Deja vu


Everything looked perfect. Yellow and green, pink and blue braided streamers ran across the ceiling. Few balloons were placed at each corner of the room and others were taped on each side of the banner that read “HAPPY BIRTHDAY.” Tables were moved by the wall to put the snacks and food on. And rest of the room was arranged to accommodate Saakshi’s friends from school and neighborhood.

Meena, Saakshi’s mother was as excited as her daughter. She was a proud mother of a smart, confident young girl, who had just turned thirteen. While putting a natural shade of pink on her lips Meena was crossing off the things of the list she had made in her mind for her daughter’s party.

“How do I look?”

Meena’s chain of thought broke but she was pleased to hear that eager voice. Saakshi was standing before her in pink and white floral new dress. The dress was Saakshi’s choice. Meena couldn’t agree more that she looked graceful and beautiful in that dress. She praised and congratulated Saakshi for her decision. She was overwhelmed by her mother’s remarks but before she could hug her the doorbell rang. Saakshi jumped to look out the window and see who was there at the gate.

Her smile suddenly vanished. Gloomily Saakshi asked Meena, “What is he doing here? Why did you invite him?”

“That’s no way talk, he is an elderly person and you should be respectful of him. Go open the door and welcome him.”

“But Maa,” Saakshi tried to say something but Meena interrupted her.

“No, buts… no nothing… please let him in. Growing up doesn’t mean that you become disrespectful and forget your manners.” Meena said sternly.

Saakshi gritted her teeth and stomped her way out of her mother’s room. She grumbled, “Why don’t you ever listen to me. No one understands me here.” And then she yelled, “Maa, you could never stand for yourself how could I expect you to stand for me.” Saakshi opened the living room door and let Vinayakji in. Without saying anything she slipped into her room.

Vinayakji was a frequent guest in the Agarwal household. He was a sixty-three years old, retired personnel from Indian Railways. Both Meena and her husband Satish respected him a lot. They revered him as father and his wife Ammaji as mother. Meena and Satish had lost their parent early on in their lives. They had always felt the need of filling that empty space. This vacuum began to fill up when year and half back Vinayakji and Ammaji moved into their neighborhood after their retirement.

Meena felt sad by her daughter’s remarks. She knew that her daughter was pointing towards her weakness; her low confidence. She decided to say nothing and once again she let it go and be trampled by someone (after all Saakshi was her only daughter and it was a special day for both of them.) She smiled and went to the living room to greet Vinayakji. She bowed and touched his feet.

Slowly sitting down on the couch he asked, “It’s Saakshi’s birthday but she looked upset. What happened to her?”

Meena was not prepared for this question. She tried to deviate and asked, “Where is Ammaji? Why didn’t you bring her along?”

He quickly said, “She was not feeling too well but I had to come. After all it’s our Saakshi’s birthday. She is a big girl now.”

“That’s the problem.” Meena said nonchalantly.

Suddenly Vinayakji stood up and said, “Don’t worry, I will go and talk to her. She will be happy to see the gift I bought for her.”

Before Meena could say anything he was halfway through the hallway and was about to enter Saakshi’s room. He looked back at Meena, smiled and then slowly knocked at the door. Meena smiled back and went into the kitchen to prepare tea and snacks for the guest.

Soon, Meena heard the sound of music coming out of Saakshi’s room. It was the sound track- “Sheila ki jawaani” from the new movie, Tees Maar Khan. This was the biggest hit of the year and Saakshi wanted this CD for sometime. Meena was assured that her daughter’s mood must have lightened up with the gift she got from Vinayakji. Soon she will be ready to have fun at her birthday party. She pictured a smile on Saakshi’s face and got busy in making dumplings.

Ten minutes had passed since Vinayakji went into Saakshi’s room. A different number was playing on the player. Tea and snacks were ready, so Meena went to her room to call them.

A couple of steps before she reached the door- she froze. Her legs were heavy and she couldn’t walk any further.

The door to Saakshi’s room was not closed completely. From the space between the door and the frame she could see what was going inside. Vinayakji was sitting next to Saakshi and trying to slip his hands under her dress. Saakshi was trying to stop his hands but she looked scared and confused. She was perspiring. Her mouth was dry, she tried to say something but words didn’t come out. After a lot of effort she said, “I don’t like this.”

The old man grinned and said, “you are big girl now, you have to learn to enjoy it… and soon you will thank me for teaching this.” He moved his hands underneath her skirt and began caressing her. Saakshi gathered some strength, pushed his hands away and ran out of the room. Meena quickly moved and hid herself behind the door. Her heart broke to see her daughter go through the agony of being touched by a mature man.

