Parenting: The Stuff They Never Tell You

I am a semi-helicopter mother and not proud of it. Here are some things I’ve gleaned in the past few years of parenting. I’m not sure how helpful this is but for those contemplating marriage and eventually kids, do read this once. It may give you a different perspective (read abstinence or hardcore contraception) or it may reinforce what you see and hear in front of you everyday anyhow.

So..here we go!

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#1 Having a conversation with anyone else barring your child is like being in a boxing match. It goes like this- you speak 1,2,3 and someone jabs you. You try to regain your balance and speak again 1,2,3 and this time it’s an uppercut.

There are rare conversations that you can have without being interrupted; till you decide to give it up and just focus on the kid. And guess what precious nugget comes your way when you do? It’s quite possibly something along the lines of – (imagine it being spoken in all caps) “You know what? My poop is all orange from all the nachos I ate yesterday!!” And you nod helplessly because you hung up on an overseas call with your BFF to hear about your kid’s bodily function.

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#2 Farts are important. If they stink, how loud they are. If you’ve noticed the abovementioned smell and noise. If you haven’t they’ll probably poop their pants trying to squeeze one out that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.

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#3 You have to watch everything you say. Literally. Imagine becoming a psychotic with visual hallucinations where the words you think materialize in front of your face. You reject a few and allow the rest of them to be uttered. If you don’t, the next time you may be subjected to a bout of , ” Gimme a break or a ” Oh for crying out loud!” from a 1st grader because you cut off digital media or pool access at pre-agreed upon times.

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#4 Pool times are deadly. The child *never* remembers that staying for too long in the water causes their skin to prune up. When you tell them their time’s up, they mimic dolphins and scoot away from you.

Wading into the pool and dragging them out leads to yells and screams tantamount to child abduction with people looking at you and your offspring in distaste for causing ripples in their recreation or serenity.

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#5 Some part of the body always hurts during homework or DEEEEP sleep to rival Rip Van Winkle’s comes on in droves and it goes away only when the threat of homework does. And then, the recovery is more miraculous than the walking on water phenomenon! Faster too!

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#6 Waking the child up in the mornings is a drama par excellence. The hands flung over the eyes a la Scarlett O’Hara, the burrowing into the covers like a mole and coiling up smaller and smaller like a worm or a snake makes you gobsmacked! One child going through all these changes in a matter of seconds is nothing short of amazing.

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#7 Say goodbye to your stereo and tv and tablets. The kid rules all and owns all. You don’t come in second. You don’t come in. Period.

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#8 Holiday destinations are decided by where the wild things are. Literally. The continent with the most venomous snakes, biggest crocs makes the cut. Relaxing at a beach? Sure…but can you also see the Inland Taipan or the Tasmanian Devil? No? Then it’s a no-go.

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#9&#10– these two are probably the most annoying IMHO. Your bedroom and your bathroom time are no longer your own. And that’s mystifying because why on earth would someone want to spend so much time talking to you through the bathroom door, wanting to know what you’re doing, when you’re coming out and even going to the extent of shoving their ever-growing drawings of dragons under the door for you to peruse while you’re focused on something entirely different and faar more important.

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They creep you out by looming over you in the weekends; the one time you don’t have to run and bundle them into clothes and catch the school bus. They whisper slowly into your ears, distorting dreams with reality; often shoving tiny fingers up your nose to wake you thoroughly and even body flop on your sleeping, unsuspecting self just to tell you they LOVE YOU. And you feel compelled to reply in kind while you blindly kick out, hoping to connect with that tiny butt and get them the hell out of your sacred sleeping space.

Ah parenting…what a ride!

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The Prodigal Returns

Last weekend I went back to pray at the altar of the gym gods after a long, long a time. I know why I stopped going and it wasn’t a good enough reason then and isn’t one now either. But I like to give myself brownie points for attempting to get back on the horse/bike…you take your pick. Whatever it may be, hopefully it’ll continue to be a major factor in helping me keep up and increase the pace.

The frailty of people makes it so that it’s harder to keep doing things that take a lot of effort; breaking out in a sweat, dealing with aches and pains and still anchoring onto a reason to keeping at it. Stopping doesn’t take much doing at all so it’s usually the fallback option for many of us.

But jiggly fat, wobbly knees and jelly calves aside, the rush from doing something that pushes you ahead is quite fulfilling. However, it’s fulfilling in hindsight and hindsight usually kicks in an hour after you’ve had the whey protein and got some feeling back in the limbs. Till then you’re a slug and wondering why the world makes and endorses such instruments of torture like the foam (huh! Yeah right!) roller.

My glutes, which I thought were heavily padded and non-susceptible too much pain, were crying out for deliverance. As were my thighs, again courtesy the dreaded roller. But since the gym equipment is going to end up being a near-permanent fixture in my life I might as well make peace with it, grit my teeth and jump right in.

Here are some more instruments of torture…

Apparently we’re harking back to the medieval ages just for the fun of getting fit. Notice the rack to get stretched out on, the clubs to get…well clubbed with and the hoops to be hanged from. Bliss…

I was asked to do something called the ‘Hollow Body Hold’. But try as I might, I can’t approach “hollow” ever! Sigh…some of us were meant to be convex…we can’t concave if our lives depended on it.

 

PS: All the mentions of torture are in the overactive imagination and tired body of the author. There is *no* documented evidence of any kind of torture at all. Yet… *evil grin*

 

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.

 

 

Parenting Facepalms

The last couple of days have been a series of facepalm moments for me. Let me clarify that. It’s been a series of facepalm moments as a parent.

Kids do silly things, naughty things, dangerous things but there are these moments which are just out and out, facepalm hall of fame ones.

The two that stand in out in my mind had the potential to be iffy in terms of the kind of discipline they invited post the incident occurring, but luckily in the first case the person on the receiving end of the incident was very accepting of kids being kids and is rather laid back about her levels of “Well-I-Never” and the in the second case the other individual was a bit hard of hearing so it was all good.

Anyhoo, enough of a backstory, here’s what went down!

Scenario#1- I was having a nice cuppa and conversation with a friend of mine and both of us are rather gabby-gabby and MLM was feeling left out and his dinner&t.v time was fast approaching. He circled the dinning table a few times where the talk was going on but I was so busy with my chatter that I didn’t notice him fidgeting.

So MLM being MLM decided to take the bull by the horns and directly told my friend to leave because it was getting late and he was hungry! In the stunned silence that followed he made his sad face and lifted his tshirt and pointed at his stomach (he possibly wanted it caving inwards to show how his mother was starving him) and for good measure he pointed outside and said it was getting dark.

It was one of those moments where you look up at the heavens and wonder where you went wrong as a parent and give thanks that the friend at your table likes kids and is ok with those who are less than perfect in the deportment area 🙂

Fast forward a couple of days and MLM and I were going down in the elevator when a rather large elderly gentleman got on. MLM and he shook hands (my kid is polite that way) and exchanged names.When he heard the gentleman’s name was Sam, MLM said, “Hey, you’re like Nova and I’ll call you Buckethead!” To which the elderly Sam just went, “Huh? What was that?” while I shepherded MLM out the door saying, “It was nice meeting you…bye now.” I know older people generally are more tolerant of kids, especially cute ones (mine is cute) but I think even they might draw the line at being called ‘buckethead’.

So yeah…Friday’s upon us. Saturday and Sunday are down the road and I’m wondering what else my kid’s going to come up with next and keeping my hands clean for more facepalming moments! Or I could go with my tortured saint look that I’ve been practicing since facepalms can hurt at times.

Salut!

Tortured Saint

 

The Universe Strikes Back

If you believe in karma that is. Else you can just believe in bad luck or stoically soldier through life’s tough spots. A specific group of people across the world, who are strangers to each other but actually united in their erm…”difficulties” are the parents to preschoolers. I believe they cease to be group members when the child turns 6 and then come together again during the teenage years.

Anyhow, during one of my imploding moments (a have a few throughout the week) I was trying to understand, WHY ME? And I realized that the only answer that made sense was that the universe was screwing with me. Why else would I be doubly blessed with a hybrid of a monkey and a parrot for a child?

From the spilt chocolate milk to the clothes he dumped into the washing machine (without separating the colored from the whites) just to help me out or the bodywash he emptied by putting it in his tub to make MORE BUBBLES (in his words)…it all seems like the cosmos conspiring against me time and again.

But I have news for you universe…he’ll eventually move out and I’ll retire from active parenting and become gaga (with happiness or old age is yet to be determined) and then he’ll be your problem!

What goes around. Comes around.

Author’s Note: This blog post was written as a means of blowing of tension which normally would have been accomplished with an alcoholic beverage and vocabulary normally frowned upon by childhood experts and shrinks (and my husband). But I still do blame the universe.