Category: Tweens

That warm cup of tea

That warm cup of tea

A few weeks ago during the kids’ exams as we sat struggling with Math problems, I got a call from a friend/associate. He needed copies of some official documents – quite a bunch of them, actually.

If there’s anything that stresses me out more than math problems, it is paperwork. The mere sight of forms to be filled and documents to me signed sends me in all kinds of petrified panic.

As if those percentage problems weren’t bad enough I had to now, not only locate the entire bunch but also scan them/copy them and mail them. I went into a tizzy opening and closing drawers, rifling frantically through my wallet looking for IDs, bills and lease agreements. I found them all  – except one. I was sure I had it as a soft copy in my inbox but despite several searches I couldn’t locate it.

As panic kicked in well and truly I ran all kinds of searches, cursing the wretched paper work, the idea of needing soft copies, at my cleanliness drive (during which I assumed I’d deleted the said document), at my lack of computer knowledge, at the man who invented computers and at the Husband (of course, always the Husband).

And then…..

…. there appeared a cup of tea at my desktop. On a tray. Along with my evening biscuits.

“Mama,” said N, “I made tea for you.”

As I sat back on my revolving chair I felt the panic ebbing and began to feel really really stupid for over-reacting and for needing my ten-year-old to bring home the fact.

And I was grateful and a little at awed at how grown up N sounded. I was amazed at how she’d read my panic and did what she thought best to help. I realised I don’t say ‘thank you’ often enough for this daughter of mine.

After that tea, the situation didn’t seem as desperate at all. I called up the Husband (yeah the same one I’d been ranting at) and of course he had a copy of the document.  Also, as I discovered the documents weren’t even as urgent as I’d imagined in my stupid state of mind.

Do you ever get panic attacks? You’ll know then, how overwhelming they are. It cannot possibly be good for the children to be witness to them. Once logical thinking returns I find myself feeling sorry for putting them through it all. It might not have anything to do with them (like in this case) however with just the three of us at home and nobody to diffuse the tension, the entire house seems to be on an edge till I cool down.

It’s not right, I know.

Unfortunately we cannot control ourselves all the time. Nor can we avoid the kids being part of the mess. So how do I teach the children to handle their stress if I cannot even handle mine? Sigh. Another one of those parenting toughies!

The only thing to do, is to learn from your slip-ups and to teach as you learn; to talk about it once you’re sane again, accept that you overreacted and discuss ways in which you could have handled it.

While I do all of that I continue to be grateful that the children are becoming sensitive to my stresses and hope they learn to extend the sensitivity to everyone around them.

Linking up with Nabanita’s #MommyTalks

Mackenzie at Reflections from Me.

Of growing children and social etiquette

Of growing children and social etiquette

We’re on our annual visit to my hometown. As we walked out of the airport we were met by our driver, who has been with us for a long time. He greeted us with a loud Namaste! and followed it up with a, “Mashaallah, bachhe kitne bade ho gaye hain.” (My Goodness, how the children have grown). To my complete surprise and his (even greater) shock the twins promptly bent down and touched his feet. (If you didn’t know this, in India that’s a way to show respect to  elders). Of course it would have been perfectly fine had it not embarrassed the poor fellow out of his wits.

It’s strange, this transformation the children undergo here each year. Back home they need to be prodded before they deliver their dutiful ‘Hello Uncle’ and ‘Good Evening Aunty’ but here the namastes come pretty quickly and they don’t think twice before diving at everyone’s feet.

I’m not complaining. I’d much rather they overdo the courtesies than forget them completely.

When we were children…
..growing up in joint family meant our house was always full of visitors. There were friends – across generations. And there were relatives – a constant stream of them – aunts, uncles, cousins. Some would come for a visit, some would stay back for a day or two while others would stay on for months or even years till they completed their treatment at the city hospital, finished a course or a training programme or, sometimes, till they found a job.

Slowly but very surely we picked up basic social etiquette
Not only were we supposed to appear with that mandatory glass of water as soon as someone arrived, we were also supposed to ask ‘Uncle’ if he wanted tea, coffee or a cold drink and then serve it too.

Our dad would say, “Don’t just dump the glass of water and run off. Sit for a while and talk.” It was terribly awkward and we had no clue what to say. But the good girls that we were, we would make the effort, however stilted. We’d answer questions, often inane ones – What class are you in? How are your studies going? and so on.

My sister and I would sit with polite smiles on our faces, making secret eye contact, asking each other if we’d sat long enough, if it was okay to leave. Over time we figured it out. We knew how formal each set of visitors was, who should be offered tea and what biscuits would go with whose coffee.

Our parents wouldn’t think twice before pulling us up if they didn’t see us doing our namastes or getting up to see off a guest to the door. They thought nothing of embarrassing us in public.

Things are different for the twins.

We barely have any formal visitors. Nobody stands on formality of any kind. As a result when we do have one the children have no clue what to do. Either they disappear after a ‘hello’ or they go about their business as usual.

I was reading this post from Rachna here and it only confirmed what I felt – that they seemed rude, unconcerned and stand offish through their acts of omission. A lot was forgiven till they were young. As they’re growing up they need to learn the courtesies beyond thank you, sorry and please.

We’ve been working on it. And I have some simple rules for them:

  • Stand up and switch off the television when a guest arrives.
  • Wish them.
  • Get them a glass of water.
  • If you know them, sit and talk for a while.
  • See them off when they leave.
  • Oh and one last one – No fighting before the guests.

Seriously! Every little thing needs to be articulated.

They’re getting there but it is a struggle because the opportunities to practice are so very few.

However, making a guest feel welcome goes beyond rules
It is about being warm and friendly and welcoming even to someone they might not know too well. And there really are no guidelines for that. I am hoping that at some point, their instinct will take over and as their shyness fades they’ll pick up the right way to do it. Meanwhile, the basic rules will have to do.

Linking up with Tweens,Teens & Beyond 
10 things to do with tweens during vacations

10 things to do with tweens during vacations

 

With the first excitement of vacations wearing off I find the children flitting between the pool and their tabs. It’s as if they have nothing else to do. The moment I try to restrict their screen time they come up with “What shall we do?” – the question that is the dread of all mums. If you’re a mum in the same boat as I, here’s a list to help you out.

1. Master a recipe 
Learn to make at least one dish completely on your own – a salad, a raita, french toast, no bake cookies, cake in a mug. If you find that you enjoy cooking you could work on making your own recipe book. That reminds me to get N to work on hers. She started one during the exams and never got back to it.

This Marie biscuit cake is one of the easiest ever.

2. Read books
Duh! Obviously. Most of you would be reading books, a few at least. How about trying out a short review after you’ve read it? That way you can keep a record of all the books you read and what you thought of them.

3. Make a summer holiday diary
You could write about
Things you did: Played scrabble with cousins, Made french toast, Made friends with your aunt’s pug (N is dead scared of dogs and this last one is high on her list).
Places you visited: A relative’s place, Historical monuments, the Science centre
Foods you ate: Shared mangoes with grandpa, Pain puri at the roadside stall, Kulfi  and falooda, a new flavour of ice-cream.

4. Make a family news collage
How about turning a journalist this summer? Collect ‘news’ about family members. A cousin who graduated from high school, an aunt who got a promotion, a relative who went on a holiday, your achievement in school, a dance you performed or a skill you picked up – all of that is news. If you have pictures that’s like the icing on the cake. If not, no problem. Make small write-ups on pieces of paper and stick them onto a chart paper like a collage. We made one for our apartment complex. We typed out the news items and cut them out but hand written is good too.

4. Learn a funny poem or maybe two
They’re fun to recite. Here’s one to get you started.

5. Plant a plant and learn how to take care of it
Does it need a special kind of soil? How much and how often should you water it? Google it or get an adult to help if you don’t have access to the Internet. Don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb. I have a black one too. Go for the easy ones first. You could simply begin with a money plant in a glass or a bottle. They almost never die on you.

6. Learn the names and know how to recognise at least five new flowers/trees that you see around you
Watch out for the regulars. Can you tell a Neem tree from an Ashoka tree? Or a Banyan from a Peepal? You couldn’t possibly miss the Gulmohur or the tall Eucalyptus. Try smelling a eucalyptus leaf. Does it seem familiar?

