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Parenting Goals in 2014

Each New Year is like a box of surprises. You open up a box unknowingly and out jumps a surprise. Sometimes you set yourselves goals. Sometimes, like I did this year, you may set out to list the things you wouldn’t do. But when it comes to parenting I tread a very careful line. Because it is not my role as a parent that I am talking about, it also that of another human being that I am responsible for.

So here in no particular order are my New Year Parenting Goals:

  1. Hands-On to Pro-Parenting

I am a huge follower of hands-on parenting. From reading together, to making discoveries, to talking, making use of our hands and minds, I believe that the role of the parent is evolving today. And while there are so many like-minded parents (mostly mothers though) who make conscious decisions for their children and families, there are also so many who rely on traditional wisdom when it comes to parenting. Some believe that money spent on their children will bring them happiness. Some others believe that the school is meant to teach the child all that he/she has to. This year as a parent I want to share my experiences of being a hands-on parent with as many as I can in an order to turn every parent into a pro-parent.

  1. Balance

2014 has begun when my professional life is undergoing a tumultuous phase. I am at the crux of leaving my television career for good, to soak into something that has been my heart’s calling. I will still be a working mother, and starting now it will only get tougher. So as I embark on a new journey, I begin my balancing act once again. This year I hope to keep a fine balance and maintain a perfect harmony in my role as a parent and a professional.

  1. Handle the Tantrums Better

There is nothing more disconcerting than have a toddler have a meltdown that disrupts his sense of calm. More than us, I notice these meltdowns and tantrums leave him upset and perpetually cranky. As he grows up and makes more demands of us, I hope to give him fewer reasons to throwback a tantrum at us. It is tough, I know. So I will watch my words, actions and behavior and try and walk him out of these stressful and threatening situations.

To read the rest of my parenting goals for the year head over to Parentous

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Parenting Versus Grandparenting

“This time we will take you home with us,” say the grandparents every time they come visiting V and his parents. Oh yes…they come to visit him and not us. For both sets of grandparents the lure of the grandchild is far stronger than it is for their own first born. A and I are both the first born for our respective sets of parents. But over the years the offspring has found an extra special significance in our homes. “Where is your passport?” demands my father if I happen to visit him without my son. My parents & in-laws live in the same town. And over the years it has become very stressful to visit them with both sets of grandparents weighing the hours spent in each others’ home.

It is in times like these that I realise that a child is not just yours. He belongs to your parents and he has a rightful place in their lives, homes and universe.

So strong is the emotion that they often want to take him away. Now that he is a toddler, no longer dependent on his mother for nutrition, has a set routine about his life and is definitely more fun to be with, I am often propositioned with the offer. Of course, the condition is always to take the nanny along too. How else will they handle the not-so-pleasant moments of raising a toddler?

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A’s childhood was very unusual. His grandmother had decided on her grandson’s name even before her son got married. He was born just a year after his parents married. Six months later when he gave up mother’s milk, he moved out of his mother’s lap into his grandmother’s. And from there on A’s Thamma raised him as her most favourite grandchild. She doted on him. I have never seen her, but whenever I hear her stories from A I can almost picture her – the grand matriarch of the house raising a brood of chickens. Because it was not just A that was raised by her. All his cousins that included his aunt’s daughters also lived in the same house. And each of them speaks about their childhood with fondness. One of his aunts lived in another city. My in-laws too moved to another leaving behind their son with their parents. It was time for him to join school and A in his interview named his grandfather when asked about his father’s name. The name stayed on the school records for a very long time. Until my father-in-law went and got it changed!

Thamma was a force to reckon with. A was her favourite and she always selected him over the other grandchildren. But when it came to hard core discipline she yielded her iron hand liberally. From hearing mythological stories, to imbibing life’s skills and mannerisms, good behavior, to following sports like tennis and cricket, eating every vegetable and fruit in the market to even being pinned down for those unpleasant vaccinations Thamma was the force behind A’s childhood. Each of his stories has Thamma play an integral role. When his cousin talks about her she says how she towered over them all. Paa-in-law says that on trips home he would be scared to ask his own mother to let his son sleep with him for the night. He would ask A to ask Thamma. She would agree, but with a grouchy expression. Mummy describes her as a feisty woman who left her with little choice when it came to raising her own child.

Head over to Parentous to read the rest of the post. 

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Sexual Tolerance, Anyone?

Did your parents talk to you about sex? Mine didn’t.

Did they talk to you about sexuality? Mine didn’t.

Where and how did you learn about homosexuality and heterosexuality?

Which did you consider ‘normal’? Which do you consider ‘normal’ now?

We usually hush talk about this. As a nation we brush matters under the carpet. We cite religion. We quote ‘nature’. We hide the truth inside closets. And we wear colourful masks to hide our identity. What I am about today may not be comfortable for some of you…so read with caution.

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As an adult, a parent and a human who believes that everyone should have the right to love, yesterday’s judgment from the Supreme Court criminalizing gay sex is a blow. Homosexuality did not affect me in my growing up. In a girls’ school, being ‘lesbian’ was somewhat a joke. So when a senior and I got friendly, someone really called her a lesbian. At that age, I didn’t realize that I was being called one too. I shared this with the senior and we stopped ‘hanging out’. I was never attracted to women. But I realize that on that day, being described as or called a lesbian was nothing less than an expletive.

A girls’ school is a curious place. With no one of the opposite gender to interact with, seniors often became role models for juniors. The tomboyish ones played many sports. They were tougher, firmer and boy-like in many things. They stood for school elections. And there were those occasional fan-girl moments. When we were in the 10th, we famously walked into Class 8th and called up one girl who was ‘following’ one of us. She had begun stalking and leaving gifts in her desk. Back then it felt very cool; to threaten a girl, to ask her not to spend her money and to stay away. We didn’t think about sexuality, or what her sexual preferences may have been.

Our conservative Convent education contributed little to our understanding of sexuality. We were taught about periods. About sex. About self-defence. About attraction and love. About boys. But never about girls.

I don’t think tolerance towards homosexuality came to me in a day. Like many other girls, I didn’t consider it seriously enough.  Because I wasn’t attracted to girls and no one was attracted to me, I really didn’t have to deal with it. My last two years in school were spent in a co-educational institution. And so while hormones were raging, and girls were being courted, and crushes were flying in the air, there was also the case of effeminate boys being subjected to taunts and pins.

Boys can be cruel. Yes, in matters of sexuality, they can be really, really cruel. It begins as a casual banter, then it leads to exploitation and oppressive behavior. Notions of gender and sexuality get diluted to an extent that in a boy’s accommodation the most effeminate one is delegated all the ‘womanly’ jobs. Sometimes cleaning, or cooking and maybe even a rendezvous of casual, experimental sex.

Adolescence begins with confusing notions of oneself. And it can be traumatic for a teen who has to deal with uncomfortable notions of sexuality. In such a situation, being told that being attracted to the same sex is not a crime. It is not unnatural. That it is nothing to be shameful of.

You can read the rest of the post on Parentous

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Your Childhood, Our Childhood – Part 1

Call it a surge of emotions or some deep thinking about how man held the imagination of an entire nation – as Sachin plays his last test, I am left contemplating about the man who I have shared my childhood with. Why me? We all have grown up with him. There is a collective loss of childhood as Sachin retires. Ironic, that this is the same man who taught us that you don’t have to leave your ‘child-like’ enthusiasm for a sport. I believe it is this one quality that has made Sachin truly brilliant. 24 years later, he still pursues his game like a child.

 To me, he is the man who truly embodies the spirit of Stay A Child Forever

Sachin for Vihaan

Okay, let’s begin by saying…we grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar. Whenever we watch cricket, we will tell you with pride (and nostalgia), “We lived in the time of the great Sachin Tendulkar.” So live with it.

Just like our parents boasted of Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Holding, Sobers…we will fill you with stories about Tendulkar. And yes, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Sehwag…and all those greats who retired before you started watching cricket.

It’s perhaps too early to say if you will ever play the sport. We hope you do play it someday, in fact any sport at all. Just for the ability of unleashing your energy on a game, for harnessing your strengths, to accept your weaknesses. Playing a sport will teach you about winning. It will teach you to accept defeat. It will push you to work harder. Most importantly, it will teach you to compete not just with your competitor, but with yourself first. Playing a sport teaches you resilience, fortitude and builds strength…less physical, more mental. You will know what it means to follow a discipline. You will understand the true meaning of love and respect. Only he lasts who loves his sport and respects it.

It is not about the talent which you naturally have. It is more about the talent that you can acquire. You will have to be humble, because it is the one thing that will see you through your highs and lows. It will push you to work harder. To challenge yourself every time you fall. Being a sportsman, you will have to reinvent yourself, because somewhere along the way there will be hurdles. There will be someone who will discover your deepest weaknesses and beat you. As you grow up, you will discover the voices in your head. One voice will tell you about those who watch you play, those you compete against, those you play with. Another, a little quiet voice will tell you about yourself. It will tell you what to do. If you are a sportsman, you will learn to listen to that faint voice…always.

