Category: letter

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.

When friendships change

When friendships change

Dear girls who play with my son,

Last time I found H in a scrambling match with one of you and took him to task. You remember that I’m sure. A few days back I found two of you again, walking away. One of you was in tears and the other, outraged on her behalf, for the same reason – a scuffle with a boy during a game, where her t-shirt got pulled.

Okay I’ll admit my first thought was, “No, not H again!” It wasn’t.

But that’s not the issue at all. The point is, there are some things you will need to understand when you play together. In a game that needs some amount of physicality, when one of the children is supposed to catch another (and count to ten while the other tries to free himself/herself), t-shirts will get pulled, dresses will fly, hands will be twisted, feet will be stepped upon.

You know the rules, right? You are the ones who put them in place along with the others. You cannot then, in all fairness, start to cry, or get angry or quit the game either. You will simply come across as a bad loser.

You’re growing up, I know. You’re becoming more conscious of yourself and the changes in you and that’s just how it should be. But don’t let it take away the fun from your playtime. Don’t let it take away from your friendships.

Soon you’ll all be grown up and out in the world – working, competing, playing and socialising with men, on an equal footing. Each time a situation like this crops up you cannot break into tears, you cannot get outraged and worse, you cannot withdraw. 

You cannot.

If you do, just like in the playground, be prepared to be laughed at, or what’s much much worse, patronised by the others. You’ll hate it, take my word for that. Just as you will be left out of the game now, you will be shut out from the more exciting challenging opportunities to learn and grow and prove yourself.

Most importantly you’ll miss out on many many good friendships. Men do make for wonderful companions – easy, uncomplicated, fun. I say that from experience. And that would be truly sad.

For now, I’ll repeat the five simple rules I keep telling H – 
1. Set the rules before the game – Make it clear what is acceptable and what is not. Do be reasonable and practical.
2. Dress for the playground – Wear sensible clothes: shorts, tights, jeans, running shoes.
3. Be prepared for some amount of rough play – It can be fun once you give up your ‘I’m a girl I shouldn’t do this’ self image.
4. Accept no nonsense – But don’t be over sensitive.
5. Assess the situation, the intention – An unintentional pull of the T shirt is NOT a bad touch.

Remember these rules. They work in the grown up world too – Set the rules, dress sensibly, be prepared to fight rough, accept no nonsense and asses an intention fairly.

For now, stop being girls or boys – just be friends.

Love and hugs
Mom of H.
Linking to ABC Wednesday , after a long long time, for the letter C for Change. It’s good to be back here.

Finding Santa

Finding Santa

Dear H and N,

Christmas this year, is going to be different. It was this year that you discovered that there is no Santa. N, how you cried! It broke my heart. I had no answer to your ‘you lied to me‘ allegation. It’s true of course. It was I who ate up your cookies, I who put the gifts and I who read the letters I’d helped you write in the first place.
I know you’ll miss him. That plump, smiling, silver haired presence bearing gifts for you, the one who makes everyone smile – oh yes Santa will be missed… sorely. 

Or maybe …. just maybe we could do something to make you feel better. How about we find ourselves a Santa – a real one, no lies this time. He’s a bit different than the Santa I told you about. He doesn’t live at the North Pole to begin with. 

So where is he? You ask. I can see the disbelief in your little faces. Hear me out then and be patient.

This Santa is all around us. What’s more, he’s far more generous than the red-suit guy. He doesn’t wait for Christmas to give us gifts. He comes unannounced any day, anytime, sometimes many times a day, bearing precious gifts. You’ll have to look carefully though for he’s in disguise – no red suit, no silver beard.

‘So how will we know him?’ I hear you ask, suspicious still.

Well, first, wipe off those disbelieving looks then listen on my little doubting Thomas’ – here’s how you can see him.


Shut your eyes. Yes, shut your eyes. 
Go on do it.

