You encounter a whole new world of people and characters once you become parents. Initially, you meet parents of other kids of the same age who become a part of your world as you nurture your baby and share notes. As the little one starts growing, your world embraces more elements – playmates from the building and garden, classmates at different stages of schooling and interestingly, a whole new host of ‘characters’, who willy-nilly become a part of your world as your child develops an interest in them.
Here, I am referring to unreal or fictional characters. I can still remember the long hours spent reading Noddy, The Cat In The Hat series and more to my bachcha log to inculcate the habit of reading in them, and the characters provided several points of conversation. By the time Famous Five, Secret Seven, Billy Bunter, the St Claire and Mallory Towers series, and the seven-volumed Harry Potter adventures entered our home, the kids were on their own, reading what they liked, providing grist for our dinner-table interactions. Roald Dahl — another popular choice in our home — was shared, read and re-read by three readers of differing ages. I confess here that I re-visited many of my childhood reads as the kids discovered them.
Along with books, television and animated films too (at the outset) gave us much to talk about. Mowgli and Bagheera from Jungle Book, the lovely dogs and their babies from 101 Dalmatians (after that, my kids clamoured for a pup in our home and we really hated Cruella de Vil) — it was as if we really knew them all.
Then the domination of the Hindi soaps happened. When I returned home from work, small screen dramas offered an hour or so of relaxation. My kids were merciless as they laughed at my involvement in the plot lines, quizzing me on what next a Tulsi, Mr Bajaj, Mihir, Prerna or a Parvati would be doing. “Ma, is that really what you should be watching?” they queried, the tables turned on me, as they censored my viewing.
I bided my time, waiting for the day the kids would find their ‘characters’ and follow their lives closely. And that day took some time to dawn, but it finally did when shows like Friends, Gossip Girls, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory invaded our homes. And Aakanksha and Gaurav found their characters. So what if by then my two lived in different places? I soon found them catching up on the phone and messages about the episodic life of their favourites. Once, when I censored my 15-year-old for watching How I Met Your Mother, he asked me, “Do you know who introduced me to it?” Ah, the advantages of having an elder sibling. Incidentally Barney of How I Met Your Mother and Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory remain popular ‘inmates’ of our living room. Castle and Beckett rule our imaginations whenever they return to the small screen, and lest we forget, Neal Caffrey and Peter Burke top our list too.
I hate to say this, but TV is good in small doses. Cut it out completely and the kids will seek it elsewhere. And our conversations have become fun, since we discuss traits and quirks. It gives us space from serious study talk even as we analyse and predict what is going to happen next.
Right now, while football is still ‘Top Gun’ for the boy, with me, he agrees to watch Grey’s Anatomy. Till now, he has not spoiled the suspense and I have resisted the temptation to switch channels to watch two editions of the same show. And while I watch the ups and downs of the medical world, I also have lively discussions with him — on books, matches and more. After all, it’s all about loving your family and sharing their interests.
The writer, Executive Editor, Verve, is, in her personal space, often driven to distraction by her two growing ‘young adults’, but she loves the madness of it all