Friday, 5 August 2016

Too much time on hand!

Before becoming a parent I was not so social. General chit chat with someone didn’t really interest me. But well things change after one becomes a parent. The other parents become our friends and child related events namely play dates or birthday parties become our idea of socialisation. No I am not excited; I am just about recovering from this shock. You can’t beat them join them.

Looking at the brighter side, I get a lot of insight into human relations, expectation from child/spouse etc. from these interactions. I learn most of my parenting lessons or shocks from other parents. More shocks than lessons in fact. My ideas of parenting don’t really fit the ‘norm’.

I want to discuss this one point that comes up time and again with many parents irrespective of the child’s age, birth order, and place of living or gender of the child. The complaint is “I don’t know how to keep my child occupied”, “My child gets so bored all the time”, “I have so much of work at home its easier to plonk the child in front of the TV”, and “My child just can’t do without the TV” etc. Are you wondering what the shock here is? Yea I know! See I told you I don’t meet the conventional parent norm.

My problem is a little different, neither me nor my child find the time to watch TV. Yup you read that correctly. No it’s not the ‘old TV’ or ‘bad cable’ issue I promise. We have a state of art Plasma TV and a dish antenna to serve us. But we just don’t have the time for it.

Want to know why? Because there are so many things we are busy with, and trust me I am good at multi-tasking. Its easier to list them down:
  1. Chit chatting. Yes we yap yap yap. There are so many things to be told and understood. Most of the yapping is done during meals, changing clothes, waiting for the school bus etc.
  2. Then we love reading books. I have around 100 books we haven’t yet touched some of them. And we love reading the same stories over and over again.
  3. We also love browsing the newspaper. No no not reading yet but browsing the pictures and figuring out what exactly the story is, or word recognition, colour recognition etc.
  4. Then there is the age old colouring, drawing favourites. We have all mediums of colour namely crayons, pencil colours, sketch pens, watercolor and gel colour etc.
  5. Indoor toys: We have a huge load of toys like bowling, blocks, board games and a huge fleet of cards, trains with tracks etc.. We brood that we haven’t played with them in ages.
  6. Outdoor play: This is a must and can go on for as long as 2 hours. The only exceptions being the monsoon.
  7. Academic play: We are at a stage where reading has just about begun. So there are tons of phonic related plays we need to play.
  8. Daily school work: In my quest to get the child used to text books we attempt reading school lessons. This is one habit that I believe helps the student a great deal in the long run.
  9. Then there are interesting extra information to be sought like our latest priced possession one science book. We found about the largest living animal, earth’s crust etc..
  10.  Random questions: Yes there are random googly thrown at me like what lies below the skin, what is kidney, are my toes looking bigger in comparison to yesterday etc..
  11.  Then comes the super fun things like figuring out where to take the next vacation to? Listing locations, wondering what all can be done there, how to reach etc..
  12. And actually going out to interesting places and discovering the sand, oceans playing with sand toys, seeing the mountains etc..

These are just a few things I remembered off hand. And seriously we have no time for TV. Just as an activity to be fitted in we watch it over the weekends. Do you see and understand what I was saying? Pray tell me how to deal with this.

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Aarti Rathod

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Whose career is it anyways?

I often hear parents saying that it’s a competitive world. Choice of career and getting into a good stream is tough etc. In this light they pressurise the children as early as 5th grade. This takes a toll on not just the children but also the entire family. People have a restrictive vision when it comes to career choice, say medicine, engineering, MBA etc. Of late I have come across so many parents talking of career counselling, aptitude test etc. for children as young as 10 years. It completely scares me and makes me wonder if these kids have a childhood at all. First there was the craze of medical and engineering entrance, then came along the IIMs and IITs followed by the latest integrated college; and now the baap of all coaching for the admissions into integrated college. This coaching happens for the children of about 6th or 7th grade!

