Tag Archives: kids

Is there a ready formula for parenting?

It didn’t hit me at all while I was in the hospital. There was me. There was the baby in her crib. And there were these zillion people – nurses, friends, aunts, uncles, strangers – walking in and out of the room. It all seemed surreal. If I was expected to feel a rush of emotions brought on by motherhood, well, I did not. I felt sort of removed from the experience. And all I wanted to do was sleep away my fatigue.

After 5 days in the hospital, we were asked to go home. So we bid goodbye to the horde of helpful nurses. My mother insisting on thanking them all personally while I waited with the baby in my arms and my husband looked just as lost as me. Then we marched out of this surreal world. After days of being stuck in a dark room, it was good to see sunlight. I looked down at the baby in my arms. I saw her crinkle her face as the powerful sunlight hit her. Instinctively I hugged the baby.

And it was at that moment that it hit me.

I was a MOTHER. This baby was now MY responsibility. I had to protect her. I had to teach her to decipher right from wrong. I had to bring her up as a morally and physically strong individual. It was a mind boggling thought. Suddenly I felt frail, incapable and so so so scared. I cried.

My alarmed mother and baffled husband had no clue as to why I was crying. I don’t think even I could articulate why.

I think I know now why it was so frightening. It’s because there really is no set formula for successful parenting. It’s not like you follow a time tested recipe and viola! – it comes out right. I’ve seen remarkably wonderful people go wrong with parenting. And I’ve seen the most disorganized people raise amazing children. So what works?

Also, what works for my child may not work for someone elses’. I know that stern voice and yelling at my daughter will fetch no results. It will only get her to be more stubborn. So I have to keep calm and explain things to her. Always explain, explain, explain. Pros and cons. We have managed to lay one clear ground rule – if there are things you don’t want other people to do to you (like messing your bed, or throwing your lovely ironed clothes on the floor, or teasing you, or laughing at you when you fall down…) then you cannot do the same to other people. This seems to work for us – by and large. But I know that some kids need discipline drilled into them. They will not listen until you scream at them. There really is no one-size-fits-all formula.

A friend of mine has twins. A girl and a boy. Sure enough they are poles apart by nature. The girl is calm and mature and needs to be handled differently. The boy is simply hyper all the time. So she has to talk sweetly to the girl and slap the boy when yelling does not work. She goes crazy trying to balance this yin and yang in her life. There are people who are quick to judge and scorn at her ways of raising children. She loves the girl more than the boy they say – because she is always yelling at the boy. But I know for a fact that she loves them both dearly and it’s just that they both need to be handled very differently.

If I’ve learnt anything at all after becoming a parent – it’s to not judge anyone’s parenting methods.

I know only one formula that works when it comes to raising children. It’s called instinct.

 Instinct – is a mother’s magic wand.

Don’t let it get clouded by well-meaning advice that pours in, hearsay, parenting articles, real life incidents in other people’s homes and a zillion other frightening distractions. And you’ll do just fine.

When you are confused, wave that magic wand. Search within yourself. Your very own, unique, parenting formula will present itself to you.


‘Brazil! Brazil!’ - happened in Chennai recently. The show promised to be a sizzler.

It is apparently an award winning show and assured you of 90 minutes of raw energy, music, dance, athleticism and football. The hall was packed when we went in with great expectations. The audience ranged from over-enthusiastic 6-year olds to grumpy 60-year olds. Just our luck, we got seats behind a row of cranky, arthritic 60+ ladies. Each time my kiddo jumped up in childish exuberance, the ladies in front turned to glare. If we clapped they rolled their eyes. If our foot tapping knees knocked against their seat they almost opened their third eye… you get the picture, right.

All around us young girls shrieked and little kids yodeled. Why did we have to get stuck behind this bunch?

Anyways, that’s almost topic for another post. Right now, in this space, we talk about Brazil! Brazil!

The show began with a brief introduction to the group. They are a bunch of people who have overcome a troubled childhood and gone on to make something out of their lives. They gave us a history of why football is the religion of Brazil. There was robust singing, fabulous athletic dancing by hot bodied – shirtless men, along came long legged damsels shaking their assets, then came a lanky lad who handled the football like poetry. There was energetic samba and also a very vigorous, musical demonstration of their martial art form – Capoeira.