Meena slowly dragged her feet to the kitchen. She knew what it was like when someone marauds ones body and soul. She went through similar pangs of molestation when she was young. She remembered living in the dark shadows of sexual harassment when a distant uncle came to live in their house. He often touched her inappropriately, forced her to give him massages. He even scared her and threatened to tell everybody that she was the one doing ‘dirty things’ to him. Luckily, one day Meena’s father and her uncle had a fight over something and the uncle was thrown out of the house. The assault stopped but by then Meena was scarred for life. She lost her self-confidence. She held herself responsible for letting that happen to her. She lived with that guilt and never spoke for herself. She did whatever others told her to do and kept punishing herself for the crime she didn’t commit.

Vinayakji knocked slightly at the kitchen door. Meena’s face was red and her body was burning with hatred for these sick, vile men. But there was not a single grain of regret or shame on this old man’s face. With great ease he said to Meena, “ I think you should talk some sense into this thankless girl. I got her the gift she wanted and still she doesn’t listen to me. May be I’ll get something better next time.” And he laughed at his own pathetic joke.

Meena pricked her fore-finger with her thumb to suppress her anguish and whispered, “yes, I’ll talk to her …Tea is ready, I will be there in few.”

She boiled the tea twice and poured it into the cups. Meena promised to herself that she will not let her daughter go through same pain and misery that she went through. The crack began to appear on the wall; the wall that she built around herself many years back because of someone else’s misdemeanor started to crumble.

She put the cups on the tray and quickly went to the living room where Vinayakji was sitting and reading the newspaper. He began to fold the newspaper. Meena handed him the hot cup. But before he could grab it, she left and the whole cup of boiling tea fell on his groin.

Vinayakji howled in pain, “You B…i…….” he tried to stop himself.

Saakshi came inside the house to see what was going on.

Meena pretended to help him and quickly escorted him to the bathroom. In the bathroom, she slapped him hard on his cheek and said, “next time your hands tried to touch any girl it wouldn’t be tea … it would be something else. I promise even your wife won’t be able to know if you are a man or otherwise.”

He couldn’t dare to look at Meena. She had broken the wall. Her eyes were blazing, she roared, “Now leave and never ever enter this house again.” And she pushed him out.

Vinayakji quickly limped out of the bathroom and into the living room where Saakshi was standing with the CD in her hands. She quietly moved it in his direction and closed the door behind him.

Meena was washing her face when Saakshi came into the bathroom. She handed a towel to his mother and moaned, “I was wrong, Maa… I am sorry … about what I said earlier … you are so brave Maa… I never liked him because he always tried to touch me …”

Meena held Saakshi’s shoulder and said, “Don’t be sorry … you are reason for my strength … And I am sorry for I misjudged him. At times as adults we forget to differentiate between faith and blind faith on people.”

Then she continued, “Saakshi there’s a famous quote by a great author- Don’t allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not. You are a smart, confident, creative and happy girl … so be that.”

And then she hugged her daughter and began to cry inconsolably. The years of pain was being washed out of her heart and her eyes.

I am no “Tiger mom” but no “Scared-y cat” either


My two boys are seven and two.

They are my Sun and my Moon.

They brighten my days and shimmer my nights.

 

The happiness they render is unfathomable.

They are my salt and pepper.

They bring taste to my life.

 

I am no astronomer observing from far and beyond.

But they are far too valuable to let them go by themselves.

No kid likes to be corrected, especially, by their mom.

 

My sons are reprimanded for breaking the boundaries.

They are no longer my “little angels.”

They are just two people; meant to be shown the way.

 

I know that hurts; I ride the same roller coaster too.

The scene isn’t picturesque; it isn’t pleasing either.

Alas! I can’t cede to such weaknesses.

 

I have to guide them through.

Learning to attune to a fine act of balancing;

It’s hard but I try being firm, fair, at times flexible too.

 

I am no “Tiger mom” but no “Scared-y cat” either.

I hope the day comes when they could  proudly say,

“Whatever you did…worked for us, Mom. It was the right thing to do.”

***

 

 

Styles of Parenting

In Reference to:

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

By Amy Chua

“What Do You Want To be?”