You can read the rest of the post at Parentous 

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For The Fear Of Fear

The first time my son uttered the word “bhoi” I was visibly zapped. We were playing dark room with a torch, he, his dad and I and he looked at his own shadow on the wall. He hugged me tight and said it again. Bhoi. He was telling me that he is afraid. For firsts, I didn’t realize he felt that emotion. And second, I didn’t realize he could get scared of his own shadow, because he had enjoyed hand shadows earlier.

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It reminded me of my brother. He was a brat as a kid and grew up with the fear of ‘dhor re’ (just a call out for the old man to come and get him), this one call always managed to tame him. I would be lying if I don’t say that I have flexed my parenting muscle when I threatened my boy with a lizard, but then one night I discovered that he had almost begun shaking with fear. What began in jest was soon thrown out of the window. The father and I decided that the lizard will never be a threat to him. So very funnily we make a charade of shooing the invisible lizard in our house.

But despite everything, something had gone wrong somewhere; my son in a short span of time had begun to express fear. It is wrong to assume that kids don’t feel afraid. Even a baby wakes up with an alarm and starts crying. My son at two sadly doesn’t smile in his sleep as much, but there are days when he wakes up crying. The other day he woke up from his siesta crying for his spoon. It seems his cousin had taken his and so we had to give him all his spoons to prove that she had in fact hadn’t. Children are scared of violence. So even as much as we like, the father and I don’t raise our voices (at each other) before him. Needless to say, we don’t hit him either. Things often get to an extent where we are sometimes pretty inept. “He is not scared of me,” his father says.  These are times when “No, don’t do this” is just not heard.

Read the rest of the post on Parentous

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Agle Janam Mujhe Daddy Banayiyo

Okay, so this one is a polite makeover of a song and television soap title. I know I may be grammatically wrong, because I have dared to marry Urdu, Hindi and English, so please overlook the syntax and semantics here. What I mean to say can be translated as, “(Dear God) Please make me a Father in my next birth!”

ImageWhat’s wrong with being a mother? Well, there is nothing wrong really. I love being a mother and I can play this role all over again, every time I am born again. But yes, for my next birth I would like to be a dad!

Now don’t read too much into my desire. It is not (necessarily) born out of habit and a belief that fathers have it easy. I am not saying this because fathers usually don’t have to do all the dirty work mothers do. I am not saying this because dads don’t have to feed, bathe their kiddies all through the week. I am not saying this because dads don’t have to deal with an ugly baby flab post the baby. I am not saying this because dads have to stay up all night, night after night, week after week and month after month. I am not saying this because dads usually don’t have to deal with the schism between hearth and work. I am not saying this because of anything…but one thing…

Dads know how to win hearts!

Read the rest of the post on Parentous

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Looking for Momspiration!

Like most other nights, our pillow talk last night was about V. The father of the child asked, “When does V start studying?” Don’t get him wrong. He is the last soul on the planet who will push his ‘about-to-turn-two’ son into academics. His concern was purely out of ignorance, because he knows little about this whole pre-school, nursery business. “But he is learning na? See how he has picked up numbers himself?” I said. “Oh yes, I love what you are doing with him! You are making learning so much fun and you are doing it in so many ways!”

I tucked the boy tighter and said softly, “Thank You!”

So what am I doing really? I picked up these ‘pipe cleaners’ from the local craft store recently. Last month at the book fair I picked up a whole lot of books, one being about learning numbers with Pooh. I put the two things together and created a whole new game for him where we formed numbers and played with it.

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The father of course has never heard of pipe cleaners. He also didn’t how they can be used to make numbers a fun game for our son. Or alphabets. Or crafts. Or art. You see, he doesn’t go looking for ‘Momspiration’!

MOMSPIRATION = MOMS FOR INSPIRATION

Oh, it’s totally my own creation. The word, that is, so don’t go searching for it in a dictionary. I use this term to describe some awesome resourceful moms I follow (almost stalk) for daily inspiration. I call it stalking, because I follow them virtually in every online space possible – blogs, to FB, to Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+!

These are amazing moms from around the globe who are constantly tinkering with children, education, creativity, play and imagination. These are mothers who make childhood and motherhood so much fun!

Head over to Parentous to read the rest of the post.