Boys vs Girls

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I was in the car with my husband and son a few days before Diwali.

“Guys! Both of you need new clothes for Diwali.” I said, hoping we can stop somewhere enroute.

“No!” both father and son cried out in unison. “We don’t need new clothes & that’s final!” said my son.

“But it’s Diwali!” I protested. “We need to keep new clothes in the puja that morning!”

“Just because you have some lame rituals, it doesn’t mean you can drag me to a clothes store! When I want new clothes, I’ll ask for it!”

“Exactly!” chimed in my husband.

“How come you insist on a Christmas tree every year? And insists on gifts under it, even after you figured out that I was the Santa all along?” I countered.

“Christmas is fun Amma. Diwali is nothing but crackers. I hate getting out of the house. Can we just move to another peaceful country till Diwali is over?”

I saw red. He managed to get my goat on festive spirit and patriotism at one shot.

But reining my irk I plodded on. “Diwali is a beautiful festival. I have fond memories of  waking up early in the morning, ganga snanam, yummy sweets, lighting up diyas… ” I reminisced.

“Not interested…” My son muttered.

… drawing kolams, and visiting my grand mom in new clothes…” I continued, as if I hadn’t heard him.

“I’ll pass..” he said.

“Can you help me decorate the house this time?” I asked him.

“Nope!” was the reply.

Then I totally lost it. “What’s wrong with you?” I bellowed. “Indian festivals are designed to bring families together. The fun is in enjoying each others’ company and bask in the warmth of family”

“And you know what? I just realised we never do anything fun as a family.” I said.

“Like what?” asked my son, fingers still clicking on his gaming device.

“Even when all 3 of us are in one place, each of us are busy with our own gadgets. There’s no sharing, no talking, no bonding… We always go for holidays only with friends. We rarely go out for a meal or a movie … Why cannot we do stuff together like a regular family?”

“Because Amma, we’re not a regular family! We’re special! So don’t make us a regular family by suggesting these things!” he grinned.

My husband laughed out loud, proud of his son’s wit.

“Fine.” I said. “This Diwali, I’m going to adopt a baby girl! Girls are so much fun to have. They get excited about new clothes, love to decorate and are so warm and loving”

“Fine.” said my son with barely masked anger. “I’ll find somewhere else to live. You obviously don’t want me around.”

“I did not mean that.” I said, very annoyed. “Just because I want one more person in the house, doesn’t mean I want you to get out.”

“I’d much rather you adopt a dog!” he replied hopefully.

“So I get to clean after one more person? No thanks!” I said sullenly.

I maintained a tight-lipped silence till we reached home, all the while wondering how the male species is so different and how jealously they guard their personal spaces and how they avoid any kind of obvious bonding with their families.

If my son had his PSP, my husband has his phone and facebook.

***************

On a saturday, a few days after Diwali, we were out with friends for dinner. My son’s best friend, (whom he fondly calls his weekend bro) came back home with us for a sleepover. My husband had just landed home from the airport and called me to say there was no power at home.

My phone’s battery was really low. So I culdn’t call the Electricity Board.

Once we reached home, we found my tired husband snoring away in the bedroom, with a fan on, thanks to the invertor.

We cautiously switched on one light in the drawing room and sat around cursing our fate. It was past 11 and both the boys were very tired after playing football all evening.

“Why don’t both of you go sleep with Appa on the big bed?” I suggested.

“What about you?” Asked my son.

“I’m charging my phone on the comp, so I’ll wait for a while. If the power is not back, I’ll drag a quilt and sleep on the floor.” I told him.

“No, Amma! You will not! You wake me up. I’ll sleep on the floor.”

Surprised by his sudden burst of chivalry, I laughed and said “No need! I can sleep on the floor..”

“No way!” he said, very angry now. “You have to wake me up.”

“Okay,” I said placatingly.

Soon the boys had brushed their teeth and went to sleep near my husband.

I picked up a book and lay down on the drawing room sofa to while away the time till my phone charged.

A few minutes later, my son wandered back to me.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“I can’t sleep.” he said.

“Rubbish! Just look at your eyes! Go to sleep baby!”

“No, Amma.. I cannot sleep…” he insisted.

“What about your friend?” I asked him.

“He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He was super tired.”

“So are you..” I said.

But he refused to go to sleep and sat around very sullenly.

A few minutes later, the power was back.

“Yay!!” we shouted together.

“Now what?” asked my son.

“You go back to sleep with Appa & S,” I instructed him. “We cannot wake up your friend to change rooms now.”

“And you?” he asked.

“I’ll sleep in your room. See? Now the power is back, I don’t need to sleep on the floor. I can happily sleep in your nice bed.”

After a moment of thought he replied, “Okay. I’ll sleep in my room too”

“Why?”

“Because you’re scared to sleep alone!”

I was touched he remembered this from what I’d told him in passing a year ago.

“That was long ago…” I placated. “I’m braver now. You don’t worry. I’ll be fine. And your friend has not come for a sleepover with your father!”

He insisted his friend was fast asleep anyway and will not mind.

“I’m just concerned about you, okay?” he said and that was final.

Refusing to listen to any of my protests, he retrieved his spiderman toy from my bedroom, curled up next to me and was soon fast asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow…

As I too drifted off to sleep I thought to myself, “Sons are not so bad after all!”

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