Homeschooling Topic – Weather

Yog: Mama, Winter is coming.When will it snow in Hyderabad ?

Mama: It only snows in regions which are far from the equator or are very high up from the ground. I am sorry but it doesn’t snow in Hyderabad.

Yog: Why?

Mama: Because Hyderabad is near to the equator and it does not have any mountains as well.

Yog thinking about the facts at hand for some time: Are the mountains growing?

Mama: Yes, the mountains are growing slowly.

Yog: Then after the mountains grow, will there be snow in Hyderabad?

Mama: No Yog! The mountains are growing but not in Hyderabad. I don’t think there will be snow in Hyderabad anytime soon.

Yog: Why winter is coming?

Mama: Because the earth is going away from the sun and it’s axis are tilting.

Yog: If earth’s axis are turning then will there be snow in Hyderabad?

Mama silent. I really don’t know when will there be snow in Hyderabad. If anyone knows, please tell me the answer.

Some of you might be wondering what is the point of recording these small conversations with Yog. Yes, these conversations are definitely adorable and I would love to record how beautifully his small mind deciphered the big world around him. But more importantly, I record these conversations to remind myself and others that Learning is not at all constrained to books and school. Yog is learning ever second he is awake and maybe sometimes in his sleep as well. His intrinsic curiosity makes him understand about Carbon Dioxide and Equator even before his mouth can pronounce these words correctly. He calls “Gravity” as “Grabity” and “Carbon Dioxide” as “Carbo Oxide”. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he is processing what is around him.

Every mom thinks her child is a genius, but honestly I don’t think Yog is a genius. I think he just loves science. He just loves it so much that he is willing to read and talk about it night and day. But this does not necessarily mean he loves painting and dancing as much. He has his own interests and when these interests are fueled his learning goes rocket speed.

Looking at him learning, I sincerely regret not homeschooling my daughter when she was this age. I was an ignorant parent and I pushed her into the same education system that was probably never meant for her. If I had taken more time to answer her questions, fuel her interests, listen more intently to her desires, given her freedom to choose her path, we would be in a different place all together.

I share my experiences in my blog, sincerely hoping that some of the readers see the sense in not pushing their child through the standard education system. I completely understand that Homeschooling is not an option for everyone. Even if your child goes to a regular school, allow them the freedom to do what they want to do at least after school hours. Focus on their interests even if you think there is no career path in that area. Answer as many questions as you can, and find answers for those that you can’t. Search on Google or speak to other parents or connect to experts to answer your child’s curiosity. Whatever you do, please never ever ask your child to stop asking questions. The day we stop them from asking questions, the day we tell them that it is not right to learn.

So yes, I hope you now understand how desperate I am to try and find out When it will snow in Hyderabad. 😊

#HomeschoolingLife #Weather #SnowinHyderabad

Homeschooling Topic – Photosynthesis

Yog collected lots of twigs and used Popsicle sticks in the park today. He brought all of them to the car as well.

I casually asked – Yog, what will you do with all this?

Yog: I will burn them.

Me (shocked): You know we should not burn things. It causes pollution

Yog: No Mama! When I burn these, Carbon dioxide will come out. All the plants at our home are hungry. They need to eat carbon dioxide as their food. I am going to make food for them by burning these.

Me silent for a moment. It takes time for my aged mind to process such arguments.

Me coming up with my argument – There is enough carbon dioxide in the air already. We don’t need to make more of it by burning things.

Yog: Mama, but see there are so many plants. They are all dying because there are not getting food. We need to make more carbon dioxide for them.

Me stretching my minds ability – Yog, there are so many humans in this world. We are constantly taking in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide, night and day. Don’t worry we are making enough carbon dioxide for the plants to eat.

Yog nodded in silence, his plan for burning the twigs disappearing in front of his eyes. I heaved a sigh of relief. I had won this argument, today. But God only knows, how many more I can win in the coming days. Most days I feel my imagination and knowledge stretched to the limit answering his questions or justifying things to him. I have never used Google so much before in my life. Needless to say, I think I am learning more in the process, than I am teaching him. :d

 

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

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.

