Author: obsessivemom

Throwback Times

Throwback Times

I must begin with a warning: This one is going to be a completely all-about-me post. The thing is I am writing about twenty years ago, a time when my current twin muses weren’t even a thought. In fact, they were in full danger of not happening at all.

Twenty years ago was so long ago that I didn’t even have to use a sepia setting on my pictures.

Twenty years ago I was as far from being an Obsessivemom as I am now from not being one.

Twenty years ago I was in the process of discovering a whole different side of me, an interest, a passion I didn’t even know existed.

Do bear with me as I roll the flashback just a little further than two decades. I had given up my job in Mumbai and was headed towards a whole new life. Along with The Husband, I landed in a quiet little city that offered absolutely no opportunities in my line of work.

Blissfully unaware of the rather bleak scenario that awaited me, I fished out my resume and began my job hunt. I had a prepared a list of placement agencies and that’s where I went. I ticked off every single placement office on my list and then some more. Some were tiny one room setups, some not even that – just a man with table and chair in the verandah of his home. I read through the telephone directory (they were real things back then) and called each potential office. I even took to cold calling. I’d be treated with respect always, for that I’m grateful, offered a cold glass of water but no job.

Finally, one of the placement agents made me the offer of working with him. He was launching an employment newspaper and wanted me to help him set it up. My sales/finance background and my English speaking skills were the only factors that worked to my advantage. There was no promise of a salary just some vague mention of a commission and the promise of a partnership.

Out of sheer desperation I accepted.

And I slogged.

The name had already been decided (which I thought was all wrong, but I had no say in the matter). I sat with the artist to design the name and logo, I went to the Office of Registrar of Newspapers for the name approval, I followed up for ads and subscriptions, interviewed people, wrote the pieces, helped with the designing of the layout and finally delivered the printed papers to magazine-stores and also stuck labels and posted them to our handful of subscribers. I did it all. Along with my boss/partner and his wife. 

It was a crazy year. I got laughed at constantly for working for ‘free’. It sounds stupid even to me, in retrospect. Perhaps it sounded stupid even then but it wasn’t like I had many options. And I did get paid, occasionally, randomly as and when the money came in. Besides, I have to admit, I was beginning to enjoy myself. There was a certain thrill in creating something from absolute scratch. I polished my writing and interviewing skills, my typing speed increased, I became rather good at Quark Express, the software used back then to design newspapers. I also picked some bit of photoshop.

A year and a half later, a much more skilled me, found a way into a local daily and was given almost independent charge of a weekly Women’s magazine that went with the paper every Wednesday.

And that’s where I was twenty years ago. It was an exciting time. The paper might not have had a national presence but it commanded a certain degree of respect as it was the best known English daily of the city. Besides, since most ‘serious’ reporters focussed on the political stuff (which I wasn’t interested in anyway), as a relative newbie handling a lifestyle magazine, I had a whole large field left to me. I got to meet a host of interesting people – theatre personalities, musicians, litterateurs and sportspersons. The city had a rich cultural milieu and I spent my days watching plays in quaint amphitheatres, covering SPICMACAY music fests, attending food festivals, book fairs and book launches.

A few years later a National Daily came to the city and I found a place on the team, then moved to another city, another paper and finally to Pune.

Twenty years ago seems like a whole different lifetime and yet had that not happened, had I not taken that first ‘stupid’ assignment I wouldn’t have been the person I am now.

Everything, really does happen for a reason.

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I received this tag from Esha M Dutta at MySoulTalks . It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Geethica at Thoughts By Geethica. There are 29  of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 1st, 2nd and 3rd November  2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised! 

My Teacher Hates Me

My Teacher Hates Me

We sit together, bent over their books.
The twins and I.
‘I hate it’, says N, throwing down her pen.
She knows I dislike the work ‘hate’ and so she says it again,
‘I hate this teacher and I hate this subject.’

For once, I refuse to rise to the bait deciding instead, that we all could do with a break. She walks off relieved and so do I.

It cannot be that time of the year without an exam post. Right? It’s a biennual ritual of sorts on the blog. This time however, there is a larger issue that’s been plaguing me for a while.

To be fair it’s been a rough year for all of us what with our move and the increased academic pressure. To make matters worse N has had it specially hard with a particular teacher who ‘hates her’, according to her. It doesn’t help that the subject is one of her least favourite ones.

