children

Thank You Salesman!

Thank You Salesman!

I recently went shopping to pick some dresses for my daughter. She was not with me, so I looked at a dress and buzzed her to check with her, if she liked it or she preferred some other color. This was taking sometime and the salesman got a little vexed (I think) with the delay. He had to wait on one customer for long and that may be taxing his commission (my thinking yet again!) He watched this sequence between my daughter and me for 3-4 rounds and blurted, “Beti apki hai! Usse kya pooch ke khareedna! Jo marji pehnayiye!” (She is your daughter! Why need you ask her opinion? She should wear whatever you buy for her!) I was a little taken aback by his tone and the way he made that statement. I did not call my daughter again. Whatever I had already chosen, I hurriedly selected and made a rushed exit!

This small interlude took me back a few years. We were having a discussion on the role of parents or parenting and someone had given this description: “The boon given by God to play God!” I remember being very surprised and totally in disagreement with that description. How could parents be elevated to the status of God? Especially the present generation parents; most of the middle class income group has both the parents working and the time spent with the children is negligible and devoid of any influence on the progeny. So, do the parents really get to play God for their children in this day and generation too?

The statement this salesperson made brought back the whole episode back and my introspection commenced yet again.  Everything that happens with me leads me to this one activity, introspection! (One ‘chewing the cud’ kind of person I am)

What kind of a parent am I? The exasperated air with which the salesperson gave his dictate definitely made me conclude that he considered himself to be God for his children! But, where was I? With my repeated calls to my daughter I had managed to irk him and my daughter too. She was happily watching some favorite show and my calls were an irritating interference for her. She was polite the first two times and after that she barely looked at the dress. Honestly, the salesman lost his cool before her; another call and I am sure she would have said, “Ma! Stop disturbing me! All are beautiful! Buy anyone of them!”

So, where was I? Taking her opinion and picking a dress of her choice seemed ‘stupid’ to the salesman. I was asking my daughter so that she could have a dress of her choice or liking and I did not dump something on her head forcibly. Children these are very choosy and like to wear clothes of their choice. Bearing that in mind; like a ‘good’’ broad minded’ parent I was giving her the freedom of choice!  Both boomeranged badly, leaving me to wonder about my stance. I definitely disliked the God status, so I had consciously stayed away from ‘trappings’ of that esteemed post.

Asking for my daughter’s opinion for every dress; that too when she was not remotely interested and would have been happy with anything I chose for her; I felt like I was more of a ‘guilty’ ‘over-compensating’ kind of a parent. Was I seeking her opinion because I was not confident about my choice? No! Whatever I have purchased in the past she has never complained. So, what had changed? Introspection time again.

My time with my daughter had changed!  We had a very busy schedule in the past; yet we (my son-daughter and I) managed exclusive ‘together time’ always! Now, we have shifted to a new country and it is just the two of us here, no work and loads of free time. Yet, we barely seemed to spend any time together. We both have an independent time table which has no together time in it!

This being a new place, school, friends, language, culture and everything else was a fresh start for her. Similarly, the place was new for me too. She got busy with her new friends at school, at home and whatever free time she got she was busy chatting and ‘connecting’ with her friends from India. I got busy ‘connecting’ with my friends back home and …. nothing! I was perpetually on the ‘wats app’ ‘connecting’ and getting most disconnected with all else around me! We would have continued this disconnected – connection pattern for longer if I had not made this short shopping expedition I think!

I was asking my daughter for her choice because as I stood looking at those dresses it hit me that I did know what clothes she had! I was clueless about what she needed! Whether she needed or not also I was unsure! What was happening in her life? She always seemed busy. School was good, at home she was seemed more than happy to be on her own with her I pad or phone or laptop. These were her constant companions.

Where were I ‘together’ times? In that busy schedule, back home, I had managed to keep abreast of everything that was happening in her life. Here, we had so much free time, yet we never seemed to do anything together. Introspection done it was time to act now; make the corrections before I really feel guilty and over compensate to assuage my guilt!

We made a timetable, a together timetable. We go walking together, if that is not possible for any reasons then I meet her halfway on her way back home from school and we ‘talk’. We have lunch together and ‘catch-up’ (she used to eat lunch watching some show on her I pad, and I used to continue ‘connecting’L).Now, I consciously stay away from my phone second half of the day, once she is back from school.

