Category: letter

Plan, prepare, perform

Plan, prepare, perform

The great annual International Blogging Festival kicks off in another few days. Bloggers across the world will be writing, reading, sharing  and encouraging each other all of April. It’s like one big happy party. And I’m not going. Obviously I’m feeling a little sorry for myself – a bit like when I was invited to a party and all my friends were going and I knew it was completely ‘my thing’ but mum said I couldn’t go. Except this time there’s no mum to blame. It’s just me. I wish I’d planned ahead and I wish I’d scheduled my posts and I wish I could have joined in the fun.
But I didn’t and I can’t.
Here’s a lesson for you dear H and N. ‘Not again,’ I hear you groan, ‘Not another ‘lesson’ mama,’ I see you making quotes in the air, but this is a lesson not just for you but for me too and has to be reiterated. I promise to keep it short.
If you want something really badly, plan for it, prepare for it. If you do not, you’ve no business to feel sorry for yourself.
Spontaneity is fun but for the important things in life, preparation is the key.
It’s a bit like cooking. Remember the time we started off making cookies assuming we had all the ingredients and then got stuck because we ran out of butter. Oh we did go ahead but the cookies weren’t half as good as they do turn out normally. You remember that?
And then, N, you remember, there was the drawing competition on Independence Day a few years back? Many of your friends came to me asking for help with ideas. And they went home and practised. You’re good at art. I know that and so do you. So certain were you of your win that you didn’t give the contest a second thought. You knew you would do well. And you lost. To a girl whose art wasn’t half as good as yours but who was better prepared. Remember how she’d woven quotes on freedom in her drawing? The judges made a mention of that, I well remember. I also remember how you’d cried, heartbroken.
Heartbreak is a great teacher.
You did not forget. Next year you did prepare and you won too. How you’d jumped around in your happiness! That, dear girl, is proof enough, if you wanted any.
It isn’t enough to be smart or good at something. Preparation marks the difference between success and failure.
I hope you always remember that. I hope you remember that feeling of losing something that was so well within your grasp. And I hope you never let that happen again.
As shall I.
For this time I will watch and enjoy the fun. I shall blog hop to my heart’s content and cheer all my friends. It’s going to be one crazy, exciting month.
Oh and while on lessons – here’s anther one. Age doesn’t insure you against making mistakes. The good part is that nothing stops you from learning from them either.
Setting up a tradition

Setting up a tradition

Do you like to write letters? Have you written to someone recently? I mean the real, physical ones, on those dainty letter heads? I used to write plenty of them, once upon a time. Now with whatsapp and FB messenger and of course our mobile phones I hardly get around to it.
The more close we are to people the less likely we are to write to them. It seems just too formal, right? Perhaps that’s exactly why we need to write to them – a formal declaration, so to say, of our love or appreciation, a recognition of the many ways they make our life special just by being in it. Seeing it in writing makes it that much more real because it can be read and re-read and preserved, the happiness relived many times over.
Am I getting too sentimental? Perhaps! It’s the mausam to get sentimental, isn’t it? Tomorrow is Valentines’ day after all.
Back to writing letters – I’ve never written one to the children. I have often left notes for H and N, small ones – in their tiffins, sometimes on their tables but I’ve never written a full fledged letter. I write to them on the blog and hope they’ll read it someday but I prefer to have heart to heart conversations rather than taking up pen and paper – tweens are an impatient tribe you see. 
However in their tenth year I think it’s time I began a tradition – a tradition of physical cards/letters. I think there may soon come a time when conversations will not always be easy. A tradition of writing to each other may then come to our rescue. It is somewhat of a backup plan that I hope to put in place to make sure our communication never breaks down completely.
This Valentine’s Day I shall write out my very first ones. They’ll be easy to write for they’re letters of love, a great way to begin a tradition.
How about you joining me in writing one to your son or daughter? Or to any loved one – a friend, your spouse, your mum, dad, your roommate.
If you’re not sure how to go about let me share what I will be putting into mine. Well, not the actual letters of course, for those will be very personal, but a template of sorts. Take a look. I guess much of it is applicable to anyone you love.
1. I love you because…
you give the warmest hugs, the sweetest smiles
2. I love how you’ve grown to…
become more sensitive, more caring
3. I am proud of you when
I watch you sharing without complaining, when you talk of books you’ve read or facts you’ve picked up
4. I like how you take responsibility
to lay the table, to make your own breakfast
5. I know I can trust you to
be on your own at home, run errands for me
6. I notice the little things you do like…
switching off the lights, picking up trash off the society lobby
7. I love it when we…
read a book together, watch a film together, bake together
8. You amaze me..
with your insatiable curiosity
9. You make me laugh when you…
make your ‘cute face’, do your ‘happy dance’
10. The best thing about you is that…
you make friends so easily, you are quick to realise your fault.
There, that’s it. All you have to do now is get some paper and a pen and write your heart out.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Why I sweat the small stuff

Why I sweat the small stuff

Dear H and N,

You know as well as I do that mornings aren’t the best time of the day for us. The stepping out of that warm quilt, the quick shower, the scramble for the id-card, the rush to the bus-stop – not quite your favourite things. I know.
A lot of these things aren’t really mandatory at school – like the bath or the ID card. And yet I insist. No you cannot stay up late on a school night, you cannot stay home just because you are feeling lazy today, you cannot go without a bath and you have to put your towel out to dry, yes you have to wear your ID card every day and yes you have to make two ponytails.
“But my teacher doesn’t mind,” you had whined today. You have a point, of course. So why should we struggle and worry and pick an argument every morning?
No I’m not crazy, though you may not quite believe it yet.
Let me begin at the beginning.
I was brought up in a disciplined household where we were taught to respect rules, at home and in school. Like you, I didn’t always agree with my parents. Many days I scrambled for the bus. I trimmed my nails on the way to school, I cut up my ribbon to make the mandatory two ponytails when I forgot. And when I couldn’t ‘manage the situation’ I was prepared for the punishment aware that I was at fault. Not that I had a choice.
It’s tough, isn’t it? Doing it the ‘proper’ way all the time?
As I grew I learnt that it was okay to stretch the deadline, be a little late, bend the rules and then further I learnt it was okay sometimes to not be completely honest. Yes I learnt all of that and I did it too.
So, I hear you ask, when we have to grow up to live in an imperfect world why not begin to learn its ways right now? Why struggle to learn things we will need to unlearn later? It’s the easier way, the more comfortable one, after all.
Here’s why..
Imagine my mum had told me it was okay to tell a lie occasionally, rules don’t much matter and punctuality was useless. Would I, then, have even tried to do any of those things? How would I have even known right from wrong?
There lies the difference.
Each time I took the easy alternative I knew it wasn’t quite right. And I did try ever so hard to stick to the rules before I took up the other way. Even while I’m aware that I live in an imperfect world, I continue to appreciate and value a good habit, a disciplined lifestyle, an attempt at doing the right thing. The awareness of good and bad is the first step to striving for the good and it is my job to pass on this awareness to you, dear children, in as undiluted a form as I possibly can.
For now you will simply have to believe that the rules are there for a reason. In another few years you’ll be gone, studying and living on your own. I know then you will dump many of them. Do that, by all means, enjoy the freedom, stay up late, skip the bath, miss the bus. I did it too. What you do later in life, how you use your childhood lessons, whether you use them at all, will depend entirely on you.
I am hoping, however, that when you’ve had your fill of freedom, reason will return, like it did to me. I am hoping, as you grow you will see the wisdom of these age old values. Not all will stand the test of time and that is fine. You will question them and change them and make some of your own.
But when it comes to the really big things, I am hoping, you will know right from wrong and that you will find the courage to do the right thing.
I am counting on it.
That’s why I sweat the small stuff now – because often it is the small stuff that makes a big difference.

Love and hugs
Ma

Pic: PIXABAY

Of ‘well-meaning’ advice

Of ‘well-meaning’ advice

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dear well-wisher friend,

This letter comes after much thought and heartache. I’m sure you remember yesterday’s incident. The kids were playing together on the slide. Of course they are too old to slide the conventional way so they were inventing a host of games climbing up, sliding down, crashing into each other, creating a ‘jam’. There was some amount of roughhousing but they were having fun.

After a while we heard a commotion and by the time we got there N was in tears while H stood looking guilty. Apparently as he pulled her down the slide he twisted her ankle. Worse, her dress climbed up embarrassing her and bringing out the tears.

Yes I felt her embarrassment every bit as acutely as she did herself. After all she gets it from me – this feeling of wanting to disappear from the face pf the earth at the slightest unfavourable attention. Given that some of it was witnessed by a bunch of boys and girls, must have felt terrible. I know the feeling. I’ve been there – many times over.

I took H aside, gave him a talking to and sent him home.

However, I seemed to have failed you in your expectation. According to you I should have meted out a harsher punishment. No, it wasn’t enough that I speak to him later at home. I was too soft on him, you felt. He deserved a dressing down right there before his friends. He should have been embarrassed just as he had embarrassed N so that he would remember it the next time, you said.

I wholeheartedly agree H needs to be sensitive in the playground. I know he gets carried away in a crazy sort of way. I agree he needs to be punished. However I do not think shaming him in public is the way to do it. You may not agree of course, and that’s your prerogative entirely.

While you remain my friend and have known the twins for some time I’d like to remind you that I do know them a little better than you. I know what H did wasn’t done with the intention of embarrassing N while should I have done the same to him it would have been very much intentional, that, when I’m decades older than him and hopefully more sensible.

Also, you were not there to see that by the time we got home H had done both our beds, warmed the food, set the table and served us all dinner – his way of saying ‘sorry’. I also know that he may err again. I know it might take him time to turn into the perfect gentleman that I hope he will become one day. I am prepared to wait.

Meanwhile I’m happy to inform you that the incident has done no permanent damage to N going by the way she was wrestling with H this morning.

Your comments hurt me terribly, even though I am convinced I did the right thing. Perhaps that is because, of late, I’ve been on extremely rocky parenting ground constantly analysing each step I take till somedays I feel I feel I’ll go completely crazy. I’d truly appreciate if you keep your suggestions, however well-meaning, as I’m sure they are, to yourself.

Also, if you do have some serious advice, I’d love for you to say it to me directly, rather than saying it came from one of the kids because then I am more likely to take it seriously.

Thank you again for your concern.

OM

The truth about lies

The truth about lies

Dear H and N,

You remember the other day we were reading Matilda? The formidable Ms Trunchbull was yelling at her and Matilda tells a tiny white lie to save herself. You know what a white lie is, don’t you? It’s that small harmless lie that hurts no one but might actually save someone.

A question in your worksheet asked, “Did you think Matilda did right?” Both of you were in complete agreement with her, given that Ms Trunchbull was such a tyrant and she was but a child.

We talked about honesty and H, you were pretty accurate when you said, ‘If a lie doesn’t harm anyone, it is okay.’And N you had added, “When mamas tell babies to drink up their milk or their bones will break, it’s okay na, even though bones don’t ACTUALLY break if we don’t drink milk, right?’

Yes well you are right. 

Or are you??

Listen to this story before you make up your mind…

Imagine you have a friend; a special friend who is always with you. He talks to no one but you and no one can hear him but you. He’s a bit magical in that he always knows right from wrong. He has a problem, though – he cannot keep quiet when he sees any dishonesty – even the tiniest most harmless one. He’s a bit crazy like that.

Each time you are dishonest — even a tinny tiny bit, even when you’ve simply kept quiet when you might have spoken up — he bugs you and bugs you and bugs you till you feel really bad. Just when you are feeling relieved you’ve warded off a horrible yelling or a punishment he reminds you that you’ve done it dishonestly and makes you feel bad all over again.

And so you get angry and tell him to shut up. “I know it’s not the complete truth but THIS time it doesn’t matter. It’s just a tiny lie,” you say. But he doesn’t listen. “A lie is a lie,” says he, over and over again. Finally you’ve had enough and you’re so angry you tape his lips.

With each little lie another bit of tape goes onto your friend’s lips. 

Over the years it becomes a habit, this ‘shutting up’ your friend. His voice becomes more and more faint, till you can hear it no more and you’re lying without even thinking. You forget you ever had a friend. Finally there comes a time when you’re all grown up and you have a big complicated decision to make where the right and wrong is all mixed up and you cannot make out one from the other. “Aha!” you think then, “my friend can tell me, he has the magic that tells right from wrong”.

Then you remember, with a bit of regret, you’ve taped him up. “No problem,” you think as you start to painstakingly remove it all. Finally, the tape is off but what is this?? He still cannot speak. After years and years of silence he has lost his magic voice.

What do you do then? Of course, you might come to me or to papa but we might not be around by then. Besides, we haven’t been with you all along like your friend and may not have the right answers. What then? You’re quite stuck, right? It will be a hard hard task to teach your friend to talk again and by then it just might be too late.

We all have this friend inside us. It’s called the Conscience. The thing to do, dear children, is to keep your little friend up and fighting fit. Let him yell at you and bug you till he gets his way. Yes, he will make you confess you broke that plate, and get you yelled at too, but then he will also free you from endless days worrying about ‘what will happen when mama finds out?’. And that extra tight hug she gave you saying she was glad you owned up – totally worth it, wasn’t it?

Listen to your little friend with all your heart because honesty, complete honesty is, and will always be, the best policy.

Love and hugs always,

Ma.