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Category Archives: Lessons in Parenting

A Love Letter to My 5 Year Old

My dearest darling baby,

Happy happy fifth birthday to you (it’s actually tomorrow). I know every mother says this, but I just can’t believe that it’s already been five years, I still remember meeting you for the first time. At the same time, I can’t remember the details of my everyday life before you were born. Is it selective amnesia? I don’t know but I’m happy with this. You are the center of my universe along with your daddy, your maamu and your grandparents (you will always be our baby).

A few months back I promised myself that I’d write you a letter every year on your b’day. I want to do this for multiple reasons. One, it’s so easy to forget and I really want to remember your early years, not just the images in photos but the way you spoke, the surprising things you said and the milestones you crossed. I can’t capture all of this but I hope to create enough of a verbal image to kickstart my memory when I’m older. The second reason is, I know most mothers and daughters go through a tough period when the daughter is in her teens or early twenties and though I appreciate that this is a part of the learning process for both of us, it’ll be nice to look back on the times when you were a mummy’s baby to help me remain patient with you and myself.

Yes, we have ugly crocs. You love purple and I love pink and tangled is still your favourite movie (2 years running).

Yes, we have ugly crocs. You love purple and I love pink and Disney’s ‘Tangled’ is still your favourite movie (2 years running).

There’s a lot I want to tell you, so let me start with what’s important in life. Family and doing what you love. Yes, it sounds simple (but it’s not my darling), however, these two life factors are worth working, fighting and taking risks for. Maybe it’ll hurt more when you put all your love into a relationship and things get messed up, but if there’s real love those messed up things will get resolved over time.

Doing what you love will make you happy, I don’t know if you’ll have enough money or have a comfortable life initially, but you if you keep doing what you love you’ll eventually become the best at it and this will lead you to the life you want. How do you know what it is you love doing? Well, it’s different for different people. Some people just know right from the time they are really young and for others it takes some time to figure out, but everyone has that one thing they enjoy doing and figuring out how to make it your life’s work is the real challenge. A definite barometer on finding out if you love something is wanting to wake up and start doing it on the first day of the week, after a super fun weekend. While daddy just puts his heart and soul into whatever he’s doing, mummy took some time to find my calling. I always loved reading and writing (stories or poetry), art and travel. In my mind I was sure I would become a chartered accountant and a traditional artist who paints with oil. Things have turned out completely differently and might possibly change as I grow older (I’m not sure we really completely finish growing-up and that’s half the fun of life). Today mummy and daddy work together and mummy has written my first book and also lost interest in it and am writing my second book.

When it comes to relationships you are a child blessed with so many people who love you and that also comes with a certainty that at various points in life you’ll have to choose who you spend time with. This does not mean you love anyone less or more, it just means at a particular point in time someone needs you more. Never hesitate to make decisions after considering all the visible options, because if you are sure about why you made a decision and it’s in good faith (that means you think you did the right thing), people who love you will understand even if it doesn’t turn out great or the way you envisioned.

Now something I must tell you about your daddy. He loves us to bits and he is also highly protective and a little bit possessive of us. Even today he doesn’t mind the house being overrun with a bunch of five-year olds but he won’t send you to anyone else’s house to play unless he knows the parents really well. I understand this but foresee a few problems going forward, when you want to go for sleepovers or for a movie at night with your friends or even to college in another country. We’ll tackle those when they come but in case I’m not around (I don’t believe this will ever happen but hey! you never know), the best way to handle him will be to address his fears rather than rebelling. You may not always get your way (which is good for you character) but you will definitely get to do the important things, because at the end of the day he loves you to bits.

Now I know I’ve been rambling on a bit, however, there’s a last thing I need to discuss. It’s about being a mother. I know I’m not a conventional mommy. I work long hours (though daddy and me alternate working late to ensure that you never spend too much time away from us), I take you to movies (not with adult content obviously) and art galleries, I’ve carried you around for work for almost a year when you were too young to be left alone, we go running together and I’m not really into cooking. Despite all this I know that we have an amazing relationship and that I’d rather spend my day with you than anywhere else. Plus you’re well-adjusted and a happy child and I guess all those hours of sneaking off to the movies or painting crazy stuff in our pyjamas while eating strawberries has worked out right. I know you want a brother or sister and you’ll probably get one but only when we are sure that we won’t be taking away from the time you need with us. If this means going through the potty training stage again when I’m forty, so be it. Basically, when you become a mother (if you want to have children that is) remember that there is no perfect formula. What suits every mother and child is unique and precious. The only rule is every action should be driven by love, even if it’s anger.

At the end, baby remember that mommy and daddy love you the most in the whole world and it’ll stay that way even when you become a namnam (grandmother).

Love Mommy

Muah

P.S. – Last week you found a letter written by daddy to mommy and demanded to know where your love letter from daddy was. Well he’s written you one for your 5th birthday and it’s going under your pillow tonight.

P.P.S. – Too much nail paint always turns your fingernails yellow. Transparent is the best nail colour for hands. I love the way you laugh like you’re acting in a movie 🙂 (You know what I mean my drama queen). You are also currently crazy about rhyming words and we spend hours giggling over them.

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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Family, Growing-Up, Lessons in Parenting

 

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Winning Against Ourselves – Mind Games

V comes up to me this morning and starts talking about school.

“Mommy I’m really getting fast at running, I ran past S and K when we had games period yesterday.”

“That’s great V but isn’t the running part more fun than the running past other children part?”

“Yup, I love running with you in the park mommy, and we run together. So, I loooooooove running. It’s almost like flying a bit. But mommy I can’t go faster than the boys you know. That’s okay coz A (my nephew) told me that boys are stronger than girls.”

That put me in a dilemma, I didn’t want to encourage competitiveness in a child not yet 5 years old, but I also didn’t want to leave her with the weaker gender idea. That’s when I had a half-formed brain wave.

“V do you know far we run together at the park?”

“Yup 3 rounds?”

“Right and that’s one and a half kilometers darling. I’m sure no one in your class, boy or girl, runs that long and far.”

“I don’t know mommy. Their mommies don’t take them running so how will they know?”

Okay…… that was the second spanner in my works. Still, I decided to gamely plough on.

“Right, darling but here’s my point. See we are both girls and we are doing something nobody else in your class is doing, boy or girl. It doesn’t matter who’s stronger or weaker. All that we need to think about is this. Do we really want to do something? If we do, we keep doing it and enjoying it. After a while we will become the best at it. So the next time A or anyone else tells you that someone is stronger or weaker, tell them this. ‘The person who really wants to do something and enjoys it, is stronger and the person who doesn’t is weaker.'”

I don’t know if I got through to her this time or if the the idea was too convoluted. However, I’m making a promise on this Women’s Day to keep reminding myself, my daughter and my nieces that we can be and achieve whatever we want as long as we really want it and enjoy it. Gender is just a category like hair colour or height, it can’t affect who we are and what we choose to become. Yes, we’ll have a lot of battles to fight as women, but let’s win the one in our minds first. 

P.S. – Funnily my first ever post on this blog was on gender discrimination 🙂

P.P.S – It doesn’t matter if your little girl chooses to play a princess game or climb a tree. As long as she is confident in herself as an individual, she will make the right choices for herself.

P.P.P.S – Wow! I just realised (when I went to get the link to my first article) that today is this blog’s two year anniversary! I somehow missed the first one! Yay! Happy Anniversary to me.

Update: A couple of days back I found a new trophy in V’s prayer basket. She apparently won the girls running race for her LKG batch. That’s like first among 60 kids, I’m guessing the boy- girl ration is 50-50. Now I know where that boys being faster/stronger than girls discussion came from. It’s the school making them compete separately. She never mentioned winning and she just shrugged when I asked her about it!

Photo Credit: Image 1

 

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What I’ve Learnt in 31 Years – Part 1

Yup, the title says it all. These are the lessons I want to make sure I share with my daughter and all the other children in my family.

  • While using ketchup packets, always check the direction of the tear and aim away from you while squeezing. I’m invariable wearing white or a pastel shade when I get a substantial dollop of red on me. Once the dollop’s there, don’t rub, just gently dab and you may save your outfit. I have recently discovered a bleach white stick, but seriously who carries these around
  • Most Indian elders are willing to listen to your point of view, if you precede it with something on the lines of “please forgive my ignorance on account of my age……….” in a respectful tone
  • Most dressing room mirrors at clothing stores are like the fancy ones in the house of mirrors, they elongate and narrow your frame. Don’t believe them, trust your instinct
  • Children get dirty, very dirty. A proper hot bath is the only way to get them clean. Make it a bubble bath if you don’t whining of “I’m tired/sleepy/hungry”
  • How do you know you enjoy what you do? Monday mornings are not blue, unless that’s your favourite colour

 

It’s funny but only the really small things have stuck with me. I can’t for the life of me remember anything that’s ground breaking or life changing. Hmmm………… food for though?! Maybe in the next part.

What are the life lessons you want to pass on?

 

Photo Credit: Image 1

 

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Everyday’s a Party

My mind has been overloaded and cluttered these past few months. There have been energizing brain storming sessions,  tedious but necessary mid-year number crunching analysis, constant conference calling with girlfriends for a project we are working hard on (this is our new venture on the side), failed attempts to re-write a storyline and continuous planning in order to make every week memorable for V (the techie and I have wowed not to sail through her childhood like zombies).

