A Battle of Nerves

Look at her, the way she is sitting, as if nothing happened. Playing with the phone, my phone! And that too when I am crying here. HOW DARE SHE! Ammaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

No. No use. She just looked up and went back to staring at the screen of the phone. I run towards her and try to claw away the phone. Give me, it’s mine. My hands thrash all about her, but she lifts the phone above her head, out of my reach. Cunning she is eh, I tell you. GIVE ME, I have work to do on it!

She manages to get away from me, and puts away the phone on a ledge way out of my reach. Such a scheming mind. And who would have thought her capable of all this, when she whispers I Love You in my ear every night. She is supposed to love me. She is supposed to give me what I ask. Still, she doesn’t. Why? Does she not really love me? Ammmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

She lets out a deep sigh. Her patience is on the edge, I know. Any moment now, her hand might rise, and fall thundering on my back. Don’t hit me… I look at her with wide eyes. Are you going to hit me?

No, she doesn’t. She only takes another deep breath and calls my name in a low voice. Phew! Bach gaya! But no, how can she deny me what I asked! I should get what I want. Ammmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

She comes near me and looks at me in the eye. Look, she says very very softly, and I have to lower my voice so that I can hear her. I told you we will go out in the evening. It is too hot now. If you want me to take you out later you have to stop crying now. She says all this, very very slowly, as if she is trying not to shout. Her fingers are massaging her forehead. My crying must be giving her one helluva headache. Poor woman. My eyes fall on the top of that ledge. My phoooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeee.

She shakes her head and goes to the kitchen. Unscrewing the cap of a bottle, she gulps almost half the water it held. Waittt Waitt… My water… I want waterrrrrrrrrrr… she picks up a glass from the trolley, fills it half and hands it to me. All, with no words, no expression on her face. What is she thinking. Is she going to cry? Is she going to shout? Will she scold me? Am I not her dear one? She can’t possibly hate me, can she?

My lips must have made a ‘bumpety’ shape, for her face has softened now. She calls it a pout. And my pout always softens her. She is opening her arms, and asking me to come to her. There is a small smile peeping out of her chapped but still beautiful lips. Ah, hasee tho phasee. Now all I have to do is maintain the bumpety for just a while longer. Not too long, that will spoil the trick. Just long enough for her to forget her anger.

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Courtest: Google Images

I go near her, wiping my tears with the back of my hand. The bumpety is sure hard to maintain when you are not really sad, no? Sweety pie, she calls me, and hoists me on her lap. I close my eyes as her hands gently wipe away my tears. I put my head to her chest to listen to the drum beats there. The beats seem to call out, Sidhu, Sidhu, and somehow, that is very relaxing to hear. my arms go around her, although not completely. She is still too big and I am too small.Her fingers caress my cheek, as the last remnants of my wails escape my lungs as wisps. She has slowly started to rock me. My eyes are becoming heavy. I don’t want to sleep yet, but her smell is so lovely that I can’t pull myself away. I don’t want to. She loves me, no doubt about that. And I love her too. My sweet mother, my amma… zzzzz….

This post was written for Project 365 program at We Post Daily. The prompt for today was “Write about the last disagreement you had with a friend or family member – from their perspective….”.

Equipping Kids For The Big Bad World

It is every parent’s nightmare. They wait in fear for the day their child will come home sullen and hesitatingly tell them about an uncle or an aunty (why not?) who made them feel dirty. They pray every day that such a day never comes. As children grow, it is inevitable that they have to head out into the world, out of their parent’s protective embrace and supervision. They go to school, in the school buses or auto-rickshaws, go to day care, go to play in the garden, are taken by some schools for field trips. In all these forays outside home, the children need to be equipped with information and awareness about how to fend for themselves. If someone does approach them with wrong intentions, the children must be able to protect themselves and not feel guilty about it. And the onus lies on us parents to teach them how they can do it.

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(Image Courtesy: Omojuwa.com)

Read on here to know more about how parents can equip their children to deal with the prowling wolves around us.

