Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Teen Troubles

It must have been around midnight when the phone rang. I woke up with a start and my first thoughts were ‘I hope all is fine’. My mother had just survived a stroke and hadn’t yet fully recovered. My children were away from home – two in Bangalore and one in Ranchi. I picked up the phone and it was my son on the other end.

“Mummy! Note down this number and ring back”

“Is anything wrong? Why are you calling…”

He cut off the line mid-sentence. I hadn’t noted the number because he did not give me any to note down.

He rang up again and when I responded he began to straight away dictate a number.

“Wait a second. Let me get a pen and paper.”

“What were you doing all this while? I’ll call again.” The line went dead. I got a pen and paper when he rang up again and gave me a mobile number.

“What’s the matter Ra……..” He cut off the phone again.

I was fuming from within and decided not to call. My husband was fast asleep and why wouldn’t he sleep through the night? After all he had a super woman for a wife ready to tackle phone calls at midnight. The phone rang again.

“Mummy! Ring back, it is urgent.”

I was wide awake by now and rang up. He immediately picked up the phone.

“Our principal wants you and daddy to come here next week. He is threatening to throw me out of college if you guys don’t turn up.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing mummy. Absolutely nothing to deserve this punishment. I’ll give you his phone number. Talk to him.”

He gave me a number which I noted down. I remembered the time when my father in law would chase him with walking stick in hand threatening to break his bones but this was something serious.

“When did he tell you this?”

“This evening”

“Why did you wait till midnight to tell me?”

“I am calling from my friend’s mobile. Incoming calls are free after midnight. I asked you for a mobile connection. You didn’t get me one.”

“Listen very carefully Rahul” I said, “I am not talking to anyone unless you come out with your side of the story. I need to know the facts. Otherwise you can ask your father to do the talking”

“Not daddy, he’ll never be able to deal with our princy. Actually what happened was that he fined me 200 rupees and I did not have money to pay up. I went after him apologizing like mad. He left without saying anything. He is now accusing me of not paying the fine. How am I supposed to know that he hadn’t forgiven me?”

“How did you assume that he had excused you?”

“You are arguing for the heck of it mummy. Half the money you send is used up to pay fines. Someone breaks a bulb and the entire floor is fined Do you know I am so broke that I do not even have money to call you from a booth. Here I am trying to make do with the amount you send me and get fined for the silliest of reasons. You don’t even try to understand.”

My heart melted at the thought of my son staying in a hostel in far off Bangalore stranded without a penny in his pocket.

“Now that you’ve told me, go to sleep in peace. I’ll talk to your Principal. I cannot come in person though.”

“That’s my mummy. I love you soooooo much.”

“What happened?” this was my dear husband who had been listening all the while. I repeated the conversation that I had with my son.

“Okay try talking to the Principal. If he doesn’t relent we can put him in a local college. It is not as if children who study here do not fare well.”

How very practical of him I thought.

The next day I did talk to the Principal. It was not as easy as I thought. The first time I rang up he was in a meeting. The second time he had gone on his rounds. The third time he was taking a class. Finally around 3:00 PM the next day I managed to track him down.

“Sir,” I began “This is Rahul’s mother. I was told that you wanted to speak to me.”

“Ma’am, please come over and take your son away. I am giving him his TC. We don’t need him in our college.”

I did not know how to react when I suddenly realized that he was dealing with the same age group as me - Children in their late teens. I decided to appeal to the teacher in him.

“Sir, I am sure you have valid reasons for taking such a harsh decision. I deal with college going teenagers every working day. And believe me sir, it is not an easy job. They are just out of school and are not able to deal with their new found freedom. But can we afford to be harsh on them? They are after all children and even if we scold them they still have no one else to turn to and will come back to us. I will stand by your decision but is there a possibility of letting him off with a warning? I for my part give him strict instructions to abide by your rules.”

That did it! The Principal found an ally in me and went on to tell me that he wanted the best for his students and did not want my son to get into bad company. He went on to say how difficult it was to tackle these teenagers. He finally ended by asking me not to worry about my son. It was the responsibility of the college to bring out the best in him. He expressed his desire to meet us in person and I promised to meet him as soon as possible. I had the rare advantage of understanding both the Principal’s perspective and the plight of a parent.

I rang up and asked my son to pay the fine and be careful in future. This was the first of many episodes that drove me nuts when my son was at college. Today he claims that he'd like to send his watrds to the same place if and when he heads a family.


Phoenix said...

A post so many people can identify with, it;s amazing how simply you can put it :)

Just Like That said...

You are indeed supermom, the way you handled it.Wonder if I would be able to do the same in your shoes.

And looks like Rahul sure learnt some and 'fun'ned some at this place if he wants to send his kids there.

Serendipity said...

HHG :) ,
Your son is lucky to have you .My Mom would have heartily agreed with the Principal's decision and would also have added a few anecdotes of my "abominable" behavior.

The Inquisitive Akka said...

You handled the situation so well!

Vishesh said...

ha i have to watch out when i enter coll in two yrs time...btw i never get this good and bad company....when i am around,i like my frnds to behave the way i want(meaning no smoking and if u stick of it, am sry dont talk to me) ...

Hip Grandma said...

phoenix:Yeah,this kind of thing is part of every teenager's life and automatically part of parenting.

Just like that:When sonny boy turns 18 you too will become a supermom.Rahul and his friends later rented a house,hired a servant and cook and lived on their own adding to our monthly budget.

serenipity:I don't think your mom would have done that.She would have given you a piece of her mind the way i did.I've only written a part of what actually transpired between my son and me.But mothers have a way of scolding their children and doing an about turn when the child sheds a few tears and/or sounds distressed.

IQA:Did I?Thanks.

vishesh:I don't think Rahul and his friends were bad or good company for each other.They had a great time.Getting in and out of trouble is also part of college life as you'll soon learn.

Anonymous said...

hehe..but brilliantly handled! Lucky son indeed :)

deepthi vinod said...

hmm i was in rahuls shoes once and gran thax for not being irrational..

Usha said...

I bet when you look at the grown-up responsible man your son has become. it seems that all this happened in your imagination or in some other life!
Oh what a "joy" it is to be the mother of a teen ager son - especially if you have a husband who needs the slightest excuse to flare up!!

Bit Hawk said...

Nice post! I saw your blog link in Usha's blog and your blog name was interesting enough to make me curious. Now that I am here, I can say that its not just the blog name, but even the posts are very very interesting.

You write very well, you have been bookmarked! :)

Ardra said...

I'm getting nervous- will be sending my elder son to hostel next year, right now he is looking forward to getting away from my cruel clutches...
I think I should get your phone number so that I may be able to call you for advice if necessary...:-)

Hip Grandma said...

random vignettes:I was also lucky that the Principal relented without my having to go all the way to bangalore.So what if I spent 400/- rupees on the phone call.

deepthi:not surprising.we've all had our share of teen troubles and even I was no exception.

usha:you're right.I could pen three books on teen trouble and one more on how to manage a fuming husband.will you edit it?

bithawk:Thanks a lot.you don't know what your words mean to me.

ardra:This is a period of learning for the child as well as the parent.The child learns to spread his wings and the parent to let go little by little.Don't worry you'll be fine.

Dotm said...

You are a good caring Mom. I liked the way you talked to the principal. I remember once having a princ tell me he was kicking my son out of school just 3 weeks before final tests. I told him I thought he should re-consider. he said "NO". I said you always were willing to listen to what I had to say before. He said, ok, I`ll listen, but it won`t change my mind. Then I told him. he had two choices as far as I could see- He could either let my son back for the final tests- we both knew he would pass them and graduate. or I told him he could put him out and be prepared to have him back in school next year as I would never sign for him to quit. So, would you rather let him take the tests and be rid of him, or bring him back for another full year. I said the choice is yours. The Principal said he saw my point and said my son was welcome to come back for the final tests. He graduated and now 52, married with two adopted kids and a good provider, good husband and good father.
They do grow up and all our teenage worries become a thing of the past.