And then.

There was robust singing, fabulous athletic dancing by hot bodied – shirtless men, along came long legged damsels shaking their assets, then came a lanky lad who handled the football like poetry. There was energetic samba and also a very vigorous, musical demonstration of their martial art form – Capoeira.

And then.

There was robust singing, fabulous athletic dancing by hot bodied – shirtless men, along came long legged damsels shaking their assets, then came a lanky lad who handled the football like poetry. There was energetic samba and also a very vigorous, musical demonstration of their martial art form – Capoeira.

Yeah. That was all there is to it. While it was lively and even enjoyable to an extent, it really did not have any substance.

It made me think of the cultural richness India has.

There’s culture gushing out from every nook and corner. Be it music, dance, pottery, painting, weaving, costumes, fabric, jewellery making, folk art, folk dance, folk music, yoga… We’d never have this problem of filling up a mere 90 minutes with variety. Didn’t we just overwhelm the world with a spectacular 3-hour show at the opening ceremony of CWG?

What a pity that we run behind other cultures when there is so much wealth – right at our doorstep. And to conclude, while I don’t particularly like Shashi Tharoor, what he says here makes immense sense.  India will be a super power in the future. Not a nuclear power, mind you. But rather a soft, gentle, cultural superpower. I’m inclined to agree.

I hope that one day  every Indian realizes this.

Jai ho!

The cripple round the corner…

Just past our office building is this lane that links one main road to the city’s arterial road. The lane is bustling with two wheelers and pedestrians all day. And right there, at the corner where the lane connects to the main road, lives the cripple.

Let me pause here for a minute. In case you think this is going to be a tear jerker of a post…save those tears…

His home is a typical shanty – a little square box made up of various scrap materials ranging from cardboard, tin, aluminium, torn saris, jute sacks, plastic sacks and so on. But I wonder if he and his brood ever stay in that little box. Ah…his brood. You’ll find them spilling all around the place in various stages of nakedness – depending upon their age. The younger ones are usually as blissful as the day they were born. The slightly older ones in elastic-less chaddies. The even older ones in dirty, torn, oh-i-was-once-so-white, Rupa vests…and so on. They eat, play, hop, run, do cartwheels, crap, piss and sleep on the road. Turning into that lane is a nightmare for motorists as they have wean their way between the pedestrians who are in turn weaving their way around the kids spilling out at various points in the road.

Ok let’s forget motorists and pedestrians for a minute. Let’s look at the cripple. From what I can see his feet are lifeless. He drags them around with his upper torso. So then how did he produce such a brood of kids? I don’t have an answer really. Anyways, he’s always there on the road too. Looking busy. Doing nothing. Watching his battalion crap on the road and making full use of the facilities that the Chennai corporation has kindly provided.

His wife is a rather skinny lady who cooks, cleans, washes, and perhaps also bathes by the road. She looks bored and uninterested in her breed of kids. However she does seem to dutifully bear him one child every year (or more frequently if that’s possible). I think there are almost 10 already – though it’s hard to count with them drifting all over the place.

Apparently several attempts have been made to evacuate this chap. But no one seems to have succeeded. Grapevine has it that he has political clout and assures the ruling party all the votes in the region. But then governments come and go. Yet he remains. And he seems to do no work. So how does he feed his brood?

What really is his role and purpose in this world? What will his brood grow up to be? They will have no skills except being street smart. So I already know 10 goondas of gen next.  And well, if he is so powerful that no one can evacuate him, then why can’t he get himself a proper roof over his head? And maybe send his kids to school. Or at least stop producing more! He makes me uncomfortable because I don’t know where he fits in. He is not helpless, not poor…rather he’s  a sly survivor. What does one do with people like him? Do we laugh at him? Do we consider him a menace? Do we scorn him? Do we find ways to get him out of our society? Do we simply ignore him? Or, shudder, is there nothing we can do about him?

