Wednesday, March 13, 2019

TERRIFIC TWOS


Whoever said twos are terrible are seriously terrible people. They are boring, uncreative and pessimists. B E C A U S E... Two is the most hilariously fun age. Tiring to the bone but gosh... It's hell of a fun.
So, what's happening at two that amps up the fun quotient, you may ask? Many things but mostly, speech. That little bundle of joy that grew a pair of legs on his last birthday, will grow his tongue on this one and better it in the coming days. Like a speaking parrot, they will try to repeat every, mind you, every, ABSOLUTELY every word you utter. Of course they won't understand every single one of it or know in which sequence to put them to make a sensible sentence and that, that my friends is entertainment. Embarrassment, if they pick up what they shouldn't and humiliating, if they understand that those nasty words catch more audience and use them repeatedly at increasing decibels. I confess, I now understood why censorship came to existence in Media . Definitely for these two year old folks.
Since the tensions between India and Pakistan grew, we started watching television for the news. Hearing similar words for more than half a month, he one day pointed towards the TV and said to put on patitan (Pakistan). You know how heart breaking it can be for any Indian mother to know her son uttered Pakistan before Hindustan or India and when you swear to be a league apart patriotic, it seems severely embarrassing. I spent the next few hours of the day forcibly teaching him, Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Mataram (when I was completely against force learning) and needless to say, we watched news strictly during his nap hours. We started greeting each other in a patriotic way to make it his second nature. Relieved only after being sure he got capable enough to say Bharat Mata ki Jai in his sleep too.😂 Trust me, it sounds equally absurd and hilarious to me as it does to you. But I thought it to be the need of the hour. 🤓
Secondly, though they might not understand patriotism but they definitely are capable of exercising their brains to figure out everyday concepts. That also not always in the correct order but then that puts up a great comic show every time.
Like in the game of hide and seek, the rule is to hide completely and not just close your eyes in the middle of a cricket ground and assume you are invisible. Or like when you need to poop, it's not just your bum but your whole self that has to go to the potty seat. Amusing half learnt concepts!
EMOTIONS...! This is also the big milestone these tiny tots are trying to figure out. Constantly surged by big messy cocktail of emotions which they are not yet old enough to label or handle but capable of precisely and extensively expressing them.
How are you going to tell a tiger that you need to anesthetize him to check his wound?  It's the same if you try to tell a two year old that he might fall if he wears his t-shirt as his pants. He might get offended instead of being obliged for the help. And if you ask him to put all the peels of fruits lying around in a trash can, one at a time, he will be obliged instead of offensed of being worked around.
So, relax. No one goes to college without pants or sucks his thumb on his wedding day. They'll learn all the necessary concepts eventually. Of course, if you get anxious about their half learnt ideas and try to correct them, show them the right direction, basically help them then you will probably be wearied by this age but if you just let them be and enjoy the madness, even capture it, you will not just love this age but will also have ton of stories to tell them about their childhood or even use them to blackmail them. 😜😈

Monday, February 11, 2019

DOES CURIOSITY REALLY KILLS THE CAT?

What happens when you enter a pitch dark room that you have never went in before? You take every step vigilantly and the rest of your senses become more sensitive. Right! Now think if you enter that room with someone behind you to prompt you the details of the room. You would walk (act) confident and still bang your feet on furniture already intimidated about. Isn't it?

I think this is how we are raising our children. We are prompting them the details of life from behind, thinking that this might help them maneuver through smoothly. We just forget that the steps we trod would measure differently than what they will take, even if we tell them the exact numbers and direction.

Still pretty clueless of what I am talking about!

At the age of two, my son cannot tell name any color, nor can he say A for apple and B for ball. But day before yesterday when I asked him to try eating his rice with a smaller spoon, he asked me whether the spoon he was eating with was too big? Boom. He knew small and big are opposites. I did not teach him that. He does not even know what opposite means but he understood the concept. How? When we joined the mother-toddler class with the aim to get him to befriend same aged kids, I saw mothers teaching their children names of colors and alphabets, like literally explaining them everything present around. For a few days I thought I lagged behind as I was teaching A absolutely nothing. But then one day while playing with his bag full of cars, he sorted them in a row, headlights facing towards him. He can make out front and rear side of cars!! Even race cars!! (heck! He knows aerodynamics 😂) and categorized them material wise, all plastic ones together, metal ones together and he even distinguished hotwheels from the fake ones which looked exactly same to me. My jaw literally dropped watching that. His tiny brain functions at a mighty pace.
I wondered, if I would have been a little more responsible and "imparting knowledge" kind of mother, I might have ruined his brains ability.

