Can I choose my child’s friends?

I am asking this in response to a similar question posed by R’s Mom. The concerns that she has raised are what I have had many a number of times as a mother myself.

While I do understand her point when she says that one cant control the friends one’s child makes, but what I do believe is that we, as parents can surely guide our children towards choosing the right friends.

Why I believe so is because I feel growing children are very vulnerable and innocent and if we dont keep an eye on who they befriend or who not, theres a chance of them swaying towards keeping the wrong company. Now I agree I cant be with my child, watch over her 24/7 but I surely can observe her behaviour, talk to her ANd make her talk, right? Yes I give her the right values, R & I always make sure that we behave ourselves in front of her as well just as we expect her to behave herself in front of us and everybody else. But. Many a times what I have observed as a mother of a 5year old is how a child has a tendency to pick the wrong actions or words much faster than the right ones. So if I can teach her how to differentiate between a good behaviour and a bad behaviour I can certainly help her make the right circle of friends, right? Thats the logic I apply when I observe who Namnam makes friends with or who she gets negatively influenced by. Yes she has every right to make the friends she wants, but I’d like to help her know if the friends she makes are genuinely right for her or no for the simple reason that at an age that she is, I feel that she needs that guidance from me.

I had this experience, last year- something that I have blogged about here– with one of Namnam’s classmates from her previous kindegarten who had been having a bit of a wrong influence on her.And it was only when I discussed the issue with her teacher that my concern could get settled. Of course, the fact that she came and told me and we could talk about it made a world of a difference to me in addressing that issue.

In a similar instance in the recent past, when a boisterous 5year old from our compound began to corner Namnam and exclude her from playing with other kids, even going to the extent of yelling ‘I hate you’ everytime Namnam came around to play, I adviced her, pretty sternly, that unless the girl said sorry, she was not to play with her or be her friend. Because quite honestly I felt ‘hate’ was too strong a word for a 5 year old to take in..atleast not yet. Thankfully Namnam took the right message out of it and stopped playing with her altogether. I’m glad she went ahead and made friends with other kids, not necessarily her age, some older and some of whom even younger than her, but far more sensitive and forthcoming. No I’m not saying that I chose those friends for her, but I’d like to believe that I helped her get an idea about who she would rather be happy being friends with.

I dont know if I have the right answer to the ques RM posed, but I do have an answer that seems to have worked well till now. And I hope it does so in future too, at least till the time Namnam is big enough to make her own choice.

This is one happy and grateful mother talking to you!

** The post had been lying in 4 separate drafts for the last two weeks and was taking forever to shape up because of a terrible writers block that I was going through. I feared if I didnt publish it anytime soon, then I’d never get around to doing it. So if at all you find the post incoherent apart from being ridiculously long, forgive me in advance ๐Ÿ˜€

When I was running around looking for a kindergarten for my child some months back, one of the primary things that I considered, besides the usual educational standards, the premises, the teacher-student ratio, the proximity, etc. was how well the school interacted with its pupils. Because for a shy girl like Namnam, it was very important to me that she went to a school that would help her to come out of her shell and mingle with other children more freely, that would help her become confident enough to handle different situations, that would help her tackle differences, if at all she faced with difficult and ill-mannered children, in the best way possible.

And I’m extremely glad that I chose this particular school for Namnam, because not only did it give her good values and education(and continues to do so), but it also helped her to bridge differences with a girl who had been snubbing her at every given opportunity.

It all started a few months back when Namnam’s teacher, Miss Y mentioned to me about this girl(let me call her RB) who had fiercely scribbled in Namnam’s book ruining the page beyond repair. Needless to say, Namnam was very upset that day and even went ahead and declared RB as a ‘bad girl’.

The teacher however assured me that she had reprimanded RB and that things were under control. But somehow Namnam was not convinced and every day she used to come back and tell me how RB always tried to poke or hit or beat other children. Thankfully whenever I asked her if she had ever been hit or poked by RB, she always said no she hadn’t. But she did point out that RB was always rude to her and even said once that she would ‘slap’ her. And I could make out from her tones that it was something that she was not very pleased with.

So I told her to tell RB sternly that if she didn’t stop being rude to her she would NOT be her friend. And if she still didnt stop then she should go and report RB straight to their teacher.

But Namnam’s stance that ‘RB was a bad girl’ remained unchanged.

Although RB’s behaviour bothered Namnam, I could sense that she was, knowingly or unknowingly starting to get influenced by RB. Which was evident when one day, Namnam,fleetingly remarked to me that if I didnt play with her she would ‘slap’ me! Even though I reprimanded her heavily and made her understand that such expressions will not be tolerated, I knew I had to bring up this issue with her school.

I had a heart to heart talk with Miss Y and I found out that RB behaved the way she did with not just Namnam but also with many other children from her class. Miss Y did assure me though, that she was taking necessary action to handle the situation and that children were under strict instructions not to interact with RB. She was categorically told that she would not be allowed to talk or play with others unless she mended herself.

The school’s method seemed to have had the desired effect because soon after I observed a softening in Namnam’s tone whenever she spoke of RB. She started talking about wanting to make a drawing for RB along with her other friends.

