Our kids are not kids anymore!

4 year olds.jpeg

Image Credit: Pexels

Do you remember your childhood? I remember mine. Till 4 or 5 years of age, I used to roam around naked. When I visited my family in Delhi, my grandfather gave me a bath or all cousins used to have a bath together. Some cousins were older to me, some younger, but I don’t remember having any discomfort bathing  naked in front of them. Well, maybe, because it was a different era! More innocent and less aware.

Today, when my daughter goes to Ahmedabad and has a shower with her male cousin, I make sure both of them are wearing their underpants. I also make sure that no male is around when she is changing clothes. She has also been taught, to never change clothes before people. Also, she knows what is good touch and what is bad touch.

I am sure there are millions of parents like me who do the same. They do not let their kids roam around naked, not even before their family (the world around has dirty eyes and you don’t want them on your child). They teach their kids good touch, bad touch. And they regularly hold sessions with their kids to teach them the way the nature works between a man and a woman.

What are we doing? We are protecting our kids in case of any untoward situation in the future. But, are we?

If a 4 year old can insert his fingers and a sharp pencil inside his classmate’s vagina, then each one of us needs to ask this question to ourselves? Are we seriously protecting our kids, or sending them down the bog of self awareness and confusion.

Do you think the child did that deliberately? Bah! A 4-year old, who doesn’t have clarity of speech, who might not even realize that he has soiled his clothes, who needs his mama to make him sleep can he actually violate another child’s body?

The poor child, doesn’t even know what he has done. Can he be blamed? I think not. It’s the collective failure of the entire society. We as parents have failed him and the little girl. We have robbed them of their innocence. We have stopped them from being kids.

Our kids are too aware: Awareness is good, but anything ‘too much’ is not! Our 4 year olds know what is a good touch, what is bad touch, what are the private parts, how babies are born. More awareness leads to more inquisitiveness.

Girls and boys are different: When girls play with girls and boys play with boys, they become more aware of their physical differences. ‘Boys don’t put on make up’, ‘Boys don’t play with dolls’ or ‘Girls are silly’ make them physically aware of one another which can be detrimental to their positive growth in the long run. This leads to girls giggling on seeing boys or boys resorting to dares like touching girls’ breasts, deliberately touching their body or lifting up their skirts.

OTT parenting: Go to any bookstore and you will find shelves full of books on parenting. Also, the Internet is full of parenting blogs (mine one of them) who can teach you how to have a normal birth to how to deal with an impossible teen. We want to raise our kids as per the latest research or as the experts say. Our kids are our favorite projects and experiments, and we want to bring them up that way. However, we tend to forget, parenting doesn’t come out of a book. Parenting is an instinct. Yes, we can definitely learn from each other, but we need to put in our respective context before applying the same.

Videos and apps are culprits too: Parents are extremely busy species, they have been for centuries. I don’t remember my mother ever playing with us; she just didn’t have the time. She was busy cooking and raising her three children. And, we didn’t have 24/7 television and mobile phones. We played with siblings, cousins and friends. Today, the mobile phone is the sibling, cousin and friends, and sometimes parents too all rolled into one. There are zillions of apps available, and not all appropriate for them. But, who checks what kind of disturbing things they might be watching?

Sexual assault is turning into an epidemic. We teach children to beware of strangers, but what do we teach them against their own classmates. We can’t be everywhere to protect our children. But, we can’t let this go too. We need to take up more responsibility for our children, however small or innocent they might be.

  • Tell your kids that girls and boys have different body parts. That is how the nature intended, and it is no big deal.
  • Avoid differentiating between girls and boys. Do not stop your kids from playing with the other gender.
  • Keep a close watch on the kind of videos your child watches and the kind of apps he downloads. Most kids at this age replicate what they see or hear.
  • Do not fondle or indulge in love making with your partner in the presence of your child. Their innocent mind won’t be able to process it, and they would want to replicate it with the other sex.
  • Watch them while playing doctor-doctor. It is the roleplay which should give you enough signals about the maturity of your child.
  • Talk to your kids regularly to understand what is going on in their mind. The way they talk or act should give you a hint.

Let us understand one thing here – that 4 year is not a culprit. He is too young to understand the crime. But, he will have to live with the repercussions of his deed his entire lifetime. Not only the girl child who was violated, but also the small boy will undergo a trauma when he will be repeatedly scolded or chided for his act. His parents should not only take him to a counselor and refrain from reminding him what he did, but should also get their act right. They need to look within themselves and find out where they went wrong.

This is an activity that every parent should undertake from time to time. It’s time we left the books alone, and got down to some real parenting!

 

 

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Beta, I don’t want you to be my ShravanKumar!

shravankumar

Image source: pixabay

As a child, I loved hearing stories, and pestered my father to narrate me one every night. And like a darling, he obliged me. So that’s how I learnt about ShravanKumar – the good son, how Ganeshji got an elephant head, Alibaba and chaalis chor (forty thieves), the amusing pranks of Lord Krishna and many more. Back then no one told us, but we all wanted to be like Shravana or Lord Rama, the ever obedient and ideal sons. There were no stories about good daughters, except maybe Sita and Panchali who married the men their parents handpicked for them.

We have one child. A daughter. And for whatever reasons of ours, we plan to keep it the same way. So it is going to be only one child for us. Now, we sometimes wonder what will happen to us when we grow old and need someone to look after us. We cannot chain our daughter to us. She would want to explore the world and stay wherever her heart would take her. And she would do so with our blessings.

It’s not that that wouldn’t hurt us. But I am hoping the pain wouldn’t be too much. When she was little and I was breastfeeding her, I remember getting let-down reflex as soon as my newborn started crying. I couldn’t imagine letting her go out of my sight even for a moment. Gradually, she started school and I was OK with her not being around for 3-4 hours. Then, she joined the big school, and I got used to her absence for more than 8 hours. I have realized, with her growing, I have grown too. I don’t fret for her every minute of the day. I know she needs her space, and I need mine. And this mutual respect for space is what will help me the day when she leaves home forever.

As a mother, I would want her to be with me, always. But, I also know, as a mother, I can’t be selfish. That’s the first rule of being a parent – LET GO!! And, when the time comes, I will be ready to let her go! I am preparing myself to be the mother who doesn’t hold her child to ransom. She didn’t ask to be born, I wanted her. So I cannot hold that against her.

I will love her. FOREVER. She is born out of my body and carved out of my heart, and she will always carry a big piece of me. But, I can survive without her. And, she will survive and thrive without me. The world is her arena, and she would not get burdened with my expectations and my regrets. I would not want her to be my ShravanKumar, to carry me wherever she goes. And, that’s what I will tell her – beta, I don’t want you to be my ShravanKumar! Don’t be tied down to me! Live your life! You get it only once!

Now, that the Diwali is over…!!!

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It’s been a week since Diwali! No more Chinese fairy lights blinking from people’s verandahs or windows. No more diyas glowing in the night. And (I am thankful for this one) no more phatakas waking you up at odd hours in the night. Life has resumed its dreary monotone. This is the toughest part…the aftermath of Diwali!

The whole year, we look forward to Diwali. Our life revolves around Diwali. Cleaning the home, buying new things with just one goal in mind – Diwali’s coming! And when the Diwali comes, it’s a frenzy. Snacks and (and lots of it), sweets, crackers, diyas and candles, rangolis and trains, pages and visiting the temple, meeting friends and family, baksheesh and bonus, those 5 days are a mad mad mad mad party. And then, as if in the blink of the eye, the day comes when you are preparing tiffin and getting ready for work again, and it dawns on you that Diwali has gone. It leaves a sense of emptiness in you.

Mind you, I was not a big fan of Diwali. As a child growing up in Ahmedabad, I dreaded Diwali. 5 days of post-Diwali holidays meant a never ending horde of guests turning up announced (mobile phones hadn’t found their way yet and the laid back attitude of Amdawadis stopped them from calling up before knocking at your door), serving them food and tea, and then washing vessel till late in the night (no domestic help as they took a break too during this time). I stopped applying nail paint (even though the holidays were the only time we could) because it didn’t last even a day.

