What is about people that makes them believe their children are of fascinating interest to others. Went for a dinner the other night and i am sitting next to this very pleasant stranger and deciding that maybe this is an evening for charm in high gear and some crisp conversation when this little child runs in and then out again and in again and out again and then reverses the trend.
I say, why can’t people leave their kids home, which is patently the wrong thing to say because she freezes up and says, that is my kid and he is a little restless because he is not well. I say, cute kid with the same sort of ‘retrieve lost ground’ passion soldiers display when they are establishing beachheads in war and know the enemy is at the gate. She says, he is big for his age, he’s only two and four. I marvel at the disclosure as the kid kicks a can onto the carpet and rolls on the floor, taking a cushion with him and a cut glass figurine hovers on the brink of oblivion.
She says, we are potty training him. I say, that is a good idea. But, says the mother as the kid demands another can on pain of heavy shrieking, he won’t sit, sit we tell him, sit but he won’t sit. Belt him in, I say, tie him up. She gives me a frigid look.
The father, who until this moment is sitting on the sidelines with that fatuous expression fathers have in the post firstborn months indicating they are the only ones to have accomplished the miracle of life, see, see, I did this, my kid, mine, all mine, now tunes in and says, you don’t tie up little kids. He uses the sort of tone the sunshine prince would have used on the wicked witch before lancing through her rotten little heart.
He says, children are sensitive, then looks up as if expecting resounding benediction for this revelation. His wife says, he’s not eating well either. I say, he seems to be doing okay with the pistachios. She says, not my husband, my child.
Some people do not know when to quit. Shut up, says a little voice within, talk about something safe like BJP. So I say, suppose not, if he doesn’t go to the potty he probably doesn’t feel hungry. The husband says, no connection, children’s appetites vary, there is no common yardstick. I don’t believe this is happening to me. We were supposed to have a pleasant evening together. Now mumsie is saying he has got rings around his eyes, see, brown circles, do you think it’s a lack of calcium? The other lady who has obviously had a brood of her own says vitamin C and the mother then says but we give him large doses of it, don’t we darling?
Darling (the husband, not the son) snorts and says, I can’t really believe you would advocate tying him up, a little kid of 28 months. Did you tie up your kids, he asks, did you take a belt and rope them in. You can’t rope people in with a belt, you can belt them in, says a third lady who has wandered in to the conversation like a stray cat looking for a bit of food, you can belt people with a rope but you can’t rope them with a belt. She then also looks around like she is expecting bells to ring. I look around desperately for the hostess to bail me out.
Kid is now kicking some guest’s shin and shrieking because no one is cheering his endeavour. The cut glass figurine topples and shatters probably out of screaming boredom. This is sheer lunacy, not a party. Then the mother says, you think the screaming hurts his throat, poor dear, I’ll have to give him some syrup. Throw him in the potty, sweets.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.