Category: Exams

Finding Peace this September #GratitudeCircle #MondayMusings

Finding Peace this September #GratitudeCircle #MondayMusings

While August seemed inordinately long, September seems to have rushed past in a blur. August was about struggling to find mental peace, fighting off loneliness and coming to terms with the absence of friends – real as well as virtual. September, happily enough, has been about getting comfortable with myself, learning to look inwards and finding my own peace while being grateful for friends as and when we cross paths.

It wasn’t as if I had a great epiphany. Rather, it was just about lowering my expectations and learning to manage my moods, aided by long chats with my sister and spontaneous meet ups with my SIL.

Oh and also, long long walks.

If August was about finding an indoor exercising routine, September has been about stepping out. An hour spent outdoors walking hard, with the breeze in my face, wiped away all my moodiness. As the weather has become drier, I’ve been stepping out most mornings. Moms standing by the roadside holding onto toddlers, then waving them goodbye as they climbed on their buses, the greenery along the way, groups of morning walkers and the happy sound of senior citizens clapping and practicing laughter therapy have brightened up my day.

Tracking my progress on Google Fit has given me as much happiness as Shylock got counting his gold. Very satisfying, indeed.

September has been a kinder month despite the kids’ exams kicking off, or perhaps because the exams are here. I spent the first half of the month feeling weirdly detached and guilty by turns, that I wasn’t pushing them enough and then I had no time to think at all. Sometimes that is what works best.

The Husband was home for almost a week right before the exams and that helped. I cannot begin to explain how his very presence takes the stress off me. The feeling that I and I alone am not responsible for the children, is one of the most relaxing thoughts.

Also, he is way more of a Tiger Dad than the Tiger Mom I can ever hope to be. When he is around we argue all the time because I feel he pushes the children a little too hard. Our parenting styles are very different. However, the more he is away the more I realise the importance of at least one parent pushing the kids. I don’t need to push myself to push them. When I’m alone, I have a thousand things on my mind, along with their studies, and I feel they tend to slack off.

I realise the husband and I set each other off well, we are a good team. And I’m grateful for his presence as much as there is of it.

October promises to be relaxed and festive.

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Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle and with Corinne’s #MondayMusings.

The exam checklist

The exam checklist

We’re almost done with the children’s exams – three whole weeks of crazy days. Each small windows of free time that I’ve had has been taken up by housework since the maid has been playing hooky since the day before exams. But the mandatory exam-post needs to be done.

You remember the one I did during the last spell ? Well here I am again.

Exams affect different people in different ways.

Each exam time I find my children changing in interesting ways.

This year they turned into authors.

Their creative juices are in full flow. The only catch is those juices are directed in every directions except towards their books. They have both decided that being a writer is their calling after all and have started work on their debut novels. The daughter is writing a book on an Indian girl who strikes up a friendship with an English Girl. She informed me today that she has written 1021 words over the last two days. She just might finish her novel by the time exams are through.

H’s masterpiece looks vaguely like Rick Riordon’s work, only in an Indian context. The Gods and goddesses have names that are part Indian part Australian (since they have Australia as part of their syllabus, in excruciating detail). One of them, I clearly remember, is called Yirdaki,

Meanwhile I have turned into a queen of confiscation.

I have currently, in my possession

Sponge balls – 3 nos
Rubix cube – 1 no
Tub of slime – 1, small
Water colours – 7 bottles
Nail paints – 6 bottles
Toy dinosaurs – 2 nos
Fidget Spinners – 2 nos
Guns – 2nos

I’m fast running out of space to hide away all the confiscated items. And if you’re beginning to feel sorry for the children, Don’t, for toys are mere props to their rich imagination. They are currently in the process of fine-tuning an adventure sport that involves jumping from one bed to the other because the space in between is a volcanic field covered with ‘bubbling lava’ visible of course, to their eyes only. I’m not sure how long their Pepperfry particle board beds will bear the onslaught. The way they jump and clamber, even my grandma’s teak would have groaned and died.

Other things that have kept the twins busy are as follows:

H has discovered a new shop of ‘imported chocolates’ in the neighbourhood (Where on earth do they get their information from?).

Also, as he very proudly informed me, he is fourth in the world in some online game he plays where he, quite darkly, calls himself ‘Death’.

The other day as I settled down with a book he jammed his fist in my armpit. As I straightened after picking up the book I had dropped, he explained, “I read that children resemble their parents in six aspects – colour of hair, colour of eyes, smell of armpit…. (I forget the other three) so I was checking whether the theory was true. He proceeded to thrust his other fist in his own armpit and then sniffed at both his hands, nodding in agreement.

QED

N has found a way to make coloured slime (resulting in a coloured bathroom sink everyday) and is now in the process of adding glitter to it so she can patent her own glitter slime. She got pretty offended when I refused to believe that she could continue to study with ‘full focus’ while kneading that bit of slimy dough.

