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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Why don’t I give my daughter juice?

fruit juice

A few years ago, my friend and I took our kids to a park. After playing for a while, the kids got hungry and demanded food. I looked into my bag and realized that I had left the tiffin box at home. But, my friend, fortunately was carrying hers. She took out 2 tetra packs of mixed fruit juice and a big pack of biscuits.

“I got juice and oat biscuits, at least kids will have something healthy than those chips!” She announced. I chose to stay silent. My daughter was hungry, and I didn’t have anything else to offer to her. So, she got a treat of packaged juice and biscuits.

On reaching home, I narrated the whole incident to my husband. Shock, indignation and disappointment were writ large on his face.

“This country is doomed forever if its educated citizens think that packaged juices and oatmeal biscuits that come out of a packet are healthy for kids!” He cried.

See at the back of any tetra pack containing fruit juice – it would say natural fruit sugars and added sugar. Natural fruit sugars is fructose and added sugar as we all know is pure white sugar. Also, there is no mention of any fibre of the fruit, because the juice contains none. So, basically, we are giving our kids an overdose of sugars. It causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly resulting in a burst of energy that is short lived. High blood sugar levels cause the body to store the excess energy as fat. Also, once the sugar gets stored in the body, the blood sugar levels come down leaving the child tired and cranky. So, giving a packaged fruit juice to your child doesn’t the purpose.

But, wait it doesn’t get over here. Learn what all it can do to your child.

As the blood sugar levels come down, the body craves for more sugar that it just lost. So, the child will start demanding for sweet stuff. You got him or her into this vicious cycle!

Juices are overloaded with calories, empty ones. Your child is not getting fibre, or enough protein and healthy fat out of these. No wonder, we see child obesity and type 2 diabetes on a rise in India. Juices, cola and sweets all contribute to it!

And to all those who say juice contains real fruit, no…it doesn’t! It contains fructose-concentrate juice. 1 orange juice (200 ml) = goodness (what does it even mean) of 3-4 oranges (yes, I read it on the advert of a popular “no added sugar” orange juice…it said 17 oranges for 1000 ml pack!!). 1 apple juice (200 ml) = 4-5 medium sized apples.

Now, tell me honestly, can our kids eat so many oranges and apples at a time. No, right! Then, why are we feeding them so many fruits in the form of juice?

My daughter loves juices so much, she can finish the entire 200 ml pack without taking a pause. Yes, kids love sugar…don’t they just! However, I restrict these juices to occasions…she can have them as treats at birthday parties or at picnics.

I have stopped giving her homemade juice as well. Why?

Simple rule – drink not what you can eat!

If she can eat 2-3 oranges and 2 apples, I have told her, she can have her juice, which hasn’t happened so far! So…..

Read more about myths and facts about fruit juices here – http://bonhappetee.com/blog/2015/10/27/myths-and-facts-about-fruits-and-fruit-juices/

It’s not only about fruit juices, but pretty much about everything that we eat and feed our kids. Let’s be informed before we put stuff in our kid’s mouth. Parenting is not only about sending kids to the best of schools and classes, buying them the best of toys…but it is also about feeding them the best foods.

Oh, and now I always make sure I am carrying a dabba of snacks from home!

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!

I fund my daughter’s hobby classes and I am proud of it !!

girls

Image Credit: pxhere.com

Women have this innate sense of ‘saving’. As soon as the husband hands over his monthly salary to her, she starts thinking of ways to save from it. A rupee here, a rupee there, and by the end of the month, she has a little something saved for the rainy day.

I had seen my mom doing it. She was a homemaker, so she was fully dependent on my father for all the household and education expenses. After my graduation, I enrolled myself into French learning classes. It was a hobby for me. I loved the language and realized I was good at it. I decided to pursue French language at a higher level. My father didn’t understand my passion. I was supposed to get married, and not think of higher studies at my age. He refused to pay my fees. That’s when my mom stepped in. She dipped into her personal savings, the savings she had been collecting since years, and paid my fees at Alliance Française.

