To my son Ali

I walked through softly murmuring hospital aisle of Obstetrics department, I went to the reception and asked for my blood test reports. “Name ?”, she asked without looking at me, to shuffle through the tad of reports she had lying on her organized desk. Her skilled, back and forth moving fingers stopped at one. She looked at me and said your case has been transferred to Oncology, please take an appointment to see Oncology Surgeon.

For a moment I did not know what she was talking to me. I opened my reports, those dark bolded numbers had my heart sink into an unknown icy grip. Everything around me blurred out, a dark circle called fear, closed down encircling me. I did not take any appointment neither met my doctor. It was 5 minutes’ walk from my home to hospital but it took me an age to walk back home. The hot dry gale whizzing around was unaware of the gust that was swooshing down in my head.

Three months back I was tested positive for pregnancy. It was joy.

Life plays such crude jokes at a time when its all like a dream it sends a dream-shaker and throws you spiraling down in a reality vault.

I was diagnosed with a large hemorrhagic ovarian cyst which was swaying its tentacles right next to where my baby was growing. If my blood report was anything to go by it was malignant. What we casually call as cancerous. It still had to be ascertained by carrying out number of other tests.

I had two lives growing inside me, one was inter-lacing dreams between his slowly forming fingers and other was spreading its roots to stifle and snuff out every other life. One had to win.

But this is not about my medical history or a recount of each harrowing day I lived through to make it to the day I would see you in my arms. My son Ali, this is about you. If you will ever read this. And I am sure you will read this one day.

That battle was not fought alone by your father or me. You fought that too. You provided me the courage to look into the eye of storm flinging towards me. I don’t know how hard and struggle full was that for you to wriggle into life from just being a clot. It happens all the while, after the crossover from that life to this life. We have to wriggle back to life many a times. When struggles, defeats, disappointments and heartbreaks clamp us down. You know the art of wriggling back to life.

Somebody was calling out my name as if pulling me out from a deep dark hole. I opened my eyes slowly. Surgery was carried out. The cyst was removed. The first thing that I asked doctor was how was the baby inside. “Is he ok ?”. Doctor smiled and said, “Yes, absolutely fine.”

‘Are you ok ?’, remains the most important question till date. It will continue to be so even when I am not around. Its important for me to know how you fared after every scar, every push, every suffocating chamber like situation in life. You should be ok at the end. How you come out of it all will remain important. I would ask you, are you kind now, are you more grateful, are your more insightful and clairvoyant, strongly believe in love and giving out the best of you, are you more caring….are you charging forward and not tired.

When I walked into the hospital, it was decorated with frills and dangling golden and silver stars. A lush green Christmas tree was at the lounge with miniatures candies, shoes, gift boxes hanging along side colorful balls and stars. Yeah! that was the day you were born. Its said that there is light at the end of tunnel. So it was for you and me. Life changes and makes you dwell in two contrasting sides of it. Dark and Light. Defeats and Wins. When you came into my arms swaddled like a cocoon in white piece, you were the most beautiful person I had ever laid my eyes upon. You were way more handsome than your father.

To this day when you are reading this, know you are the handsomest person for me.

I am asking you “Are you wriggling back to life every time it clamps you down?”

And

“Are you ok ?”

Lovingly yours – Mumma

Why everyone need Oogway, Yoda & Rafiki ?

Happy Teacher’s Day to Toon Mentors!

“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack” – Yoda , StarWars

In his book, Love as a Way of Life, Gary Chapman uses “ bullets and seeds” as metaphors to describe the power, spoken words have. Words can be sweet, sour and bitter.

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Way-Life-Transforming-Aspect/dp/140007259X

Words can have a long lasting effect. Encouraging words, discouraging words, words of hope and words of despair. Our memories are packed and illustrated by words of our friends and foes. The most engrossed ones are those of our teachers and parents. https://www.huffpost.com › author › yehuda-berg Yehuda Berg said, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

My earliest memories of someone saying words which had long lasting impact on me and influenced the decisions I made are that of Winne the Pooh who said , “ The things that make me different are the things that make me.” and Mickey mouse saying, “ To laugh at yourself is to love yourself.”

Teacher can be anyone who provides vision to see life in its original different hues and impart an ability to reflect on things by teaching you skills of sports, arts, science and creativity.

What Yoda, Oogway or Rafiki did, they shook out the self out of shell and set the thoughts flowing in right direction. Their words were powerful, impactful and well aligned with their intention of goodwill.