Well, in Mumbai, I have learnt, that Diwali is all about celebrating the festival at your own pace. People don’t bother you, they just don’t. I prepare sweets at home, draw different rangolis, prepare for the Lakshmi Pujan, go for a drive into the city to check out the beautiful lightings in the night and have (it’s mandatory) ice cream. The next few days, we meet family and a few friends over a leisurely brunch or dinner and catch a movie or two in the theater.

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I have actually started enjoying Diwali and miss it when it is over! And, so again the wait begins for the next Diwali!

Do you feel this lost too once Diwali, Eid or Christmas get over?

 

 

 

Mummy – kal, aaj aur kal?

kal aaj aur kal

This happened a few days ago when I was visiting my parents’ house in Ahmedabad. I was cajoling my daughter to finish her food. Being a Sunday, my father was at home and was observing the whole scene.

“You know, we never had our mother running around us to make us eat!” He commented.

I looked at him to elaborate on his remark, and he complied. “We were 11 brothers and sisters, and amma (he called his mother amma) was always overworked. She kept our food and milk glasses on the table – 11 plates and 11 glasses for each of her children. But, then she never stood there to see if everyone was having his proper share. So, there were a few who would drink 2 or 3 glasses of milk, and others would not get anything. No one went to amma asking for more; not that she wouldn’t have given us more, but no one had the heart to add on to her already big pile of work. And studies, well, being an illiterate woman, she could neither help us with our homework, nor did she bother. We sorted matters ourselves.”

A big insight into the days of their lives 50 years ago!!

We are three siblings. My mother made sure that we had proper nutrition, each one of us. Thankfully, processed foods weren’t that much in demands those days. Maggi had just been introduced, and breads (double roti) were consumed rarely. Having three kids and not having sufficient domestic help, she couldn’t sit with us and make us study, but she encouraged us to study ourselves.

I remember clearly the day, I must have been 6 years old, when I came home with a note in the school diary. I asked my mummy to sign it. She was busy with my 1 year old brother. She said, “Bring it later. I am busy!” Afraid to forget it later, I signed the note myself. Of course, the next day, the teacher realized it was me who had signed and called my mother to the school for an explanation. A big drama ensued!

When we went out to play, she never bothered to ask us where we were going. There were kids in the neighbourhood, and she knew we would be playing with them, however, we had to be back at 7:30 for dinner. There were no lessons on safety, no good touch or bad touch (in fact it was something I came to know when my daughter was 2 years old). Happier times they were!

And, then I see my style of parenting! My daughter being a single child, my whole focus is on her. Whether she has eaten enough, has she exercised well for the day, what’s her homework, has she prepared for the projects…!!!

And, of course, she is not allowed to go and play alone in the park or in the society compound. I know where she is at all times! Yes, gradually I am encouraging her to be more independent; she sets her own bag, bathes and brushes on her own, dresses on her own, helps in the house…but still I doubt she will be as independent as I was at her age!

So these are the 3 generations of mothers. My grandmother’s role was to provide food to her children. My mother saw to our health, education and comfort. While I am looking after each and every aspect of my daughter; from her nutrition to education, comfort and physical, mental and psychological development. With time, a mother’s role changes too! All mothers do the best they can do for their children, according to their capacity and understanding. There is no right or wrong, that’s what I have understood!

My fight to go sleeveless

sleeveless

Image Credit: Pexels.com

I wore a sleeveless top today. It transported me to the day (of many) when I had an argument with my mom. In fact, whenever I wear sleeveless tshirts, I remember the times I had an argument with my mom. You see, I was not allowed to wear a sleeveless.

In today times, when city girls wear spaghetti tops without a moment’s thought, a sleeveless for me almost 20 years ago was a big big thing. All my friends wore sleeveless, but I could not. So I would argue regularly with my mom to let me wear one. I fought my case with so much convinction (or with so much persuasion) that she finally caved in. But, not without putting forth some conditions of hers like not to wear it before my dad and no thin straps. It was all acceptable! So, at the age of 19, in my second year of college, I wore a sleeveless shirt for the first time in my life. It was such a hurrah moment for me, a victory of sorts!