Something to Say said...

AS a teenager, everytime I got into a confrontation or clash of interests with my mom, she'd say "you wont understand it now, but when you have a child of your own, you will". Today I do have a child of my own - and yes I do understand what it means to be a parent. And I'm sure - as does your son!

Shark said...

You handled the situation brilliantly well! If I were in your place, I would have panicked and messed up even more I guess ;-)

when I do have kids and they grow up like this, I will come to you for tuitions ;-)

Itchingtowrite said...

i am sure i wud hav panicked!

Vishesh said...

ha gmom yes it should be...way way different from school....but i doubt if i am ever going to do anything good in life!!

Hip Grandma said...

dotm:That was a nice account and I cud relate to it 100%and my experience tells me that the teenage group needs to be given direction be it from parents or teachers.The very thought that someone cares sustains them.Once out of college they become matured and responsible.

something to say:That was a nice revelation.There are times when I felt inadequqte as a parent.Your words mean so much to me.Thank you very much.

shark;you won't mess up any situation.Parents are bound to fight tooth and nail for their children and you won't be an exception.You are welcome to come to me for suggestions.A group already claims to be taking valuable lessons from my experience.

ITW:I don't expect you to.A sixth sense works overtime when one's child's future is at stake.Moreover I had enough experience of working in a college to understand that this was not an offence that merited expulsion.The Principal deals with around 3000 Rahuls each day.He has to be strict or else these boys will jump on to his shoulders and pull out every hair on his head.

vishesh:You sound so matured for your age and you shud not have such doubts.Life is full of challenges and prepare yourself to face them.

Pillpopper said...

Maa thuje salaam! I can vividly imagine what I would have done...Had a heart attack , done a Mother India act and screamed at my offspring ,called the Princy and had a violent quarrel,and said a lot of things I shouldn't, being a foot in the mouth Sagittarian... Nice blog very well-written.

Anonymous said...

You have scared me now, a few more years to go b4 my son enters his teens and I have no clue how to react to teen behaviour ! Wonder what I would do if it was my son....why dont you please start a blog on parenting too HGma - we can learn so much from you.

Life got a bit busy recently and I couldnt visit your blog as much as I like, but have blogrolled you now so that I dont miss your posts - hope thats ok ?

WhatsInAName said...

Now I know where to come for advice. You are so very patient. I need to start building it up.. my daughter is just a few years away from college!

Krishnapriya said...

Hi HHG!!! Thanks for dropping by...I am just back after a deep slumber and it gives me a good feeling to be back reading posts..do keep up the great writing!!

Hip Grandma said...

pillpopper:Welcome here and if this blog gives an insight into the future,you should perhaps make a list of what you should not do.No parent can escape Teen troubles and one may as well prepare one's self to deal with it.

nz:No need to feel scared.i am sure we all can deal with such situations.you are welcome to link me.I'd be happy to link you too.

whatsinaname:every stage in parenting has its special moments.Enjoy your day.It is a life long process asyou'll soon discover.Or have you already??

krishna:I got to your blog from Itching to write's blog.I found it interesting.thanks for dropping by.all your comments sustain my blog and infuse life into it.

Balaji said...

I really don't know how I would have reacted to this. Quite an odd situation I should admit.

may be I would have a row with the principal...but thinking of it..my age would have mellowed me and think what should I do, what should I do?

You handled it real Kool

starry said...

wonderful post. I have a teenage son and I can see this happening to me.Made me laugh.thanks.

Hip Grandma said...

balaji:With a teenager's future at stake no parent would annoy tha\e principal however illogical his attituds.I had an experience of siding my ward and when the teacher reasoned i had no answer.

lalitha:I bet you do.you now have first hand experience.