People see candles and usually think either Halloween, black-outs or women. They see diffusers (reed and the other kinds) and think of spas, meditation and women. You dim the lights and people go, “Oh yeah, romance” and well, romance with women.

And truth be told women *need* these things and there are well-validated reasons behind all these knickknacks and doohickeys that women use to kick back and relax, rejuvenate or even just set the mood.

Candles and dim lights- whether you’ve been doing back-breaking work in a mine, fighting it out in the corporate jungles or chasing after a toddler (same difference), at the end of a long day it has been found (empirically) that dim lights actually bring down levels of stress and heightened emotions and help people unwind. Think about it, all the stresses of the day happen in bright lights, inside and outside. A step back from it all happening along with muted, soft lights actually add to the momentum of relaxing.

And purely from a less-than-perfectly-physiqued woman’s POV; it also hides the frown lines, crows feet and unflattering signs of fatigue till you’ve had a chance to exfoliate, moisturize and conceal your way into being “presentable” to the world at large or atleast your partner/husband who walks in the door, takes a look at you and asks, “bad day?”

Diffusers and other aromatic aids- This one isn’t even a New Age hippie doodad but something that’s been in use across centuries. People have been burning sage, camphor, lavender and other aromatics to cleanse the air, their auras and their immediate surroundings for a long, long time. Pick up an Regency novel (based in the early-mid 1800s) and you’ll find all about sage burning or reviving fainting lasses with lavender water or keeping lavender sprigs in their boudoirs.

Nowadays it’s just nice to not smell the spices from your cooking and that of the neighbors’, the waft of old socks and shoes and the stench of an open trash chute all rolled up into one unholy mess and instead have a mild to moderate aroma of Ocean Breeze or lemongrass oils greet you in your personal space.

Of course with the dim lights, the ocean breeze and a tired mind often (and successfully) conjures up a hunky stud along with it all; just to round out the feeling of being mellow properly. If said hunky stud is holding or offering a chilled glass (read bottle) of Chablis and looking scrum-diddly-umptious in the bargain then your Relax-O-Meter just zooms right up to the stratosphere and you are officially M-E-L-L-O-W.

So in conclusion: women have had it right all along! Get the aromatics, get the candles and the stud and lounge away in cozy darkness for curing all the ills of a long, tiring work day.

Note: This method works best if treated like a prescription or a record on loop.



Free-Range Vs Helicopter Parenting: Indian Scenario

I am all for being a hands-off parent. I really would like to be able to observe my child, see him grow rather than always be present while he is doing his thing. For someone who has been a SAHM from the first moment, it is quite a treat to be able to see your child interact with their environment, peers and the world at large without literally (and figuratively) pulling at the leash.

However and this is a big however, the concept of Free-Range parenting  isn’t always viable for the Indian mindset or for that matter the pan-Asian mindset.

While I cannot comment knowledgeably on a generic Asian temperament per se, let’s just say that it allows for a lot less permissiveness in the interaction between children, young adults with the adults they encounter. It’s not borne out of a compulsion of seeing the kids become “docile”, “controlled” or even submissive but out of a Father/Mother knows best funda which seeks to leave decision-making in the hands of an adult till the child reaches the sensibilities of an adult and can take independent decisions and their consequences.

And that’s ultimately what any parent worth their salt is concerned about- consequences. Children primarily lack the ability to make judgement calls before a particular age sets in and I personally believe that for quite a few people, that age usually starts in their late teens or early twenties. The reason being that while they reach this age the gamut of experiences that they go through are more definitive and they pay more attention to the learnings that arise out of it, rather than having the moral of the story outlined (if you will) by their parents the way it was done during their early years.

And let’s not even open up the can of worms that includes predators et al. The world is a difficult place to navigate even for adults. Children with their innocence/lack of experience aren’t always able to gauge with certainty who they should place their trust in. A child is a child for a reason. Despite being conditioned to be responsible, or inherently of a more compliant nature, a child can lapse into carelessness, callousness and self-indulgent behavior because knowing altruism, benevolence or how to do the right thing isn’t what the doctor ordered for a 7 year-old.

And to expect them to be any different is to expect munchkin-sized adults to be walking around while looking much cuter than the normal-sized ones.

And what does this have to do with being a Helicopter Parent Vs. A Free-Range one? Well as adults we learn about balances and being a parent is the toughest balancing job in the whole world. The tightrope walking kind of pales in significance because there isn’t always a safety net and the worst case scenario is far worse than any of us could begin to fathom. So it comes down to this…is it better to suffocate your kid as a helicopter parent or not know where your kid is or doing what and to what extent because you’ve eased up too much on the free aspect of free-range parenting? Isn’t even a mild case of paranoia a given for a parent? Or do we actually sleep better knowing a 10 year old will definitely look both ways before crossing the street or a 5 year old knows what intuition is and is guided by it?

So while I veer more to the side of helicopter parenting (much to my chagrin) on matters of education, teaching of good behavior and imposing of rules et al; there are times when I can wear the mantle of a free-range parent as well. And I can give a good amount of leeway only because I stayed close, watched every step and made sure the most avoidable dangers could be identified and well…avoided. Some days I hop,skip and jump all over the place being both kinds of parents because the situation and my innate nature demands it.

But know this, no amount of parenting will help if an asteroid hits the earth and wipes away all of humanity. All you can do is know that you are being true to yourself while you bring your child up and despite all the time-outs, angry glares and whatnot if your child is genuinely happy to see you first thing in the morning and runs to tell you about every scrapped knee to every new bug he spotted on the road, then maybe, just maybe you haven’t screwed it up.

Just something to think about.



Relics of My Childhood

A good part of my life is nostalgia-ridden or driven.

I am quite in touch with the present and look into the future (aided by booze at times) but the past is quite bright and vivid for me overall.

When aspects, however minute, crop up from my childhood; it makes me quite cheery and I’m happy to trip back to school days and regale (not!) the Lord and Master aka Red about my experiences. He, in turn, is equally happy to tune me out and is careful to insert, ” Uh huh”, “Ohs” and “Really?” into the gaps in the near-monologue-y conversation that ensues.

A month or so ago, MLM got a Ring Pop in a goody bag and I was thrilled because when I was slightly older than he is now, I’ve pestered my mom for quarters to buy them from the gumball machine. And here was my kid about to go down the same road of experiencing an edible jewelry! My favorite is the grape flavor in case anyone was wondering. No? Onwards…

One of my crushes gave me a Ring Pop to show me he liked me and that the first ring given to me by any guy and also the only delicious one!

Another one of the things that I somehow liked playing with, and grossing my mother out at the same time, was Slime.

It was oozy, gooey and so much fun! So when I found some tiny barrel of slime in a toy store, I didn’t think twice and bought it for MLM and another one of his friends. Needless to say, the slime was a hit! It was fought over. It made its way onto some upholstery, a certain grandfather’s shirt and grossed out every sensible adult in the room.

I was telling Red this morning that of all the things I thought would endure over three decades, pop rocks, bubble tape, bubblegum lollipops and play slime didn’t even make the top 10. But it’s nice to see these things once in a while. They’re silly, fun and an unforgettable part of being a carefree kid.