Learn a li’l something everyday- Day 2

My blog has been lying low for a very long time. When I realized that, I thought the only way to keep it from dying a slow death was to pose a challenge to myself. I challenged myself to post about anything or something that I came across and learned from on a day. Hopefully everyday. It could be a thought, a gesture, an experience, a recipe or even a person that could be a source of my learning. I must admit that this idea of learning sprang up after I saw a friend’s updates on Facebook where she dedicated every single day of last month to one of her friends with a post, where she shared tidbits of each of her friendship and what she learned from each of them. I found the gesture way too beautiful to not imbibe. Now lets see how far I succeed in learning. And posting.

Yesterday, in fact, I did get a good learning from Namnam, which I had full intention to write about. But as is usually the case, the moment I logged in to the page and got around to writing, I ended up rambling about something entirely different!

So let me share what I learned yesterday, today. I learned that being a parent doesn’t essentially give her/him the right to assume that the child is always wrong vis a vis  the parents. What makes me say so? Well, here’s why.

So like every weekday, my yesterday morning kicked off with my alarm going off at 5, followed by me turning it off to toss & turn back for an extra half hour of sleep, then springing back up to sprint-perform my morning ablutions and running down to the kitchen to get packing Namnam’s lunch-boxes. When I finished sorting all boxes I went to get her lunch bag and her water bottle which is normally kept in the shelf. They weren’t there, which had me promptly assume that she must have forgotten them in school or probably left them lying in the car if she did remember to bring them back. I went to check inside the car but didnt find anything. Came back in, all charged up to give a big lecture about being more responsible and less forgetful. The usual jargon. Anyway, I packed the boxes in another bag and kept another water bottle for her to take.

When I asked Namnam about the missing bag and bottle, she refused to believe that she could be so forgetful. She was sure, as sure as eggs is eggs, that she had brought them back in. But she didnt have any choice but to acknowledge that her mother’s assumption of her was right, did she? Afterall, between the two parties- parent & child- its always the parent who can never go wrong, who can never be absent minded, right? Yeah, she was being drilled just that when I gloated on my fleeting assumption. So she nodded her head when she was sternly told by me to check for her belongings in school and headed out to start her day.

I got back to my morning chore of cleaning and dusting with the gloat sitting well on my face still! I strutted around the room with my broom in celebration when my eyes fell on the missing bag and bottle lying in Namnam’s room. There they were cackling and mocking me for my oversight! I had clearly misjudged my girl. Not once did it strike me to look in her room. I had clearly been the more absent-minded of the two parties.  I had half a mind to use the broom in my hand to hit my head! But fortunately or unfortunately I already had a niggling back pain poking at me for 2 days and making my life hell already. So I decided to spare my head just in time.

In the evening when I told Namnam about the day’s learning , another round of cackling ensued, even louder. This time of a 9 year old!

Rambling #14- decoding the F-word, the dilemma of it all

This again is more like an introspective post like many of my other posts where I seek an answer to my confusing thoughts as a parent. Now before I begin I must mention that I am one of those parents who believe in being honest and truthful to their kids, especially when it concerns their growing curiosities. I don’t like covering my child’s curiosity or doubts howsoever uncomfortable they may be with a garb of lies. I’d rather explain things to her in as appropriate for her age as possible than cook up some stories which may stub her curiosity for the moment but later on  confuse her even more if and when she comes across a finding far closer to the truth.

She and I have had chats about breasts, about giving birth and such in the past. And yet, recently when she wanted to know what the F word stood for, I found myself evading the question. I dont know if evading would be the apt term. Rejecting would be more like it I guess. I refused to tell her what it stood for and also told her in clear terms that she was not to utter the word ever to anybody. She was quick to reply though, “How will I utter the word when I don’t even know what it stands for, Amma?”

I personally am dead against mouthing cuss words. Probably because of which I panicked when I realized that my daughter was getting exposed to them and I couldn’t possibly have any control over it. Having said that, I must admit though that I did enjoy the AIB roast. But that’s besides the point 😛

Anyway, it got me mulling over and a bit critical about my own method of tackling the situation. I have been wondering whether it would be better that I deciphered it for her and explained what it meant, than letting her learn about it from elsewhere. I did ask her whether her friends from whom she got to know about ‘the word’ knew it themselves to which she said that even they were as clueless as her. To make me ponder further, the other day she came up to me asking whether raising the middle finger meant ‘that F-word’. I blurted a quick yes and left it at that. 

