Sometimes, We Forget

I chanced upon a wonderful post on Sakshi Nanda's 'Between Write and Wrong' blog, entitled "Sometimes, we forget to tell our children…". In it, Nanda details a number of elements that I regard as having tremendous significance for us as parents.  

We forget to tell our children …

That our dreams about you do not dictate your future, but your dreams of the future are ours to dream. You go ahead and become what you want, and we’ll watch your back – ready with our ears, our hands and shoulders, whichever you may require. You figure life out, leave home, choose, do, lead – for today belongs to you. Not to our age-old myths, time-weathered ideas or unfounded fears.

I couldn't agree more. I personally know of countless folks who spent the better part of their youth chasing the dreams of their parents, or even their grandparents! As parents, we have a duty to equip our children with roots and wings. But we often confuse the two, imposing our antiquated beliefs and desires onto them – leaving them with a moral obligation to carry these through.

And, it's not just career and ambition that Nanda writes about. There's more.

We forget to tell our children …

That we will never remind you of all that we did for you – like favours, or debts or burdens forever for your shoulders. We did what we could and best. Just as you will too one day, for your child. If we were to make a list, then perhaps we did not understand the meaning of what it is to be a mother to a child or a father to a child. Not everything is quantifiable. If it is, then perhaps it’s an expectancy from tomorrow. Let there be nothing expected by us from your side, except respect and love. And let us as parents understand how best to earn those two from you too.

Another truth that hits home. Millions of parents spend their lives sacrificing almost everything to help their children get more from Life, and then spend their remaining years expecting the favor to be returned. That's just not fair. Every human being should be able to decide how best to live their life – on their own terms. Parents should be able to expect respect and love from their children, and nothing more. 

Don't forget to read Nanda's post in its entirety. There's something in it for every parent.

 

Tidbits: Mar 2013

 

Identity Crisis

We were passing by a billboard with kids dressed up in a variety of roles, and I was curious which of these roles appealed to my son…

Papa: Tiger, what would you like to be when you grow up?

Tiger: Hmmm… an “autographer!”

(I thought to myself that he has aspirations of becoming a star figure that is always signing autographs, but I persisted in my enquiry)

Papa: What’s an autographer?

Tiger: Simple – he’s someone like you.

Papa: What do you mean?

Tiger: Someone who is always taking photographs.

 

What’s in a Name?

I read a brief write up about a king and decided to test my son’s perspective on the subject…

Papa: Tiger, how about we change your name to something more interesting?

Tiger: Like what?

Papa: Well, I was thinking we could change it to Gajendra Singh II – Then, everyone will think you are a King of someplace.

Tiger: (Thinks for a bit and says) No, papa. I don’t want to.

Papa: Why?

Tiger: It’s too difficult for me to spell.

 

Now, you know.

Tidbits: Jan 2013

Old is Gold!

One day, Tiger came up to me out of nowhere and wanted to share his insight on old age. Here is what happened next…

Tiger: Papa, do you know I know when we turn old?!

Papa: Really? When?

Tiger: At 50, we turn old!

Papa: Really? And, what happens at 60?

Tiger: Hmmm… At 60, we turn cold.

Papa: Ok. And at 70?

Tiger: At 70, we turn into mold.

Papa: Ha! And at 80?

Tiger: Simple. At 80, we get sold!!!

Now, you know.

Tidbits: July 2012

 

Rise!

It was the launch of The Dark Knight Rises, and superheroes were on everyone’s mind. Since Tiger is a big fan of several superheroes, I couldn’t help ask him about it…

Papa: Tiger, if you could be one superhero, who would you be: Superman, Spiderman or Batman?

Tiger: (after thinking for a second) Spiderman!

Tiger: (after another second), but with a Batmobile…

Tiger: (after another second), and with Superman’s cape.

What more could one want?

 

House vs Home

One evening, at dinner, Pumpkin (now, eight) was talking about a lesson in school that taught them about houses…

Pumpkin: Mama, can I tell you about houses?

Mama: Sure, you can.

