Friday, December 20, 2013

Things I Never Say In Front of My Son

Being mindful means being aware about the situation and being aware about your reactions to the situations. The most ideal situation is certainly when you are completely mindful and in control. I don’t think any parent is that perfect, but here are a few things which I am absolutely clear of never saying in front of my son: 


Anything related to appearance: Like most women, I am never happy with my body but I never ever say anything in front of my son. I don’t even ask my husband the quintessential ‘if-I-am-looking-fat’ question in front of my son. I also never comment on other people’s looks or skin colour or appearance in front of him. I never use the term ‘good-looking’ to him either, instead I tell him he is ‘adorable’. I have been guilty of using the term ‘cute’ sometimes, but usually it is meant for his actions rather than his looks.  


Friday, December 13, 2013

The Magic of Outdoors

Every parent of my generation agrees over the benefits of spending time outdoors for kids, and laments about how kids are spending fewer hours outside. Compare the situation with our own childhood. We would be raring to go outside and play.

There are several benefits of spending time outdoors for the kids as well as for us.

1. Vitamin D
We all know sunlight is the primary source of Vitamin D [more specifically Vitamin D3] and thanks to certain advertisements, we also know how Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of Calcium in the body. Our traditional wisdom has also vouched for keeping babies in sunlight. But in reality, as more and more people are living in apartments, they are hardly spending any time in the sun. Reference this article to read more about Vitamin D.

Personally, whether it is summertime or winters, I try to take the toddler in the sun for half an hour at least every alternate day. It gives me and the toddler our dosage of Vitamin D. 

2. Taking a Break on difficult days
With young kids, there are days when nothing seems to work, no toy seems to be interesting enough, no activity seems to be stimulating enough, and then there are some days when you do not feel like cleaning up the mess. So, what is your best bet? Outdoors! It always works like a magic. It also gives you a change of scene, and there is always
something or the other to look at or play with.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Raising Boys

There is this child, who is in the habit of hitting all other kids without any provocation. She happens to be a girl. The other day, she hit 2-3 kids, who ended up wailing. All of them happened to be boys. I am talking about kids between 2 to 4 years of age. The first thing one of the mothers jokingly said to her son in the process of consoling him is “What! How can you get hit by a girl? Are you going to bring dishonor to us?” She is a friend, more of an acquaintance. But still she is like you, me, people we know, people we are friends with. In other circumstances, I find her condemning the abuse cases, crime against women and generally the status of women in the society. This is how we are. We don’t see the connection between the two.

Image source: Huffingtonpost
Honestly, I don’t feel we can change the mindset of current and past generations because it has taken shape over a period of time, influenced by numerous factors. But, future generation? Yes, I think so. As parents of the future generation we have big roles to play in shaping their attitude towards women.    

At the cost of sounding politically incorrect, let me confess that I wanted a son because frankly, growing up as a girl has taught me enough lessons to understand that I would not be able to offer her the opportunities and freedom that she deserves. But it looks like I have bargained for myself a much bigger task. There is no wisdom in teaching your daughter to not get raped. It is more relevant to teach our sons to respect other [men or women] individuals, and their opinions and choices. And this calls for a certain mindset which needs to be inculcated right from the time they are born.   

Sure, our sons will learn a lot from the outside world but there are several lessons that begin at home.

Perception of women
I have a house help who is a chatterbox. She will discuss all her personal issues and her thinking at length. She is sometimes accompanied by her 10 year old son. I get extremely uncomfortable when she starts talking about how she sees women responsible for every man who strays, how she believes a man is right in hitting his wife if she does something wrong? Is it any rocket science to foresee how her child would grow up to perceive women?

Status of Women at Home
I am a stay-at-home mom by choice, and I take immense pride in it. I am empowered to take that decision and my decisions are respected in my household. Nobody tells me my job is to cook and raise children. My husband and I have chosen our roles according to what we wanted. I wanted to raise our son my way. My husband cannot imagine he could stay home without going out to work. For the record, I don’t cook. I know how to cook. I have trained my help to do that for us. But I want to save that time for our son and myself. The thing is when a child sees that women are respected in his home, he would naturally imbibe that as a reality.

Relationship between parents
A child learns a lot about relationships from the relationship his parents share. How do they address each other? How do they fight? Are they respectful towards each other and each others’ views? Do they make sexist comments? Do they put each other down?

The language we speak
Like the example I mentioned in the beginning, there are several examples of sexist comments that could pass our lips if we are not careful and aware. For example, you would find many men commenting on women drivers on the road. It is clearly stereotyping and completely unjustified.

Communication with them
At the end of the day, no matter how careful we are, our sons would go out into the big bad world. They would meet uncles who would say, “Why are you hiding behind Mamma? Are you a girl?” He would meet friends who would pressurize them to “be a man”. Only a strong bond with their parents can give them confidence to swim against the tide.

I feel we have the power to create a better future for our kids, but we need to remember that when we are raising sensible girls, we also need to raise sensitive boys.

Related Posts:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

When The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

“The days are long, but the years are short.”  ―  Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Though I am yet to read this bestseller, but I have often come across this quote. And I am sure you must have too [especially if you are on any kind of social media]. This quote comes back to me every now and then when I realize how fast my son is growing up.