That Morning was very pleasant. She was browsing the news on her iPad. The news that she already knew but wanted to see it again and again and on all available sources. May be not for the world but for her, her son was the celebrity of the day. Once he would have flown the STS XXX to Mars next year, he would be the youngest astronaut to do so till date. Sally K. Ride was the youngest until now. She was 32 when she flew STS -7 in 1983 with other mission specialists and pilots. Sid had called her mom the night before and overwhelmed her with this exciting news. After an year of rigorous training at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, he had been chosen to be among the five finalists to go on the second mission to Mars. He would just be 29 years old on 24 April, 2022, almost an year from now, when he would be flying on his space vehicle from Key West, Florida.

While browsing through net, she even forgot about her tea. She had read Sid’s name at so many places. Everywhere possible. She didn’t go into the details of the papers that he had published in various Science Journals and other magazines but she definitely admired the byline. These papers and articles came into publication during his engineering years and during his doctorate. By now, she knew the in and out of her son’s work. Ashu brought another cup of tea. They looked at each other and smiled.

A little sip of hot tea on their little patio traversed her twenty-two years back when Sid was just seven. It was his birthday party, when Sheisha asked him, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And without any ado he answered, “I want to be a Fire Fighter at Santa Clara station number 400.” Both his answer and his strong conviction surprised his mom.

First Inspiration

Though she never felt that there was anything wrong in being a firefighter but she had repeatedly heard him say that he wanted to be an astronaut. He had conveyed the choice of this career in many ways so there was never a doubt in her mind that he would change his decision anytime soon in spite of the fact that he was first inspired by a monkey. Curious George, Sid’s all time favorite animated character was the first monkey to go in space in one of the episode in the cartoon series broadcasted on TV.

Sid’s aversion from the mystical world of Astronomy became more evident when his mom came across his “Blue journal.” He had written in there that he doesn’t want be an astronaut anymore because it was boring. Yet another surprise. She smirked. Although she didn’t know much about astronauts but she had a strong feeling that a job of an astronaut can be anything but boring. Whatever be the reason but his mom was not prepared for it. She wanted to talk to Sid about this change but the “liberal mom” within her stopped her from saying anything. The “liberal mom” in her had always felt that kids should be made aware of the choices they have but the final decision has to be made by them only. And then life took it’s course.

Tech Museum, San Jose, CA

A couple of weeks after the journal incident, they happened to be at The Tech Museum, San Jose, CA. The girl behind the information counter kindly welcomed them with a smile. Sid’s Mom liked the positive feeling that she had when she entered the museum. The entrance fee included the price of the movie at the IMAX (dome) theatre. They had to make a choice between the movie title “Forces of Nature” and “Hubble.” Sid made the decision that he wanted to watch the second one. They had two hours before the show, so they went to lower floor and enjoyed other science exhibits.

Two people, a quarter of century apart by age, were jumping from one station to another at The Tech Challenge Gallery. Both of them seemed to be equally excited. Younger one was overwhelmed to learn the scope of science. The older one was happy to discover the avenues of teaching. Sid and his mom were in high spirits. They tried all the hands-on activities that were there. “Green By Design” section was amazing too because it educated about the power of natural resources like wind, water and solar energy. Sid was totally amazed when he saw the glowing rings, from the energy that he produced by letting water flow on the turbine.

While they hopped from one exhibit to another he kept reminding his mom about the time. He was looking forward to the movie Hubble and finally the time to go to theatre came. He hadn’t had the opportunity to be in Dome theatre before. It was the love at first sight when he saw the theatre. Being a weekday it was not crowded. Both mom and son had a tremendous choice for seating. They decided to sit in the topmost section. First, it was dark and then the dome lit up with thousands of stars. The movie started with fireworks. It was bright, it was loud and it seemed that the flares were coming on to us. It was an actual 3-D experience.

IMAX Hubble was an amazing experience. Watching things that are beyond a normal person’s imagination, the galaxies and stars and the colors and the photos clicked by the Hubble telescope was just a majestic experience for both. Sid had the time of his life when the reverse counting started and the space shuttle flew off of the ground. His face brightened on seeing the astronauts (mission specialists) repairing the Hubble through so many challenges. Amidst all the excitement, he reached his mom’s ears and whispered, “Mom, I used to think that Astronaut’s job was boring but not anymore.” She smiled and offered him the cookie ice-cream that astronauts eat when in the shuttle, a gift that she purchased from the Tech Museum Store earlier that day.

