A Mother’s Regret

It’s the paradox that all parents are faced with. The time when our kids are young, is also the time when we are just setting up home, establishing our careers, getting a grip on our adult responsibilities. Between the constant juggling that household chores, career requirements and social responsibilities demand, time  slips by. And before we know it, our kids are grown up! Raised by doting grandparents, if we are lucky! or in the company of maids and other hired help.

I had my two kids, back to back. Kabir, my younger one is just Nineteen months younger than his sister Maya. The first three years of their lives together are a blur! The details lost in the endless stream of dirty bottles and soiled diapers.  I remember, my predominant thought from that time was of getting away! Getting away from the seemingly endless cries to be fed, burped, cleaned or put to bed. And even from their cute but incessant, high pitched childish prattle.  I craved for silence. For a day, an hour, even a few minutes!  I wasn’t a bad Mom! Just a harassed mom!

My best friend, those days was also a working mom. We shared notes about our sleep deprived lives. Bemoaning the endless list of tasks we faced each morning. It also upset us that we had very little time or energy left to concentrate on our hard earned careers.  We looked forward to the time when the kids would grow up and we could ‘reclaim’ our normal lives.

The friend’s son has now come to class five. This month he leaves home to join a prestigious residential school. She will finally have more ‘her’ time. More time to spend on her work and leisure!  But instead of rejoicing she can’t stop crying. I understand her sorrow completely. The thought that I will be in her place, seeing off my own little girl, next year fills me with dread. And, a sense of regret!  Here are a few words (Not really a poem!) that express my thoughts.

My little girl

All ready to fly

Now that it’s time to let go

I wonder why?

Why I didn’t?

Spend more time

Playing with dolls,

composing silly rhymes,

Sipping tea from little cups

Pretend playing and dressing up

Why didn’t I sit for more hours?

With her head on my laps

Mindless of my  chores

Playing childish games

“Peek a Boo”, “Guess that name”

Visiting the  “tickling monster “

Making funny faces, to hear her roar with laughter

Did I really get enough?

Bubble baths and cook ups

Neighborhood treks and sand play

Hopping races and modeling Clay

Sunday picnics, long evenings in the park

Surprise treats and heart to hearts

 Why we didn’t finger paint more often

Or just lie in bed and have more fun

I wish when I still had the time

 I’d scolded lesser and praised her more,

Corrected lesser and encouraged more,

Punished lesser and sympathized more

Scheduled lesser and indulged  more

 Why was I in such a hurry?

For her to read her own night time story

To feed herself

Choose her own dress

Get herself ready

Make her own decisions

Always in rush to make her independent!

 Now I miss the times she looked for me

Seeking me out for every thing

To fix a button or tie a lace

Make her hair or wipe her face

 Why did I waste all those precious hours

Getting angry, disciplining her hard

And that incessant chatter

That wouldn’t stop

Why didn’t I listen to it with all my heart?

 Cause fulfilling my other responsibilities

All my life I can spend

But my little girl

won’t come back now

Her childhood has come to an end

How were you placed time-wise when your children were young? Did you feel like you had enough time to enjoy their childhood with them? I would love to hear your experiences.


The Dress can be ‘Garbaged’

Couple of years back about this time I was raving and ranting about M leaving. It was all I could talk about or think about or ‘anything’ about. Two years hence I am ‘quieter’ ‘saner’ and infinitely ‘wiser’.

Which is to say…

My eyes don’t tear up each time I run into one of M’s old friends in the market.

I no longer feel guilty eating an ice cream or ordering Chinese because she is not there to share it with me.

I no longer wake up in the middle of the night convinced that something is seriously wrong with her and I just must know what it is right then and there!

I no longer drive around the boundary wall around her school (The boarding school she goes to is two kilometers from my home) hoping to somehow catch a glimpse of her over the fifteen feet tall stone wall .

Or go to someone’s place for the first time and burst into tears because their daughter is exactly M’s size!!

Ya, I know, I was stupid! And I am not proud about it, but whatever…

Here is what I still do
I still write her long long letters about everything that goes on in our lives.I send her copies of essays and debates I have written (even if the subjects are way beyond her 11 year old brains can possibly comprehend).
When she comes home I try to set aside everything and just be with her. Even if that means, sitting together on a couch and reading our respective books. I find the physical proximity not merely comforting but somehow ‘healing’.