Are Parenting Books Helpful

I was an illiterate first time parent. I was brought up in an age where we were not even taught about nuances of sex, leave alone conceiving babies and bringing them to life. I thank my eldest sister, Sidney Sheldon and Mills & Boons equally for the little sex education I had. In the first year of marriage, my husband and I used to look up books on pregnancy and child birth even when we were not planning a child. Simply because, we both had a lot to learn about the process.

Needless to say, when we did get pregnant, I started to read in detail about pregnancy, child birth and child care. This was in 2004 and Google was not as popular as it is now. If we had a question, we still used to refer to books. In spite of all the research, I had a stressful pregnancy and a nightmarish delivery of my first child. I joined work as soon as maternity leave got over. While I always performed well at work, I constantly felt lagging behind in being a good Mom. This lead me to constantly read more on the subject. I was part of parenting groups, online communities and sleeping with parenting books all the time. I also used to eavesdrop on other parent conversations to catch tricks on how to be a better mom. I honestly feel that I was no different than most first time parents of my generation. We have all done our fair bit of research on being good moms.

Today, thirteen years after my first delivery, I somehow got around to organizing some books in our family book shelf. It was then that I stumbled upon a book on parenting. Hmmm, I thought, “I am sure there are more books on this subject lying here. Let me put them all together.” So I started getting them all together. Voila, before I knew it, I had this big pile of books on parenting before me. Wow! I thought. Really! Did I buy so many books to learn how to be a good parent? Man! I surely was f**ked up! To top the list, I know there are at least 5 more books not in this pile because I either lent them to other well meaning parents or I have read (or rather listened) to their audio versions. Plus I have two more books on parenting currently lying under my night light. I was honestly shocked myself. My daughter passed by and looked at the pile equally surprised. She said aloud, “Mama, are these all yours? Did you know nothing about parenting before I was born?” I mutely shook my head. Looking at this pile in front of me, I was also thinking the same. She then laughed aloud and said, “Mama, now I have proof that you are the Worst Mom ever!” With that we both burst out laughing. She eventually helped me click this picture of books for this blog. She of course doesn’t know about the books that are not part of the above pile. We went on with the evening digesting this fact and laughing about it at the same time.

I am pretty sure that I don’t remember 90% of the content from 90% of the books I have read. If you ask me to recommend/review any of the books, I just can’t, because I am not sure what I learnt from them. One thing that I am sure of is that each book lent it’s hand in making me the parent that I am today. But more important than books, I am sure it has been my constant passion to understand my children and their world that has made me the best parent for my children. I am sure, I learnt a lot of things from these books, but my biggest learning on being a parent have come from my children themselves. I could not have been the parent that I am, without having both of them in my life.

So what’s the point? Should we read/follow books or should we follow gut instincts while bringing up our children? My recommendation is double fold on this. In my estimate, parenting is 10% science and 90% art. We all need to learn the science of it, like how babies grow inside the womb and what food are safe for the infant in the first six months. This is where books/online research comes in handy. But more than the science, parenting is an art. Art is best done when you completely love doing what you are doing and simply follow your heart. When parents are completely relaxed and joyful, children thrive in their own learning and development. The more we force our children to fit the pattern mentioned in a book, the more we kill the intrinsic learning of each child. My philosophy is to allow each child enough time and space to grow at their own pace, in their own beautiful environment without following a strict curriculum. This is why I have chosen to home school my children. And yes! I have already ready two books on homeschooling and there are more on their way. Plus, when all this is over, I plan to publish my own book on homeschooling! Hence, I have a personal interest in making sure all moms continue to read a lot. 🙂

This article was first published on Momspresso.

I had to Leave your Hand

You nurtured me to grow

You were my back bone till I couldn’t keep my head held high

As I take the final push to stand on my own

I have little choice but to push you away at the same time

That is the law of nature

It is painful to be independent but it is more painful to pull you down with me

——————–

Thoughts from when Yog started walking on his own.

 

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!

Parenting Stories (and more) from the desk of an imperfect parent