I have valued, if not enjoyed, every moment because each situation has come from my own choosing, however, the brain does tend to get over-simulated and then what?! Headaches due to lack of sleep and over thinking, constant pre-occupation and an host of other stuff that just creeps up on you. So what’s a girl to do when things get too much but you don’t want to actually slow-down because you can’t miss a moment (I mean the festive season’s here and things are just going to get more fun and hectic)? Well, I don’t know about most girls but here’s what I do, have a closet spring clean. Yes, the techie dreads this method of relaxation but he participates in good spirit because of the benefits of a happy me post the exercise.

V woke us up at 6 am this Sunday. We had freshened-up, had our morning poison (regular milk for V, coffee for the techie and fresh juice for me) and got onto the task by 6.30 am. The techie setup a superb song list of olden goldies, V donned her winter gloves to help with the wiping and I started tossing stuff out of the cupboard.

The next three hours flew by, with old clothes fights (almost like a pillow fight but much messier), colour coordination, slow dancing (our two songs were on the list and we could not not dance) and V wearing all my jewellery and asking us to call her ‘Your Royal Highness’ while jumping on her trampoline. By 9.30 am we were done. We quickly showered and headed down for a huge breakfast, with a bag of stuff for the local old people home, and a day packed with events.

The outcome? All I need to do is open the doors to my organized, colourful and blingy (I love shiny stuff) wardrobe and I get a high. The techie has got a lot of extra points for being the good husband and is making the most of it, while V thinks closet cleaning is a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Plus we had breakfast with royalty and a mini prom dance.

What do you do to reset an overcrowded mind?

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2, Image 3

 
 

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You’re Not Special

This speech has gone viral across the internet and I can see why. It’s phenomenal and I’m saving it to share with my daughter when she gets a bit older. So without further ado, here it is, with a few snippets that really jumped out at me.

You Are Not Special – Transcript and Video

  • “No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…  Now it’s “So what does this get me?”  As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.”
  • “If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning.  You’ve learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness.”
  • ” I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.  Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than you would a spouse you’re not crazy about”
  • “And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect.  Read as a nourishing staple of life.”
  • “The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap..  You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness-quite an active verb, “pursuit”-which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube.”
  • “None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence.  Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct.  It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.  Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.  Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.  Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly.  Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion-and those who will follow them.  And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.  The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special… Because everyone is.” – Sorry I put in the whole final paragraph because it made so much sense.

Do share this with as many children as you can. I’m sure it’ll make an impact.

P.S. – Contrary to what the news articles say, there was no controversy. The message was taken by the speaker’s students in the right spirit.

Photo Credit: Image 1

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Aside

I’m sure all of us held our children a little closer and tighter, while praying for this family on Thursday. Losing a child is unnatural in the natural order of things and I hope the family is given the strength to get through this terrible time. We can never prepare ourselves for such an incident and most of us don’t even consider it a possibility. Unfortunately, many of us, including me, take our children for granted (this does not reflect on the fact that we love them to bits), which is normal given the numerous responsibilities we need to attend to on a daily basis. I for one am trying to appreciate my little one a bit more and it was while trawling my old blog entries on her, that I came across this one that made me feel a bit better. I first posted this in April 2010 (on my previous blog) and have just re-posted it here.

My mornings seem to be unbelievably busy, though all I do is feed my daughter breakfast and make her use the potty (my husband does this on my yoga mornings) before getting both of us ready. The rush is despite the fact that I organize all our clothes and other stuff the previous night.I invariably lose my cool, when my daughter starts choosing what footwear she wants to wear to school. I mean she just turned 2 in April, isn’t it too early for her to have a fashion sense? Anyway, this crazy morning rush was what caused one of my most uncomfortable days at work (since we started our own business).

It was a usual weekday morning and I had just about managed to get everyone in the car (we drop our daughter off at school on the way to work). The little one kept saying “Mummy, wrong shoes, wrong shoes”. I shushed her with a “behave yourself” as I tried to feed her the cereal she had refused to eat at home. When we finally got to school she gave my husband a big hug and kiss before getting off. While I walked her to the gate, she had a last try “Mummy, your shoes are wrong” (she often gets mine and yours mixed-up). I ignored her comments and hugged her, she in turn gave me a kiss and a confused stare before heading indoors with her favorite teacher.

Half an hour later, I was holding my first discussion of the day in the corridor of our office, even before I reached my desk, when my accountant walked past and gave me a quizzical look. I smiled at her and continued the conversation. Throughout the day I kept getting these confused stares from people and couldn’t figure them out. I finally found out why when I bent down to retrieve a fallen bill. Horror of horrors, I had worn my water-proof house-slippers, the variety with a red and black floral design to work!

While I was busy shushing her, my poor little baby was trying to save me from embarrassing myself at work. Now, I pay a lot more attention to her morning comments and try and stop myself from shushing her in general. I’ve realized one thing, she is totally focused on the moment, unlike her preoccupied mom.

