#crush #puberty #growingup

I still remember being a child at 11. Little did I think about boys or know the meaning of the word ‘CRUSH’. That word made a staggering entry into my life with the Hollywood blockbuster, ‘You’ve Got Mail’. That was the first time I was able to map my feelings to the word. It was exciting.

Thank the lack of exposure or the non existence of internet during my most impressionable years, they were truly The Wonder Years. Quite like my favourite TV series those days. Although it is impossible to imagine a world without handhelds today, it is a miracle how millions of us turned out perfectly alright without having to lay our hands on Google. Books and friends were our only rescue in times of need. Call it half knowledge if you may.

Fast forward to the present day, I don’t know how excited kids feel about having a crush. But the conversations in Primary 5 so hover around having the hots for someone. And our role models of little children are hardly in control of their raging hormones. At best, they feel all grown up.

Our bedtime talks have moved from innocent bedtime stories to gags from conversations circling this new feeling boys and girls have suddenly developed. Top it up with sermons about puberty, a science lesson on the human reproductive system and the big Sex Education Talk underway, school has suddenly transformed into early onset of teenage zone – just like early puberty.

My 11-year-old loathes attending any such talks simply because she knows the girls and the boys will be put up into two different refugee camps and then bombarded with lecture after lecture and graphic after graphic, which is obviously the need of the hour; not to the kids though.

Then comes the real bit – of teasing and getting teased. And no matter what generation you belong to, boys always have the capability of getting on your nerves. Sometimes, I wonder, is this possibly the reason women marry? Because we spend plenty of years seeing members of this annoying clan go scot-free after guffawing at our bodies. They certainly deserve a firm hand and some straightening up.

Back to school, every girl is asking another about her crush. And every boy is sitting with a stupid grin to spill the beans. Just last week a girl confided in a boy about some other guy liking her. She thought she was venting out to a friend. And within minutes, the entire class knew about the big secret – “Shhhh!” In the exact words of my daughter, “It spread faster than forest fire Mumma. He kept whispering to everyone and asking them to keep it a secret. Phew!”

There are boys who have been telling the girls it’s time they will start making eggs. Left to me, I’d tell them, “I am a vegetarian. I don’t make eggs. Thank you”.

Then there are boys who have been painting the female reproductive system pink in the science workbook. I am not sure about the teacher’s reaction but this may be an extreme case of stereotyping the female species. Back in my times, I thought the only humans who studied reproductive systems or the human anatomy were medical students. Other ignorant souls merely reproduced landing the population of India to over a billion. I happen to represent the majority. Yay!

Girls are already thinking about their looks, worried what shade of lipstick will match their skin tone and testing each others’ knowledge of makeup brands based on what their mothers use. Makes me think I grew up on a different planet – Venus as they call it? I don’t recall any such conversations – ever.

Now I can’t wait to hear words like ‘GROSS’ and ‘Did Baba and you actually do that?’ coming my way. I so dread the Sex Education Talk, probably more than my daughter. The ride is about to get bumpy. I bet when the time comes, the better half is going to travel in the name of work as usual, sipping martinis on some sunny island, expressing utmost disappointment with his hotel room because it offers only partial sea view; while I shall be left to do all fire fighting myself in addition to cooking, cleaning and keeping my sanity alive. Sometimes I wonder, it isn’t such a great idea to marry a man smarter than you.

Coming of age is such a celebrated phase of life in every culture. A time when you begin to start learning more about your bodily changes and also about those of the opposite sex. Or with so many different sexualities, same sex too. The good part is, this generation is open. They aren’t afraid or ashamed of sharing their thoughts and feelings unabashedly. The bad part, you cannot stop them from sharing it with younger siblings.

My 7-year-old has found her share of the meaning of the word CRUSH right away. After watching Hotel Transylvania 3, she asked her Dad if he ever had a crush over anyone except yours truly. I grinned at the obvious failed attempt of the father at dodging the question away. Curious about the answer? You need to get it from the horse’s mouth. She has been getting the CRUSH question from her friends too. Not just that, they have begun noticing people making out in public spaces. And the younger ones have made up the word, ’lip-to-lip kiss’, and decided it is taboo. They use gestures to mention what they saw. The gesture is similar to what Bollywood directors used decades ago. History repeats itself; at crazy points of evolution though.

The little big girl on the other hand spots a couple making out at the bus stop and asks her father, “Hya lokkanaa sagale prem bus stop var 15-20 minitaatch karayche ataste ka?” To the uninitiated, this is a Puneri father-daughter conversation where the daughter asks the father, “Do these people have to show PDA only in the 15-20 minutes at the bus stop?” I never expected those Puneri genes to show up in such a hilarious way. Translations can never give you a good laugh. I suggest learning a new language – Marathi.

P.S. Talking about creating a nation of readers here in Singapore, we were waiting in queue at Fairprice when my 11-year-old lay her eyes on one of the tempting, pick up me products by the cash counter – Durex! She has been curious about the TV ad for some time now. She has questions. She picks up one packet and reads from left to right and top to bottom.

In my mind I belong to the bomb detection squad. So, I have raced, jumped and snatched that hand grenade from her and thrown it into the sea. But in real life, I stay calm, almost giggle at my embarrassment and notice the lady in front of us trying her best to stop from laughing out loud. I am glad there are no teenagers around us. I am then left in dismay by her question, “What is this mommy, I mean where do you wear it?” I ask her to hold her horses until the dreaded Sex Education Day after which I shall be ready with some answers. She feels exasperated. I tell her, “You need to learn to walk before you run”.

So jawans, How’s the Josh? (A line from a recent Bollywood movie – Uri)