Last week it was RB’s birthday wherein she had got gifts for all the children in her class. And when I went to pick Namnam up from school, a very elated Miss Y told me that RB had declared to everyone that Namnam was her ‘best friend’. Miss Y and I had a good hearty laugh at the absolute change in dynamics!!

Later when we were back home, Namnam told us with a wide smile that RB had said sorry to her :). A very touching gesture by RB, I thought.

Today morning when I was getting Namnam ready for school, she said to me, ‘you know mama, RB was a bad girl but now she is a good girl and always my friend.’ I was immensely happy to see this complete overturn of stance! It was heartening to see a new friendship blooming.

And I have noone but the school to thank for this. The way the school handled the girl and eventually mended her made me realize how important a role, being in the right school, plays in shaping a child. I realized how important it is for schools to recognize the underlying behavioral issues of children which many a times get overlooked. I know this situation could not be clubbed under bullying but if the school had not addressed it in the way they did, it could have turned into a case of bullying which further could have had a negative impact on both RB and Namnam.

I strongly feel that

a school should not just strive to give good education, good manners and values to its children, but also strive towards giving them a secure and safe environment to bloom.

And I pray and hope that my daughter is always blessed with such a school.

Homesick still, am I??

Oh yes I am! Very. Even though we came back from a month long vacation on 14th, I’m yet to unpack or make my mind up fully to settle back into the routine.

Surprisingly Namnam switched over to her routine instantly. Here I was thinking she would take weeks, and she surprised me by adjusting back much faster and easier. The very day we arrived, she looked around the house, and said with a gleeful smile, ‘ I’m happy to be home’.

And this is not the first time. Every time we are back from our vacation I expect her to get cranky and moody, each time she proves me wrong. Maybe she is still small and yet to reach the stage where children become attached to a certain routine or surrounding and take a while to accept any change away from that. Or maybe I should just stop underestimating my child.

Whichever be the case I’m glad she has adjusted well and now I just have to handle my cranky, moody, lazy self to come to terms with my domestic routine!

Our trip was a mixed bagful of experiences. With lots of happy and memorable moments and some not so…

Namnam is always the most excited to reach Delhi and this time also she made the most of her stay there.

She made loads of friends with whom she spent some wonderful time, playing ‘eye-spies’, badminton, reading books, and learning hindi. The sparkle in her eyes was hard to miss whenever they used to come calling her out to play.

Namnam finally got to know what ‘getting wet in the rains’ was, thanks to some heavy showers graced on us while we were there. Both she & I got drenched to our heart’s content, not once, but twice.

The best part of our stay was that all of us were in town around the same time. My parents, father-in-law, brother, R’s brother and his family. We could meet up with everyone this time around.

Another high point of my trip was when Smitha & I met along with our two imps, of course :). It was an amazing experience. And what was even more endearing was to see how well Namnam & Poohi got along with each other. Truly one of the most memorable moments for me.

The not-so-pleasant moments, that I mentioned earlier, came by when Namnam fell ill with high fever and had yet another bout of febrile convulsions. I hated every bit of those three days that she was in the hospital. I felt utterly foolish because I had not carried her suppository or syrup as I thought she was well past that phase. But I was clearly wrong in my assumption. As per the Pediatrician, children who are prone to Febrile convulsions are at risk till the age of 6.

And then there was the unfortunate news about IHM’s daughter. Its truly inspiring to know that she and her family have decided to channelise their sorrow towards positive direction. May God give them the strength to stay positive and take forward the causes that Tejaswee believed in.

With this let me sign off for now….leaving you with this beautiful song and heartfelt wishes for a year filled with love, happiness, good health and prosperity.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Onam :).

A Note of Thanks..

To Bloggers Premier League(BPL) & the judges of BPL for choosing my article Who Tires Faster as the best in the category and honouring me with this award. - Bloggers Premier League

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m honoured ๐Ÿ™‚

Even though this was a boring topic, I knew it was one that I would immensely enjoy researching for as I had a reference point right at home in my husband who has been in the media industry for more than a decade. So a BIG thanks to him.

I also want to mention a journalist friend with whom I had a casual discussion about this topic a couple of days back which helped me a great deal in writing this article. So Sindhu, thanks to our talk the other day I got some valid points and links to refer for my post. Thank you for that ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re participating in a contest as a team, no win is complete without your team-members. And here I mention the 7 pillars of my team who helped me put my article together in our e-mag which we created for this particular round.

Ritu, Manna, Vibhuti, Deepak, Bik, Meghana & Karthik, a heart-felt thank you to each one of you and loads of hugs for being such wonderful teammates. Believe me it was immensely inspiring to be interacting with each of you. We may not have won this contest but we surely have found some great friends in each other :). And that’s the greatest win of all, right?? So here’s to friendship!

Last but never the least, Thank you ever so much to Lakshmi Rajan & his team at Cafe Ginger Chai for this opportunity called Bloggers Premier League. Because of you, I not only made some great friends, but got a chance to read a wide array of awe-inspiring posts. It was a revelation to come across such amazing bloggers spread across the blogosphere.

With this I end my acceptance speech post. Hopefully will be back with another one in the next season of BPL, this time with my team-members for winning the contest ;)!

Here’s wishing all the luck to the three playing teams for the upcoming rounds. May the best team win ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: Here’s the link to our ezine Where Time Flies which has got us the award for Best Magazine. Yayyyy!!