Category: Parenting

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.

How honest are you with your children?

How honest are you with your children?

Last week the dentist told us H needed a root canal. He was blissfully unaware of the discomfort about to come his way, thanks to the wonderful paediatric dentist he went to when he was younger. I, on the other hand, was more than aware of what it entailed having undergone a rather painful procedure in my thirties.

I tried to not let my anxiety show but it must have been somewhat apparent because H asked me, ‘Will it hurt?’ Torn between reassuring him and being honest I hmmed and hawed and tried to get away with a noncommittal answer. I should have known better because H has the knack and persistence of a badger when it comes to exacting precise information.

Finally I told him it would hurt but that he would be on painkillers so he’d be okay. Rather than finding it reassuring it freaked him out to the extent that he tried to tell me he was quite fine and didn’t need the treatment after all.

That made me wonder if it would have been better had I not told him it would hurt. Perhaps it really wouldn’t, given that I had chosen this particular dentist on the recommendation of a friend whose son had sailed through a root canal without much trouble. I wondered if I had made H needlessly anxious.

When the kids are young it is easy to fob them off with simplistic truths or with a distraction. As they grow, however, their queries become more layered and they want honest, precise answers.

So what I want to ask you is How honest do you think one should be with one’s children? More specifically, with one’s teen? More so, when it isn’t something as straightforward as a root canal.

When they talk to you about complicated relationships (with friends and teachers and believe me when I say, it can get really complicated), about life choices, about friendships gone wrong… how honestly do you answer them? Would you warn them about the pitfalls they might encounter or would you rather they go ahead with innocent enthusiasm and figure it out for themselves? Do you worry that your constant warnings might turn them into suspicious over-thinkers (That’s rather ironic, given that you’re overthinking this whole thing in the first place).

I know I do.

It’s a tough one.

A lot will obviously be guided by our own experiences and attitude but I sometimes wonder if, in our bid to tell them ‘as it is’, we end up over-sharing details that really aren’t necessary and we mess their world view. That the children are growing up, means we can talk to them more freely yet they don’t need to know everything about the world in all gory detail. Sometimes it is okay to leave them to find out things on their own.

That might of course mean that they will sometimes fall on their faces, they will get hurt but those are the lessons they will remember forever, way better than the ones we tell them about.

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


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

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.

***********

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

Follow me on Instagram

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Faces in the Crowd #BookBytes 16

Faces in the Crowd #BookBytes 16

I have come to realise that one of the best places to look for book recommendations is my children’s English textbooks. They curate excerpts from some of most wonderful reads. I have been doing it for the longest time actually – since my own school days. I’d read an excerpt and find it so engrossing […]