Thursday, July 30, 2009

Language politics

I do not understand what all this hoopla about making state langauge compulsory as the medium of instruction till fourth standard in all schools. I do agree that when one lives in a particular state it is a good practice to try and learn the local language of that state for the purpose of communicating. It makes life easier for our day to day transactions.

The most important thing is first teaching our children our mother tongue. I have come across parents who try hard to teach their children English first, fearing that children might find it difficult when they start going to school . This, I feel, is totally unfounded. Children will anyway learn English once they start going to school. But they will never get a chance to learn their mother tongue if parents do not teach them. Children have an ear for languages and pick it up easily.

It is a different matter that once children learn to speak English and Hindi then their sentences are laced with a mix of different languges as I have seen in my son. He used to speak Konkani which is our mother tongue fluently but now every sentence has English, Hindi , and sometimes even Telugu words in it.

So the question is should we burden our children with having to learn the local language? As it is they have so much to learn these days and it becomes very difficult for them every time to learn a new language. This will be a big problem for children whose parents get transferred frequently. I am sure many of you have gone through this trauma during your school life.

I believe that the mother tongue is something that should be taught by the parents mandatorily. Beyond this, it is best left to the parents to decide the focus of their child's lanuage orientation. But there is absolutely no place here for politics. After all language is a tool to communicate and not to be taken as a political agenda.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sports or studies? A Difficult choice

In our country a lot of premium is placed on education. Every parent works towards seeing to it that their children get a good education, get admissions in good colleges or professional institutes. Ultimately the dream of every parent is to see their children well placed professionally with a decent standard of living.

As parents we encourage them to participate in all sports activities, enroll them into professional coaching centres during holidays or even on a regular basis. We wish our children to have a balance in studies as well as extra curriclar activities.

Conflict arises when we find that our children are interested a lot in a particular sport and would like to pursue it. What do we do? Till they are in their ninth grade we still feel we can go along with this, provided they do averagely well in their studies. But what does one do when the child enters tenth? Crucial years ahead . Future of the child depends on the performance of the child in the next two years.

Suddenly we as parents start pressurising the child to hang up their sports kit and open more of their school books. In these competitive times, the stress on the child is more whether they like it or not.

Unlike western countries where sports can be chosen as a fulltime profession, it is a different scenario in our country where the need for quality education is of paramount importance. A sports person's career on the other hand is fraught with risk and uncertainty. In addition to this, more often than not, the sportsmen / sportswomen end up facing the wrath of politicisation of priorities at every level. These situations are alien to parents for whom the only goal they can see is of their child's success.

I know if all parents thought this way there would never have been Tendulkars, Sania Mirzas or Gagan Narangs. There is an inherent conflict here. On the one hand, how will we ever know if my child can take up sport as a career if we do not even support our children's pursuit by giving it a lot of time, energy and most importantly money to practice? And on the other hand, God forbid, if they do not make it, how will the child handle it? And how would we as parents handle it. The time spent will never come back. Starting something new all over again is a difficult proposition. A very difficult choice indeed for a parent.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Call of the nation

The other day I watched a talk show on the tenth anniversary of the Kargil victory. One could sense the disillusionment of the mothers, wives, daughters of the Kargil martyrs who had laid down their lives for our country. The apathy shown by the Government and the people of this nation. Imagine six hundred and ten lives lost. So many children orphaned, so many widows, so many parents lost their sons . Imagine getting back to living life without your loved ones. But these people are the proud ones who despite all the difficulties that they are undergoing would still not have it any other way.

At the time of Kargil war I remember the call to join the forces. There were huge lines outside to enroll and I felt it was a way of unifying people. At that time there were also discussions whether to make it mandatory for all our children to join the forces at the age of eighteen. I think two years of compulsory training for all citizens at the age of eighteen is a rule in Singapore, Malaysia and other countries.

It was then that I started thinking what would I do? Would I as a parent have the courage to send my children for mandatory service in the armed forces? Would I be a willing parent if my children choose the armed forces for a career? In a way, the disciplined training that they have to undergo there makes them really tough and strong. But what if there are wars to be fought? In the coming years I think wars look to be inevitable, the way the world is moving these days.