Pumpkin: Houses have a roof, a door and windows. Houses keep us warm in the winter… etc. etc.

She was talking about the various properties of houses, and we figured that Tiger (now, four and a half) shouldn’t feel left out of the conversation. So, we involved him too.

Mama: Tiger, what do YOU think a house should have?

Tiger: (thinks for a second and then answers) Love.

Enough said, don’t you think?

Tidbits: June 2012

 

Etymology

Just after dinner, as the family was hatching plans to order some ice cream, Tiger had a brainwave…

Tiger: Papa, do you know why ice cream is called “ice cream”?

Papa: Is that a trick question?

Tiger: No, papa. You really don’t know? I know.

Papa: Tell me, Tiger…

Tiger: Because it’s soooooo cold that when you have it, you scream. That’s why it’s called “i scream” !!!

Now, you know.

Words Can Hurt

In an excellent writeup I encountered via Facebook, a ‘team mom’ writes about “5 Things Parents Shouldn’t Say to Their Kids“. The premise of the article is that the best of parents can do with some help and guidance on things to avoid saying to their children, because “how moms and dads communicate with their kids directly impacts the parent-child relationship long term”.

Here’s the list in brief, but I’d highly recommend you read the entire article…

  1. “I don’t care.”
  2. “Act your age!”
  3. “Say you’re sorry!”
  4. “Don’t you get it?”
  5. “I’m going to leave without you!”

The post not only explains each of these in detail, but also offers helpful suggestions on what to do instead. Take the time to read this one. You won’t regret it.

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Identity

A post on Neeraj’s blog opens up an interesting debate on Identity – the issue of growing up in one country, migrating to another and rasing a child in a new culture…

But what about my son? He’s not American. Unless I invest a lot of time explaining the very rich cultural intricacies of his country of birth, he’ll be in no-man’s land for the rest of his life. The missus pointed out that he doesn’t even look American. If he stays in America, his ABCD (American Born Confused Desi i.e. Indian) counterparts will probably be black belts in Bharatnatyam, Carnatic/Hindustani music and would know the operational details of organizing satsangs. I can’t teach him these things because I don’t know them. If we all go back to India, it’s going to be spectacularly unfair on him. India’s cultural heritage isn’t something to be scoffed at and it isn’t something you can just pick up as you “go along”. There is no “hit the ground running”. It’s a slow burn, melding into the fabric of the country one day at a time.

As it turns out, the author has decided to adopt the braver choice…

If he does grow up in America, I need to steel myself for the moments when the influence of his adopted country and his peer group will clash with what I’ve been taught to dislike or disapprove. It won’t just be a generation gap I’ll battle, it will also be a cultural gap.

But I’d rather be the parent who accords his child the right to take a stand and then engage in debate, rather than obfuscate his sense of identity with a hybrid, meaningless amalgam of cultures and then be responsible for his disillusionment.

As I read through the post, it occured to me that on a more generic level, the issue he has written about is similar to many more that parents face – even those that haven’t migrated to a foreign land. And, that is : “Should you allow your children to live Life on their own terms or not?”

It is great that, as a parent, Neeraj is aware of the complexities involved and is willing to take the path less trodden, even if he doesn’t have all the answers yet. Like him, me and the mrs. have also chosen to tread that path. That is why we encourage both our children to ask questions and think for themselves. That is why we don’t dumb down our answers when we speak to our children. That is why they are both turning out to be precocious little humans.

Yes, it takes more energy to field their questions, rather than taking the easy way out. Yes, they are turning out to be more assertive and strong-willed than their peers. Yes, there is a good chance that their ways will diverge from our’s when the time comes, and we may not be able to do much about that. But, if it helps them cope with what Life has to offer on their own terms… if it makes them better individuals… it would all be worth it.

May the force be with us all.

Tidbits: Apr 2012

 

Family Math

One morning at breakfast, the conversation revolved around the upcoming summer holidays for the kids. I was also excited that I would get four days off from work in the coming week, thanks to a couple of holidays combined with the weekend. Here’s what happened next…

Tiger: Papa, do you get summer vacation in office?