Mango king and pineapple queen

Last week was a friend’s birthday and it’s almost an annual ceremony with us to call each other up on our birthdays to yak. I lived up to tradition and we caught up on gossip – starting from our eccentric college professors to our kids growing up faster than necessary.

She, being a teacher, had much to tell me about adolescent behaviour these days. Kids have no respect and no fear for anything she insists. Their callous attitude is fuelled by the guilt of their working parents – who believe that their child can do no wrong. The teachers get yelled at by the parents for no fault of theirs. What’s more with this new grading system, she says, discipline has gone completely awry. The average students get away with high grades because they score more in sports and other extra curricular. They don’t even care to submit their projects on time anymore. And then the ‘good’, hardworking students get lower grades because they can’t seem to do anything other than mugging lessons. My cynical views of course did not go down well with her.

This new system requires a complete change in mindset of parents, teachers and students. Thanks to our current very academic based system – we have stopped giving importance to arts. I salute Mr. Kapil Sibal who has been bold enough to make these changes and face a lot of flak! But this hopefully will mark a positive change in our education system. Children are not mugging machines – rather they are individuals with several hidden talents. If the education system does not help them unearth these talents – then what will?

Bad enough our children grow up ahead of times these days thanks to all the exposure. I feel if we curb their natural skills then they will become muddle headed idiots. While they feel like singing and dancing their momma’s are sending them off to tuition classes. They get no playtime. No avenues to expend their energy. They start functioning like robots. They become mugging machines. But they are capable of so much more.

My friend does not agree.

She feels Indians shine abroad because they are so knowledgeable. I feel Indians are only capable of doing mechanical work that simply requires them to follow an established procedure. No wonder we are thriving in the IT industry. But where are Indians when it comes to sports and performing arts? We do not seem to excel in anything that requires physical application, imagination and creative manipulation.

It’s incredible how imaginative and creative kids are… Shoes worn wrong look like butterflies on the feet (ha… ha… bet you never thought of it that way!). Rainbows happen when God blows his nose after shedding tears of joy. (Ok this one’s a little gross – but think about it phlegm is coloured!)

I have great hope in today’s little iPod generation. They are way too smart. Ten steps ahead of us. Way too perceptive and mature beyond their years. Just the other day my six year old and I were discussing fruits. We said Mango the king needs a queen. We kept thinking of a suitable queen – I suggested pineapple as she has a crown. “No mom,” says my little one, “but she is so thorny. Then the king will never be able to hug her.” Err… point taken!

I hope this generation of smart, imaginative, perceptive kids…save the day.

Rat-tle Rat-tle Rat-tle

I’m a survivor. And I’m proud of it. Once I make a place my home, no broom can chase me away from it! I now reside at this office with my family. First there was just me – so the people in this office did not even know my existence. Then I met my lady love and I brought her to live with me. Our honeymoon was inside a cosy cardboard box in the kitchen of this office. But the honeymoon period ended too fast – if you ask me. Suddenly we were parents with five little, demanding mouths to feed. My wife and I were always hunting for more and more food. I must say the people in this office do bring yummy food – they leave bits of it in the kitchen. I also found some biscuits in another room. The kids ate it all!

With kids growing – the people in the office felt our presence. What a nuisance that is! Now that the kids are teething – things are worse. They go berserk at night and nibble at everything. And then…you know…they just happily crap and piss everywhere. Although my wife and I keep instructing them to use just one corner for their ablutions…they are kids afterall. They are not able to control themselves. They love to go and crap in one corner of one room. Now this corner belongs to one particularly annoying woman in the office. She comes to work each morning and then complains about the mess “these horrid rats make”. Humph…calling my kids horrid. The cheek of this woman! Then she cleans and cleans her table with all kinds of things. Dusts her chair and wipes her idiotic box with a screen with some solution. Her cleaning ritual each morning lasts 30 minutes. I wonder why she bothers to clean so much. I don’t thing we are such dirty creatures. I don’t like this woman at all – so all of us make it a point to go crap in her corner each night. Let her clean it all…hee… hee…hee.

