Tag Archives: childhood

A to Z Blogging Challenge : V is for Vadams and summer holidays

 

Summer holidays in South India are or used to be punctuated by the vadam making sessions. Vadam (Sandige in Kannada, Vadiyalu in Telugu) is a condiment typically prepared in summer. The batter is made, the condiments moulded  and sundried and they are then kept away for the rest of the year. As and when needed, they are fried and eaten. They are a great, crunchy side dish to have with any form of rice.

 

Now of course fully fried, properly sundried vadam is great. But the batter and the half sun dried vadam is also great. What is more, it is slightly illegitimate to eat. Grandmothers who make the vadam painstakingly are not particularly happy if you end up eating half of what they prepare even before it has been made properly. Specially javarsi (pearl millet) vadam tastes divine when the top layer is dried, but you can still bit into wet sticky millet below. With the delicate seasoning of cumin and chilies added to the batter, the taste really cannot be described.

 

So there is a guilty pleasure in almost stealing the half dried (arakaachal) vadam. It is almost an apocryphal tale for most of us as children that a kid was asked by his granmother to protect the vadams from the crows as they were drying in the terrace, and the kid ate up most of the vadams and then pretended that the crows had eaten them up. I think most of us have at least uttered this kind of lie once, as we tried to steal some vadam.

 

Vadams making is almost something cultural which seems to be ingrained in our grandmothers. The first thing my grandmother said when she saw my house in Ahmedabad was that with such a big terrace and no shortage of sun in the summer, I wish I could come and make vadams here.

 

These days I dont know if people make vadams at home at all. I have a huge terrace and the Ahmedabad sun is all waiting to be tapped into for vadam making. But I have never had the pateince to make them myself. And now there are plenty of people willing to sell vadams specially for the NRI crowd, so there seems ot be no point in making it at home. But I miss this part of my childhood. Shop vadams are all very well, but how can you taste the vadam atvery step of  preparation if you simplly buy it off a shop. Maybe if for nothing other than to give Migu an experience of stealing vadam, I will start making my own vadams.

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A to Z Blogging Challenge : Q is for questioning from children and losing your omnipotence in their eyes

 

Before I became a mother, the one thing I really dreaded was answering the constant questions which I knew a child was bound to start asking at some stage. I had faced those stages with my young cousins, nieces and nephews and I shuddered to think that I could hardly cope with them for a few days at a time, and how could I cope with my own child 24/7.

 

One of the reasons I probably felt so uncomfortable with questions was the fact that it revealed to me my own profound lack of curiosity in the world. I dont recall a time when I was that curious, and somehow getting to understand my own ‘non-curiosity’ made me feel rather ‘less alive’ than those kids.

 

Now of course there is less need to feel hassled about childrens questions. The internet is a ready resource to answer the most curious childs questions. Considering most kids internet savviness you dont even need to make the effort to find the answer, let the kid search for it on her own.

 

And perhaps that is going to be the most challenging thing for parents of my generation. I mean no matter what we felt as children, we always looked up to our parents because they seemed to know more than us. Now, it is very obvious to our children that they have the potential to know much more than us. Will they then continue to look upto us the way we did to our parents, or how will the relationship change?

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A to Z Blogging Challenge G is for Gadgets, children and discipline

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 8 G

 

I guess this is definitely the biggest challenge of parenthood. How to control your child’s time with gadgets. I have seen plenty of kids pretty addicted to gadgets. I mean I even saw a little girl continuing to stare at her i pad in an icecream parlour. She was least interested in what was being ordered for her, just wanted to be left alone to continue what she was playing/seeing.

 

In the beginning, with my daughter, we decided, absolutely no gadgets at all. So although we owned two laptops, two kindles, two smartphones as well as a Samsung Galaxy tab, we tried to keep her away from everything. We wanted her to interact with the real world and not get lost in the virtual.

 

I also read a lot of articles which spoke of the need to protect children from too many gadgets. It was supposed to lead to all kinds of repercussions. ONe article even earnestly urged to you to forbid use of any gadgets and get the child out to play, no matter how much she hates you for it. For a little while, I thought that was the way to go.

 

The problem with that was that what we perceived was virtual, was still a part of her reality. How could we really deny gadgets to her, when we were ourselves so immersed in them. And it was not realistic to expect her to not look at them, since her world is very much about gadgets. It would be unrealistic to expect that she would not pay attention to them.

 

And so slowly and surely, the tablet became one of the instruments of daily play. And it does have its uses. It does engage her attention for a decent length of time. When you want her to sit quietly when the aircraft takes off or take a breather in a long train journey, the gadgets are useful.