I ‘tell’ her much lesser, we ‘ talk’ more.
She speaks lesser, but I listen more.

I find that now because my time with her is no longer consumed by the everyday nitty-gritty’s of homework to be done and disciplining to be achieved the conversations we do have, have more depth. Like the last time she was home she asked me, what I thought was a good age to be on Facebook/ Instagram.

I bit back an instant reply and asked her what her thoughts on the matter were. She recounted all the reasons she thought social media was not meant for kids her age.

I realized she didn’t need my ‘advice’. All she was looking for was a platform to practice airing her newly formed opinions. We talked about all the stuff that could go wrong on social media and had a good laugh at the expense of some youngsters we know who put up a dozen nerdy pictures of themselves for ‘public ‘ consumption everyday.

Somehow not living under the same roof has made us more ‘equal’. I am forced to look at her as an individuals and not merely an extension of me. An individual who has her own life, that she manages autonomously with almost no help or directions from my side

It is not to say that I no longer advice her. I do! But it is given like advice between two ‘equals’ … ‘friends’ perhaps! It doesn’t come with baggage of “have to listen” because I know that the minute she enters ‘her domain” i.e. her school, she will have to make her own judgments. My advice, no matter how sound may or may not seem appropriate and is thus trash-able completely (No questions asked!)
This is very different from the advice I gave her when she went to a day school. Back then, if the teacher hadn’t added the marks properly or a classmate had ‘borrowed’ a favorite book and not returned it. She was questioned the moment she reached home. “Did you speak to M’am so and so? What did she say?”

And though there were many times she wouldn’t have done what she had been ‘advised ‘ to do. And because I have never believed in ‘punishments’ there would be no obvious reprimands. Yet there was always an implicit understanding that she had ‘botched up’. Leaving her – More than a little guilty and me – a little peeved.
Now I feel more like what I imagine a mother of a married daughter may feel. I still offer advice. But it’s offered with a kind of respect. An acknowledgement that I may not completely understand her realities and thus while this is what I think may work she is the only one who can decide whether it will or will not.
It seems like a very subtle difference in theory but in practice it’s a huge leap.

It is a leap from
“Mom knows everything” to “ This is what mom thinks”
It is also a leap from

“You are too young to understand this” to “You understand this best”
It is a shift from

“Just do it, okay?” to “It’s your decision finally”
With these huge leaps in the last two years our relationship has transitioned.

I definitely miss the little girl who hero – worshiped me and looked up to my every word as if it was a sermon from God. But I must say I kind of admire this self confident little lady I got instead. She holds her own in crowds, has her own well thought out likes, dislikes, beliefs and ideas. And no matter how frustrating it is when she refuses to wear that “absolutely gorgeous” dress I bought her for her aunt’s wedding. It is kind of satisfying to hear her say

“Mom it is not so bad but I don’t feel comfortable wearing something so flashy.”

My daughter has a mind of her own. And what’s more she has developed the right vocabulary to express it. She no longer throws a tantrum or remains quiet when things don’t go her way. She takes a firm stand and explains it, usually with sound logic and great conviction.

I for one love it!

The dress can be ‘Garbaged’!

After all, It is just a dress!!!

- maya and me

A spoonfull of ‘mommy’ wisdom

My younger one – K is Nine now. I sure miss the days when I could scoop him up in my arms and cuddle him, rubbing my nose against the little hollow at the base of  his throat. It always brought out squeals of joy and shouts of mock anger “mumma let me down” that spurred me to cuddle him even more. He would then wrap his little chubby feet around my waist holding me tight throwing his head back so it hung in the air, waiting for the spin he loved to get . Round we whooshed through the air before collapsing on the bed,  breathless with laughter, dizzy with the spinning and very very happy.

God knows I cant do that to him anymore! (He weighs about 35 kgs now :) )  I sorely miss his baby- hood. Carrying him in my arms, rocking him to sleep in my laps, nuzzling him in the crook of my arm while we sat on a rocking chair reading his favorite book, letting him lie on my stomach as we napped on lazy summer afternoons.