This was the event that made me realize how important it was for women to work. But, the more valuable lesson I learnt was the importance of saving. So, when I started working, I started saving. I quit my high paying job once I conceived, and it was a big financial blow for me. Of course, my husband assured me, “I am earning enough. Don’t you worry about finances.”

But, I worried nonetheless, for the future and my self esteem. Well, soon after my daughter came, I started working from home. I didn’t earn much (peanuts compared to my earlier job), but I started saving right from day one.

A child is mentally and physically exhausting, but gradually I realized she was financially exhausting too. School tuition fees, medical, clothes and toys…the demands were many. And, then there were extracurricular activities like drawing, swimming, tennis, singing, etc. that I wanted my daughter to enjoy and pursue. I didn’t want her to suffer because of lack of sufficient finances.

That made me invest wisely in different instruments. I bought a little gold for her (I am a mother after all, and a Marwari at that! ). I had parked my savings in fixed deposits with my salary bank account. Later on, one of my ex-colleagues who had also quit job for her baby told me about Kotak Mahindra Bank’s Silk Women savings account. Thankfully, we have a Kotak Mahindra bank branch nearby. So, I didn’t think twice before closing my salary-savings account and opened up a new Silk Women Savings account with Kotak Mahindra Bank.

I earn 6% p.a. interest per year on my savings. Secondly, I use credit and debit cards a lot. I believe in cashless economy, also I hate going to ATMs to withdraw money. And, with Silk debit card, I get cashback upto Rs. 4500 per annum on my spends. That’s not little; remember for a homemaker, every tiny bit counts. I have also opened up a Junior savings account in my daughter’s name, and got a non maintenance fee waiver on it.

So, yes, though it’s my husband who is largely running the show in the house, my contribution is not to be entirely ignored. I have enrolled her in various activities and I can proudly say I pay for each one of them. In my own way, I contribute and I am proud of it. I earn, and so I like to spend, on me and my daughter. I like the fact that I don’t have to ask my husband for every little expense. He is a busy man, he has a lot on his hands, why should I bother him with tiny details. Having said that I also want my daughter to enjoy her life. Today, she goes for swimming, gymnastics, dance and drawing, but tomorrow she might want to pursue skating, ballet, and God only knows what not. However, I am prepared for it, with my small savings that is turning big with every passing day.

I have learnt these few things in my life-

  • As a mother, we have various responsibilities – to not only feed our kids on time (to keep their bellies and bodies warm) and to keep them happy, but also to teach them to be independent. But, for that, a mother herself needs to be independent from daily financial worries.
  • Every homemaker is plagued by the fact that she doesn’t earn or earn enough. But, you needn’t turn it into a sore point of your life. Every mother I know has her own ingenious ways to save. It is just that I urge you to save smartly and wisely in women oriented schemes. They have been created for a purpose that revolves around YOU !
  • Also, don’t ridicule small savings, remember, an ocean is made up of tiny single drops.

So, save and let the power be with you !

What I learnt from my gynecologist that every mother of a daughter should know?

infections

Image: pixabay

A few days ago, my daughter suffered from a vaginal infection. It got cured in a few days, but the whole incident made me realize how my daughter is growing up, and in a few years will hit puberty. So when I visited my gynecologist for a routine check up, I made it a point to ask her a few things for my daughter as well. This is what I learnt from her…

