Thursday, January 29, 2015

I have questions for you, Mom!

My 9 year old is growing... pretty fast. The recent questions from him were:
"Why is the middle finger bad?"
"Sex is either male or female, then why did the person in the movie PK said it is something we do?"
"What is that and why do you use it?" (referring to sanitary pads)
The list is endless.

If you have faced these questions or the like from your child, read on.

My husband has found a very apt solution to handle these questions. Walk away as if the question has disappeared into thin air or he very smartly finds something urgent to do. Good job! Well, his excuse is that since I handle kids of this age all the time in school, I am more adept at handling these situations better than him. Sometimes being not so good at something is also a life saver.

So that leaves me to handle these I-could-do-away-with-these kind of questions.

I had undergone a training programme on Child Sexual Abuse by Enfold and as a part of the curriculum, there was a very interesting discussion on handling such questions from growing kids. I will share here a few very handy pointers told by the trainer, which has helped me immensely.

1. Mostly children ask such questions not for knowledge but to check our comfort in answering the questions. 
Simply put, they just want to test our reactions. Infact, most of the kids will not even wait for the entire explanation. They will soon get bored when they see that we are ready to explain without any discomfort or shyness. So the important thing is controlling your reactions.
When your child asks you an uncomfortable question, the first thing for you to do is NOT SHUN or AVOID them. Never say, "What are you asking me? Leave me alone. Don't say such dirty things".... and so on. What I do is just keep a straight face, keep an eye contact, just nod and listen. This applies to 'all' the questions my child asks.This very reaction tells them we are prepared to answer their questions and they have not surprised us. This puts them under ease. Remember that the child is also going through a gamut of emotions when they ask us something of this genre. They are confused, anxious, little embarrassed.

Remember, mostly children stop asking such things to their parents once they enter teens.

2. Never answer these questions immediately.
This does not mean that you answer the next day. It simply means that you buy a few moments before answering. A simple few things I do is turn around, go and sit on the couch or say 'Let me wrap up what I am doing, so that I can sit with you for this.' This gives me a few moments to think well in my head and come up with the right words. In a need to answer immediately, we may end up giving answers which could give rise to more uncomfortable questions.

There is another reason for this. The children are so anxious to get an answer that they are impatient. Most of the times, they will blurt out what they already know about the topic. So, that will help in framing your own answer. It will help you play around the fence.

3. Do not give over information.
This is the biggest tip the counsellor gave me. She said it is important to know how much the child is already aware. Age appropriate and just the enough information is the key. For that, the best thing to do is to follow point no. 2.

Replaying the situation in which my son asked me: "Sex is either male or female, then why did the person in the movie PK said it is something we do?"

(PK threw googly over googly: Dancing cars, condoms, sex is something we do ... Gosh! It was like playing with fire.)

I was in the kitchen when A came and asked me this. (Yeah... the eye opening discussions happen in my kitchen.) M remembered to respond to his 'important' mail just then. I immediately turned my face away from A to regain composure. (Come one... the least you expect while making Paneer sabzi is your son asking about sex) It also gave me some time to think and wait for him to speak to me more.

I then said, "Yes, sex also means Male or Female. But it also has another meaning." 
A: "Ya, so what is that?
Me: "It also is something humans do to reproduce. 
(I further waited for a while, when I saw him thinking. I did not say another word.)
A: It is something husband and wife do right?
Me: Yes. 
...........Period. (I am waiting for another mind bender)
A: Ok... 
And he hopped away. Wow! Not bad. I thought. 

Precisely at that moment M came back, gave a smirk and said, "May I please bow before you. I could have never done that!"

I think if your child is coming and asking you these questions, you are in the right path of parenting. It simply says that your child is comfortable talking about things which somewhere in his heart he knows is 'different.'

I hope this post helps you to handle such situations better. Happy Parenting :)








Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pretty Me!

Today I came across this video on Facebook. Do have a look here. The reason I liked the video is because it is something I have thought about quite often.

What is that makes us look radiant? Some people say prosperity brings radiance. Some swear by Oh-the-awesome night cream. Oh ya, also the Happiness Sale in Central! If you like to read self help books (I am not much of a fan,, but yes there are a few books which helped me think differently), do read up Happy for no reason - Marci Shimoff. It's a lovely book that I came across when I was going through a rough patch a few years back. It speaks about how one must learn to be happy without looking for reasons.

Women, in particular are taught to take care of themselves. Ever wondered how men can be so callous about their looks...and ever thought how sometimes the gorgeous looking men are unshaved and oh-so-casually dressed. From the time a girl is born, her physical attributes are spoken about and taken care of. I remember one of the incidents shared by a friend of mine. She was coming back from her mother's house, after delivering her daughter. In the flight, she met Shahnaz Hussain. She went over to the 'beauty diva' and asked her just one question: "How do I remove the excess hair on my daughter's body and face?" She was told to massage her baby with ta-da-dum-dum.... and so on.

Have you noticed how some days we look particularly good. The hair is behaving itself, the skin is soft and supple, the abs looks tucked in and the lipstick stays on. And then there are those days, when well, we could just go back right away to sleep and get up the next day. I have had many such days. If I look back and observe, all those days have one thing is common. I have been happy, very happy from within.

Being a single child, I have grown up on a steady diet of friends. They make me happy, and let me be. I guess the worst period of my life was when I had just had my son (first born) and I had lost touch with my social life. I literally had switched off myself and I was at my lowest. Then friends came back, I made new ones, I left behind a few, I let go of a few. Today, I have a good bunch who I know will pick up my calls when I want them to, will hear me banter or bitch when I have got up from the wrong side of the bed. Go ahead... have some of your own. There is never an age for having friends.

Ever had that moment when you had that bite of chocolate or cake or imli and felt utter bliss. That moment when saliva comes oozing out of all the insides of your mouth, and your eyes gets closed as you swallow the food. Go ahead... have those moments more often.

Don't ask a lady her age. And may I ask why?? Age is just a number right? When people shy away from telling their age, I want to shout out loud: Grow up!
Age has got nothing to do with anything in our life which truly makes us happy. My grandmother (you can read about her here) is in her 80s is a mixed bag. On one hand she loves to pray and spend her quite moments with God, and on the other hand she still shops for gold, changes her jewellery often, can make a salesman go crazy while choosing footwear and sarees, eats her chaat-papdi with relish, and loves tandoori chicken. She still massages her face religiously with Vitamin E cream and advises me to do so too. Did I tell you, she looks yummmmm. So go ahead... get old, but stay young. (If you know what I mean) And if someone asks your age, shout it out loud and clear.

Times are stressful, kids are a handful, newspaper is full of news you rather don't read, pollution is on its rise and so is inflation. Back home, that weighing scale just doesn't seem to incline towards the left, the local cake shop continues to make sinful chocolate cakes, children start to fight the moment you pick up the phone, the power goes the moment you decided to make the chutney. But trust me, you will always end up finding something or someone you see and feel: Thank God, I am ME. And that is the moment, my friend... when you look beautiful. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Blues of going GREEN

The whole world is going green. I have a few close friends who have inspired me to make some lifestyle changes. One of them is Priti Rao about who you can read here.

Ok, so I am fairly green. I ensure that I carry my cloth bags wherever I go. I switch off all lights and fans if not in use. I also ensure that water is not wasted. I keep buckets under leaking taps. Infact the other day, my kitchen sink mixer tap had been leaking. The plumber was immediately called and he said the entire tap is gone (thanks to the not so friendly hard water) and we will have to purchase a new one. I obviously said ok to that till I heard the cost... 2500 bucks...what!!! The plumber was sent off and I precisely kept a small katori under the leaking tap. This was till yesterday, when I realised that my kitchen is not looking cool enough and I am okay with shelling out 2500 bucks on a stupid tap. I hate inflation.

My kids are always on the move. Ofcourse partly coz they are kids and mainly coz they run around switching off lights and fans in the house. The other day A had switched on the tap to fill hot water (Did I tell you ours is the only house in the whole apartment which has a solar panel), and the poor guy got mesmerized with some cool dance competition coming on TV. Soon enough the water started over flowing. That moment... that life defining moment when my son's and my eyes met and he ran dropping the towel... to close the tap. My dear son was not visible for the next half an hour.

The rule of the house is whoever exits last from a room has to switch off the lights. This rule is taken very seriously by N and A was proven a few days back. I saw N refusing to come out of the room. She kept calling me or her brother.
Me: Why can you not come out?!
N: Because I will have to switch off the light.
Me: So?
N: If I switch off the lights, the ghost will eat me.
She kept staring at with huge wide opened eyes and I felt like a monster!