Have we all gone completely nuts? We expect the child to be a super human; go to school, do the school homework, take school tests and also coaching to get into a goddamn integrated college whose future is not really known to many. This not just takes a toll on the kid’s health but I think we are putting together a production unit of zombies!

I see unhealthy competition at various levels. Let’s start with the parents. Parents come in all shapes and sizes:

  •  The ambitious parent: Parents unfortunately want their children to fulfil their own long lost dreams. In this pursuit pressurise the child.
  • Then is the case of ‘me too’ parent: This parent is thoroughly confused in the core. They just follow other parents. Be it in the choice of extra-curricular classes, the choice of coaching classes or tuition or the choice of college for their own children.
  • Family prestige parent: There are some parents who want to keep up their family tradition of having doctors or engineers etc in the family. Such parents think if their children do not become doctors or engineers then the children are big losers. They also equate the child’s academic success to their own pride and intelligence. “If my child doesn’t get admissions for medicine or engineering how can I face the world”
  •  The stressed parent: This category of parents are forever on the back foot. If someone else’s child does well, they fear that their child is not up to the mark. If their child scores a little below the ‘best’ students they beat themselves [and the child] to death. Basically everything is linked to their personal failure.
  • The cool parent: These parents read a lot of child psychology, parenting books and belong to the parenting pop culture. Yes there seems to have a pop culture. In this style of parenting 'trend' tops the priority list. They go to any extent to seem 'cool' ranging from a hands off parent to a crazy parent who buys every possible gadget for the child.
  • The monied parent: Yes there are some parents who believe that spending large monies is a guarantee to the childs academic success. They chose the most expensive school, the most expensive mode of transport for the child the most expensive tuitions etc. Without thinking about the necessity of such expenses. To them their duty is done if they select the ‘most expensive’ options. Often times these are the new rich parents.
The above is not a yardstick of a classification. Parents tend to move from one category to another from time to time or topic to topic. Depending upon each person’s sore points.

I am a slightly liberal parent when it comes to the matter of studies. I take up any available ‘easy’ option. So once during a discussion an irate parent retorted “toa you want your child to put up a ‘thella’ [Hindi for food stall]? I thought about it for a split second and said: “why not? All I want is for my child to be happy! If a thella makes him happy, I see no harm in it. Besides, the ‘thellawallas’ earn large amounts.

So all in all people have skewed notions about success and they have mixed it with the earning capacity of an individual.  Ideally success is a personal thing. Each to their own. For some being able to see the world is success, for other taking care of home and family is success. And each is correct in their own right!

So; good people but confused parents I want to leave you with some food for thought. In today’s world there are many career options available viz: teaching, acting, modelling, home business, coaching, sports, photography, PR, digital media, film making, direction, publishing, youtubing, blogging, painting, crafting, animation, farmer, naturopath, travel agent, realty broking, exhibition organiser, singer, flautist, script writer, author, stage artist, production unit, pre production unit, post production unit, digital editing, dress designing, hair dressing, interior designing, reselling of garments and articles, fitness coach, food and nutrition, carpentry, tailoring, international language specialist, bureaucrat, politician, armed forces, and IPS etc. are just a few of many available option.

My humble submission is let the child explore and arrive at his/her own decision. Support them and thereby become their strength! Teach them that whatever they do follow through is important. Get them to believe life is simple and they can achieve whatever they want with some support. From my own life I wish to teach my child whatever we plan may not always succeed so have a plan B. Basically live life in awareness, sure go with the flow but don’t follow a herd blindly.

My ideas may seem ambitious at the moment. But its ONLY those who DREAM it who ACHIEVE it.

I wish to end with the serenity prayer. God give me the Serenity to accept things that I cannot change; COURAGE to change things that I can change and above all grant me the WISDOM to know the difference.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Parenthood – What’s your reason?

Aah! You clicked the link and reached the blog! Awesome read on.

I believe our society is very nosey! Yeah everyone spends a lot of time and energy trying to understand what someone else is up to. 

