30 April, 2009

To advocate or not to ......

There comes a point in life when something has got to give. When something does give. A course of action that has been avoided all along, becomes rather imperative. And this applies, in thought and spirit to each and every one of us. The only question being – what is the catalyst that sets it off, what course of action it leads one to take and what the effects/sideeffects/aftereffects are ?

All along, as we’ve watched the nutty siblings grow, as parents, we’ve faced this dilemma many a times – moot question being – to advocate for your child or not to ? And we’ve vacillated like a pendulum – a typical yo-yo effect – sometimes the answer to that question being “Yes” and sometimes an unequivocal “No”.

The dilemma still persists and I guess it will, for years to come. Simply because – no situation is the same. There is no standard equation when it comes to kids. There are way too many factors to be considered and things weighed before arriving at any decision.

I’ve written about this before – about the elder sibling being at the receiving end of a great deal of bullying – of the rather nasty social kind. Derogatory remarks, isolation tactics, creating a great deal of mental confusion, implanting self-doubts …… I can go on and on and on. And this has been especially bad during this academic year. Things seemed to even out earlier on but it was apparently the lull before the storm. It all started in right earnest all over again and surrounded her with a vengeance.

And we are witnessing firsthand as to how much damage social bullying can actually do. Most importantly, it damages the child’s feeling of social acceptance through exclusion and rumor spreading. The second hand and more dangerous effect is one of gradual erosion of self-confidence and self-esteem. That sense of self-worth takes a huge beating.

And this just brought to fore the fact that even as kids grow up, the crossroads never end. Not for them, and most definitely not for us, as parents. While we had been of the opinion that she has to learn to fight her own battles and stand up for herself, this time around, we absolutely had to rethink that policy.

Once again, we came back to the age old question of – Should one advocate for one’s child or not ?

And more importantly, by advocation for and on behalf our our child, are we doing good or actually doing harm in the long run. For a parent to decide whether to intervene in a particular situation or not to, involves taking into account a child’s strengths, abilities and last but not the least – their vulnerabilities. Serious thought and consideration has to be given to what the possible repercussions could be to the child, if the parent intervenes.

By standing up and speaking up for your child every so often, one does run the risk of getting the child dependent on the parents totally whenever the need arises for the child to stand up for himself/herself. And by not speaking up for your child at times, one runs the risk of serious damage being done to the child’s self esteem and sense of self worth and feelings of self confidence.

An ideal example of being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea !!

This time around, when things got particularly bad, a phone call did ensue. Knowing very well that no parent takes very kindly to criticism of any kind, we said that we wanted to know ‘the other side of the story as well”. One side of the story had been narrated by the elder sibling and now we wanted to know the other side as well.

This development made me realize one thing – that while we, as parents want our kids to learn to fend for themselves and to stand up for themselves, there are times when we do need to step in for our kids. When the situation so demands, the kids need that extra bit of help from the parents because, end of the day, fact remains that kids are not adults – not yet.

Try as one might to convince oneself not to get involved, I did realize that a parent can never really “throw the towel in" and say “OK I’m done. Now whatever needs to be done has to come from you and you alone.” One simply cannot disassociate oneself totally from the situation and be just a bystander. One simply cannot risk throwing the child into deep waters and simply say “now that you’re in deep waters, to sink or to swim is totally upto you”.

One simply cannot.

Whether this a good thing or bad, only time can tell. I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again. When your child hurts, you hurt ten times as much. Like with many other decisions, this issue of advocacy too is one tough call.

So those are the crossroads we are in, right now.

“Should one advocate for one’s child or just keep away and maintain a hands off approach”

or on a more personal note

“if faced with the same decisions, would you choose to advocate for your child or would you rather that your child fought his/her battles all the way, no matter what the price paid, in the process”

What is your take on this ?

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18 April, 2009

Around the world in 80 clicks ...

Ok – so I’ve been tagged.