7. Take responsibility for one household chore and make sure you do it every single day
You could try folding your sheet, making your bed, folding dried clothes, watering plants, wiping the table after lunch/dinner. Helps to have mum on your side since you’re home all day 🙂 and she’s the one in charge of doing up the cakes and the shakes.

8. Talk to your parents/grandparents and ask them how they spent their summer vacations
Can you try any of those things? How about writing out a small piece comparing their vacations and yours?

9. Make handmade gifts for friends for school reopening day.
You could try photo frames or pen holders. I loved these easy pencil toppers made from duct tape at Atop Serenity Hill. Take a look.

 

10. Make your own school labels
Even if you’re not very crafty you could have a go. Cut out plain white paper labels and border them with Washi tape. That shouldn’t be too tough. Oh and before you do this, don’t forget to ensure it is allowed in your school.

I’ll be trying out all of these with the twins over the next month and sharing what we did. So watch out for detailed ‘How Tos’. I’d love it if you shared yours too.

 

Picture credits: Pixabay and Shutterstock

 

A tween in my kitchen

A tween in my kitchen

H burnt his fingers recently while cooking, quite literally. As he was scraping the egg off the pan, he caught it with his hand to steady it, forgetting how hot it would be. We did the whole cold water-ice routine. Once the burning sensation subsided he was fine but for a blister on his thumb and index finger.
I’ve mentioned this before, H loves to potter around in the kitchen. However, as he’s growing up he’s beginning to brand a lot of things he once enjoyed ‘girly’, and has started staying away from them. I wrote about it at Parentous here when I talked about peer pressure and how it can change the kids.
He gave up playing with his kitchen set ages ago and doesn’t seem inclined to hang out with the pots and pans. When his friends are around he adopts this macho air and pretends to be all grown up which I find kind of cute, though he’d never forgive me if he heard me say so.

After his adventure in the kitchen I was curious to know what he’d tell his friends about his hurt fingers, whether he’d admit to being in the kitchen at all.

When they dropped by later in the day there he was brandishing his thumb, showing off his blister like some kind of a trophy. And he was saying, with absolute pretend nonchalance, “This is nothing I just burnt my fingers while I was helping my mother in the kitchen.”
The awed looks on his friend’s faces made me let out a sigh of relief. I can say with some confidence that along with cricket and computer games cooking remains macho in the tween world.
These kitchen adventures are all towards the fulfilment of one single dream of mine – that there’ll come a day when the kids will wake up on their own, make a healthy breakfast for themsleves, dress up and go to school while I’ll laze in bed. What?? One can dream.

You know your kids have hit the tweens when..

You know your kids have hit the tweens when..

1. You whip out phone to click a picture and you see your own eager-beaver face because it’s always turned onto selfie mode.

2. Music suddenly becomes a big deal – a very loud deal. Everything from tukur tukur to What makes you beautiful is sung all the while.

3. Your house smells gorgeous because the kids have just had a deo war  – the ‘if you spray mine I’ll spray yours’ kind of war. (Aunts please to take note: This is what happens when you gift things despite me expressly forbidding it).

4. Your daughter walks out wearing a most winsome smile till you see she’s also wearing your favourite stole. Apparently ‘Jo tera hai woh mera hai‘.

5. The demands for studs and stilettos begins to raise their ugly head.

6. Your son roams around with wet hair all day as he tries to style them into spikes and you have the unenviable task of telling him they will flop down back once they dry up and No he isn’t allowed gel for many many years yet.

7. On a similar note you also add – no makeup kits, no heels, no phones and no pocket money just yet either.

8. You resign yourself to the dangers of walking out in mismatching earrings or wearing a shrug inside out rather than wade through two kids to get to the mirror for a peek at yourself.

9. The ‘dude’ and the OMGs in the conversation go up exponentially.

10. The conversation sounds more and more like some kind of indecipherable code from a James Bond movie. ‘Meet me at the SS’, she says to her friend (That’s ‘Skating Spot’ in case you wondered).