Sunday, 23 December 2012

To Believe or Not to Believe!!

Christmas is just a day away. All the people, irrespective of which pocket of the world they belong to would be gearing for the most awaited holiday season. Arcades and malls and even street shopping goes to crazy levels as the days grow near.

In certain parts of the world the Christmas lights are switched on as early as November and if you are shopping for Christmas decorations anytime in December you are bound to attract a few stares of horror. Advertising and marketing people are the most over worked people this time of the year coz whether or not the product is related to the festival they have to wreck their brains over how “Santa” would be selling them. Poor Santa is made to endorse anything and everything under the sun in a hope to cash in on his popularity before the season ends. No sooner it does end than he is packed off with a one way ticket to the North Pole for the next eleven months. What a sigh of relief!… don’t have to worry about building a high anticipation level to the kids for being good and getting gifts from Santa.

Santa-mania in India is though a little less over whelming. Except for some commercialization of the season it doesn’t really hold a grand meaning. Are our kids prepared to meet santa? Let us picture this… the pictures shown of him are of an extremely cute chubby and “pleasantly” plump man with rosy cheeks and snowflake beard. But my memory of Christmas father / santa is rather a disturbing one for we had to endure a rather hideous representation of the same with fake masks on the rather skinny under nourished Santa with a cushion for his belly…to an extent where some of us would start howling just at the very sight of him, forget about enjoying a great story sitting on his laps.

So how does one keep a child’s belief in Santa intact irrespective of his image? Some may even argue if one should believe in Santa at all… I have a very strong opinion about making your child believe in Santa not just for gifts “he” would bring… but the goodness and joy he is supposed to spread. The idea behind the big guy and not just the guy himself. Children know no bias. They believe only what they see. So a face to the whole concept is essential (or so also must have been thought by a certain cola company who introduced santa to the world eons ago)

Santa is believed to get millions of letters each year with number of requests for toys, books, candies, baby brother/ sister (u bet, he does :)). It’s because he is believed in so much by children around the world. Lets encourage our little ones to develop that belief too maybe right now for a selfish reason of getting their goodies but in return of being a kind and caring kid.. which I think is a fair deal. As the kids grow they will develop faith in different people and things but we can get the ball rolling with Santa.

Though the whole idea of Christmas was celebrating birth of the Son of God… but in today’s world Santa seems to have taken precedence over HIM. 

Monday, 17 December 2012

11 Things We Will Probably Never Tell Our Sons

We came across an interesting blog also written by a mother. The subject that she treaded was very appealing. It was on the common dialogue we have with our kids on a daily basis. That prodded us into thinking what we would like to tell or not tell our kids.

