It was just another boring lunch hour but I was hungry. I couldnt wait to get my roti and sabji out of the refrigerator. I usually spend the lunch hour reading a book while eating. These days that’s the only time I read a book. I am reading a history called ‘ The Empires of the Indus’. Though there are a lot of people in the lunch room with whom I could sit, I usually prefer to just be myself. After 4 hours of work, I really want to use a break to gain some energy back.
The setting around the lunch room remains the same almost every day. I always find the same groups of people who typically sit in the same corner of room everyday chatting up about different things. It is a public sector culture here in the US. People have been around here for such a long time that they do the same things over and over, they hardly notice if there is anyone else in their surroundings.
There is no other option most times but to overhear some of their conversations. I usually ignore and just keep reading on my own with a periodic greeting when someone I know walks in. But this day, I couldn’t help but overhear this conversation. Not because it was gossip or interesting but only because I was actually shocked with the way this conversation was going. It all started when one of them in the group talked about how her daughter was at home this weekend and so she couldn’t make any fun plans. This slowly encouraged others to share stories about their kids and soon they were complaining to each other about how their sons and daughters who have graduated but not found a job yet and so havent moved out of their parents house.
This did not sound like friends cribbing to each other about their problems, they seriously meant their regret for having grown up kids at home. Coming from a culture where you are usually expected to stay with your parents when they get older, this conversation was a shocker.
I tried not to think too much and just leave it as one of such things i heard.
2 weeks later again, in the lunch room of course, there were 2 middle aged managers talking something about trust and daughters. Later I heard them say how they had to spy on their children just to make sure they are aware of what their kids are up to! and we are talking about kids who are 15 or 16!! . Later I realized this is something very common that parents do and there are professionals who would actually ‘spy’ on kids for parents.
What confuses me the most about this parenting strategy is that untill the kids are 18, there is big hue and cry about what kids should or should not know, where they go , what they do and who are the people with them. But once reached that age, they want them to be their own and live their own lives. For personal development, growth and exposure this could work out best. But today it has reached to the levels that its considered abnormal for kids to not move out and have their own lives.
This just seems a little strange for me to comprehend especially being in a family where all they could long for is to be able to live with their kids. Culture to a large extend determines how the social norms in a country are formed, but i dont know what made think that parenting is universal and the way parents feel about their kids is beyond boundaries.