The Guilty Mother ~ Part 1


Like seasons, a mother’s personality undergoes myriad shades of change at every development milestone of her child. She plays the good mommy, bad mommy, sulking mommy, happily cooking mommy, moody mommy and what not! Not every day is her day. And, when it is, it is that time when the moon turns into a sky blue and, Mommy turns into a Cinderella with the yellow pumpkins becoming her carriages and, lizards becoming her footmen! I love fantasies, I always have! And, sleeping for me is an excuse to get into that unreal world and, play my fiddle as long as I want! Anyways, I am digressing by habit. Where was I? Yes, on regular days I am the regular mom who tries to do everything but fails to catch up on everything. I am sure, many homemakers who detest housekeeping business would relate with me. And today, hubby is out of town and, son and I have fallen back on a lazy Saturday routine.

So, after hours of making trains with the peg tables, my son has rehashed the look of my drawing room. Currently, it looks as though it has been ransacked by burglars. The cushions are strewn in some abstract fashion, the sofa covers are half in, half out. The center table is diagonally placed near the door opening into the porch! The wooden mesh turtle carrying a lampshade looks lost as it has already been rotated umpteen times! And, the wooden flower vase is seen hiding behind the tissue curtains in a fashion that someone like me who is prone to slip even while wearing slippers will have a Humpty-Dumpty fall! On regular days, this is not the scene though.  Because, on regular days I am the GUILTY mother who constantly pleads to the energetic creative world of mine – my five year old son to adhere to discipline. Yes, yours truly is Guilty As Charged.

A few weeks back, when I sat with the son before his exams, making a few test papers and some questions, I suddenly stopped midway for some unexplained reason and, started doodling on the last page of the notebook. It was some abstract design, one of the many that I make and that, either have no meaning or, have too many! I, of all can make no sense of what I doodle! However, that day I did not notice that the son was observing me doodle. He did not say anything and, I was oblivious to him being aware of my act. And, the regular mother in me resumed with the advising, pleading, coaxing, shouting, yelling etc……. My regular days with my son be like —–

“Study! Study!”

“Read aloud what you write! (A little nudge on the shoulder) How many times should I tell you?”

“WhAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW ON EARTH CAN ‘EE KI MATRA’ (Hindi) BECOME ‘uuu KI MATRA’? DON’T YOU LISTEN TO YOURSELF WHEN YOU WRITE?”

“+ MeAnS ADDITION! – mEaNs SUBSTRACTION! PLEASE……PLEASE…..Read, Understand and then DO!”

“What. Are. You. Doing!  What pleasure do you get in digging that pencil into a brand new eraser? Does Money grow on trees? WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO IT?”

“Arjun! Where is your small water bottle?” (Which I find is now, a cave for all the crawlies and creepies that coexist with us peacefully…As per Arjun it is the snake Agasura and, all the creepies and crawlies are Krishna’s friends! If I say I am at my wit’s end, it is an understatement!)

“Arjun! Where is my kitchen scissors?” (I found the kitchen scissors in various stages of dying as I collected its mortal remains – the blades and the hold….from the garden…Well, the scissors was forced to cut down some strong branches which were later to be used for making a bow and arrow – as per the son! I got a new one which is now used for origami work thankfully!)

“Arjun, please keep the shoes on the rack! Please put that tiffin box in the sink! And, why have you not drunk all the water? You must drink a lot of water!” (On some days, I can hear an echo of whatever I speak. Trust me, he repeats my statements with emotions and expressions that make me go – “OMG! Do I really look like that when I speak? WOW!”)

“Arjun..read aloud! Focus! Concentrate!”

…………………………………..And, the list of my reprimands is endless!……………………………………………

So, after his exams got over, I felt as though I had won a gold medal! That feeling had more to do with – Pre kg! You are done! (Son is going to first grade this year) And no, I have not gone near any books since his exams have got over. Neither has he. But, something caught my eye some time back, a few days after his exams got over. That image made me swell with pride and, well with tears! Remember, I just spoke about some abstract design I had doodled while I was preparing his question papers. The son had drawn out his variations of the same on the same page with the same pen I had used. (The doodle on extreme top left is mine, the other two are his)

Arjun and me

This image was a revelation in parenting to me in many ways that can barely be expressed in mere words.

