Category: letter

The trouble with being a good girl

The trouble with being a good girl

Dear daughter,

These last few years I have watched you grow into a wonderful young girl. A good girl – I’ve heard people call you that and I’ve seen how you glow with happiness each time someone says it. You deserve it too. However, there’s a danger hidden away in the midst of all the compliments and I write to you today, to tell you about it.

Many times over you will hear people (including me, sometimes) praising you for, or pushing you to be – a good girl.
In the middle of a fight you’ll hear – “Let him have the toy N, you’re a good girl, no?”
Or at school – “Be a good girl and sit quietly.”
Or at home – “Good girl, run and get my phone, please.”

Interestingly enough, you will hear it much more than your brother. And that is rather ironic because I see you trying harder than he ever does. He really doesn’t seem to care much for what people think of him. But you do. Which is why the danger is greater for you.

The thing is, the more people praise you, the harder you try to fit into their image of a good girl. As you grow you make that image your own. It becomes your yardstick for measuring your worth. And that’s a little crazy for many reasons.

To begin with, being ‘good’ is a rather vague idea. So when you set out to be a ‘good girl’ you set up unclear, unrealistic expectations for yourself. Obviously, you cannot meet all of them, and then you end up feeling guilty or incompetent or not-good-enough your whole life.

If you are always striving to be a ‘good girl’ you set yourself up for failure and unhappiness. Click To Tweet

Sounds weird coming from me? Yes I know. And no that does not mean you have the license to be rude or irresponsible, inconsiderate or unkind. What that does mean is that you do not always need to do what you think is expected of you.

Being a good girl is important but being real is even more important. Click To Tweet

Get that? Being the real ‘you’ is important for there will come a day when you will realise that fulfilling every one’s expectations isn’t really making you happy from the inside. Then you will try to figure out what you truly want. And that will be difficult because you’ve been so busy listening to everyone else you’ve never listened to your own heart. You’ve lost touch with yourself. And if you don’t know what truly makes you happy how can you ever hope to be happy at all?

Besides, being a good girl 24X7 is exhausting. You can never relax because you’re always on guard lest the real you slip out of the mask that you wear all the time.

Worse still, you never make real friends – the pukka kinds who know you inside out, share your deepest darkest secrets and still love you. Because you’re always scared the real you isn’t good enough, that they won’t love you enough if they know the real you. But then it isn’t necessary to be liked by everyone, to fit in all the time. It is worth losing a hundred superficial friends for a handful of real ones.

It takes courage, of course and a lot of practice. That is weird, isn’t it? Being yourself should be the easiest thing on earth. Unfortunately, putting only our best versions out for others, comes way more naturally to us. Being real needs practice. But do it. Do it even if you find it hard. Do it because in the end it is the most liberating feeling ever.

It is important to be yourself because there’s only one of you in this whole world :-). Click To Tweet

So look inwards. Get to know yourself independent from people and happenings around you. Speak your mind – be kind, be polite but be honest too. People will love you and respect you for that.

************

Linking up with #Chatty Blogs from Shanaya Tales

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