I have a lot to learn from you my sweetheart.

Appreciating Our Children

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Lessons in Parenting

 

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Sugar and Spice – Has the Recipe Changed?

One of my friends K (from the girlfriend search) is leaving town for good, as I write this, and we decided to have a last meal (sounds dramatic right), together with the gang, before she got on the train. We are a bunch of women who love our food, controversial topics and books, so it wasn’t long before we were discussing recent posts of interest in the blog world. One of the topics discussed was stereotyping people by gender and then eventually bringing-up kids based on common stereotypes.

It was the age old discussion of should girls be encouraged or even allowed to do girlie stuff. Are we doing the right thing by letting our children think that it’s necessary for girls to wax, while boys can wear sleeveless vests with sweaty underarm hair peeping out. Though, this topic always feels fresh for us and we can argue for hours, somehow today only one part really affected me and I steered the conversation that way. Apparently, a pretty good blogger (who I’m now dying to read), quoted by K , stated that she doesn’t let her daughter do all the girlie stuff even if she begs. K then mentioned that another friend of hers has a gorgeous little four year old whom she dresses up for hours, including using (child-safe) make-up for certain events.

The group’s natural reaction was for all of us to get on the case of the second mother. “What is she thinking off? Does she want her little one to think that girls should look like Barbie dolls?” Now as most of you know my very first post on this blog was about stereotyping women, however, today I saw myself react differently.

Having a four year old girl myself, who loves dressing up, I could immediately empathize with that mother. I as an individual never really gave my clothes or looks a thought (till I became, well a mother and started feeling a bit drab around all the yummy mummies I saw). I remember my own mom complaining because I refused to join her on any of the numerous shopping trips she had to go on on for my wedding outfits and jewellery or even my trousseau. I used to cite exhaustion or boredom and curl up with a book and a cup of herbal tea, the moment she stepped out the door. My poor mother.

Anyway I digress. For a person like me, I have been blessed with a child who takes after my mother! She appreciates well-put together people, likes to be well-dressed in feminine outfits, loves bling (okay that could be a bit of me), her fruit glosses and just isn’t able to comprehend why she has to wear the same uniform to school everyday. (Day one: “Wow mommy, such a beautiful green frock and new shoes! Thank you.” Day two: “Silly mommy, I just wore this dress yesterday………. What? I have to wear that everyday? But why?” I of course gave her the spiel about everyone being the same and how it helps make things easier for the teacher.) She loves her frilly frocks (only pure cotton as she finds synthetics itchy), her multi-coloured plastic beads and being called daddy’s princess.

Initially, I resisted and tried to steer her along a different course and that’s when I realised; I was making it difficult for her to express herself. When I let her dress they way she wanted (within limits, no makeup or heeled shoes please), she would don her tutu and five minutes later be out playing football with her cousins in the mud (it did mean a lot more laundry for me though) or trying to pluck raw mangoes from a nearby tree. Her favourite movies are Monsters Inc, Tangled and KungFu Panda, and more recently Brave which tells me that she’s fairly balanced in her choices. Of course there are moments when she mimics the friends of her older cousins and moans “Mommy why do I have curly hair, I wish I had beautiful straight hair like you.” It is at these moments that I intervene with “God designs all of us from head to toe and he puts together the best combination”, since that’s definitely not how I want her to grow-up.

When I asked K if the said blogger stopped her son from dressing up as super heros, when she stopped her daughter from doing the princess scene, she said yes. So that seemed fair to me. With respect to the second mother if she’s forcing the dressing-up on her child or letting her get away with make-up on a regular basis, I definitely don’t think the same, however, dressing is also a form of self-expression, and as the mother of a child who loves to create, whether with colours, numbers or words, I’m okay with her choosing to dress a certain way or like certain things. Parenthood is a controlled democracy and as long as we imbibe the right values in our children, the rest is just window dressing.

In addition, our children do not need to learn that the stronger person (here the parent) always gets to impose their will on the weaker person. I’m not above using the “I am your mommy so you better listen” line, but I definitely don’t want to be unreasonable. If I to tell V that I don’t like you doing the princess thing because I don’t want you to grow into a girlie girl, am I not stereotyping in a way too? Pick you battles, so that they communicate the right message and don’t inadvertently create a bully.

Lastly, and a fairly important point in my view, no child really goes through life thinking that he or she is royalty, except maybe Paris Hilton (and even she seems to have matured), so we might as well let them have their fun and if they want to wear a tiara (I still wear on to bed on my birthday) or a blue and red wristband with the picture of a spider. Let them be I say.

P.S. – I am not an expert on children in any way and I speak only from personal experience and the wisdom handed down to me by my mother and other women in my family. This is my personal opinion and may be completely wrong from someone else’s perspective.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Family, Lessons in Parenting, Stereotypes

 

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