To my big little teachers, with love

"There is wisdom in learning as you’ll never know till you find out, again and again, whenever an impasse arises," Shilpi Madan. 

Published: 24th July 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2022 01:34 PM   |  A+A-

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It’s a programme I signed up for by default when I morphed into a mommy.

Reverse mentoring.

I look around as nouveau phrases and designations leap out to grab my eyeballs on social media and beyond. From fitness commitment gurus to workstation environment architects to brain fog diffusers and supply-chain analysts. People have found new vocations and carved different niches while grappling with the challenges in the wake of the pandemic. 

I, too, did a bit of unlearning and relearning to streamline my own processes in life. I’ve been learning from my kids, for free, since they were born. Surreptitiously, openly and shamelessly, 

I cartwheel and piggyback on them—gleaning the involuntarily imparted lessons, the concise tutorials unfurling through their behaviour, moods, emotions, feelings, happenings… during the manic humdrum of each day. It’s a busy life, being mentored by little people.

The art of negotiating relationships comes easy to them. I’ve watched my 12-year-old sidle past the room, headphones clasping the ears, as his grandparents call him for the nth time to bail them out on an iPhone glitch or Netflix hiccups on the flatscreen. Low-grade errands like answering the doorbell aren’t Angad’s forte as he strategically disappears into the washroom at precise moments.

He systematically makes time for copious volumes of homework, tennis classes, judo training sessions, and Marvel movies with discreet alarms on his phone, while his FitBit clocks the calorie-chomp. Junior politely asks for Starbucks or phone recharge bills to be footed just when I dive into the elevator, rushing off for a meeting, fetching me chamomile tea to soothe my agitation when things go awry. He trades my ‘class-famous’ chicken sandwiches too in school for homemade lavash and pesto when he wants to. The ability to delegate work and even turn down requests from friends and family members is part of efficient human resource management. I watch in fascination as my 19-year-old simply asks on amplifiers, no filter. Hammering into me the rejuvenating power of solo vacations and self-love? That’s Anoushka.

Nursing an aggrieved ego can spell disaster for your own self, I have learnt. There is wisdom in learning as you’ll never know till you find out, again and again, whenever an impasse arises. I’ve cracked many diplomacy deals by just observing and learning. Forget onboarding. This is birth-boarding. Luck by chance. Being mentored silently by your own kids is a surreal experience because more is caught than is taught, and this goes beyond the realm of the sarcastic one-liners in Young Sheldon we often feed on as a triad.

Being tech-savvy and resourceful, discovering and making apps that work for you, cueing into savvy ways of working faster, saving data, maximising on work networks, putting the right tags, watching the best web series, aceing those reels, netting in complimentary memberships… these guys are pros on how-to. My daughter often laughs that I monetise on their childhood as everyday events keep triggering a barrage of thoughts, ideas, moods, and musings that run through my works and make me marinade a multitude of projects at the same time. So, here’s a big thanks to both of you junior marketers. My reverse mentors in the art of living.

Shilpi Madan

Mumbai-based journalist and editor


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