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Friday, October 14, 2016

Walking the tightrope of Parenting

It's time for one of the now-occasional parenting related posts on the blog ;). As the kids grow older, I have got more caught up in privacy concerns, and wondering if they would want so much about them online. This means that I analyze quite a bit before putting up anything in this space. D, who's now 11, has also read through many of my older posts, which made me all the more wary of writing something that might make her uncomfortable :D. Of course, in a couple of years, she might be online herself and sharing stuff, but I will have to leave that to be her decision and her learning.

Canva pic courtesy Shailaja Viswanath :)
But oh well, it seems like parenting is similar to walking on a tightrope most days. As young parents, we feel that babies are TOUGH, and it's great when they grow up and start eating/drinking/sleeping on their own, but the challenges don't end - they just change :). When I was faced with a surprise phone call from my 11 year old a few days back, it took a lot of self-control to sound calm and give her advice, though I was panicking a bit underneath. That set me thinking of all the times when we must let them do their thing, just to help them grow, though I have not always wanted to!

- When S, at 4 years, wanted to start bathing himself, simply because his sister had been doing so for a few months and he didn't want to feel left behind. Was it efficient? Definitely not! It took a few weekend scrubs to make up for the weekday self-baths, but on the whole, it was worth it! He has always tried to take to things earlier, simply because of the competition ;), and it has mostly ended up making our lives easier with less to "teach".

- When I took the decision to stop studying sessions which had me "asking questions" before every exam, to let D do her own preparation. She protested, I worried about the effects it would have, but I found that it hardly had any impact on her performance. Humbling much? For sure :P.

Sibling Beach fun!
- When they forget school items or submissions at home, and even if I know it's something important, I took the decision that I would never run to school to get it to them, but let them handle the situation on their own. It did help that both their schools have been a bit far from home so it would be a huge effort to just get there. I also hoped that not being super-organized myself, they would develop this habit on their own. It's an uphill task on many days, but I know they can definitely handle unexpected situations with just a little advice and nudge from us now and then.

- When D had a stay-back at school for one day a week, and offered to come back on her own by public transport, I was a bit concerned, but I knew that not letting her do it would set a bad precedent. We thought we'd give it a week or two and see how it goes, and surprise surprise - she's doing really well!!

When there's an unforeseen, even slightly worrisome, situation, and you feel like things are not in your control, there is always a sense of panic in a parent's mind. But I have learnt to control that feeling, and only portray a sense of calm to the kids. They know our phone numbers to call from a phone booth, and they have change on them if they need to.

A lot of credit is due to the spouse, who's been the enabler in most of these situations. I have learnt and adapted over the years, though I still sometimes have to suppress my initial impulse, and then go for the calmer alternative ;).

Friday, October 07, 2016

When Friendship is Forever

Best Friends Forever or BFFs is a term that I got to know from my daughter a couple of years back, yes I know I am so behind with the times. When I first heard the phrase, there was only one person who immediately came to mind! So when it came to writing a post about a close friend, similar to those who would take part in the new Zee TV chat show Yaaron Ki Baraat, I knew it couldn't be about anyone but Shailaja. In fact, when I was mentioning the subject of this blog post to my daughter, even she knew who I would be writing about :).

Our love for dupattas is not the only thing that bonds us ;)
Once upon a time, I wrote a school review on an Indian parenting website. Little did I know that it would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. When she first wrote to me, it was as an anxious mom who wanted to find the best school for her daughter, who was just a year younger to mine. Along we way, we exchanged blog links and that's about all it took to see how much in tandem our thoughts were! Our friendship has grown so much over the years, that it feels like we have been friends for ever though it has only been 5 years or so.

What clicked for both of us from the beginning is that we are both very laid back and non-critical people(unless English grammar is concerned!). It helps to bring a sense of calm when the person at the other end doesn't encourage you to gossip or talk negatively of others. Not that either of us is a saint, but we don't thrive on petty talk either. We crib, we vent, we move on, which makes for such a healthy atmosphere between us.
Miss our favorite brunch haunt!
We have discussed so many parenting challenges in the years we have known each other, and I especially fondly remember the "Yelling Less" challenge that both of us took up around the same time. With the kind of experiences that children go through nowadays, parents can really feel overwhelmed. It really helps to have a sounding board, especially a non-judgmental one, and that is what we have both been to each other.

There are so many things I admire about Shailaja, that this blog post would go on forever. To pick the top 3 - her positive spirit, her ability to share her experiences through her writing, and her wit. I have made her give me a special commitment that she would not forget me once she becomes a famous author ;), and I really mean that. There are some wonderful things in store for her, and I will be proud to stand by her, in spirit if not always in person, for each of those moments.

Even though I was in town for just 5 days, not meeting her was not an option!
Moving away to a different country has been tough on our friendship in many ways, as we can't just decide to meet for brunch or for a coffee when we feel like it. In some ways though, I would say the distance has brought us closer - we consider every chat we have on Facebook or on the phone as even  more precious as we know how much more of an effort it's taken us, what with different time zones and crazy schedules.

Here's to being Best Friends Forever, my dear lovely friend.