Category Archives: Toyna

I am Taught

I was thinking I was normal

as normal as I could be

Living in my own world

Can’t decide who I am supposed to be

To hate or to love

To disgust or to like

To go under or above

Reaching for my goals, moving towards the sky

To dance or to fight

I was born thinking I was normal

As normal as I could be

Where people would be telling what is important for me

Whether to study or to play

To fail or to pass

To go or to stay

And to stay in which class

But I was wrong

I am not normal

I am lucky as lucky as I can be

Where people do not rule me

To study or to play

To fail or to pass

Or what to say

I am not ruled but I am taught

Thanks to these lovely parents that I got


Toyna wrote this poem in short 10-15 minutes. I loved it so much that I wanted her to put it on her blog. She didn’t and the paper kept floating around from one table to another. I didn’t want to lose it, so I decided to earn brownie points from my readers and put it on my blog.

Needless to say, my life is full or gratitude for the love and joy we experience every day.

Child’s First and Ever Lasting School

What’s common in Embroidery, Carrot and Cheese Salad and Roughly Chopped Carrot and Cucumber Salad?

These are all home projects done by our children without any encouragement/planning/teaching from my side. Embroidery and Carrot Cucumber Salad having been done by 5 year old Yog. Carrot Cheese Salad done by 13 year old Toyna.

You may wonder what prompted them to pick up random things like Embroidery and Salad Making. The simple answer is that they saw these skills being practiced by someone at our home. Since these were being done for a period of time only by adults, our children figured it must be something interesting to do. After all, adults always do interesting things! No one asked them to try eating the salad leave alone try making it themselves.

The fact is that when children see something as part of their household they will naturally tend to try it out. Our children have tried meditation, cycling, trekking,  washing utensils/clothes, baking and even running their own business, just because these skills are part and parcel of our daily routine. On the flip side, my children think it is OK to raise their voice in anger because that is also what they have seen me doing in our household.

This is not a new concept. We are all aware that we have subconsciously adopted most of our own habits, values and rituals directly from our parents. To a large extent, our parenting styles are also pretty much similar to that of our parents. After all, what we have observed or rather experienced for the bulk of our childhood years is going to define the kind of adult we become.

For years, I have struggled to get our children to try out new things. I took them to classes, got them introduced to experts and traveled with them far and wide just to get them the “exposure”. It is only now that I realized the lesson that was always there in front of me. If I want my children to have exposure, it is “me” who first needs to get that exposure in my life. It doesn’t matter how good or bad I am at that thing. If my children see me happy trying to get it right, they are bound to try and do it out of curiosity and self motivation. Since they tried to do it by their own accord, they are more likely to continue pursuing it without needing any nudge from our side. The opposite of this is also true. If you don’t want your child to practice something, try and not do it yourself. For example – driving rashly, smoking, hitting someone or simple things like wasting food/water.

A home is the first and most intensive school that a child will ever go to. If you do not practice what you preach chances are your children will never practice it either. In fact, if you practice what you want your children to learn, you will never need to preach it.

Happy Homeschooling!

 

 

Homeschooling Topic – Religion

A few days ago, we passed a graveyard on the road and Yog wanted to know what it is. So I explained that in some religions when a person dies, he/she is buried. As expected Yog’s next question was – What is a Religion? I explained that it a set of things that we believe in. For e.g, we are Hindus so we go to the temple and worship our God. We do not bury our dead but we burn their body.

Today, while we were eating dinner, Yog asked, “Are we Muslims?” I shook my head and said, “No, we are not Muslims. I told you what religion we belong to. Do you remember?” Yog’s eyes sparkled in recollection and he immediately said, “Yes! I remember. Our religion is to burn.” Usually, I try not to laugh at his comments in front of him, but I just couldn’t help bursting with laughter today. I tried to calm myself and explained again, “We are Hindus.” Yog’s fascination with death, immediately lead him to relate our religion to death, “So when we die, we will take our body and burn it?” I couldn’t help but laugh again. “Once we die, we cannot take our own body and burn it. But rest assured, someone else will do it for us.” Thanks to Yog, death has become such a common theme in our house that I am sure none of us need to think or plan for it.

