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An apology to my first born child

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Yes I know, parents are expected to do what is right for the universe in general, and for their kids in specific. But, I didn’t know jack when I became a mom for the first time. In fact, I have no shame in owning up to everything I did wrong.

So here are a few things (I am pretty sure I’ll add more as I go along the parenting path) I would like to apologize to my first born child for!

1. Being overprotective

If some moms are called “helicopter moms”, I have been nearly Air Force One to you! I wouldn’t let you out of my sight for even a second. You’d sneeze and I would recheck all the layers you were wearing and trawl WebMD for information on all possible causes and effects. I’m happy to change five pediatricians until I’m satisfied I’ve found the right one for you.

2. Being a killjoy

Politely put, I was a killjoy for the first few years. I’d be overcautious of rolling down the car window, freak out about you jumping on the bed or sliding down staircase railings, make a big deal about letting you eat something not-so-nutritious… total killjoy.

3. You were my guinea pig

I cut my parenting teeth on you, and you’re the one I made all my first mistakes with. Right from when I took my first steps into motherhood to my entire journey, you were and will be the person with whom I do everything for the first time. And the success rate is not going to be perfect. From weather-appropriate clothes, most nutritious food, feeding patterns, right school, friends, play dates… trust me, my list will be pretty long with quite a few hits and misses.

4. Crazy expectations

Throughout your life, I will have high/weird expectations from you. Not because you are older, but because I will always believe you are capable of tremendous feats, and also because I know nothing better!

5. Hypersensitive to feedback

I will worry about and question my parenting skills when any feedback or advice comes my way. You see till now I had no experience, but I am not 100% OK with someone else’s either.

6. Going by the book

I read books, articles and blogs written on parenting styles, milestones, what to watch out for and what not. If you missed any milestones, you could bet on some of my hair turning white. You see it took time for me to be confident of my own motherly instincts and judgement.

On the flipside

So that was my guilt list of errors. But before you start wondering about why you were punished thus just because you happened to be born first, let me share some of the beautiful things about our bond.

1. You brought about the biggest life-changing event for me. I have never been more proud of what I as a human could achieve. You made me a woman from a girl.

2. All my first parenting experiences were with you. Your first smile, first full night’s sleep, your first tooth, first vaccination, first scraped knee… you bought in the first of everything.

3. I became obsessed with you. I am positive I have been called crazy behind my back because I have bored everyone with your pictures, anecdotes (which seem funny only to the parent). I’d give you weird funny names thinking they were cute. (Ok, this point might be better off in the mistakes list, but trust me I had only good intentions!)

4. You got the first and for the longest time, the best of me—my love, my patience, and yes practically speaking my physical strength.

5. You brought so many new relations to life—people become grandparents, aunts, uncles for the first time thanks to you!

As the adage goes, “Behind every happy kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s messing it all up!”

This post appeared on Huff Post India as ‘An apology to my first born child’

Image credit Pinterest

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I was told my child could not color between the lines. And it made me happy!

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For nearly two years I was told that my four year child could not color between the lines. And, has poor handwriting? Can’t take instructions you see.

So what did I do? Did I sit with her practicing formations and coloring within the dotted lines?

Nope.

Don’t spend hours trying to make her fall in the line. Instead, explore what she is inclined towards. And you’ll be surprised (and mighty proud) of what you find. Did you know that sea horse is the only male animal/fish to actually give birth? And that the giraffe is the only animal which cannot make any sound. I learnt this with my child who is fascinated with animals.

It could be blocks, story reading, animals,… the possibilities are endless because a four year old child doesn’t know the lines to bind her. Its been fed into our heads that we are good at this or that; not hers, at least not yet.

Unbridled she will blossom. Good handwriting & coloring never created a masterpiece. Being unique & willingness to explore new things did.

What do you want to be known for? Impeccable handwriting? Ok, maybe if you are aiming to become a calligrapher. Who says a good handwriting is important for success in life? Communication is important, not the writing. It is merely for the readers convenience.

A fellow mom was one day hastily summoned to the school and told that her 5 year old child was not following the traditional/teachers’ way of writing the alphabets. She had apparently devised a shortcut to the formations. The poor mom was at her wits end figuring out how to overcome this disaster.

I told her to book a table & celebrate with her husband. Her small child had done what we at 40 struggle to do. Reinventing!

So the next time you are told that your child has poor handwriting, thank the person, leave the room, hug your kids & be happy. You have a unique kid. Don’t force the kids to follow. Be brave to see & nurture the uniqueness. It’s an admirable quality.

Be your child’s first, last & best ally. Tell her she is unique & polish her sparkle. She will meet too many people wiling to tell her otherwise.