“They grow up too fast, enjoy them while they are young!” I heard that a bit too often in those wonderful ‘baby filled’ days. The wistfulness and the look of longing that accompanied those words of advice did seem genuine. But to me engulfed with baby things of my two almost twin kids (They are a year and few months apart!!!) it never really rang a bell. I am glad to say I did enjoy them – We had countless soapy bubble filled bath sessions, and endless gibberish filled conversations, we had long bumpy pram walks and horribly out of tune singing sessions. It was a mad, fun filled time. But it was not all fun!

There were days i was so tired that I could have slept standing up. Days when the diaper basket was overflowing and all the milk bottles lay used up & dirty and days when the kids wouldn’t stop crying. Days when I fervently  wished to god that I could somehow grow either an extra pair of hands or an extra lap to accommodate both my little ones at the same time and the ability to stay up three days without a wink of sleep.

In retrospect I realize now that the frustrations were caused more because of my ideas of what ‘should’ be. Kids should eat healthy, home cooked elaborate meals with greens and as many other colours as possible. They should drink at  least three glasses of milk – preferably unsweetened. Kids should not watch TV while they ate. They should stay away from mud and dirt and germs that lurk everywhere ready to grab them….The list was endless and it made my ‘new-mommy’ life difficult.

If I knew then what i know now – That kids are strong and buoyant. That as long as they get kindness , small doses of spirituality and a lot of unconditional love they will thrive. That regardless of the hundreds of psychological theories that talk about thousands of ways parents screw up their kids lives forever in reality there is not much that we can do wrong. As long as we understand them and care for them and let them be.

I am glad I have learned my lesson now. I realize with gratitude that nine is still not ‘too old’. That there are many days even now when he throws his still chubby arms around me  and sleeps blissfully using my arm as a makeshift pillow. On days like these, no matter how much my arm hurts I never pull it away. Because I am old now and I have learned my lessons and I know that soon this too will pass. And before it does, before it becomes another of those long list of ‘happy memories’ I want to hold on to it, live it and savor it.

The Reading Child

“Children these days don’t read” is a common complaint nowadays. Teachers, parents and people in general are always complaining about the absence of reading habit amongst today’s children. As a parent of two little bookworms I am often asked what I did to encourage the ‘reading habit’?

“Nothing”, I reply . Or actually nothing that seemed like work to do!

I take pleasure in reading. It is my favorite pass time and so from the day I conceived ‘M’ I began to read to her. I wasn’t doing this as a mission or with an aim to gain something. I began to do it because it was fun.

Just when I discovered I was pregnant, I came across a book from Scholastic called ‘Read To Your Bunny’. It was the cutest picture book ever . It said “Read to your bunny often…it’s twenty minutes of fun… It’s twenty minutes of moonshine and twenty minutes of sun… something , something, something…and ended with …soon your bunny will read to you.”

read to bunny

Each night I read this little ditty out to the tiny one still in my tummy. Looking back it seems a bit crazy. I can now picture how completely idiotic I must have looked to an onlooker. A thirty year old holding a picture book reading out silly ditties to her oversized tummy. Back then in the midst of the new mummyhood bug I didn’t care! It seemed like the most usual thing to do.

After M was born our reading session continued almost without a pause. Regardless of how old or actually how young M was, and whether she was or wasn’t comprehending anything, I kept reading to her. I did it more as a method of bonding. It wasn’t designed to trigger her intelligence or catapult her into the world of geniuses! It was just fun and the only way I really knew to spend quality time with her. I am not big on gibberish talk and coochie cooing so reading provided me a ‘saner’ option for connecting with my little one.

I am not sure if it was this early exposure to books that made ‘M’ a bookworm. Maybe she would have loved books even if she hadn’t seen one till she was five!I know of some friends’ children who have been bitten by the reading bug after having led a ‘book-less’ life till they were much older and some who have been surrounded by books but haven’t picked up the reading habit. So like anything else it is pretty much a gamble! A gamble in which the stakes seem to be high. Teachers across the board seem to agree that children who are readers tend to be able to focus better, grasp more and have a stronger hold on language.

My own experience is that children who are ‘readers’ know more about the world. They understand situations and emotional dilemmas better. The right kind of books can help make kids more capable of dealing with challenging situations and making mature decisions. Most importantly I know from experience that a child who loves books is never without a friend. I am glad that my children read because it keeps them aware and sharp. But most of all I am happy they read because I know that no matter where they are, with a book by their side they will never be alone.