Imagine seeing it in 3D

Jack Of All Trades


Busy Boy

A hairdresser with no comb or scissors.
A handyman with no hammer or screws.
A cleaner with no vinegar or bleach.
An athlete with no Nike or Adidas.
A mountaineer with no axe or ropes.
A player with no bat or gloves.
A businessman with no customer or commodities.
A collector with no stamps or coin.
A builder with no tower or skyscrapers.
A writer with no paper or pens.
A musician with no guitar or drums.
A magician with no rabbit or doves.
A teacher with no board or books.
A doctor with no needle or pills.
A lover with no card or chocolates.
A two year old,  jack of all trades but master of none.

Finding My Perfect Teacher


During one of our numerous conversation, my aunt casually mentioned the importance of being a life long learner. She stressed that learning is the essence of life and it should continue and grow with age. And then very smoothly she seeded quiet a novel idea in my brain, she said, “Who could be a better teacher than our own kids?” Although it sounded profound, I didn’t quite agree with her. I kept wondering  “What can a kid teach me?” Later on, after a closer review and some minute observations the truth revealed. I have to confess that kids do model some practical wisdom that are broadly described in our scriptures. Most of the times we tend to overlook them because our ‘ego’ stops us from accepting our kids as our perfect teacher; and that we can learn a lot from them even if they are just two years old.

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what is life all about.”

~Angela Schwindt

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”
~Chinese Proverb

We wake up with Saavi asking his favorite question, “What is it??? And we sleep hearing the same voice asking What is it???” It doesn’t matter if the question is for a person or a thing; the question remains the same. Quiet frequently, our friends have been welcomed into our home by Saavi, pointing a finger at them and inquiring in his sweet voice “Yeh Kya hai?” [What is it?] Usually, we oblige him with a right answer patiently accompanied by a smile but at times situations are embarrassing and therefore it is mixed with a hint of frustration. Our rudeness doesn’t hurt him and it does not stop him from asking. He diligently continues doing it. He doesn’t care what others’ think about him or about his parents. He just keeps moving towards learning a few new things daily.

“The height of cleverness is being able to conceal it.”
~François de La Rochefoucauld

What was the result of those never-ending “What is its’?” The other day, I found out that it was not mindless questioning. He was actually learning by asking. I wanted to break the monotony of perpetual answering, so I decided to do a role reversal. This time I asked him his favorite question.

I pointed  towards the Pressure cooker and  asked, “What is it?” What happened next came as a surprise to me. He made some faces and then answered,  “Presssssse Cuckcoo.” That was amazing, I was not able to control my laughter to see the way he contorted his lips to pronounce the word pressure cooker. It was hard for him but he was able to give me an appropriate answer and it was surely commendable.

Then I realized that if I hadn’t asked him the question, he would not have come to me and told me, “the stuff you use on the stove to cook lentils is called a Pressure Cooker.”  He would have kept his knowledge to himself and wouldn’t have used it to impress others. Since then, I have been discovering that he knows a lot of things but he doesn’t tell me until asked.

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

~Elbert Hubbard

Saavi loves to drink milk. He keeps asking for it all the time, “Duuduuuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuuuuuuu ….” and he tries harder and harder until he has his bottle in his hands. At times his repetition becomes difficult for the adult in-charge. He is so persistent about having his bottle of milk with him all the time that his Spanish-speaking teacher also knows what “Duuduu” stands for. He would convey his desires so many times that one succumbs to it. The good thing is that he happily keeps trying, without getting frustrated or cranky, till the point he is successful in achieving his goal. His tenacity  and determination showed me way to handle my life well. He has also taught me to be consistent in my own efforts.

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

~ Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend, I was enjoying fish and wine with my husband when Sid, Saavi’s elder brother came and asked if he can watch another movie. Two movies at a stretch was not acceptable to me. My sudden reaction was to yell a “NOOOO” at Sid. It was a loud outburst that scared everyone, even I was shocked by the pitch of my voice. I glared at Sid and tears flowed out of his wet eyes. He left the room, I got sad. I got sadder when I turned and looked at Saavi. This two-year old, who loves me so much was appalled by my actions. He stopped eating his snack and turned his head in the other direction and looked away from me. I tried to hug him to bring him back to normal, but he just hushed me away. Without even saying a word he expressed his annoyance, “Mom, that was not fair.”

I realized my mistake and was ashamed of myself.

Instantaneously, I went to Sid’s room to talk to him, explain him and to ask him to pardon his mother. He hugged me tightly and sobbed in my arms. I quietly lay down beside him. After about two minutes, Saavi came to us and he was smiling. He happily climbed on us and once again we all were in a playful mood. At that moment, I understood the real meaning of the famous quote by Gandhiji; “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

Our kids can teach us many thing but best of them all is that they teach us to LOVE without boundaries.

