The Parent Trap

In a world where you can be any kind of parent (helicopter, dragon, tiger, dolphin) –  some parents just simply choose to be entertaining.

I have two daughters, one each in the first and second grades. They go to school by their school bus, a convenient way for them to travel, and that is more than enough for me. But if you go by the WhatsApp chats of their respective class groups, it is clearly not enough for some of my fellow parents. These chats are also the sole reason for my phone reaching its maximum storage capacity thrice a day.

I wonder why so many parents are disgruntled with so many things. I thought that the children being out of the house for half the day – this simple fact – would bring joy to the faces of most mothers. On the contrary, from the time their kids leave home to the time they return, they are complaining about the school on WhatsApp.

The kids have a tracking bar on their ID cards that is coded to an app, which you can download on your phone to know where the bus is in transit. “The tracking system doesn’t work!” the parents moan daily. If the bus leaves 5 minutes late from school, WhatApp crashes, because the parents have no clue where their precious poodles are for those 20-30 minutes between school and home. I wonder how many children didn’t get home when these devices were not present. I remember spending a couple of hours at my neighbors’ after getting off the bus before going home. Today’s parents would freak out because the app would show that their child has reached home but is nowhere to be found!

On the days it rains heavily for a bit, some parents will send photos of the puddles outside their homes, protesting that school should be online that day. And if, by any chance, the school goes ahead as planned and their children’s feet get a little wet, WhatsApp starts brimming with pictures of their wet toes and crinkled ankles – the kind you’d get if you had spent an hour in the pool. “Can’t the school make provisions for the children to change into new socks? Why can’t we wear Crocs to school? How can we expect 6- and 7-year-olds to have wet feet?” they fuss. When we went to school – and it was the same school – we splashed happily in every single puddle on the way and back and no one was bothered.

“My child got bitten by a mosquito in class,” fretted one parent, and followed it up with pictures of the bite from different angles so that we, a captive audience, could get an idea of the correct amount of redness and pain. To gain some momentum, a few other parents followed this up with pictures of mosquito bites on their kids, making my WhatsApp slow down tremendously once again. Demands were made that the furniture should be checked for bugs and termites and why couldn’t the classroom be airconditioned. I was surprised no one suggested that the monsoon be cancelled. When we were little, we got cut and bruised. We were bitten and sometimes bit back. No one knew, no one cared. As long as we were alive, we were okay.

“The benches are not the right size for my kids,” grumbled some other parents. “When my child comes home, they (which, in case you didn’t know, is the correct pronoun to use in today’s gender sensitive times) complain that their back hurts and legs have cramped.” “My child can’t even do karate class properly,” bemoaned another. If everything hurts so much, I thought, then perhaps the karate class needs to be changed, not the bench. Parents are worried that their progeny, sitting on hard benches, will have osteoporosis when they grow up. I’m worried if these parents will ever grow up. I always sat on the last bench, and I have very long legs. My teachers were lovely to have allowed me to put my bench out of the class while the table remained inside; problem so easily solved.

“My child came home with some yellow paint on the uniform,” was the topic of another day. Apparently, some of the newly painted benches hadn’t dried completely. Parents objected about the school’s apparent lack of concern. “The lead in these paints is so toxic, it can affect their nervous system and cause them to have nerve problems,” was a common opinion. My WhatsApp started flickering on its own with these comments. The school was accused of jeopardizing the future potential of children who would otherwise make brilliant advances in science were it not for the stains on their uniform, the fumes from which they were actively inhaling. I didn’t complain because my daughter is in the yellow house and the yellow stains were easily camouflaged.

I had a complaint of my own, but not for the WhatsApp group. “My daughter doesn’t like to do homework with me,” I lamented to a friend of mine. She responded with, “Which child likes homework? Send her to me. Kids usually study well with someone they can’t make excuses with. I teach some underprivileged children and she can join us.” “Do you teach overprivileged children?” I joked, because our kids today are in that category. She rolled her eyes back at me. “You can’t expect to raise your children like you were raised, Mazda, because the world that you were raised in doesn’t exist,” she retorted.

“Why do you not care about the problems these little kids face?” a bunch of parents asked me recently, when I told them about how trivial their issues were and that the school was doing a great job and my kids always come home happy (even though, on most days, they haven’t completed their homework). “Why do you live as if none of this stuff matters?” they cornered me. I mulled over that for a while, and I have an answer. I think it comes from being in the profession I am in. I regularly see children with brain tumors, hydrocephalus, blindness, and retardation. I see children with malformations of the spine, those who can’t sit, stand, or walk. I see children with epilepsy who have 5, 10, 15, 20 seizures a day. Most of these children once went to school and can’t anymore, while some of them never did. Some may not see their next summer vacation and their parents are acutely aware of it; somehow, they still smile. Where I trained in neurosurgery, in Vellore, people used to sell their farm produce, cattle, and sometimes even their homes to seek help for their children. Every time I operate on a child, I ask myself, “What if this was my daughter?” And then I’m thankful it isn’t.

So, this Parsi New Year, please, let’s not complain, at least not about the things that are paltry or inconsequential. Life is too short to be little. And so is the storage on my phone.

Happy New Year.

23 Comments on “The Parent Trap
  • Gulshan Kavarana says:

    Thanks for the article , I am that mother whose daughter went to a main stream nursery but regressed when she was 3 because of 10/15 seizures a day. I too felt exactly like you when I heard parents complain that their child was not well and is down with a cold I keep telling them that atleast you know that next week your child will be fine while I am not sure if my child will make it alive.
    Thanks for bringing to light the real struggles of parents like us.

  • Sanjay says:

    Funny and precise description of over protective parents. The indian world has moved to single child family and lots of unknown variables and people who get in touch with the kids when they are outside the house, raising the concerns of parents. Earlier as kids ,we could walk home and now we worry about bus drivers molesting kids enroute to school.

  • Anjali Patki says:

    Perfect observations dr mazda. Point made with a fistful of fun and frolic, humour and honesty. When we were in QMS , white canvas shoes and socks were compulsory even in the monsoon. We’d wear rainwear and change in school, and nobody made a fuss. Parents were happy that their kids were resilient and independent. We need to chill as parents. Thanks for the observations dr Mazda. Wishing you and your family a very happy new year in advance.

  • Vineeta Rao says:

    Yes hyper parents and their misplaced sense of over entitlement ,their phobias can be so off putting especially when so many kids all over the world are struggling to live . Well written Doc!

  • Marzian Mowji says:

    I am very very happy that I don’t have any children in this day and age. I would go crazy being on a whatsapp group with parents like this.

    I do not envy todays parents. They have to deal with a lot of pressure.

    You really highlight their plight. Even when some parents are not thinking of disasters the other parents are thinking and putting into words all the horrors of sending kids to school.

    Thanks for letting us kid-less people know what we are thankfully missing.

  • Purnima says:

    Truely said

  • Dr. Shilpa Tatake says:

    So apt a description of today’s overprotective and obsessed parents…and so perfect a remark about life so unpredictable and unkind to many…

  • Gool Kotwal says:

    It’s the non working mothers who fret & fume over inconsequential things. A working woman normally does not have the impulse or time to indulge in non consequential things.

  • Nawaz Vijayakumar says:

    Happy New Year to you and your family.
    I am a great fan of your writing and make it a point to read it.
    We also walked to and fro from school. We were expected to wear white canvas shoes and so wore rain shoes to school and changed both ways.
    Since our school was in Grant Road we have also faced floods. There weren’t many options. These days they have many.

  • Kashmira says:

    It all so resonates, as an educator working in a school, with a variety of parents it is so strange to understand how they start complaining about simple things which one may not even think of as to be mentioned.
    If only parents would let them live as kids and enjoy them as their kids.
    Everyone seems to be building a perfectionist wall .
    Let me mention here that there are a few parents who do encourage saying that being back benchers is fun and no complaints and instill the value of fight your battles and respect your friends and teachers.
    Plus this trend of being overly protective is observed more post COVID.
    As we know our communication apps work faster than our fingers specially wats app guru. When one complaints on the group, the mob just follows. Hopefully sense will prevail and parents would refrain from judging or ridiculing.
    Your article is just perfect. Balance of humour as always with a strong message.

  • Eusebio Aranha says:

    Problem is the mothers who are housewives now have 2 and 3 maids and have nothing else to do. So they become overprotective of their children and are overly busy on WhatsApp.
    Even now you will notice the children of working mothers are not as pampered and are far more independent.

  • Eusebio Aranha says:

    I cried because I had no shoes, unil I saw a man who had no feet.

  • Namita says:

    I can identify completely with the above blog being a 2nd Grade teacher! 😊

  • Lois Juma says:

    Dr. Mazda, what a write up. My husband and I had a good laugh because your article reminded us of the days our girls were in school. I believe other parents thought some of us did not love our children because we disciplined them even in the presence of their mates( glad and proud they all turn not great). Your daughters will definitely do well as you prepare them for the real world and not being overprotective. Happy Parsi New Year.

  • Anita says:

    Lovely Lovely so down to earth and yes some of us parents are like that. Enjoyed the calm stance that Dr mazda took. Such a humane person!

  • Rita singh says:

    Very entertaining article Dr.. I could relate to most of ur whats app conversations.I have two grand children with similar school environment tracker of transport etc.Going back a generation before u our parents were hardly aware of which grade we were in.But then we too got our degrees and some even excelled.Happy New Year to all overprivilejed or underprivileged.

  • Natwar Panchal says:

    Nocely described Dr. Mazda. Need to shape our kids to stand in any situation.

  • Lois Juma says:

    I meant to say our girls all turned out great 👍🏾

  • Atman Daftary says:

    Enjoyed reading sir

  • Jasmin Lord says:

    Absolutely brilliant read Mazda …. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. One just must feel happy to have health and happiness on one’s side, everything else is secondary. Wishing you and the whole family a wonderful Parsi New Year. Love to everyone 🤗

  • Khushroo says:

    Navroz Mubark
    It is about time that some one put some common sense in common man which is not a common thing in these days.
    To complain is easy , but to find time to come up with the solution is beyond the complainter.
    Keep up with the wonderful blogs

  • Cyrus Desai says:

    Excellent article. Brought back memories of our school days. In my case 8 years in Panchgani. Parents had 9+ months of mental relaxation without day to day crisis especially, as mentioned in your article. But then today as parents ourselves we do a little helicopter roaming sometimes although the little ones are 52 and 43 years old.
    C’est la vie!!!!

  • Katrin says:

    Great article! Surprised me that this type of problem seeking seems to be a global phenomena among the privileged parent groups. You are lucky you are no longer part of the WhatsApp group and your cell phone storage is thankful as well 🙂


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