When this woman screams and makes noise they keep rat traps for us in the office. Once they kept a black lump of something at various points in the office. The kids went to eat it. But I told them not to. We threw it all out. The next day the office people came and searched for those lumps. They thought we had eaten it all and were imagining that we were all dead by now. Aha! Trying to poison us. I did smell a rat there (pardon the pun)! The next morning they were appalled to find more files and papers bitten. The corner woman had more crap to clean! The office people were perplexed! They could not understand how we could eat the poison and not die! Ha…if only they knew.

Then one day, one of the kids was sighted inside his bedroom – the humans call it a drawer. I hiding in my chamber – they call that the AC. I saw the corner woman react – she screamed and jumped on top of the chair. Silly woman! I thought it was usually the other way round – rats were supposed to be scared of humans – right??? Anyway my baby was smart – he jumped out of the drawer and ran out of the room before anyone could catch him. One of the men chased him with a plastic bag in hand – claiming that he is an expert rat catcher. But I’m proud to say my little one escaped. Sigh…kids grow up so fast, don’t they. I guess my kids don’t need my support already.

Then they tried to keep traps for us. They brought these evil looking boxes and put yummy smelling vadas inside. At night the kids made a dash for it. But I’ve seen these things before. The humans call it a rat trap. I stopped my kids from entering the box and then removed the vada myself and gave it to them. As a thank you note to the humans we all crapped inside the box. I mean what else can we rats do to say thank you, right?

Oh and they tried the trap for many days. Sometimes with tasty vadas, sometimes coconuts, sometimes chapatti. Kids enjoyed the feast really. Each day we ate it all and crapped more and more. Kids got healthier. Now they are able to chew through thick files too. And they can hunt for their own food. Meanwhile my wife is expecting again. So we’re getting ready to expand our family.

I must stop rat-tling and get into my room now. I hear the corner woman come in. And I must tell you, she’s not going to be happy when she sees all that crap on her table. We really had too much to eat last night. Er…I’d better run…

PS. posted with the aid of the crap cleaning, paranoid corner woman at the office.

Dear Rain God,

I’m a big fan of yours. In fact I’m in love with you.  I cannot imagine life on earth without you.  I always wonder how you look so dark and grey and angry and yet when you send down those showers it is so calming.

Having said that, I now come to you with a strange request. I wish you would stop raining in Chennai just on Friday and certainly on Saturday. You see its my baby’s birthday and we plan to have a party on the terrace. I’m sure you understand why having an indoor party for kids is tough – i mean, just imagine having to shove 22 hyper children into a room?! It’s the psychological equivalent of leaving 22 merry bulls in a China shop – so to speak.

People say, why not rent a premises. I don’t want to do that – because:

a) these venues are time bound and I do not want to keep looking at my watch all through the party

b) they offer a fixed and boring menu – so  can’t fit in stuff that my baby likes

b) the theme parties that these places host are rather sad…not my style. If I have original ideas, why not use this opportunity to implement it?

So that’s the reason my heart is set on the terrace. But if it rains – it will all be damp squib. Please please please be nice and don’t rain just on those two days.  I love you and ask so little of you. In fact, usually I’m the first to say rain rain come again…

I know that if push comes to shove I will be able to hold an indoor party. But my heart is set on an outdoor one.  And my heart wears blinkers! If it decides on one thing its so so so difficult to accept an alternative. Don’t blame me for it. You’ve got to have a chat with Brahma on this one. It’s a fault in the creation process. Not mine!

I also don’t like to offer bribes to get things done. You know how people say I will break 10 coconuts or I will do this abhishekam or that. I say, if God’s take a bride then why not politicians! So no bribe. But here are some things that could earn me brownie points:

a) this one’s gonna be a totally eco party. No plastic (except the chairs ). Good for earth and of course good for you!

b) all the return gifts are eco-friendly and they have all been bought from charity organizations. The proceeds of these will go towards special needs children

c) like every year, this year too i will donate one whole day’s meal for children in an orphanage.

….No I don’t do all this to impress anyone. I do it for myself – simply because I want to. And because it makes me feel more human. I do not announce it. But I had to tell you – just in case it helps you change your mind.

So well, please consider this an appeal from an ardent fan/devotee/mother…and please don’t rain on Friday and Saturday. Please.


Yours truly,

A desperate mom