Here are words spoken by my favorite cartoon mentors :

  1. Rafiki – “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
  2. Zeus-“ For a true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.”
  3. Yoda – “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack”
  4. Elastic Girl –“ Leave the saving of the world to men, I don’t think so.”
  5. Oogway – “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it”
  6. Master Shifu –“ If only you do what you can do, you will never be better than what you are”
  7. Eeyore – “ A little consideration, a little thoughts for others make all the difference”
  8. Jack – “ The shell of the oyster only hides the pearl inside.”
  9. Tiana- “If you do your best each and every day, good things are sure to come your way.”
  10. Dory – “ Just keep swimming “

Love, respect, cherish the teachers- big or small. Unnamed, named , the ones you met while walking down the road or going up the hills….whose words touched you and gave all the strength you needed at that point of time….

#Happy teacher’s day

Until next time….

Movies to Inspire You on National Sports Day!

“Wizard of Hockey” – Dhyan Chand’s Birthday 29th August is celebrated as National Sports Day.  After the Berlin Olympics final game in 1936, a German newspaper described his game as – “The Olympic complex now has a magic show too. Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action” ..’/

Dhyan Chand -wikipedia

It’s a day to encourage our kids to pursue sports. Sports movies can teach us life lessons which are not only important to pursue any sport but are also required to become good headed individuals and citizens. Whether it is rising above adversities and beating the odds, overcoming mindsets or mental blocks, breaking down barriers & biases or sticking together and taking a stand for what you believe in. For the last bit , ‘Remember the Titans’ is one such fine example, the movie is about players and coaches who must rise above racial prejudice and win games.

Sports is a good way to reduce screen-time and develop locomotor skills.

I was tallying the number of good movies that Indian animation factory has spun out, to my dismay it’s as good as nothing. When the industry will look beyond just numbers and work with good intention to create something meaningful for kids is something that is yet to be seen. Indian cartoons lag far behind what Disney & Pixar have already made.

In the animation arena, a single production by the name of Howzzatt  stands in the sports category, although, I must tell you — its genre can hardly be categorised as sport. The story is about Gulab Nagar Junglees – a bunch of youngsters, who under the coaching and guidance of Sweety Aunty, hone their cricket skills and go against a bunch of big bad bullies, who would play the game but never by the rules. I reserve my ratings on this — this could have been made much better, overall it failed to paddle across the values of sports and inspire the tiny lot to pursue games.

There is no dearth of sports movies but there is a yawning gap when it comes to the animations genre. ‘Chak De! IndiaBhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, Sultan and Mary Kom are quick to recall. But none so far, about the legend on whose birthday National Sports day is celebrated. Heard there is one in the making.

We celebrate laurels that our sports heroes & sheroes bring home but we rarely put them before the tiny tots as examples to follow. We have exemplary lives of Indian sportsmen which can be sketched, computer embedded and moved fast across the rolls.

For our kids, we need good home grown stuff that instils sportsmanship at an early age. Sports teach important lessons like being healthy is important but what our toons sadly promote is:  “Bina samosa khaaye dimaagh ki batti nahi jalti’” (Motu in Chota Bheem) and Chota Bheem himself, youngsters’ favourite protagonist, who guzzles laddoos and tons of sugar with them. We need some hero who can promote healthy eating habits like Popeye who gulps down iron-vitamin rich spinach and beats the shit out!

Here is my list of sports movies that you may like to watch with your kids on this National Sports Day.

·       Iqbal – A boy hard of hearing and without speech, dreams of playing in the Indian cricket team. With perseverance and patience he achieves his dream.

·       The Bad News Bears – A story of no-hope little league which in the end teaches a very important message: trying is all that matters.

·       The Sandlot – Scotty, a young boy joins the local baseball team where he experiences a series of adventures that he never imagined.

·       The Karate Kid – The story of 12-year-old Dre Parker when he moves to a new place with his mother and his struggles to fit in, and standing upto bullies.

·       Cars – About famous race car Lightning McQueen and his team who are invited to compete in the World Grand Prix race. Awesome animated sports movie that emphasizes on importance of friendship and family.

·       Ice Castles – About a girl who wants to be world skating champion but meets with an accident. Wonderful story of rising above the odds.

·       Little Giants – Father makes a football team with his daughter and other outcast kids to put a challenge to his own son.

Play and stay healthy!

The Frog Prince – retold!

Toony Mum

frog-1591896_960_720When a kid in kindergarten gets work, it’s not the kid who gets the work, it’s we – the parents who get work. It’s our comprehensive ability at test. So when my ‘daughter’ received homework on learning and understanding the moral of the story ‘The Frog Prince’, it was inevitably I at work.

The best I could decipher, I wrote. “It’s a story of a princess who is fooled by a manipulative frog to free him from a curse.”

The next day, I found a red mark slanting deftly across the paragraph I had written with a one liner penned with much annoyance and haste at the bottom of it –

“That which thou hast promised must thou perform.”

With all sincere apologies to Grimm Brothers, I want to retell this story.

Instead of running amok perplexed and letting her father cajole her to give in to the demand of…

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How to raise children as conscious buyers ?

