Category: Tweens Teens and Beyond

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

Parents’ guide to basic vocabulary

Parents’ guide to basic vocabulary

Dear parents,

The other day I was at a programme put up by the children in school. By the end of it I found just three or four parents watching it with me. The rest had either walked out already or were milling around near the exit.

For some reason that got me all worked up. I thought it was rude and impertinent. This one is for the ‘walkouters’ – a basic vocabulary guide.

To begin with, there’s this word in the English Dictionary – ETIQUETTE. Here’s what it means, and I quote: the customary code of polite behaviour in society.

You understand that? Obviously not. Had you understood even the E of Etiquette you would have known that it is rude to get up and leave in the middle of a performance, however small, however informal, however inconsequential.

You might of course have urgent business to attend to, you’re an uber busy person I know, and you have the right to leave. However, in such a case you might want to sit at the back so you can leave UNOBTRUSIVELY – you do know what that means, right? Leave in a way that is not conspicuous. Got it?

So as I was saying, you might want to leave without disturbing the tiny handful who do know what etiquette is. It is only polite to show some CONSIDERATION, another word that’s strange to you I presume. It means kindness and thoughtful regard for others. You might like to exhibit some kindness towards this tiny lot by not stepping on their toes as you walk out gushing over the performance of the apple of your eye.

There does exist, of course, the possibility of sudden unforeseen and urgent business coming up. However, chances of such business cropping up right after your own child’s two bits are done is rather remote.

There’s another word that might interest you, called DECORUM. It means behaviour in keeping with good taste and propriety. You might want to understand that word because chances are the D word is among one of the things you hope your ward will learn at school. Well how about practicing it yourself first? Or is it, that once you’ve written out that fat fee cheque you think you are absolved of all responsibility of teaching anything at all to your child? Least of all by example?

He is watching you, and learning from you remember that. So, I suggest, when you set out from home bring along with you a bagfull of PATIENCE, that’s the capacity to accept or tolerate because, the thing is, when you are invited to watch a show at the children’s school, you are invited to watch the ENTIRE show – the complete show, you understand?

Oh we know you are busy people, the rest of us of course have nothing to do but if we sat through your child’s performance it is only fair, that you sit through that of ours, that’s called RECIPROCITYthe practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. (Oh and by the way let me clarify that one of my child wasn’t in the show at all while the other one was done way before the end.)

If you cannot spare that one hour how about letting your ward perform exclusively for you right at home? That way there’s no trouble for anyone. Brilliant idea, eh? I knew you’d agree.

Lastly, you do have the option to simply BEG OFF the occasion which means to gain permission to be excused from. Do that. Don’t come. So that the rest of us can enjoy the programme in its entirety.

Thank you,

A jobless watcher of school programmes and maker of unnecessary lists.

 

Although its parents I’ve spoken of, we stumble upon such people almost every day. So tell me which are the ones that get your blood boiling?

 

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa and Blogchatter.

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Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me

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.

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Linking up with #Chatty Blogs from Shanaya Tales

Welcome vanity

Welcome vanity

When I go home for the summer the one thing I do is take a mental break from being a parent and reconnect with the person I used to be. There are enough people around to pull me back the moment they see the mom-in-me taking over me-the-person.

And so it was that my sister pointed out a change that had happened so slowly, so unobtrusively, that I had barely noticed it. Since I gave up full time office I stopped bothering about the way I look.

That doesn’t mean I have become sloppy or untidy or that I lounge around in my night clothes all day. In fact, I like the routine of sitting down at my work table neatly dressed and ready to take on the day.

The difference is – it’s all done mechanically. I don’t give a thought to what I wear. I wear what I always wear. When I was going out to work, I dressed with care. If I was out on an assignment I’d be even more careful, dressing up according to where I was going or who I was meeting. I enjoyed that. It was part of the happiness of going to work. Clothes, pretty clothes, cheered me up. They do still, but somewhere along the way I stopped indulging myself.

If you are a stay-at-home-parent or a work-from-home-person you might comprehend how that happens.

Comfort takes over fashion completely. Not that I was ever ‘fashionable’ but I did own at least one pair of heels which I would fish out when the occasion demanded, I’d visit the parlour regularly and I’d wear a sari to work somedays just for fun.

