dad, he’s on the rampage.
I am not on the rampage, I only wish you’d sit up rather than spread yourself all over the couch like Jell-O.
Are you insulting me, Dad, am I your surrogate target for the day, the domestic punching bag, go take on Mom if you are man enough, don’t pick on me.
Just sit up, don’t lounge, don’t slouch, don’t nudge the cutglass vase with your toe, is that asking too much.
We fought about being nice to hosts and acting as ambassadors of the family.
You are not serious, right, you are kidding.
No, a family is known by how the children behave, we’d like to think we have inculcated right values…
Dad…inculcated, who speaks like that?
We want you to be nice to their children and don’t heap your plate and don’t forget to say ‘thank you for the lovely dinner’ when we are leaving.
How do you know it’s lovely when we haven’t eaten it yet?
We fought about food.
Eat your chicken.
Don’t sleep over the plate, sit up straight.
Take your elbow off the table and stop chasing your vegetables all over the place, eat it.
Get him off my case.
Are you mumbling, young lady.
No, dad, I am dancing with Prince Rainier.
We fought about money.
No, no more money this month.
I said, no.
My friends get twice what I get.
Good, I am glad your friends get so much more, I am happy for them, they have rich fathers, you don’t, that’s the way the cards were dealt, too bad you can’t swap fathers.
We warred over late nights.
Do you know what time it is, young lady, do you?
It’s only half twelve, Dad, everybody is out, I need to get a life, you cannot do this to me.
I can, I will, here in the house you go by the rules.
And we fought about fighting.
I did not start the argument, you did.
Didn’t too, you wanted to spoil my mood.
You kids these days have no respect, it’s all grab, grab, grab.
What’s this respect thing you people always pull out when you can’t make a point, what’s respect got to do with it, you are wrong.
I am not wrong, young lady, let me just tell you that when I was your age…
…Not that old chestnut again!