My mobile phone rings, and its call is insistent. I drop what I am doing to pick up the call. It is an important call, and I settle down with pen and paper, jotting down notes, and doodling unconsciously, eyebrows furrowed and shoulders hunched forward, my concentration absolute.
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A few minutes into the call, I sense rather than see a presence. A momentary lapse of attention, and I refocus. In another minute, the presence becomes palpable, I look up to see my son waving at me.
And then the game begins. A game that has its own unique rules. A game that I call the Smartkids game. I am sure that most parents are familiar with this game – maybe each of us plays different variants, but the basic game goes something like this.
The parent is on an important call. The child now tries to sneak-in a request to do something that he or she would normally not be allowed to do, when the parent’s attention is fully focused on them.
So, back to my call. My son waves. I wave back, and I signal that I am on a call, as he can see. The game of dumb charades begins.
My son signals for permission to play games on the iPad.
I shake my head and mouth a ‘no’. He has already used up his quota for the day.
He shows his ten fingers and the clock. 10 minutes and makes a pleading expression.
My eyes roll an exasperated NO in capital letters, bold font!
I am trying to keep my wits about me – to hold my telecon together.
My son goes away, but he is back with a pen and notepad. He writes, “Please, at least 5 minutes.”
I scribble a hasty big NO, font size 72.
Another PLEASE…and I am teetering on the brink of an eruption.
I stand up, and with violent hand gestures, and rolling eyes, I signal a final DECISIVE NO.
I can picture myself, trying to hold a sane conversation on the one hand and trying to play a rather difficult version of dumb charades on the other.
My son shrugs and frowns. He walks away. My call ends at the same time.
Game over. Phew! I have lost a few rounds in the past, but now I know how it works
My son knows that there will be other calls on other days, when I will falter and give in.