The newlyweds barely complete one month anniversary and get asked when they will expand their family??

In hard core Bambaiya Hindi, ”Abbe tereko ko kya?” is perhaps what the couple want to say, instead manage a faint smile. But it doesn’t stop there, time and again some neighbouring aunty, distant in-laws, old maids etc… continue their torture. You also hear some ‘good old advice’ like oh the child keeps the family intact, or you need to continue your family name or you need someone to talk to in your old age etc…

I thought of exploring a few of these reasons of parenthood –

The child keeps the family intact: Really? Has no one heard of separated parents, single parents etc? The ONLY persons to keep the family intact are the couple. No one else I repeat no one else can keep the family intact. Besides in India stories of letting go of the wife because she gave birth to girls is not really uncommon and I will not digress to that world!

Continue the family name: Does it really matter? Besides, the constitution of our country permits an adult to choose his or her name. Have we not heard of actors dropping their surnames or taking on new screen names. So who are we fooling? Besides the least we can do is to ask the child if they are excited about continuing our surnames. Lest they belong to a family of criminals, or wanted, or have embarassing surnames etc…

It is so much fun: Fun? Yeah right! Changing diapers about 45 time a day [exaggerated], cleaning vomits, handling a cranky baby all day long, about 12 to 14 rounds of breast feeds – whosoever counts these as fun thing? The fun moments are when the baby takes a nap and you can sit on the pot and finish your job UNDISTURBED! Or relish a ginger tea or get a chance to dress up in decent attire [provided you still fit in them]. Having a baby eventually also means having one more person to cook for! Boss take a relook at your definition of fun.

Child fulfils your desires: Why should the child do anything like that? The child is an independent, intelligent being, so why exactly should he or she fulfil your desires; they perhaps have their own! Oh I wanted to be a dancer but I couldn’t so I want my child to learn dance, OR Oh I didn’t get a chance to act in the TV so I want my child to act now. WHY????? Give the kid a breather. The kid is just about trying to understand their environment, learn new tasks, understand relationship and you want this kid to live your dream? When will they live their own dream?

Someone to talk to in your old age: You think so? Firstly if your dentures are intact perhaps you can manage a few words, secondly if the auditory sense functions well you can probably hear! Now whatsoever makes anyone think the child will grow up and not have a LIFE? The child will have their own world, experiences and other responsibilities. Perhaps they will be busy trying to earn a living inorder to pay EMIS for their houses, cars etc.. Just like you left that child at the day care centre to fulfill your own dreams of financial independence, the child in his/her adulthood will have their dreams to fulfill.

If you have reached to this part of the article then VOLA congratulations!! Now let me tell you I am not a sarcastic b***h who gets cheap thrills to breaks the bubble.

I just want to tell you to keep your expectations low and enjoy the current moment [self talk :) ].

Seriously, while there are the puke and potty accidents there are also the gurgles, cooing and incessant laughter of the baby that cannot be got in exchange of anything else in the world.

My kid constantly amazes me, it’s a reminder that miracles happen!

He came through me; but to think he came for me is a FOLLY!

He is a free spirited individual with his own chalked out journey. Surely our paths have crossed and will continue to do so as long as we enhance and help each other’s growth. But dwelling in the past and getting him to lead my childhood is so so so avoidable.

As parents we have a few responsibilities:
  • Fill the child with so much self-love that the child becomes independent, self-reliant and has an amazing intuition power. 
  • Such that he contributes to the healing with every individual he/she touches.
  • Make the child a responsible individual, because once the parents are done the outside world has to deal with them.
  • I think its important to display our love for the nation so that they can pick it from us and have a pride for their own nation and can add to its growth.
  • Be prepared to learn your lessons from them. Yes they have beautiful things to teach us; if only we are open. [more on this on my next blog post].
  • Last and the difficult one - let go of the child. So that the child blooms, explores, experiences and soars to his/her best ability and highest good.

What? You are still with me on this post, superb. Do write in the comments section below your reasons for parenthood.

