As published in the children’s newspaper –

Here we go again. It’s 6pm, an hour when my body depletes drastically in resources – mostly patience, a virtue that helps put together a smiling face and happy tone that people claim have a positive impact on raising children. My kids, on the other hand, are hardwired to push my buttons, all the time. The 11-year-old is on a journey of her own – dealing with puberty, sex education and homework.

I strongly believe puberty bestows these almost adolescents with super powers of drama and selective listening – a lethal combination that sets the parent trap. Add to it your morose life in late thirties or early forties, dictated by hormones that evoke sympathy, served with a side of tears.

Thanks to growing up, we now have a designated lecture-hour every week. My happy hour begins each time we go for a drive. I have captive audience belted in car seats. This is just as smart as it gets. The girls cannot escape even in the name of peeing. I begin my sermon and sometimes, owing to PMS, I am on fire. I rant my usual, “I don’t care what grades you get. But I want you to learn; to complete your homework and follow the timetable you wrote down yourself. One hour of revision is all you need. Just 5 days per week. Have I ever stopped you from playing or watching TV or denied good food and playdates? Then, why can’t you stick to a simple routine? Is this too much to ask for?”

My 11-year-old’s face drops as usual. Her expression is a classic mix of guilt and sorrow, grimacing her delicate, girly features. She reminds me of Cinderella while I play the ghastly step mother. And hard as I may try, the mother within melts. I am so tempted to hug and kiss this fur ball and reassure her how much I love her. But being a mother is never easy. Being a child, even more difficult. It’s like being an App. There are constant upgrades, in-app purchases and every few months the user (the mother in this case), expects the App to get better.

Back into the car, I feel like a dormant volcano turning active. I need answers. I need commitment-a promise to act responsible. But she gives me her favourite-the silent treatment-exactly like her father. Ah, the fault in her genes!

I lose my calm and finally roar, “Okay, you get this straight. If you do not adhere to the 1-hour revision guideline from Monday to Friday, I will cancel the next activity on your list. I promise you!”

The better half instantly increases the cooling in the car. My ego feels tamed and just when I am about to announce myself victorious, the so far quiet and completely ignored 7-year-old opens her mouth, “You promise that even if the next activity is homework?”

“Howz that!”, appeals my fast bowler husband from behind the wheel. That sets us all chuckling. Relieved, my 11-year-old finally breaks her silence, “Can I do my Science homework on Wednesday because it is due only on Thursday?”

I give her one of my convincingly fake smiles and nod in disappointment.

But there is a silver lining to everything in life. No matter how angry I get, I repeat the same sermons endlessly, so that my message sticks like ‘Fevicol Ka Mazboot Jod’, in the heads of my daughters. I continue to instill values that build character so that one day far from today, when I fall out from their equation of lives, they will have something to remember me by. These sermons will come back to them like discourses to a disciple. People will see a halo around their heads when they handle tough situations in life with natural ease. After all, I understood my mother only after giving birth.