Yog continued the conversation saying, “Hindus is the best religion.” Toyna, who was silent till now immediately piped in, “Yog, please understand that when Hindus die, they go to God. When Muslims die, they go to God. When Christians and Sikhs die, they also go to God. So how can any religion be better?” Yog seemed satisfied for the time being with this response. I was amazed at the ease with which Toyna used Yog’s favorite topic of death to explain such a complex topic like Religion to him!

Later tonight, while I read space exploration to Yog, Toyna drafted this small note.


Cast Makes No Sense

If I was God I would have created  week or a month or even a year where everyone was equal.
None of us would be Hindu, Muslim or Christians.
None of us would be buried or burnt when we would die because all us would reach heaven or hell.
No one would be called good or bad or hero or terrorist.
No one would be defined according to how much money or wealth they had.
CAST MAKES NO SENSE !
We all have a heart, we all have a brain, we all were chosen to live.
We were chosen to make a change whether the change was good or bad.
No one would be called black or white but instead we would be called fair or tanned.
We all would stand together on the same land as we all live on earth.
Everyday would be a festival, a festival of togetherness, a festival of love.
We all would be dancing on different kinds of songs and no one would misuse their strength .
IF I WAS GOD I WOULD HAVE CREATED A WORLD WHERE EVERYONE WERE EQUAL AT ALL TIMES.


You can imagine my awe, when Toyna read it out to me. So powerfully deep coming from my own child. Wow!

So yes, you can say we had a pretty good homeschooling day today talking about religion. Next plan on the topic is to visit the all places of worship of different religions.

#homeschoolingLife #letsTalkAboutReligion #Religion

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.

Stepping into Mama’s Shoes, Literally

Toyna rushed down from the steps exclaiming in a “No big deal” kind of way, “Mama, I am wearing your Pajamas today!” I turned around to look at her. Indeed, she was wearing my dark green pajamas! My reaction, “Huh! But why? Where are your own pajamas?”
 
Honestly, this isn’t the first time she has slipped into my wardrobe. She has been doing this for ages now. But till now, she had always either asked my permission to borrow something or hid from me the fact that she took something from my room. Essentially, till now she had considered my things as my property. But today, she crossed that line effortlessly. While I knew this day was coming, I didn’t actually know how to react to this violation of my property.
 
Over the last few years, I have been a quite spectator to disappearing bottles of nail paints, sticks of kajal and odd items from my collection. The first few times I searched all over to trace them back. Now, I just go rummage through Toynas cupboard and retrieve them in whatever shape they are. She knows that I know, but we both never talk about it. Because, even if we do talk, I know she will deny trespassing into my territory.
 
With each passing year, list of things disappearing from my room keeps getting longer. The other day, I was searching for sanitary napkins and realized I was all out. I let out a sigh and muttered under my breath, “At least tell me when you are taking the last one out, Lady.” A few days back, Pavan complained about his disappearing socks. I immediately turned to look at Toyna and got the “no big deal” look from her. She told me to my face, “All your socks have vanished, so I help myself to Papas socks now.” Pavan is at least a foot taller than me and his foot size is maybe double of mine. How Toyna can so easily switch between my socks and his will always remain a mystery to me!
 
As parents, we definitely feel a deep sense of pride at seeing our children grow into our socks and shoes. But sometimes, just sometimes, I have this urge to lock my room and save my stuff. But then being a fair, God fearing, mother I decided an alternate route. Now, when I go shopping for myself, I make sure I shop the same things (appropriate for Toyna’s age) for her. This double shopping did help for a few months, but I have realized that it doesn’t necessarily have to stop Toyna from still peeking into my things.
 
I have finally decided to keep the doors of my wardrobe and my heart open so that Toyna has free access to them. The only regret is that while she comfortably fits into my things, I can never even imagine fitting into hers. My solace lies in the fact that while my daughter continues to rampage my wardrobe, I can continue to rampage my moms, mom-in-laws, sisters and sister -in-laws wardrobe. I guess, I don’t really have such a bad deal at hand.