Life is full of challenges. Books provide not only escape and relief from these challenges but sometimes powerful insight and wisdom based on others experiences and thoughts. And I hope that when faced with choices that require them to make difficult decisions, books will provide my children the extra leverage they need to make the right decision. I also pray that no matter how harsh life’s realities get my kids will always have at their beck and call a world of fantasy and comic relief that makes every trouble of theirs appear small.

Books have been my friends and guides in times when no one was and I am relieved to see them extend the same hand of friendship to my little ones. My kids and me are truly blessed.

 This post was written for Parentous . Parentous is the fastest growing parenting community in India. You must head to their amazing site for many more interesting articles on all aspects of parenting.

Welcoming ‘Books, Coco and me’ to the blogging community


Most of my friends in the blogosphere know ‘M’, my daughter. Many of you may also remember from my various posts about her that she is an avid reader. She has loved books since the time she was a teensie weensie baby!

At the ‘ripe’ age of nine M told me that she wanted a blog of her own. “Ok” I replied, a bit amused “But what will it be about?” “About Books!” Came the prompt reply. “What about books” I asked, wanting further explanation. “Book Reviews” M said. It seemed ‘M’ had really thought this through. M believes that even though there is a lot of literature for children, there are not enough reviews of children’s literature by children. “When adults write reviews of children’s books, they don’t do it right”, M lamented.

Over the next few months M wrote several reviews of books she had read and left them on my desk to transcribe. I am ashamed to say I never got around to doing it. Partly because I was afraid that the ‘editor’ in me would ‘corrupt’ her words with my adult sensibilities. I wanted her posts to be completely her own – her words, her style… all her!

The larger more mundane reason was lack of time. Somehow there was never time to write any of my own blog posts and hers definitely got relegated to the undefined future.

In the meanwhile M acquired a ‘second’ love! She and her brother were gifted a puppy by their doting grandparents. ‘M’s’ still mythical blog thus changed from ‘Books, Muffin and Me’ – ‘(Muffin being our pet name for ‘K’ her younger brother) to ‘Books, Coco and Me’ (Poor ‘K’- he is not happy by the way he has been bumped out of her blog!That too by a dog!.)

This time when M came home for the holidays (She has recently joined a boarding school). She practiced her typing skills and managed to feed in two blog posts. Starting a blog is a long somewhat tedious process for anyone. For a ‘just turned ten’ years old, with a life full of distractions and an endless list of stuff she wants to do, it becomes a lesson in patience. M has learned to be patient. With help from an aunt she has found a theme, designed the format and published two posts! Whew!

Sharing them here with you all. We hope you will visit ‘Books, coco and me’ and shower it with some blogosphere love. So next time M is at home for her holidays she can enjoy reading your comments just like I enjoy reading mine!

Meet coco my puggy pup

Fifteen books every little girl should read

thea stilton       malory towermiles to go miley cirus bear for felicia anne of green gablescocorainbow magicwishawozzawriter

Railway children

She is going away…

She is going away…

I didn’t want to write about this since I already wrote about this last month. But since the last few days it’s all I think about. The thought I sleep with and the dull ache I wake up with. And it is impossible to write about anything else.

My little girl M is stepping out into the BIG BAD WORLD. All on her own. In the nine years eleven months she has been in my life (not counting the nine months she spent in my tummy). I have experienced the best and worst, the happiest and the saddest, the proudest and the most  anxious minutes of my existence. And on the cusp of her day of departure for a  residential school, they play out like a video tape in front of my teary eyes.

The happiest day of my life: The day I had M. The pictures show the tiny tiny M lying in the arms of  a smiling beaming me. There is not a sign of the pain and tiredness I know I felt. Holding my little ‘cookie’ wiped it all away. As soon as M was born I asked the doctor (a dear friend), “How  is she?” “How do you know it’s a she?” she asked. “I just know ” I mumbled without a trace of doubt.

