We live in trying times. Our children are exposed to concepts and beliefs much earlier than we did. We see music videos of children romancing each other at the school premises. My son doesn’t miss the popular serial that depicts love stories of school-going children. The environment at his school is no different, almost every day, he comes home with stories of kids hooking up and then breaking up unceremoniously. He is growing…faster than ever…and he knows…everything – EVERYTHING.
My heart skips a beat each time I think about how much he knows and the sources of information.
At the time of writing this post, my son was just 12 years old and I had no way to stop his mind from wandering in every possible direction. Though I was shaken up initially, I realised that the only way out was to take the issue by the horns. I had to stay strong to my commitment to being his best friend and guide him in the right manner. Here is how I did it…
First, I tried to tell him a few stories…Over a series of incidents, I spoke to him about the different relationships among people. I used loads of examples from around our daily life to explain different aspects of love. He loves asking questions and answering each is surely a test of patience. Among all the chatter, I had to cut the clutter and drill the right idea of love in is head. I wasn’t sure if this method would work the way I wanted it to. I then shifted gears and introduced him to the Stages of Love. It went something like this:
“Abhu, did you know that there are various stages through which every romantic relationship passes?”
“Stages? What stages, Mumma?
M: This is a stage when you like a girl. E.g. you see her in the morning, she says or does something sweet and in the evening you forget that you liked her.
A: Aah…haan…got it…
M: This is the stage when you like a girl and continue to like her for many days. You may feel the urge to see her all the time. You may miss your break time, just to go and see what she is doing. You may even do some silly things in her presence not knowing that you are doing them.
He went red. I didn’t question him.
M: This is a stage when you want to follow the girl everywhere. Your friends come to know and they start teasing you. It annoys you, but you miss the teasing when they stop. You wait for her to come to school and if she doesn’t, you feel really sad. Following her like a puppy becomes your only way of passing time. Thinking about her or should I say, staying lost in her thoughts makes you happy. You are unable to concentrate on your studies.
A: What’s wrong with thinking about her all the time, Mumma – isn’t that what lovers do?
M: Imagine what would happen if I follow your father everywhere and stop concentrating on you or your little sister. How would you feel?
A: Oh…yes…I get it now (nodding his head off)
M: Here is when you not only like the girl and think about her all the time, you also feel that your existence depends on whether she likes you back. You make up various situations in your mind and even may feel like approaching the girl to start a relationship.
A: (Goes red and looks out of the window.)
M: (Ignored and continued) I have faced this so many times in my life and guess what I did?
A: (sheepishly) Really? What did you do?
M: I focused my energies on my studies and on being friends with the guy. Friendship, Abhimanyu, is the best relationship to be in – no expectations, no worries – just pure fun. Haven’t you noticed how your father and I are friends first?
A: hmmm…What if she doesn’t want to be my friend?
M: What if I tell you to have hot tea right now and you don’t want it? How will you feel if I force it down your throat?
M: This one is very tricky.
A: Why do you say so?
M: Because Like, Crush, Puppy Love, Infatuation – all of them appear to be Love. At the same time, Love is similar but not same to True Love. This one is tricky because it makes you get into situations that you will later regret.
A: How to recognize that a Like, Crush, Puppy Love, Infatuation are different than Love and how will I know that it is not True Love. Gosh, this is so confusing Mumma. Why can’t things be simple?
M: Well, Abhu, the best way to recognize Love from the rest is that you feel like being with the person for the rest of your life. However, you are not able to accept the person for what they are, you want a Version 2.0 of them – all the time when you are with them. Also, being with them doesn’t bring out the best in you, you are on an impression management spree the entire time.
A: So if I am in love then I want to impress all the time. Okay, then what is True Love?
M: Before we talk about True Love, let’s talk about the stage of Obsession.
A: Aah…this one…I think I know…the one where the boy keeps thinking of the girl and even tries to commit suicide if she says NO.
M: (gathering my guts after hearing the word ‘suicide’ from my son’s mouth.) Huh…yeah.
A: Arre, I know, its the stage where the guy can’t do anything except keep thinking about the girl – these acid attack and rape type cases.
M: (I quickly moved to the next stage. This conversation must end before I get a heart attack!)
M: This is the true and real state of being in love. Unconditional and beautiful. There is no reason to impress. An expression is understood even before it takes an overt form. This relationship needs no explanation or earth-shattering actions to prove the extent of the feeling. One is able to function at optimum all the time without the pressure of impression management.
A: How do you know you have reached this stage? Did you reach this stage with Papa? How did you know you are in true love.
M: (This was my moment of truth) Well, Abhimanyu, I really didn’t know the definition of True Love, but I did know that I felt amazing to be with your Father. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him so I said yes to him when he proposed.
A: (smiles) Awww…so cute. But seriously, are you kidding me? Seriously? You played along?
M: (Went red and nodded sheepishly)
A: So have you and Papa reached the stage of Eternal Love? Can you tell me if I can consider you both as an example?
M: (Thinking – WTF, when did this become about me?) Ummm….yeah…I guess so.
A: So 7 births together type of love is eternal love, right?
M: (This guy is teaching me now) Yes Abhimanyu, don’t you have studies to do? Chalo run along and study now
A: Not now Mumma, I am really tired. I am going to watch some TV (Scampers away)
This is exactly how our conversation ended. I was left flummoxed, didn’t know whether he understood anything that we had discussed. A few days later, when his friend came home, I overheard Abhu giving his friend gyaan (imparting knowledge) on the stages of love and actually advising him on the way forward.
Chalo theekh hai, mera beta Love Guru ban gaya!!
I am glad that he understood the concept well and is also having a positive influence on his friends. I had actually expected him to thank me and promise me that he would follow what I taught him, but I guess this generation doesn’t believe in customary thank yous.
Do let me know what you thought about this post. Share your experiences with your growing kids – I would love to learn something new.