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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What are we teaching our children?

A long time goal of mine has been to be non-judgmental of other parents and parenting techniques, and I dare say I have made reasonable progress in this area. The most common example is the child throwing a tantrum in a supermarket or mall, which of course is a whole lot easier to not judge once it has happened to you ;). In many other situations, I try to ask questions in my head such as "What are the challenges the parent might be facing" rather than quickly forming a judgement. I have always maintained though, that when someone's parenting affects my child in some way, I find it tough to not question it :P.

Conversation between me and S this morning:

S: Does eating non-veg make your mouth smell bad?

Me: (A bit shocked at first but realizing there must be more to this) Not at all! As long as you rinse your mouth properly, and brush well when you're supposed to, your mouth would smell just fine. Why do you ask me though?

S: My friends at school keep telling me and A (the only other non-veggie) that our mouths would smell bad because we eat non-veg. They are all vegetarians no (in a very wise aside), that's why.

Me: Repeating the above answer with emphasis, and hoping he'll stand up for himself more strongly the next time. Also couldn't resist mentioning that a vegetarian's mouth could smell worse if he doesn't follow basic hygiene.

In my understanding, a child would not make a statement like that unless he has heard something similar from other adults or his own parents. If not the exact same words, definitely that eating non-veg is dirty etc. As someone who was born a veggie, this is a weird situation for me to be faced with because I do understand where they are coming from. It was probably because of the way the subject was treated in my household (I knew it was not traditional, but not a crime either) that I could adapt to different food choices as I grew older.

On a larger scale though, I wonder if it's not possible to bring up children to be sensitive to the choices of others, however different and unexpected they might be. Whenever I get a chance to put across something like this in a conversation with my kids, I try to ensure this. Do you?

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Musical January

In my last post, I had mentioned The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The more I read on, the more I wonder how I could identify quite so much with the writer. And then it strikes me - so many of the challenges and experiences that we face are common to all of us. As are our aspirations - to be a better mom, a better wife, a better daughter, a better person - All this can only be accomplished by looking inwards and working towards being a happier person :). Yes, I truly believe it. The author says in her book:

It's true that "if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," and it's also true that "if Daddy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" and that "you're only as happy as your least happy child."

All families know how true this is :). It's simple facts like this which keep me glued to the book. The author has taken up one area of her life every month, and strives to be "happier" by making small changes in that space. It is also important to accept that all I can work on is my own happiness and hope that it will then have an exponential effect on those around me :). While I haven't yet decided which specific areas to work on, I am definitely making one change in January - listen to more music than in the last few years.

Why? Music makes me happy :). It makes everything better - from going for a walk to spending time in the kitchen. Why have I not made this effort until now? I have no clue!

Some history about my relationship with music - I have learnt Carnatic(didn't we all?) and Hindustani Classical when younger but don't consider myself anything close to an expert who understands all the nuances. All I need to feel is a connect and an urge to hum along :). I also used to sing Indian light film music on stage when in college, so it is in the later part of the 1990s that my active listening/learning of songs and lyrics ended.

After work and family and life took over, I became lazy in figuring out what to listen to. I just did not prioritize music any more. Other than listening to something by chance, such as in a movie or played on the radio or by my spouse, my main connection to music was my habit of loudly breaking out into song now and again and scaring the rest of the family ;). I lost my connect with hearing a song, liking it and learning at least some of it to hum again later.

I also realize that I'm "stuck" in the music of the past. The lyrics, the melodies, the rhythms - everything speaks to me. By past, I start with the 1960s (the '60s to oldies like me ;)), and move up until the '80s and some of the '90s. I know there are probably many gems in current day music, but a lot of it so tough for me to relate to, that I refuse to wade through it :P.

So in January 2015 I pledge to listen to more music. This means that when I come across a song that I like I promise to note it down and NOT forget the name and get too lazy to check later ;). A friend kindly shared her playlist which also gave me some great options. And that is what started the idea for this post.

If you read until this, do leave a comment here or on FB with your recommendation of one song from the last 4 years that you think I should not miss listening to - pretty please! Melodies, foot tapping numbers, anything would do - my only conditions:

  • The lyrics need to make some sense (exceptions may be made if the music somehow makes up for this :P). 
  • It should be a song that you wouldn't mind listening to on a loop. 
  • Language no bar but hopefully one that I understand - which would be Tamil, Hindi, English.
Am I asking for too much? Let's see how it goes.

Song for today: