It takes a village to raise a child! Where’s yours?

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When someone praises my daughter, I beam with pride. I have raised her well. I have taken good care of her. I have spent a good amount of time and effort after her. Isn’t it too much of “I” and “me”. Yes, I am her mother and so my daughter’s primary responsibility is mine.

But what about the neighbours who look after her when I have important appointments to keep, the watchmen who stop her from running outside the building gates, the maid who feeds her when I am not around?

I am raising my daughter well, but not without their help. Hence, it will be wrong of me to siphon off all the credit. It is said it takes a village to raise a child. And, it’s true! They are my village, and without them I would be lost.

Today, parents are being overprotective. And in their bid to be independent and mistrust of people, they are losing touch with their village.

Let me tell you about a small incident that happened a few years ago. As I was waiting at the gate to pick my daughter up at her kindergarten, a classmate of my daughter came out. She was holding her shoes in her hand, and then she put one dirty shoe in her mouth. Without giving it a moment’s thought, I tried to take her shoe away from her mouth. The 2-year girl started crying. Just then her mother came running from nowhere, and gave me a nasty look. May be she thought I was bullying her daughter or trying to kidnap her. I don’t know! She picked up her daughter, shoes and all, and left. No explanation was asked, and none given. The little girl’s reaction was expected, but her mother’s was not.

The incident upset me. I admit it. I realized people don’t always take you in the good spirit.

I started asking myself – Was I wrong in helping the child? Should I refrain myself from helping others in the future?

But then an inner voice told me – Will you ignore a child if you see her crying at a mall and all alone? You will not help her just because you burnt your fingers once and might be taken wrongly a second one? Or wouldn’t you raise your voice if you see a child bullying another one?

When I have a beautiful village of mine, shouldn’t I be a part of someone else’s, though they might not want or care for one?

I remember very well when we were young, it was OK to be corrected by parent’s friends, friends’ parents or neighbours. No one minded, and no one’s sentiments got hurt. And no, there were no nasty or suspicious looks. It was a given; you do wrong, you get scolded, even if not from a family member.

Parents can’t be everywhere at all times. But the village is. The village is the community where kids learn, grow and feel safe. It is there to keep a check on your kids, to correct them and protect them so they grow up into good global citizens. It is called community raising.

We talk about how single kids get a short end of the stick. Or how the kids of today suffer from psychological issues or existential crisis. One of the many reasons is because we are losing touch with our village. The kids don’t only have no siblings, but also a very small group of people they can call their own. No wonder they feel left out and feel they belong to nowhere.

Whether we accept or not or appreciate or not, everyone needs a village to raise a child. Thankfully, I have mine, where’s yours?

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From Experience, I Can Tell You This is the Worst Way to Respond to Your Child’s Tantrum

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My brother was a super tantrum thrower. As a child, I remember whenever his demands were not met, he would spread himself on the ground – no matter where he was, whether it was on the street, playground or dirt track – and kick his legs. For me at 8 years old, it was a funny sight, I am sure my mother would not agree with me.

I had forgotten all about my brother’s weird temper tantrums until I came upon my daughter throwing them. And, let me tell you, it was not funny anymore.

I guess it was payback time for me. Though it didn’t happen much, it was enough to emotionally and physically drain me for life. Without rhyme or reason, she would start crying and refuse to listen. I was having a hard time dealing with these tantrums, needless to say, and it was during this time that I got some hard lessons.

From experience, let me share the WORST ways to deal with your child’s tantrums. Do anything but this when you are tying to restore some peace and normalcy in life!

#1: Giving in to your child’s demands to avoid getting embarrassed in public

When it came to temper tantrums, I had started to notice one thing: the chances of it happening were more when I refused to buy my daughter candy, cookies or flavoured yogurt at the supermarket! It was embarrassing, and hence, I would give in to her demands. We try and do anything to avoid a public scene, right? But, then I realized I was being held to ransom. This could not go on.

Read more at – http://www.worldofmoms.com/blog/from-experience-i-can-tell-you-this-is-the-worst-way-to-respond-to-your-childs-tantrum/1034/2

Doodles Doodles On The Wall, Which Is The Prettiest Of Them All?

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I still clearly remember the time when we had decided to get our house painted. The walls were in a pretty bad shape, the paint was peeling off, and my one year old daughter just loved scrapping it off with her fingers and putting it in her mouth. Though it had needed a re-painting for years, I can’t for the life of me remember, why we dithered and waited that long. Anyway, so we decided to get our house painted and entrusted our daughter to my parents in law in another city. It was a painful period for me, staying apart from my daughter for such a long time, as we couldn’t subject her delicate lungs to the clinging dust, loud sounds and harsh smells of turpentine.

However, what hurt me the most was the insensitive comments of the people around – why are you getting your house painted now? Your daughter will make the walls dirty by scribbling and doodling on them.