I now know what she is happening in her life. She plays cricket! Has learnt to play foot –ball and is getting better at hand ball. She is a good runner and is teaching her friends some ‘Indian –games’. She gets hurt way too often to be bothered about such silly scrapes and wounds now! She teaches Hindi to her classmates and has learnt a few Irish-Gaelic and Spanish phrases. She writes ‘fantasy thrillers’ (that is her area of expertise she claims!). I suddenly realized I have an ‘all rounder’ extraordinary daughter! She can just about do anything she sets her mind to.

These 2 hours of together time has changed many things for us. She and I share many things and enjoy each other’s company. That salesman did me a big favor. I never wanted to play God, but I don’t want to feel guilty and over compensate either! I hope to be her best friend and if possible help her feel successful, accomplished and competent in anything she chooses to do.

So, thanks to the salesman, parenting tips for you allJ. Spend time with your children. Connecting with the world at the cost of disconnecting with your dearest and nearest is …. I don’t have the right epithets.

Counsellor- Mother

Counsellor- Mother

Being an Adolescent Counselor and a behavioral therapist I always had this lazy, arrogant confidence that I knew it all! Any problem I would chance to encounter with my adolescent children (I definitely would not encounter any) I would come out with flying colors. I could not have been farther away from truth!

The only edge I probably had which could be attributed to my academic background was that I was a very aware mom as far as the psychology of the present generation was concerned. And in accordance, I had tried to raise my children; walking the fine balance of being a modern parent yet passing on all the traditional values with which I was raised.

My first born is a boy and so I was very hands on with all the boy television shows and the latest games that boys of that age played. We never grew up with Pokemon , Bayblade, Power Rangers etc; and to be honest I still find them very bizarre and way too exaggerated; but not only did I play all this with my son , I ended up buying their battle fields and card games and encouraged a collection too! We had a Bayblade battle at home! And the look on my husband’s face is not worth mentioning here! Other mothers would look at me very askance as to why I indulge in such stupidity, especially when I was a stay home mom. I spent every breathing moment with that fellow and yet I bought all these new fangled nonsense. Alongside, I used to sit with him and watch our epics; get him to read about our culture, history and even in Pokemon and Bayblade games the assimilation point or take away was always a value and some learning. The games may have a new name and a Japanese character but the values are always the same and universal. The one thing I refused to indulge in was guns or even the traditional Indian weapon Bow and Arrow. I bought him a beautiful, authentic bow and arrow when he turned 10 and was able to handle it responsibly. Apart for these few ground rules, I managed to be a very up to date mother.

 When I was totally in sync with the boy sports God decided to make me the caretaker of a beautiful girl, our second child. Now, the Pokemons and Bay blades were no good. She fancied bangles, the Indian tattoo or mehendi and her real life dolls were her brother and I. She loved play dough; used to sit and create for hours. Board games were reintroduced because of her. God answered my prayers and she never insisted on Barbies, the then outrage and most sought after toy by every girl ( I dread those skinny, skimpy, buxom, so called perfect figured, dumb looking things they sell in the name of beautiful Barbies). I need to thank my son though; she inadvertently did all that her brother did, and the brother never did fancy Barbie dollsJ. She tried Bayblade and Pokemon shows and collected cards till she did not develop interest in things of her kind, like play dough and board games. Mostly, my girl learnt a lot from her brother; he was her mentor tutor more than I could be. She was a voracious reader because he used to read and tell her stories. He swims well and she desperately tries to excel too. All that he does she aspires to do. Her interests where I participated were all on the creative side, namely singing, dancing and drawing.

So, as a counselor I don’t think I did much yet again. One child I raised trying to walk the fine line between indulgence and discipline. The other one got raised with me trying to find the balance between allowing her to find her true interests and she emulating her brother in every way. To cut the story short, though I did not have many hiccups as a mother I don’t think my counseling skills played a crucial role. The threesome got along like a house on fire and if I was a strict parent they did not seem to mind it much because they got away getting pampered by the dad or consoling each other.

The scene changed when my son entered his teenage and my daughter became an adolescent. My son was engrossed with studies and my daughter had way too much free time on her hands. And sensing their independence I got into a lot of work myself and we kind of had a settled pattern for a few months. I used to be out of the house mostly and they used to report the day’s schedule and things they did, missed and needed to improve upon. I was the superficial observer and playing more of a guest parent (this is on hindsight). They did fairly well and seemed to be sorted always, and the results were also static. They did not plummet and raise any panic, but improvement was never visible from semester to semester. So, during exam time the tension used to be palpable; that was when I remembered that improved results were in order! I wrote down reminders and ordered them to sit and study. I still refused to stay home and monitor for two reasons; one, I really had my hands full with many other things I could not call off; secondly, I had given them my full attention and care and it was time they should be able to manage themselves, they were mature independent and focused too. I, the super mommy, counselor had raised them like that and any issues that did occur they should manage or it should not be more than a minor adjustment problem.

Sadly, I did not make any changes, I could not give them any time, I did not have so much time any more. Apart for that, those two really learnt to live on their own. The older one had a close knit friend circle; spent most of his time on phone or with his friends. When I saw him he was with his books, studying and working hard. Except for the fact that his grades never improved and he always had some unique reason, I had no reason to complain or counter his reasoning. I did not know his studies nor was I in a position to teach him myself. So that always ended on a grumpy note, he saying he will do better next time and I was pacified because I has no reason to disbelieve him. He is a sober boy and you can’t find fault with him even now. Just that he is easy going, not so ambitious and most probably has a very different set of expectations from himself, as opposed to what I expect of him. It was unrealistic to expect an adolescent to live up to the expectations of a middle aged person. It seemed more like I was thrusting my unrealized dreams under his nose. He was under performing and I was over expecting, both were not in sync anymore.  

On the other hand, my daughter fared well in academics, she was in middle school and studies were easy. When I used to spend time with her we used to sing regularly and she also did her dance practice diligently. My absence resulted in both these extra – curricular activities getting neglected. She lost all interest in music. Even dance was a thing of convenience and she did not show real passion or zest in excelling in either. If I asked her she did sit and practice but she continuously grumbled, complained about having a sore throat, leg ache or simply made a grumpy face refusing to sing! She did not want to sing and she would not be forced into practicing against her will. It was tough to reason with her and she could be very stoic and determined in her ways. She was studying well; her brother was also studying all the time, so that was the comparison. Rest did not matter. And again I could do nothing. I repeatedly gave reminders, reprimanded, warned and warned for the last time. But that was all, I finally made peace with myself and let go.

Both my independent children were suddenly out of reach. They were good children and I cannot complain about anything. I sincerely feel if they failed in any way it was my fault. Growing up years is tricky. How can one expect a 17 year old to be more mature than his 17 years? And if the 10 year old is stubborn, the parents have to spend time and thaw the will with adult reasoning. All this takes time, and patience which the parents must give the child unconditionally. Whatever may be the upbringing, age comes with its own changes and challenges. Every child is different and has different challenges to encounter. No academics train us and referring to self-help books help only superficially. The rules and answers are both dependent on the child and parents. And the quality time the parents (not parent) give their children. The upbringing and family dictates the temperament of the child and the solutions also come from the parent and child association. Every parent is a counselor and just needs to be with the child in times of need. If it is a working parent even then to expect a counselor to resolve a problem serves nothing till the parent does not take active interest and participate. My academics did help me reason with the children. But being earnest about it and having the interest to bring a change were the key points. We all did a lot of introspection and made peace together. Trying single handed it was a blame game; relationship and situations only deteriorated. Counseling helps only if we know the problem and we are willing to bring a change. Else all certificates prove to be wall decorations alone. Good boost to the ego maybe but good for nothing in real life situations.

Let me end this with a few true lines on children by my favorite author, Khalil Gibran.

 

My epitaph

My epitaph

“To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die” – I read this line when I was probably 14 years old and it simply stuck; I could never forget it, I don’t know who coined this line, where I first read it or why I remember it even. It simply is there and keeps popping up now and then. This line has always come to me when I have a doubt or if something dissatisfactory is happening with me, around me and I am groping in the dark seeking a way out, searching for a ray of hope; light.

Most of my youth I frittered away aimlessly searching for a goal and my true calling. I joined courses thinking this is what I wanted to do, and this would be my last, I had finally arrived. And very soon boredom would sweep in and I would be searching again. Then for some time I would do job hunting take interviews and start working.  After marriage, my husband, poor soul, would be on tenterhooks whenever I used to get into one of these job hunting frenzies! He could not reason with me and I used to be like a woman possessed, just stomp off, step out and get a job.  I realise now that it took nerves of steel on his part to be able to cope and endure a spouse as crazy, wilful and dominating like I! I worked as an audit assistant for some time when my son was a toddler. My husband was on an easy timeline at that point in life and used to be home, cater to our child and see that one of us was always available for him. Probably one reason why my son dotes and idolises his dad so much till date, even though, nowadays they barely exchange a few words whereas I spend every waking minute with the kids!

When our son was 3 years or so, we both got busy with work and careers. My husband dissuaded me from getting into fulltime work; but my madness inevitably crept in and then nothing worked. One fine day I simply went, marched into a college, met the chairman and sought a demo session for the post of lecturer. I went on Friday and Monday I started working, appointment letter in hand! My poor husband said nothing at all, with great reluctance and heavy heart he agreed that our son would be dropped off at the crèche after school, and I would collect him in the evening on my way home from work.

This continued for a few months and my new job was taxing me, I was an excellent lecturer but the subject was not to my liking. Again my sense or boredom was approaching and I was getting irritated with the students, their lack of interest and easy going attitude towards the course. B.Com students are usually there just for the degree and most of them have a business waiting for them or are already pursuing MBA on the side. So this course and class, lectures are for them just a chance to have fun, be with friends and play mischief. It is very draining and discouraging teaching such a bunch. Invariably, I used to start fresh every day with a new resolve of gaining their interest and every evening my hopes would plummet. I used to be a very grouchy person when I picked up my son and in no mood to play or give him any good company. I was too full of the dismal day and simply needed a rest. Playing with my son, spending some quality time with him became rare, very rare.

One day I took an off and we spent the whole day together, just the two of us, my son and I and we were playing, happily laughing and enjoying every moment. During the course of the day he innocently made a remark, “Ma, I would always like to remember you like this only, laughing, and having fun with me.” I burst into tears that night, what had I turned into, I was not a good mom, I was so busy working that I had forgotten how to be a loving person. My son was cherishing this moment, imprinting it in his memory to remember me by! He has no good memories of me! I came home to him every day and got him what? My share of irritation, frustration, anger and spite! When did I become like this I don’t know, and that line came back to me, simply popped up – ‘To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die’. And with a sinking feeling I realised I was dead already, and my son was hanging on to some shreds of the good me, to desperately continue to love his mom, remember her with some long lost good memories.

I never went back to being a full time working woman after that night. If that line was to be my epitaph, I was long way off the mark. Many messy memories needed to be cleansed and fresh loving ones were to be reinstalled. I would have to work really hard to make that line come true. I did work and I can humbly say I have achieved success too. My son is still very close to his Dad but I am his darling mom too, and he has many things to remember me by, in case I cease to be tomorrow. I am sure he will miss me and always feel my presence whenever he may need me.  He has been such a beautiful gift from God to us that I feel totalled humbled and grateful. He has taught me many lessons and helped me become a better person in his own simple, unassuming, innocent way.

Game of Life

Game of Life

As kids, the most popular game at home was Snakes and Ladders. Most of the games used to be for two players or four; Chinese checkers was the only game for 6 people. Snakes and Ladders could be played by any number; we simply improvised with the chess pieces if the players exceeded four. Apart for this, the other reason why we played snakes and ladders was that we were always more than one inching our way to the top, neck to neck, and the others used to be way below, praying that a snake bite us and we slip down to join them! It was more a play of human emotions all the time and it was weird and different to see friends become enemies, pray for their loss and be happy when a third person won, instead of the contending winners. As we grew up, studies took precedence, most of the school friends went different ways and in our busy lifestyle Snakes and ladders was lost and forgotten.

Things took a different turn after my second one, our darling daughter came along. Contrary to her brother, she loves board games of all kinds and she insists that the whole family sit and play! And to our dismay she was not an avid television fan either. Even if we did put her in front of the idiot box, she would barely sit for 10 minutes, even her favourite shows, she wanted one of us to sit and watch with her and she would be explaining the story!! None of us could endure the story of Thomas the Engine, or Oswald or Cee-Bee Bees on a consistent level. Very soon we were taking turns sitting with her and gradually we all started dreading our turn! So a new game almost every week became the new escape route for us, and that is how snakes and Ladders got reintroduced into my life.

