Hegemony in parenting- Time for introspection

The title is strong and perhaps skewed but that does not hide the fact that parenting is and often becomes a ‘power play’. A space for smart deals, ‘I did this for you, now you do this for me’.

‘How much have I sacrificed for you, can’t you do this much for me’?

Years of popular culture of idolizing the parent has made the lives of many young people miserable, that of course includes parents, who were themselves miserable living for other dreams and not having space to think or plan their life on their own.

Now the parent, being in a position of the provider tries to extract maximum benefit to satisfy his needs some times material, emotional, social or otherwise and cleverly packages his/her aspirations as a target to be achieved to the child.

Ok, so I have also been guilty of the same and have been tempted to go down the lane far too often.

One day though, in all my right senses , I told my daughter, ‘Child, sometime in future, maybe, your mom may become so needy, so dependent on you or just seek your attention so much as to dare to emotionally black mail you, then my love, you will stand only by what you feel and go with your intuition or your reasoning. You will not allow any of my manipulations to have a say in your decision ‘ and heaved a sigh, a long one at that. It was not easy to do that but I knew this was important. If there is one thing that teaching has taught me, it is to respect the young and trust their wisdom, worldly and otherwise.

I had not thought much about this until I read the Khalil Gibran poem,

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
     And he said:
     Your children are not your children.
     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
     They come through you but not from you,
     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
     For they have their own thoughts.
     You may house their bodies but not their souls,
     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

I was shocked at the truth in these lines. And remembered how ancient wisdom prevailed on the need to treat an adult son or daughter as just that, another adult, who has an independent mind and soul and dream of his/her own.

Some among us parents, consider child- upbringing a ritual of grand sacrifices and responsibility, yes, it is but we need to ask ourselves, ‘was it not our choice to do so?’

‘Did we as parents do what we did for our children out of love and because it gave us joy in doing so?’

‘Did we not derive pride and joy in thus showcasing our children to the world?’

‘Was the joy only theirs? Really!!!?????

If we think this over, and find that the reason why we lavished love/ materials/ attention on our kids was also because, we wanted to , sometimes even more than what the child would have wanted, then it becomes crystal clear that, if the process was enjoyable, what is the point of taking a ‘grand stand’ of nobility, unlimited sacrifice etc?

The numerous videos that flood the social media of the supreme sacrifice or sense of duty every animal possesses towards the upbringing of its off spring should tell each one of us parent, is somehow genetically tuned to protect his/her offspring for reasons beyond our control, yes, there are exceptions, but aren’t they far too less to the majority of us who would give our right hand to do justice to our children!

Read on to know what the famous Tamil poet, Thiruvallvur said in his famous poem penned a good 5000 years ago on the subject of parenting….

https://sites.google.com/site/msvkgf/thirukkurals-explanation/thirukkural-parent-children

https://ikeonwubuya.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/some-golden-thoughts-of-thirukkural-on-parenting/

https://thirukkural133.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/chapter-8-possessing-love/

In his ever relevant poem called Thirukkural, a lesson in life skills, written a good 5000 years ago, the Tamil poet gives the following commandments to each parent.

*If your children lie to you often, it is because you over-react too harshly to their inappropriate behaviour.*
2. *If your children are not taught to confide in you about their mistakes, you’ve lost them.* 
3. *If your children had poor self-esteem, it is because you advice them more than you encourage them.* 
4. *If your children do not stand up for themselves, it is because from a young age you have disciplined them regularly in public.*……read more at

https://ikeonwubuya.wordpress.com/)

Yes, we are all but humans, but it would do us good to ask ourselves as conscientious parents, am I in the right, when I ask/ advice this to my child?

Parental hegemony has and will continue to create unhappy adults who never got a chance to do what their heart called for, live with who their love chose to be with, or just be happy individuals in general.

As I talk to quite a few 18 year olds, they all seem to have decided that ‘making their parents proud’ is all that want to do or even, ‘fulfilling their dreams ‘. Yes, the parent has every right to give suggestions about career and other life choices, but just leave it to the child to decide what he/she wants to do.