And while I have a rather notorious (or should I say infamous) reputation for shying away from tags, this time around there seems to be no excuse. Cos I’ve been tagged by not one but three people …. and I rather not risk their ire by following my age old tradition of simply not taking up the tag:D.

This tag which was started by HBM was passed on to me by Itchy, Hip Hop Grandmom and The Mad Momma

A very interesting tag, this one – because it did make me retrace my steps and think very hard. Not so much because there is nothing that has been learnt but rather because there is so much that motherhood has taught me. To try and pin it down to five points and try and encompass as much as possible in just five points, to capture the essence and the gist in just five points – that’s the tough part.

So here goes. What has this journey through motherhood taught me or brought out in me that was hitherto absent, you ask ?

As a mother, I’ve learnt that the awesome awesome love that one can experience for and on behalf of one’s child can be absolutely blinding. It can take your breath away, it can actually choke. That sense of pride that fills the heart is incomparable and unique. It makes everything worthwhile and then some.

As a mother, I’ve learnt all over again – to look at the world through the eyes of a child. I’ve learnt how to experience the world around me like a child. Little things that would earlier on have just been brushed off as a part of life and the life cycles around us – took on an entirely new meaning after the kids came along. They taught me to actually throw my hands up in the air and say “yaaay” when we get caught in the rain without an umbrella or when a ray of sunlight actually manages to refract through a single droplet of water and make the sky burst into an arc of seven delightful colors or when an ant actually managed to carry a sugar cube 10 times its weight to its home under the soil. Little things, simple things ….. but when viewed from the standpoint of a child …… get transformed into little wonders.

As a mother, I’ve learnt that it is not just Barney and Elmo who can sing offkey tunes and be forgiven. It is not just Elmo or Big Bird who can be loved even for having flapped around, hopped around and generally acted silly. I can too. I’ve acted like an absolute loon with the nutty duo and have gotten away with it. The nutty duo have also increased my levels of patience to extents that I’ve never thought possible – and they’ve actually gotten away with it.

As a mother, I’ve learnt that the protective instinct is a part and parcel of parenthood. It is instinctive – something that nature instills in you when you step into the realm of parenthood. Even the most docile, the most unassuming and tame parent can take on the most aggressive persona when their child is in the spot. And God help the person who put the child there. Yes, there is that streak of strength, of power untold – a very intensely protective force that parenthood brings alongwith it.

As a mother, I’ve learnt that the age old principle of “letting go” has to be applied to many different situations – big and small. I’ve learnt to “let go” when my children stopped depending upon us to carry them around from place to place, when they found that they have legs that could do that for them. Legs that could take them North when their parent said South. I’ve learnt to “let go” when my children started kindergarten and school and started waving back from the school bus with an enthusiasm that suggested that they thoroughly enjoy those few hours away from home. I’ve learnt to “let go” when the elder sibling goes off on sleepovers or camps and is away from home overnight or 3-4 nights in a row. And as a mother, I’m still in the process of further learning to “let go”. There might be times in the future, near or far, when “letting go” gets to be a rather tough call – but then again – it is all a part of this thing called life. And in their own little ways, I guess, it is the kids who teach their parents that.

And now, on to tag more moms and spread the joy :). I've decided that I'm not going to stop at five moms/dads. There are more than five moms/dads I have in mind. Hence, I tag :

MayG in Dubai

Fuzzylogic in Canada

Neera in India

Tharini in Chicago

Maggie in Singapore

Kodi's Mom in Seattle

Suma in Singapore

Orchid in Texas

Sundar in California

Priyanka in Singapore

P.S : Here are the rules:

Just write a post of your own (5 things that you love about being a mom/dad) and find someone to link to and tag - someone from your own country, if you like, but definitely someone from another country (Google is a good resource if you don't know any; google any country name and 'mom/dad' in their blog search function) (be sure to let them know that you've tagged them!) - and link back here and HBM and leave a comment.

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09 April, 2009

Oh !! Another DUH moment !!

Duh Moments are proving to be aplenty – for Mommy, that is.