Toony Mum

Consumerism (2)The whining of a child had me turn my head towards a boy, barely 5 years old – lying on his back –erratically flinging his four limbs on the floor. The drama was going on in a supermarket. He was accompanied by two miserable creatures, undoubtedly his parents who were standing by his side and trying to woo him to get up on his legs. After a little tetchy crabby scene by all the characters, Mama finally scooped up the Spiderman toy from the store shelf and shoved it into their trolley. Peace, thus prevailed.

How many times have you witnessed or experienced the same tug-of-war between a child’s relentless persuasion and a parent’s grounded reasoning?

Who won? The little boy? No. The winning trophy belonged to an invisible team of experienced marketing strategists and product designers behind that querulous child’s persuasion. Dr. Dan Cook, Faculty of Advertising and Sociology…

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You may be asked these questions after watching “The Lion King”

merlin_157773891_b39eb435-6bb4-4c1f-8a26-0fae0eafe8a7-articleLarge

Its never a bad idea to talk about the good, bad and evil sides of plot, characters and purpose of the movie you just watched with your kids.

Disney is rehashing, rebooting, resurrecting and recreating its all time loved movies with amazing hyperrealism, though which makes everything more intense. Especially the claw- and teeth-filled fight scenes can give goosebumps to bravest of  hearts . It is far too real looking,  the hyena circle, when Mufasa falls to death, they are much more menacing than in the original version.

Yet, I find it chockfull of good lessons and lots of talking points.  

It teaches great lessons about life, death, betrayal, friendship, fear, leadership and forgiving yourself.

There were few instances where I was uncomfortable like how to answer death and death by one’s brother, this bit was a little tricky. Not all teachable moments are enjoyable when you are answering to a naïve impressionable mind. But its better to clear your throat than muffle his/her innocent questions or park grim facts of life to be discussed later.

Here are few questions that I was shelled with after watching the Lion King, by my 6 years old, you might encounter or have encountered already. Here are the answers my little unsure always anxious mommy brain could unscramble.

Why did Scar kill Mufasa , he was his brother?

Not everyone is same. We have good people and bad people. Its sad when the bad people are our own people. At times we have to be kind with them and understand them. We should take stand and stick to the good we do. We should strive to be better each day and love our brothers and sisters. What Scar did was wrong. Together they could have been happier. It is wisdom to love each other.

Why Mufasa died?

( I really hate Disney for killing parents at starting of their stories and they leave parents jostling alone to answer scary questions)

Well , you see every creature’s life eventually comes  to end. Its sad that Mufasa was killed by his own brother. If he was not killed he could have lived a beautiful life with his son but then someday he would have to go. Like sun sets in evening, like flowers wither away, so does every creature. All go back to God from where they came. Bad things can happen but what is important is to always remember the good things parents tell.

Why Simba was so scared?

Its ok to be scared and feel bad about the things that happen. Its ok to cry. What is not ok is to keep crying. Its ok to feel fear but what is not ok is to run away and not even try things . We feel scared of our own shadow till we find out what actually causes a shadow. When we understand our fears and face them we become brave. We can always be better and braver than we think of ourselves.

 And yes the most important of all to talk about is – what is Hakuna Matata!”, that’s Swahili for “No worries for the rest of your days!”

Simba believed it was his fault that Mufasa was killed. Its important to come close to one’s feeling than to run away from them. Being happy, sad, angry, anxious, scared are natural feelings and natural reactions to the happenings outside. We should not hold them back to punish ourselves or others. There is no shame in being vulnerable. Feelings don’t define or reflect one’s character or strength.

“Don’t worry, be happy” is a good pursuit to get over but its should not deter and distract from holding on to the higher calling and purpose in life.

Hakuna Matata!

Ain’t no passing craze

It means no worries

For the rest of your days

It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!

 

Why I want mums to be concerned about Cartoons?

how i got successWhy do I write ToonyMum ?

I write because I have love-hate relationship with cartoons. This is a reason but not exactly what motivates me to dedicate a good morsel of my days’ time to dig my teeth into the role of toonymum with gumptions.

Professor Sean Brotherson of Oregon State University says:

“A child’s brain is like a house that has just been built. The walls are up, the doors are hung. Then you go to the store and buy electrical wiring, switches, a fuse box and other electrical supplies, you bring these supplies to the new house and set them on the floor. Will they work? Probably not. You first must string the wiring and hook up all of the connections. This is quite similar to the way our brains are formed.”

https://families.media/cartoons-and-young-children

Lets have a look at some statistics now –

In a research performed by the researcher Kayla Bois & Brad Bushman “Michigan University”, they summed up the cartoon content in our Children Schedules as follows:

2 – 5 years old children watch cartoon 32 hrs. Weekly.

6 – 11 years old children watch cartoon 28 hrs. Weekly.

And they stated that:

71% of 8 – 18 years old has a TV in their rooms.

53% of 7 – 12 years old has no parental monitoring for what being watched on TV.

51% of homes: TV is switched on most of time.

So they are neck-close and we cant avoid them.

And this –

“Children who consistently spend more than four hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight” (Ben-Joseph, 2016).

I like their funny hunky dory way and the ease with which a good message can be passed on in non-serious way.

There is lot which can be learned through them, I learned British way of English through Octonauts.

I too switch on the TV for the sake of it and when I need “me-time

Having said this all there is still a lot we can do to control & monitor what flows in.

………and this is why I write toonymum to give  heads up for what is wrong and how can we deal with it.

I want to paddle across following messages to all children and all mums & dads-

1.       Cartoons are fun but fun that is laced with some wisdom and learnings is worth sitting for hours but fun which is surrogacy for violence or vulgarity is what we have to guard ourselves.

2.      Young minds are too subtle to process, funnel & filter what is shown to  in vibrant, dazzling colours, so listen to  mum & dad.

3.      Don’t – Don’t make cartoons your idol or role model, discover your original self and stay unique.

4.      Don’t trust any product just because your favorite toon character is selling that. Read labels, compare cost.

5.      Go out and meet real people more because to fight evil & wrong you don’t have to resort to kicks & punches, use wit & wisdom.

6.      Anything that does not require to flex your mind muscle, is not worth wasting hours. The more you use your brain the better it will get ….. so play games, no not on screen !

7.       Question everything, why, what and how of things you watch and discuss with elders.

8.      Watch you age recommended cartoons. Why ? because you don’t eat grown up’s medicines too.

9.      Remember the good message, because stories help in later life to build perspective and improve understanding , like what Tex said in Cars  “There is whole lot more to racing than just winning” or what Peter Pan said – “All it takes is little faith and trust”incredibles

10.   Research says -Thinking and imagination are of the most factors that affect the functionality of the brain till the age of 12. The early years are important. Don’t feed your mind with junk!

 There was a wise man who said till boat floats on water it is good but when water enters the boat, it drowns.

Choose wisely what you watch.

 

Yours sincerely

ToonyMum

How I Finally Got Success In Limiting The Screen Time Of My Overindulgent Daughter?

Toony Mum

Much to my chagrin, my husband bought an iPad for my daughter on her second birthday. As if the non-stop cartoon network wasn’t enough! I was then working in a 9 to 6 job and my daughter was taken care of by her grandparents – who, if you know Indian grandparents – were raining their mushy slushy love for their grandchild by allowing her to do things ‘her’ way. My weekends were usually spent on running errands. The end result was that my 2-year-old was becoming an expert in video games and a walking encyclopedia on cartoons.

I swear I’m not exaggerating. I’ve had several moments of uneasiness listening to her impeccable knowledge on cartoon genealogy when I wouldn’t even know my great grandfather’s name. My smiles at her gaming feats would diffuse into thin air when she would throw tantrums and make a terrible racket as soon as the…

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How cartoons affect gender development?


81bVXDLeImL._SX425_My fast growing up seven years old has started to question my ‘objections and affections’ for her cartoons. Recently she has built strong liking for a cartoon series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. Once I was watching it with her and  I saw something that was caught up by my ‘picky mom radar’.

First let me tell you why I am going to write against it and then I will tell you the answers I am going to give to my daughter who has been demanding an explanation as to ‘why am I discouraging her to watch it’. She is really annoyed. I am hopeful, I can reason out that with her.  

For the benefit of those who don’t know about this cartoon, let me just quickly walk you through the plot. There is one female superhero and male superhero named Ladybug and Cat Noir respectively. There is lots of action, creative thinking and teamwork but the problem is somewhere in between I have strong objections to the stereotypical presentation of the female lead. Why the best effort to break gender stereotype ends up doing something altogether the opposite?. I find her terrible -terrible example for young minds that shows ‘ girls want to be kissed’ , ‘going weak in knees’ in front of charming boys. It’s a show about ‘obsession’. Noir who is otherwise a shy and reserved guy becomes a flirt when he is Cat Noir.

The other problem I have with this show is sexualized presentation of the lead character. Tight clothes are okey because then how would she make moves and overpower the evil guy. The focus is wrong. The focus is more on her pelvic region and less on her face. At the onset, you see her buttocks and then she turns to give a full look. She is all the time drooling over Cat Noir and often fall short of fulling her superhero duties while going weak in knees in her ‘obsession’ ‘s presence. This show runs in domain of gender stereotyping that girls  –  run after boys.

If this is what being served daily to tender eyes, how will they see the world and themselves?

Lets talk about some other cartoons, our own very brave Chota Bhim. He is the one taking leads in all problem while the only female character out of other six characters – Chutki is seen exhibiting ‘female appropriate emotions’, praying for Bhim’s victory and offering him Laddoos.