  • Avoid using jet spray on the V-area of your daughter. When the water goes into the vagina, it can lead to vaginal infections. No doubt, vaginal infections have increased in girls today. In our time, a humble mug it was that kept us away from these nasty infections.
  • Do not use a perfumed soap to clean inside her intimate area. It destroys the good bacteria that helps prevent vaginal infections.
  • Keep the area dry; wipe it with a toilet tissue after urination instead of water.
  • After passing stool, clean the anus, and avoid touching the V-area with the same fingers.
  • Make her wear bloomers. With tight panties, the risk of E.coli transferring from her bottom to her vagina increases.
  • Disney print panties look cute, but better invest in a moisture-absorbing cotton panties that lets the area breathe and avoids bacteria or yeast infections.
  • Change her panties at least 2-3 times in a day.
  • School-going girls avoid using the school washrooms and tend to hold on. This can lead to urine infection. Urge her to use the washroom at least once in the school.
  • Girls are hitting puberty at an age as early as 9 years. Poor lifestyle, frequent consumption of junk and lack of physical activity are some of the prominent reasons. Let’s avoid this if possible.
  • Once your daughter hits puberty, do take her for a cervical shot.
  • If your daughter complains of itching around her vagina, wash the area with a diluted solution of potassium permanganate. Take a few crystals of KMNO4 and dilute it with lots of water and pour the water on her vaginal area. Or ask her to sit in a tub of this solution. Alternatively, you can use common salt solution too.
  • Lastly, if you notice mucus in her vagina or if you find your daughter constantly scratching around her vagina or anus, take her to the doctor. It might be due to a pinworm infection.

Hope these tips are useful!

10 Essential Items for Diapering your Baby On-The-Go

Travelling with your baby needs a lot of preparation. Diapering your baby while on the move can be quite a tedious task. You need to ensure that you pack your diaper bag with all the necessary items.

Are you worried that you may forget something important? Keep the following checklist handy, and let go of all your packing woes:

1. Disposable diapers
The most important item in your bag is, quite obviously, the diapers! You will be required to change your baby’s nappies every few hours. Carry disposable diapers in sufficient quantities, depending on the duration you will remain out of the house.

2. Disposable bags
Carry separate disposable bags to dump used diapers. These bags will ensure that the soiled diapers do not create any mess or foul smell in your diaper bag.

3. Reusable diapers
If you are on a long trip, and think that reusing diapers is easier than carrying a bulk of disposable ones, then go for reusable diapers. These diapers will help make your bag light.

4. Wipes
Wipes are necessary while diapering your baby. They will keep your hands and your child clean and dry.

5. Sanitizer
A hand sanitizer will help you maintain proper hygiene after diapering your baby. It is a must as you may not get a chance to wash your hands every time you change your baby’s diapers.

6. Cream
Keep a travel-sized tube cream in your bag. You will need it for your baby every time you change the diaper.

7. Air freshener
Travelling with poop smell will be very unpleasant. Use an air freshener so that you and your co-passengers may have a stink-free journey.

8. Napkin
There’s no such thing as too many napkins. You will always require more napkins than you think. You will need one every time you feed the baby or when you need to clean dripping saliva or an accidental spill. Napkins are your best friends, and you’ll find plenty of uses for them.

9. Baby clothes
Always keep an extra pair of baby clothes ready. Spits, spills, or diaper leakages may be severe enough to require a change of clothes, so you had better have some on hand.

10. Bottle
Breastfeeding while travelling will be difficult. Keep your baby’s milk bottle ready, and ensure that you carry warm milk during all your journeys.

Be prepared for anything while you’re travelling with your little one. Carry these items while keeping your bag as light as possible.

For the right tips on pregnancy and early parenting, check the Pampers India website. Pampers also provides expert tips on newborn baby diapers, easing pregnancy and post-pregnancy symptoms too.

The kids are not all right

monkeybar

A few weeks ago, I had attended a birthday party of my daughter’s friend. There they played a game, the age old ‘Passing the parcel’, however, what was different was the way it was played. The child who was caught with the parcel when the music stopped was asked to leave the circle, but with that parcel as the gift, and then a new parcel was introduced. The game continued till every child got a gift. I asked the mother what was wrong with the earlier version, the version we had all grown up with.

She said – “I do not like kids to be disappointed. See, here every child is happy as he or she gets to take a gift home.”

