Why Your Parents Should Be There When You Get Laid Off


I’ve had a revelation. We grown ups are too grown up. We try to solve all our problems ourselves, we try to be strong, we try to be independent. It’s supposed to be a part of being an adult, right?

But then I think back to those times, as a child, when my parents bailed me out of things and how they worked wonders for me. That got me thinking. Why don’t we rely on that more? Your parents are your best publicity agents. They believe in you (well most parents) and they talk you up like you’re the best thing since 100 calorie snack packs. Indian parents especially do that. Children are a matter of extreme pride and extreme shame to Indian parents. When they’re proud of you, they brag about you like the world is ending. When they’re ashamed of you, it doesn’t matter. They just lie and talk you up, thereby saving face and the family name. It’s actually quite brilliant, if put to good use.

That’s what led me to believe I should have my parents with me when I’m about to lose a job. We’ve all been there. I’ve been laid off three times in my life. It’s like a punch in the stomach.

Here’s why I think I’m on to something. When I was 5, we lived in Kuwait and all the Hukmani children went to “The New Indian School” It was a rite of passage. It was a source of pride. There was another school called “The Indian School” but that wasn’t good enough for my parents.

The issue with ‘The New Indian School” was it was hard to get into. No matter what age you were. My first experience with the school was an entrance exam for Kindergarten. If I didn’t pass, I didn’t get in. The entrance exam had two parts. Write the entire alphabet. Count to 10. Seemed a bit ridiculous because that’s what you’re supposed to learn in Kindergarten.

Oh well. My parents taught me the alphabet. They taught me to count. We practiced and trained every day. It was like a Rocky movie. Finally, I was ready. I was going to get it. The Hukmani name depended on me.

We showed up the day of my entrance exam and walked into the school where a very tall, scary looking woman was waiting for us. Actually, she easily could’ve been beautiful and lovely but, in my head, I remember her as Maleficent. She rounded us clueless 5 year olds up, without our parents, marched us to a classroom, got us seated and locked the door. Yes, locked the door. She then announced, “There is a paper and pencil on your desk. Write the alphabet. When you’re done, come to me and count to 10. Begin….NOW!!”

I was terrified. It was the first time I had been separated from my parents. I just stared at the blank paper and started sweating. Reluctantly, I wrote “A, B…” and then my mind went as blank as the paper.  So I asked the kid in front of me, “Hey what comes after B?”  He looked at me for a while and and then said “D.” I wrote that down and stared at it. “A, B, D…”  I knew that wasn’t right. But I couldn’t remember what came after B. I started panicking. Either this kid was just as lost as me or he had brilliantly sabotaged me.

So I started crying. The kind of crying where kids scrunch their eyes really tight, open their mouth wide and then wail at the top of their lungs till they are out of breath. I don’t know what Maleficent thought of me but next thing I knew she had taken me out of the dungeon and reunited me with my parents. She also told them I didn’t know the alphabet and I had failed. I wouldn’t be getting into “The New Indian School.”

I remember that day like it was yesterday. My parents saw red. They comforted me for a moment and then barged into the principals office. I’d never seen them that angry before. They yelled at the Principal and told him I was the smartest 5 year old he was ever going to meet. That I was sweet and an amazing person too. They yelled at him, till he gave in and allowed me to retake the test the next day. Not behind locked doors but in his office with my parents sitting next to me. Then my parents and I went out for ice cream.

The next day, we showed up at the Principal’s office, each parent standing on either side like my bodyguards and the Principal said “Begin…”

I aced it. I not only knew my alphabet, I counted to 15 and drew a dog on the paper when I was done and named it “Tommy.” The fact that my parents believed in me had a profound effect on me. I was a rockstar that day. I got into “The New Indian School.”  Then we went out for ice cream again.

I think my parents and your parents could still do that for you. I really do. So next time, you’re getting laid off or let go, tell the pour soul who in charge of giving you the bad news, “Wait…I can’t do this without my parents.” Then let them come in and yell at whoever is in charge till they change their mind because you are, in fact, amazing. I bet we’ll never have to involuntarily clear out our desks again. Then go out for ice cream.

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