Nobita & Shin Chan’s moms who are homemakers, are shown as rude, irritated and loud women. Shizuka despite having good grades and intelligent sincere mind wants to be a ‘ good house wife’. Wow !

At times I ponder over why is that women take backseat and understate their own needs and desires or why they think they are insignificant because they are conditioned to see themselves as ‘insignificant’. There are quite a number of cartoons which show that one of the two genders is dominant and important  while the other is insignificant and always in need of protection. One should not display sadness and fear, and the other should not displays anger and aggression.

 

 

 

How to save children from dark side of cyberworld?

  I was searching for ideas to make a bunnymask for my daughter’s school activity and the search engine spun out some “No-no don’t look at” pictures of sexy aunties too. A naïve search can land you anywhere in the cyberworld. There is a seamy and sordid side of internet that we need to ward off from our house safe-internetand keep our children away.

First thing that never fail and always work is gaining trust of your kids and engaging them in dialogue about the good, bad and evil sides of internet. You can switch on this conversation while walking them to park, watching TV, surfing on net. Its an ongoing thing that you may have to repeat many a times. Let them know you want them to be safe. Let them know these very important things –

* never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission
* not to open e-mail from people they don’t know
* not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
* not to get together with anyone they “meet” online

Second thing that will help you get better hold and understanding of the bugs that needs to be fixed is knowing there cyberplayground. Join them often when they play games, watch videos and cartoons on Youtube. Keep an eye open for what all is there in recommended list.

Tim Loden who is a staff director of the Internet Education Foundation GetNetWise said a very wise thing that, “Parents have to get involved. Just as they know every detail of the playground around the corner  — the jungle gym, the swings  — they need to know their kids’ online playground as well,”

Third thing is that which only you should know- enable the Parental Control Features on Your Child’s Game Systems and/or Mobile Devices. Devices have web browsers. Most devices kids use, such as iPad and PlayStation 4, have parental controls that you can set to restrict the content that your kids can access. Often check the device to see if the password you set is still working.

Go to the “Block Sites” section, under “System Preferences” and block domains and keywords you don’t want your kids to catch.  In the text box, enter the words or sites separated by commas. (For example: sex, porn) Click “Apply” to save the settings. You may like to add sites and words after you see what your child is doing.

Download parental control software like Norton Online Family, Windows Live Family Safety, AVG Family Safety, PGSurfer and K9 Web Protection 4.0.296, they are some free downloadable software choices. Choose one that allows you to control content as well as monitor usage. Follow the software’s instructions to block sites and set up the monitoring system.

Before doing all the above set rules and make clear what are the consequences of breaking them. Like if “you watch for more than an hour, you will have no cartoons tomorrow … ( if its too much for them to take then …) half an hour cartoon tomorrow.” 

These are tried and tested things for making house internet safe for children. Share your thoughts if any other hack worked for you.

 

image credit: bdoza.files

Parenting hacks from Game theory

Games that chuntitledildren play often ends up in fights on -how unfair the other was with her or he got more share than her or she would be the first to start the game …. List is endless but what seem trivial or ‘not so important to adults becomes the matter of utmost prestige and importance to kids. The small things we have to do as parents for kids like sharing, dividing and compromising—become challenge.

We did it as kids and we continue to do this as adults also its just that our games are upgraded. Your colleague getting more bonus than you!

I see my daughter crying over the red ball that she wanted to play first or she remaining upset for days over who got more chocolates by granny or little sis getting more share of cake. I want to tell her its not such a big deal. Its not so important.  I want to cram my learnings of all these years and present a formula and feed my child!. I want to tell her – life is like this, mostly unfair, know your purpose, shuffle the cards and play your game. The instant challenge to present that instant formula feed for understanding and awareness of a 5-7 years old is how they would process that knowledge. So you need anecdotes, Asop fables and examples from daily life to bring your point home.

I was listening to Simon Sinek addressing leaders and executives and I was thinking if I have to present my 6 years old daughter with an idea of ‘Game theory’ how would I do that. The idea of playing your game. I can not give her example of MicroSoft & Apple and how Microsoft keeps an eye on Apple and how Apple just play its game….the concept of Finite and Infinite players. Though its not a bad idea to let the generation of instant gratification and gadgets know the theories of social interaction.

Game theory is a study of mathematics that aims to analyse the strategies competitive situations where the outcome of a participant’s choice of action depends critically on the actions of other participants. For example, a game of poker or bridge; hence “game” theory.

In a less literal sense, game theory can be applied to economics, and psychology as “the theory of social interactions”

Well, well, well ! that will be too much too soon. So, as parents I have to play my own games and little tricks.

New York Times reported that “researchers found that children as young as 19 months seem to understand the concept of fairness, and appear surprised by scenes of blatant favoritism – such as when one puppet is given toys and another puppet goes without. By age 7, some children will choose to forgo candy rather than get a significantly larger share than others”.