I salute all these courageous mothers who lost their loved ones.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Celebrating the journey of parenting - my fiftieth blogpost

It has taken me a looong time to reach what is to be my fiftieth blogpost. It made me think as to what should I write about to commemorate my special fiftieth blogpost.

As the story goes it all started when I stopped working and was feeling totally bored doing nothing. The kids had grown old enough to take care of themselves. I would finish cooking and luckily at that time I did not have to go through the ordeal of thinking what to cook for my children as I have to do now. Asking me why?

Well I had the luxury of leaving the decision making to the school committee who were planning nutritious meals for my children and serving them hot meals on time! This was also the time when I was vying for one upmanship with the school chef who was supposed to be preparing kheer which was yummier according to my son than the kheer which I used to prepare with all my motherly love!

Well to get back, It was then that my husband not withstanding my whining about being bored at home conjured the plan of getting me off his back by asking me to write blogs. Blogs? But what do I write about? Well he had the answer. Why not on parenting? I was not very sure but thought I will give it a try.

So here I am, writing about my experiences and feelings, asking all my dear friends to read and tread along with me in my journey of parenting. During this great journey of parenting which most of us say is thankless, painstaking, arduous journey and an ordeal I feel it is the small things which our children do for us which makes it all worthwhile. The hugs that they give us, the joyous smile on their faces when we come back home, the stories of joys and sorrows of their school life that they eagerly share when they get back home, asking when I will get well when I fall sick, the small greeting cards that they do on our birthdays. Oh there are so many things which makes parenting so very special.

In this journey, I have come across so many small incidents which set me thinking and wanting to share with other parents to know what they felt. When I go through all my blogs I find for every female foetus aborted there are thousands of babies being adopted. For every parent who has been abandoned by their children there are many who have given a helping hand. For every troubled child in this world there are millions of children trying to shape their lives in a better way.

Down memory lane I have to say how much my father and mother have shaped us by being such wonderful model of parents. The loss of my father has forever left a vaccum in my heart which can never ever fill. My mother being a strength of pillar. I should mention here about my wonderful parents-in-law who have succeeeded in making parenting an art with such good results right in front of me ie. my husband, who was referred by all as Gandhi. Such is the power of good parenting. There are still so many things that I have to learn about parenting from all these wonderful parents.

I salute all you parents for trying to be the best of parents. Let's continue our journey together for many more years and try to give our children the strong foundation that they ought to be given and celebrate the joy of parenthood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cooking travails of a mom

Many of you must be going through this travail day in and day out. Yep I am talking about packing lunch and snack box for our children every day. The box is just about 15 inches by say 3 inches. But the content that goes into it sure will make our ISRO scientists think that rocket science is child's play than planning on what goes into the box.

Every night me and my mother-in-law sit to discuss this serious matter. Thank god we have two heads working to try and plan the menu. There are certain criteria that we have to consider before we decide on what to make. One, it must be deliciously innovative. So we cannot have the regular idli, dosa, utappam or upma. It is so not happening!

Second it should be tasty of course. Even here taste means not anything spicy for my litte one but medium spicy for my older one. So that leaves me preparing two different dishes.

Third the content should not be liquidy. So our good old dhal, sambar, rasam are out of question. Otherwise I have my kids complaining that the whole of break time was busily spent in cleaning than eating.

Yes I know some of you might say try tupperware or 'lock and lock'. They are supposed to be leak proof. Absolutely true. But I tried out one such box and the clasp broke within a week. Rs.450 down the drain in a week. The other box I have makes me do a tug of war to close and open it. But then, good old steel lunch boxes are passe you see.

So, what options am I left with? Sandwhiches? No not every day. Parathas of different varieties? Oh so boring. Mama they say "what about pizzas and burgers?" No not refined flour every day is my answer. What about veggies and greens? How will you get your vitamins is my argument and the look on their face is as though they are looking at alien from outerspace. And I have the answer for this immediately from both, and with great finality "if you give us that we will bring back the box as it is, then don't complain we have not finished".

