Free-Range Vs Helicopter Parenting: Indian Scenario

Image courtesy- www.damemagazine.com

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.

 

 

Oh Snap!

The brat has his little friends. They can be quite a handful from time to time.

One of them came over a little while ago and was practically nose-to-nose with the not-small t.v set. When I asked her to move back a bit, she scooched back barely half an inch. So I asked her to move back a little more and pat came the reply along with little arms akimbo, “if you don’t let me watch t.v. from here, why did you keep the sofa so close to the t.v.?”

After I did my goldfish impression viz mouth opening and closing my mouth wordlessly a few times, I remembered that I was in the role of the responsible parent and told her that it might spoil her eyes if she kept watching television like that, she again answered with a, “no! and glared at the t.v to come and spoil her eyes if it dared!

I don’t think the television will be taking up the dare.

 

What I Learnt From My Kid’s School

Image courtesy- www.financialeducatorscouncil.org

Courtesy Facebook’s memories I get to know about how and what I was thinking not only on a time a specific time in the past but also how I was feeling. And when I wrote this post I was a bit more of an anxious mother, fretting about my kid’s school, academic “career” as it were and basically uncomfortable about not knowing what lay ahead. Fast Forward two years I’m still sipping at the font of wisdom that is Life and learning loads while my kid goes to school. Here’s how it is…

  • A child will learn at their own pace no matter what!
  • A teacher who loves kids (genuinely) will probably be able to teach more through affection and warmth rather than another more knowledgeable individual who is distant or doesn’t form relationships with the kids.
  • Digital media, chalkboard, flashcards are all props…native intellect needs to be stirred and awake for learning to occur.
  • Making things interesting is all fine and good but it helps that the biological age increases and life experiences help kids understand why they need to learn.
  • Getting a good night’s sleep and cutting off from anything academic goes a long way in learning taking place.
  • Physical activity- silly and unstructured or properly regimented aids in learning as well.
  • Learning can come from various sources provided it’s pitched at the right time and the right way.
  • Parents need the teachers’ presence more than the kids…just to be assured that all’s going as it should.
  • Taking a small step back from policing the child (even with all the best intents in the world) is a fantastic thing to do while they’re below the tweens.
  • Reflecting on what were turn-offs and stumbling blocks while we were students helps empathize and give the child space to assimilate their learning material.
  • Accepting that there’s a Bell Curve and your child will grow into a more permanent place in it, helps be good parents as well.
  • Trusting the people you entrust your kid’s physical, emotional and overall well-being to and yet realizing our role is constant in the whole scope of things.
  • Acknowledging that improvements- slight, steady or sporadic; are still a step in the right direction give you a good night’s sleep.

Long story short? The AC bus and the pool helps because trappings are important. But a teacher who makes sure your kid has a balanced meal daily and who can come back and share positive and negative feedback with indemnity goes a long, long way in knowing how to be supportive while your child learns about life. Be it from a tablet, a workbook or just from a walk in the park. Because a big part of being a parent is taking a backseat while your kid gets the controls of life just right. You have to deal with not always being able to call ‘shotgun’.

Here endeth the lesson.

The Mine Field That Is My House

Many moons ago I had spewed a bit via this post but last night I realized that my modest home is quite fraught with stuff that’s likely to blow up (figuratively) or cause me to blow up (literally).

Case in point- My kid and his quest for building a dino army keeps showing up (read under) all foreseeable and some not so foreseeable places. Last night’s trip to the bedroom was an obstacle course par excellence!

This is how it went down- focus on the word down. Now the charming child I’ve brought into this world, had locked Red and I out of our bedroom? Did I mention we’ve been co-sleeping, exclusively? It’s not fun. But since his room and ours has a connecting window that opens up from his room, I thought I’d sorted things out quite alright. Erm…not quite.

So just on the other side of MLM’s window is a futon and ahead of the futon is a few open feet of room followed by the bed. I always keep a bit of a gap between the window and the futon for these reasons and also to make it easier to sweep and mop but that was to be my downfall in every sense of the word.

