” I don’t ever want to see you in the hospital bed …..ever…. Again!!” I shouted as loud as I could to ensure that the command of those words fell through the helmet into his ears as he rode the bike along the road in a thin early morning traffic. ” it’s ookkaayy to be a minute LATE!!” I was loud with a shrill in my voice.
@ 7:30 in the morning i left to drop my son to the college about 10 km away from our house. Since he already has a Learning licence, he can drve provided he is accompanied by someone with a DL and that would be only me in this house!!. I am using this opportunity to train , measure and give feedback to my son on his driving. And i don’t have to tell you how excited a teenagers are when they want to learn something… ( Want to is underlined), sceptical with assessment or measuring and frustrated with feedback unless it’s an appreciation. For the last few rides, I was quiet in spite of knowing what i could tell him to improve. I realised that feedback are being scorned and are not welcome unless they are sought. But today as we rode along a turning point with bus veering to right, a scooter trying t overtake from the left side again and a car too close for comfort on the right side was a moment where my son instead of slowing down was trying to claim his position in the arrangement, trying make sure scooter wouldn’t overtake and in the process, all these vehicles had come dangerously close within cm’s of each other. I tapped on his shoulder and all in could say in those split seconds was slow down , stop!!. I was loud and he was upset. All rider would be when a pillion rider is instructing you what to do and how to drive while you are in the driver seat. I get upset too!! So , was he naturally. The only difference being he is a two month old rider who has started to venture into real world traffic and I am supposed to make him better at it even though he thinks he has arrived, A excited teenager ready to take on the world!! you know what i mean right!!
He pulled out of the traffic and stopped by the side of the road, got down and asked me to take over to drive, politely sarcastic he was. Its his way of getting angry and showing frustration at his father. I still love the fact that he didn’t loose his cool, didn’t shout to match my pitch and was still respectful , with a normal pitch like many other times before but was definitely displaying his frustration not realising the lessons. I wasn’t about to let his frustration get better of me. I shouted, ” You drive”… I barely heard his justification to his getting too close to other vehicles and his getting upset at that Tap on the shoulder!!
I looked into his eyes and shouted without any care of anyone. “I will not Drive, you will because you have to ride these road for the next four years. “
“You have a problem with slowing down, stopping on the road when really necessary and using horn. I will not be with you all the time to tell you this . Its okay to be a minute late than not reaching your college for months together. ” I shouted.
He understood my reference to the context, About 3 years back he couldn’t go to school for 6 months when he had broken him arm, had a fracture with a major scare of disability which thankfully was averted! He knew the pain we went through during his injury and recovery. His look had a sense of surrender, a realisation and he jumped back on the bike without any outburst or justification and I was behind him, Pillion riding again. As he drove, I shouted out louder ” I don’t ever want to see you in the hospital bed …..ever…. Again!! it’s ookkaayy to be a minute LATE!!”. He didn’t react or say anything , his body dint move an inch in reaction. And that was the last of the statement I uttered. He drove slowly in the beginning, in fact very slow for a road which was almost empty then he picked up pace enough to enjoy the empty road but slow enough to control in case of any sudden appearances of a jay walker or a speeding car overtaking. It was in the safe range which is what I was intending for.
All this while I was not having any change any major change in my breathing or a thumping chest of an angry man. I was in complete eye contact with him during the monologue. A deep gaze and every word was about a larger picture than a personal attack on his sense of driving, sense of traffic, just harbouring on what he needed to focus on. Words were flowing out as if they were just dropped into me without a thought and that was just the right thing to say. A caring son that he is, he knew my concern and corrected his riding and I hope to see him the same way in the coming days. It’s one of those day when I had to use anger and authority with a purpose of improvement, without being personal, be factual. In fact, I think the anger drove the message more powerfully than a concerned low voice would have. It was where boundary of Anger and Assertiveness met. If it was mindfulness deployed instantly, then thanks to Om Swami for teaching , caring and guiding!, for that calmness in moments of adversity!
Dropped him at college and then I avoided making any eye contact with him just to let him know that this mattered, that I was upset. As I rode back from college along the same road, I wan’t angry, wasn’t upset and I even failed to notice that point on the road where all of this happened, just crossed it somewhere along the road. It was a routine drive back home and I was enjoying the ride.