My husband replied – I am getting the house painted for my satisfaction. If my daughter chooses to draw or write on the walls, it will give me another degree of satisfaction.

My husband is one of those rare specimen of humans who believe that kids be given complete creative freedom. Their creativity gets limited when you give them a sketch book of A3 or A4 size. They need a larger canvas to express themselves. That’s where blank walls come in.

So, our daughter got the freedom to scribble and draw on the walls with whatever she could find; be it the humble pencil, the ubiquitous pen, the colourful sketchpen or the unsympathetic marker pen. All made their presence felt on our freshly painted walls. She drew lines, circles, potatoes, sun, moon and even, Peppa Pig.

The best part was when she showed her creation to us. Her proud smile was all we cared for. It made us proud as parents.

Our visiting friends and family on looking at the doodled walls exclaim and announce that our daughter has an expensive hobby. We ask them – why? The cost of a re-paint is way too cheap if it helps give wings to our child’s creativity.

Not all of them are convinced. Well, we can’t convince all of them. It’s not our job. But, what I feel is M. F Hussain and DaVinci did not become famous by sketching in drawing books.

We both like to nurture our child’s creativity and guide her gently by sitting down with her and participating in her favourite ‘doodle-on-a-wall’ spree. See these doodles of mommy, papa and my cutie pie..isn’t it awesome?

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Don’t these walls look more decorative than merely painted walls? They have more character now, after all, they hold a child’s interest, creativity, passion and joy. And, all of these reflect on the walls. It makes our house a happy home.

Once she came to me and asked, “Mama, are you going to paint on my drawings on the wall?” Her nearly-teary face tugged at my heart. I felt a little guilty because I was planning to scrub the walls for my annual Diwali cleaning.

But, that’s when I made a decision – No, my darling, if you want we will never paint the house again.

And then she replied – And if we do get it painted, we can sit again together and doodle on the walls.

I nodded my head. She was happy and hugged me tight. Yes, that’s what it takes to make your little child happy.

Sometimes, I think we pay for expensive drawing classes, but do not let our kids enjoy it. We gift our kids the latest gadgets, but do not let them taste the joy of simple activities.

A happy childhood is not made of expensive things, but of beautiful memories. If doodling on the walls, scribbling on the floor and putting stickers on the cupboards and the refrigerator is what make your child happy, so be it. Give them the creative freedom, let them explore themselves, and grow. These are the simple joys of growing up, and all children should have them.

That’s how they will have a truly khuljaaye bachpan. A childhood where they are not questioned for every move they make, their creativity is not curtailed by social decorum and their enthusiasm is not snuffed out by superfluous rules. Give your child the gift of an unfettered, happy childhood, a #khuljaayebachpan!

My New Year Resolution I Promise To Do Right By You, My Child!!

I know it’s a little late in the day to be posting about the New Year Resolution, but once you start reading it, you will realize why I couldn’t help myself. 🙂

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With the New Year ringing in, everyone is scrambling to find their New Year Resolution. A resolution which, they very well know, wouldn’t survive the first flush of spring. Anyways, that’s not what I want to talk about.

A few months ago, I had watched ‘Tamasha’, a nice romantic movie by Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. Do not be alarmed, I won’t be discussing the movie here. But, there is something about the movie that has stayed with me, even after so much time has elapsed. It had something to do with the story of that movie. Ranbir Kapoor, a brilliant storyteller since childhood, is forced to go through the Engineering and take up a corporate job that he hates. He becomes an automaton, running with the world, in the rat race. He forgets to laugh, enjoy and LIVE.

Now, that’s where my point comes. As a child, I was good at numbers. When the time came to choose a stream, I went for Commerce. Why? The logic was simple. I was not cut out for the hard work that the Science stream demanded. Also, I hated physics, and  didn’t want to be an Engineer or a Doctor! As for the Arts, it was considered (please do not mind it, it was the general opinion at that time) at the bottom rung of the hierarchy. And it didn’t pay much. So Commerce, looked like a respectable choice! Of course, I didn’t consider that I loved reading and writing. Who cares for reading and writing, anyway??? Now, years later, I regret that choice. Arts was FOR ME.

The career options there are today, didn’t exist back then. We’d never heard of a Zumba instructor or a storyteller. I look at them, they are so happy with their career choices. Happy that they are doing what they love, and not forced to love what they do. You can be anything and excel at it, as long as you love it.

I see my daughter doodling on the walls, and I think, may be, she will become an artist when she grows up. The next day, she brings out the doctor set from her toy cupboard and starts examining me, “I think you have a fever. I need to give you an injection. And also some very bitter medicines.”

“No injections, please, doctor,” I say (joining in the spirit) pleadingly.