I had miscarried twins before conceiving M and thus she had become even more precious to me. “She has to be the most ‘sonographed’ foetus in the world!” my sister in-laws joked as I rushed to my doctor friend each time I imagined I didn’t feel her move or move enough. I was an anxious mom to be. But the only thing I wanted to know was whether my baby lived. I was determined to not lose her. That it was a ‘her’ was never a question I needed an answer for. That, I just knew.

The other thing I knew was that M was going to be a book lover just like me. From the early stages of pregnancy I read to her. I read aloud short little stories that spoke of happy cuddly things, little mushy poems that rhymed and meant nothing and I knew that even as a baby M enjoyed them. Our reading time together became a tradition that’s been with us till now. It has been a joy to see M graduate from listening wide-eyed to classic fairy tales (Her favorite was Goldilocks! ) to lying next to me absorbed in a copy of “I am Malala” . These days she prefers to read on her own while I lie next to her and catch up on my own reading. But our reading time together is still the most enjoyable part of our day. Ten years of ‘reading time’ with M will always be the  most cherished moments of my life.

The proudest moment of my life: M was a fast learner, speaking fluently before she was even one. But having no other yardstick to compare her progress by I never attached much significance to that.  It was only after she started going to school and I started getting her progress cards that it dawned on me that M was quite special. Her school has a beautiful concept of writing short character sketches along with children’s report cards. These are short notes that the class teachers write about each child in their care. M’s notes always spoke about  her willingness to share, to resolve differences, help and adjust. But they almost always also mentioned her shyness and her tendency to prefer to remain in her own zone.

I was thus very apprehensive when she was chosen to be sent to Delhi to represent her school for an inter house quiz competition. The teacher said ” We have never taken such a small child before, do you think she will be able to cope?” Barely Eight, would she be able to travel overnight with a group of senior boys and girls ? Would she know how to sleep in a train without rolling off the narrow seat, use the awkward loos, change into her uniform all by herself? Wouldn’t  she be nervous to stand up on the stage and face strange crowds? M is a fussy eater, What kind of food would she get? I was nervous like hell  as I accompanied her to the railway station. M must have been apprehensive too, I could see it in the way she clutched tightly to her small suitcase. But as the train blew its whistle ready to roll off she put on a brave smile and waved me off – whispering in my ears “Don’t worry mumma, I will be okay.” That day as I saw her standing  on the doorstep of the train bogey, trying to be confident. I was proud of my little girl. She was facing a challenge unlike any she had ever faced before but instead of giving in to doubts she chose to treat it like an adventure. Two days later when I collected her from the station again, she was grimy and tired but bright-eyed with her first taste of victory. On reaching home she ate like a starved puppy and then snuggled into a long deep sleep. To this day , the trophy on her mantlepiece stands in my mind not for her general knowledge but for her ability to put aside her doubts and take on life’s challenges by the horns.

The saddest day, in my parenting memory unfolded when M was three months shy of  two. We had welcomed K her younger brother a couple of months earlier into our family. It had been a hectic time for us. K was born in the peak of winters and had suffered from severe cold since the first day. Between tending to a sickly new-born and taking care of the needs of a toddler I was perpetually tired and haggard. That evening as I sat M in my laps for her nightly story and asked her about her day. She began to stammer. My chirpy bird who had been talking fluently since she was eleven months old and had hardly even lisped was stammering! It broke my heart. The next day the stammer was still there and the next and next… Was this genetic? I had a close relative in the family with a stammer. Will my little girl have to face the jokes and sniggers that I had seen my relative suffer? Would it be assumed that she is ‘slow’ in her mind because she is ‘slow’ in expressing herself? Was this a passing phase? My husband and I googled and read every single article we found on stammering. Finding no answers in our small town, we headed to Delhi. The doctors and speech therapists we met were not very encouraging. They counseled us on how to deal with the condition but could give us no clue about the reason for its onset or prognosis. To the best of their understanding the stammer was here to stay.

We returned from that  trip heavy-hearted and dejected. Each time M spoke our eyes filled with tears. But we were determined to not give up. We were not going to lose this battle. And we came up with our own theory. We decided that the arrival of the baby had something to do with the affliction. And even though the doctors insisted that ‘insecurity’ due to a sibling did not manifest into stammering at such a young age, we believed otherwise. My mom in law – M’s dadi stepped in and took over the daily care of the baby. K was brought to me only to be fed and bathed, spending the rest of his time with his dadi and dad. A month or two later the stammering stopped. Just as suddenly as it had creeped into our lives, it left us for good. For a year or two we watched anxiously. Wondering if it would claim our little girl again but thankfully it never did.

