Category Archives: Thoughts and Quotes

I am Not Responsible for My Children

Just the other day, I was talking about our recent shift to Homeschooling with a close friend. Like most people who are not Homeschoolers themselves, she was in awe of the decision to Homeschool. She said, “But Shilpa, that’s a huge responsibility! How do you manage that?”

My response, “What makes you think I am capable of taking up this responsibility? I am definitely not the right person for this. I am not taking this responsibility because this is not mine to take. It belongs to my children. They are their own responsibility. I am just transferring their rightful responsibility back on them.” There was a silence for a few seconds on both sides of the line. As I said these words out loud, I, myself,  realized that this was indeed much deeper than the way I had just said it.

When I started homeschooling, it was more from the point of view of giving more freedom to my children. Even in those days, I had felt that ensuring their end to end learning and readiness for the future was my responsibility. But as months have slipped by and I have seen my son bloom in all respects, I have slowly let go of my beliefs and started transferring his responsibility onto himself. For example, he decides which classes he wants to keep and which ones he wants to let go. For now he likes Taekwondo and Piano. We just gave up Kumon. He decides which books he wants to do for the day for read/write/math. He decides how much he wants to eat and when he wants to sleep. He decides how much he wants to study and what games he wants to play thereafter.

Like most mothers, in the initial days, I was scared of giving the freedom. I was sure given the choice, my son would never want to study. Given the choice, he would never stay inside the house. Given the choice, he would never sleep. But I was wrong. The more freedom I gave, the more responsible he has become for himself. Likewise with my daughter, even though she is yet to start Homeschooling. Six months into this journey, I see a world of difference in our household. I do lose my logical mind some days and step back into my “Responsible Parenting” shoes. This is when our household resembles a mental asylum with me being the primary patient in need of care.

So why is that we don’t let children be responsible for themselves? Why do we think that children are the parents responsibility? This is essentially because we think that children cannot be responsible on their own. We do not trust our children to take care of themselves. Of course we have a million examples behind us when they were irresponsible and landed in a mess which we had to clean up later. But honestly, don’t we, too, make mistakes all the time? Don’t we get messed up all the time? Now that our parents are too old to look after us, no one cleans up after our mess. We just have to sweep it up ourselves and learn not to make the same mess again. So why don’t we allow our children to fail, make a mess and pick up the mess themselves? What is so wrong about messing up, when it is such a wonderful opportunity to learn. In fact the more we fail early on in life, the more lessons we would have learnt for latter life. Adults, of today, go through mid life crisis at 30 and early old age crisis at 40. Followed by diabetes and blood pressure by 50 and heart attacks at 55. All this because we have not learnt how to deal with failure, even today.

Another parent also confided in me that her children are not capable of taking right decisions. She has no choice but to decide for them. I thought, “Well! that goes for me too! I am not sure I can take right decisions! This is because I am no one to decide what is right. I just know that whatever decision I take, I have the wherewithal in me to see that decision through.” It is only because of the mistakes and learning from my past decisions that I have the confidence to take my next decision. If someone has never had the freedom to make their own life choices, then how can they ever learn to take decisions on their own? How can they take a right decision?

Of course, this rule should not apply to life and death situations and we should definitely step in if we see a child crossing the line into dangerous territories. Just like a lioness would intervene if a predator was out there to get her cubs, we should protect our young ones from life threatening situations. Let us also agree that rolling in sand, climbing trees and zipping down slides do not fall under such situations.

I hope I have stuck a chord with parents who are burdened under the responsibility of parenting. I hope you can, even if it’s just for a day, trust that your child is smart enough to take care of his/her life. While you may not notice the change in her in just one day, if you have been able to create such a day for you and your child, I am sure you have already started your own journey to be free.

I Signed The Dotted Line To Take Ownership Of My Son

I formally started homeschooling my son, about 15 days ago, at the end of the Dushera Holidays. The first 3 days were completely chaotic trying to find a rhythm and pattern. By the end of each day, my son and I were both  pulling our hair apart. I was obviously wondering if this is the right way to go for both of us. They say perseverance pays and  it did, in our case too. Soon we took off the ground and started flying smoothly. Since then, each day that goes by in the Homeschooling routine, I feel more relaxed and confident that homeschooling is the way to go for my 5 year old son.