Vivaan and Palaash
Here we come with our own list covering the things, which probably we will never tell our sons (Very commonly used in a typical Indian Parenting scenario):
  1. Pink is for girls and Blue is for boys! – Even though this statement seems ages old, a color is a color. Why cloud a child’s mind with bias with a color. I say, Atta boy… if you like pink.. go ahead wear one if u want, it’s not going to make him a boy any less. And a girl likes blue her girlie instincts won’t diminish. It’s not the color but mind-set we are creating.
  2. Oh you are a boy, boys don’t cry- Here we go again! Boys are strong, boys don’t cry, boys don’t get scared… Why? A boy is also as much as a human as a girl and of course have equal amount of emotions (if not anymore) pent up within him. So he cries big deal… why wouldn’t he cry if he is hurt or he is sentimental or simply sad. He has every right to express himself the best way he knows. Let him know it’s OKAY to Cry out.. hand out all the tissues you can.. It’s better to let the steam off in a way u know wouldn’t harm anyone. Ditto for scared, he is no super human, don’t expect him to be… getting scared is a reflex to any action.
  3. GIVE UP! Because he/she is younger than you - All right so on a play date your tot has to suddenly grow up and doll up into all sacrificing youngster. And why exactly should he do that? His playmate maybe a little younger but so is your tot. He is a child himself why expect something so unnatural. If he doesn’t want to share his favorite toy so be it.. he’ll definitely share something less favorite and the playmate doesn’t have to know. It’s not just the toy, but also his stance he doesn’t wish to change at the behest of others. Let’s respect that.
  4. It’s a SPORTS thing, you have to do it - This may not go down too well with dads who were brought up with the same notions of BOYS = SPORTS. So your boy doesn’t like to wear the Ronaldo jersey u got him or the tennis racket that is gathering dust. The world isn’t going to end there. His interest may lie in music (either singing or playing any instrument) or literature or dance. A sport is not the only benchmark at learning teamwork, co-ordination, and sportsmanship. There are various electives today which teaches all of the mentioned above. So let’s not be hung up on such ideas that may make our children unhappy.
  5. Oh! Is that your GIRLFRIEND? Ok people hold your horses. So how old is your child to understand the “girlfriend” concept an adult mind has? And most importantly just because he is a "boy" the subsequent partner has to be a girl is written no where.. let him have his own orientation instead of inducing his mind with pre conceived notions. Why take things for granted.. an open mindedness from now will save us from any coronary at the later stage of our lives.. so it does work mutual. :)
  6. Show this aunty & uncle how u dance/sing/blah blah blah..  Ok so your kid is brilliant at tapping some feet or singing his rhyme. If he is willing to show his talent off to your guests he will oblige whether you like it or not. He is not an entertainment channel you put on anytime someone visits you. Do not take a false pride in pushing your tot beyond his guard and embarrass him.
  7. Lets hit the table harder, for hurting you: Or for that matter hitting back even some other kid for defending himself. First and foremost we don’t believe in hitting back as a defending mechanism. Be it a friend, living being or a non-living object. When a child hits the table, how is that poor table to be blamed? And is that what we want to teach our kids, that if by mistake some object or person hurts him, he should retaliate by hurting back. We teach our kids that even if a friend hurts him, the best way is to communicate verbally and move away. He will not become a coward if he doesn’t hit back.
  8. If you do this, the cop will take you/doctor will give you an injection: Lets get it straight, cops and doctors are their to help us and protect us. They are not the villains. Why to portray them as the one who is after our little angels life and watchdogs for all their innocent errors. Instead we prefer to tell our kids that cops help us in so many ways and injections if ever given by doctor are essential and good for us. In the same manner why to scare our little ones with harmless animals like cockroach, cat, dog or a monkey. If we don’t want our kids to do something, its simple, we tell them clearly why we feel it should not be done and they shouldn’t do that.
  9. Don’t go near the dog, it will bite you: Grrr.. a dog is an animal, not a Monster. They don’t go about biting everyone on the street. We know its important to teach our kids to be careful with strange dogs but not because they will bite us to scare us away. Dog bites because it gets scared of a strange human being around. And if it is a pet dog the owner knows his dog the best, u can ask for his permission before getting friendly with the dog. The world is already very strange for our kids, why to add to their fears. Little facts and carefulness is the key not ‘fear’.
  10. Let your grand-mom go now, I promise she will come back tomorrow: Why we think that we can make any promise to our kids and they will forget about it. Are we telling its ok to make false promises in life? Our kids are not fools nor they suffer from any kind of memory loss. They remember what we tell them and expect us to be true to our words. We might sometimes forget or break a promise, but never make a promise knowingly you won’t keep it. It’s ok if he feels hurt knowing the truth but at least he will have no false expectations.
  11. We are vegetarians, so you have to be a vegetarian as well - In growing up years we tend to defy our parents and try out things, which they have prohibited, often behind their backs. Why not just tell them the pros and cons, which we are aware of. Its just FOOD for heavens sake! Its perfectly alright if he wants to try something, let him make a choice.

A tail of a mouse and a lion... at school
What ever we tell our kids repeatedly now, plays a very important role in modeling their perception of the world around them. They grow with these notions and start believing them as a way of life. They suppress their own opinions/emotions fearing the norms of the people. But we moms are not the ones to let them fall prey to this. We want them to build their own individuality without any bias or social pressure.

Monday, 10 December 2012

For the Love of God!

     I chanced upon one of those extremely rare times where I could watch movies back to back. I was quite excited to catch up on the new releases and enjoy the comfort of a multiplex. My husband and I got a little adventurous by chasing a Hollywood flick after our very own Bollywood, but least did we know the core of both the stories was the same: “Belief in GOD”. Now that’s all I wanted after a long tedious day….Phew!! Anyway, I sat through both of them. But surprisingly neither turned out to be preachy (thank God for small mercies) nor with an agnostic view point. (Which I thought was the best part). I could relate to both of them.
Later that night instead of hitting the sack straight away, we got on to scrutinizing the movies. What we liked what we didn’t, whether the movies justified their stance or were they instigating. Fortunately my husband and I are both not very religious. We believe in HUMANITY foremost. So we could relate to them even more. To watch those movies one has to have a perspective or else the message in the movies falls flat. Which apparently like me millions others worldwide have, thus making them smashing hit of the recent time.

In my life so far I got a chance to experience two different faiths (I am a born Hindu and a Baptised Catholic). I don’t think either made me come even close to being religious. Both these Faiths have acted as a guiding force into believing in ME more, rather than any ritual or superstition. And that in return made my Belief Stronger in GOD, A Spiritual Being, A Positive Energy. A Power so Supreme.

The protagonist in one of the movies quotes “Religion divides and rituals are all manmade…” (which I believe in too )and developed and followed by people of the era gone by maybe for reasons best known to them. But following those rituals blindly today without knowing them is not a progressive thinking. Belief in God is nothing more than Believing in your Own Existence. If that’s the belief you have too, then it’s only important to treat your own body as a temple in which God would reside. I let God choose me instead of me choosing which God.

Recently my son experienced different festivals celebrated here (Janmasthmi For Lord Krishna, Ananth Chathurti for Lord Ganesha, Navratri for Goddess Durga and Dusshera for Lord Ram) and now Christmas is in the pipeline. Every time he would ask me why are there so many images of God. It’s hard to explain to a child in a multi-cultural set-up. All I could tell him was different people perceive God differently. 

For me I have him believe God is in his heart and is with him all the time. His every behavior, whether good or bad; directly affects God. This makes him cautious about his attitude towards every living thing. He doesn't necessarily have to go to a special place or have an image in front of him, to convey his feelings to God; all he has to do is keep a hand on his heart and begin. And that’s how he does it every night before bed. Even saying sorry to “his” God if he had been unkind and sometimes telling “his” God to make a sick friend alright. This is the essence necessary to capture. To be a Good Human Being takes a top slot in our upbringing.

Psst...Although sneaking into the temple for the love of “prasad” should be forgiven ;)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A Single Wish..

There is a slight chill in the morning air as I step out into the balcony of my house to fill my lungs with some fresh air. It’s December already. The time feels to be slipping out of our hands. My thoughts were wavering and vaguely I recalled my dream last night. I remembered having a conversation with the Almighty. But one thing, which I remember clearly was His question, which froze all my thoughts. The question was– “What will it be that one single gift that I would want for my son from Him?
I don’t remember what I replied but now I wanted an answer.
The power of this question was so much that the whole day I could not put my mind to rest. If I wish for him to live forever, will my son be happy to be in this world when all his companions are no more? If I wish for him to be enormously rich, will that ensure an everlasting happiness in his life? If I wish for him to be the most intelligent person, will that also mean that he will use his intelligence for the right cause? I doubted. I was just unable to put my finger on what one thing I want for my son. It was very shocking for me and made me feel very low.
It really haunted me for a complete day but somehow I realized that if it is about a single wish then it must be a gift of virtue. But then came even a bigger question – “Which one virtue do I wish for my son?” I shared my concerns with my better half, who had equal interest in the end results of the wish. He thought and thought and said that it was a very tricky question. I knew that even he was not sure about the answer.
These days all my questions sooner or later get directed to “Google”. So here I was sitting with my laptop and my first search was for a complete list of virtues. I browsed and finally I came across a list of 120 virtues. There may be many more around in this world but I thought let me focus on these to select one amongst them. I went through the list multiple times to read about all the virtues and understand their significance in my sons life. Finally I made my decision.
My decision
I closed my eyes and called my inner God to tell him my decision. “God thank you for granting me one wish, I wish for my son to be COMPASSIONATE
Why compassion?
During my research I came across a very interesting fable, which helped me in deciding. It goes like this.
A devout clergyman sought every opportunity to impress upon the mind of his son the fact that God takes care of all his creatures.
Compassion personified: a statue at the
Epcot center in Florida
Happening, one day, to see a crane wading in quest of food, the good man pointed out to his son the perfect adaptation of the crane to get his living in that manner. "See," said he, "how his legs are formed for wading! What a long slender bill he has! Observe how nicely he folds his feet when putting them in or drawing them out of the water! He does not cause the slightest ripple. He is thus enabled to approach the fish without giving them any notice of his arrival." . . .
"Yes," replied the boy. "I think I see the goodness of God, at least so far as the crane is concerned. But after all, father, don't you think the arrangement a little tough on the fish?"
Source: Book - What's God Got to Do with It?
Dalai Lama XIV considers compassion as a necessity for human survival and also very rightly said that; “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”. And this is the kind of happiness I wish for my son.
After all my research, I had some intellectual/philosophical discussions with my friends on this topic. A fact, which clearly came out in all the discussions, was that all the virtues will automatically fall in place if a person is compassionate. Thank you my dear friends for giving a thumbs up for my choice of virtue.
How to make my wish come true?
I feel by making me understand what is important for my son, God has already granted me this wish. It’s now just on us, how we can inculcate and nurture it in the young mind. As a first step it’s me who has to practice compassion.
A small question for you
Have you thought of that one single wish you would ask God for your sons and daughters? Please share your thoughts