Let’s talk and not hush..

So, what were me and my teen son discussing today? Banning of the condom ads in the primetime! Guess what, the discussion was initiated by my son. He was reading an article on his WhatsApp and that’s were we both started having this discussion. He discussed how as a country we were hypocrites where the population explosion was a reality, where sexually transmitted diseases was a reality, where unwanted pregnancies was a reality, yet we don’t want to discuss sex or contraception.
I told him that discussing all this was still a taboo in our country! Parents feel that discussing about contraception or sex will pollute the young minds, people believe it will ruin our “culture”! Parents cannot watch such ads with their children as it embarrasses them, even grown-up married children can’t! Sex is still considered “dirty”!
My son was totally exasperated and hoped that my generation of parents will bring the change. I was happy that a country where the adults are still prudish about watching or talking about condoms and contraception, my teen son viewed it from a totally different angle. May be we can tone down the ads, but again pretending as if sex or procreation doesn’t exist and that these ads will have adverse affects still reeks of hypocrisy..

Traveling with kids..make it easy!

Often people believe life comes to a standstill after the arrival of a baby. They can’t go out, can’t travel, can’t have fun anymore! That’s not true! Of course, after the arrival of a child all programs or outings need to be accommodated and planned according to the child.

Me and my husband love traveling. Since my husband loves driving, we have taken many car trips too. These trips have included our kids as young as 7 months old!

When to take out a baby for travel is totally each parent’s choice. There are no hard and fast rules for parenting as every parent is different.

What I am sharing is my experience of traveling with kids at various stages and how to make the traveling fun and easy. These are just general tips and parents can modify according to their parenting styles and preferences:

  1. Don’t panic before your travel starts. Just go with the flow.
  2. Be flexible with the child’s food and food timings. One of the most common fears when traveling is not able to give the child his food on time or the regular food that he eats. Just relax. Your child will be absolutely okay if for a few days the timings go a bit haywire or if he has his milk twice instead of thrice. I believe that kids are pretty flexible that way.
  3. Carry extra clothes, diaper, bottle, nappy rash cream, wipes, few over-the-counter medicines for stomach issues handy in a bag when traveling with a baby. Just change the diaper every few hours. You can feed him at your will.
  4. Carry water, snacks, chocolates, etc. when traveling with slightly older kids. Don’t bother about the “junk” during holidays. After all holidays are meant to be break from the usual routine.
  5. When traveling in a car make halts at frequent intervals so that the kids can run around for some time, eat some meals, and enjoy the trip!
  6. Once my kids turned a year old, I never carried any food with me when traveling. They had the regular rice, dal, veggies, eggs, chicken, etc. that was available in the hotel. Of course, they wouldn’t eat too spicy things. They would even at the dhabas!
  7. Always book hotels which have kid-friendly activities. Kids have the best fun in the swimming pools. Most hotels have activities for the kids too depending on their age. Explore the surroundings too.
  8. Set yourself and your kids free once you travel! Let your kids also explore the new place. Don’t worry about when they wake up or when they sleep! We all follow a set routine throughout the year; vacations are meant to be “life without rules.”
  9. Always carry medicines for nausea and vomiting, headache, fever, antiseptic for injuries, chewing gums, Band-Aids. Keep a pair of clothes, a jacket handy for the children.
  10. Carry few board games when going for a long journey. Also for that time give some leeway to the gadget time.
  11. Tell them about the significance of the place that you are traveling. Also, talk to them and know about their perspective about the travel and the place.

Traveling is a lot of fun with kids, of course not without some crankiness or vomiting at times! But these are the memories that the kids do cherish for a lifetime.

No option but to stay strong

When I see, read and hear parents worrying to the extent of getting paranoid about their kids’ safety, I am reminded of how so many times I have, as a mother, kept my composure and stayed strong leaving everything to the hands of destiny and the Almighty.  I know many might find this unbelievable given the circumstances.

My son started with his education in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.  He was 2 years old when he started with a playschool there.  The playschool was a nice one and my son spent good 3 hours there with very loving teachers and friends.  He got to play and learn a few things too.  My son used to go by a van and it took 15-20 minutes from our home to the playschool in the van.  Being a hilly place, the way to his school had many steep and curvy roads.  One particular road had a very steep U curve, which if not maneuvered properly by the driver could lead to fatal accident.

One morning after we woke up, we got to know that a fatal accident had occurred on that U curve road.  A bus full of tourists from Gujarat had fallen in the cliff from that road and all tourists succumbed to that deathly fall. My little son went to his playschool from the very same route that day and all the other days to come.  I couldn’t stop his playschool because of this accident, could I?

As parents both me and my husband always used to worry, we still worry, but we also know that we cannot stop living or let our kids to stop living normally.  I have sent my kids for picnics and outings since the time they were in playgroup.  I would remain worried till the time they reached home safely.  I am still restless till the time my kids are back from school or my older child is back from his friend’s home or tuition or outing.

I know the world is not a safe place for kids.  So, what do we do?  Don’t we all wish that our kids would never be out of our sight, but is it really possible, is it really normal?  I may be a little less paranoid than many, may be a tad too practical, but I cannot let my fear make my kids paranoid or stop them from enjoying a normal life.  I cannot confine them to home.

Already the kids now know about murder, rape, molestation from a very young age.  They are taught to trust no one right from the time they can barely speak.  They already lose their innocence thanks to the way they are raised.

We have to stay strong, we have no other option.

The silent, strong supporters

The other day I went to attend a bloggers’ event.  It was almost an entire afternoon event and in Mumbai commuting takes up a lot of time, so I knew it would be late evening by the time I reach home.  My husband was traveling and hence I asked my kids to take care of themselves that day.  Being grown up slightly now and in a nuclear set-up, they are pretty responsible.

When I reached home, I saw that the washed utensils were kept in place and the clothes were washed in the washing machine.  My son had already left for his 10th tuition classes and my daughter was listening to music and studying.  These are the very kids who in my presence become so naughty!

Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed.  These two little kids of mine, who are my favorite muse for writing, have always been my source of encouragement.  The other big support has been my husband who had so many times worked from home to take care of the kids while I was away attending events.  Many would say that this is nothing great; a family is meant to do that!  But when you have such a strong support you do feel blessed.

I had my kids pretty early on in life, but I never for even one day, felt that I was sacrificing my life and happiness because of them.  I had raised them, still do, with a lot of happiness and love.  I expected nothing in return but I didn’t have to because my kids are supporting and encouraging my endeavors without being asked for support.

My husband even in the most stressful situations has asked me to continue to pursue what I love, writing.  A family which I have nurtured with love is giving me back the love when I require it the most.

Every moment of love, every gesture of encouragement and support counts.  I do have my three strong silent supporters always to give me that impetus!

Slow down son..

Sometimes I feel like cuddling my son in my arms and telling him just relax my boy! Wish I could turn back time and make you a toddler again where we would go to the park together, read stories together, fool around together. I would watch cartoons with you while we had lunch, I would take you to the karate class in the evening. Every evening you would go down to play with your friends sharp at 7.
Now those friends are grown up, some like you in 10th, some in 11th and 12th. Those bunch of boys fighting and laughing every evening have vanished, now they are seen in tuition classes or worrying about their future. Now I see you my boy working hard throughout the day and sleeping the minute your head hits the pillow.
Sometimes I feel like telling you bunk the class today and take rest. But you yourself won’t do that. Wish I could make you the cute, chubby 2-year-old again who didn’t have to slog and worry about the future. I know its inevitable and as a parent I wish the best for your future but looking at you working hard relentlessly without a break makes me think why did you grow up so fast?

Kids-the best teachers

We give birth to our children and are their first teachers.  Right from teaching how to latch to every big and small thing about life we impart knowledge to them, teach them.

But there are a lot of things that our kids teach us too!  Few things which we have forgotten as we have grown older and lost our innocence in the grind of life, things that we have unlearned thanks to the lessons that life has taught us.

Here are ten things that my kids have taught me and I truly wish I can imbibe and implement them:

1.  Love unconditionally.  Have you ever seen kids “not loving” their parents simply because something didn’t go down well with them or was not up to their expectations.  They might be angry for some time but never start hating you or despising you.  No matter what they always love their parents without any conditions attached.  Wish we could retain this value even as adults!

2.  Forget and forgive.  There have been days when I have been extremely angry and annoyed with my kids, have yelled at them, said them things that I shouldn’t have.  All moms have such days!  But that same child will come and hug you when you are crying because you yelled at them.  They will give you a kiss, wipe your tears, and hug you.  They don’t even remember that you had scolded them so bad.  Can adults do that this easily?

3.  Hold no grudges.  Again, its the same as forgive and forget policy.  Kids don’t hold grudges like the adults do.  They are innocent creatures who have a pure heart.  This purity starts vanishing as we start getting older.

4.  Question freely.  How many times has it happened that your kid has come up to and asked a question and totally stumped you?  They question the parents when least expected or a question that might throw the parents off-guard.  Their curious minds want to know answers and they come to the parents and ask them freely without thinking twice.  Somewhere this curiosity and free questioning is curbed by the parents where the parents tell the kids “not to ask certain questions or that they are asking embarrassing questions”!  As we grow up, we stop questioning like the kids do.

5.  Fall, laugh, and get going.  Kids fall so many times while playing, running around, fooling around.  They fall, might cry for some time, but again gather themselves and get going again!  They don’t keep on brooding about why they fell, where they hurt, or keep blaming anyone for their fall.  This is a thing that adults need to re-learn from their children.

6.  Dream without thinking about power, position, or money.  All kids at one point in their life want to become sweeper, engine driver, maid, cobbler, and such.  But once they grow up the same kids would never wish to be the same.  Why?  Simply because younger kids dream of doing something without giving any importance to power, position, money, or social status.  How innocent and pure..right?

7.   Be carefree and uninhibited.  Kids laugh, cry, fight, play without any inhibitions.  They don’t bother or worry about “log kya kahenge”?  Rings a bell?

8.  Make and accept friends without any bias.  Every child loves and accepts their friends without bothering about his religion, caste, food choices, and looks.  I have seen my son who is a hardcore non-vegetarian sharing a table with his Jain friend while eating or respecting if the Jain friend feels uncomfortable sharing the table.  No questions asked, no being judgmental.  A first ranker will be friend with a academically weak student.  Wish the world was like these kids, then we would have had no hatred anywhere.

9.  Trust everyone easily.  The kids are innocent and hence trust everyone easily.  But the adults are the ones who are responsible for making the children not trust people.  What do we teach kids; don’t accept food from anyone, don’t talk to any stranger and such.  But such is the world that we cannot trust our kids with anyone.

10.  Be happy in any situation.  This is a big learning from the kids.  They are happy in any situation.  They seldom compare their life to others like the grown-ups too.  We are unhappy even if we have many things in life as we start comparing our life to others.

Lets learn few things from our kids again and try to be happy and content!

Forgotten Hot Wheels and Barbie..

I was taking an inventory of the unwanted stuff in my home in order to declutter it. While doing so, in one of the drawers that I hadn’t touched for quite some time, I came across a few broken Hot Wheels cars and broken limbs of Barbie dolls. There was a time when my son was crazy about those little Hot Wheels cars and would collect them and my daughter fond of the Barbie dolls. Today I had to dispose them off as unwanted stuff as my children have outgrown that age.

Unknowingly, I had tears in my eyes thinking that my kids would never return to that stage again. Its lovely to see my kids grow up each day but at the same time I felt some stages of the children once gone never come back again.

There was a time when my son would wait for his birthday to be celebrated either at home or in McDonald’s where he would play with balloons, kids would collect chocolates after bursting the biggest balloon.  They would play musical chair and the child who got out would sulk or cry including my son.

Not long ago my daughter would buy everything in pink; from pencil to cycle.  I was fed up of her pink fetish!  Now she doesn’t even look at the color.

There was a time when both the kids would fight over the remote of the TV to watch cartoon, now that remote lies abandoned as neither of the kid is interested in watching cartoons anymore.

Each stage of the child needs to be cherished and stored as a treasure. Now the tastes and demands of my children have changed, but the fact remains that my son will never demand a Hot Wheels car again and my daughter will never ask for a particular Barbie doll.  There won’t be any birthday parties where the kids will fight for chocolates nor will my kids or his friends sulk over not winning “passing the parcel” or “musical chair.”

Raising fearless kids..

When my kids were toddlers, I used to wonder how I will approach them and tell them about “awkward topics” which many parents of our parents’ generation (not generalizing) labelled “dirty, adult, taboo”. Being an “Indian” girl raised mostly in small towns, it wasn’t easy for me or so I believed. When my kids were able to express and understand a bit, I told them about good touch and bad touch, how not to interact or accept things from strangers, not to venture out alone even with known people. I explained my son about menstruation, rape, sexual harassment over the years when I realized that he knew about this topics though couldn’t understand them completely. We have also discussed about sexual orientation and how its perfectly okay to respect ones choices. I have told a little about menstruation to my daughter who is 8 now and to an extent about sexual orientation as per her understanding.
When I discuss about these “awkward and uncomfortable” topics, I realize that its not as difficult as I thought it would be. Discussing these “facts of life” helps the parents as well as the children in many ways. I know the kids are curious about sexuality and opposite gender after a certain age; imparting them some insight would help them deal with the curiosities better. Boys will be able to respect the girls and their bodies and choices better and the girls will not be ashamed of their bodies and choices. They will be able to respect others’ sexual orientation and it won’t come as a shock to them.
Our kids can be alert and aware and not face the issues that many of us have gone through at one point or other in our childhood, which sometimes have left a deep impact on us, even as grown-ups.
I will keep on communicating to the best of my abilities..trying to balance my role as a mother and as a friend so that in the future my kids do not commit any misdeeds or have to suffer any…