 

And it is not like Migu is overly addicted to it. Yes, she expects to use it while having her evening fruit, but that is a routine we got used to because it was convenient for both of us. Sometimes when she wants to use it, she pretends she is hungry and wants to eat fruit so that she has a legitimate excuse to use it. And most times, when we tell her to put it away, she does put it away.

 

I think the problem with gadget addiction is not for the child but for the parent. There are times when she is so bothersome that giving her the tablet seems to be the best way to manage her. And when she has that, then she does not demand attention, which leaves you to do what you want to do. There are days when I have managed to finish a story I was reading or catch up on some other work, after handing over the tablet to her. And I realize I am getting into a bad habit here. Like I said it is not her getting addicted to it, it is me getting used to her getting dependent on it.

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A to Z Blog : A is for Adhomukhashvanasana and doing yoga with a hyperactive two year old

A to Z Blogging Challenge : 1 April, A

I have spent much of the last year practicing yoga along with my two year old, and this has definitely been an interesting experience. I quit going to classes last year and decided to practice at home. The time I chose to do it was early in the morning, when I hoped Migu would be asleep. But just like Murphy’s laws would have predicted, she almost always woke up when she sensed me doing something. Gradually, I got so accustomed to doing yoga with her, that on the rare days when she sleeps when I am doing, I feel something is missing.

 

This has been my most special experience of the last year, so  I am starting off my A to Z blog with the name of a popular asana, which also happens to be the first asana which my daughter did.  I had promised myself when Migu came that no matter how demanding motherhood is, I would not give up yoga. I have pretty much cut down on most other hobbies, but yoga was not something I wanted to give up.

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Doing yoga with Migu is a challenge for all the reasons why doing anything which you are interested in along with a hyperactive child is a challenge. It exposes multiple flanks of mine for her to attack, and there are times when I seriously fear for my limbs. When I am doing balancing asanas which require concentration, she goes out of her way to disturb my concentration. When I am in inverted poses, I sometimes feel I am going to either injure her or me. Any bending forward asana is a horse asana for her, since she ends up trying to climb and ride on me. Even if I playfully try to throw her off, she enjoys it.

 

I wanted to expose her to yoga at a young age, because I read about a little child sharing that yoga helped her enjoy every other sensation in my life in a more profound way. I know it is common to say yoga is beyond just physical exercise. But I doubt if I have given my child any profound understanding of yoga. Right now, it is a game for her. Maybe that is the most profound understanding of all.

 

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Nature Rediscovery with Migu

Living in a campus with a whole lot of birds animals, not to mention trees and plants, I think I have pretty much taken nature for granted. I always intended to slow down a bit and take time to admire what was in front of me, but that never really happened untill Migu came along.

There is something about the sheer joy with which a child reacts to a bird, a butterfly or even just a stray dog or cat. Initially, making her sit in the garden specially while eating had a very instrumental value. She had enough things to distract her and she would eat. This value still remains, but it also allowed me a chance to sit down and actually watch the birds, the parrots, eagles, jungle blabber and ocassionally even the peacocks which visited our garden.

And it really makes you slow down. Recently. as I was going to drop her off at day care, she noticed a butterfly in the garden. She didnt want to come untill it went away. We were already running late and I had to get to work. It was a big struggle for me to let her follow the butterfly’s flight to her heart’s content and tell myself it is ok to be late.

Migu also loves to feed these visitors and although it does encourage a habit of throwing food (which is not something I like to encourage), I still dont have the heart to stop her. It is like she beleives at least one fourth of the dosa should go to the birds by right, and the birds have a right to eat a share of her banana, apples and even oranges. Though barely two, she has also observed that the birds prefer certain fruits like pomegranate and apples over bananas and oranges.

Before Migu came into our life, I had a habit of sitting in the garden and having my morning coffee. I told myself that I was doing it to enjoy nature, but my mind very seldom focused on what was happening in the garden. After Migu came, I used to rue the fact that opportunities to enjoy a cup of coffee are no longer available for me. But she taught me that there were so many more opportunities to enjoy nature, if only I chose to pay attention, and be in the present. And now, every walk I take with her, every meal I feed her, is an opportunity to enjoy all that this campus has to offer us.

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Fear : What do children fear and what is our role in developing those fears

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Observing Migu has made me curious about how children develop fears. By fear, I dont mean the reluctance or hesitation to get involved in something new. That is quite natural in children and unless children gain comfort in their new environment or with a person, they are understandably cautious.  But frequently, children seem to have some over riding fear, some bogey.