It wasn’t too long ago, he wasn’t even there in our lives, and look now, our whole lives revolve around this person. It is hard to believe sometimes that the star of our lives, little D, is already 2!


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Pseudo-Expert

Recently, a friend [fed up of all the Facebook Shares that I do of my posts on Parentous, I am sure], raised his concerns about my ‘expert advices’. I will soon complete one year with Parentous, in December; and therefore, I take this opportunity to clarify that I have always been a contributor, never an expert.

If only, I had everything worked out in my mind, parenthood would not have been as challenging and as revealing as it actually is. He said, ‘for all the advices you dole out, who knows how your own son is going to turn out in future’. And he isn’t wrong. Frankly, I welcome [if not encourage] such comments because they help me take a step back from my situation and try to look at it objectively.




Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Brighter Side of this Diwali

Diwali is that part of the year when festivity is in the air. It is sort of a community festival. It is the only festival which we celebrate with zest. We are rather lazy in celebrating any other festival.

In this post, I am going to talk about the brighter side of this Diwali for me:

1. Books
You cannot avoid reading about books here, now can you? Well, the day we came back from our Rajasthan trip [just before Diwali], I had a bunch of books waiting for me [review books and one from Smita, gifted via Flipkart. Thanks a ton Smita for the lovely book J]. 
And that is how my Diwali began. But that’s not all. I ordered 2 more books for myself from Amazon because they had 50% offer going on some selected books. These two caught my eyes. Hope to read them next year!




2. The Corridor Wall

Image courtesy: Google
I am sure; those who have seen ‘Wake Up Sid’ will clearly remember this lovely wall from Konkona Sen’s home in the movie. I had fallen in love with this wall, and I was just waiting to replicate it at my home. I had done my corridor in a lighter hue of yellow, some 2 years back. Just before Diwali, I decided I should finally give it a try. 

I wanted to do something new for Diwali without spending too much. Well, the best thing about my husband is he is extremely cooperative in my creative pursuits. In fact, I would go on to say that usually I am the one who ideates, and he accomplishes. I had loads of cleaning to do, and yet I threw this idea on him. He had loads on his platter too, and yet he was extremely positive on this. The day we went for Diwali shopping, we also bought some wire from a hardware store on our way back. What was available was thicker than I wanted but I took it. I got the wire for Rs 80. Then we bought some brown chart paper for Rs 10. At night, the hubby drilled 2 nails on the wall, and wound the wires around it. It was not easy because the wires were quite thick and they are still not really sticking to the wall too much. I drew the birds and put them up on wires. This was also not as easy as it sounds. The process resulted in paints chipping off from many places owing to he adhesive. Those chip-offs have been camouflaged with the strategically placed birds ... ha ha!.

Here’s how the final thing looked [below]; all for below Rs 100 and some hard work. And the more I see it, the more I love it. There are several decals of wires and birds available in the market, but such raw feel appeals to me. Even all my photo collages are handmade from scratch. When you create something together, it has more meaning to it. 



3. Passing smiles

Money cannot buy happiness but it can bring some cheer to those who don’t have much. I do not really donate systematically. I give away money as and when I feel like it. But it looks like I should take it seriously now. Recently, I gave 100 bucks to an old lady who comes to pick up the garbage and she was so happy. I was thrilled but also embarrassed at the same time. I could have given her more. I realized how much we spend on a single lunch / dinner / coffee outside of home, which can otherwise add so much happiness to a person’s life. I think this thought is worth pursuing in the days to come.

On a lighter note, here is a conversation I had with my husband:
Me: Look, I think we should think about donating now in a planned way.
Him: Sure!
Image courtesy: Google
Me: To begin with, let us donate the money we spend on crackers from next year. It is so much better.
Him: Certainly, but that's just Rs 50!
[We don’t burst crackers, but hubby gets some every year in the hope that he would. Of course, I dissuade him before, during and after buying crackers. So, he never gets around to bursting them. This year, we got 2 sky lanterns believing they were eco-friendly but I just learnt that they are no less harmful for the environment. But I am glad I am passing on the message of 'saying no to crackers' to my son. He would say 'no, no, crackers!'].


4. Cleaning


If you know me, you would know how much I love cleaning my home. Cleaning is therapeutic for me. If I have time, the first thing I do is clean and organize everything. And Diwali brings the best excuse to do that. I completed a massive cleaning of the house, and loved every bit of it. The only thing that stopped me from going up the stairs every single time and getting into every nook myself was the toddler, who had to be held all the time as he was itching to get into trouble in all the cleaning frenzy.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Travelling With A Toddler: A Few Learnings

I know, several parents have already chronicled their travel experiences with kid/s here but I would still go ahead and offer my two pence on travelling with a toddler [mine is 2 years and 3 months old]. I am just back from an 8 day trip to Rajasthan. Barring the flights we took for reaching and leaving from Jaipur, rest all travelling involved road trips of long hours. We travelled to Jaipur-Pushkar-Ajmer-Jodhpur-Jaisalmer by road - one of the road trips lasting for as many as 10 hours! Had it been just the two of us, it would not have been as maddening as it eventually turned out to be. But sigh! You do and you learn. Not that I had not read hundreds of articles about travelling with toddlers but nothing can truly prepare you for the actual experience [much like having a baby].

Here are my learnings from this amazing trip on travelling with a toddler, which included air and road travel: