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Raising a boy

I think the previous generation had it easier. Only moms and mother-in-laws to interfere. Today, the internet is poking its nose with a farrago (been wanting to use this word since Tharoor did. Have I used it right?) of opinions.

This ranges from interference in minor things ..

Give your kid healthy juice. No, don’t. Just give fruits. Don’t squeeze them.

to the overall parenting philosophy..

Don’t be too strict, you’re being a tiger mom. Don’t mollycoddle either, they’ll grow up to be pests.

As a result, we’ve more information and less clarity.

Over years though, I’ve realised that MY strategy is the best! He he! I know it does sound arrogant, but hear me out.

Each parent is so different and so is each child. And in almost 90% of the scenarios, it’s hard to generalise. It’s wrong to generalise. I am my own person with experiences, biases, choices…and I want to transfer some of that influence on the child (yeah, biases, too! It is ridiculous to pretend that we don’t). It is only natural.

However, today I want to talk about the other 10% scenarios which should be common to most parents and children. Just like following the law of the universe or a country. If you’ve to drive on the left, you’ve got to. (I know this is debatable given our road safety consciousness, but that’s for another day)

These are the rules of parenting and the rules of humanity —  something as fundamental as don’t kill, don’t steal, respect boundaries, no violence, etc.

The recent #MeToo campaign has been shocking to say the least. As a woman, it is not too surprising. Even yesterday, I had an incident on the road where a guy walking on the platform was coming right at me..and I had to jump off to miss him. We’re used to this nonsense that it does not surprise us. We’ve always been told to adjust a “little bit” …because if we started to complain we’ll probably never get any work done. But the sheer scale of the problem has shocked me. So many people that includes celebrities to close friends. “Do not abuse women” should surely be a fundamental rule that parents should teach their children.

It has made me think about how to raise a boy.

It seems like such a simple thing to teach that there should be no teaching required at all. I know that this does not happen by me having a “talk” one day. It has to be a part of life. It has to be in the way we, as a family, react and respond to situations, in the way a father treats a mother, in the way the family respects the woman of the house. It’s not about treating her with special preference or glorifying her, but treating like just any other human – meeting her eye-to-eye. Not “letting her” make her decisions, but internalising the fact that who else will make her decisions if not herself. Especially financial decisions. Respecting her for what she stands for, her intellect.

It has to be in the way we resist creating prejudices about what a boy or a girl can or cannot do. It doesn’t stop with just making the girl wear blue and the boy pink. It has to be at a much better magnitude, by enabling both our boys and girls to dream infinitely. Children can actually be quite mean and inherit prejudices easily, and it’s common to hear boys say stuff like “that’s a girl thing” which usually points to something soft or weak. As a parent, I feel the urge to put an end to that right at the moment when I hear it. It’s just non-negotiable to say that…even as a joke or a casual statement.

Fortunately, I have met so many men in my life who’re sensible, compassionate and hardcore feminists even though they sometimes don’t realise they are labelled that way. So, my hope is not lost. However, I believe that sexual abuse is like a terror attack. We shouldn’t stop working on putting an end to it until the count is zero.

And it can only stop when it starts at the fundamental institution – the family … the parent.

 

 

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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in amma philosophizes

 

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What’s in the future?

After yesterday’s T20, Sid declares..94% I’m going to be a cricketer, and 55% footballer.

Forget the future goals, all I’m wondering is why is he talking in percentages? And why are these percentages so not rounded off?

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2017 in Sid's antics

 

Sid chants Totakashtakam

I love the lyrical rhythm of this sloka. This one was selected as part of the students’ showcase put together by his online sloka academy. At first, I was skeptical whether classes on Skype would work, but now, I swear by them. I love the baby voice, the mazhalai in Sid’s accent, the innocence and earnestness in delivering the words.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in proud amma, Sid's antics

 

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Conversations with Sid

Reading Amar Chitra Katha is one of our favourite activities. It is usually a starting point for some interesting conversations. And curious questions.

