Are You Feeding Your Child’s Curiousity?

Dad brought a street puppy home last week in the morning. It was a weekday, so Tanav, my 7 year old son, was out to school at that time. Sohana, my 3 year old daughter, was home though. She had a wonderful time. She goes to her playschool at 11 AM so there was enough time for her to play with this little guy.

By the time Tanav came home, Dad had already taken the puppy back to its mother. Sohana considers this even more fun because she had the exclusive privilege to meet with the pup, and Tanav missed it!

That’s how kids are. Actually, adults are no different, except may be us adults are worse.

Anyway, Sohana shared it with Tanav adding all the intricate details which left him heartbroken. He had missed out on all the fun!

So, Tanav was after Grandpa to bring the puppy again at a time when he was home. After some pestering, Grandpa decided to take the kids to show the puppies. Both Tanav and Sohana headed out with great enthusiasm.

When they returned, Tanav suddenly asked, “Where do we human babies get milk from?

Apparently, when went there, the puppy was busy being nursed by its mother along with his other 5 siblings. That explained his curiosity.

Quite frankly, whenever such difficult question comes, the first reaction is to skirt it. It is a taboo topic afterall. That’s what we did too. He asked a couple of times, and moved on to something else.

Next day, as Deepti, my wife and I were going to work, we talked about it and decided that we should not ignore our little ones innocent questions. If we did that, he would ultimately stop asking us questions. In any case, children curiosity needs to be fed and he would look for answers from other people or places. We don’t want to take that risk.

In the evening, Deepti explained to Tanav, of course in an age appropriate way, how mums nurse and breastfeed their babies.

Kamasutra
Kamasutra

Tanav even had counter questions such as, “Can a Mom feed someone else’s baby?” and “How long does a baby need to be breastfed?”.

It was difficult for Deepti to share this but we’re glad she did.

Just when we felt relaxed to have been successful in climbing a little parental hill, there was more coming.

Tanav was watching TV, a song was playing that had caught the little man’s attention. I knew something was brewing in his mind. Moments later he asked, “Papa, What is Kamasutra?

Whoever said parenting was easy!

What’s Your Mission This Month?

“It is so scary, any vehicle could hit on the foot rest!”, said Mom instantly as I opened the entrance door to let her in. Her words sounded as if I was the one responsible for her plight.

“What happened, Mom?”, I asked already knowing that she was complaining about the two wheeler (scooter) ride with Dad. She comes back with Dad on his scooter after her daily evening walks in the park.

“I am not sitting on the God forsaken scooter ever again!” replied Mom.

By now I was getting irritated. I controlled myself and said in a very plain matter-of-factly tone, “You have said that at least 20,000 times before, Mom!”

This was the first time I had responded that way. But I had to say it, not because I wanted to upset Mom further or to trivialize what she was trying to say but because that was the truth! Well, the count of 20k is an exaggeration but the point is that Dad is almost 70, Mom 66 and what I have heard ever since I was a child are a lot of complains.

Kids Grow Up So Fast
Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.  – Zig Ziglar

 

Perhaps we all do such seemingly harmless venting out every now and then. Things after all don’t always go as we please. But there are still some options one has:

1. Complain, complain, complain… (the chosen option always so far!)

2. Be happy that God has been kind to let you travel with your partner. (too far fetched?)

3. Convince your partner and get him to bring the car for you (too difficult , life is not a romantic movie, or may be you can give it a try and make it one?)

4. Get convinced and make your own arrangement to come back. (too bold? Going against your husband when you should instead be making sacrifices for him! How can a woman go against her man for selfish interest?)

Option 1 seems to be the wrong-est to me.

One – It doesn’t help you. Especially if you complain to me, a third person. Unless, of course,  if you wanted me to help you, which you clearly don’t (as I have realized over the years). For if I do talk to Dad, you would come back defending Dad and say that “It’s okay, at least he picks me up!”. I have been confused enough and don’t want to remain so any further.

Two – It doesn’t help Dad. He is practical with a capital P! He can’t understand emotions, so either you stop coming back with him or stop complaining! Period.