It was turning dark, Saavi heard the garage door open. He knew that his Dad is home. He happily runs to him shouting, “Papaaaaaaaaaaaa …” He welcomes him with smiles and hugs to his trousers or jeans, or whatever he is wearing at that time. For him, it doesn’t matter how long he had been waiting for him or how late his Dad had been today; it’s more important that his Dad is with him now. He doesn’t complain about what had already happened. He lives in the present and is just happy to see him and have him by his side. Although, he doesn’t utter a word, he takes all the measures to make sure that his Dad knows that Saavi loves him; he stands by him, climbs on him, holds his hand, help him change and then shares his snack with him. When they look in each others eyes and smile then Saavi knows that his Dad is also happy to be with him.

Little probing will show us the things that we can learn from our own kids.

LOOK INTO THEIR EYES.”

It is the tool that will help us in our deep search.

My Camping Trip


I love travelling. The thought of going to some place uplifts my spirits. The destination or the mode of transportation doesn’t make a difference. Every time I come back from a trip, I start looking forward to my next. The newer the place greater is the excitement. Today it was not the same; it was unusual; my emotions were contradicting my normal behavior. I never imagined a trip like this; I was not ready. I was restless, anxious and scared. My “Yes” and “No” were having an argument. I took my time before I could make any decision about this camping trip.

I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of camping in my seven years old son’s brain. All kinds of questions came to my mind.

Does that even make sense? “NO”
Do I wish to see myself judged every minute of the day; especially by someone who is a part of me? “NO”
Do I really want to do it? “NO”
Does it even sound practical? “NO”
Do you know anyone who has done such a thing before? “NO”
What kind of an experience will it be? “I DON’T KNOW.”
What would be the result of this trip? “I DON’T KNOW.”
How will you prepare for this trip? “I DON’T KNOW.”

For all the questions the answers ended with a sound of “No” but my “Yes” won. I still agreed to go on the trip. A part of me wanted to experiment it. What preparations do I need to make? Do I tell my son about this little trip of mine or go with the flow? Instantly I got an answer, “Sleep over it.”

Next morning, when I woke up, I decided to keep a close watch on my son. I observed him to the point that he was uncomfortable and felt I am staring at him. Even before he could say, “What??? Momm…” I was at the site. It was the shortest journey of my life; few seconds and I was at the destination.

I find myself standing on a hilltop, by the banks of something that looked like a river. The river was not very wide, it ran laterally through this place. From where I was standing, my eyes could not see the end. I could see an arched bridge, which connected the right and left sides. I was on the right side and the bridge that led to the other side. I looked for someone who could help me to guide me through this place but I could see no one. A short walk by the ‘river’ to the bridge revealed the name of the river and the Bridge as well. The river is usually referred as   “Longitudinal Fissure” and there was another small board that said “Corpus Callosum.” By the side of the board there was a brochure box. I picked up one of the brochures and said to myself  “Attraversiamo” (Italian for “Let’s cross over.”) [It was the effect of the last book I read- Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.]

Source: UCMAS Malaysia Web site

I was amazed to witness the beauty of this whole place from the top of the bridge. Lots of small creeks ran throughout the place on both sides. The two sides of the river appeared to be identical on a cursory view. A thorough examination brought out the difference. Left side was more practical and analytical where as the Right side was imaginative and artistic. The left and right side differed on their working philosophy. The left side was dependent on instructions based on earlier data. It was the talkative part, which dealt with flow charts and numbers. The right side of the brain was based on pictures and intuition. Although the two are different but they coordinated well. The existing beauty will cease to exist if any side stops functioning.

I was so busy going through the brochure and knowing this place that I didn’t notice that I could see some big figures outside the campground. It was the outside world and then I panicked. I saw my  ‘Outside Me’ coming closer and closer to me. I shouted, “Are you out of your mind? What are you doing? Why are you coming so close? You are going to hurt me.” And then as my ‘outside me’ hugged and kissed my little Sid on forehead- Flowers of all colors bloomed in here where my ‘little me’ was. I could see the whole area was happy. The right side was smiling, adding colors to the picture and left side was cheering because they had a new data on happiness.

Looking around and going through the brochure (that I picked a little while ago) I admired the plan and the layout.  The designer of this whole thing must have some divine power. He did a good job with the design and took care of even the minor details. The whole area is organized into three interconnected layers. Central core, Limbic system and Cerebral cortex; these parts contain the departments that control the daily business of the city they are responsible of.  The Central core and the Limbic system cover only 10% of the whole thing. It was not accessible to me at this point of time due to some growth and developmental issues. 90% of the area is occupied by Cerebral Cortex and that’s where I was during my visit.