 

The Two Faces of each Child

I entered home yesterday to ear piercing screams of Yog, coming somewhere from the second floor. From the quality of the scream, I could make out something was definitely wrong. I could smell Dettol as I started climbing the steps. I am proud to say that I did not panic at that moment. I do not panic at the smell of Dettol anymore. I calmly called out to Yog and his Nanny (Parvathi) came out of the room carrying the heavy weight, howling Yog in her skinny arms. I felt sympathy for her even before I could form an emotion for Yog. I immediately transferred the load from her arms to mine and gently carried the sobbing, Dettol smelling Yog to the sitting room couch. Toyna followed close behind. I asked what happened and there was an instant cacophony of sounds from multiple directions. Parvathi, Toyna and Yog had their own version of the story to tell. Trying to follow three different stories at the same time, I understood that Yog hated cycling, his shirt had torn off and Toyna had applied first aid to his back and elbow.

I thanked Toyna for her courage and quick thinking in taking care of Yog. I then inspected Yogs wounds carefully. I assured Yog that there was no serious injury and he would be fine in no time. Yog calmed down and hugged me close while still sitting in my lap. As soon as his sobs subsided, I heard another set of sobs from the background. I turned around to find Toyna sobbing uncontrollably now. She had retained her cool, all this while, to take care of Yog. Now that, Yog was fine and I was in control of the situation, she let go of her guard and her emotions flowed freely as tears down her cheeks. The pain that had bothered Yog physically had bothered Toyna more, emotionally. We three sat together on the couch for some time, hugging each other and thanking God that no one was seriously hurt.

This morning, Yog tried playing victim with me. “My hand is paining! I will not go to school!” Without commenting, I applied some medicine and bandaged the wound in a white bandage in the process of getting him ready for school. While the wound was not as serious to deserve a bandage, my experience told me that a big white bandage has magical powers to transform a wound into a bravery badge. Children love these badges, especially for school. Yog inspected the bandage carefully. After he was convinced that the bandage looked serious enough, he picked his school bag and rushed out for school.

As expected, he was bombarded with questions about the bandage as soon as he boarded the school bus. From the road, I could see, Yog basking in the glory of being the center of attraction. He immediately narrated the story of the evil cycle and the brave Yog. All though I couldn’t hear the story, I could read it from the expressions on his face as the bus rolled away in front of me. I smiled.

Every child has two characters – one which faces the Mother and the other when the Mother is not looking. Each child loves to remain a child, till the Mother is around. Lo and behold! The childhood magically transforms into a brave knight, courageous doctor or committed student as soon as soon as they know that the Mother is not around. Each child is completely capable of fighting their own battles, but then there is something so special about letting go and crying in the arms of your mother. When you are with your Mother, you know you are not being judged. You know she will keep you safe. Most importantly, you know everything will be all right.

Don’t worry, if your child depends on you for everything at home. Remember, they still go to school, play at the park, and even sleep on their own, away from you. Deep down, they are capable of taking care of themselves and even their younger siblings. But then everyone needs the indulgent love of a mother for some part in the day. I know I still do. So go ahead and indulge them and yourselves, while you can. These years are not going to last forever.

Why bars of dark chocolate are hidden between layers of saris in my home?

Why bars of dark chocolate are hidden between layers of saris in my home? I am pretty sure, if Sherlock Holmes was tasked to solve this mystery, he would fail. This is because Sherlock Homes never had children. I am also sure that all parents having kids between 9 to 15 years of age are nodding their heads in understanding. They know, there is no safe place in the house to hide treats. No matter where you hide them, you won’t be able to prevent them from magically disappearing in a few short hours. Every time my husband or I open the fridge to snack on something delicious and unhealthy, we face this mystery. The maid, the children and even grandparents included have no clue where all unhealthy things disappear.