She and I used to play for hours and she would be happy winning always, and since I was her only opponent I used to allow her to win, it made her happy and I had a chance to sneak in a few other quick chores, multi-tasking was a feasible option for me only if she won! She used to play with her brother and dad at times and both of them also quickly devised a way to let her win. They soon escaped seeking umbrage of repeated loss or that they were no match against her expertise. She grew up never being able to accept defeat and also overconfident that this was her winning game, she was victorious always.

My daughter’s sand castle crumbled when she began playing with her granny. My mother in law is a very ‘play it fair’ always, kind of a person. She plays to win, be it her grandchild or anyone else, and unlike us she was their putting her life into the game. This became a kind of a tug of war for my daughter and a deja’vu scenario for me. The first time my daughter lost she took it sportingly and hid her shock well in front of her granny; she came and cried her heart out to me saying, “Granny cheats!! She is not a good person, she does not know that in snakes and Ladders I am the only winner, she won I don’t know how!”…it was a stream of epithets and wails, engulfed by abysmal sadness due to her first ever defeat! This instance set me thinking, and I knew I could not approach my mother – in-law and ask her to lose! After all it was a child, her favourite grandchild she was playing against. And even if I did convince and coax my mother in law, what after that? How is my daughter ever going to learn to accept defeat? Is she ever going to learn to lose or will she grow up with the illusion that winning is her birth right?

Somewhere along the line I had made a mistake; in my lethargy and escapist attitude I had passed on something which my daughter may have to suffer with for the rest of her life! I was unable to really pacify my little one that day, just hugged her and kept thinking what my next course of action should be. She obviously did not go back to playing snakes and ladders with her granny, not in that trip, and in a way I was glad. It gave me a respite and time to think.

We sat down to play after a short hiatus and this time I was conscious about many things, my alertness, honesty in playing the game, win or lose accept both with equanimity, her spirit and attitude to the game! Marshalling my defences and strengths we proceeded; and at every step I started talking to her, if a snake bite her she immediately looked at me askance that would I overlook like I used to, and it broke my heart not to. But I was smilingly firm and gave her a new story for every ladder and every snake! A ladder came when she was honest, able to compete, play fair, not feel jealous, and think that this is a game and every game is to learn, enjoy, win some, and lose some too! She lost to granny and she did not like it, and similarly I lose every time I will also feel sad and may never play with anyone again! And a snake bite was when she was getting angry, ready to cry because I was winning, she wanting an extra turn so she could win or even she teasing me if she was on 98 somewhere and I was miserably stuck at some stupid 10 or so, a snake if she could not cheer my previous win and so on and so forth.

It took time, few very patient, long drawn, exceedingly intense games before it finally dawned to her that she had to learn to play, enjoy the game, win or lose a game; any game had a lesson and was fun if the lesson was learnt.

She plays all games with the same ease and grit now, to win always, but willing to roll  a quarter over to the winning side and congratulate the opponent too! Snakes and Ladders had arrived with a bang in my house, teaching my daughter and I a game of life!:)

My daughter says so…

My daughter says so…

My nine years old is very argumentative, wants a reason, logic and a viable ground to work with; it can be any topic from maintaining her time-table to the reason why I learn music at my age! There are innumerable incidents in our daily life and I can easily write a book narrating her thought process and logical conclusions. Every anecdote has some learning for me and I realised that I may have imparted very little of me to the kids whereas my learning from them has been unimaginable!

Their innocent, incessant cross questioning and maddeningly hair splitting examination of every word I utter has forced me to be vigilant and weigh my words with utmost care and caution; resultantly loose talk is out of the way completely in my house! It is full of intelligent humour, and quizzical play with words and topics.

Here I am citing the latest anecdote. We are going to music class together; my daughter and I. she is an amazing singer more like a child prodigy and I am just the opposite. To be brutally honest, I really don’t know why I am still in the class, because my vocal chords still seem to be the same and my voice worse than ever. During my courtship days, I used to confidently sing for my husband and he used to never tire singing my praises and the crystal clear quality of my voice. And I always used to think I am a good singer, just in need of a little practice and of course a good tutor for formal training!