Today, I took a pause from my daily routine while the son is enjoying his holidays. And, I thought – I have to make the best use of this pause. And what better way than to introspect? Now the above piece of paper with the three intangible doodles made me realize why being an adult actually sucks and, no wonder it feels like being chained by archaic rules and protocols of which, many don’t make sense to me yet. The little Narayani within me smirked at me and, questioned – “Are you even practising what you preach? Why do you ask him not to doodle during study time when you yourself are not able to hold it back! He has your genes, woman! Believe me, let the chemistry in those magical genes work and, you will see a rising genius!”

Ever since the exams have got over, I have allowed the son to do what ever he wants. Though some of his recent shenanigans in the park have already diluted my resolve and I am secretly wishing for his school to begin again, I am also as a matter of fact, proud of his profound questions, thoughtful trances before the simple answers and, his endless trunk of tricks that he saves for priceless moments!

The other day, hubby had asked him –“What do you want to become in life?”

Pat comes the reply – “I want to be a community helper” (He had a chapter on community helpers in his UKG)

So, I asked him – “Which community helper you want to become?”

D….O…..C…..T…..(E)….R”….DOCTOR! The ‘e’ was later replaced with an ‘o’!

Hubby was clearly enjoying the conversation and, further asked – “OK. Which doctor would you like to become? Like, do you want to become an Army Doctor?”

The son thinks for a while and says – “hmmm…..ok….Yes….”

I was folding clothes then and, added my opinion – You better be a good one then!”

Son was lost in deep thought…..and hubby patted him on his cheek and asked – “What happened, son? Planning to change goals?”

To which, he replies candidly “No pa! I want to be a doctor. But, I also want to become other community helpers like tailor, carpenter, gardener, cobbler, milkman, postman, soldier, policeman…..” (and, he named every community helper in the world!)

Smiles, giggles and perspectives come from such conversations. I added – “Well son, in that case, you better become an actor! You can take on all the roles you mentioned!”

Well, I said it! I realized, I said it in the spur of the moment! On a lighter note, it sounds funny now. However, did I really mean it, given my contempt for the kind of films, our Cinema is giving us??

The question itself was a Eureka moment for the guilty mother in me. Rather, I found the answer in my own question and, I have the faith in his destiny that he will be the mad bull for his goal and, will achieve what he wants in life!

Recently when we were visiting a few friends, I met a boy who was appearing for his boards. While the conversation hopped from one topic to another seamlessly, I asked him what was his stream of interest. The answers came, crisp and clear but not from the son. Every answer that came for every question was from the mother, who began the sentence as – “His interests are so and so….So, he wants to pursue this and this….” The boy has been raised excellent and yet, he was silent every time his mother answered for him. As a parent, I feel a child must always answer from the bottom of his heart and, no person must fetch those answers for him. Anyways, to each, his own.

Thoughts of a child, they say are the treasure troves where even a mother cannot enter and take a peek into. I am learning that now. When the son doesn’t want to share something with me, he doesn’t. And, I don’t prod. I am glad that he has a space where he can be himself with absolutely zero inhibitions. I also have my world of thoughts where, I reign supreme. I am the queen in my world of thoughts and, I revel in the power those thoughts

That said, I cannot remove the guilty mother from my personality. I am going to be the fussy mother, the confused mother and the nagging mother who wants to know everything about the son as he grows up, about his friends, about his girlfriends, about his heartbreaks, about his crushes, about his games, about the million secrets he intends to keep from me. He will get annoyed with me. He will also learn to dodge his CID mother! There will be times when he will also call me up less. But then, he is my son and, I remind myself each day of my life that he carries the many traits of hubby and mine and that, the fiercely creative combination of the fire and water that we are, he will learn the tricks and trade of growing up beautifully.

Besides, hubby and I constantly remind ourselves from time to time – “Allow him to make mistakes. Let him take the fall and rise! If his heart breaks, let him heal by himself. If he faces failure, let him fight it himself. You brought him into this world. Now, let him evolve by self, just like your creators let you!.”

In that absolute faith, I am sure that there will come a time when hubby and I will share the same kind of friendship with our son that, we share with our own parents today 😀

On a lighter note, my parents at the moment have every reason to grin ear to ear and, sit back and enjoy the many CID episodes this guilty mother will be sharing on this blog!

Shhhhhh………………………………………………………………………………………………………

shsh

 

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Dear child, A failure is not too bad to be dissed.


Failure is seen as a bad word. Always. I am no exception. It just comes naturally to us to dodge failures, avoid failures, beat failures. Isn’t it? But while we are busy making sure of getting the failures off our back, we have missed a crucial point – Has any success ever come with no failure? And if it did, has it not encountered it later?

Something prompted me to write about why children need to come face to face with failures more, to understand the importance of success. After all, when success arrives at your doorstep, it is not you alone who is the sole owner of it. All those people who helped you arrive at this point (even if it is a tapri ka chaiwala), deserve a part in that success. However, failure absolutely and utterly belongs to you and you alone. And it is precisely why, failures guide you better if you listen to them carefully. Superficially, failures bruise your ego. Rejection kills your motivation on the surface. But for a soul to feel the success, he would always listen to voice of the failure which says – “Common! you deserve the best!”

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So, here is my post on Parentous which is a 2 part series. Below is the first part:

Come children, let’s talk about failures- Part 1! (An excerpt from my write up).

“When I worked as a preschool teacher earlier, I was irrevocably drawn towards student psychology. Although I handled preschool, I was also in a position to interact with students who were in eleventh and twelfth grade. It seemed as though I was a part of two different worlds, each oblivious of the other’s existence. My preschool kids were innocent, loving and obedient. They absorbed every word I spoke, like a sponge. I still remember how the kids used to fight for the first bench. But then, ever since I made it a point to walk around in class while teaching, the fights stopped. My kids mastered the art of head rotation with their eyes and ears following my gait and sound. You can say, I was their mother teacher. They took my scolding with the same grace as they received my love and care.

However, when I interacted with teenagers in the same school, I realized communication could not get any tougher than this…………………..” Click here to read the whole article.

A chronicle from the 1960s.


Kindness is God’s way of telling you – “Hang on there! Hold on to that flame of hope and, trust me with all your faith. You are just a wee bit away from crossing that burning bridge!”

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Circa 2002

That year although was the beginning of my dream to fly, it did have more important reasons to be remembered for. Because that year was not just about finding my wings, but it was also more about the empty nest syndrome that hit my mother for the first of all times.

empty nest syn

My parents have in a very amazing manner, balanced walking the tight rope of parenting. At any point of time, one of them would be as cool as a cucumber. However among the two, I remember my father having predominantly played the cool parent as compared to my anxious mum. But it all changed once my twelfth grade ended. Mum wanted me to go out of the state and study. Whereas, my dad who had helped me give countless entrance exams wanted me to stay within the known realms of the state. Finally, I joined a college in a place that was three hours from home and, it made all three of us happy, for different reasons though. Talking about Mum, she was prepared for the part, that I was leaving for college. However, she wasn’t prepared for the part that came later,“A home that was deafeningly silent”. In months that followed, I could sense her leaning towards depression. We couldn’t talk much during the first week as I was yet to have my first mobile. Standing in a queue to speak through the payphone was the only option and, given the fact that there were many like me, it was impossible to have a decent conversation. Yet, I managed to visit home once or twice a week. She was vocal about my absence and, I for one did not know what could ease her pain.

A few months passed. And one day, I got a call from her – “Hey! You know our neighbour’s daughter – Chutki. I am planning to teach her Maths.” Oh yes! I remembered my lovely neighbor Pinki Aunty’s beautiful daughter Aashka who is fondly called – Chutki,  who was in class 7 then. The enthusiasm in my mum’s voice was the answer to her own pain. In that moment, I felt it was God’s way of showing the way.  A couple of years later, she was teaching 5 – 6 children, a variety of subjects like Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and sometimes, History and Civics too. Having handled and mentored a difficult child like me, she was so much at ease handling and teaching the other kids in the neighborhood. She had found her happy place. But what made me more proud of her is the fact, she taught purely for fun and, not for money. When I asked her what made her take tuition for free, she narrated a beautiful incident from her childhood and, it has stayed with me forever.