If there is one thing where I have failed miserably is educating my darling husband. Its truly weird how as soon he enters the house, all the lights of the house comes alive. Can you think of what he did to my green heart when he threw an entire bucket of water because it got filled with cold water instead of hot?!! Don't ask further questions about what happened after that. Well, dinner was eaten silently and water has never ever been thrown after that day.

Shortly after my mother moved in with us and after witnessing my go-green initiatives at home, one late evening I entered into a pitch dark house. I was wondering where everyone is. And then I heard my mother and kids playing in her bedroom. When I wanted to know why the house is dark, she said, "Well, you don't want unwanted lights to be on, right? And we were in my room, so all other lights are off." Seriously, Amma?? I am surely misunderstood by my family.

The latest bug I caught was growing veggies, Well, I was inspired by those who grow their own veggies and I was all gung-ho about it  too. So we drove to the nearest nursery, bought pots, seeds, and all the jazz. I spent a whole Sunday afternoon making my hands dirty and the kids had a ball too. But to my dismay, I realised that my green hand reaches only the electric taps and switches. Growing veggies is not my thing, hats off to those who do it. But I am not cut for it, atleast for now. So till then my local sabzi wala it is.

People who know me are aware how crazy I am about reading. My electronically friendly husband had been after my life asking me to get a Kindle. But I always pushed him saying there is nothing like the smell of a new book and how a book has to be felt and not just read. Then one fine day while dusting my library shelves, I suddenly realised how many trees have been cut for all these papers. The very same evening, Kindle was ordered (much to my husband's delight). And I must add here, I am very happy with my device. I have donated 90% of my books to a library. I have been reading a lot more thanks to free e-books, cheaper e-books and ease of reading whenever and wherever.

I still like to call myself my environmental friendly (who cannot grow veggies). I am trying to do little things if not big ones. :)



Sunday, January 25, 2015

L.I.F.E

Today morning as I cooked, my son came up to me and said, “You know Amma, J said that he does not want to live anymore.” The meticulous round dosa that I was trying to make now looked a weird oblong. Cooking can wait, I thought. I turned towards him and asked him what he just said. He obviously repeated the same thing.

“But why would he say something like that?” I asked.

Now, if you are wondering who is J, let me tell you that he is my son’s best friend and is 10 years old.
“I know I asked him the same thing! He said we anyway have to die one day, then what’s the point anyway.” My 9 year old muttered.

I was on the verge of giving a dose of gyan session, then I stopped myself. Instead I asked, “What did you say?”

“I said I don’t agree with you J. Life is so exciting. There are so many fun things to do. We have school, friends, games, all the new things our parents buy for us.” His answer followed.

I couldn’t help but smile. All I could manage to say was, “You are right. Life is indeed exciting.”
He soon walked away to drink milk and got ready for school.

It is beyond my understanding how sometimes kids end up saying such magnanimous things and simply walk away. I wish I could get in their heads to know whether they are still thinking about it or it is one of those many things they simply say and forget about.

I have been quite inquisitive about what kids talk among them. Those precious animated discussions that my 4 year old daughter has with her tiny tot friends has made me squirm my ears just enough to hear atleast one word. There have been times when I have asked my son what is that he and his friends talk in length when it rains and they are unable to play football. His answer is mostly monosyllables or maximum… “Just like that…this and that.” And today is when I have come to know that they talk about life and well…. Death! Keeping my fingers crossed, after saying a little prayer I kept myself sane, thinking it could be just a heat of the moment small talk the kids had.

As I was back to making dosas, I wondered about the people who find themselves at that scary, at-the-edge point of their lives, when they no more want to live their lives. At that point, life is not something to be explored, experienced and enjoyed but an end to the means. What could probably help them? A friend, a good advice, a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, an empathetic family member, or a visit to an expert?

Long back as a child, our maid’s daughter committed suicide by drinking poison. The reason was that she suspected her husband of infidelity. Deep in her heart she knew and was quite vocal about the fact that she was dark and therefore average looking, while her husband was fair and very handsome. But the point is that just moments before she died, she cried for help. When she saw someone had arrived to help her, she said that she wants to live and maybe it was all just a suspicion. She kept crying that she wanted to see her two young children grow. But it was too late by then. Our maid spent many days after this incident crying how her son in law was really depressed and kept wondering how in the world his beloved wife got that kind of an impression about him.

That incident came flowing into my mind and I pondered what could have helped her? A life that decided to come to a still, a soul whose purpose was achieved, an unfinished life…an answer refused to come to me.



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