To The Phoenix in You

The year was 2008. I was chatting with my teammate, the only other girl in the team. She was married and recently had donned the avatar of a mommy. I was single and increasingly becoming the cause of my parents’ depression for they were not able to find a suitable ‘suitor’ for me. That’s another story altogether. Anyway, my friend was ranting about her domestic problems, and I was, for most part, trying to be a sympathetic listener. She was ruing the fact that life after marriage doesn’t leave too much space for things like romance, individual space etc. I looked at her incredulously and asked, “Why should these things disappear from someone’s life after marriage?” For which she replied, “Well, as the responsibilities on you mount, you tend to find lesser and lesser time for yourself.” I shook my head in disbelief and retorted, “Why, though I am single, I still take up responsibilities in my parental home. I am still accountable to them. But that doesn’t make me any less happy. And I am sure the same will be the case after marriage too.” I was pretty sure she was exaggerating. For her part, my friend only smiled a knowing smile and said, “You will not understand now. When you get married and get a family of your own, then you will realize.”

I remember this particular exchange because I had become exasperated with a couple of my girl friends saying the same thing to me, “You will not understand now.” I could not comprehend then what was it that I was not understanding and how could life be different after marriage. Now, three and a half years into marital life, of which two and a half as a mother, I am beginning to see what my friend meant.

Life has changed so drastically after marriage and motherhood that I could not have imagined it in the wildest of my dreams. I sometimes look at my pictures from before marriage, trekking with my friends, dining out with colleagues, and feel as if they were all in some previous birth. Like I said on one of my moody days to my husband, I feel like I am just a shadow of my previous self.

I had a lucrative career which I gave up for the sake of my son. Now, sitting at home, writing this and that when I am able to snatch time in between taking care of him and the domestic chores, I sometimes feel cut out from the world. I have lost touch with most of my old friends, except for the occasional hi, how are you, on Facebook or G Chat. Most of my time gets consumed in running behind my kiddo to get him to eat, bathe or do potty. Sometimes the only things that seem to occupy my mind are the menu for the next day, the provisions to be bought, or the chores to be completed. I think longingly about visiting the parlor, but procrastinate as something of higher priority keeps popping up.

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At such times, I remember how it used to be before marriage, and let out a sigh. I am now able to see what my friend meant when she talked about family responsibilities. Before marriage, I did take up responsibilities at home, but I was essentially free to do things for myself. I could go and watch a movie anytime I liked, hang out with friends whenever I liked, and splurge on myself whenever I felt like it. Now, however, a lot of pre-conditions have to be handled before I can do any of that. Watching a movie is completely ruled out unless there is someone at home who can take care of kiddo or with whom kiddo will comfortably spend time. I have not met my friends, in like eons. I have made new friends though, but they are mostly other mommies and the only conversation that goes on between us is mommy-talk. And splurging, well the budget always looms ominously over the head!

Some days my kiddo sticks to me like glue. He throws tantrums for every small thing. Every single task in taking care of him becomes a mountainous effort. On such days, I feel as if someone has squeezed all the juice out of me. Sometimes tears well up in my eyes due to self sympathy. I am filled with self doubt and zero motivation. On such days my friend’s face comes to my mind. She, and many other women like us, would also have felt so drained out and exhausted. Still, we keep going on and on. We squeeze out motivation from nowhere, and march ahead with dogged determination to make the lives of those who love us comfortable.

I remember my mother, who, for nearly twenty to twenty-five years, did everything for us, every single day. Despite the blues she might have felt, the ups and downs of her mood. Rain or shine, every single morning she would get up to cook, clean, get us ready and rush to her work. She worked tirelessly from morning to night. I have always wished to be like her, but only now, when I am actually doing it, do I realize what a Herculean task she was doing. And to be doing it non-stop for twenty-five years! I love you mom!

Maybe, that is why God chose women to be mothers. For women have that physical and mental stamina to go through all this and still smile. They have the ability to give up their individual desires for the ones they love, make sacrifices which most men are reluctant to make. He thought us as capable, that is why He chose us for this important task. Maybe, it is this inner strength that makes me cuddle up to my son no matter how difficult he has been, and praise him when he helps me clear the mess he created during his tantrums. I laud myself for this strength, bring a confident smile on my face, and embrace my responsibilities with happiness.

 

This post first appeared in Parentous, in March, 2013.

A School for Thought

A trait of mine that many of my friends have been amused with is my zeal for planning. I plan ahead for all things, well ahead. My bags and suitcases would be all packed up and ready a good two weeks before a vacation began. So keeping with my love for planning, I had started planning for Sid’s education when his brain was just beginning to form inside my womb. I had looked up all the information about good schools near my locality, spent a few sleepless nights over which board should I put him in, and debated fiercely with my parents about the right age for him to start going to school. There was a little disappointment in store for me since there were only limited options for school around where I live, and I am reluctant to let him spend most of his time traveling to a far off school. The board was an easier choice to make. Both my husband and myself are CBSE products, so needless to say we want Sid to go to CBSE, reasoning that, if in future we decide to move back to our hometown, it would be easier for him to fit into a new school there, without having to change the board.