“You need an injection. It will make you better quickly,” she says firmly and tries to put the toy injection on my arm. I cry, “Ouch” which somehow makes her satisfied.

“No chocolates and no ice creams, OK? Or, we will need to hospitalize you,” she says in a strict doctor-like tone. And I only nod.

Yes, with a white doctor’s coat and a stethoscope around her neck, she looks very much like a doctor. She can definitely be a doctor when she grows up.

It’s true, she can be many things, but more importantly, she needs to be someone she likes to be, and not what I want her to be.

My nephew at a tender 18 decided to pursue CA. Well, it was his father’s dream he became a CA. Everyone was happy, we would finally have a Chartered Accountant in the family. The boy worked hard, he definitely did. Managing college and CA studies was no joke. But, after a couple of years, I heard he had quit the professional course.

I talked to him, “What happened?”

“I realized CA was not for me. I would have left it in the first year, but I didn’t want to dash everyone’s hopes,” he replied. I could understand.

“Forget it. You tried to please your family, now it’s time you please yourself. Do whatever you like,” I advised.

“But, I am already 20! It’s time I think about settling down.” He exclaimed.

“So, you are only 20. You have the entire life before you to decide and do, or not to decide. People leave their jobs at 40 to pursue their passion. You are getting that chance at 20. So take it,” I said. I don’t know if he understood my words, I just hope he did.

It was my nephew, had it been my daughter, I would have advised her the same. We do not need to settle in life to make our parents happy, to get married and to start a family.

We have a very materialistic approach to life. It needs to be toned down a little, if a child has to have a happy childhood. Yes, money is important. But, it is only as important as you want it to be. A little money is good enough to take care of your needs, more money just sits in your bank. So enjoy with little money, and live your dream. At the end of the life, you won’t have much need for that money anyway! It will be the fulfilled dreams that would count. It would be the items on your bucket list that you checked off that would keep you warm in those twilight years.

Many of our kids will be at the threshold of adulthood, where they need to take important steps for the future. In the New Year, as loving, caring and responsible parents:

  •         Let us encourage our kids to choose something they like and are passionate about, and not something that is credible and pays them more money.
  •         Let them choose something of their liking, and not try to fulfil our dreams.
  •         Let them opt for something they love, and not something that their peers are going for or is the fad of the moment.
  •         Let us empower our kids with good books, good thoughts and good deeds.
  •         Let us nurture them into being a complete person, than a money-minded one.
  •         Let us tell them, their life and their dreams are worth more than the money could ever buy.
  •         Let us make them realize that the pursuit of happiness is inside them, and not in the wads of money they earn every month.
  •         Let us teach them to celebrate life, to play and to explore, because these days will never come back.
  •         Let us tell them that bachpan doesn’t have to end at 10, 15 or 20, they can have the same carefree bachpan at any age, given they keep the same mindset.

This is my promise to my daughter – I will do right by you. I will not make a Tamasha out of you! This New Year, this is the new beginning I hope for. This is how I intend to start on a new beginning – Khuljaye Bachpan!

What is your promise to your child this year?

To read my other posts on Khuljaaye Bachpan, you can log onto http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/first-time-mommy.

Image Credit: http://loveyouthismuch.com.au/

Peer Parenting: The New Age Parenting???

Earlier parenting was heavily influenced by what the elder and more experienced members of the family did with their child. If the elder cousin was enrolled in dance classes, the younger kids of the family were sent there too. Today, the joint family set up is rare. So parents instead of following their elders follow their peers. So if a certain mother enrolls her child in a horse riding class, the other mothers in her what’s app or Facebook group will follow suit. And if another mother puts her child in a Mandarin learning class, again the peer pressure will be seen.

Every mother’s child is intelligent and capable to take on the world, so why should he be left behind? It’s a dirty competitive world out there, so why shouldn’t the child be prepared from toddlerhood?

Sad affairs, isn’t it? I see more and more kids being strutted from one class to another. Money is not a question where the future of tiny tots is concerned. In fact, the pricier the better. It gives the young mothers a sense of pride and accomplishment as they carelessly (but craftily) dole out the information in their next kitty party.

And it’s commendable the way these classes sell themselves. ‘Come join our class. It helps in developing the fine motor skills of your child, nurturing life skills such as positive attitude, self esteem, social skills etc. and gives him an opportunity for physical development’. Wow! Kudos for their English and capability to hit the raw nerve of the parents.

What I fail to understand is ‘can kids learn these life skills only in such activity classes?’ What happened to those good old days when kids learnt all of these and a lot more while playing in the open fresh air of a playground or a park.

Earlier, the kids learnt either at school or at the hands of their parents or other family members. Nowadays, they learn whatever they need to learn in activity classes. Because obviously the schools are not capable and sadly, parents have no time for such things.