Papa: No, Tiger, we don’t get summer vacation in office.

Papa: But, I have 4 holidays coming up next week!

Tiger: (thinks for a moment and then replies) I have 60 holidays!!!

Papa: Ok, ok… you win.

Tiger: (again, thinks for a moment and then replies) You can have some from mine if you want.

Isn’t that just adorable?

Tidbits: Dec 2011

 

Problem Solved

One Sunday morning, I found myself talking to the kids about the concept of Extinct and Endangered animals. They had a book of the same topic, and wanted to know more about creatures like the woolly mammoth and the dodo. Here’s what happened next…

Papa: Endangered animals are those which are in danger of disappearing from our lives, because there are so few of them left. Like, tigers.

Papa: And, remember the movie – Ice Age? Like the Woolly Mammoth shown in that movie, many species of animals have already disappeared and can never be seen again. That’s what “extinct” means.

Pumpkin: But Papa, how come they disappeared?

Papa: Because the last one of them died, so there are no more of them left.

Pumpkin: But why didn’t he just marry someone ?!

Now, you know.

Dear Tiger @ Four

Dear Tiger,

Yesterday, you turned four!

It’s easy for all at home to think of you as the “baby”, especially since you are the youngest of us all, look so cute and are so adorable.  But, you are fast learning that almost-four-year-olds don’t bawl each time they don’t get their way.  And, you’ve been waiting for the BIG day when you actually turn four!

It’s been a hell of a year for all of us, and quite eventful for you as well.  This was the year when u graduated from your Little Stars playschool, to joining the “big school”.  We were worried that we may not be able to secure admission for you in Bombay Scottish, but we did.  So, each morning, you and your sister – Pumpkin – take the school bus to the same school (though you return earlier than she does).

Your favorite pasttime is “doing cozy cozy” with your mama, and there seems to be no end to the amount of love you want to shower on her!  It still amazes both of us that you show so much affection to any one, especially since you are a boy.  If this quality stays with you, your wife will be a very lucky woman, and you mother will have a very hard time letting you go…

You can’t stay still for long, and love to practice moves like the Karate Kid, Kung Fu Panda and Spiderman.  You chose a Batman cake for your 4th birthday, and I’m only glad to hear that Batman is one of your favorite superheroes – he’s my all-time favorite too.

Many of your friends from your playschool class seem to have joined you in your new school, and you now have a close knit set of friends, with a special soft spot for Amy.  You love irritating your elder sister and to chase her all around the house, and it’s a lot of fun to watch you two in action.  You can never have enough cars to play with, or building blocks.  For your birthday, we gave you some options and you finally chose a mechanical building-blocks set that you can use to make airplanes, cars, etc.  It was also time that you learned how to cycle, so we got you a shiny blue bicycle just a few weeks before your birthday.

This past year, you went through a bad patch of night terrors.  But, I’m proud to say that you braved through that period, and soon settled down to sleeping with your sister in the kids’ room.  You insist that we have small lights on in the kids’ room when you sleep, but that’s ok.

You may be surprised to learn that one of your favorite foods to eat is ladyfingers!  You love cheese and chocolates, but also have a penchant for spicy pickles.  And, your love for raw onions is unparalleled… Any time of night or day, you can eat all the onions you can get your hands on! By personality, you are more willing to try out new things, and also crazy about Coke/Pepsi and potato chips.

You are fortunate to have a technophile for a father.  Even though I choose my gadgets prudently, you have the benefit of having access to an iPod Touch, an Android smartphone and an iPad2 in the house – all at the tender age of four!  And, you spare no effort in putting it all to good use.

I’m curious to see how the next 12 months will turn out.  You are already beginning to exhibit signs of transforming from a playful child to a young man… I look forward to being with you through this transformation and introducing you to man-things, as the years go by.

I wish you the best that Life has to offer, and hope that you find your way through its maze, enjoying every step of the journey…

Yours,
Dad

See Also: Dear Pumpkin @ Five