Now, I find I come up with all kinds of reasons to not dress up – the sari is too cumbersome, heels too uncomfortable, skirts make me look fat, salwar suits are too difficult to maintain and so on.

So I pull on a pair of tights or my jeans and a tee and I’m good to go just about anywhere, a dressy shirt when I’m going out, a plain one when I’m home. As for the sneakers – I practically live in them. Formal events, specially those where I need to wear traditional clothes, are few and far between and always lead to panic (WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!) so much that I look for ways to avoid them. This really needs to change.

Watching my mom is an inspiration. She religiously sticks to her nightly self-care routine, never steps out for her evening walk without changing into a starched and ironed salwar kurta and spends hours at weavers’ exhibitions picking out the most gorgeous saris.

So here it is – my resolution for the rest of the year, rest of my life hopefully: I will have more fun with the way I look.

With the children a little grown up I do have the time. Also, the change might not be huge in the physical sense of it. All one might notice is an extra dash of lip colour, the occasional eyeliner, painted toe-nails, open toed sandals or a bit of heel. Flamboyance was never my thing. Besides, this transformation is more from the inside, more about trying new things, about taking an interest in and enjoying the way I look.

The weight is there of course, it’s going to be there for sometime, maybe longer, maybe forever. However, that really shouldn’t stop me, right?

Some amount of vanity cannot hurt.

This piece here argues that vanity can be an effective motivator. So if I start enjoying the way I look I might actually be motivated to lose weight and look better and get further motivated and so on in a delightful cycle.

Sounds good, huh?

Linking up with Linking up with Nabanita’s Mommy Talks

That warm cup of tea

That warm cup of tea

A few weeks ago during the kids’ exams as we sat struggling with Math problems, I got a call from a friend/associate. He needed copies of some official documents – quite a bunch of them, actually.

If there’s anything that stresses me out more than math problems, it is paperwork. The mere sight of forms to be filled and documents to me signed sends me in all kinds of petrified panic.

As if those percentage problems weren’t bad enough I had to now, not only locate the entire bunch but also scan them/copy them and mail them. I went into a tizzy opening and closing drawers, rifling frantically through my wallet looking for IDs, bills and lease agreements. I found them all  – except one. I was sure I had it as a soft copy in my inbox but despite several searches I couldn’t locate it.

As panic kicked in well and truly I ran all kinds of searches, cursing the wretched paper work, the idea of needing soft copies, at my cleanliness drive (during which I assumed I’d deleted the said document), at my lack of computer knowledge, at the man who invented computers and at the Husband (of course, always the Husband).

And then…..

…. there appeared a cup of tea at my desktop. On a tray. Along with my evening biscuits.

“Mama,” said N, “I made tea for you.”

As I sat back on my revolving chair I felt the panic ebbing and began to feel really really stupid for over-reacting and for needing my ten-year-old to bring home the fact.

And I was grateful and a little at awed at how grown up N sounded. I was amazed at how she’d read my panic and did what she thought best to help. I realised I don’t say ‘thank you’ often enough for this daughter of mine.

After that tea, the situation didn’t seem as desperate at all. I called up the Husband (yeah the same one I’d been ranting at) and of course he had a copy of the document.  Also, as I discovered the documents weren’t even as urgent as I’d imagined in my stupid state of mind.

Do you ever get panic attacks? You’ll know then, how overwhelming they are. It cannot possibly be good for the children to be witness to them. Once logical thinking returns I find myself feeling sorry for putting them through it all. It might not have anything to do with them (like in this case) however with just the three of us at home and nobody to diffuse the tension, the entire house seems to be on an edge till I cool down.

It’s not right, I know.

Unfortunately we cannot control ourselves all the time. Nor can we avoid the kids being part of the mess. So how do I teach the children to handle their stress if I cannot even handle mine? Sigh. Another one of those parenting toughies!

The only thing to do, is to learn from your slip-ups and to teach as you learn; to talk about it once you’re sane again, accept that you overreacted and discuss ways in which you could have handled it.

While I do all of that I continue to be grateful that the children are becoming sensitive to my stresses and hope they learn to extend the sensitivity to everyone around them.

Linking up with Nabanita’s #MommyTalks

Mackenzie at Reflections from Me.

Meet me on Instagram @obsessivemom06

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