The Sandwich Parent - Grilled And Extra Testy, With A Sprinkling of Cheesy Humour!


Simi was running late. School would let out in ten minutes and she was nowhere near it yet! She was drumming her fingers on the steering wheel praying for the signal to change soon when her phone rang. It was her Dad. That surprised her; as her parents knew most of her schedule and this wasn’t their usual time to call. But even before Simi could decide whether she should pick up the call, the signal changed.

Later that day, after Simi had picked up her son, ran a couple of errands and taken a scheduled client call; she was just about to settle down on the couch with a cool glass of water when her phone pinged. On checking it, she was surprised to see five missed calls and several WhatsApp messages, all from her Dad! Worried and hoping that everything was alright with her parents, Simi called home.

“Hi Dad, just saw your messages and your missed calls, everything alright?” she asked as soon as his phone was picked up.

“Yes, yes, everything is alright. I just wanted to talk to you about this end to end encryption thing that WhatsApp has come up with. But what took you so long to call back? I left so many messages and you let five of my calls go to voicemail!” her Dad demanded to know.

“Dad, I was on my way to pick up Advay when you called. I must have accidently turned the phone on silent after that, I don’t remember...and in any case, there’s no emergency…”

“This time.” her Dad cut her off. “There was no emergency this time.” he completed.

“I am sorry Dad, I will pick up your call immediately next time,” Simi relented; and spent the next half an hour trying to pacify her parents. Eventually when she put down the call, her parents were in much better spirits and she had a smile on her face.

End to end encryption? Simi wasn't even aware of it! Her Dad seemed to be getting more and more tech savvy by the day!    

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That afternoon, Advay asked her for her smartphone to look up some guitar notes for his class. Fifteen minutes into this exercise, Simi found his room to be too quiet and Advay busy in what looked like texting. Simi was surprised and asked him who he was chatting with.

“With my friend on your mothers’ WhatsApp group,” he said. “Bina aunty was asking something about homework and I replied and then asked to chat with Mihir and now we are chatting.”

“Well enough of that, I need my phone now, say good bye to your friend.” Simi said.

“That’s not fair Mum! You just want to check yet again the page views for your blog post. Can’t that wait till Mihir and I finish?” he asked.

“Don’t be rude young man! It’s my phone you are using…” Simi began. But he cut her off by slamming the phone in her hand and going into his room muttering something under his breath.

“What did you say?” she asked after him. She wasn’t expecting any reply when suddenly the door to his room opened and Advay screamed “High time you gave me my own phone! Half my class has a phone all to themselves you know!”

Simi had no answer for him. He would be soon given a phone for himself, she knew; but what hurt her was the fact that he was so annoyed and outspoken with her; the way she still couldn’t be with her parents. 

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Three days later, Simi called up her Dad to help him with his tax filings and asked him to send over a picture of his PAN card. He sent it to her on WhatsApp; and that was the darkest, most illegible and the tiniest print Simi had ever seen!

She called him back and told him to send her another copy as this was of no use. When she received that, she saw it was no better than the first one; but when her Dad called her back to ask if this one was okay; she didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t.

She just told him not to worry and figured she would rather search in her pile of earlier years’ scanned copies on her own computer, rather than trouble Dad again.

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About a week later, Simi was waiting at the dentist’s office. She had been given an injection in the gums in preparation of her impending root canal treatment and she was flipping through a magazine, waiting for the ten-fifteen minutes it would take for the meds to kick in. She was admiring SRK’s two-page photo spread when her Mom called.

Since there was nothing pressing she had to attend to at least for the next ten fifteen minutes, Simi took the call. Her Mom immediately started chatting a hundred to one about the newest recipes on the block that Simi should try out for Advay.  

About ten minutes into the call, (‘Khajur ke pakode’ and ‘beetroot ke laddoo’, seriously?) Simi finally told her Mom she was at the dentist’s and couldn’t talk just now. She had never been happier to have a numb jaw!  

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That night, Simi was watching the IPL match with Advay. As they sat on the sofa praying for the RPS team to finally catch a lucky break, Simi kept unconsciously playing with Advay’s ear, softly twisting it this way and that. She didn’t even realise this till he told her to stop. That made her smile and she kept at it as if she hadn’t heard him. Obviously, this annoyed him, and he yelled “Mum! You are annoying me! Stop that ya!”

“Hello? I am your mother.” She said, deciding to have some fun. “Don’t you think I have suffered enough just for that reason? I think I have earned the right to play with your ear!” she said. “And if it annoys you, well, put up with it!” she said, barely containing her smile.
It was when Advay began tickling her and they were both tumbling down from the sofa that it hit her.  
Just like I play with Advay and annoy him, only to tell him he has to put up with it, maybe my parents too think the same way, she thought.
And guess what, I am really happy to put up with it too! Because I believe it takes some special kind of luck to have your parents around even when you have a child who is old enough to practically be ashamed of being treated like a baby :) and for that, I will be eternally grateful! (The having parents around part, not the other one.)

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All said and done, Simi realised, she belongs to a very special kind of sandwich generation that is grilled all the time by their parents and their children; no doubt, is always extra testy; and has to rely on a generous sprinkling of cheesy humour to put up with it all – a generation that, if it had to do it all over again, would be only too happy to do it all over again!

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