Here, I come across this book The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting coauthored by the award-winning journalist and father of five Paul Raeburn and the game theorist Kevin Zollman. They  paired up to highlight tactics from the worlds of economics and business that can help parents break the endless cycle of quarrels and ineffective solutions. “Raeburn and Zollman show that some of the same strategies successfully applied to big business deals and politics—such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Ultimatum Game—can be used to solve such titanic, age-old parenting problems as dividing up toys, keeping the peace on long car rides, and sticking to homework routines.”( Scientific American, 2016)

In the book the author states that parents can divide time, but how can they fairly divide the “first time?” Coin tosses and simple games like rock, paper, scissors are often suggested, but they come with their own set of risks, like older kids taking advantage of their younger siblings. Instead, game theorists propose auctions.

According to the authors, “If you have one item that can’t be divided, you want to assign it to the person who desires it most.”

By using an auction system, kids are expected to announce how much they’d be willing to “pay” for an item or experience — Raeburn and Zollman suggest that payment be in the form of chores.

Another bonus: game theory empowers children to take ownership of their decisions and begin to comprehend the consequences — to themselves and others.

When children are faced with the job of cleaning up a joint mess, suggest “you pick up one, then he picks up one,” said Raeburn. “We had mixed results with Tit for Tat,” he admits. His 9-year-old son was able to manipulate his 6-year-old brother into doing more. “This probably works better with children who are closer in age, or at least both over 7.”

Credible Punishments: In game theory as in parenting, you have to deliver on your threats, like actually turning off the TV if you said you were going to, even if it punishes you too. Joshua Gans, an economist at the University of Toronto and the author of “Parentonomics,” offers advice for gaining a credible reputation at home. When his children were young and would disobey, he would say, “I’m thinking of a punishment.” It’s much easier to pretend to think of a punishment than to come up with a new one every time, he notes—or, worse, to issue a noncredible threat in the heat of the moment. (“That’s it, I’m canceling Christmas!”) Once he earned his credibility, he found that he had only to close his eyes and count to 10, and his children would spring into action.( Wall Street Journal, 2014)

All in all, these tricks are not going to work all the time in the desired fashion. Empathy and perspective as parents will always be needed with a cuddle to just reason out with your little one… if you can !

To the woman …you will grow to be

Time will trundle… so it does and yet that’s the only constant. My little girl, you will grow into a woman some day.thSIWJ125X

I am addressing this letter to the years you are yet to tread through, to the time when you will stand and watch your childhood swiftly slipping away,  to every moment that will add a lasting colour or fade away the tinge of unbridled joy of nonage, to every loss and win that will carve the shapes of your thoughts, to the ups and downs that will decide the bends of your beliefs and to the drops of rain, to the smell of earth wafting from the ground and to every sight and sound that will shape the woman you will grow to be.

This is to your big self, my fragile limbed and big eyed- 6 year old!,  yes you — who is now called princess and doll, who walks in her frilled frocks with her teddy clutched in her fist.

Let me tell you that the world is not a fair place and life is not a fairy tale… princess and doll are hollow names. You have stepped out believing that the world is just a reflection of your own inner beauty and fragility. It is and it is not.

You have grown up seeing me. I am not such a good example. I am a bundle of my own mistakes and consequence of my own decisions. There is no all-proof way of living a life. There is no rule book.  Every woman’s story is unique and so will be yours.  

Know that there is no substitute to honesty. It pays. It causes pain and discomfort for a short while but it steers things in right direction. Mistakes are important to one’s growth and understanding. If you fall and feel defeated don’t let it reduce you or your spirit. You may even feel cheated at times. Use every adversity to your benefit and wear your scars with pride. Let your successes make you humble and never linger on your laurels for too long.

Remember that there are two days in your life: one in your favor and one against you**. Face them with dignity and grace. (**Reference from Nehjul Balagah)

Trust is a rare gift so choose wisely the people around you. Forgiveness unburdens the heart and does more good to the one who forgives but never forget what hurt you. Don’t dwell in confusions. If you don’t find answers for anything or when things stop making sense , take a step back and wait for destiny to give you hints to choose. There are signs, read them well and trust your intuitions, that’s God’s voice.

Equality is your right and not somebody’s favor. Earn everything. Fear may hold you back sometimes but remember that fear has no body, it has no voice. The pounding in your heart is not audible to others lest you leave it loose, so snuff it right there and rise with courage and self belief. Confidence is a woman’s best friend.

Discover your gift … where your superpower and magic lies…In flair for words or stroke of brush or the power of thoughts or the strength of voice or the art hidden in pores of fingers or wonders of  inquisitive mind. Find out that gift and nourish it well for bringing positive changes in your life and the lives around you. Find meaning and value in your life.