So far, Migu does not have that. She is cautious in new situations. She is naturally cautious when she is trying to climb challenging stairs or go up a slide. But once she has gained confidence in it, she will no longer accept any support in doing it. She can be a bit startled by sudden noises, but generally, if she understands the source of the noise she is fine. The other day, when she heard some fire crackers going off, she calmly informed me that because there were monkeys around, people were setting off fire crackers. She is also not scared of the dark, and will confidently walk into dark rooms.

I dont mean to say she is never scared. If a dog or cat comes too close to her or makes to attack her (as has happened sometimes), she does get scared. It would be stupid not to be. But that temporary fear does not translate to a dislike of dogs or cats in general. The other day, when I was feeding her in the garden, a cat got attracted to the food, and really might have attacked us, if I hadnt taken the stick and shooed it away. It was eyeing us quite ferociously. But though she did get a bit disturbed at that time, her fondness for looking out for cats remains. She still goes searching out for every ‘gundu poona’ (fat cat) in campus when we go for a walk.

Around me, I see kids who may be older than her, but who have all kinds of fears, balloons, fire crackers, darkness, monkeys. It really makes me wonder if fear is cultivated with age. Do we then, as parents, encourage and cultivate these fears. I know a lot of us long to have a bogeyman which we can use with them specially if they are becoming difficult to manage. But should we consciously cultivate a bogey for them.

It definitely makes life simpler for us, if they are scared. Of course, if they keep extending the fear to other things, then it kind of stops them from new experiences. And I am sure, as kids grow up, some of them may even outgrow their fears, but continue to use it to get out of chores. WIll you run an errand for me. No, I am scared, there are stray dogs outside. Will you put this in the dustbin. I am scared of going there in the dark. The list can be endless. But who in the first place made them cultivate these fears. 

 

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Is there really a way to escape the consumerist culture??

Before we became parents, my husband and I have had some discussions on this whole consumerist culture among children. We have seen children constantly demand something or the other when they are out, and mostly parents give in. Its not big things they demand, a balloon, a plastic doll, some random thing. What bothered us was not the cost of these items but the fact that a child constantly seemed to keep demanding things, which she would hardly use. Yes, children are targetted by every roadside and rail vendor, but can we not really teach children to resist the momentary urge for immediate need gratification. But mostly, parents seemed quite happy to buy the thing which the child demanded. 

We had ambitious plans that when we became parents, we would teach our child the value of experience over the value of possession. Its only when we have become parents now that we realize how difficult it is. Not because it is difficult to resist a child’s demands, but because everyone around you and the child is also constantly asking you to satisfy the need.

 

Recently, we took Migu to the kite festival in Ahmedabad. Just like in any other mela, there were lots of balloon stalls. Migu saw the stalls, and she saw other kids playing with balloons, and she mentioned the word balloon a couple of times. I dont think they were even demands. She is only recently speaking and identifying things, and she probably just identified and felt happy with herself for having named an object correctly.

Yet at the mention of the word balloon, my mother in law immediately said, come lets buy you a balloon. After mentioning it a couple of times, even my husband said yeah let us. And I was myself tempted to buy the balloon, because I saw no reason why I should not.

But I resisted the urge and told the other adults also, let us not buy it. Migu did mention balloon again a couple of times, specially when we passed a vendor or a child with a balloon. If we had shown signs of relenting, she may have thrown a tantrum to make us get it. But largely, apart from mentioning it, she was quite willing to be engaged by other items we showed her.

Now the point is not whether we can afford the 10 rupee balloon for her. I would quite gladly have given that money to a roadside vendor to shore up his business. Rather, what stuck me at that particular moment, and made me resist buying was the fact that it is actually not even the child who is making a demand. Rather, it is us adults, who see the purchase of the balloon as an easier way to pacify, manage or gain her affections.

This whole situation itself presented numerous opportunities where Migu would have had an experience rather than a possession. If she wanted a balloon and decided to approach another child who had it and both of them played with it together, she would have gained a friend, however momentarily. But how many of us parents encourage children to learn to ask to share an item.

Similarly, if we had bought the balloon, she would have been so distracted with playing with it, that she may have not even watched the kites flying. This is the kite flying season in ahmedabad, they were flying some beautiful kites with lanterns, and she really enjoyed watching it. She even tried to describe it with her limited vocabulary.

I don’t mean to say I never buy things for my child. I have purchased many toys, some of them on whims, many of them quite expensive also. Rather, I will try not to teach my child that she can simply mention an item and it will immediately be bought for her. And I will try my best not to use the purchase of items as a means to control her behavior when she is difficult.  

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