When I joined I thought I would soon improve and my teacher would definitely appreciate my hard work. But with the passage of time truth showed its ugly face and I knew that I was simply kidding myself. For some strange reason I continued to go and never thought of quitting. It is such a contrasting scene in the class, once ma’am asked us to sing a particular Raga and the teacher complimented her saying, “It is the teacher’s good fortune and good karma that they get a chance to teach such and gifted natural and exemplary student.” I was all smiles and feeling very proud when she smiling added, “Sharanya, you don’t feel bad, whatever you lack and can never achieve; God has bestowed on your daughter in a double doze!!”

I said nothing; simply smiled. My daughter chipped in on my behalf saying, “No ma’am, Mama wants to sings only for Her Master. She wants me to become a famous singer.” I was very grateful for her support and congratulated myself on raising such a loyal, devoted child, my good fortune and blessings of Almighty.

Recently, because of unprecedented guesting / hosting I was too over worked and decided to skip a few classes. The first 2 classes the teacher did not ask about my whereabouts and my daughter also never bothered to find out why I was not accompanying her. Third class the teacher asked her and she very innocently replied, “She just dropped me off and returned ma’am, don’t know why!!”

When she told me I didn’t know what to say!! What would the teacher think? I was returning from her door step the last 3 classes!! God!! This silly girl, she could have lied or made some excuses on my behalf!!

And as fate would have it I could not go for the next class either. But I carefully coached my girl and told her to ma’am, in case she asked, that I was unwell. That is why I am not attending the class.

I eagerly waited for her return that day, totally restless and praying that she would not mess up. The minute she returned I asked her if ma’am had enquired. She was very upset and took off like a rocket saying, “Please give me a complete reason next time!! What exactly has happened to you? I don’t know!”

I asked, “what exactly occurred, baby? What did ma’am ask?”

Daughter, “She asked me why you did not come and like you said I told her that you were unwell!”

I , “Then?”

“Then what! She asked what exactly happened to you! And I don’t know what is wrong with you, so what could I say?”

“Then, What did you say?”

All I could say was, I don’t know what is wrong with her, but I heard her taking an appointment with the doctor now and I know that she is going to a doctor in a while, and she continued very sweetly, Please give full details next!! I hate lyingL”

I felt very bad for her and totally ashamed that I was uselessly forcing her to lie. What was a casual habit for me, making excuses, became a grave lie for her and could not cope with it! I apologised to her and promised myself that I would never repeat anything like this again.

That incident actually brought a change in me; I am regular for class, no excuses. I practice at home with my darling and I have challenged myself that I will surely force the teacher to compliment my voice too, someday in the near futureJ. And my daughter loves my spirit and encourages me!

The change these little incidents have made in my life, the learning I receive from children, their innocence and purity is very humbling always.

Khalil Gibran on children

Khalil Gibran on children

Khalil Gibran is my favorite poet and philosopher; this is what he writes about children:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

Your children are temporarily in your custody and you are their guardian and care taker. You have no ownership rights over them because they are owned by God and He has sent them to accomplish a goal or a purpose unique to them. Life called out for them and here they are, as your children in name and form but His children in verity. The animals and the birds seem to understand this philosophy much better than the intelligent human race. The lioness feeds the cub and simultaneously encourages the cub to fend for itself. The chicks are also urged to fly and gather twigs from a very young age. We humans keep missing this fine point somehow.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

He again says, they come from you; yes, you do give birth to them, yet they are from Him alone and not from you, which is what most parents mistakenly take claim for. The children stay with us as long as it is destined and not a single moment beyond that. They are with us but they do not belong to us; they are definitely not the personal property of parents.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