Reading between the lines one can also clearly understand the enormous pressure of living up to someone’s dream that the child is facing already. Sometimes this leads to unhappiness, confusion and a general feeling of unworthiness, which can be detrimental to their happy state of mind, even many years later.

Do we really want our children to carry the baggage of our unfulfilled dreams or do we have the confidence to tell that that ‘fly you may, love you may, explore you may, just know that I am here for you!’.

Driving a car called desire

There she goes

my mama dear

driving a car called desire

honking it here

and honking it there

taking a swift turn here and there

bumping into places

sometimes into faces

mama goes fast

mama goes slow

there she goes my mama dear

driving a car called desire

you wanna greet her

say hello, hello

say hi, hi

coz you never know

if she would stop

or just say goodbye

there she goes my mama dear

driving a car called desire

hop in if you feel

stop her if you need

coz she is racing past time

got a few brakes to break

a few walls to crash

too much on her plate

there she goes my mama dear

driving a car called desire.

Ps: Lyric maybe!

I am there for you- The magical phrase

Anu looked at herself and crumpled into tears, surge of sorrow mixed with joy that tumbled down from her core.

The words that washed over her soul like pure manna from heaven, that kindled her dreams afresh and somehow restored the faith that ‘all is well’.

‘Amma, said Anu has never ever spoken like this to me. Her words now are full of conviction, a belief, a pride and a sense of assurance for her daughter. ‘

This is new, so new to her,said Anu that a lifetime of longing is now being answered.

‘No one ever said that to me before’, said Anu breaking into tears again.

‘All those years, among friends, in family, I have longed to hear it. Sometimes, in desperation I reached out knocking a few doors.

It created in me a fierce self defence, a strong need to stand up and fight and move on and not spare time to grieve, never.

It strengthened me as much as it pained and one learns to live with it.’

Then comes her words, a symbol of her own self acceptance and her confidence which verbalized into a loud and clear, ‘I am therefore you, girl’ and it brought back spring into my life, added Anu.

The power of this statement can never be underestimated, Say it again and again to those around you, your children, your partner, your parents, the cause you believe in , your students, tell them, ‘No matter what, I am therefore you’ and watch how miracles unfold.

When you want to dive deep, you need the springboard to propel you, to cushion you and that is what these words do to the listener, so go on, hold your close ones and tell them again and again, ‘I am therefore you, no matter what’.

Anu loves to say this to her son, whom she eggs to dream big and fly high, explore life in every which way, telling him constantly, ‘Come what may, I am therefore you. Go try, fail, get up, move on and whenever you want come back to me, Coz I am therefore you’.

Being a fierce warrior herself, Anu knows that there is nothing she will not do for her son, anytime, anywhere, how many times over.

Go on, and spell it loud and clear, ‘I believe in you, I am there for you, come what may’.

PS: Mom power, word magic

SKy

Sit

I told sky

who was wandering by

hold, smile, clasp even

he smiled and shrugged

you see, limitless as I am

my time is limited

I wipe the tears

turn on the sun

and shine the moon

to her my lover, the earth

I give my everything

I hold, caress and comfort her

yes, I know you and have noticed you

your thoughts and your yearnings I hear

trust me when I say, I am there for you

and he vanished azure

Ps: reaching out to sky

Of gratitude

To go back to studying when you are a full blown adult is not an easy choice. Yes, you take pride in having done justice to your parenting responsibilities, but you already are in that loop of EMIs and various other billing activities which tie you down, a caesura at this point is akin to harakiri, or so you think, or fear.

Then comes a mother’s heart calling out to you and saying, ‘ fear not child, do what you want for once, just do it’, and she laughs away all the fears saying ,’what are we here for?’

And a father who chips in,’ it’s not impossible, we are there for you.’

It is terrifying to think of the instability it brings, the staying away from work, even for a short time, the insecurities for someone who has prided on financial independence, yet, a promise looms and a hope and a cause calls, the call is persistent, deep, insistent, relentless and you cannot look away.