And now I am seriously pushed to think whether I should just decode the word to her. Should I or shouldn’t I? Frankly speaking I cannot afford to have her thinking that she cannot come to me whenever her curious mind seeks answers. But at the same time I’m not sure whether she is at the right age to know the answer yet..

february ramblings

Where we talk about breasts!

That is as forthright as I’m going to get.

Recently, I had a good talk with my 6 year old curious mind about, you guessed it, breasts.

We had just wrapped up playing a round of snap. I was gearing up to get on with the rest of the day’s chores, when Namnam came to me for a cuddle, and burst out laughing while trying to peek into my shirt. This went on for two to three times. Each time she hugged, she would look at my breasts and start laughing.

I asked her, “What happened, Namnam? Why are you laughing?”

She said, “Nothing”.

I asked her again, “What is it, tell me?”

Again, “Nothing”.

I keep my cool, laugh with her and ask her again, “Is it some kind of a game you play?”

She said, “Yes. I am laughing at your ‘this’ (pointing to my breasts)”.

I knew then and there that it was time for one of those talks.

She obviously didn’t know what ‘this’ was called so I decided to introduce the term to her and said with the smile intact, “Yes, THIS is my breasts”.

And continued, “So what game is it that you play?”

That’s when she divulged that she and her friends played this game where they would show off each other’s ‘breasts’ and laugh.

Now, 6 years of parenting have given me a lot of instances to learn how a child’s mind works. Of course, I’m not yet adept at grasping their minds..I’m still learning though. However it doesn’t alarm me anymore when I hear of all the games kids of today indulge in. I had even blogged about one such game here.

So I won’t be lying if I said that I was expecting to be faced with a situation when my kid also might come across a game of this sort at some point of time. And although I have known that there may not be A right way to address such a situation, yet as a parent it would be in my hand to address it in as apt a way as possible.

So..coming back to our talk, when I learnt about this game that Namnam played with her friends I realized that if I had to ensure my child didn’t get any wrong notions about things as basic as parts of her body, I would have to explain things to her in an appropriate and frank manner.

I told her that breasts were as important a part of our body as any other. So they were not something to be made fun of, but something a woman should be proud of.
I said that I was proud to have them because they helped me make her, my baby, stronger when she was born. I went on to tell her her how I used to breast feed her and continued feeding till she was about two. To which she asked if she could be fed like that even now. I explained that breast milk would not be enough for her anymore since she was big now and in need of healthier and more nutritious food..
I said that, she would have them too when she is bigger and when she does, she too must be proud to have them. I told her that one day she may also breast-feed her babies. Her instant reaction was, “Babies? Noway! I will have just one baby…ONE!!” 😀

Well….anyway, I, then reminded her of the conversation we had had once about baby-making. And she remembered all that I told her about how and from which part of me, she was born. It gave me a good chance to remind her that genital area was another important part of her body which she had to guard extremely well. I went on to explain how she must take care of each and every part of her body, not let anyone touch her inappropriately. I was happy to realize that she remembered and agreed with that bit.

I don’t know how well she registered all that I said, but I felt nice to have been able to explain things to her openly. Because this way I could cover topics which were otherwise considered taboo and sensitive, make her understand that she didn’t have to ever feel hesitant or embarrassed to talk about them with me or her father.

This little talk that we had is not such a big deal..yet. I know that. The day is not far when her curious mind will come up with a lot more detailed queries and then I will have to be ready with equally detailed answers. But what this conversation has given us is a good grounding for any future tackling of sensitive issues with frank and open discussions.

I have seen that, when it comes to talking about serious issues like sex, body parts, etc. a lot of parents cringe at the slightest possibility of clarifying their little ones’ inquisitive minds at work. And frankly I didn’t want to be one such parent.

I remember reading in a book on parenting where it was advised that if parents adopted the practice of referring to body parts, especially the genital parts, as their actual terms, instead of substituting them with cute names like “wee-wee” or “mee-mee” when talking to their babies from early on, then it would go a long way in doing away with the stigma attached towards sex or such taboo subjects.

I quite liked that advice, to be honest.

The more you charade words with cute alternative names, the more you build a taboo around them, the more you mislead and confuse your children.

Whereas the partcular practice adviced in the book would help in building a great level of comfort, openness and honesty in the way children and their parents communicated with each other.