This is as narrated to me by my mum:

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Circa 1969:

“There are times when you are lost, when you are blinded, when you are overwhelmed by the feeling of having been left in a jungle blindfolded. And then, all of a sudden a stranger takes your hand and leads you the way from darkness to light. That stranger at that time, is God to you.”

“I studied in Muncipal school till class Seven. And you know how those schools are. Not much was taught. All play and no work was the deal. And then, when I reached class VIII, my father put me in Avinash Lingam School of Coimbatore. I was enthralled and at the same time scared when I saw the sprawling campus of my school that also had colleges pertaining to various disciplines. While I was still mesmerized by the ambiance of the new school, my father led me to the principal – Hema Prabha Maam. She looked at me in the eye, wished me and then said to my father, “She has to pass an entrance test. Only then I can confirm her admission.” The entrance exam contained questions of all subjects in English and, I came from Tamil medium with very little knowledge of the language. It felt as though I had landed in a foreign country. No, I did not know English well. And, I did not attend any question in any of the subjects. However, I did write a poem that I was taught in the earlier school. Later when I was inducted, I asked my father – “How did they take me in such a school when I did not even know a single answer to a question?” And he said, “Seems you did not leave the entire paper blank. You wrote some poem in your paper. What has impressed them is the fact that there wasn’t one grammatical error in that whole poem and that, your hand writing was beautiful. Anyways, you are in a good school now. Time to shine and make us proud!”

I adored my father and I missed him a lot. Mostly because he was in a job that demanded transfers once in two years. Hence, we (my mum and my three siblings) were stationed in Coimbatore whereas, he was moving around making tough adjustments in life to provide us with a good comfortable life. And so, I was determined that no matter what, I would not fail his expectations from me.

However, the first day at Avinash Lingam had already decided to challenge my verve. I reached my class and, I saw myself surrounded by girls who were taller and far stout than me. Yes, they were clearly intimidating as their body language said it aloud – “What is a girl from a Municipal school doing in our school?” And just as I thought about the way I was to get ragged, our class teacher Rajathi Maam appeared. She was the first kind soul I met in that school. She introduced me to the class and, vice Versa. There were occasional mumbles and jumbles that were laced with giggles. That day felt like being choked! I did not understand a thing! And, I felt like a misfit! Besides, the feeling of not being accepted in a place where you have just landed as a newbie is not a good feeling. A few days passed.

Since, I had joined a month late in the school, I was advised by Rajathi Maam to take down the missed notes from someone in the class. As I went about asking, I noticed that there were cliques in the class – the toppers, the sports players, the fashionistas and, the average ones. I did not fit in any of them as, I was as blank as a clean slate. As for the notes, I did not get much help as none that I asked was ready to lend. Many wouldn’t even speak. So, just as I felt that the new school is a big mistake and that, I was letting my father down, a long hand with some notebooks came forward. I looked up and saw a girl smiling at me. She said, “Hey! Take my notes. You can return them once you have copied them down.”

Her name was DP Usha Rani, the second kind soul in that class. I remember her vividly and, I remember the name. My happiness knew no bounds as I thanked her profusely and, promised her that I would return the notes ASAP. That whole night, I sat and copied the notes down. I returned the notes next day as I had promised. Later I learned, she was one of the few secluded toppers who was unaffected by cliques. And, she was my inspiration to learn. I wanted to become like her.

It took me three months of sheer hard work and determination to come within the top fifteen ranks in the first quarterly exam. And that determination sprung from the one and only fact that, someone in that class was kind enough to help me in the first week. I could not let that kindness down! When the results came, everyone including the teacher was surprised pleasantly. As for me, I was thankful to God for helping me in that hour of need through that kind soul – DP Usha Rani. Needless to say, not only did I earn respect, but a few good friends later.