Then comes a message, a talk and an assurance, from someone I taught a good 2 decades ago, ‘I want to help you in your studies, just let me know’, it is just a word of promise but it lifts the spirits immediately, as if the universe answered a call, and calmed a fear, and smiled away a tear.

Years ago, I quit school teaching to move to the corporate, in need of a gainful employment, to pay the bills of course, again I remember how one of students asked, ‘What made you quit teaching? You would not have done that. You see, I am a corporate lawyer now. I can help you. Let me know what you need’. The words at that time brought tears to my eyes. I had expected such support from those in my immediate vicinity but there it came from a student again, who had just started his career.

I think of how the universe is assuaging my fears and holding out a hand, egging me on to a journey, whose turns I am not yet able to see.

Yet, it is true that there have been new opportunities and meeting with people who value my abilities in a slow, subtle manner that seems to be changing my universe in some ways, perhaps, a new horizon shines, a new friend or two waits, a new journey begins…

For the Ullysses in me, who wants to go looking after a sinking star, what could be better?

I now feel it won’t be difficult to find a school for Sunil to study, a place to work and learn for Chanamma, a place for me to grow as a writer and a student and to contribute to a cause so close to my heart…. perhaps that is what it is…..a place from where I can reach out and say to those I love and those who love me, here I am for you always…. I have everything to help you…ha, life… what learnings, what lessons!!!

Gratitude is all that I can think of…..

നടത്തം

ചാഞ്ഞിരുന്ന കോലായി
ഉമ്മറത്തോടു പറഞ്ഞു
എത്ര കാലമായി ഒന്ന് നടു നിവർത്തിയിട്ടു

ക്ഷീണിച്ച കൈയ്യാല
ആളനക്കം ഇല്ലാത്തതിന്റെ ദുഃഖം
നീണ്ട നെടുവീർപ്പുകളിൽ ഒതുക്കി

തളത്തിൽ കെട്ടി നിന്ന കുട്ടികാലം
പല്ലിയുടെ ചിലമ്പലിലും
വണ്ടിന്റെ മൂലക്കത്തിലും
തവളകളുടെ പേക്രോം പേക്രോം
കരച്ചിലിലും ഓർമകൾ ചികഞ്ഞു നോക്കി

ചുട്ടെടുത്തു പപ്പടത്തിന്റെ
പൊടുപൊടുന്നന്നെയുള്ള പൊടിക്കലും
ടപ് ടപ് എന്ന എണ്ണയുടെ പൊട്ടിത്തെറിക്കലും
കുക്കറിന്റെ ചീറ്റലും
സ്റ്റോവിന്റെ അട്ടഹാസവും
വിറക്കിന്റെ മൂളക്കവും
അടുക്കള ഓർത്തെടുത്തു

ഹാവ് അയ്യോ വയ്യ
എവിടെ നിന്നോ ചില മര്മരങ്ങൾ

പ്രായം കൂടിയ ഗോവണി
ഊരാൻ തയ്യാറായ പല്ലു പോലെ ആടി കളിച്ചു

കാല് തെറ്റി വീണ കുട്ടിയെ
എടുത്തമ്മ പറഞ്ഞു
എങ്ങോട്ടു നോക്കിട്ട നിന്റെ നടത്തം.

Conscious Bindi-yism

Ok, so I grew up wearing the red dot on my forehead. It was something I wore ever since I was born. Until perhaps I was three it was a black dot, made of kajal that amma positioned on my forehead. When I started school, it was red mostly, but while I was at NSM Public School, Vijayawada where the Saturday uniform was white, amma would pound the white kernel of the ‘nalu mani poovu’ or ‘Mirabilis jalapa’ to apply a white bindi on my forehead.

Sundays would make the forehead a busy place with chandan or sandal wood lining plus the usual bindi competing for space on my rather spacious forehead.

