Category: Parenting

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

N sits on the sofa in front of the television, her plate of food balanced on her knee, the remote in her hand.

‘May I watch TV?’ she asks.

Exams are two weeks away and the children have a Chemistry test the next day – that’s all I can think of as I take in her perfunctory query and her expectant gaze.

It’s hard, but ‘No,’ say I, ‘Eat your food at the dining table then get back to revision.’
Her face sets in a stubborn line and I realise it’s going to be one of ‘those’ days.
‘Why can’t I watch TV till I eat? I can’t study as I eat anyway.’
‘Because we talk while we eat and we catch up with papa,’ say I referring to our nightly Duo chats with the Husband. It’s a bit of a ritual that I’m reluctant to let go.

‘I don’t want to talk’, she replies.

H chips in bringing his best arguments.
‘Only for 15 minutes, till we eat and then we’ll get back, promise,’ he pleads.
‘No’, say I.
‘I won’t eat at the table. I’ll eat on the sofa,’ says N, not willing to give up with at least one small victory.
‘That’s fine by me’, say I picking my battles.

Ten minutes later, I’ve finished dinner. N sits with her plate full, dinner untouched.

I take up my book and walk away to my room.

After a while I hear the twins talking at the dining table as they finish eating.

Then, the door to my room opens slowly.

It’s N.

‘I’m sorry mama’, says she.
‘It’s okay’, I reply.
‘Are you angry’
‘No’
‘Can you smile please?’
I smile at her.
‘I’m sorry’, she reiterates. ‘I’m sorry I was rude and angry. It’s all these teenage hormones you know’.
I have to laugh out at that, at my little wise soon-to-be-teenager.

It’s a battle won – not against the kids, never that, it’s the battle against my temper that I’ve won.

The war is on.

*******

Trying my hand at Slice of Life writing.

Jumbled mythological ramblings

Jumbled mythological ramblings


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The maid was on leave. I was dusting, sweeping and mopping while trying to keep an eye on the children studying for their geography exam. I glanced at the two of them. N was bent over her book while H lay sprawled on the floor, writing.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked him.
‘I’m making a soil chart – alluvial, black, red, laterite,….’

I tuned out rushing to switch off the tap as water overflowed from the mop bucket.

‘…… loamy, clayey’, the tail end of what he was saying brought me back to their massive Geography portion. I glanced at N struggling through the jungle of vegetations and soils and I remarked rather absentmindedly, ‘Whatever it is, share it with N after you finish, okay?’

And BAM! Right there I knew how Kunti got Draupadi in the five-husband mess. When Arjun won her (Draupadi) in a Swayamvar and entered the house saying, ‘Ma look what I got!’ her obvious response was, ‘Whatever it is share it with your brothers’. And so Draupadi landed up with five husbands.

I have always felt truly sorry for that poor woman, and I mean Kunti. Imagine having three boys and then a pair of twins; boys again! What’s worse, she lived in a joint family with her sons and their one hundred cousins, all boys again. I feel faint each time I think of that much testosterone packed under a single roof. Oh and her sister-in-law would have been little help with eyes permanently blindfolded.

You see now how her patience must have been tried? That sharing line was the most natural thing for her to say.

The thought of the brothers squabbling over whatever Arjun had brought must have freaked her out even before she knew what it was. And she said the obvious pre-emptive thing any mom with multiple children would say, ‘Share it’. Thank goodness they were in exile and the cousins weren’t around. Small mercies.

It’s been twelve whole years – take a few months off for when the twins were infants – but since then, with every living breath of mine I’ve been trying to teach them to SHARE and they still don’t get it. It has been one of my most epic fails as a parent. And yet I persevere, reminding them to share share share till it has become a reflex, I say it without thinking.

Just like Kunti.

H goes to a birthday party and comes home with cupcakes – share it, I say.
N wins a goody bag at a school contest – share it, I tell her.
Her friend gives her a chocolate – give half to your brother, I tell her.
He wheedles a computer game from us – okay we say, but share it with N.

I can completely imagine being absentminded enough to say the exact same thing as I work at my laptop.

Am I being fair? Perhaps not. Definitely not in the kids’ minds. After all, as N tells me, ‘When I win something it is mine alone, and it should be my decision to share or not’.

Right? I’m sure Draupadi would agree and Arjun too.

However, as a mom there comes a point in one’s life when all one wants is peace at any cost and fairness be damned.

I have to add that all said and done, this new age funda of I-for-myself doesn’t quite gel. It’s more than just about keeping the peace – I do genuinely prefer the old Indian way of sharing – sharing willingly and with love. And till the kids get that, they can whine and complain but share they shall.

 

 

Note to self: When your child says, ‘Look what I’ve got’ – check what the ‘what’ is before asking him/her to share.

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.

Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings

Man maketh the clothes #MondayMusings


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A few weeks back I attended the investiture ceremony at my niece’s school. There she was, right in the front, in her spotless white salwar-kurta, her hair in a neat little bun, a smart cap on her head. My heart filled with incredible pride as I watched her march by and accept the head girl sash.

Her salwar-kurta reminded me of my school days. Till we were in class ten we had uniforms – a sky blue blouse with the school initials in a beautiful cursive on the pocket, neatly tucked into a matching sky blue skirt. I still think of it with happy nostalgia perhaps because school was my absolute happy place. Also, that sky blue was so very different from the white, grey and navy of all other schools. We were ‘different’ and that somehow translated as ‘better’ in our young minds. We were a cut above the rest and that uniform was an inherent part of the feeling.

In class eleven, the school did away with uniforms since we were now technically in Junior College and we were free to wear whatever we wanted. That was our first taste of freedom – freedom to wear our own personalities, our first tentative steps in the world of ‘fashionable’ wear.

And yet, so in love we were with that uniform, that a bunch of us continued to wear it at least few days every week. It seems strange now. Why would one choose a uniform, that of a junior class, when one could pick simply anything from the wardrobe? But we did just that.

By the time my sister got to junior college the no-uniform rule was gone and the girls were given a cream and blue salwar-kurta ensemble. How everyone resented that! First there was the whole idea of a uniform and then this – no smart skirts, but this shabby shapeless thing.

Even my classmates and I, who were by now in Colleges and Universities across the country, hated the thought of girls from our alma-mater wearing that ‘behenji’ dress. It somehow diluted our cool-quotient, or so we believed.

How very wrong we were, thought I with the wisdom that comes with age. I looked on as my niece accepted the flag from last year’s office bearers and delivered the Thank You speech. She did so with amazing flair. The way she marched, the way she spoke, the way she carried herself, I barely noticed her clothes, nobody did. All we saw was an accomplished young girl, solemn and earnest, eager to shine in the new role she was being entrusted with.

She completely rocked that salwar-kurta!

In that moment I realised how stupid we were and I was so so proud of the level-headedness of this new generation that wears the LBD with just as much panache as the salwar-suit.

Clothes are after all, just an enhancement of our inner selves, nothing more. Mark Twain was way off the mark when he said Clothes maketh the man; definitely not true for young women, not any more.

 

Linking up with #MondayMusings at Everydaygyan

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.

*********

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle

 

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Ghosts and Writers #BookBytes 12

Ghosts and Writers #BookBytes 12

I am currently reading Eating Wasps by Anita Nair. Here’s a quote that caught my eye, specially as a writer. “Ghosts and writers are more alike than you think. We can be what you want us to be. We can hear your thoughts even if you don’t tell us. We can read the silences and […]