0

It takes a village to raise a child

 

There is an old African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. And the sooner we acknowledge & work towards this, the easier and more meaningful parenting would be.

This village was in the form of neighbors, a large family, relatives, family friends, teachers & whoever wished us well & was willing to contribute in our parenting.

I remember when we were growing up in the ’80s, we were part of a village of our own. This village ensured-

– we were always someone’s pet & in turn always had a favourite aunt/uncle

– learnt something from everyone by observing dynamics of relationships, power, favoritism, unconditional love and other myriad feelings

– we were exposed to various cultures, traditions, festivities, cuisines and even professions

– there was always someone who had time for us, to listen to us, play with us, care for us, answer our questions

– we learnt from real experiences not only books, and definitely not simulated environments

– there was always a home with its doors open, a lady willing to lovingly look over us & feed us as/with her own brood

– playdates were not an orchestrated event, it was our whole life

– the mother was always assured that her child was safely in some other mother’s care, giving her the much needed breather to complete her chores

Today many households are nuclear, with a single child, and sometimes with both parents working. Making it squarely the responsibility of the two parents to play all the roles required to raise a balanced and happy child! They have to care for the child, feed him, play with him, entertain him; along with carrying out their other household, professional & social duties.

 

This requires mammoth organisational skills, time, resources, sacrifices and enough energy to power a whole village in itself. Jokes apart, it is actually asking a lot. No wonder tired parents take the help of technology from time to time to keep their children engaged. And themselves risk a burn out.

Today ‘Mamas, mausis, buas’ have been replaced by ‘maids and drivers’. It has made the process detached, programmatic and with trust issues.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tribe to make this journey of parenthood easier & meaningful.

– A friend who is also the bus in-charge who will wipe away your child’s tears when he cries on the first day to school

– A mother who can receive your child from the bus stop if you are running behind schedule

– A friend who can send over dinner just because you don’t feel like cooking today

– A mother who can look after your older child while you take the younger one for vaccination

With collaboration comes friendly, well meaning advice, help & love; which makes the journey of raising children so much easier & joyful.

The village has one, and only one rule- Take with right, but it give back equally to the pool with love. So look for a tribe near you. Its joys will fill your and your child’s life. If you don’t find one, start one of your own.

‘Saying that I am not responsible for somebody else’s child, is like saying I am not responsible for somebody else’s air. In the end, the choices we make about our world and our children affect us all. No child is someone else’s child. A child is simply a child.’

This post appeared on Huff Post India as ‘Creating A Village To Raise Your Child’

Image credit Pinterest

Advertisements
2

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

https://in.pinterest.com/pin/254453447678928366/

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

0

Birth order & personality

 

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/8_8/243089839/">hira3</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

photo credit: hira3 via photopin cc

Studies have shown that most leaders were rarely a first born child. Surprised 🙂 ? Can the order of birth, which means whether you are a first born, or a second born etc., can have a bearing on your personality.

Now that I have two kids, I can relate to this much more.

The first child receives the best of the parents & the world they offer to her. More time, more energy, material things, attention- all are showered on the first child naturally as a right. He never has to ask for anything. All is provided before.

The second child has to fight for his stand, & make way for himself. It starts with something as basic as toys, to the time & energy of his parents which is now divided. He also has to manage with parents also are lesser sensitive since they have learnt from their first experience. He is offered more space to learn, his tantrums are tackled differently, his habits are laid out better, he is dealt with more discipline; all because he is the second child.

What all this subtly results in is a stronger personality for the second child. He learns to make the most of what he receives, learns to stand up for himself, voice his feelings. He also gains confidence as he learns & equips himself since the parents are not the over eager & anxious lot they were as first time parents 🙂 . Aren’t all these traits that make a leader ;-D ?

This no way to say that the second child is less loved, since I feel it’s humanly impossible for a parent to differentiate between their kids. It’s just that because as parents we also grow in experience, we pass it on to our kids as we learn on the way. The second child therefore, gets the best of our learnings.

0

Little time saving tricks

With managing toddlers, every 10 mins saved count. Here are my tips & tricks that I have learnt in my last 4 years of mommyhood.

  1. Travelling- Every time you return home, re-stock the diaper bag with everything you have used in this travel. Wet wipes, diapers, wash cloth, anything at all. Chances are when you are going out next, you would be glad you have saved 10 mins in not having to pack the diaper bag afresh. Buy smaller packs of biscuits/ juices/ chips/ cremes/ wipes etc. This way you can discard when free & don’t have to refill after every travel.
  2. Change/ diaper caddy- Children have accidents (throw up milk while crying or coughing up, bed wetting, drop water/ milk on themselves) which requires a change of clothes. Searching for a fresh set, in the middle of the night when you are groggy & bone tired, can be a task. What I have practised with both my kids is to make a small overnight wicker basket for night which has a diaper, wet wipes, 1 set of clothes & under clothes which I take to the bedroom each night. If I end up using anything from it, I just replenish it for the next day. This also gives an opportunity for my husband to change the kids in the night if need be. And isn’t that awesome 😉
  3. Organise things- Have a small basket for all toiletries which you carry to the place/room where the kids get ready from a bath. This means I take out all required things – talc/ mosturiser, comb & hair brush/ diaper rash cream, hair oil- (all the works) in one go & return them at one go, when I am done.
  4. Sorting- You may be surprised like me  since I learnt this by chance, when I saw my 2 yr. old daughter practise this. Girls are naturally attracted towards sorting, and you can keep a kid busy sorting same colour crayons, blocks, beads, (the smaller the better as they take more time picking it up 😉 but only if the child can play with it safely without putting it in her mouth). This activity can easily buy you 10 minutes before your child gets bored or figures out your trick 😀
0

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 🙂

0

Life is in the pauses

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ybrad/6282838201/">shingleback</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

photo credit: shingleback via photopin cc

Once you become a parent, your life is a whirlwind. It sets into motion the day your baby arrives & just keeps on gathering speed each passing day, as you move from night time feeds, to baby food, to pre-school morning rush to school homework to boards exams to entrance tests and so on…..

As a parent you keep defying logic & keep telling your body she’s not tired, the puffy eyes are just because of a late night you had yesterday, or that the weekend was unusually occupied, it’s just a passing phase and what not. But after a few years, when the euphoria of becoming new parent, buying new baby clothes & setting up the nursery is all done, long after people stop congratulating you, and you realise that this is it; your life is irreversibly changed; you are a PARENT for life!!!

This is when you start asking every young couple around you with young kids when does life become the old life you knew? They all tell you it’s just for a few more years, just hang onto it.

This is what I have been convincing myself & my husband, that the present treadmill of our lives is just a passing phase. Soon the kids will be more independent & responsible, and things will ease out.

I reaslied, all that shall happen when the kids have grown old! Oh oh. But can’t they continue to be cute & cuddly & wanting  forever, while being responsible & independent? Ya, right, as though that can happen. So let’s enjoy the pauses we can catch, between the teeth brushing & bath, the Sunday morning laziness, the afternoon naps together or the splashing in the bath-tub. This is where the childhood is hidden between the chores & the rush.

Too soon these babies, who can’t walk without assistance & have to be hand fed, will be asking for your car keys & have an independent life of their own. They would need you to provide for them, but not need your support in everything.