At the temple though, we would all fight to get the cream sandal wood paste from the plantain leaf, plus the red sandal wood paste which while at college, I thought looked better on me!

Now that was at the famed Vadakkanthara Devi Temple in Palakkad, which amma again insisted that we visit daily. So we did, myself and my brother, along with father on a daily basis. My attraction being the red sandalwood paste which I loved. I did I guess take some pride in being the typical village belle, perhaps inspired by the movie glam dolls of the time.

In those years until perhaps the late 1990s the bindi I wore was of liquid material, with which you could paint a circle or draw something fancy as some of my truly ingenuous friends did, drawing elaborate patterns on their beautiful foreheads. Some time later the plastic, ‘stick on bindis’ hit the market and soon, we were all sporting these colourful sticker bindis on our foreheads.

The bindi or the dot on my forehead did get bigger over the years when I thought that a bigger bindi gave me an air of authority, and some times to add to the general air of sternness that I wanted to reflect, I even tied up my hair in a neat bun.

All in my effort to impose discipline in the classroom and stand up to the team as the leader, or so I thought!!!

The past year since I started reading more and more on environment I have been unable to put on the sticker bindis which otherwise I would stock up for various occasions in vibrant colours.

The reason being that these are non recyclable. Imagine the numerous bindis that lay piled up invisible to our eyes or oblivious to our notice.

Imagine what it must do to the plants and animals, to earth in general?

The thought itself was a shocker to me that I went around almost for 5-6 months without the sticker bindi trying to figure out if the old paste or liquid bindis were still available.

I did find some, but having got used to the stick and throw business, I found it difficult to use them. But then today I chanced upon in a shop the dear old multi colour liquid bindi in a new rectangular box and my joy was irrepressible. Imagine the joy of being able to continue with a practice of childhood but not having to feel guilty about it.

I wish the times of Kalidasa’s Shakunthalam where the girls made all possible hues to adorn themselves from the various flowers, fruits and leaves found in the famed Kanva Ashram returned. Till then, perhaps this is the way out!!!

the ubiquitous sticker bindis in the market
Eyetex liquid colour bindi
the better bindi alternative, really???!!!

It really is high time that all of us to took a moment or two to introspect the impact of our actions on the planet, because we know for sure today that our carelessness has cost us much.

We can all be better conscious customers who evaluate our decisions on a scale of environmental impact, whether it is while buying a bindi, carrying a shopping bag, practicing minimalism, choosing to recycle, or to compost, or while making a conscious choice of residing in an apartment which recycles its waste , while eating out or in or well anything and everything.

Our tokenisms to nature care is not really taking us anywhere, its time we got down to some action.

PS: to bindi or not, that is the question!

Bak, Bak talker makes friends

I met a beautiful couple today. Warm, gentle and very knowledgeable. I spent about 3 hours in their beautifully decorated, well kept home which is nothing short of a green haven. The fact that they spoke Malayalam and served jack fruit made me feel at home immediately.

The grand mom all of 94 years with the enthusiasm and vibe of a sixty year old, joined the conversation drawing from her experiences of a life time with a gentle smile.

The beautifully elegant lady of the house, sat me down and we discussed a few things. Later when her spouse joined us we continued to discuss life, energies, nature and what not.

I floated back home filled with warmth and wrapped in a soft cloud of love and the care exuded by the couple.

While at home though I wondered of how I hogged the conversation, with my miniscule knowledge and over the top enthusiasm….now how does one learn to talk a little less….

A thing to ponder and learn, conversations are better when the sharing is more or less equal. I do listen but my daughter is a better and dedicated listener. And I need to learn that.

But the evening will stay in my mind.

For someone who is too lazy to step out of the house, this was bonus, to just have good company, great conversation and come back with new friends.

Sort of reaffirms the need to step out of the home and say a hi and a hello…once in a while.

Kumbakarna’s sister

Kumbarakaran’s Sister and Thought Loops

Throughout my school life, especially when I studying for my 10 th standard at LSN Convent, Ottapalam, as a boarder, I was notorious for my sleep.

