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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I don't like a world where...

when some near stranger that we come across in our daily routine is affectionate towards my daughter, and I have to have this worry at the back of my mind of whether his intentions are really good. But blind trust doesn't work in the world of today, so I talk to her about how it's ok to talk and interact with uncle while in a group but if he calls her separately at anytime she should never agree.

and I have to be really concerned at my son's loving behaviour to every stranger he comes across! If I turn my back to talk to somebody for a second, I find him holding hands with some "uncle" and answering questions about his name or school ! Still OK if we're in a doctor's waiting room, but when he starts going and tapping on people's helmets to draw their attention in a shopping area I really just lose my cool and drag him away!

It bothers me that we live in a world where the behaviour by a minority (I'm not talking statistics but I hope there are more "good" people than "bad" people out there!), guides how we must treat all strangers, and as parents most of us have just got used to the "bad stranger" rule! I'm sure most of those strangers out there are parents like us too and have probably warned their children against US !!

Thanks so much CSAAM for bringing this issue to the fore, but how I wish it were a non-issue ! :(

Seeing that connection.. but do we all make it?

Two things happened today to point me in this direction..

First, my netbook which is now 1+ years old has been acting up since yesterday. At times of non-use for a few mins, when the monitor goes to sleep, it refuses to wake up. All my pressing the keys, putting finger on the mousepad gives no reaction and the screen remains black/blank. Only thing that seems to work is if I connect to an external monitor say the TV, and then magically after 1 min or maybe 30 mins as it wishes, the laptop screen suddenly comes back to life ! Don't know if that 30 mins is going to stretch longer and longer and become "never" very soon, so quickly backed up my data and going to give it for servicing.. sigh.. am so unused to being without a computer of some sort at my side :(..

Second, I atlast watched this video which many of my Facebook friends have been posting during the last few days entitled Pass it on. Once again I was pretty late in getting around to it because of the aforesaid netbook and the long time it takes to stream anything online, but in case anyone reading this hasn't yet seen it, please go and have a look before you read further as what i'm going to say pretty much spoils the punch of the clip.




Really set me thinking.. when not "seeing" something on that 10-inch screen drove me so crazy .. having the equivalent of that screen all around you.. so unimaginable for most of us.. yet how often do we spare a thought to this wonderful initiative. I remember signing a card sometime in the past, but it's so hazy in my mind and I'm pretty sure noone in my family would know to contact Sankara Nethralaya (which is anyway in Chennai, when I'm currently in Bangalore!) if such a situation came up. I really need to rethink/redo this again, it's not enough to do it for the sake of doing it - we have to make sure it means something! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Those small hurdles...

D goes off to a "big" school in June.. seems like there are so many small things to prepare for and yes - worry about!

Foremost among them to do with
1. Getting up early - I greatly believe that there are some of us that just need to sleep more than others .. atleast that's always been my excuse for needing the amount of sleep I do :). So of course I worry about how I will start waking up early to inculcate this schedule in my daughter. But in the last few days she has been going to Vacation Bible School at church for which she catches a van at 7 am, coming back at 1:15 in the same way. I am just so proud of the way she has adapted.. no fuss.. no complaints of feeling sleepy or tired.. so this is one step that I'm hoping I don't need to worry about in June :). Yay for me and her !
Then there's the usual others:
2. Long travel time - Seemed like most of our priority schools were in the range of 10-15 kms, so we decided to go with our first priority because of our faith in the school, and hoping the travel part will settle in. Now with the bit of van travel she's been doing, feel a lot more confident about this.
3. Food schedule and content- Getting used to new breakfast timings, eating a light lunch at school, then maybe another one at home - don't know how it's all going to come across that too with D being a fussy eater - especially when I'm not very inventive with food that's interesting as well as healthy :(
4. The pangs of separation - this one more for me than her, atleast i'm hoping so. I can't imagine a world where I put my baby in a bus/van at 7 am and only see her again at 3 pm!!
5. The small things - like staying in shoes the whole day not like her montessori school where they take off shoes outside the environment! Looking after her things - she's so used to using the pencils and other items from the environment and not needing to take any of her own, that she has no clue yet how to look after her stuff :(. I envision buying hundreds of pencils and crayons atleast in the first months! Getting used to being in uniform - or rather me getting used to washing and ironing the same set  of clothes day after day and keeping them ready ;)! Talking of uniforms - I was thrilled to find that items such as slips and leggings were given as standart items of the uniform and I don't have to go around looking for them :).