In another instance, I was in the park with my daughter. She was playing lock and key with her friends. Now, one of her friends fell down. Her mother, who was on the other side of the park ran to his son, all confused and upset. She scooped her son in her lap and started inquiring – “Are you hurt? Let me see! Do no cry! Shush, mama is here.”

The child, had a scraped knee, who was perfectly OK till then, started crying earnestly.

I was at a friend’s home for lunch. Her 5-year old daughter refused to eat what was cooked for lunch. My friends felt so guilty that her daughter would go hungry, that she cooked up her favourite pasta immediately. According to her, it was not the first time this had happened.

At the School Sports Day, there are no races, no competition. No first, second or runner ups. Because, everyone is equal, there should be no competition between the kids.

Kids today have a room full of toys and games. Some they ask, some they do not. But, they still get them. Everything in excess is the new mantra of life.

Our parents taught us self-reliance, while we hover around our children and want to protect them at all costs. We like to hold our babies closer to the protection of the nest. We go out of our way and rustle up something when they don’t eat what’s cooked at home for everyone else, because we don’t them to sleep hungry. Instead of letting them play outside, we organize activities for them. We do their homework and their assignments. We even resolve their conflicts for them.

It makes me wonder, what will happen to these kids when they grow up?

Will they get a gift everytime they fail? Will they be able to handle disappointment? A child who has never been denied anything, how will he cope with rejections? There are a growing number of cases when kids run away from home or commit suicide because they are not able to deal with low marks in examinations or when they fail to secure an admission in an institution of their choice.

Will their parents keep them hidden in their bosom all their life? Our mothers never ran after us, a scraped knee was just that. She would ask us to wash it with some water and then forget about it. But, there was no drama that followed. Falling and hurting was a part of daily life for us. We cycled, climbed up trees and jumped from the stairs. Today, kids travel in elevators and escalators (because they might fall down the stairs and get themselves hurt). Earlier, kids walked and cycled. I hardly see kids walking nowadays, unless it’s for a kids’ marathon and they are required to pose for selfies with their cool mommies. I never see kids climbing up the monkey bars, do you?

Will they shy away from competition or be able to survive it? OK, so we can accompany our kids till the college gate and sit in the waiting area while they appear for a job interview. In one-child China, parents have been known to put up tents outside their college kids’ dorms. This is an invisible umbilical cord we are just not ready to cut. And, what happens after that? A child who is never used to losing – how will he survive in the big bad world?

We are raising our kids to be adult babies.

So what should we do?

  • Stop telling our children that they are special all the time. They are not, at least not always. So reserve the praises for the times when they actually deserve.
  • Stop going out of the way to create happiness in their life. The life is a mix of joys and sorrows, and it is for a reason. We have no right to interfere with the nature. So let’s stop pretending that everything is all right when it’s not. Let the kids have their fair share of disappointments at an early age. It’s better to fall at 10, than at 40.
  • Stop giving them things when they don’t require it. We had fewer toys, but did we ever complain? Were we unhappy because of that? No, right. So why are we teaching our kids to be materialistic? Why should they find happiness in toys and games, and not people? We give them iPads, iPhones…we are teaching them it’s all right to speak to the technology, rather than people. Today’s kids have more virtual friends than actual friends.
  • Stop hovering around them. Let them take action and be responsible for it. If they have done a wrong deed, they should take the punishment or the consequences for it. Do not protect them unnecessarily.
  • Let them fall. And, do not cushion their fall. Also, let them get up on their own. Only when they fall, will they get up. Let them learn things on their own.
  • Stop feeling guilty. For things we can’t provide them. We are the parents, not superhumans or Gods. Make kids understand our limitations.

It’s not the kids who are at fault, but us, the parents. Let’s sit with our parents and understand how they raised us – independent and fearless. We can take a leaf or two from  their parenting book. It wouldn’t do us any harm, but might save our kids!