Doctorate in Family Arts

 Doctorate In Family Arts

"One more chocolate? Your quota is over!"

"Amma, I am not asking. Grand ma is." The youngster looks like a lamb but one can make out that glint in his eyes.

As that "one more chocolate" is wordlessly handed over, faint laughter is heard from the living room.

What is it about senior citizens and children?

They always seem to get along with each other like a house on fire. The alliance can sometimes be worrying if you don't belong to either category.

If they are grandparents and grand children, they even conspire with each other to outdo the parent, the much harassed middle level manager.

Or should we use corporate analogies at all?

As one stumbles through the thicket of life, "all that they never teach in any university "stares at one like an ogre.

A favorite family analogy about marriage talks about "two bulls pulling the cart of family on the road of life"

[ One of them has to be  a cow, I know that much, but it's only an analogy.]

A certain twisted mind thinks, that means, the beasts of burden just can't see eye to eye at all, thanks to the yoke …

My favorite analogy for marriage and parenthood is this one by my father.

He says, with marriage, a couple is awarded a Bachelor degree in family arts and with parenthood, they are awarded a Masters degree in the same field.

But strange university this, where the degree is awarded first and the learning [ what a  learning!] comes next.

A  bachelor whose clothesline was never full ,suddenly finds female clothes of all kinds all over the clothesline.

His living room which never heard any sound other than the ones that were made by sports channels , is treated to a variety of sounds, courtesy the remote in her hands.

His shoe rack that had just two pairs of practical footwear, overflows with all kinds of footwear thanks to the new occupant .

He also has a person at home who wants to know what he is thinking when he isn't talking.

[ which may be most of the time].

The lady on the other hand, has a person whose name she takes, after dropping her Father's rather ceremoniously.

His values might seem almost the same but he seems to view the world differently and brings a whole new perspective of looking at life.

If they are lucky, her A' is complimented by his A and vice versa.

Together the co -awardees of the Bachelor degree learn the "we "of life [ after going through some tough course material, and after they nick, graze and hurt themselves a little] and before they realise it, they are handed a Master  degree that comes as a  bundle offer.

Time smiles, but keeps moving.

The said bundle is small, but packs a punch when it comes to getting what he/she wants and the co-awardees are presented with more course material.

There is elation , there is joy , there are tears and there is some pain.

Baby booties walk out,  child size shoes take their place… whose place is later occupied by child size sneakers.

The child gets his first injury and after a rushed visit to the hospital, the clueless scholars spend a sleepless night.

Each telling the other that everything would be alright but each secretly worried .

That and the other issues pass, and almost overnight the child size sneakers walk out to let a young man's shoes in..

He is taller than the ageing scholars now and may also be called as a teen, though he hates it.

He asserts his individuality and the resultant clashes, I am told , probably is the toughest in the curriculum.

" We can cross that bridge when we reach there"One tells oneself.

But it's an ocean that's cross able and the scholars somehow manage that too.

And finally ,on the day another bundle arrives, the older couple shed tears not just because they are glad their line continues, but because they are thankful that life once again trusted them with another honor, the ultimate Doctorate in Family Arts.

The arthritis is forgotten , the asthma  is all but kicked out and the old man and woman are award winners once again.

Time smiles broadly , but keeps moving.

Thinking and elaborating over this analogy , I feel, makes things easier.

"You'll understand it more when you are there" My father says.

May be.  When a parent or parent -in- law candidly admits ,"I may have been too harsh with you on that issue. I now realize I was wrong. But do you have to repeat the same mistake?"Working hands freeze over whatever they are doing and a choke is swallowed.

When a parent says why a child might be throwing tantrums [ and how to deal with that], it's easier to understand where that understanding came from.

The Ph. D scholar candidly tells a grandchild that his mother always did her homework at the eleventh hour but says how proud he was whenever she achieved something.

The praise touches the heart of the master degree holder.

Thanks to the Doctors on either side , nameless neighbours have names.

Grocers who were just faces behind the counters have names and titles. [ "A hardworking man who is saving money for his sister's wedding! Find a job for him in your office. I promised him.]

Gasp. Swallow. Smile and shake heads in exasperation.

Strangers are questioned about their marital status, parental status if married, and free advice is doled out to those who admit they long to have a child [ Why do people loosen up when they talk to Ph.D scholars?]

Life style changes are prescribed [ What ! you work sixty hours a week? Slow down man!] .

 Doctors of the medical kind are suggested and if the stranger looks like a temple goer ,temples are suggested too.

An  "Amma! Appa! For heaven's sake!" said through clenched teeth will not help teeth at all.

"Next year you'll give me sweets, if I am around", the stranger is told. The last part chokes ,but the "Doctor" is hardly bothered by such candid talk.

All of us , single or married ,are handed course materials that we asked for [ or needed] and some semesters are interesting while others aren't.

As for that Ph. D., I am not sure if I'd be around when I get to it, but right now as I stumble through the course material for both the Bachelors as well as the Masters degree,[ strange university this] it feels good to know that I am working on something.

 It doesn't matter that I don't make straight A's, but it looks like I am making passing grades, stumbling and grazing myself in the process.

Not bad at all.

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Previously posted in  Sulekha.com

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