Tired of losing my favorite chocolate to these mysterious, ravenous monsters, I finally decided to safely hide it in between layers of old saris. Ingenious, isn’t it! I can happily say that I have managed to increase the lifespan of one chocolate from a few hours to a total of 3 days 16 hours and counting. Today, before leaving for work, after making sure there were no monsters lurking around, I stole a bite from the chocolate. For some reason as the chocolate melted in my mouth, I had a vivid flashback. In the flashback, I could clearly see my Mom dressed in a pale yellow suit locking a large tin of home-made Besan ladoos in the dark blue Godrej steel cupboard in her room. I could see a 10 year old me, peeking from behind a wall to see exactly where she had kept the tin. After my mom had left for office, I saw myself trying to pick the lock of the Godrej cupboard to little avail. Godrej has a brand to honour, after all.

As the chocolate traveled into my gut and the scene slowly disappeared, I realized the root cause behind the mystery of disappearing goodies in our house. The reason was simple. The reason is called “karma”. What I stole as a child, will be stolen from me as I grow old. The recent events in our home, were a reinforcement that the karmic law always apply. This realization lead me to a sadistic thought. I muttered under my breath, “Steal as much as you want! Wait till you have children of your own. You will not get a single bite of your favorite dessert! It will be me, from my grave, who will have the last laugh then!”

As soon as those words were out, another realization struck me. It was not me but my Mom who was having the last laugh now, even while she is alive. How satisfying it would be for her to see us face the same misery that we made her undergo all those years ago!!

P.S. – Matrix I was laughing aloud while drafting this one. I hope you have a good laugh too! Love you Mom!

My Brother Stole My Childhood

Some adults always remain children and some children grow up into adult hood even before they have been properly potty trained . I think the speed at which we grow mentally has a lot to do with one, our basic nature and two, the environment around us. A very important factor in the environment is the presence or absence of siblings. I learnt this through two independent events, few days back.

Yog recently changed schools and I wrote about how traumatic the first day experience was for him and me. What I did not write about then, was another story that unfolded the same day as Yog and me tried to fit ourselves into his new world. In the school waiting room, Yog sat in my lap, hugging me close, scared to let me out of his sight. A few feet away from us, another 3 year old frail girl clung to her 5 year old sister, crying incessantly. She had the same reason to cry as Yog. She did not want to leave the safety of her sisters arms and step into her classroom. The elder sister, a student of the same school, hugged the younger one close and assured her that everything was going to be OK. I could hear her explaining coolly and logically that this was a good school and the teacher would be very nice. The younger one refused to be convinced and continued to cry . I could feel the elder ones emotions as she hugged her sister; kissed her on the forehead and wiped the tears off her sticky cheeks. My heart went out to the elder sister who was barely an year older than Yog. While Yog sat comfortably in my lap, this little girl was shouldering the responsibility of being a mother and guardian to her little sister. While I myself was finding it hard to deal with the pain of leaving my crying son, she was smiling bravely at her brawling little sister. I felt proud and sad for her at the same time.

Yog has an array of friends who live in the same street as us. Two of them, Siddu and Ganesh are his best friends. Their mother serves as the watch woman to the building opposite to us. One day, I spotted Siddu crying on the road with Ganesh trying to console his little brother. I asked Ganesh what had happened. Ganesh quickly exclaimed with an air of being in control, “Siddu wants to eat Kinder Joy but Mother doesn’t have money to buy it. I told Siddu, when our Mother gets a job, she will buy two Kinder Joys for Siddu. When she gets a promotion in her job, she will buy a big toy train for Siddu.” The conviction in Ganesh’s voice gave Siddu the confidence that it was only a matter of time before he gets his Kinder Joy and toy train. Wiping his tears with the back of his arm, Siddu quickly caught his brothers hand, and ran along to find some sticks to play with. Once again, I felt the pride and sadness rising in my heart.

When I think of these incidents, and witness the sibling dynamics in my own home each day, I wonder if the younger siblings realize the level of emotional and physical support provided to them by their elder brother/sister. As parents too, we often take for granted the responsibility that the elder one shoulders. Just because they were born a few years earlier, we feel they should be more responsible.

I know, like many parents out there, I have forced my daughter to grow up much faster than she needed to. I write this blog today, to acknowledge all the sacrifices she has made for her little brother.  I am never scared for the future of my son, because I know my daughter will always be there for him. I guess that is a privilege as well as a curse for all elder siblings in this world. May God bless you with much more love, patience and strength, cause He knows that you need it for sure!