What a narrow-minded approach! We cushion our kids at all possible instances and then expect them to survive the world. We send them to sanitized enclosed classrooms and expect them to learn life surviving skills.

Peer parenting is a great advantage, especially when we are staying in single families. However, there is a fine line between support and blind following.

I Want A Baby….!!!

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Image: pixabay.com

These 4-word sentence is nothing unusual, we hear it every day from our hormone-driven friends, family, maids or even someone we have met at the cashier’s queue in a shopping mall. Women are born that way. They want a baby as if their life depends on it…as if they  can’t breathe until having one.

Now, stop! These words above were not spoken by me, my neighbour, friend, relative or a casual acquaintance…but by my 4-year old. While I was patting her to sleep, she says to me very matter-of-factly, “Mama, I want a baby!”

I looked at her (surprise and questions in my look), she looked at me (as if what she said was the most natural thing in the world). Well, yes, it is but certainly not for a 4-year old, who is little more than a baby herself.

I quizzed her, “You mean you want me to have a baby?” I chose to clarify.

“No, no…I said (she lengthened her syllables the same way I did when I tried to send an oft-repeated message across to her), I want a baby. My baby!”

I have seen many girls, even as young as 2 years old, having maternal instincts. I guess, girls are born that way – sculpted by the nature to be mothers. No wonder, we see girls playing with dolls, feeding them, changing them and singing lullabies to make them sleep. They do what their mothers do to them, and improvise.

But, coming back to my problem, I asked her again, “But you already have a baby. You have 2 dolls.”

She looked at me, frustrated at my obtuseness.

“I don’t want a doll. I want a baby. In my tummy.”

Oh my! This was getting out of hand.

“She will be my baby. I will put HER in my lap and make her sleep,” she continued.

“Do you want a baby girl?” I asked, now enjoying this fantastic conversation.

“Yes, I want only a baby girl. I don’t like boys. They are naughty.” Oh, what wisdom!

“But, what about cleaning the baby when she pees and poops?” I needed to ask that. A baby is a complete responsibility after all.

Pat came the reply…she didn’t even pause to think once. “I will not clean her. Maybe, you can clean her, mama!” And that’s the end of the dream run.

“Enough, now go to sleep. There’s enough time for you to get a baby when you grow up,” I barked and switched off the light.

If I had wanted to clean the poop (all over again), I would have got a baby of my own. Long time ago. Sigh!!!

I want a baby…??? No, not now…Thank You!!

I am a guilty mother

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Sometimes I feel that my second name should be ‘guilty’ because I am always guilty for something or the other. And it all started as soon my little daughter was born. From this perfectly happy-go-lucky affable girl, I turned into an emotional mess overnight.

So if I wanted to visit the washroom or sleep and my baby cried, I felt guilty. If I went out for grocery shopping I felt guilty. If I slept while my baby was awake, I was guilty. There was no end to it.

But I hadn’t realized the extent to which this guilt could play havoc on my life. In my previous blogs I have written about how I desperately want to resume my career. Every day, I feel ‘why I am wasting my life like this?”.

Then the mother in me argues, “you are not wasting your life, you are investing it in your child’s future. Is this why you brought this child into this world, so that you can put her in a day care?”

But there is a sensible voice that says “you can’t spend every minute of your wake up time with your child. It’s impossible. Instead of quantity, spend quality time. Work toward your goals too. Your child will appreciate that.”

“What if she gets hurt or falls sick in my absence?” or “Won’t my daughter miss not having me around?”

I argue, “Come on, woman, your daughter has fallen a hundred times with you around. How did it help her?” And also, “Kids adjust. She will miss you for a few days, and it’s not like you are not coming back in the evening?”

The questions are galore, so are the arguments. In spite of reasoning with myself every few days, I am still not able to make up my mind. Because I feel guilty. Again, that ‘g’ word.

I know I am a mother. But why do I forget that I am first a person. I have my own needs and wants. Somewhere, being a mother, I have forgotten myself. I love my child to distraction, but that can’t make up my whole life. I need to be myself, and less guilty. And I need to keep telling that to myself every day till the time I can live with the guilt.

This is what I have been doing to cope up with my guilt. Hope it works its magic faster.

  • If her father can work guilt-free, so can I.
  • My child needs my love and presence. But she needs money too. And extra money doesn’t hurt anyone.
  • There is no substitute to self-sufficiency and independence. Who doesn’t like to see money rolling in?
  • If I am so happy staying at home with my child all day long, then why do I feel so empty within?
  • My daughter is not content with playing alone with me. She needs her friends, classmates etc. After a few years, she would need less of me and more of them. What will I do then?

What are your thoughts? What has been your experience?

  • I spend reasonable time with my daughter, but the times when I don’t I start questioning myself. Is it so wrong to have sometime for myself?

What are your thoughts? What has been your experience?