Coming to Present……

Do you know why I am narrating this incident to you? When Chutki arrived for her tuition on the first day, I saw myself in her, a girl who needed help but was not getting it. She clearly felt lost just like I had, in the year 1969. And, it was like lending a ear and hand to a version of myself. And within a year, when she eased herself in tuitions, I discovered a very intelligent girl within, who preferred to reach the depth of a concept than, simply reading it for a test. With her, I felt more connected with myself when we went through the brainstorming sessions of understanding subjects like Math and Physics. And even though she is stark opposite to you, she reminded me of your school days too! It gives a great inner peace in helping someone especially when you realize you have been through a similar phase in life.”

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As I look back, I realize how times have changed. Yes, in the schooling years, mum and I have had countless differences and arguments, given the fact that, I was a rebellious child. Today, we chat as siblings, shop together giggling over our idiosyncrasies and, watch every cookery show together. And, when she narrates about her childhood, I feel ecstatic about chronicling them. It is like taking a peek into the 1960s and, wondering how life was both easy and difficult in different ways as compared to the present. And yet, we have a lot to learn from the yester generation. And the one thing that I learned and, importantly  what propelled me to write this post was – “Kindness is rewarding. Always.”

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Which is important – Foundation or, the structure on it? ~ Guest post 2


This is my father’s second guest post after the first one here. Felt like sharing.

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My daughter is very proud of being a pre primary teacher though she has been one only since three months. So, her pride was bruised when a three decade experienced higher secondary teacher passed a snide remark on how handling pre primary Is easy and does not require efforts like that of hers.

My visibly angry daughter was now preparing her mind for a volcanic argument with the teacher who also happens to be her aunt. So, I explained to my daughter,

Those who teach pre primary and primary provide the foundation and the required base for the child. Those who teach secondary and higher classes provide structure and super structure, which obviously cannot be made without foundation. Each requires a different skill set and, has its place in the world.

Super structure falling is not uncommon. But, foundation failing is rare and serious. So, decide whose job is important. Foundation i.e. base though signifies the strength is not visible. So, it is not appreciated and is, therefore taken for granted. But super structure is visible and signifies beauty and hence is accredited all the time.

To understand the importance and the associated efforts for building the foundation requires intelligence and wisdom, a rare combination that many may not possess.

So, dear daughter! do your job with undiminished passion and love. That will give peace and satisfaction in the long run.

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I will keep this in mind, father! And, I am glad that I have you and mother around to guide me through times when circumstances unnerve me and bog me down. Yes, I really do not have to reply to every condescending comment. And as you advised, I should never explain to anyone why I am doing what I love to do.

Amen to that.

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Growing up with grandparents.


“Growing up with grandparents is a privilege few are blessed with. I grew up in a big house, a comfy neighborhood and in a town that is more progressive than many cities I have lived in. But the one thing I missed in my childhood was growing up with grandparents……………………………………………………………………………………………………..But, God has been kind but in mysterious ways. I am blessed with a hubby who is my best friend! I have an adorable three plus year old son, Arjun who treats me like his sibling. And then, there is my extremely patient father-in-law who is always ears for my dramatic monologues no matter how boring they are. Last but not the least; I am blessed with the world’s best parents, who are exactly the grandparents for my son, hubby and I had always wished for, ourselves! This post is totally dedicated to all the cool grandparents in the world!” – An excerpt from my post on Parentous

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Click here to read the complete post!

Parenting with the strictness quotient


Raising a child is the most precious experience, albeit the most challenging one too. There are worries, there are never-ceasing-to- grow whites on the head, there are sleepless nights about the planning of child’s education and then, there is also the seamless joy in watching your child blossom and evolve with time. However, there are times when not everything your child does, make you happy. As a mother of a three plus year old, I have realized that, some amount of austerity is crucial in aiding with the right kind of growth. And, I am a strong believer in the adage: Spare the rod and spoil the child.

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These days, Internet is rife about how children should be raised. Forums on every social networking site are flood with parental guidelines. A lot of mothers discuss parenting issues, where instances of children under performing in school but performing well at home, or children being too disobedient or following an erratic routine or even, unhealthy food habits and irregular sleep patterns. My mother thanks God that there was no Internet in her time. She chuckles, “Who had the golly time to discuss all these issues? We had no choice but to be self-educate ourselves”. I feel , she definitely parented in a different time and not to mention, a better time too!

So, here is my take on how strict we need to be with our children.