So the space behind the futon was littered with dinos. The pointy kinds. I think the beak of a Quetzalcoatlus (pronounced as  /ˌkwɛts(ə)lkəʊˈatləs/ for those who give a damn) or a Pteranodon (drop the P while saying it and you’re gravy) poked me in my foot leading me to leapfrog over the entire width of the futon and step on a Hotwheels car that effectively got me half airborne till I broke my fall on the futon. And being the superb athelete that I am, I was suprised that nothing was broken…bones and futon included.

So up I get, seething in anger and ready to grab the kid by the scruff of his neck and dump him in his room and his quite comfortable bed when I stepped on a marble and hopped on one foot to go and sit on the air conditioner’s remote which was parked right where I would normally sleep!

A lopsided, ballet through the air to land in a graceless manner in a bed where a rapidly growing child was sleeping diagonally across. Naturally.

Oh by the way, did I mention it was rather dark in the room just the LED glow from the AC spread a dim light over a negligible part of the room? Nevermind…that’s usually a given.

 

There’s A Great White Under The Bed

It’s only 3 inches long but my big toe did come in contact with its great gaping maws…and this isn’t the first time there was a “dangerous” animal lurking where it shouldn’t have been. We’ve had similar incidents earlier also.

Want to know what else is going on? Well there’s a mini Giant Octopus hiding behind the sink in my bathroom. Probably waiting to wrap its tentacle around my wrist when I reach for my toothbrush!

Or the crocodile that swished its tail at my nose last night when I turned over in my sleep.

The only saving grace has been the Stegosaurus (aptly named as Steggy) who was nice enough not to squish me when he landed on my head before MLM’s bed time.

Between coiled up snakes at Red’s feet during breakfast and Giant Squid’s surfacing in the shower cubicle, MLM’s toys are everywhere! Day and night and in every kind of scenario. The only place they aren’t in is the damn toy box.

Is this the same kid who used to go to Gymboree and do “clean-up, clean-up” after playtime was done? I can’t see hide nor hair of him anymore. It’s prehistoric reptiles and marine creatures as far as my myopic eyes can see and my toes can step on…sadly enough…

 

There’s A Dinosaur In My Bra!

No. I’m not high. Yes, I wish I was. And yes, I have a child. Ergo the weird things ending up where they ideally ought not to.

Sitting down and finding a clothes pin jammed up in your butt crack is passe. Stepping on Batman and theoretically emasculating him when you get up to pee at 4 in the morning is also so-been-there-done-that.

Now, having a wee serpent stare at you balefully while you rub the sleep out of your eyes and cope with an imminent heart attack is the new definition of normal. And while your nervous system gets even more nervouser and tells you to flee, the mother part of your brain tries to calm it down by saying, “There’s a 5-year old on the loose. That’s all.”

Having kids is honestly an adventure. And for quite a while, you’re going in blind. It’s a war on some days but for the most part it IS fun. They can wake up one morning and tell you they want to see stingrays and whale sharks (making you think you have a mini-Animal Planeteer on your hands and feeling good that the boy is growing up) and by evening on the same day they are watching the television upside down because apparently Pink Panther looks better that way.

And that’s what I’m going to tell myself while I fish out the mini-extinct lizard from my cups and set it down carefully next to the Triceratops, the hotwheels car and the Batman who has his head on backwards.

Never a dull moment!

Reblogged: Marking Territory

Everywhere I look, I sit the offspring’s presence prevails.

The jar of Gummybears are usually within hand’s reach although with the child-proof caps it’s still a bit in our control when we want to hand the bears over.

There are clothes clips on the futon, tigers and lions (figures) under the sofa cushions and Play Doh and khakhra crumbs all along the path he’s taken through the house. Very Hansel and Gretel and one can guess who the witch in this story is too 🙂

Point is- kids take over your life in toto! And when they sleep you reclaim it and the house which has their artwork all over the walls instead of the nice designs you and your husband picked out as newlyweds.

But then again they surprise you in the MOST UNEXPECTED manner. After a terribly taxing day when you’ve restrained yourself from leaving them on some unsuspecting person’s doorstep they turn to you and execute a deep bow and say Thank You Very Much Ayu in the cutest manner ever and all’s forgiven till the next transgression.

Damn! Check and mate to the offspring. Mommy’s still figuring out her opening gambit!