Three, and most importantly (as far as I am concerned) – It doesn’t help me. Parents need to realize that the moods of parents impact the children’s moods directly. Even if I am feeling low, I should be cautious in sharing my feelings with my children, unless I want them to help me. I need to be clear how I would want them to help me. Otherwise, the sheer lack of clarity or sharing for the heck of it, is only going to cause harm to both the parties. You feel worse by re-living those moments – of being driven in a haggard scooter when Dad has two cars waiting in the garage to come out. The child (I) will feel miserable simply because the parent feels so, and on top of that, the feeling of being helpless for the person who means the world to the child.

I don’t doubt your intentions Mom. Not even once! Just that you didn’t think this would cause any harm. But well, that’s what it did!

Took me a long time (half the average lifespan in India) to realize this. It’s a very long time. A lot of life. But I have learnt my lesson. As a parent, I need to be careful, for my child will never be happy to see his Dad or his Mom unhappy and helpless. So, let me not get him or her into a situation like that unless I genuinely need them to help. If I need them to help, I would need to phrase it differentlyOtherwise, don’t care to share with them. In fact, care enough not to share with them. 

I love you Mom, and can’t thank God enough for blessing me with you as my Mom. You always meant the world to me and always will. I owe to you whatever I am today. As I pass on the good things to gen next, I also should put a stop to the few that didn’t work. That’s all!

The men are playing the men’s game on facebook, “No Shave November” this month. Can I challenge the parents to a No Complains December?  


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Can The “Average You” Be Successful?


THE FUN RACE


I had got back home after running The Devil’s Circuit last evening.

Devil’s Circuit is considered to be the BIGGEST obstacle running series in India. A 5 KM run with 15 commando-styled obstacles: bloody logs, torture trenches, barbed wires, swimming icy-cold water, pools of shrill, deadly swings et al.!

I participate in runs occasionally. It is a fun way to test my limits. But this one was different and very rugged!

I was so wasted and yet so happy! (see my family picture right after the run.)

I had brought back with me: a sense of pride, a slight headache and a lot of mud all over me.

After a shower and a failed attempt to wash away the mud from my shoes, I dozed off.Average You


THE RAT RACE


When I woke up, Deepti, my wife, told me that she had been to the chemist to bring some aspirin for me (she’s a sweetheart!). But she looked a bit upset.

The Chemist, Mr. Batra is our neighbor. His son, Raghav and Tanav, our 6 year old son, study in the same grade albeit in different schools (and thankfully so! You’ll agree as you read further).

Deepti told me about the conversation she had with him.

Mr. Batra: “Aren’t you waiting for Tanav’s results, with bated breath?”

Deepti: “Well, kind of. We’re eager to see his teacher and find out how he’s been doing.”

Mr. Batra: “We are so curious to find out if Raghav stood First in the class this time or Second!”

Deepti: “Really? Wow!”

Mr. Batra: “What about Tanav? Does he stand First or Second in his class?” 

(Yes, he had the audacity to ask that!)

Deepti: “Well, they don’t have ranks in his school in junior grades.”

Mr. Batra: “But you would have an idea, won’t you?”

Deepti: “No..”

Now I understood why Deepti was upset. She must have been infuriated with the conversation.

“What would you have said had he asked you?” She asked me.

I told her, “I don’t know about myself but if it was Tanav’s Grandpa, he would surely have said – Tanav is always No. 1. Numero Uno!”

Which he is. And which he always will be! For us – as parents.

Tanav surprises me with his curiosity and his fresh ideas totally amaze me.  He enjoys learning and loves a few subjects a lot. He is a happy kid.

But he is not good at everything! In the usual parlance, he is ‘an average‘, or, at best, ‘an above average‘ child.


BEING “AVERAGE”


Deepti’s conversation with Mr. Batra reminded me of a workshop I had recently attended.

A well-built, tall and confident man, Vikram, had conducted it. It was a fantastic workshop but I remembered what Vikram said in the end:

“I am a very average man.”

A lot of inquisitive heads turned in the audience.

He continued, “I’ve had highs and lows in my career. What has made me successful though is the process I follow rather than my intelligence or my smartness.”

He didn’t need to say that he was average. Why did he? But by doing so, he had done me and many others a huge favor.

I always thought that being average was a sign of weakness and shame. And here was Vikram, acknowledging that he was average and, yet, apparently very successful!

Everyone’s perspective changed. Vikram was successful not because he was gifted, smart or intelligent, but despite his flaws and despite being average. He was like one of us in the room.


WHAT IS MY PROCESS?


What process was Vikram referring to? Did Tanav have one? Would Tanav be successful?

These questions were bothering me.

Eureka! There was, indeed, one mantra (call it process) that often worked both for Tanav and me:

  1. Think of what you want to do.
  2. Start doing it.
  3. Finish it.
  4. Praise yourself for what you did.

Sounds simple, right?

It is!

And it worked! It kept us in the ‘upward spiral of confidence’.

Only problem was that we weren’t intentional about it. I decided to be so now and not give up when going got tough or failures happened!

Do you have a process that works for your child? If not, install one today. Commit to the process. You will be surprised at the wonderful things your child can create. And success will follow.

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What Goes Around Comes Around!

I heard this Justin Timberlake song a few days back as an old playlist played in Random mode in my car. The title of the song remained with me long after it played. It made a lot of sense and I realized that one notices that even more as one’s life progresses.

Aren’t we sometimes in doubt if what we are doing will serve any useful purpose at all? What is it that keep us doing our best, relentlessly, day after day after day?


Hear it from my horse’s (..err, I mean my colt’s) mouth


Last night, before sleep time, I asked my 5 year old son, Tanav, “Do you love Mom?

He said, “Yes, of course, I love her a lot!

I asked, “Why do you love her so much?

To which he said, “She’s very cute!

I have this habit of pushing (as some of you may know by now), “Why do you find her so cute?

Tanav said, “..well, because, she is a sweetheart.” (I sometimes feel that Tanav can now sense my train of follow-up questions and kind of enjoys to drag a tad bit himself.)

Okay, what is that one quality in her that you like the most?” I jumped to the point.

Mom is a sweetheart because she does so much and does it all so calmly!

I was now curious to know what Tanav thought was the No. 1 reason he loved me, assuming he did.

After a pause, I asked, “Tanav, Do you love me?

..more than anything else in this world!“, Tanav replied.

..so, far so good“, I thought.

Okay, and what is that one thing that makes you love me so much?“, I asked.

I love Papa because he teaches me so many things!” He said.

That one line touched my heart. Kids always speak the truth. Okay, not always, but you know when they lie, and thankfully they don’t learn the art of deceiving until they become adults.


All of a sudden, all that #$@! makes sense


I smiled. That one line… and everything that I had ever done ever since I was blessed with children made so much more sense.

I have intentionally always walked the extra few yards in making efforts to make learning fun and interesting for all children I know. I am not calling it a mile because that would be an exaggeration. Most parents do that. Moreover, I learn and find it so much fun myself!

The electronic game version of 20 Questions which I bought from Amazon US once again felt worth it. Paid 10$ for shipping over a 15$ game.

Interactive World Map recommended by a friend in Australia (Shef), purchased by another friend in US (Jassi) and sent to me through another colleague’s wife (Subodh’s). Thank you guys! Although Tanav hasn’t really got the hang of it yet but I’m sure that’ll happen soon. (The wait sometimes is worth it too!)

You baby can read CD serieswhich I purchased when I was in Hawaii for work. I paid about $125 but the shipping didn’t happen until after I had left for India. I arranged to have it shipped from my Hotel to my cousin (Sur) in Kentucky. She, in turn, got it shipped to me. All that effort and time, once again, felt worth it!

I have spent a lot of time, money and effort in finding out the best books, movies, games, programs, podcasts  et al. Anything which I think could help develop that curiosity of learning in my kids.

I am pretty sure all parents do that. However, sometimes we aren’t sure if all that would help or not. We feel discouraged and demotivated.

Everything happens for a reason but we only realize that as we progress on the life’s timeline. The dots can only be connected backwards as Steve Jobs once said.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. Because believing that will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.


Keep Walking…


Keep doing what you do. Have faith. Even if you feel discouraged sometimes. Do it with your heart’s commitment. It will always bear fruit. If not now, then later. But it will!

I hope you like this post. If you do, then go back and ask your kid, Why does he or she love you so much?

I am sure their answer will bring you a smile. All that you have been doing all these years will suddenly make even more sense.

Just like it did for my wife and I last night.