2019 Jul 31
As Sri Lankans I’m sure you and I can sit down and talk about what our parents do and have a hearty laugh about our beloved mummies and daddies. But for those of you who haven’t had any firsthand experience on how Lankan parenting works, here’s a little treat from me to you.
The famous home remedies
Sri Lankan parents are quite good at treating their sick kids; a visit to the doctor would only be necessary if the home treatment doesn’t work. Down with a cold? Don’t worry, you can have some Koththamalli. If that doesn’t help there’s always a packet of Samahan that will help out with its strong flavor of ginger and sugar. Personally, my parents have four favorite remedies for all problems. First is the steam inhalation; secondly, the olive oil treatment; the third is the insane love for balm; and last but not least, the hot water bottle treatment. I use these remedies so much that I need to inhale steam when I have a headache, when I have a cold, and even when I’m hung-over and on the verge of throwing up.
Our loving parents also have ample time to make sure we gargle well with salt water when we have some throat issue. You can’t cheat because they need to hear that particular noise coming from you when you are in the midst of gargling. They also need proof in the form of a few tears in your eyes.
The child comparison game
If you come from a family with siblings or a large number of cousins, I’m sure you know what I mean. If the older children passed their exams, the younger ones are definitely obliged to do so as well or preferably do better. Then there’s the class ranking and how much you scored in school. Have you ever been asked why you couldn’t pass if your best friend George (whoever that is) passed the exam?
There’s another game called ‘how high has your child gone?’ If Aunty Kanthi says Nethmi was doing her degree, the Ammas would be quick to say the oldest son or daughter is in Australia completing their Masters.
Permission proposals and curfews
Adolescence in the Lankan house can be a bit of a tough one. Along with the burst of peer pressure and raging hormones, the kids face a trainload of problems. One carriage includes boyfriend or girlfriend problems, another one holds friend issues, and a very large carriage carries freedom issues. So, these problems all depend on the engine which is the permission proposal.
Permission proposals need weeks of preparation, good behavior, good grades and house chores done as asked. Once permission is granted, curfews become another problem and everything can go downhill if the promises you made aren’t kept.
Get married soon and have a child
Our sweet parents often fall ill with the marriage issue when the children reach a certain age and that’s when the hints about your family friend Kasun start dropping. Marrying your kids off plays a major role in getting a reputation in Asian countries. You would think that they’re cured of this issue after the wedding but marriage isn’t enough… the urge to have grand-children flows in quickly after the wedding.
In Western culture parents advise children to live alone and be independent. In Sri Lanka, we practice a different approach where the children are asked to stay even if we are old enough to fend for ourselves. If you study abroad they wait to have you back as soon as possible!
So even though you may be a grown man with a forest of body hair all over you, mum will always call if it gets a bit late and say “baba, where are you?”.
This only proves that our parents love and protect us more than we could ever know. Aren’t they the best? These are just a few of the many things parents in Sri Lanka have in common. They love us overwhelmingly and tend to smother us. Secretly though, you know you love the attention.