K and M have had their share of sibling rivalry. But slowly over the years we were able to convey to them that they were both cherished and loved and that in some crazy way our love instead of dividing between the two of them, multiplies and grows manifold to encompass them both. Today, K and M are inseparable. Being just a year apart they understand each others thoughts and feelings better than we ever will. They snigger together about classmates, swap jokes only they find funny and share secrets, that we have no access to. And if there is one person who is going to miss M more than us her parents,  it is K her baby brother.

Her going away is a test for all of us. And like all important tests this one too is difficult. But if we pass it and we hope we will, the fruits will sweeten our lives forever.

This post was written for Parentous – a parenting forum. For more interesting stories and posts related to parenting and children do visit us there.








Considering buying some puppy love? – Five reasons you should not get a pup and One reason you should! Advice from a Pet Loving Mom

You think it is just a pet. You think it only needs to be given food thrice a day and to be walked once maybe twice. You think “I can do that much”. Sorry! Pal. You are way off the mark. You need to think again! The ‘wagging tail-ed darling’ who’s licking your hands right now will not let you think straight. So my advice… step out of that pet shop, now! Away from the mesmerizing hold of those innocent ‘doggy eyes’ and hear me out. Take what I say seriously, because I made the mistake you are about to make, three months back and I am still paying for it! (

5 Reasons Why Not To Own A Pet - Advice From A ‘Pet Loving Mom'

Here are the five reasons that would make even the staunchest ‘dog lovers’ reconsider buying themselves some ‘puppy love’ :

Reason no. 1

You have to begin toilet training all over again: Remember the time your kids were two-year olds? The constant obsession with whether they had ‘pee-d’ and ‘poo-ed’? Always trying to anticipate when they may need to ‘go‘ next? A new pup in the house takes you back to the same time in your parenting life only minus the joyful lisping chatter that a two-year old human baby is capable of. If you are still enthusiastic about that little ball of fluff, let me tell you this. “They have still not discovered puppy diapers” Atleast not in India!!!

Reason no. 2
They give you sleepless nights: Like babies, pups are demanding. They want to be cuddled and petted all the time. And like babies their desires are not controlled by the clock! Whether you watched a late night movie or had an assignment to submit and stayed up till midnight. Does the puppy care? No! If it feels like whining for some ‘human mommy time’ it will. Between mid night ‘petting sessions’ and early morning ‘bladder relief’ visits to the garden. It will be a while before you start getting your eight hours of beauty sleep again.

Reason no. 3

They shed their hair everywhere: There is a reason humans are the superior race to dogs. And it’s not the brain! It is that we do not have a coat of fur that covers almost every inch of our bodies! Just think about all the grief we face because of the hair on our heads. Now multiply that by a hundred! Do not be fooled by the small size or short length of some of those ‘cuties’. The dog dander will coat everything in your house. Your clothes, armchairs, bed linen… even the smart black jacket you reserve for special occasions! And the brushing is easier said than done. Try getting the ‘small round ball of liveliness’ you just adopted to sit still for a second.

Reason no. 4

You can bid goodbye to all your fancy shoes and socks: Actually you can cut out the ‘fancy’! By the time the gnawing, munching, chewing ‘charmer’ is done with you there will be no ‘hole – less’ socks or ‘teeth–bite-less’ sandals left in your shoe shelves. No matter how many rubbery bones or leathery balls you buy it. The teething needs of ‘new baby’ of the house will be satisfied by only that golden strapped high heel you paid a bomb for!

Reason no. 5

You can never ever leave home again without worrying about who will feed, pet and care for the ‘little angel’: Goodbye month-long vacations in Europe. Goodbye the week-long holiday in the hills. You can even say goodbye to the impromptu weekend at the new resort that just opened a hundred kilometers away. Your little ‘bundle of joy’ is not welcome on trains, buses or air planes. And no, even if you limit your holiday options to the places you can drive to you will discover that no hotel or resort or guest house worth staying in will have ‘your best friend’ aboard. Why? You ask exasperated. Refer to reason no. 3.