And if you are still at that 'planning' stage aah you are at the right place and hopefully will make an informed decision.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Man proposes child disposes – Vacation.

Man proposes child disposes – Vacation.

Yes you read it right! Man proposes child disposes. Ever since I have become a parent my god seems to have changed or moved its energy into my child. As much as it is fun, fulfilling and enjoyable being around this demi god; it is tough and difficult. Just like finding THE god!

All my choices revolve around my child ever since I have become a parent. Choice of quitting a job, holidays, selection of school everything and anything has the intention of his highest good. And this is what happens to my choices….

So we are all excited and set for our first vacation on the event of his first birthday with this demi god! We book the train tickets, hotel etc.. all set as to what to expect etc… The moment we reach the train station our little one who rarely cried in his first year of existence, starts howling uncontrollably. We are left hapless. The train we are expected to board arrives at the platform and leaves and we decide to drop the trip. On our way back home the moment we leave the railway station this demi god laughs like it is his biggest victory!

Our jaws drop in amazement!! Till date we have no clue why this child cried so much.
And yes that’s why I say – Man proposes child disposes.

This is the first in the series. Do drop a line if you wish to read some more on this series.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A Five point guide to getting back to a schedule on the event of school re-opening.

The summer break is over and schools have re-opened. I know it’s both a relief and a struggle to get back to the old schedule. Both parents and children struggle to get back. Here five points to help you get into the groove. You read it right just five point will do the trick.

1.       Start the previous night:
Absolutely! One of the secrets to a peaceful morning is to prepare the previous night. Below are few thing you could finish off the previous night

a.       Menu: Plan the menu. You have a lot of meals to plan for namely breakfast, lunch, tiffins for school and office and also dinner. So decide either in your head or paper what food will be served the next day. Infact if you could do this for the entire week then its perfect. Since then you could also do the vegetable and fruits shopping accordingly.

b.      Clothes: Many schools now have upto 4 uniforms a year [I wonder why]. But if your child goes to such a school then it’s a great idea to determine the next day’s uniform, check if it is laundered/ironed etc. Incase of office going parents, good idea to plan your own clothes as well. This gives you a few minutes of peace in the morning rush hour

c.       Important knick-knacks:  Set out your important knick-knacks like mobile, laptop, handkerchiefs, house keys, glares , child’s shoes, caps, etc and keep it handy. Ideally you should have a set place for these items.

2.       Early to bed:
A good night’s sleep is extremely important. Every child’s needs are different. But an average 8-10 hours of sleep is a must for the child. Ensure you have a set bed time, and the child starts winding down at a certain time every night. This makes it easy for the child to slip into sleep easily and without tantrums. I am not getting into bed-time routine like bath, story-telling etc. since it’s different for different households.

3.       Morning routine:
It’s a good idea to wake up an hour before waking up your child. Take the time to clear your thoughts, do few light stretches, breathing exercises, start off the kitchen work etc. Basically get the ball rolling before your little one wakes up. Next the child. Children need more time than adults to start their chores. Hence it’s a good idea to wake them up atleast hour and half before they have to leave for school. This gives them enough time for their chores and also spend enough time with parents.

4.       Alarms and reminder:
Alarms and reminders work like a charm. Use them on a day to day basis to keep track of, the to do list like medicines, assignments, submission dates etc. Reminders can be physical say sticky notes or on mobile phones. So do use these. 

5.       Prepare the kids and show some excitement:
I believe it is important to prepare your child atleast a week in advance. Discuss the re-opening date, list things to be bought like uniform, school bag, other accessories etc. Do it in advance. Show some excitement, make the child interested in the new academic year tell them fun things they can do at school. DO NOT share your stress with the child. Doesn’t help anyone.

These are a few guidelines, trust they help you. Do share stories of the school reopening and your coping mechanism. Do share your thoughts on this article in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you.

And if you haven't already do subscribe to this blog.

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