Today, however, I do not feel so! Because, today, I am a mom! You know your mom when you become one! And, being a mom I have understood that allowing your child to wear a sleeveless dress is not merely about clothing, but a small part of a mother’s deep philosophy. Will she start experimenting with her freedom? Am I letting her have too much of it? What next? What she will ask for next? Am I being a good mommy? Are the clothes too revealing? Will someone look at her with lustful eyes? Will someone take advantage of her?  

And, when my daughter wears a frock or a skirt, I am forever concerned. Is she wearing a bloomer or not under her skirt? Which places she will be visiting wearing a skirt? What sort of people would be around her?

So, you see, whether a 6 year or a 19 year old daughter , a mom is a mom…her concern never changes – even after 20 years! And, that is why my victory in letting me wear a sleeveless doesn’t seem so big today!

And I will let you know some thing – my father till date doesn’t like me (yes, even when I am married and have a kid), wearing a sleeveless, so I usually avoid wearing it around him.

Now, while I am it, I would like to share one more memory …

In my school, there was this cleaning lady, called ‘Balooben’ (it’s customary in Gujarat to use ‘ben’ as a suffix after an older lady’s name). She used to sit near the washroom. Now, can you imagine the washrooms of 90s, stinking like “you know what!”. Anyway, so this poor lady would always be found sitting near the washroom. And, I would always pity her plight – “Why this poor lady has to sit near this hellhole!” I would wonder!

In the wake of the recent incident where a 7-year old boy was murdered and his body was thrown in the toilet cubicle, I now get the wisdom behind stationing Balooben near the toilets.

We can argue to death that we are in the 21st century, we have the right to dress however we like….! But what we are forgetting is that the society doesn’t change just because we order it to. It might change tomorrow, day after or never…but till then we need to take care of ourselves and our kids !

A food for thought…!!!

Mumbai taxis and ME! My topsy turvy rides!

taxi ride

Image: pexels.com

Surprisingly, this post is not about me as a parent or I talking about my child. This is me as a Mumbaikar enjoying a slice of my adopted city every day.

For the last 2 months, I have been traveling a lot in app-based taxis. They are expensive, but frankly speaking, being splashed on with mucky water is not my idea of monsoon fun. Anyway, to cut down the cost, I have been opting for “share” and “pool”. Believe me, it’s an eye-opening experience every time I take one.

I have had some memorable moments – some enjoyable, some humorous and some, errr…crazy ones.

The social media addicts

Once when I booked a shared cab, a brand new brown Wagon R stopped in front of me. I saw a couple sitting at the back. So I opened the front passenger door, but what do I see, a huge 4-wheel suitcase on the seat. So, obviously, I sat beside the couple in the back. The couple was newly married, I could see a shiny chuda (wedding bangles) on the girl’s hands. The guy was sitting between his wife and me, and was mighty uncomfortable, as most “sharrif” (decent) North Indian men are. Anyways, a chatterbox, I started talking to them. Oh, by the way, the boot was full too with huge suitcases. On talking with the couple I came to know that they were visiting Mumbai on a fun trip. I gave them a few ideas on what to see, where to eat and shop. On the way, I asked the cab driver (who was a polite guy) to show them Bachchan’s bungalow, given that it is a huge draw for tourists. They were first excited, but when they actually saw it, I could see their faces falling down.

“It’s so small!” They exclaimed.

“It’s big by Mumbai standards”, I replied.

“Hamare Chandigarh mein to har kisi ki itni badi kothi hoti hai, yeh kya khaas hui!” – In Chandigarh, every other bungalow is huge, I don’t see anything exciting.

“But, it’s quite expensive!” I felt I needed to defend my adopted city.

“Ya, but we have expensive houses too in Chandigarh!” came pat the reply. I didn’t feel like replying to it.

It’s Bachchan’s house. The USP is – it is Bachchan’s house. Period.

We dropped them at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. I just could not contain my curiosity and ended up asking them, “How come you took a shared cab!” People who could afford one of the most expensive hotel stays seriously don’t need to share a small Wagon R with strangers.

“Oh, it was a genuine mistake. It was our first booking on Ola, and we thought ‘share’ option was that it would share our status on Facebook!”

My mouth opened up involuntarily and my eyes kept on staring them incredulously! Later on, of course, I had a good laugh over it with my friends.

Seriously! The social media-addicted youth of India! God only save us!

People who don’t care for others’ time

On a Monday morning, I booked my cab at 7 am. I needed to reach my destination at 8 am. I thought I had ample time and I would reach on time. The driver came bang on time and greeted me ‘good morning’. I thought it was a good morning too. The next second sounded the buzzer to inform there was a second passenger. We took him in. And, then there was a third. His address wasn’t easy to understand. So the cabbie called him up. The person says, “When you reach this particular chemist, take a u-turn and then take a left from the pan-patti.”

We got to the chemist and took a u-turn, but couldn’t for the life of us find this pan-patti. It was 7:25. Which pan shop opens up at this hour.

So we kept on moving in circles. The person was not reachable as he was in the elevator or some godforsaken place out of reach of the call network. So after 15 minutes, we could finally get through him and got a proper address out of him. It was 7:40. And, so it was 8:20 by the time I finally reached my destination (thankfully, mine was the first drop).

The interesting conversations with cabbies

Apart from interesting co-passengers, you get to talk to the cab drivers too. Their was once this driver who ran a small time agency that provided junior artistes in Bollywood movies. But his once thriving business was hit hard by the demonetization, and he opted to be a taxi driver to survive.

Then there was a cabbie who humbly claimed that his track record was so good that Ola gave him maximum rides with women passengers. God bless him!

Then there are ones who are either exalting Modi government or cursing it.

And then, there are times you get some weird ones too! Like one time, there was this young lad who took me on the wrong route. When I pointed out to him, he didn’t reply. Just the day before I had read a disturbing post on someone’s Facebook wall about how a driver had misbehaved with her. I was about to raise an alarm when the taxi stopped and the driver looked back at me. My heart was in my mouth! And then he said apologetically, “Madam, it seems I am lost. Do you by any chance know the correct way!” Oh, and then I let out a sigh of relief!

There was this cabbie who throughout the journey was badmouthing Ola and Uber, and how they were sucking poor cabbies. According to him, all these app-based taxis would shut shop in a few months, as they were doing very badly. This was on the day when the news of Ola raising fresh funds were splashing all over the news.

Well, whatever said and done, I am enjoying these everyday taxi rides and wouldn’t have it any other way! What about you? Do you have some interesting taxi ride stories to share??

Mommies, why do we like to pull each other down?

woman by the water

Image: freestocks.org

I have a neighbour who is a Deputy Director in a reputed womens’ university in Mumbai. Before you roll your eyes and say “what’s the big deal?”, let me tell you something about her. She pursued her doctorate at the age of 45…! She got married early, had two daughter one after another. She concentrated on raising her daughters well. And, when the daughters became independent, she decided it was time she did something for herself.

Well, she decided to work in her 40s. But, not all mothers want to wait till then. There are mothers who prefer to take a shorter break for kids before resuming work. Then there are some some who never take a break even after having a child. And, then we have mothers who don’t work but decide to stay at home to look after their family.

Whether you are a working mother or a stay at home mother, there is nothing wrong. You are a good mother, and don’t let the world tell you otherwise. Mothers are questioned for every action. If you work and leave your children to nannies or in day care, there are people who ‘oh-oh’ it. You are a negligent mother. If you don’t work and look after your children all day, you are looked down upon.

If it only stopped here…

If you are a woman who doesn’t want children – People understand and sympthasize with you if you are unable to bear children. But, tell them once that you are child-less by choice and then see all the hells break loose. Eyes roll and tongues wag. You are too ambitious! And God alone save you if you prefer pets to children.

Let us understand these three things FOREVER:

A woman is a woman first, and then a mother.

A woman is free to make her own choices: whether she wants to work or not, whether she wants to have kids or not.

A woman can be a mother to a human baby, a pet or nature. She is still a mother!

Friends, there is no winning with the world! So let’s stop making the effort! Work for yourself and live for yourself! Let the world do what it does best – bitching!

At least, let’s stop questioning each other. We are, were or could be in the same position as others; let’s sympathize with other women even if we don’t fully endorse their idea.

Let’s not pull each other down – we have others to do it for us 😉 and seriously, it’s NOT FUN!!