Post Note:

Before you give up on the idea of getting a pup,  stop looking at the pet shop windows longingly as you drive past them and relegate that book about ‘ Finding the perfect breed for your family’  to the topmost shelf of your book cupboard forever… STOP!!! I have still to share with you the one reason that would still  make you adopt that ‘ coochie poo’

As I write this my “doggy munchkin” is lying at my feet. I stroke his soft fur with my ‘un-socked’ foot. It is five ‘o’ clock on a Saturday morning and the household is still asleep. But the minute I wake up my ‘ tail wagging bundle of joy’ comes leaping up to me. He licks my toes, my hands, my face and whatever else he can find to tell me how much he loves me. Next he snuggles into my arms rubbing his sniffing wet nose into my night-clothes. “I love you too” I say as we step out into the open. Under the still star covered sky, I watch as the ‘baby’ does his ‘business’. Our alone time together is short.

Soon the children will be up and my ‘lively rolling bundle of fur’ will run away to romp with them. They will squeal with delight as he jumps on them, wetting them with his puppy drool. They will fight with each other to cuddle him first. Beg me to let him accompany us in the car to drop them to school. And make sure that he will be the first one to greet them when they return from their ‘five – hours- of – education’.

Yes the puppy is a lot of trouble but when I look at the joy on the faces of my ‘two adorable human munchkins’. I am sure he is really worth it.

The original article was published at Parentous- An Indian parenting forum.Those among you, interested in reading about children/ parenting/ schooling  or family life in general must visit the site for some amazing articles/ stories/ anecdotes and wise advice!

To Send or Not to send – Dilemmas of being a Boarding school parent

My little girl M is going away. No she is not 16 and moving to college. Neither is she 26 and getting married. She is not taking off on a holiday or a camp! My little girl is 9 and come April 1st. she is heading to a boarding school.

To Send Or Not To Send – Dilemmas of Being a Boarding School Parent

Boarding school, where gaggles of girls sleep in long bunk bedded dormitories and have gaggles of fun (my daughter’s viewpoint)! Boarding schools where busy parents who can not or do not wish to spend time on their children send them away (The critical view point), (remember taare zameen par!) Boarding school where children learn to be independent and self driven (viewpoint of hopeful parents like me).

The truth as in most cases lies somewhere in between. Having lived in a boarding myself (Fifteen years no less!!) I always thought when the time to send my own children to a boarding school would arrive, I would be able to do so easily. Instead, I discovered that fifteen years of experience in some of the best boarding schools of India (At least they used to be) made the decision even more difficult for me to take. I had too much information (aka experience). Not all of it good from my own time at the hostel.

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Reinventing Festivals

As some of you know I write bimonthly for a parenting forum “parentous” . Since I haven’t been able to take out much time for blogging these days. I thought I will share with you an article I wrote for them recently. Just as a way of keeping in touch.  Its about Raksha bandhan, one of the most beautiful festivals we celebrate here in India. Consider it my way of saying HELLO!

As a little girl growing up in Rajasthan I was surrounded with festivals – Diwali, Holi, Rakhi, Sankrant, Teej, Gangaur,… the list became even longer since the boarding school I went to observed even Parsi , Sindhi, Christian and Islamic festivals.Every festival held its own charm. Shivratri meant fasting all day to get special late night dinner, Janmashtmi meant panjiri and late night bhajan singing sessions, Basant Panchmi meant a trip to the elegantly decked up in white jasmine flowers Music Room to sing “Aeyyy Shardey maa” at the top of our childish voices. Festivals added colour to our ‘uniformed’ blue and maroon life and were easily the high points of our existence in the hostel.

Two years in a Social work college though dimmed the rosy hue around the same festivals. Seen through gender, equity and environmental lenses most festivals lost their shine revealing their unstated biases, unequal consumption and unfair assumptions. Was it right, for instance, to burst crackers knowing many firework factories employed nimble fingered children? What about the pollution? What about Teej? Was it really a celebration of womanhood? Or another symbol of the gold polished shackles that bound us tightly to our patriarchal society? But the festival that I felt let down most by was Rakhi. The soft silk bands that I proudly hand wove for my troop of brothers throughout girlhood began to smack of gender bias.