….Now open your hearts…

and think…

Did someone make your face light up with a smile recently? 
Did someone do anything to make you feel special?
Did someone make your heart swell with happiness and fill with warmth?
Did a hug or a kiss or a compliment make you feel like the happiest person on earth? 
Did someone make you feel so happy you wanted the whole world to smile with you?

Well.. hold on to them, that right there is your Santa.

That friend who stood up for you, that teacher who said ‘well done’, mama who surprised you with your favourite tiffin, grandma who saves up a new story for you everyday, dad who came home early with your favourite sweet – they’re your Santa.

And your gifts? – the smile, the warmth, the happiness – aren’t they all precious? Way more precious than that remote controlled car, that crashed within a week of it’s arrival, right H? Or that Barbie buried somewhere deep in your toy cupboard N.

And you know what? You are a Santa too.

Remember that one time I came home all tired and you ran to give me a hug? I so needed it then, and you were my Santa. And that lopsided cake you made me – you were my Santa again. In fact, you became my Santas the moment you were born.

There’s a Santa in all of us. He just hides away sometimes under the stress of homework and housework, the arguments and the anger. This Christmas let’s dig him out and give him a new life, shall we? 

Let’s all be Santas this Christmas – real live Santas.

Love and hugs,

Ma.

Girls and boys and a lesson in chivalry

Girls and boys and a lesson in chivalry

Dear H,

The other day as I was
taking my walk I saw you pulling a girl by her T-shirt. At least that’s what it seemed to me. She was yelling and struggling to free herself. I was appalled. I made you let go and
apologise too. Oh I did see those tears of anger, frustration and humiliation that sprang up in your eyes. I didn’t mean to humiliate you but this needed to be done.
Later, much later when
we’d both cooled down, you’d explained, “Ma we were playing Chor Police and I
was a Policeman. We have to hold the ‘thief’ to a count of 10 for him/her to be
declared out.”
“You cannot pull a
girl’s shirt,” I’d said.
“I wasn’t pulling, she
was. I was supposed to be holding her.”
“No matter what, you CANNOT pull a girl’s shirt,”
“Why,” you’d asked, ‘Why
can’t I ? That’s how she catches me too, that’s how I catch the boys and everyone is fine with it.”
You had a bit of a point. 
Here is my answer. Listen patiently for this is something that will stand you in good stead all your life.
The problem was not that you were holding that girl. The problem was that she didn’t like being held. That she was asking you to let go and you weren’t.

It’s simple, actually. If a girl doesn’t like you holding her T shirt, let go. If a boy doesn’t like it, let him go too. LISTEN to what the other person is saying.

Yes it’s tough. Yes it’s easy to get carried away by the game. Yes it’s easy to take people’s reactions for granted. But it’s crucial to remember that it’s a game only if all people playing it are enjoying it, or else it’s plain bullying. Sounds harsh, I know. You didn’t intend to bully, I know. But that’s what it was.

I hope that answers your ‘Why?’.

Here’s what you can do. ASK what everyone is comfortable with. Put the rules in place before you start a game. As you grow up you will realise, many times people don’t even speak out when something makes them uncomfortable. You have to learn to listen, even without words. This ‘watching out’ for the other person’s reaction is very very important. It’s called being ‘sensitive’.

And while we’re at it, here are a few more things for you to remember…

– Caring for other people’s
feelings is way more important than winning any game.

– Your responsibility
doesn’t end with good intentions. If the other person feels hurt, wronged or even uncomfortable by your behaviour, don’t do it. Take time to understand and explain.
– Open
doors, hold the lift, help with bags. Practise chivalry for no other reason but that you are a gentleman. 
– Respect not just girls,
not just people older to you, but everyone. You have an even greater
responsibility if the other person in not as strong as you.

– Never be an unintentional bully.

You might not always win the game but you’ll win over many many more people and that, dear H, is way more important and much more fun too. This is a BIG thing and needs plenty of practise, but you’ll get there. And like I always say ‘You are the best’. I know that.