All though, I had informed the school about my decision to homeschool my child, I was yet to complete the formalities of getting the School Leaving Certificate and TC. Something in me was hesitant in taking this final step, because once done, there was no going back. The last few days of homeschooling have been so good that I felt confident about going this last mile. Today, I informed the school I would be coming to sign the final paper work. I went in and signed on the dotted line to formally take complete ownership of my son. Honestly, even though I am 200% confident that homeschooling is the way to go for my son, signing the papers today was a very emotional moment. I  don’t know why but  I felt like crying. I am not sure if the emotion stemmed from joy or sorrow. I had finally done it, stopped something that I was sure was not right and started something that was already showing results.  But yet, the lingering doubt, the fear doesn’t let go of it’s grip so easily. After all, generations of conditioning cannot be eradicated in just a few months. As I drove my car out of the big gray school gates, I questioned myself once again, “Am I sure, I can do this? I have never done this before. I have never received training on this before. I don’t even know what all he will need to learn over the next 10 years. Will he be able to go to college? Will he ever fit in with the rest of the world? What if I go wrong? What if I am not as good as the school? What if I mess up my child’s life?”

Honestly, it’s been a tough day but I am happy that it is over. We are officially homeschoolers now and we have nothing to look back upon. From today, my son is 100% my responsibility. If we go wrong somewhere, I have no school, no nanny, no teacher to blame. I have no system to curse. I have no one but myself to correct to ensure that my child gets the best learning that he deserves.

Since I announced the decision of Homeschooling to family and friends, I have received a lot of negative comments. But somehow in this case, I just know that I am doing the right thing. I have never felt so sure about anything before. I am aware that by pulling him out of school, I am making sure that my child will always feel different from his peers. He will never totally fit in with all his school going friends. But then, why are we always so scared of being different? Why do we all have to fit in the same bucket, knowing very well that each one of us are unique, even knowing that the bucket is wrong for us? Why do we have to worry if someone points a finger to say that we are different? Of course, we are different! I am extremely proud that we have been able to take a stand to celebrate our differences and choose not to fit in with 99% of the crowd.

This has been perhaps the most difficult decision of my life, because I know I am dealing with my child’s future. But watching him go down a path which was not right, was even harder to live with every day. Starting today, I am fully responsible and accountable for the education of my child. The buck finally stops here.

If you would like to know the reasons why I chose to homeschool, read here – https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/inspired-from-child-life/article/why-we-choose-to-homeschool-our-children

This article was first published on Momspresso because I want to reach out to as many parents as possible to help them understand the journey of a Homeschooling parent.

https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/inspired-from-child-life/article/i-signed-the-dotted-line-to-take-ownership-of-my-son

I was once a Star

When I was perhaps in 4th grade, my school organised a play as part of our Annual Day celebrations. The play was called, “I have a Dream”. Roughly 50 children participated in the play, most of them dressed like trees, flowers or butterflies creating the colorful background for the main story. Three days before the Annual Day, our class teacher called all the class out for rehearsals. Everyone left for their respective rehearsal. I was left alone in the class. I had no rehearsal to go to. I had not been picked for any role or any chore as part of the Annual Day celebrations. My teacher was baffled. How could she have missed me? The school always ensured everyone participated in some way. How was it possible that three days before the D Day, one child was not assigned a role?

I was not surprised. All through my school years, all I ever wanted was to shrink inside myself so that no one would notice me. Every day at school, while girls would talk and play, I would simply retreat into my virtual shell. It was cold inside the shell but it was always safe. Each day, I would pray that no one would find me inside there. At the end of the day, I would cry relentlessly thinking that no one tried hard enough to find me. Next day, I would hope that I was important enough to someone, so that, at least today, they would go out of the way to search for me. My little childish mind just couldn’t see so many people who were waiting for me outside my shell. In those days, I simply chose to believe that no one really cared enough for me. No one tried to find me. I think, this is what depression feels like for a child or for an adult. It is a vicious cycle that feeds onto itself and grows each day.

Nonetheless, my teacher had spotted me in spite of me trying my best to disappear. She allocated me a role in the play. I was made to stand on the last, highest bench dressed in a white frilly dress. She had chosen me to be a star.

Today, after more than 30 years of that fateful day, a random thought brought back memories of the play. I laughed in my heart thinking of my silliness. But soon the irony struck me. So many of us spend our lifetimes to become a star. We work hard, cheat, beat the competition just so that we can become stars. 30 years ago, an 8 year old child was a star but she didn’t even realize the importance of it. She didn’t even know what being a star meant. It meant that I had a whole solar system revolving around me. It meant that I was providing light and life to millions of species somewhere in the galaxy. It meant that I was so important to not one but billions of forms of life. But, in my 8 year old mind, I had simply chosen to believe that I was not important at all to anything or anyone.

For a moment, I felt sorry for the little me who didn’t know what a star was meant to be, who was so cocooned in that hard shell that she couldn’t see how tall she was even when she stood the highest. But then I smiled. I felt pride for being a star at such a young age, even though I hadn’t moved a muscle that day. But then stars are not supposed to move, they are just supposed to shine and be the source of life. Today, when I look around me, I see immense unconditional love  from my family, my friends and of course my readers and I think I am still a star.

The Hockey Stick – Lessons on Physical Aggression

Yog runs to me with urgency and purpose in his stride, his chubby legs trying to keep pace with the thoughts running in his mind. Concern is evident all over his red face. I am certain he has a very important matter to discuss with me. Huffing, he exclaims, “Big boys are beating small children on the road. I told them to stop but they are not listening.” I sigh. Not again. Why do boys fight? Calmly, I tell Yog, “You did a good thing by telling them not to fight. I am happy that you didn’t get into the fight, yourself.” Yog’s expression quickly changed from concern to frustration. I assumed he was looking for a different response. Without wasting another second, he ran inside to speak to his father. Minutes later, he rushed past me again with a stronger urgency and purpose, shouting over his shoulder for my information, “Papa told me to go and beat the big boys!” My jaw dropped as I fathomed the consequences.

I don’t need to elaborate on what happened next. I never got a chance to know who won the fight. My mind was in shock at how  my little boy and my very own husband resorted to violence. I hate violence. I always believe peace can be achieved through constructive dialogue. I now know that the men in my family tend to disagree with me on the same.

Today, I had an opportunity of catching up with a childhood friend.  We were both laughing at stories of our children. Especially, how her 4 year old daughter roughs up boys in her class to get to what she wants. My friend was concerned about her daughters behavior, but I really couldn’t have been happier to hear this, given my own recent experiences. Since the experience with Yog beating big boys on the road, I have learnt to accept physical violence as a form of natural expression and an essential trait that kids should be comfortable with. While peaceful dialogue should be the first choice, children should also be comfortable with physically standing up against abuse and defending themselves or someone who needs protection.

Given the genetic make up of men,  I think, this trait comes easier to majority of the men. I, for one, grew up in a family of 4 women. We had no brothers, fathers or uncles who mentored us. I went to an all girls school and an all girls college. Fortunately for me, even in the family that I married, aggression of any kind, is non-existent. As a result, I had never witnessed  or participated in any physical form of aggression till little Yog came into my  life. By default, my instincts told me to change him, to tell him that violence is bad. Fortunately, he was able to teach me an important lesson before I could teach him much. I learnt from Yog that violence isn’t always bad. After all, it is a natural instinct to protect oneself and survive.

As we marveled at how kids these days fend for themselves, my friend also told me the story of how her elder brother had gifted her a hockey stick as soon as she got her first Kinetic scooter. He also said, “Sister, you need to hit only in two places to get the results!”. We laughed out loud recollecting the story. Later, driving back home, I thought about the story and wished someone in my life had also gifted me a Hockey stick. I wished I also knew there were things like a Hockey stick I could use to keep myself safe in my growing years. Till date, most of my self defense mechanisms simply include running for safety or calling for help. Today, I appreciated the true value of having a Big Brother and more so of a Hockey Stick.

I still believe, life is all about balance and fine choices. While my daughter is  a Taekwondo Champion, I still teach her to use physical violence as her last resort. I still believe dialogue can solve most situations. However, I have also learnt that dialogue works better when both parties know that the other party cannot be simply subdued into consent. While we should be trained and ready to use physical aggression at any time, we should know to restrain ourselves and use it as a last resort.

Lastly, go ahead and gift your version of a hockey stick to your loved ones. I pray that no one ever feels the need to use a hockey stick for protection, but in case they do, they should never end up being a victim, just because one of us didn’t gift it to them in time.

A Gym tops my list of Most Positive Places

Gym is perhaps the most positive place on this planet. This is why I think so:

  1. If you are there, it means you already have a goal/purpose in your life
  2. You feel inspired (and not jealous) if someone is doing better than you
  3. Pain is associated with having done things right
  4. You know there are no shortcuts to success. You will have to sweat it out in order to receive the benefits.
  5. There is instant gratification from your own body, when you push your own limits
  6. No one cares how good looking you are or what clothes you wear to the Gym. All that matters is what you can achieve while you are there.

Just been a week and I am loving it. Hope to see more and more people around me paying a visit to this positive place.

Father and Daughter

Sunsets for just the sunrise

Today, during my morning walk, I saw a father driving his teenage daughter to college. She sat upright holding the back of the motorcycle for support. In the rear view mirror, she adjusted her hair and checked her red lipstick. She would have been prettier without them, but then teenagers don’t really think like me anymore. Her eyes said she was ready to face her friends. They said she was planning to skip a few classes to catch up with the latest college news. She looked cool, confident and ready for her day.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but notice the expressions on her fathers face. Even though it was just early in the morning, he looked tired. I could sense the weight he was carrying on his shoulders. Yet, the corner of his lips were slightly curled up in pride of the weight he was carrying on his bike. While the daughter was lost in her own dreams, the father was completely focused on her presence behind him. He drove with extreme care and control lest something might happen to his most precious gift.

The brief two seconds scene summarized the relationship of a father and daughter for me. A daughter is the most prized possession a father holds even though he knows he has to let her go soon enough.  He faces most of these emotions every day:

Pride on seeing her grow

Love in seeing her smile

Compassion when she is hurt

Fear that someone will hurt her

Anger when someone actually does

Protectiveness to keep her safe

No word for the emotion in letting her go, knowing very well she will be hurt out there

While mothers get most of the credit for bringing up the children, a fathers relationship with his daughter comprises of so many layers of emotions, and honestly, quite difficult to describe in a 200 word blog. But I am glad that this beautiful relationship can be experienced in millions of 2 second scenes all around us. Cheers to a billion and more fathers out there!

Matching Intent with Actions at Terrassen Cafe

I don’t endorse places or products quite often. I believe all businesses are trying their best in their area of expertise and it is rare that I associate a personal experience so closely with a Business that I decide to write about them. But then, a few days ago, I chanced upon a small restaurant in the nook of Hyderabad’s most happening place (Banjara Hills) that compelled me to write about it. The place, in itself, was a little difficult to spot as there was no blingy sign outside. We almost turned back without spotting it amidst all the green cover that surrounds it.  But then, I guess it was our lucky day that we decided to try a little harder.

The moment we stepped in, I could feel this place was different. It only had 4-5 small tables, that too, laid outside amidst the green. We choose a corner sit down area which had normal mattresses spread down over the floor. Nothing fancy. Completely like my home would offer. The staff was extremely courteous and joyful. It was only when we received the menu that we realised most of them are deaf. When you reach a place which is creating opportunities for the differently abled, you always feel a tug in your heart. You feel happy to be contributing a little towards their success, and yet, at the same time, you feel, “I wish there was something more I could do.” While we scanned the menu, we further realized the menu was completely Vegan (no animal products, not even Paneer or milk) and to our amazement completely healthy. They have Whole Wheat Pizza on the menu. Who, in their right mind, serves Whole wheat Pizza in a restaurant?? I am Mom. Only Moms do this kind of weird stuff.

Since my husband and I are newly wedded to Keto, we did not try the Pizza but there were multiple options which were completely Keto friendly like the Black Eyed Tofu with Cabbage Salad. Yummmm!! I was amazed at the variety of options right from appetizers to desserts for conscious eaters. I always considered that being Vegan or going Keto meant that you were limited in choices of food. But this tiny restaurant opened my eyes. Dates, Coconut Milk, Carrots, Tofu, Pumpkin, Flax Seeds are some of the ingredients I discovered in the restaurant. The flavours were amazing! The service impeccable! The ambience just like home! What more can you ask more? Oh yes! The price! We paid INR 780 for two soups, two appetizers and one dessert. I know most readers will be shocked. I myself am still under shock. How can places like this exist in the confines of this materialistic world? I still wonder, how can a simple business located right in the heart of the city, create opportunities for differently abled, serve amazing Vegan food and sustain itself for more than three years at such incredible prices!

As I walked out of the Terrassen Café, I looked up to thank God for the sign. The sign which clearly said, “If your intent is right, I will be there with you!” Yes, the team at Terrassen Café is blessed by God and will continue to be so for so many more years to come. I feel privileged to have discovered them in their little corner off Street No 3, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

If it was me, I would declare the restaurant a National Heritage site. Must visit for all those who believe in conscious living.

Read more about them at their simple website – http://terrassencafe.in/

Why should my daughter focus on Career when she may end up being a Full Time Mom, like me?

After a long and fun summer holidays, school started today. With both kids out for more than just a few hours, I seemed to have all the time in the world for myself. By the time I completed walking, yoga, meditation and breakfast, it was only 10 AM. Without a second thought, I packed my laptop and headed to office. I had not planned for it, but it felt like the natural thing to do.

For most working women, it is not a choice, but a routine to get to office. They finish their morning chores in a rush and are in office at the designated hour. For me, it was a choice to be at work because I am no longer a working Mom. I have not been one for the past 5 months. I chose to be a full time Mom before the final exams started in Feb and just continued being so till the summer holidays ended. Why did I give up office work? Because, I felt it was the right thing to do.

Why am I back again at work? Because, I felt it is the right thing to do.

What will I do at work? (I have no designated role or responsibility anymore) There are a few ideas in my mind. We will take it one day at a time.

I guess, I am one of those rare, lucky, blessed souls who has these wonderful choices to avail in life. I can choose to work. I can choose not to work, depending on multiple factors in my life. Or rather, I should say, I can choose to focus on a profession outside my home, or I can choose to be a full time Mom. It is completely my choice.

Honestly speaking, having spent five months at home and having enjoyed each one of them to the core, I don’t feel a need for a full time profession anymore. Being a Mom is equally (if not more) creative, intensive and rewarding. If entrepreneurs carve empires, Moms carve future generations. Please note, I don’t call myself a Homemaker. There is a difference in the definition of these titles  and it is important that I identify myself correctly. My priority is to nurture my children, not to keep the house clean. While keeping the house clean is an important job, it is not on my priority list right now. Nonetheless, my house is still clean and my kitchen well managed, thanks to an amazing cook, a kind hearted cleaner and an amazing father. Yeah! I know how lucky I am!

While, I am basking in the glory of being a full time Mom, I am aware that I have a  larger purpose to fulfill beyond being a Mom to two children. I have a calling which I will continue to pursue, in addition to being a Mom. What, when, how – I am slowly discovering the answers.

Coming to the title of this blog, “Why should my daughter focus on Career when she may end up being a full time Mom, like me?”. I think I have answered it by now. I know I am blessed to have a Super Power watching over me. Thanks to this Super Power, I have a well managed home, happy and healthy kids, loving husband, doting father and multiple professional options, I can explore. The fact is that I have had this Super Power backing me ever since I started my career. I completed my Masters and a few professional certifications at the start of my career. Thanks to this Super Power, I was able to slog for the first decade of my profession, juggling home, kids, education and career promotions. Even today, it is the same Super Power that keeps me awake at night, blogging about life or searching recipes for school lunches. I know I am truly blessed and not a single day goes by when I don’t thank God for these blessings.

I also know that my daughter is also equally blessed with the support of this Super Power. No wonder that she effortlessly balances Art, Dance, Taekwondo, Cooking, Education, Social work and of course endless talks with friends. I have learnt that, “You definitely need the backing of a Super Power to accomplish multiple things in life at the same time. But you need a bigger Super Power to give up multiple things and focus on just one of them for a period of time or your entire life time, when the need arises.” With the right education in her choice of subjects, career coaching and  parenting, I know my daughter will posses that higher Super Power which will guide her to make the right choices in her life. She need not always be career focused. She need not always be a homemaker/full time Mom. She need not be anything that doesn’t feel right to her. She is and will always be free, capable and ready to make the right choices for her life. So yes, my daughter will continue to learn and educate herself as best as she can, even though she may choose to become a full time Mom/Homemaker later on in life.

In the end, I just hope somewhere in this world, there are other parents nurturing their boys with the same set of values with which I am educating both my son and my daughter.

 

Side Note – Yes, I know the spelling of “Believe” is misspelled in the picture. But the spell error cannot camouflage the beauty of the background painted painstakingly by my daughter. If anything, the spell error, signifies the confidence and the belief that my daughter holds in herself.

Believe in Yourself

This picture says a lot more once you catch the spell error. The artist, my daughter, did the background painstakingly over 3 hours. She then took a short minute to scribble the title.

Irrespective of the error, she is proud of her painting and rightfully so. If this isn’t the power of belief in oneself, then I don’t know what is.

World of No Lies

We are all guilty of lying. Sometimes we lie for the good of others, like when I crush Flax seeds inside a fruit smoothie and completely deny it when the children ask. Sometimes we lie for our own good, like when Pavan and I go for a date telling the kids we are off to a business meeting. Yes, we could convince them that Mama Papa need time, etc, etc, but sometimes it is just simpler and faster to lie.

No one remembers the exact date or year they learnt to lie. In my experience of bringing up children and seeing nephews and nieces grow, I think by age 5 or 6, children have figured that they need not be honest all the time. As parents, we are all well aware of how we feel when our children lie to us. No matter, how many lies we have said (or still say) to our parents, it is very difficult to take lies from our own children. There is nothing much in this context. Therefore, that is not the subject of the blog today.

For today, I want to record the magic of the world where lies don’t exist. I want to share Yogs world with you. Yog is 4 and he is still unaware of the concept called Lie. For example, he still asks me before he pulls a chocolate from the fridge. If he has not asked me before, he promptly tells me after he has eaten it. His eyes slightly downcast, he will come and softly whisper around me, hoping I have not heard his confession about the chocolate. He wishes that I do not get to know of that missing chocolate, but he cannot help but tell me about it, himself. In his small world, he still believes that rules (like ask before you eat a chocolate) should be followed.

In this little world, he also believes everything that he hears or sees. Here are some examples:

Nani (Grandmother, joking with Yog): Yog, you look like a girl

Yog: No, I am not a girl

Nani: But you look like a girl to me

Yog: Nani, you need to go to the doctor to check your eyes

Yog cannot comprehend that Nani is kidding with him. He truly believes that Nani is saying what she really thinks.

————-

Taekwondo Master: Yog you are fat. You need to lose weight

Yog (telling me later about it): Mama, Master thinks I am fat

Me: I don’t think you are fat (maybe just a little round on the edges) Why did the master say you are fat?

Yog: Mama, I said, “Master thinks I am fat”. I know I am not fat. Master thinks I am fat because master cannot think properly.

————–

Read more examples on how Yog’s elder cousin brother fools around with him sometimes but Yog always believes it to be true.

In his world, Yog knows what is right. He knows what cannot be. He knows there are no jokes. He doesn’t know there is something called lies. This world is so simple and straight forward. I love and envy his world at the same time. I know it is just a matter of time before he learns to bend the rules. It is just a matter of time before he reaches five. It is just a matter of time when the world starts to leave it’s mark on him.

Till then, we continue to enjoy his debates and opinions on his world. Sometimes when he runs out of logic to explain an aspect of life (like why boys have penis and girls have breasts) he points up to the sky, widens his eyes for emphasis and says, “God made them like that!” After all, there cannot be any further discussion after the word of God.