Cerebral cortex is divided into four different regions. Each section in here had a small board on it indicating its name and a brief description of its responsibility. The whole place was based on the fundamentals of division of labor and therefore wherever my eyes went there was calmness and serenity in the environment. I enjoyed that stillness in air. At times a flash of lightening passed through the little creeks many times followed by outside sound, “Mom, mom, I have an idea.” Those flashes were the thoughts that Sid was having from time to time.

As I was trying to cross a creek on the left side, lightening passed and it struck me. Sid was analyzing. It was about 9:25 in the morning. Zula Patrol on PBS was about to start at 9:30 and it’s the time to ask mom, if he can watch TV. Therefore, now is the time that he should go and seek his Mom’s permission. “Mom, can I watch TV in 3mins. My favorite Zula Patrol will be on there. Please, Please, pleassssssse.” When my  ‘Outside me’ said “Yes” the flowers bloomed again for few seconds and then again it was calm although there was lot of outside noise as Zula’s cast was trying to explain the structure of water.

Zula Patrol: Kid's Program that teaches science

Then, I noticed some fireworks on the left side of the brain. “Oh!” I was surprised, it was not the firework. They were the words and numbers that were flying in from the program that Sid was watching. The analytical side got busy absorbing and processing the information it was getting. Right side remained quiet and enjoyed the music and colors of the whole show.

As I continued my journey, I observed how efficiently everything was working. The four parts of the cerebral cortex- the Frontal lobe, Parietal lobe, Occipital lobe and Temporal lobe regulate mostly the conscious experiences and some cognitive and emotional processes too. Here, in Sid’s brain- the frontal lobe was not as lush and green as other three parts. Frontal lobe is responsible for cognitive activities like planning, making decisions and setting goals. It is in its developmental stages. Here seeds have begin to sprout but there is still time before it is fully functional. The temporal and parietal lobes are in their adolescence. They are growing and developing normally like in any six or seven years old boy.

Of all the four parts Sid’s occipital lobe is most developed. This is the hind side of the brain- it processes visual information and passes its conclusion to parietal and temporal lobe. My ‘Outside me’ and my husband have had come across some instances when we noticed the overactivity of this part of Sid’s brain. One of our experience was last year, when he was five and we went to Las Vegas ‘The Sin City’.

As we were driving through the city, he was keenly looking around. Being a newbie reader he was trying to read everything he could. We were happy and didn’t see what was coming. After a day or two in Vegas, he asked, “What are HOT BABES?” Oh my god, what was that? It seemed as if we were hit by a speeding truck. Both of us had no answer. We looked at each other and tried to find some clue to answer our dear son’s question. But before we could say anything he himself gave us the answer. “When slim girls wear less clothes and dance, before they go for a swim, they are called Hot Babes.”

My thoughts were disrupted by the unusual shriek. Somebody was yelling. Sorry, that was my ‘Outside me’. I didn’t look pretty shouting like that. The temporal and parietal lobe of Sid’s brain were trying to find words and construct some arguments in his defense. It began to get dark in here. Sid was being scolded for not switching off the TV after his half hour of TV time was over. He was saying that it his summer vacation and he should get more allowance. His words got lost in the noise that my ‘Outside me’ made. He was sad. My ‘Outside me’ glared in my direction and then busied herself with cooking.

The view was no more picturesque. Every thing seemed to be getting even darker in here. I was depressed to see Sid so defeated and helpless. I felt like coming out and talking some sense into my ‘Outside me’. I understand that it is important to lay down some rules and be consistent with them, but it can be conveyed in a better way. After witnessing the way Sid’s brain functions, I realize how important it is to be polite to him. I always have to remind myself that although, he is intelligent and smart with above average comprehension abilities, he is sentimental too. It’s against my nature to abandon my vacation but I didn’t want to stay there any longer. I could not bear that sadness.

As I was getting ready to leave, things lit up again. Once again it was beautiful, my “Outside me” was asking Sid to get ready and then they were going for a swim; his favorite activity. I had seen a lot for one day and I decided to return to come back again another time. Yes, I surely want to comeback again to learn more about my son and see how he feels and thinks. I was not scared anymore. I was pleased to acquire this new perspective. With a happy heart, I blinked back.

