Another teen at home
Close on the heels of Ash who turned 13 nearly two years ago, Mira has now joined the bandwagon. She is now officially a teenager with all the emotional , biological and social battles the title brings.
She is no more the little girl who largely followed my instructions but has a mind of her own now. If I suggest a dress, she tells me, 'Amma, you dont know the present trend'. I tell her she might admit in 5 years that I was right. Just as she was 4 years back, refusing to wear jeans and going around here in tights. She gives me a sheepish smile. But as far as tastes are concerned she is way ahead. She picks the most chic and attractive dress while I pick drab ones. She draws pictures she sees on the Internet and brightens them up with the most vivid colours. She thoughtfully makes cards for each of us on our special days - that includes Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day etc.
Unlike Ash who is least bothered about his surroundings - save for the football ground, the smartphone and fast-food joints - Mira is very sensitive to things around her. If the boy only need a phone to play and good food, the girl wants everything around her to be near perfect.
Puberty has also brought with it myriad tensions and fears, and she prefers to be at home away from the male gaze at malls, on the streets etc. Malls here are generally free of voyuerists and if there is anyone staring at you, they are south Asians. We still behave like a sub species which hasnt seen enough of the fairer sex, and cant resist ogling, groping (going by reported crimes in newspapers) and so on.
As a mother, I worry if I can protect her enough. At the same time, I tell her that she lives in a much more safer environment - plush school buses to travel, phones to reach on emergency, parents to pick and drop to other places. In contrast, I travelled in crowded public transport to school 15 km away since Grade 1, walked to school from bus stop unchaperoned, ironed my uniforms since Grade 6 probably, and had no tuition to support me in subjects I found difficult. I tell her she needs to be brave to face the world and the sheltered/cloistered lives that awaits her Muslim best friends from the previous school is not what we have in mind for her.