I'm sure this is just the beginning and I'm going to write about 5 more such lists before June comes around ;). Anyone with tips, please do let me know.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

For the Yellers amongst us...

foremost being myself of course :) here's an article from Circle of Moms about how to get better behaviour from children without yelling.

I have always hoped that the first step in situations like this is recognizing the problem, which was actually the easy part. But after reading quite a few books, and many articles like this, I find they all pretty much point to the same thing - being patient, considering what you are doing before you actually do it, THAT is the most difficult part for someone like me.

Positive reinforcement - how I love the sound of that! But to actually bring it out from within you especially in situations like
S: I want to eat chocolate
Me: Not now baby, it's nearly time to sleep.
S: No I want chocolate now!
Me: No darling. Let's have some tomorrow ok, it's time to get ready to sleep.
S: No I want it right now!!
Me: Come on sweetie, it's not the time for sweets now.
S: Noooo (Volume increased quite a bit by now)
Me: End of Positive Reinforcement by now - No! Go and get ready to sleep NOW!

Of course ending in the usual tears and tantrums :( :( :(

There are situations where I manage to respond like in the articles and books (And I am so surprized when my children behave like the book example too ;) !!), but in actual pressure situations, where compromise is not really a solution (atleast not for me), it is just so difficult to find middle ground. So here's to all of us finding some never-exhausting well of patience within us and being the ideal non-yelling parents we would love to be!

PS: One of the thoughts I have is that my kids already have this present image of me imprinted on them, and if and when that ideal non-yelling mom comes along, they might not recognize her! :)

Post PS: Came across this other article on the same subject again from Circle of Moms (yelling seemed to have been the theme of the week!), which also struck a chord with me - it's about how kids don't "hear" what we say when we yell, and how they start responding similarly to us and others when angry themselves - this really struck a chord with me - I saw firsthand how my daughter would yell at my son, or vice-versa, probably thinking that's ok as amma does the same thing anyway. This was definitely the biggest eye-opener for me to recognize what I was doing.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month - April 2011

This is the topic going around in the blogosphere, and which parent hasn't thought of it at one point or the other. Definitely when one thinks about the safety of your child, sexual abuse is one of the scariest and unfortunately very common things that one has to guard against. Many of us would have directly or indirectly gone through some sort of abuse, or heard about it from a family member or friend, and know it to be a very real issue.

Some ways in which I hope we can help children to identify dangerous situations:
  1. Teach them to be wary of over-friendly strangers or anyone who is friendly to them when their parents are not around, and especially never to accept anything or go anywhere with someone unknown.
  2. Explain the concept of private parts and good touch/bad touch - it is ok to clean and touch some parts at bathtime or in the bathroom, but not otherwise and definitely not by someone in a public place.
  3. Anytime she's feeling the least uncomfortable, and if it's at a place where you are not around, to attract attention to what is happening.
  4. Make sure that the child knows she can talk to you about anything - never to think of it as being her fault, but to come straight to you.
As a parent, especially before children are old enough to tell you what they experience, make sure never to leave them alone in a room with a not-well known person, even if you are in the next room at the time. I could go on and on on this subject, but these precautions are definitely a start. I've used a female pronoun only because my daughter is my older child and the one I've had these concerns about for longer.

Added later: It is commonly thought by us parents that teaching children to be careful or wary of strangers is the main step towards guarding against child abuse, but in most cases of abuse, the perpetrator is someone known to the child or family. This does not mean we come paranoid of everyone around us, but should definitely keep a check even when children are with someone known to us. Thanks to Pushpa for emphasizing the importance of this.

All through April, over 40 bloggers are coming together to talk about various aspects of Child Sexual Abuse. Their posts can be seen on their blogs as well as on the CSAAM Blog. The CSAAM blog will also feature survivor stories and posts by experts and NGOs working in these fields.

You can join in our efforts to make the world a safer place for our children. If you want to join the discussion, or know someone else who would like to, entries are welcomed and can be submitted in any of the following ways:
  • mailed to OR
  • posted as FB notes and linked to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Page OR
  • posted on your own blog with the badge and linked to the main blog OR
  • linked or posted on Twitter tagged
A list of suggested topics is available here. Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will, of course, be honoured. Please remember to send in a mail with all necessary links or just your input to to ensure that your contribution is captured and tracked.

You could also support this initiative by putting the CSAAM logo on the sidebar of your blog or website. Here's the code:

Thanks to Rohini at Mama Says So for pointing me in this direction, and the last few paragraphs about CSAAM and later are verbatim from her post.