***

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

~Diane Loomans, from “If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again”

To Dad, With Love


Happy Father’s Day, Dad

All of us recently celebrated Father’s Day on June 20th. I celebrated it for my husband as he is a cool dad but my dad is thousands of miles away from me. I was dearly missing him and my family back in India, when I got this assignment in my Creative Writing class. I had to describe a personality and I was required to include some idiosyncratic details in my description. This assignment served a great purpose. Now, I had an outlet to vent my emotions. It helped me to feel closer to my family in general and my dad in particular.

It is not very difficult to describe my father. On the whole he is a simple, straightforward person with a refined sense of dressing. Like Napoleon said, “Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools.” The word ‘complex’ is not to be found in my Dad’s dictionary. He is too simple and goes by the face value of everything. He lives by the thought that he is the center and the world revolves around him. Like a small child he wants that his needs be given priority. For example, if he is hungry, everybody is hungry and if he is full; nobody else should feel like eating. It might appear selfish or egocentric to some but people who really know him well understand how uncomplicated he is.

When things fall out of line, he gets upset but not for too long. He is forgiving and within a span of ten minutes he will forget that he was mad or aggrieved.  He doesn’t think badly of anyone, not even of the people who have hurt him or committed some wrongdoing against him. He is a God-loving man, sensitive towards the needs of less gifted people. In a given situation, he will attempt to feed a poor hungry mouth before he himself grabs a bite.

An agricultural scientist by profession and, unlike his most colleagues, he has an aristocratic sense of dressing. He is not the person whom you can witness wearing a wrinkled, creased trouser anywhere. (I applaud my mom, who has been on her toes for years now and has maintained his clothes.) My dad will prefer to wear a formal jacket and a pair of trousers to his friends BBQ party. Wearing shorts to somebody’s house is not acceptable. He is not the person who can appreciate American idea of “comfortable dressing.” He feels, “People in America wear too few clothes.”

My dad,  “didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” These lines by Clarence Budington Kelland hold true for me. I love him not only because he is my dad, but also I love him for what he has taught me. Lessons like honesty, truthfulness, humility, trust, love and family values are shaping my current life. My mom and my dad are the fertile soil on, which the tree of my life has been blossoming.

As The Clock Turns

As The Clock Turns

At 1 o’ clock, he himself was a child with a special gift of a ‘little child’ deep within.

At 2 o’ clock, he grew up a little and he still had that child in him who dearly loved his mom.

At 3, 4 and 5, he did what was right, cruised through hardship but managed to keep that child alive.

At 6, 7 and 8 he harbored smoothly then discovered the child that he always had in him.

At 9 and 10, he is rearing and nourishing the newly found child within, with the fresh and innocent love of his little grand kids.

At 11 o’ clock he will enjoy his latest role as granddad, hand in hand with the unusual gift of God: the purity of the soul of that child in him.

At 12 o’ clock that little child in him will induce new energy and verve to the old grown body of my father to enlighten and enrich more grand-daughters and sons; to enliven next generations’ life.

To Dad, With Love

From Your,

“My Dear”

A Mouthful Of Earth



“What feeling is so nice as a child’s hand in yours?

So small, so soft and warm, like a kitten huddling in the shelter of your clasp.”

–       By Marjorie Holmes

Such is the warmth of one’s life that is blessed with the grace of a small child. I am sure all mothers and fathers too have felt and enjoyed the soft tickle when they see their little ones stumbling over a soft toy or watch their little one’s ‘cute’ activities. My two year old makes my life even more beautiful and interesting. His innocent smile, his actions fill me with verve and motivate me to give my best. He is so tender, so sweet, so innocent, and so loving. There is no space for downheartedness in his life and no downtime for any one else around him.

Last week he led me through yet another experience that will sit fresh on my mind for years to come. It was not as divine as the one Yashoda, the mother of Lord Krishna had. Yashoda was in her courtyard attending her day-to-day chores when she noticed little Krishna eating dirt from under the tree. When she asked him to open his mouth, he replied with sheer innocence, “Mom, I have not eaten anything and there’s nothing in my mouth”. And then he opened his mouth to prove that he was not lying. Yashoda got a shock of her life when she saw the entire universe in his little son’s mouth; his divinity was exposed. Krishna was not like other boys of his age. He was the enlightened one with powers to disguise himself. Like other kids his age, Krishna also made his mother think that she was out of her mind. Feeling sorry for herself, she quietly picked him up and took him to clean. Like all mothers she warned him not to do that again.

