Untaught Lessons

I am driving home from my brother’s place. Amma is in the passenger seat beside me. Pattu and Laddu are in the back seat bopping to the music streaming from my phone. In the front, we are catching up on the weekend and trading stories.

New Rules by Dua Lipa comes on. I lip sync as I watch for the yellow light and cruise to a stop. The music seems amplified, the lyrics clearer without the sounds of the road.

“She should have never let him in…” Pattu’s voice is clear. For a moment I am disoriented, not quite understanding what that comment was about. Then it hits me that she has been following the lyrics and making connections. Most times at home I monitor and restrict the kind of things my children are exposed to. In the car, the rules seem to bend perhaps because I am not following lyrics myself.

I answer her, catching her eyes in the rearview. “Yes, she should have walked away”. Pattu nods, I nod and the moment passes. Over the day, I revisit that comment and feel proud of the child I am raising. We have not spoken explicitly of domestic violence or dysfunctional relationships directly. They have been listening in on conversations with Shakthi, about situations like hers. They possibly are taking cues, imbibing things from words I casually use.

It makes me proud and scared. Proud that they are picking up things I want them to and scared of all the other messages I am passing along without intending to. It takes moments like these to remind me of the power of modeling behavior I want my children to emulate, to be careful about words and thoughts I am putting out into the universe.

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