I feel that kids of today are exposed to things a bit more explicitly, than the kids of years gone by. So the least we, as parents of today, can do is encourage them to express their doubts or curiosities openly with us, so that they never get misled into drawing wrong conclusions and interpretations, right?

Competitive, to be or not to be!

*Yet another long post, looking for answers*

Frankly I dont know how to address this. This is something that has been gnawing at me for quite a while. A bit too much lately.

Namnam has been a girl who has never cared much about winning or staying ahead of her peers and I have been a mother, I admit, who has never really tried to change this attitude of hers. It has largely taken form because she has always been told to simply care more about giving her best and being satisfied with her own performance than worrying about performing better or worse than other children. Thus she has been in a very secure zone without cowing under any kind of performance pressure.

Yes there have been times when she has not been able to give her best, but she has never let that bother her much. In fact there have been quite a few times when her friends have surged past her, and she has genuinely felt happy for them. At such occassions, she has focused more on bettering herself the next time than whining about not scoring over her friends. And it makes me immensely happy when I see her so secure about herself. Because I have seen many children taking rejections in a very negative manner. In fact at times when Namnam has performed better than her peers, I have seen them bawling their lungs out, making a big hue and cry out of it making my child wonder if she had done anything wrong by faring well!

Now as her mother I too have not given ‘being one step ahead of others’ much importance. As long she gives her best in whatever she does and comes home completely happy and satisfied I haven’t felt the need to fret about who performed better or worse than her. Winner or not, I’m proud of her, have always been, will always be.

Two days ago, I met up with some friends and while talking, our discussion moved towards the common topic of letting our kids participate in events and competitions. And one of my friends just casually mentioned that she had stopped enrolling her daughter for competitions for the simple reason that she didn’t win any prizes in any of the events!

Which made me wonder if it was really so important to win! I mean, isn’t taking part in a competition or any event, in itself a reason enough to let your child participate?

I understand the whole grind of assembling things required to prepare your child for the event, not to forget the time and energy invested in it is not an easy task and it can be disappointing when the efforts do not yield desired results. But to look at the flip side, the participation could give your child more exposure, gain him/her more confidence in him/herself, teach him/her to face rejection and emerge stronger.

This is the reason why I avoid getting worked up over how well Namnam performs, be it in school or elsewhere. And when I see Namnam confident and secure about her own capabilities, I find it all the more easier to handle.

But….

(Sigh, if only there weren’t any ‘ifs and buts’, life would be so much more sorted!)

But, lately I have been sensing that this attitude of hers might be making her lax, making her lose the will to perform or even win for that matter.

Recently while driving back home after Namnam’s swimming class, R and I pointed out how she had to improve further on her kicks and get better at her speed, to which she immediately replied, “Oh but P is anyway always faster than me!”. This reaction of hers gave us a jolt, making us realize that she was resigning herself to a state of being lesser than her batch mate. Which made us wonder if she was showing signs of giving up on herself.

Now I have no qualms in accepting that P may be better than my child. I know that every child is different, his/her strengths are different, capabilities are different. So if P fares better than Namnam, then it is also true that Namnam is better than A, K or B. What worries me however is when I see her devaluing herself and this when she knows that she is capable of far more than her peer.

Today, like most of the days I am confused as a parent. My mind is swaying in dilemma. Does the answer to my concerns really lie in teaching my child to be more competitive? Be more aggressive? How do I get her to value herself? Do I now start telling her that winning IS important?

Yes. I think I need to do just that.

No I don’t want to instill in my child the obsession to win at any cost! No! But I also don’t want her to think any less of herself than her peers, which may eventually give way to low self esteem. So I need to tell her to change the way she thinks..

I need to tell her to stop believing that A, P, or K can fare better than her and start believing that she can.

I need to tell her not to give up on herself.

I need to tell her to learn to face dejection and then focus on succeeding the next time.

I need to tell her that every time she thinks low of herself, her actions and performances will be that much slower.
But each time she believes in her abilities, she will be driven to give her best that much more!

I need to tell her to change the way she thinks.

Look at me! On one side I am chiding a friend’s for her overtly competitive streak and on the other I am talking about instilling the very streak in my child.

Is the mind any more sound now?

No..

My mind is still full of conflicting thoughts, still incoherent…

Did anyone say parenting was easy?