Even as I write this they’re deep in planning their after-exam social calendar which is chock-a-block with lunches, dinners and rendezvous at Ice Cream parlours.

I’m off then, to sort my TBR list.

Happy days ahead.

Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do

Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do

If you’ve been with me on the blog for a while you’ll know how I have always rued the fact that the twins seem to feel no pressure of exams while I am completely freaking out. The more I worry, the less they seem to think about it.

During their mid-terms in October last year, things got worse than ever. All through those two months (before and during the exams) I was constantly yelling at them and then feeling terribly guilty at the things I had said. We’d reach a stalemate, go through silent spells and then I’d be back trying to appease them, trying to get them to study, only to lose my temper yet again.

The worry about their marks and exams hung like a dead weight on my mind dragging me into the dumps, waking me up at night and keeping me anxious all day. I hated the entire exam system, hated that I had to handle it all alone and hated that I had to put the children through it all. It was  vicious.

All for a class 6 mid-term!

I can see how foolish that was, now. But the thing is, the reaction of a troubled mind is often far from logical. In retrospect I realise it was also partly because I had been struggling with a lot of health issues. That must have contributed to my chaotic mental state.

By the end of exam time I knew just one thing – I never wanted to be in that space again. More importantly, I never wanted to put the children through that. No marks, no awards were worth it.

We talked about it, the children and I. And we promised that at the next exam all of us would work towards keeping our cool, NO MATTER WHAT.

The children call it my Kalinga War, moment 🙂

Yeah Asoka the Great is part of their syllabus this term. So basically, that last exam was a sort of turning point. I made the keep-my-cool promise, even more fervently, to myself. I promised I’d not let the worry of their scores push me to the edge of reason, ever.

I am happy to say, this time round exam time has been relatively peaceful. Nothing much has changed – I still have to push them all the time, they still rush off the moment my attention flags, they’re still playing computer games, watching television, amusing themselves in a hundred different ways and annoying me in a thousand more.

The only thing that has changed is my attitude.

Sometimes the only way to make things better is to change your attitude. Click To Tweet

This doesn’t mean I haven’t lost my temper at all. A leopard takes time to change her spots, right? But I have definitely dissociated myself a little bit and that feeling of panic hasn’t come back.

For that I am grateful.

After years of worrying that the children do not worry enough I can finally see the benefit of it. I never thought I’d say this but here I am feeling grateful that H and N do not panic. A friend, who is a teacher, spoke of kids who threw up constantly, suffered from headaches and body aches or ran a fever throughout the exams – all due to anxiety. And these are kids from class five and six, 11, 12 year olds. I would not wish that upon any child ever.

That said, I have to admit I doubt myself all the time, specially when I see a lot of moms pushing on relentlessly. I know of moms who solve each math problem along with their child. And when I hear of things like this I cannot help but  wonder if it’s just me. If it is I who am at fault, that I don’t have it in me to handle the pressure and then I worry that H and N might suffer because of that. Am I allowing them to slide into mediocrity by letting go? Have I been too hasty in letting go?

I don’t have any answers and so for now I push all these thoughts away. I’ll wait for their results before I make up my mind about anything. If they aren’t radically different from the mid-terms I’m good, or else I’ll need to rethink their study pattern.

However, there’s one thing I’m sure of and that is that I never want to go back to the madness of those anxiety ridden days, for their sake as well as my own. I’d much rather they score less and be happy than top their class but become a bundle of nerves.

And for now I’m enjoying the sense of peace.

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Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle

 

Candlelight dinners and other diversions

Candlelight dinners and other diversions

It’s that time of the year again when the twins start to dabble in all of their long-forgotten interests and hobbies. Nope, it isn’t vacation time – it’s exam time.

Remember this post I did last year?

Just as the exam dates drew close N decided she had to have a candle-light dinner…. at home, mercifully. She collected all the candles from around the house and lit them up, switched off all the lights and the three of us huddled around the dining table peering at our plates in semi-darkness.

If I ever complained that The Husband never asked me out for a candlelight dinner, this was the time to send out an apology. And a heartfelt thank-you to Thomas Edison. Seriously, candlelight dinners are over-rated. It’s worse if you’re in the middle of the monsoon season unless of course, you like your food seasoned with a bunch of fluttering moths.

So there I was, trying to figure out whether that black thing in my dal was a jeera or a keera, while thinking how soon I could get the children back to the study table without hurting N’s rather delicate feelings, which become even more fragile during exams.

H however, had no such compunctions. In true sibling tradition, he declared he hated the whole idea and went around the room switching on the lights while N ran after him switching them off. When I finally got them to sit down he resorted to saying things like, “I cannot see your Ffface’ and that he was too ‘Fffaar fffrom the light’ and that ‘we must never do this again in Fffture’ and kept blowing out the candles while N kept re-lighting them.