I find it hard to believe that a teacher can hate a student, specially a non-trouble making, eager-to-please child like N and I’m not being partisan.

I know only too well that not being liked by a teacher can prejudice one against a subject for life. This particular teacher’s remarks range from mildly insulting to downright cruel. To be fair, none of his remarks are personal, but they’re mean nevertheless.

The thought of having a word with him has crossed my mind but I’ve been reluctant to do so. The thing is we all have had unpleasant teachers, the ones who insulted us in the worst possible ways. We learnt to handle them. We’d try get into their good books, we’d work harder or we’d simply lie low and get by.

So what has changed? Because something certainly has. I am seeing first hand how deeply it affects N. I see her already shaky teenage self-esteem being slowly chipped away by this one teacher. I know for a fact N isn’t the only one – I know of specific cases of other teachers and other children. Why are children so deeply affected these days?

Is it something to do with our parenting? Are we raising over-sensitive children? Is the idea of ‘gentle parenting’ proving to be counterproductive? If I intervene on her behalf am I taking away a learning opportunity from her? Easing her way, rather than letting her find her own?

Or

Have the teachers become less patient, more judgemental? It’s hardly a crime to not be good at a particular subject. Why be cruel? Back in our time, did we accept our teachers because we had complete faith in their impartiality and their intentions, which isn’t so now?

Or it’s none of the above

but just me, being an over anxious parent, giving too much importance to my daughter’s pain, which she might not even remember a few years hence?

 

It’s crazy how much of an overdrive my head goes into. Yeah, I’m seriously considering changing my name from obsessivemom to very-very-confused-over-thinking-mom.

I’d love to hear from you. How would you handle a situation like this?

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I am participating in the #wordsmatter bloghop. 38 of us have come together to write for this bloghop. I received the tag from Holly Jahangiri who blogs at A Fresh Perspective and I’m happy to pass on the tag to Rajlakshmi at Destiny’s ChildFollow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop for some interesting posts.

Mornings #SOL

Mornings #SOL

6.15, says the kitchen clock. The sun is just lighting up the skies. I slide some butter on the hot pan, the sizzle sounding loud in the early morning quiet. I put in slices of bread quietening the sizzle, then turn the flame down and head off to wake the children.

I find H sleeping on his stomach, head twisted upwards at an awkward angle, a thin sheet barely covering him, the fan on full blast. I reach out and decrease the fan speed then call out to him. He doesn’t stir. I give him a gentle shake, trying to reach him through the swathes of sleep. He nods finally, as I tell him he has five more minutes.

This five minute warning, I have found, helps ease the children to start the day. I like it too. I hate dragging them out of bed, specially on cold winter mornings or on rainy overcast days. Mondays are the worst, specially exam Mondays, like today.

He’s a night owl, this one, lying awake late, then waking up to lethargic mornings, often begging for an extra minute after the five-minute buffer.

In her room, N lies invisible among the folds of a thick comforter, the fan switched off. She stirs as I call her, gets her head out then silently points to her cheek, eyes still shut. I give her a kiss. She turns her head and points to the other one for another kiss – our own private little ritual. Then she snuggles down for the extra five minutes. Mornings are easier for her specially if she has a ‘good’ day lined up.

I marvel at how different they are.

I smile remembering how passionately we read Linda Goodman back during college, how confidently we allotted character traits to people we barely new. ‘Ooh she’s a Scorpio, beware’. ‘Oh he’s an Arian, bound to be flighty’. Judgement came only too easily.

How ridiculous it seems now! How can people born over thirty days have the same traits when these two, born a few minutes apart, are chalk and cheese? How drastically did the planet alignment shift in those two minutes to get me two such varied ones?

Interesting subject of study for an astrologer, I muse flipping the bread, and tipping the egg on to it on the pan.

I glance at the clock again. Five minutes are up. I walk to each of their rooms in turn, checking on them, calling out again, trying to inject a sternness in my voice this time, a sternness I don’t really feel but there’s no time for mush now.

Another day beckons.

 

Sharing the post with Two Writing Teachers.

It’s a grey world out there

It’s a grey world out there

A few Sundays back H and I happened to sit down together to watch Scent of a Woman. The film is about the relationship between Charlie, a young student and an old cantankerous ex-armyman played by Al Pacino.