I know I know – if you are nodding your head with a raised eyebrow and thinking “Of course it has to be Mommy – Who else can be associated with DUH ?” – I don’t blame you. Cos the DUH moments have been happening with rather alarming regularity !! One such earlier DUH moment has been dutifully recorded here.

The other day, the younger sibling was all ga-ga over some spaceship. Now, it being the Easter break, both siblings are at home full time for a full and whole two weeks !!! What Mommy means to say is that she’s one hundred percent in her “selective perception” mode.

Mommy’s mind is now trained to make sure that things don’t really register. Many little snippets of speech, the siblings’ arguments etc .. just skim through the surface of Mommy’s consciousness without really “getting there” into her fully conscious mind.

So it was one such moment when Mommy was fully in her Selective Perception mode and the younger sibling and the elder one were droning on and on about something. The words “spaceship”, “asteroids”, “dwarf planet” etc … kept plinking down like coins into Mommy’s head but there was no connectivity to the words. The words were floating in and out of Mommy’s head pretty much like one of those satellites lost and wandering aimlessly in outer space.

Later in the afternoon, the younger sibling was abuzz with questions about spaceships – and Mommy had absolutely no clue as to what was happening. Questions were being thrown at the hapless Mommy pretty much like the rain pelts down in Hongkong during a typhoon. Not to mention the wind inside Mommy’s head that was making her whirl in dizzying circles just trying to fend off the questions.

“How do astronauts know how fast they are going ?”
“How do the astronauts know they are going the right way ?”
“What will happen if the astronauts land on the wrong planet ?”
“How will they know how cold it is on the planet’s surface ? What if they don’t have enough sweaters to keep them warm or what if their spacesuit does not keep them warm ? If they feel cold in space what will they do ?”

How will they know this and how will they know that’s – were all over the place and the hapless Mommy was pretty much like a headless chicken at this point of time.

And like is normally the case, to extricate herself out of the small hole the younger sibling had dug – what does mommy do ?

Well, she did what she normally does. Digs a bigger hole for herself to put herself and her foot in !!

To dramatise the reply, Mommy went ahead and started behaving as though she were actually in a spaceship. Apparently all those episodes of Star Trek that mommy used to watch as a kid was actually coming back to bite her in the butt !!

“Pling” ….. whoosh …………. “Bing Bing” ……………”Dooosh” ………….. “Boom Boom” …………. “Eeeeeeaaaauuuunnnnnn” ………………..”Shlick Shlick ………….. wheeeeeee” ………….. on and on it went until Mommy realized that she had two very alarmed spectators.

Two very startled spectators who were looking at Mommy and then looking at each other. And Oh ! those looks spoke volumes.

And they brought Mommy crashing down to Earth !!

Yes Yes – now you know where that crater mysteriously appeared from. Go tell NASA !!

Anyways, not to digress, the rather wild eyed Mommy with her hair in total disarray gave the nutty siblings a huge smile (which only served to alarm them further, actually) and said to the younger sibling “See – you asked me how the astronauts know this and know that. I was just trying to prove a point and trying to tell you how they figure things out.”

Mommy continued to dig a hole in the ground for herself by continuing “See that’s how they figure things out. They have all those little dots and buttons and dashes which go bim bim boom boom” said Mommy, looking rather pleased with herself.

“Mummy – do you mean the controls in the spaceship ?” queried the younger sibling who looked convinced that Mommy was actually some Martian in disguise. The elder sibling too was giving Mommy extremely dubious looks while at the same time trying very hard to control the amusement and the mirth that the hapless Mommy had created with all those histrionics and the booms and the bims.

“You mean the controls of the spaceship, right ?” asked the younger sibling. “You could just have said controls Mummy, but you said bim bim boomboom and all that” said the younger one, giggling and laughing uncontrollably. The elder sibling, by this time, was laughing hysterically !!

Yes indeed. Mommy could just have said “controls”, couldn’t she ?

(sigh) The kids are growing up a tad too fast.

And Mommy – when is she going to learn ?

Will she, ever ?????

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