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Reinventing Festivals - Indian Festivals And Their Significance



Kiss me goodnight – A mother’s five favorite things to do at bedtime

Even when my kids were young I looked forward to their bed time. My children  have never slept during the day. Not even when they were toddlers.  So, after a long day chock-a-block with chores  that ensued from being a mom to two wonderful but energetic bundles of joy. I welcomed their bed time like a third grader welcomes the bell announcing the end of school for the day. With relief and a whoop of joy.

Six years later, I still welcome bed time. The reasons though are different. They are still energetic and the day is still long. But now most of it is spent outside the purview of my home. School, sports, friends, hobbies, keep my babies away and occupied.

Thus, bed time has now become “our connecting time”. It is the time I hold them tightly in my arms and tell them how precious they are to me. The time to hug them and kiss them. Sometimes a hundred times each and tell them how proud they make us. Not because they aced the math exam or got that coveted music trophy but just because they are ours. It is my time to hear about their day. Not only hearing what they say but also listening to what they leave unsaid. I have realized that it’s also the best time to motivate, set goals, assess progress and draw lessons. Safely ensconced in my arms,  examples don’t seem like comparisons, corrections don’t become criticism. I find them more open to suggestion, more willing to introspect and reflect on the world around them.

But what is bed time if not story time? Many parents and grand parents are great story tellers. I remember the long nights I spent in my grandmother’s bed listening to her tales about talking birds and mimicking monkeys. I had my favorites that I could hear again and again. But each time I asked for a new story, she brought out one like magic from what seemed like an inexhaustible supply. When I had my children I realized I was not a great storyteller. I do not have the memory to remember stories or the knack of  making up new ones. So I devised my own alternatives.

Here are five of my favorite things to do with my children at bed time:

Tell them stories from your own lives and the lives of those around you: Children are fascinated by stories from their parents younger days.  That papa as a little boy rode his bike to school, climbed mango trees or that mumma had a favorite doll that she took with her everywhere she went, not only amuses little children greatly. It also helps them feel closer to the adults in their world. By giving them a peep into your childhood you help them relate to you better. I also believe personal stories from grand parents and parents lives give young ones a sense of history and pride.  Those among us, who have worked hard and struggled to attain  comfortable lives today  can ensure that our children learn to respect and value what they have by sharing with them anecdotes from our past.

Exchange Notes:  Most parents , specially of teenage children complain that their children never tell them anything. All queries about school, classes and friends draws unsatisfactory monosyllabic answers. Life today has become very hectic. Make your children’s bedtime the time to tune off from the world. Put that phone on silent mode, switch off that TV, turn down the laptop screen and talk. Tell your children how you spent your day. Who you met, what you saw, what you read. If you can, speak to them about the dilemmas you faced during the day, the sights that touched you  – like the beggar you saw on the road. Share with them,  If you saw or heard something that reminded you of them. Once your children are used to listening to you describe your day soon enough they will be telling you about their days too. And hopefully the habit will stick through those turbulent teen years.

Share your dreams: Not only is night-time a good time  to introduce your children to your past, it is also the best time to speak about the future. Letting your children in on your dreams and aspirations can have the added benefit of teaching them by example to have their own goals too.

Share with them their babyhood: This is my children’s favorite part. The nights that begin with ‘When you were a baby……..” are the biggest hits. Children are self focused and love to hear about themselves. It fills them with wonder to know who held them at the hospital for the first time, or about the time they did something indescribably funny  like curled off and went to sleep in the dog’s basket.

Read a Book: This time-tested  bed time ritual needs no further  explanation. My kids and I have read together every single day since they were born. To begin with, pick up something short and light. When my kids were two or three the pepper series was a favorite, as they grew they began to love Noddy, then came Roald Dahl and now at seven and nine we have Sudha Murthy’s short stories , Tintins and Malory towers by our bedside. I have found that reading at bedtime from an early age is the best way to inculcate the reading habit.

One of the things we traded off when we entered the ‘digital age’ as a human race was long drawn, idyllic childhoods. There is just too much to learn and too much to do. M and K are nine and seven now. Just children still. But not for long.  Adolescence will arrive soon. Their lives will only get busier. But I plan on clinging to bed time as long as I can.