 

P.S. I have been told I suck at parenting. So pls exercise discretion after reading this. You see I am just trying to raise individuals. Not mini-me’s.

And by the way, after 2 years, my child did color within the lines. But can make a mean dinosaur too.

‘The true sign of intelligence in imagination, not knowledge- Albert Einstein’

This post appeared on Huff Post India as ‘I was told my child could not color between the lines. And it made me happy!’

Image credit Pinterest

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Who do you love more; me or dad?

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photo credit: MissMessie via photopin cc

Everyone lets you believe that sons gravitate towards their mothers, while daughters love their fathers more. Although as a parent you treat both your children equally, love them equally, a small, selfish part of you always strives to secretly be more loved than the father 😉 . Tell me I’m not wrong.

In this vein, after unexpectedly spending a longish weekend with my children (which my school-going daughter thoroughly enjoyed as her mommy had holidays too like her) I felt I had earned the right to be more loved than my busy husband. I was thrilled to find my daughter insisting 2 mornings in a row that mommy should bathe her & feed her, which was new as daddy was her all-time favourite. So the smug me went on indulging her, and at the end of the day asked her diplomatically, why was she choosing me over daddy. So sure was I of a favourable answer that I chose to ask this is the presence of my husband.

‘I want you to do everything for me mom because your t-shirt is same colour as mins. Matching- matching’. Simple.

That’s when I realised that children don’t take sides, don’t hold anything against you. They live in the moment, in today, in right now, and are so happy in their world.

And don’t choose favourites either!

P.S. I think I’ll try again in a few years with my son when he’s old enough to answer.

 

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Lessons from a pigeon family

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photo credit: Salmando via photopin cc

As luck would have it, there is a pigeon couple who was visiting the sill outside my bathroom window for the past week. They would be found there very regularly talking to themselves animatedly.

I have been told that once these birds get familiar with a place, they tend to make it their home. Since I have two toddlers at home, I am very wary of infections & was trying to keep these birds away.

One morning, however, I saw the bird carry a twig in her beak, which she dropped on the window sill. A little later, the other bird came carrying another twig. That’s when I realised, they are in the process of building a nest & eventually start a family! The mother in me just didn’t have the heart to throw away their nascent efforts of building a nest so I let them be.

Unexpectedly, this started a fun journey for my daughter & me. She is very fond of animals & theoretically we try to educate her as much as we can, but this development provided us an opportunity to show her how the process actually takes place. I would ask her to tip toe to the bathroom when the birds would arrive with the twigs. I introduced her to the couple & she promptly named them mamma & papa pigeon. Together we started watching how the nest was taking shape.

In the night, my otherwise difficult to subdue daughter, would consciously be quite when she would brush her teeth, as the mamma pigeon was resting. We all eagerly waited for her to lay an egg. And lo & behold, this Sunday, we were greeted in the morning with a shiny egg 🙂  . No one was happier than my daughter, who was telling her brother over & over again, that a small little birdie would come out of the egg!

But in all this process, what I was touched by most was the way the couple worked together. Right from scouting for a conducive place to build a nest, to picking of twigs, the male was always shouldering equal responsibility, in fact when the she-pigeon was resting on the nest to lay the egg, the male was found right next to her, throughout the night.

We as humans, the most advanced species, make such a big deal about how responsibility is to be shared between a couple, while here there were two birds, working in such harmony & love, that amazed me.

Now that the mother is incubating the egg, she is found 24×7 on the same spot, protecting her egg, while I have to answer my inquisitive daughter, where the papa pigeon is, when does the mamma pigeon drink any water, why don’t I feed the mamma….and so on. My daughter & I are eagerly waiting for the D-day when the egg would hatch 🙂 and the place I filled with chirping!

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Parents v/s teachers

I have been told that my daughter is very headstrong & assertive. Well, that’s politely put. What it means is that you have to cajole, convince and reprimand (mostly in the same order) for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love her more than life, but I also know that I am not an only parent saying that these kids live dual lives. They are someone else in front of their teachers & a completely different person with their mom!

Recently all parents were invited to her school for a sports day of sorts. Not just me, but several parents were amazed (read shocked) to see these tiny kids walk a straight line, flags waving, with such poise & confidence, not a foot out of place, not one breaking the line. They performed feats which I deem extraordinary. They raced for 20 meters balancing a ball on a spoon, running while dribbling a basketball & what not!

I must confess, the shock was less because I think its impossible for kids this age to be so coordinated & disciplined, but more because all the moms were saying the same thing, ‘My kid just doesn’t listen to me at home, & here she is, doing everything the teachers have taught!’.

These kids take guidance, advice, authority- everything, from their teachers & follow them like besotted kittens J . And all tantrums & indiscipline is reserved for mommy dear!