 When I eagerly took my research to my husband, expecting a pat on the back and a praise for my meticulousness, he did not seem to respond too enthusiastically. The creature from Venus that I am, I picked up an argument with him, blaming him for not being interested in his son’s education. And that was when he dropped the bomb.

 If I had my way, I would never send him to school,” he said.

 What! I was flabbergasted. This was something unheard of. Gathering my composure I asked him to explain. And explain he did, emphasizing the need to give the kiddo a free environment, in which the mind will develop. A school, he said, will only suppress his real talents, instead of bringing them out. He would be bogged down by the tests and assignments and projects and homework, with no time for his individual creativity to bloom. He wanted the son to enjoy his childhood to the fullest and learn by experience, not by rote.

 Now I do recognize the fact that schools nowadays are quite stressful for children. I had never attended a tuition throughout my schooling, except during tenth standard, but nowadays even first standard kids are being sent to tuition. Some schools in fact insist that the children be sent to tuition. And the whole drill of ‘rutta-maro’ education was nothing but a mere waste of time, I knew. But still, how could he not go to school. One needed those grades, marks, and certificates to progress in their life.

 The argument did not end that night. Though my husband agreed that kiddo will go to a playschool after turning 2 and later to a CBSE school, the opinion of not sending him to school did keep popping up now and then. I had reconciled myself to the radical ideas that my man sometimes got, but was thankful that he realized that it is not always practical to be radical.

 A few months ago my husband had sent me a TED.com talk by Sugata Mitra. The video was an eye-opener, yes. In it Sugata Mitra, a pioneering educationist, talked about how if children are just given the right tools, they have the ability to learn from the world by themselves, just as efficiently as the children who learn from schools. It was all well, yes. But still, the concept of no school didn’t augur so well with me.

 Then a couple of days ago, I read an article in a newspaper. It was about a concept called ‘Unschooling’. There are, I discovered, parents as radical and forward thinking as my dear hubby, who have dared to go against the conventional and pulled their children out of schools, or not sent them to schools at all. They claim that the children do just as well in life as those children who go through the 12-year drill of schooling. The ‘Unschoolers’ live their life as a perpetual holiday, and learn by the way of having fun. The article carried with it photographs of unschooling families. They were all just like us, not too rich to be able to spoil their children with wealth, and not too poor that they could not afford an education. Still, the children remained at home, and still, they remained happy and intelligent.

 Now I was hooked alright. I still do not know what I want for Sid in life, but I know what I don’t want. I don’t want him to go through education as though it were a torture. I don’t want him to ‘ratta-marofy’ things he does not understand. I don’t want him to grow into some dummy engineer who has the letters behind his name alright, but does not know to tighten a single screw. I knew sending him to school came with the risk of all these things coming true. In this context, the idea of being able to give him a rich and meaningful childhood, without the stress and strain of schooling seemed tempting. Still, having been brought up through the conventional way of schooling, the concept of unschooling takes time to sink in. However, one thing I am very clear about is – I will not thrust my ideas of education or future on my son, not try to live my dreams through him.

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Image Courtesy: Sybill Jecker, California (http://www.sybilljecker.com/blog/2008/11/education-in-india.html)

 After reading that article, for the first time I discussed the subject seriously with my husband. What would be the pros and cons? How would his future life get affected due to such a decision? What if he grew up and resented the fact that he was not sent to school, and cited that as a reason for failure in life? Neither of us are knowledgeable or experienced in these matters, so we have decided for now to gather as much information as possible, and talk to a few people involved in education to know their views.

 Despite all this information gathering that we have now embarked on, my husband and me agree on one thing. We will send Sid to school like other kids, and see how he takes it. If he enjoys, if he thrives in that environment, we will keep at it. But if he doesn’t, if he feels the pressure, and if the stress threatens to strangle his childhood, then we will for sure give unschooling a try. And when we do that, with all the information we are feeding ourselves now, we know we will be making an informed and sensible decision.

 

This was originally published in Parentous in Mar, 2013.