The story gives an account of how a parent lead by example to build self-esteem and life-long confidence in her teenage daughter.
Summer vacations were around the corner. Adny, who was six years old, and his younger brother, Bek, were in a holiday mood. Adny had to prepare for a Show and Tell for his school assignment. It was a new subject for him. Adny got cold feet and refused to prepare himself. With tears in his eyes, he said, “I cannot do this.”
Alisha, Adny’s mom, sat next to him on the couch and told him a story - her story. She said to Adny, “Alright, let us not prepare. Do you want to hear a small story? This story is about mom and grandmother.”
Adny was relieved and excited. He adored his grandmother.
A happy teenager
Alisha continued. “I used to ride a motorized scooter when I was very young. I lived in the cantonment with my parents and I was a happy teenager.”
Adny’s eyes sparkled.
“Grandfather used to go far away to work every day. Every morning he would board a bus and return home late. The arrangement made it possible for me and my younger brother to continue going to our school in the city. It was an excellent school, and my parents wanted us to continue our education there.”
“We saw our parents working hard, Adny,” Alisha said. “So, we wanted to help in whatever way we could. Grandmother would take care of the house. One of my chores was to go to the market and buy groceries.”
“My dad had taught me how to ride a scooter. Not many teenagers ventured out on scooters. I was tall and strong and could manage the scooter well. Very well, when dad was around to encourage me. His smile made me feel safe.”
Alisha and her childhood
Alisha’s thoughts transported her into her childhood. A teenager's world outside of home can be very different. Her mom and dad kept her in their oasis of love. Outside, the oasis was a new world, which she was exploring on her own.
Teenagers can be mean at times. Kids would stare at her when she took her scooter out. Some would laugh, and the others offered snide comments at times. “Look at you!” she would hear. “Let us see how you are going to take that turn. I bet you will fall.” And the comments would pour.
“You have to be brave when you do something new, sweetheart. You have to trust yourself when others are watching you doing something they cannot.”
Her tall frame made her strong, physically. But as an adolescent, who was just growing out of childhood, she was still learning to become brave in her mind to be able to handle those comments.
Adny shook Alisha, “Mommy, tell me what happened after that.”
Alisha said, “One day, I went to the market with my mother.”
Alisha’s mother carries herself gracefully in her five feet and a few inches tall frame.
“I was riding the scooter. Mom wanted to go into a store, and she asked me to park the scooter on one side of the road. The parking was at the end of a slope, which meant I had to descend a few feet and park in between other vehicles that ended up flanking my scooter closely on both the sides.”
Alisha continued, “It was difficult for me to park, but I managed anyway. We went to the store, and when mom finished her work, it was time to get back home. I could see people standing outside the store. They were watching me. They were going to see how I was about to take the scooter out of that cramped space. I had never done that. It was a nerve-wracking situation for me. Just then, the ear-splitting sound of a boy’s laughter made my heart pound. With goosebumps and a red face, I stood on the road, diminished and exposed.”
Andy hugged Alisha.
“Self-doubt crippled me. The scooter that I moved around easily, everyday, felt like a monster-vehicle to me - a monster with big ears and a huge, green tongue. I felt thrown in front of an audience, and I felt I was not prepared. My legs trembled, and I felt I was going to fail.”
“Adny, I turned around and told my mother, I will not be able to get that thing out of this place. I cannot do this.”
“Grandmother said gently and firmly, “Who told you so?” She took her petite frame next to the scooter, yanked it off the stand, and gracefully rolled it back from the slope.”
Alisha’s mom had never handled a scooter in her life before that!
Adny burst into laughter. He started clapping his little hands.
“I walked sheepishly after her. Mother parked the scooter right in front of me and said, “Here you go.” She asked me to start the scooter.”
Alisha saw that Adny was listening very carefully.
“Mom walked around and stood next to the seat waiting for me to give a signal to her so she could sit.”
“We started quietly and reached home. I was blushing. Mom did not say anything, never mentioned the incident, ever. No lectures were delivered, either on that day or any other day. But I never forgot the lesson.
Trust yourself, believe in yourself
“Never did I say again that I cannot do something, not even to myself. Without saying anything, mom taught me how important it is to believe in yourself, trust yourself.”
Adny picked his notebook up and stood tall that day, with confidence, and delivered his speech. He has had many presentations in school after that day, but Alisha never heard, “I cannot do this”, from Adny again.
© 2018 Ashima