It could start off as something random: When was ChandraGupta Maurya born? Before or after Rama? …and then jumps and hops many questions and probably leads to something like ‘what’s mythology?’ and ‘what’s history?’

And that’s a long conversation that even adults are figuring out, I want to say. But anyway I explain in whatever way I can.

These are some of my best moments. When Sid is still hanging on to what I’ve to say. Well, at least one guy in the family is still listening 😉

A couple of days back we were discussing the Mahabharatha war. Sid hates wars, even in stories. Even when the story has bad people on the other side. It isn’t easy for him to accept that at all. And he tries to come up with explanations as to why that should not happen.

Anyway, he finds the Kurukshetra war gruesome and just cannot understand why cousins will want to fight with each other. Tough questions, vague answers. Finally, we keep looping through why the war started until we reach Shakuni and how he influenced a young Duryodhana.

There is absolute silence for a few seconds.

Why didn’t anyone not think of killing Shakuni much before? Then, the war would not have happened, and so many people died? Sid asks.

It’s not that simple, I want to say. The loop probably goes even earlier to a previous time when Bhishma attacked Gandhar. Or, perhaps, no one predicted Shakuni’s actions and all these consequences.

But for now, I just say ‘good question’ and ask him to think why. For the moment, I’m just amazed at the child’s innocence, and also delighted at his thought process. I’m fascinated by how even at a small age, a child has the capability to understand grey shades. And is able to see that good people sometimes do bad things, and bad people have other sides to them. Not simply look at a story as something with two opposing sides – good and bad. It is not even something that I’ve to explain. The questions tumble out on their own. The interpretations come out on their own. The need to understand why a person acts in a certain way, and why he did not make a different choice.

Sheer bliss!

 

 

 

 

What is a question?

I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent. And I don’t say this in an arrogant way. Just a statement.

But often Sid challenges me in a way making me realize that knowing is one thing, but explaining is completely another.

The other day, we’re learning about types of sentences. And I try to explain what an interrogative sentence is. I say it’s a question. A sentence that always has a reply. All good so far.

Then I give some examples, and ask what these sentences are. After a while, I ask this one: “Thank you for the gift.” 

It’s interrogative, he says.

Is that a question?

Yeah, it is.

Does it have an answer?

Yeah, it does.

What is the answer?!

Welcome, he says. 

What? How is that an answer?

Yeah, you say ‘thank you’, I say ‘welcome’. He explains.

I’m stumped. I just give up.

(On a side note: this is why teachers are awesome and they need to be paid extremely well. The way they can explain a concept, we, laymen, can never manage to.)

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2017 in Sid's antics, studying

 

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Countdown to exams

superhero-classroom-kid-wall-artThis is one of those times when you really don’t want to step into my home. Sid and I are usually in sync, completing each other’s sentences. But, a couple of weeks before exams, we’re at loggerheads. I yell, he cries. He bangs the door, and I do too. ‘Why can’t you teach without raising your voice?’ he says. ‘Why can’t you focus on what I teach you?’ I say. ‘I hate you,’ he screams. ‘I don’t love you either,’ I say.

Then, five minutes later, we hug it out and then start this war all over again.

Then, when he goes to sleep, I just can’t seem to remember what we were even fighting about. Something related to some random topic in some subject.. and I feel silly and blessed to be in the company of such a delightful child with a heart of gold. And my heart wells with an emotion that I might even be able to explain, but just don’t want to.

It feels too precious.

Next morning though, we’re at it all over again. Arguing and debating about something that I’m sure I won’t remember by the night. Cycle of life.

 

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One way to wake up in the morning

When it’s a chilly morning and you need some inspiration to wake up the kiddo!

It’s a fun morning when mom and Sid are dancing to this while getting ready to school.

Have a happy day all!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in crazy amma

 

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