Deep, pleasant sleep that waited on me and pounced on me at the slightest chance that I could be found sleeping in the classroom, in the study after a good early morning bath, in the dormitory and everywhere else that it was a good joke for my classmates.

They happily named me Kumbarakaran’s sister. I never minded this until our class teacher, Mary Kutty Teacher who taught social sciences in the after lunch hour and read the text in her sonorous voice, always turned to me to ask, Sreelekha, are you here, ivide undo? to the laughter of my classmates.

This continued and when my father came to visit me in the hostel on a working day and met my class teacher to inquire about my studies, she brought it up again and father asked turned to me to ask, ‘ should I take you to the doctor?’ and I just looked down ashamed.

But when Baby mama would say that he never slept for years, I could not believe it, he being a student of law, said that he had so much to study over night that he has now lost the habit of sleeping!

Strange, I thought, how can one not sleep!!!!

During the college days I would have a luxurious bath with amma’s different medicated hair oils that would ensure a good two hour sleep soon after the bath. This irked my brother who would run to amma complaining, ‘She is not studying, she is sleeping’.

Well, I was smarter because I stocked my room with enough eatables to supposedly ward off sleep and to focus on studies, well, sleep just stayed on as a good friend….well, a good cup of coffee only made me sleep longer!!!!

Now like other blessed sleepers, I take pride in the excuse that I must have a clear conscience to be able to sleep so much and so long to annoy others who apparently struggle for a good night’s sleep.

My father though, blames my sleep on ‘pitta’ which I know is not correct!!!

So, while discussing sleep deprivation, my friend and colleague said how she was blessed in every sense with a loving husband, enough and more wealth, 2 happy girls , a good job but was sleep deprived.

I told her that she should focus on herself and stop thinking of others. But how, asked she?

I had recently discovered how I was caught in the same loop of thoughts that went on and on in my mind. Some related to a certain someone, another related to my failed marriage and then my brother who passed away and how I could not do anything about it. Then my apparent lack of smartness, luck and other interesting forms of self-victimization.

One day I watched my thoughts and wrote them down. As I did it I was shocked to see how the same loop of thoughts have had a hold over me for so many years.

How crazy could I be? I was stuck by this revelation and started to call out baseless, negative ,self serving, idiotic thought loops, it was like I could recognize where this thought was going and I simple shirked it off so as to keep my mind free. And this helped hugely.

People tell me that there is a certain lightness about me, and I regained my laughter and smile big time, and realized how little there is to complain about in life for and how far I have come.

So, if you feel stressed out for no reason, just write down your thoughts. You will be surprised at how the thoughts take hold of you. My friend who did this upon my suggestion was so shocked at the absolute hold of certain thoughts over her that she has vowed to continue the exercise for a few more days.

What this did to me is to give me an ability to reckon a negative, disparaging thought that was waiting to slyly pounce on me and take hold of my emotions and stop it right there with a smile, ‘hey, not you, not like that, I know that’s not what it is’ and take my thoughts and feelings to the more positive, vibrant aspects of living.

So, may be I was doing this a bit earlier too, because I am often asked’, why are you on such a high?’ or something to that effect by people who find my high end optimism and smile a little too much to take or even get offended by it and blame me for ‘immaturity’… funny.

So, now I know what is getting where, like almost, though I wish the wisdom had dawned on me a little earlier as it would have saved me from a lot of pain but not too late, either…

So, cool , what are you waiting for?

Check your loop of thoughts, write them out for a day or two, and free yourself from the bondage of thoughts….

Cheers!

Thought loops and skyways

Sky Vision

sitting at the head of the bed

her back turned to me

sits she, the sky

holding the endless in her palm

her eyes deep deep brown

her hair flowing

a few strands falling across my face

I try to look ahead

she shows me but a glimpse

and blocks a whole lot of my vision

that I think I know

but I know I know not

she has been a puzzle

a dream and a vision

of a life of love and hope

coz what is life

if you know everything

PS: Now is everything