Happiness is in giving. Feed the stray cat or put grains and water for thirsty sparrows. These small acts of kindness and giving have abundance of happiness. Dependency and expectations are roots of setbacks and unhappiness. Don’t hold onto something that does not belong to you. Don’t attach your happiness to things like a house or a car or a relationship. Such things come with a full stop and a following emptiness.

Being a woman is a wonderful gift in itself. You are complete in yourself. Always look ahead but keep on using your side and rear view mirrors.

My dear daughter Shifa, Happy Women’s Day to the woman you will grow to be!

#internationalwomensday2018

 

You Can’t Control the Winds, So Build Stronger Wings

bubble-wrap-boyI recently visited one of my friends. She is a single mother to two young hyperactive boys. Careening over, I saw them running behind each other and sprinting over a doormat without an anti-slip, which stung my intuition that something unwanted would happen. And so it did. The younger one ran over and slipped off banging the back side of his head right at the corner of the door. My friend reacted by coolly saying from the kitchen while steaming coffee: “Be careful the next time”.

I was wondering how I would have reacted in a situation like that. I would have removed all doormats or would have fixed them with anti-slips and would have bought the best of corner guards to avoid such incidents. But then I stopped and thought: should I prepare the child for the ground or the ground for the child? By preparing and providing a risk-free setting am I not inhibiting my child’s instinct to understand her surroundings and courage to deal with the roads and pitfalls ahead?

Today’s parenting style is more of a “Yellow caution tape” form. According to a new cover story by Hanna Rosin for The Atlantic, “The overprotective instincts of modern parents are destroying children’s independence, trapping them in a hyper-controlled bubble that they might never escape.” This behavior is not doing parents much good either; one study indicates that helicopter mothers are more likely to be unhappy.

Let’s question ourselves: Are we letting children make mistakes and take chances or are we trying to shield them, overprotect them and circumscribing their lives with that yellow caution tape?

I came across a wonderful poem called Let me go – An ode to overprotective parents by BillyJoeBobKellyGeorge. I would be doing injustice to the message of this poem if I present only a few lines. So, the full poem I found online is here.

Tied down by blaring yellow caution tape

Boxed, secluded in desolate ignorance

You said, “Life’s a labyrinth of lies and ­corruption”

But who is to say what life is?

Yes, the sins, the sorrows

The uncertain tomorrows

May sound daunting,

Almost haunting

But imagine that box of chocolates

 

Imagine that box of possibilities

Of Life’s little treasures

Of Life’s hard-knock lessons

If only, if only

That box was opened up for me to see

 

Let me Go

To scale the world on my own two feet

Let me Go

To flail my arms and legs into the chasm of reality

Living without risk is like living without reason

Your chains that seize me, in life’s governing, are an act of treason

 

Tied down by blaring yellow caution tape

But I’m ready to cross those yellow lines

Ready to register the traffic lights as green

Whether it is high-paced or steady

I am more than ready

Leaving this nest to create my own space

Life’s a box of chocolates; I want a taste

Facing trials and tribulations head on

Even if it means heading off,

Without you by my side

Parenting is difficult and we’ve all been through those days when we blankly stare at our kids and wonder how are we supposed to make a decent human being out of them. How do we fill their blank minds with just the right amount of everything, when there’s not even a definite recipe for good parenting? And we often compensate for our lack of faith in ourselves by doing more than what’s necessary. Although difficult, it is important to let children fall, bruise their knees, feel jealousy, taste defeat and face rejections. This is the only way they can truly learn life-skills.

Why are we having more and more professionally competent but emotionally unintelligent people? Why do we want life to be a well-defined plan for them instead of a journey of joy and setbacks? Why do we feel threatened by the thought of being left behind amidst the competition? What’s the constructive way to let go that overprotective instinct as parents? I could not find the source but somebody has rightly said, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”

I agree that there is a thin line between protective and overprotective parenting. As parents we need that emotional strength to detach ourselves from worrying and distancing ourselves to see how our children cope up with mild distress.

I am sure many of you must have heard of the story of the butterfly who was coming out of the cocoon, when a man took pity on it and made a little insertion to ease its coming out. But this act did more harm than good and the butterfly died before it could bloom in its full glory.

Similarly, children of overprotective parents usually grow into adults with low self-esteem and low confidence. They grow up not trusting their own instincts to brave a challenge.

My favorite overprotective parent will always remain Marlin of Finding Nemo. His overprotective nature provokes Nemo to take the risk of its life. Marlin is adorably irritating in the first half of the movie but life takes a full round for him too and he learns his lessons along with experiencing adventures. All well if it ends well. Marlin gets united with Nemo. Take this quiz* to find out if you are Marlin of Finding Nemo or King Triton of The Little Mermaid.

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Do you:

1       Panic or feel very distressed when your child has a fall and bleeds a little?

2      Anticipate a difficulty and sort it out before your child can face it?

3      Get picky about your child’s friends because of potential ‘bad influence’?

4      Solve problems for your child even when help is not required?

5      Manipulate situations to ensure success for your child?

6      Decide who should be her friends?

7      Snoop around on his privacy – always checking his phone messages or calling up his friends to find out more about him?