So you can crib about this injustice and twist of fate, or, you can use it to your advantage. Next time you want to make your kids do something, take the teachers into confidence. Chances are you just might get your way with the kid 🙂

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5 reasons why having a daughter is a must

Without being biased or prejudiced, here are my 5 reasons why having a daughter is a must, from a mother’s point of view 🙂

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photo credit: ::: M @ X ::: via photopin cc

  1. Because you can hug a daughter at any age
  2. Because you can kiss a daughter at any age, without receiving an ewwww expression
  3. Because sooner or later, she will understand you completely– your thinking, your value system, your personality, the decisions you made in your life, everything- because she is going to be going through the same motions, the same stages of life
  4. Because she will be your best friend, your best critic, your best shopping partner, your best companion, your best late night gossiper, your best everything 🙂
  5. Because she would make you protective like never before

Because one girl is better than two in the house right 🙂

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10 values with which to raise children

We are a sum total of our upbringing, our environment and our choices. I have realised the magnitude of the effect all these ingredients have on me, only when I became a parent myself.

Here are some 10 things I have consciously done in the hope & belief that it will give my kids a good environment.

 

1. Don’t pre-empt everything for her or let her experience new surroundings, new textures, new everything. How many times do you say ‘No, this is not good for you’, ‘No, you’ll hurt yourself’, within the limits of sensibility, (you have to be dense if you let your toddler to injure herself with a knife to learn its sharp), how many times do we let our kids foray on their own. I am guilty of this, and have starting checking myself before I stop my child every time. She’s a child, and she WILL NOT be as sensible as someone 10 times her age, so why do I want her to have my wisdom? She’s a child. Let her learn by finding out. Trust me, kids are in no rush to grow up, we are.

2. Let her fall. Don’t rush to catch her to avoid a fall. A grazed knee is a small price to pay for the loads of confidence and experience that she will gain from falling. By letting her fall, and letting her pick herself up, you are giving her & yourself (very important) the confidence that she is capable of navigating & taking in her stride the challenges she is encountering. After falling once & hurting herself, you will be surprised at how careful she becomes. You don’t have to hover around her all the time with worry. As a parent I know I can’t & won’t be around her all the time protecting her. So I want her to at least learn these basics in my presence.

3. Encourage curiosity- Show pleasure when they ask a question while reading a book or watching the TV, or anything that catches their fancy. This single trait will take them far, when they are writing entrance exams and are judged on their thinking-out-of-the-box capability.

4. Teach them to question authority, in a respectful manner. I know that’s walking a thin line, but don’t we want to raise kids who are confident and not afraid to call a spade a spade. But this is a tricky one, since a child who has been raise to be fearless & righteous, will keep everyone around her to follow the same values that she has been asked to live with 🙂 . Very often my daughter reminds my husband mid-sentence that he is not doing something right, or, objects if she is talking to someone & I interject, reminding me that its rude to interrupt when two people are talking 🙂  .

5. Let them participate in decision making- Small decisions like whether she would prefer to watch TV, or do craft, or help me in the kitchen (that’s what she calls it 🙂 ) let them know the meaning of choices & slowly help them connect the dots that with a decision comes the responsibility of actions & repercussions. Let her make a decision and teach her the value of choices, and the fact that you trust her.

6. Ask questions & see how they open up. They have a valid explanation for everything they observe, and you will be amazed at their creativity.

7. Don’t limit her. Make her believe she is the best. Stop before you say she can’t do it, she’s too small. Instead tell her that it requires her to be a little taller/ little stronger…… Don’t ever tell her she can’t be something. Children are born confident, we rob them off it, a little each time we tell them they can’t do something. Didn’t we all start out wanting to be fighter pilots, racing car drivers & wildlife photographer before we succumbed to the conventional career choices 🙂 .

8. Don’t pass on your prejudices to her. I have built my likes & dislikes over these years, and for some reason. Lizards & creepy crawly insects make me uncomfortable. But other than the basic of what’s dangerous & hazardous, I want my kids to decide what they like & what they don’t independent of me. May it be cuisine, career choices, sports & everything.

9. Older is not always right. Just because I or someone older is saying something doesn’t make it right. Have the grace to accept & apologise when wrong. It will set an example that elders & anyone can make a mistake.

10. Mischief & misbehaving are two different things. Everything is allowed so long as it is mischief and fun, that’s what separates a child from an adult, BUT, bad behaviour should not be tolerated. Personally, I feel, 3-3.5 yrs is the age when a child should be made to understand and respects boundaries. This is the age when their social interactions increases, they get exposed to their peers & many older people at pre-school, and this demarcation is essential. But enforced any earlier, and it affects their self confidence.