I won’t go into the entire story but what caught our attention was Charlie’s dilemma. At school he witnesses some students playing a humiliating prank on their principal. He is spotted by a teacher and is called in for questioning where he refuses to divulge the names of the culprits despite the principle trying to bribe him. He then has to face a disciplinary committee hearing with the threat of expulsion. However, he holds his ground, refusing to tell on his peers even though they never were too kind to him.

So why didn’t Charlie speak up? asked H. After all he wasn’t lying or trying to get anyone in trouble. Besides, they were a bunch of not-so-pleasant boys who had played a prank and they deserved to be punished.

I was glad he listened to Al Pacino’s closing speech. And I have to quote it here because whatever I say wouldn’t be a patch on this:

“I don’t know if Charlie’s silence here today is right or wrong. I’m not a judge or jury. But I can tell you this: he won’t sell anybody out to buy his future!! And that, my friends, is called integrity! That’s called courage! Now that’s the stuff leaders should be made of. Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here’s Charlie. He’s come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It’s the right path. It’s a path made of principle — that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey.”

You can watch the entire speech here.

Al Pacino fills the room with his presence. His voice is powerful, effective, though peppered with expletives. His blind eyes look straight ahead while every eye is focussed on him and his words.

Just as mine and H’s were.

Despite that spectacular speech, H wasn’t convinced. If you see a murder, wouldn’t you help the police? he persisted, even though the cause may have been valid?

Then finally we worked it out. It was the bribe that made it wrong, otherwise it would have been alright for Charlie to tell on his mates. And also maybe he didn’t like the principal and had enjoyed the prank like the other boys, H added with a grin, imagining, I’m sure, one of his teachers drenched in paint (as it was in the film).

That’s a lesson I would much rather not pass on to him, that of laughing at his teachers. However I did realise that he was old enough now to question authority rather than accepting it blindly.

I am glad we watched the film together. I am glad it made H think. Isn’t it wonderful when a film does that? I’m glad he asked his questions. And I’m glad I was there to answer him. It’s a valuable lesson – that truth isn’t always enough. It needs to be examined, at times, through varied lenses of principles and values even kindness and consideration.

It feels like a milestone of sorts that the children are grown up enough to begin to see how complicated life-decisions can be, how grey it all is out there.

 

PS: If you haven’t seen the film you really must because this is but a small part of its magnificence.

Why we need argumentative children

Why we need argumentative children

Sample this conversation here:

H: May I sleep in your room today?
Me: Why?
H: Because I get the best sleep there.
(The real reason is perhaps because his room is messy and he’s too lazy to clear it).
Me: Nope, you’re thirteen and you need to learn to be independent.
H: But mama India got independence after hundreds of years, I am just thirteen!

That was kind of funny, I know. However two words that top my list of most-detested-words are ‘But mama..’. I deal with them day in and day out, a million times a day. They have driven me to distraction, they have led to long arguments and missed buses. My personal Utopia would be a place where those two words didn’t exist.

Imagine for a moment, that did happen, that children stopped arguing with us. Imagine they ALWAYS did EXACTLY as we told them to.

Bliss.

Right?

Life would be peaceful.
There would be no dissonance.
There would be no tantrums, no whining, no arguments.
And so, things would move faster and we’d probably get way more done. We’d be more productive.

Right?

However, also, consider this:

Children would never learn to reason and think and make decisions.
Their mental capacities would lie in a limbo from disuse.
They’d grow up into adults with no minds of their own.
Things would perhaps never change because each generation would be a replica of the previous one.
There’d be no progress.
We’d probably still be hunter gatherers.

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I mean arguing with your children sounds infinitely better than spending your life wearing leaves and living in deep dark caves crawling with all kinds of undesirable life forms, right?

Jokes aside, as a mom I hate the thought of my children not making their own decisions and taking over the course of their lives at some point. It is staggeringly frightening to think that I would always and forever be completely and wholly responsible for everything that’s right or wrong in their lives. That’s not how it should be.

Children argue because they have the capacity to think.
They argue because they do not want to follow rules blindly.
They argue because they want to try new things, new ways.
They argue because they think differently from you.

And that’s a blessing.

Be grateful.

 

Linking up with Mel for Microblog Mondays after a long time.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

What’s your God like? #BookBytes 20

What’s your God like? #BookBytes 20

Welcome dear friends to another edition of BookBytes. Recently, the son received an abridged version of Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster as a return gift at one of his friend’s birthdays. One glance at the book and he rejected it outright. Children can be surprisingly, annoyingly choosy about their reads. Besides, no self-respecting 13-year-old […]