A human mind functions tremendously when it's not overloaded with facts. Observation, curiosity and experimentation are the most important ingredients to ignite a human brain. And we as parents try to kill each one of these very attributes we so want our children to grow up with, by trying to make them catch up with their peers.

Observations - when you don't tell them this is pink and that is blue, they might call pink as blue and blue as pink, initially but they will without knowing put all pinks together and all blues together. And eventually would observe what words people around use to describe the objects and use them. But when you fill them in with facts even before they can differentiate between the things ( in this case, colors), the next time they come across those things, either they won't bring out what they have to share about the things or would just repeat what you taught them so that they can make you feel proud (seriously but it's their primary objective at this age) .

Curiosity - kids would not know that they should turn around and squat to sit on a chair, that the teeth of a comb and not the back are to be put in the hair for detangling or the correct grammar to make sentences but they give it a shot anyways. They don't even bother if they are laughed at, mostly they even take it proudly. But we as parents cannot see our kids make fool of themselves and teach them everything and instruct them a hundred times before letting them have a go at it themselves. We are kill their curiosity about new things. And before we know it, they start turning for help for absolutely everything they come across. And we love this dependency for a few years and hate it there after. But who is to blame?

Experimentation - killing the first two attributes is just enough for them to end this one themselves. And then we keep wondering why didn't our child turn out creative or may be it was never in our blood to be different. Bullshit.
In our race to mold our kids best, we kill their ability to mold themselves.

According to Patanjali in yogasutra 1.7, there are three ways for the acquisition of knowledge. First way is called Agama in which the knowledge or information is received from someone or somewhere you trust, your parents, your teachers or your school. Second way is called Anumana in which the knowledge comes from your logical self. And the third and most profound way is called Pratyaksha, in which the knowledge is acquired by personal experience.

But in our own quest of experimenting, we cannot keep our hands off our kids. I am not saying that we should produce them and leave them to their fate, just like that. But we need to sit back, take time and reflect on our ways of perceiving the growth. It's not like if they can't say A B C by the age of two or finish their degree by the age of twenty, they will end up on streets. Or if they don't dress a particular way or talk a specific language, they will be looked down upon by their peers. Every human being is born with survival instincts and ability to adapt to the surrounding, that should not be the cause of our worries. But what we should be taking care of is the nourishment of these bubbling personalities.

We should work on finding ways to help them believe in themselves, appreciate their bodies, their abilities, acknowledge their shortcomings, their weaknesses and develop enough strength to face them and work on them. After a lot of time invested in understanding and learning something new, everyone turns out for assistance. We should wait out until that point and make sure to help them when they seek us out. We are here to assist them through their way and not to carve out a way for them.

And by the way, a little healthy amount of curiosity keeps the cat alive. 😜

Friday, February 1, 2019

HYGIENE AND IMMUNITY


This topic has taken me for many guilt trips than any other topic ever. I have never liked hand sanitizers and so, had never put them between my infant and the relatives. He had caught an eye infection in the very first week of his life but that did not change me.

I was either lazy or tired and did not wash his toys daily. Sometimes he put Limo's (dog) toys in his mouth and many times the dusty ones. I tried hard putting up with cleaning but with me it's all in vain.
I have let him explore dirt (sometimes taste), tar roads and mossy walls happily, have washed him later though (not completely filthy mom 🙄). I have let him pick something that he had dropped on floor and eat and rejoiced when he'd dirty his pants in the garden or play areas allowing him to roll over in sand and mud, rub it all over his body and throw it over me. And never stopped him from showing affection towards any animal, be it street dog, cats, cows or the ants and moths in the garden. He's put his hands into the muddy lotus pond many a times to catch the fishes and I would be thrilled to see if he succeeded but never worried. And needless to say, I have let him try food at various joints in places we have been to and drink filtered local water too. 