Well what am I left with? Back to square one. Sitting and trying to put together new recipes. The problem could be because there are so many options these days. What happened to good old rice broth and veggies that we used to have when we used to go to school? Surely our moms had an easier time with us I guess.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The other day I was standing outside in my balcony when I saw a mother drying clothes and her cute little daughter chattering away with her mother. I think she had not yet started going to school.

Just this scene brought back nostalgic memories of my children when they had not yet started going to school. It was such a delight spending time with them when they were about one and half to two and half years. They would be behind me, tugging at my dress, pestering me to give them that particular toy just that minute, or asking for cookies or chocolates right when I had gotten busy with something.

I remember it was with so much of joy that both me and my husband would go to all book exhibitions so that we could get a collection of books ready for our children which they could use at the right time. I used to have this big book of rhymes from which I would recite rhymes to them. Singing together and using funny tunes and then laughing over it.

How many a pleasant evenings have I spent standing on the porch of our house which used to overlook the main road with my children perched on the wall looking with great awe and excitement on their face at the different models of the cars. Believe me, at one and half they had an uncanny knack of identifying the different models of cars even at a distance just by looking at the headlights.

I used to enjoy the afternoon and night sessions of storytelling, taking them to that mystical and wonderful land of fairytales. Showing them picture books and weaving stories around those pictures used to be a big hit.

I miss all of this and very soon it will be time for my children to go farther making pathways of their own. I will be left with just wonderful memories of our days together when their life used to just revolve around me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Let them bloom not wither

The other evening my son came back from school. His routine is to tell me some of the things that had happened on that day. This is not an everyday occurence but once in a while he has a lot of things to say.

That day he said something which sent shock waves within me and also made me feel quite sad. What he said was that one of his classmates was so worried as he had not scored well in his monthly unit test. Actually this was the first time that he was writing an exam as they were abroad earlier. In the first two or three subjects he had scored less and he was telling all his friends that he should somehow get god scores in other subjects as otherwise he would be kicked out of his house!!! Now whether that was meant as a joke or seriously I do not know. But even if it was told jokingly I would certainly say a big NO to this kind of threat.

Just listening to this statement I felt very disturbed. These are little children that we are talking about. Specially they are at that stage of their life where they are going through so much of turmoil as they are in their teens. It is a very confusing and very troubled life marked by sudden shifts in emotions.

As parents when we pressurise our little ones with such dire consequences it will be so very traumatic for the child. Why do we as parents not understand life is very precious and marks are not the all and end all. I think there is much more to life.

Luckily this child felt relieved as he had scored better marks in other subjects. But hope and pray that this child does well every time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mind your language

Remember the first time our baby/ ies made that first sound which sounded like something other than crying. The first time he said something which sounded like mama, papa. How thrilled and excited have we all been and how much we wanted them to call us mama and papa evey now and then. Though it sounds very simple and natural, language development is quite a complex process.

Langauge development in little children goes through definite stages starting with gurgling, cooing, babbling, and so on until they start using words which are repeated and encouraged by the parents and the first word usualy being mamamama, gradually paapaapapa and so on. Later it gets more complex and children start using single words then join two words and finally make sentences.

In all this children learn faster when parents talk to them, repeat words and encourage them. If the child lives in a joint family then their langauge development accelerates. I really like the ad that we see on T.V where the dad asks his toddler to say banana, czechoslovakia. Very cute . So as parents we have a great role to play in language development of our children.

Therefore there is one fact that all of us need to keep in mind. As children learn to speak by imitating us, we as parents need to be very careful as to what words we use. Certain words should definitely be a no-no in the household. Using swear words should be avoided. Sometimes certain words like "stupid" which is commonly used by parents in a playful way is copied by the children. When they use it in their babyish way we find it to be very cute. But as they grow older more and more unwanted words get added to their vocablary. Once they start going to school more and more slangs and swear words are used which they pick up from their friends and other people. They use it without understanding its meaning, but somehow at the right time.

Suddenly when they use it in front of us we are left stupefied. As parents we therefore need to be on gaurd and atleast make the children aware that certain words are definitely taboo atleast in the household. At school we do not have any control. But constantly checking them and reprimanding them will go a long way. But to do that first we need to mind our langauge.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The school bully

I am sure the word bully would suddenly conjure up the picture of our school days where I am sure at one time or the other we encountered that one person who has always taken pleasure in bullying the weaker lot of us.

Right from ages we have always had some who were bullies and some always ending up being bullied by them. Most of the time bullies were ones who were quite well built, who would choose his or her set of friends who would always hang on to their words and do things at the behest of their leader and get pleasure, who when on their own would have hardly got noticed. They walk around troubling other children, demand food, order others around and basically lord over the puny and the weak.

As parents we have come across this situation where our children have come up with stories of one particular child bullying others in the class. We all know these bullies are children with low self esteem, who would like to therefore somehow get attention, but trying to gain attention in a socially unacceptable way.

My dilemma is that we generally bring up our children asking them not to get into conflicts with other children, to be friendly and if at all they have some problems then to talk it out and try and solve the problem. But bullies are a class apart who cannot listen to reason. If we encourage our children to give them as good as they get, I am sure our children who have not learnt to do such acts with finesse get caught by the teachers and the culprit generally goes scotfree. Children moreover do not like parents to talk about these things to their teachers. They then feel that they will be subjected to more bullying.

This is a milder form of ragging. How as parents then do we cope with problems of bullying?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Encouragement or exploitation?

When heard that Michael Jackson had passed away, like everyone else I also felt a plethora of emotions sweeping. Afterall he was one of my favourite singers. I remember feeling elated when I saw MJ win a slew of Grammys. We were glued to our T.V sets. We got his tapes and used to listen to it everyday.

Over a period of time there were several singers whom we would enjoy listening to, but somehow MJ never faded away.

After his death it was sad to read all the sordid details about him and his childhood, where he felt his father was exploiting him. In general according to him his childhood was not a very happy one.

We see so many reality shows on T.V like little champs, and other shows involving children. Many of them are so very talented that it is a pleasure watching or rather listening to them. But I wonder how many of these children are being forced, bribed or coarced by their parents to participate or to practice so that they can perform well. Once they are among the top ten or so how much pressure do these children are put into by the expectation of their family and friends. When children have talent, as parents one feels it needs to be encouraged. The medium of T.V is the tool where talent can be show cased. So we have thousands of parents along with their children lining up during preliminary rounds.

As they go further into the competition, stress increases and somehow I find there is no longer any fun element but pressure, just like the yearly exam stress, infact more than that. There is a very thin line between encouragemet and exploitation. That is when I feel as parents are we encouraging or expoiting our children?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Daughter's Day

Today the first of July is dedicated to the daughter. So I read a couple of interviews where the mother and daughter were interviewed and the daughters have told how close they have been to their mothers and the mothers in turn have said it is such a pleasure having daughters and the comfort level that they share between them.

I thought that I had to write this blog as a tribute to all the daughters who have made a difference to this world. This is the story of my maid. She is the third born in a family of five children. Her parents live in a village, where they have a small piece of land.They are very poor and struggling. Once the eldest daughter got married and settled down in Bangalore she got her three sisters and a brother here. The idea was to earn money so as to ease the burden on their parents.

Between the three sisters they earn anywhere between ten to twelve thousand a month. All three work as maids. Once they started earning my maid started saving enough money so as to send money to her parents back in the village. Though her brother is also earning, all his money goes in to drinking and his contribution towards household expenditure is nil, leave alone sending money to his parents.

The best part that my maid proudly told me was how with their collective earnings (between the 3 sisters), they have managed to get a two bedroom house built for their parents in their village!!!! I was absolutely stunned. For a girl coming from a small village, working in the city and achieving what she wanted is amazing. What maturity and sheer grit. I salute this girl and all the daughters in this world who have proven time and again their worth. Dreaming big and making it work too.