Hugs and love,

Ma
********

We’ve had our ‘big talk’. And I am hoping it made some impression. Have you handled similar queries from your son/nephew/friend’s son? So how do you teach a boy to be chivalrous without being sexist? How do you tell him he doesn’t need to do this because the other person (girl or not) is weaker but because he is stronger? Mothering, I tell you… is a hard hard task.

*********

Linking to Write Tribe’s super initiative ‘7 days of rediscovering your blogging grove’ where we blog seven days in a row according to a format. The idea is inspired by Darren Rowse. Today we had to ‘ANSWER A QUESTION’. 

Go find some more answers at the Write Tribe blog.

Dear Sister…

Dear Sister…

This is perhaps the first time I’m writing to you, ever. Isn’t that strange? We do talk though.. don’t we? All the time. On the phone, through Whatsapp, through mails, on FB…. thoughts, opinions, jokes, gossip and pictures oh the pictures.. from home, from the roadside, from markets and shops and trial rooms… back and forth .. the communication is constant.


Letters however are a different thing. They give you space to think and express and talk about things you might never have told each other.

Let me start at the beginning. It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. There you were, comfortably sleeping in MY favourite place, snuggling up to my favourite person. That’s MY mum, I’d shouted! claiming what was rightfully mine, had been mine for three whole years  – ALL mine. But then probably you’d opened your eyes and given me one of those smiles.. Toothless, guileless, lazy and laid back and I was sold – just like everyone else. Then on we shared everything.. clothes, books, school, college, crushes, friends and foes.

I have often felt God intended us to be twins.. We were meant to be born together only you had lingered… perhaps involved in some exciting adventure, while I made an early appearance. However once here you never truly believed or behaved like the younger sibling matching punch for punch and braid pull for braid pull.

Yeah you call me didi but that’s such a token thing.. Like Manmohan Singh’s prime ministership!

We were equal partners in crime, plotting and planning against the common ‘enemy’ mum! Remember how we spilt the entire bottle of cream and hid it away, or the times we sneaked off the school bus to our favourite bookshop, or when we managed to unlock the TV (yeah TVs had locks back then) and watch that forbidden film? I still get goosebumps but you never had any reservations, cool as the proverbial cucumber.

Despite your bravado, to me you always were the little one.. The baby sister I’d carry around proudly on my back. The little one who’d fainted on me when we’d gone to visit a sick friend giving me a near heart-attack. The sister I once forgot to pick up at school and then went back and searched and searched my heart filling up with an awful dread only to reach home and find you happily perched at the dining table. Oh you could take care of yourself even then.

We are the perfect foil to each other. My patience to your impetuousness, my Capricornian discretion to your Scorpio bluntness, my conformity to your irreverence, my look-before-you-leap to your if-you-hesitate-you’re-lost… so different yet so similar.

When I became a mum.. you turned the best masi ever… cool and fun. Whether it’s taking the kids for a walk in the rain (something I’ll never do), teaching N to whistle (something I cannot do) or trading drawings of aliens with H… you’re the best. If ever there comes a time when the kids have a disagreement with me I know they will confide in you. And I know you will guide them with level headed wisdom, sanely yet without the encumbrances of being a mum. And secure in that knowledge I blithely wield the strict mum baton.

You’ve taught me so many things….
To have fun without over thinking consequences.

To stop worrying about ‘what’ll everyone say’
To give new ideas a thought before saying ‘no’.
To think about everyone and yet not to forget to live for yourself.
and above all
to be brave and strong and to accept, … not just accept … but to enjoy life no matter what cards are dealt to you.

Life wouldn’t have been the same without you

Hugs!


PS: Yeah I got all emotional but it doesn’t mean I’ll relinquish the remote or let you switch on the fan at night… don’t even think about it!

This post is part of the Write Tribe initiative. For more interesting letters drop in at