I had guilt in the back of my mind as people would stare me down with glares of disgust but I used to justify myself saying I am building his immunity. Anyways our forefathers have also been this way. When did they have sanitizers, wet tissues and sterilizers? And they turned out healthier than we have. Still looking at adulteration in water, food and nature around these days, I did worry about my take on hygiene.

To my surprise I was not completely wrong! Recently, I read Rujuta Diwekar's book - 'Notes for healthy kids' and I am so relieved that the things I did as a lazy and dirt loving mom are actually approved by the nutritionist I follow wholeheartedly. Here's an excerpt from her book under the title 'hygiene hypothesis' -
'if we must build strong, resilient kids, then we must let them be African in habits. We must allow our little kids to be picked up by aunts, uncles, neighbours; we must let them pick up the piece of fruit that fell on the floor and eat it; we must encourage them to go into muddy parks and roll around. So basically let the desi kids be desi.'

The book also covers solutions to nutritional dilemma we carry about children's health and their food preferences and justifies their need to jump, play and speed around. She is trying to reconnect us with our culture and in the process relieves so much worry that we parents carry about children not eating, not being focused and responsible, etc etc. It's a book that should be read by every parent, grandparent and even older children who can read and understand. 

We need to undo the effects of globalization and step back towards tradition to bring health back into the future. 
Life is equally about unlearning as much it is about learning.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

BIRTHDAYS...


Call me old fashioned, control freak, ridiculous or whatever the hell you want but I hate birthday parties and specially kids' birthday parties. I was skeptical about having kids with one of the reasons being the need to attend birthday parties and when last week I went to see play schools for A, I asked them what kind of B-day celebrations do they allow in their school. No kidding, that's my criteria for school selection. 
Before baby, my aversion to such parties was because I found them boring but after A, the aversion increased many folds drawing my attention to many different reasons.
  • Reason to party; we host these parties for the joy of our little ones (actually really little ones, I am talking about) who seem to cry more that day than they did the day they were born! And if we are doing it to celebrate our parenthood, still those little ones are at lose. The crackers, overengaging crowd, screaming children, all that is quite unpleasant for them. 
  • The cake; with the fondant, bright and unnatural colors and edible stickers..!! Why is that even legal!!
  • The gifts; of course those are to be passed on to someone celebrating their birthdays in the coming months. And the return gifts as chocolates, chips and plastic toys..!! Can't these formalities be skipped for the sake of children's health and parent's sanity..!! 
  • The menu; it is well thought of and "kid friendly" as they put it. Mostly white sauce pasta, sandwiches and fries. Seriously, is that kid friendly..!!?? 
  • The games (which now a days is "entertainment" with anchors, who sometimes forget to filter their speeches considering the number of kids present) ; but mostly the balloons used for decorations are the star of such parties. All the kids, tiniest to tallest can be found playing with them. 
Do we really need such celebrations!?
"Oh shut up you nazist, kids love them and it's for them" people argue. No, kids love them because we introduced just that one way of celebration. I bet if given a chance to play in the dirt, roll all day with puppies or climb, jump, discover wonders nature has to offer ; none of the kids would opt for "party". It's not their concept of celebration anyways, it's their inheritance.
I am not saying that amendments should be passed in the constitution to ban the birthday parties. I am not a Hitler. All I want to say is that, if we cannot avoid having them (Indian family/social scenario), let's make them a little indigenous, sensible and sensitive rather than a business of show and pomp about who brought a better theme to the floor. Shall we?
Make cakes out of seasonal halwas or bake healthier earthen cakes at home involving the birthday girl/boy, milkshakes or serbets instead of coke floats and frootis, ladoos in place of cupcakes, pulao in place of pasta and open ground venues instead of marbled halls.
Had read somewhere that the number of children you invite for your child's birthday should be equal to their age. Such a brilliant thought! At two, A does not really like being with same aged kids but loves dancing and jumping around with his elder cousins. And the most active time of the day for him is the evening, so I made up plans to call over his cousins for an hour in the evening, put on the music and let him decide the rest. And as he grows to an age where he can marvel different experiences and remember them, we would change the way we celebrate his growth by offering him bountiful of experiences.
If we consider every moment as an opportunity to teach our child valuable lessons then this one is a big one to teach them modesty, genuinity and what and how to celebrate.