I gave up all hope of them studying that evening.

Then N decided she wanted to knit

For a long time she has been mildly fascinated with the idea of knitting. Now suddenly she wants knitting needles and also that I teach her how to go about it. I probably would have gone looking for the needles except I have no clue where to find them. Or for that matter how to teach her. Whoever knits these days?

.. and they’re ‘giffing’ 

I’m not sure that’s a real word but here’s how one goes about it – You pick a word or a phrase, couple it with an expression and repeat it over and over and over again till you drive everyone crazy. As if WhatsApp wasn’t bad enough I have real-life gifs walking around the house saying things like ‘Freedom, I want freedom!’

via GIPHY

..and they’re cooking up spells

They jump out from corners brandishing ‘wands’ and shouting out never-heard-before spells. ‘Magnifera Indica’ screams N and H replies with a ‘Triticum vulgare’, which sounded scarily like Valar Morghulis and I wondered where they’d heard that Game of Thrones line. As it turned out they were simply practicing scientific names of fruits and animals. Those  were mango and wheat respectively! Such a relief! Though the shouting still gets to me.

Finally, H decided he wanted to make comics

…to make science easy for other children,’ he said. All his comics have a rather grisly theme – an insectivorous plant-eating up an insect or a lion eating up a deer (I think) as part of a food chain. If he ever does want to take this up as a profession, he will certainly need an illustrator.

 

We’re at the fag end now and I’m hoping we’ll get through with my nerves intact. Keep the prayers coming.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

A happy sidekick

A happy sidekick

This past weekend I was demoted from my undisputed seat as the main villain to a very contented sidekick. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let me explain.

The children’s exams are in progress – they go on for three whole weeks. During all of that time, I transform into the main villain (or vamp, if you like to nitpick) of their lives.

With the long weekend, The Husband came home and rather unsuspectingly,  offered to help them with their Math, which he is quite good at.

Since he’s out most of the time he has no clue that being good at something and teaching that same something to two reluctant and distracted tweens who have much else going on in their lives and who do not have ‘exams’ in the top 10 or even 20 places of their priority list, are two very different things.

Anyhow not one to refuse a good thing when I see it, I handed over the reins to him with a heart full of gratitude.

It started off pretty well. The children were on their better behaviour and The Husband was all enthu too. However ten minutes into the lesson and N had already visited the washroom twice while H had his head stuck in the refrigerator complaining, ‘We never have anything interesting to eat’ – yeah, twice within ten minutes.

All the while the poor man sat twiddling his thumbs ready to walk them through their LCMs and HCFs, his enthusiasm waning rapidly. I could see where this was headed.

I hustled H back to the study table only to find he had no exercise book and his pen had run out of ink. Off he went looking for them.

Meanwhile, N was still in the washroom. ‘I think I have an upset stomach’, she announced when she finally stepped out, suspiciously redolent with talcum and cream, not at all looking like someone whose stomach wasn’t in perfect working order. When The Husband pointed out that she didn’t look unwell, she answered with profound wisdom that her stomach was not well on the inside. ‘It doesn’t show, you know,’ she explained.

H meanwhile had returned with a pen, which turned out to be N’s and if you have two children you’ll know where that is going. The LCM and HCF were quite forgotten as The Husband focussed on maintaining peace while clutching onto his fast evaporating patience.

I didn’t blame him one bit when the lid finally blew off. And at that exact moment I was displaced from my main villain’s seat and relegated to a sidekick’s place – a much-preferred sidekick with a very soft heart, I might add. Like a faithful sidekick, I thoroughly enjoyed adding my two bits here and there, ‘Listen to papa’, ‘Get your own pen, please’ and so on without raising my blood pressure one tiny notch.

Half an hour later, peace had descended, the children though sulking still, were getting along with their sums while The Husband begged me for a cup of tea because ‘his throat was all dry.’

I have to admit handling the children isn’t half as bad when one doesn’t have to do it himself/herself. In fact, it can be quite an enjoyable thing, funny even, if you’re watching the whole ‘performance’ from the sidelines.

 

PS: I didn’t even know I had a sadistic streak. I swear I had no clue till this weekend.

PSS: We still have another week to go, The Husband’s gone and I’m back in the main villain’s seat. Pray for me, please.

 

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Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

 

and with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

The Bodyguard – A #Review

The Bodyguard – A #Review

Book Title: The BodyguardAuthor: Ruchi Singh I was eager to pick this one up as I had read Jugnu, by the same author and loved it. The premise was deliciously different and the cover was enticing. What’s not to like with a brave strong heroine and a rich handsome hero in a sort of role-reversal? That’s […]