Divinity Unveiled

Like Yashoda, I was also taking care of my everyday chores. I was sitting on the day bed with my laptop, right next to the big sliding door leading to the backyard and browsing the Internet. Saavi was playing in the garden with his new blue and yellow, Fischer Price, tri-cycle. I was there so that I could keep an eye on him and stop him from running out of the main gate. I was not too worried as my older one was also outside practicing his roller skates.  We all were having a good time and as per the unwritten contract nobody tried to disturb each other.

All of a sudden that stillness was broken by Sid’s panicky voice, “Mom, mom, Saavi is eating something from the ground.” I looked up and saw that my little one was nowhere near his trike. He had something in his hands and his mouth was bulged up like the Hindu monkey god,Hanuman’s. Whatever was in there was trying hard to come out. In my hastened rush towards my curious toddler, I expected that he might have put some dirt or a rock or both in his mouth. On reaching him, I sternly asked him, “What’s in your mouth? Open.” He quickly and obediently followed my directions.  I was stunned to witness what happened next. Against my expectations, a lot of pebbles came jutting out of his little mouth. That was a moment for me, it was hard for me to control or even hide my smile.  I didn’t know how to respond to it. I felt like Yashoda, but without the feeling of embarrassment. I said, “ No…, No…,” and slowly picked him up and took him to the sink.

A mouthful of Pebbles

Tap Your Child’s Intelligence


Very recently my son’s school district held its Parent Teacher conference.  It was an opportunity to meet my first grader’s teacher and share her views about him and find out about his performance in class.  I was ecstatic to hear her comments like, “Your child is unique, creative and responsible. He is helpful and friendly too.  It is a pleasure to have him in my class.”   Her observations about him  were heart-warming and encouraging. I was pleased that we are doing something that is right.

Parenting is not at all a mathematical equation. One size fits all doesn’t work here.  X+Y= Z, but the X and Y changes with every kid and with every situation. We as parents have to pave a way around our child’s uniqueness. Key to bringing up a healthy member of a society is to be PATIENT  and BE OPEN TO TRIAL AND ERROR METHOD. Something that works for me might or might not work for others.  But we always have to be vigilant and on the look for new ideas. The bag of tricks for parenting should not fall short of ideas.

Before, beginning to experiment with ideas it always better to know your child.  We need to think about their likes and dislikes, their passions, environment they prefer to work in and people they are comfortable with. We often say that we know them but do we really know them that well?  What kind of intelligence does he/ she has? How do they learn; By writing or just by looking or reading? Does their performance vary with group they are in? Sometimes these questions that make them different from others get ignored. I am no one to question your credibility as a parent. I am only trying to suggest is that it’s helpful to know these things about our kids; To be able to guide them and prepare them well for their future. And in today’s date and time it is not difficult to TAP OUR CHILD’S INTELLIGENCE.

Multiple Intelligence

Wikipedia defines Intelligence as, “an umbrella term used to describe a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. There are several ways to define intelligence. In some cases, intelligence may include traits such as creativity, personality, character, knowledge, or wisdom. On the topic of intelligence I usually go by the theory of multiple intelligences, proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983.

There are many website where you can read and learn about multiple intelligence.

http://psychology.about.com/od/educationalpsychology/ss/multiple-intell.htm This one  even  talks about the careers best suited to each type of intelligence in addition to its description. Basically Howard Gardener says that there are eight types of intelligences and they are as follows:

Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Written words are better than spoken ones

Observing and noting  the characteristic feature of all types of    intelligences, I concluded that my older one is word smart. He likes to put everything in words. I noticed that he doesn’t even say, “I love you,” (orally) that often. Instead, he prefers to put his feelings on paper, or on boards or on a Popsicle stick (basically anything that  he can write on). He is more comfortable in writing than being vocal about it.

This discovery made things easier for me. Now, I am able to communicate with him more effectively. I point out the things that he is not supposed to do in writing. For him words coming out of our mouth might sometimes seem empty, they do not hold as much weight, whereas, if same thing is written down and he is able to see it, it is lot more meaningful.  He is more responsive to those ideas and thus has improved on various grounds.

Knowing the strengths of your kid helps in many ways. We  just have to be little creative and make use of it in our own style. Let’s wish good luck for our investigation and application. I hope this technique works for everyone as it did for me. There’s another advice that I would like to share with everyone, it comes in handy when nothing else seems to work. This advice comes to me as a curtsey from a friend named Pooja.

A wise physician said to me,

“I have been practicing medicine for 30 years

and I have prescribed many things.

But in the long run I have learned

That for most of what ails the human creature,

the best medicine is LOVE.”

What if doesn’t work…? I asked.

“Double the dose.” He replied

(… from an unknown source)