coffee date #13 with arya kode
key: I will be a pro diaper changer when I have kids thanks the the INTENSE practice I had with this human.
me: strawberry acaí refresher | arya: mocha cookie crumble frappuccino
Meet my built-in best friend. Despite my strong urges to strangle the kid at times, he brings me so much joy.
We’ve grown up telling each other everything. I’ve even told him about my middle and high school crushes when he was 6 or 7 years old. He was, and still is, one of the first people to know about EVERYTHING in my life.
I vividly remember this one day I was lifting baby Arya out of his crib (something I was not allowed to do because my Mom thought I would drop the kid), when I got caught and yelled at by Amma.
I told her that I was jealous that he’s always so attached to her. I wanted to be the one to always hold him and be there for him. She proceeded to lift baby Arya out of the crib and place him on my lap. She then sat next to me and said these words that I have since never forgotten: “Esha, as you both grow older, you will become each other’s best friends and may not even need me and Nanna because you’ll have each other.”
Obviously we’re still heavily dependent on our parents, but damn, she was right! I see the effects of that statement now as I reflect back on our relationship.
I remember when Arya was in Kindergarten, he came home one day crying. For you older siblings who are also close with your younger siblings, you’d know that if something happened to your younger siblings, you’d feel it 100x more than they themselves feel it. So, when Arya’s tiny self came home crying, I was losing my shit.
He walked his little body upstairs and into Amma’s bedroom. I diligently followed. He managed to mount onto the bed and looked at Amma with his long-lashed eyes.
“Amma, can you drop me to school from now on? I don’t like taking the bus,” he said while trying not to choke on his tears. Mind you, I was full-on sobbing at this point because seeing my little man so upset made me go bonkers.
“What, why Arya?” Amma asked.
Supposedly, there was a little girl on his bus making fun of his name (or something else, I don’t remember the exact details). The amount of anger that boiled through my 10-year-old body at that time. Amma, on the other hand, was so calm and composed. In fact, she even laughed a little and replied, “Oh Arya….”
I proceeded to draft an email to Arya’s kindergarten teacher about how unacceptable this was and how that girl should be reprimanded ASAP. Amma read the email and kindly told me to change some, if not all, of the words to make it nicer.
The situation was fixed within a day. Arya Kode continued taking the bus and life was fine after that lol.
Morale of the story: Because of our 6-year age gap, my relationship with Arya is somewhere between the mother-son and sister-brother relationships.
- The need to fit-in begins from an early age.
Think back to your middle school days when popularity first became a thing. Up until elementary school, children usually have not yet been exposed to cliques, exclusion, and bullying. Middle school rolls around and these children are now bombarded with the need to fit-in so that they do not become victims of social exclusion.
When I asked Arya what he thought the biggest problem for middle schoolers was he told me that it was their need to fit-in all the time.
“They can’t be themselves because they always want to fit in.” – Arya Kode, 2021
Why is social exclusion detrimental for children? School plays such a large role in children’ lives. We spent most of our time at school than we did at home. Therefore, school is where we learn academics, but also crucial social skills.
It was intriguing to find that “research demonstrates that children who are socially withdrawn and who do experience peer rejection and exclusion are likely to become more socially withdrawn over time” (Mulvey et al., 2017).
When Arya said that it’s usually the athletes who are popular in school, we thought about why that may be. Why are some kids attributed to be ‘cooler’ than other kids?
Arya states that athletes are popular because the names labeled for other children are associated with things that people tend to not like to be known for. For example, kids who like studying may be labeled as ‘nerds.’ Kids who like to be quiet and not participate may be labeled as ‘freaks.’ Kids, specifically young girls, who dare to be loud and take up space may be labeled as ‘annoying.’
I was listening to this ^^^ the other day and Oprah Winfrey talks about the labels that we were all probably assigned by others or ourselves at some point. This labeling and idea of fitting into a specific ‘kind’ or ‘type’ of person goes back to our childhood days.
The child who was trying to fit in, but was sadly always excluded could evolve into an adult labeled as a ‘people pleaser’ because she may still be trying to find her place in the world.
I’m not sure how we can demolish the idea of ‘popularity‘, but we surely need to find a way to because it is not teaching children the right things about life.
- Being Indian American was hard as a child.
Amma would pack me Idlis and Chapatis for lunch when I was in elementary and early middle school. Thus, every time I opened my locker, this one girl next to me would always act repulsive and say “Ew, what’s that smell?” Hence why I still get so scared when I have to eat somewhere in public, even if it’s not freaking Idlis or Chapatis.
Today, Arya told me that he had a similar encounter in preschool. He said that Amma packed him Puris one day for lunch and the dude next to him asked him what he was eating. Worried that the kid was going to judge him, Arya responded, “Oh they’re pancakes.”
Fortunately, we’ve both evolved to become both proud Indians and Americans, but we still have moments of inferiority. It sucks that the minority groups have to deal with this fluctuation because of other people’s lack of cultural awareness.
- Is self-doubt and the fear of judgement partially gender-based?
Obviously Arya and I were raised by the same people in the same house with the same expectations. So why is it that Arya doesn’t immediately feel so judged when he’s in public, but I do? Is this fear of judgement somewhat gender-based?
“They don’t define me. I define myself by doing what I love.” – Arya Kode, 2021
First off, kudos to my little man for already knowing to not define his self worth of off the opinions of others. 🙌🏼
Secondly, in another podcast I was listening to (LOL, I’m a podcast fanatic), Glennon Doyle said something that resonated with me deeply. Young girls are taught to value themselves based on their physical appearance from an early age. Think back to your childhood days and recall any of the times you were told that “You run like a girl,” “You punch like a girl,” “You cry like a girl,” etc.
Young children, both girls and boys, are told that girls are a certain way solely based on the way we look. As a result, we become more and more self-conscious to fit the mold created by our largely patriarchal society. This essentially translates into our adulthood and shows itself in the form of social anxiety, self-doubt, and extreme overthinking.
Therefore, maybe gender plays a minute, if not large, role in this fear of judgement that many of us possess.