Again so true, did we, as children think like our parents? Did we not have different thoughts, dreams, aspirations and ambitions? Did we not wait for the day when we would be able to live ‘our’ life, the way we want to, without being told, what to do, what to eat, what to wear and a seamless stream of instructions? If that was generation gap then, should not the gap be more gaping and wider now? Times have changed very dramatically over the last 2 decades and with it a very tumultuous parent age has arrived. Love is scarce or showered as a return gift for something well done or withheld as punishment at times. The present day children are facing more insecure times, it is all the more important that we shower as much love as we can on them and give them the freedom of thought. Raise them such that they are free with discipline and love.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Almost every child achieves much more than what their parents did. They belong to the tomorrow and have to learn from today, whereas we belong to a yesterday, trying to adjust to today for a better tomorrow. We are yet to get a grip over the way times have changed, whereas they are already of this generation. They are planning and dreaming of a tomorrow which we may never see. Is it fair to drag them backwards in time, to our times and force them to think our way, do our way, live our way? We can be like the lamp post guiding and throwing light on the path, we cannot walk that path though. They have to walk their own path and discover their destiny.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

I initially never agreed with this line, why should the parents be like the children? My parents always wanted me to emulate either one of them and that is exactly what I have done. So why should my son (I need to remember, he is HIS son, not mine) not emulate his Dad or me? Why should we not ask him to try and become like his father or mother? The next line has the answer though; because, life has never gone backwards and time does not wait or depend on a yesterday. It is today and then tomorrow. I woke up to the fact that if I expect my son to become like his father or me, I would be asking him to move backwards, live in a yesterday. As a parent I should be asking him to look at his tomorrow, move on the road ahead and achieve his dreams. Is it fair on my part to ask him to live my unaccomplished dreams and achievements?

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The parents are the bows from which the children of God as living arrows are set forth in search of their destiny.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

The archer or God has already marked the path over which the arrow, the child, will fly. God simply wants that the Bow, parents, also to bend, yield, string themselves just so much so that the arrow, child, can reach its destined goal. It is the strength of the bow and the flexibility of the string which allows the archer to set forth the arrow swift and far.

Let you bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

So He loves also the bow that is stable.

One without the other is incomplete and God loves both equally. He has assigned us the job of taking care of His children and entrusted us with the big responsibility of raising them happily and with joy. Bend yield listen to the child and nourish them with love and joy, God does send forth His children through you and is happy to see them ascend, but He also loves the stable hand of the parent which joyfully raises its offspring.

As a child counselor by profession I am forced to read this poem to every parent because they all invariably expect me, the counselor, to change the mindset of the child. They look me at me very expectantly as if I can wave a magic wand and their errant child will start obeying them or start behaving the way they expect the child to behave.

Bad ad! Mostly..

Ads these days…

These days every house is infested with television and the 1000 odd channels that come with this biggest vice! Of these, half the channels are for children and what is worse is that they are full of advertisements. The influence of these advertisements on our children is appalling. They seem to know every new product that is launched.

The message these ads pass are totally misleading, in bad taste or send a whole assortment of undisciplined signals to the viewers. The biggest dupe master, I have already mentioned this in my health drinks hub, is the Bournvita health drink and its’ ridiculous claims. The others to join the club are Fairness Cream ads, Shampoo advertisements featuring renowned figures, dishwashing bars, detergents and after wash for clothes, I can go on and on; the list is endless. Advertisements are exaggerated and need to be understood and treated after removing the garnish and spice!

The kids and adults alike are so keyed in into these ads that we have gotten into the habit of indulging just for the heck of it! Let us give this new brand a shot, a beginner’s try and see if we like this product or not! There is no silver lining in this abysmal dark gloomy cloud of advertisement menace. To top it, some ads get away teaching bad manners too! The kids bribe the grandparents and get things done or in another ad the child is asked to share a chocolate and the child starts to whine and cry! The mother and the granny both console the cheeky, impudent child and get another bar of chocolate! The casino ad‘s tag line is “Let’s have some sweets moments together”! What in the heaven’s name are we trying to teach or impart to our children with such ads? They can get away with anything! There is one more where the mother is standing at the child’s beck and call and the child is playing ‘Emperor’, ordering the menu of choice for dinner! Goodness! Absolute blasphemy, these ads are!

The only good ad I have chanced upon lately is that of an Insurance company. The father encourages the child to say ‘Thank You’ to the help at home. It teaches the basic values and etiquettes to the kid helping him/her to grow up to be a good human being. My congratulations and thanks to this ad team. Why can’t we have more of these and do away with all those? Even though I am loathe to agreeing that the chocolate is irresistible, but if a good deed is done by doing away with such irrelevant advertising, I am all for giving up eating chocolates! In fact, I resist buying my daughter that chocolate from the time I set eyes on that foolish ad!