8      Text her several times to know about her whereabouts?thCL275ZDV

9      Disapprove of him taking small risks, making mistakes and end up lecturing him most of the time?

10    Talk to her teachers almost every day to see how she is doing?

11     Believe that your child is always right, and blame others for things that go wrong?

12     Take ownership for and not entrust your child with any responsibilities?

13     Believe that your child should never be mischievous, to avoid complaints from others?

14    Advise your teen that those around him are bad and should not be trusted?

15     Ask her to avoid sports and games to prevent injuries?

16    Not let him run small errands because he must cross the road?

17     Keep a sterile home so that she doesn’t pick up infections?

18    Comfort him even when he is not distressed or mildly distressed and not struggling with it?

19    Tell her what to do and how to do, and not allow her to use her own reasoning, ideas, and learn from trial and error or mistakes?

20    Become anxious even when she is comfortable doing something on her own, and insist on helping her?

If a majority of your answers are “yes” Congratulations! You are Marlin of Finding Nemo. Now please reread this post. Back to square one.

Quiz Credit/ References:

*parentcircle.com

Environmental Awareness Must Start Early!

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Our callousness towards nature has started to show its consequences. The sinister smog has swathed our cities and its smutty grip is choking our children with lungfuls of polluted air. If the recent stats are anything to believe then air pollution has caused 9 million deaths so far, which is 16% more than the deaths caused by AIDS.

There is a very short movie running on TV these days in which two children with sunken eyes are sitting over a dining table with their parents who looks equally worn out. They have run out on their oxygen kits and they are being scolded by their mother for not using the oxygen kits frugally. When you watch something like this, a very enervated fear sinks inside. What kind of future are we leaving behind for our children?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj1eP7JP1KM

We are moving towards a future where oxygen would be bottled and sold! Something very similar to what happened in Lorax (film), greed of one man named Once-ler destroys every Truffula tree. Ted Wiggin is a little boy who lives in a plastic city where everything is artificial and oxygen is sold in sealed bottles. The story traipses around finding the ‘last seed’ to plant a real tree which can give oxygen free of cost.

I have watched this movie many a times with my little one. It trundles across a very serious message of utmost importance to small viewer i.e. to plant trees, love them and do not take them for granted lest they get guzzled down by greed. We would be left to buy bottled oxygen. Are we the only creatures surviving on oxygen?

There are a few other animated movies which I believe are worth watching with your kids if you want to nurture environmental awareness among them. Here, I give the list of 5 such movies!

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Over the Hedge

This will leave you and your little one rolling over with laughter, jokes are packed in every pixel. It’s a story of a mischievous raccoon and his friends. Ken Fox of TVGuide.com described the movie this way: “A sly satire of American ‘enough is never enough’ consumerism and blind progress at the expense of the environment.”

Upon waking up after hibernation, a group of forest animals discover that a tall hedge has appeared out of nowhere, half their forest is gone, they have little to no food left. They have one option: go over the hedge and get food from the humans!

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Wall.E

What will happen when Earth is nothing but a heap of garbage? WALL-E is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. WALL-E, with his habit of picking up everything he finds interesting, lives alone on the planet with a pet cockroach. He has quite a collection of things, from lighters to a working iPod and even a small ring box (without the ring). He even has the last living plant.

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Happy Feet

Happy Feet, the animated film about dancing penguins in the Antarctic. Man’s wasteful ways have endangered the Antarctic and its inhabitants. The movie is full of eye catching sequences and a delight to watch the singing-dancing penguins. This is a story of Mumble who has a terrible singing voice but has talent for something that none of the penguins had ever seen before: tap dancing

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Disney Nature’s Oceans

Though a bit subtler than some of the other films on this list, Oceans still makes an impact. The film explores the underwater world that covers three-quarters of our planet. While it spends much of its time depicting the weird, wonderful and beautiful life forms that the oceans have to offer, the documentary doesn’t miss its chance to show the negative effects human actions can have on wildlife and urges viewers to respect nature.

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Free Willy

The movie is laced with strong environmental messages. It features a young boy who befriends a recently captured orca whale in a local aquarium/amusement park. The boy, Jesse, and the whale, Willy, bond, but Willy is in danger because he doesn’t perform tricks well and therefore doesn’t earn much money for the park. The park owner threatens to kill Willy, so Jesse decides to release the whale into the wild.

What our kids are being showed in the name of entertainment — Watch out!

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I was vacationing in India this summer. The sultry and scorching days did not leave any choice for me and my daughter but to slump in the couch and watch some cartoons. I switched on the TV and after some careful shuffling through buttons, we settled on one of them. It was a commercial break that took forever to end. Guzzling down that advert was not without efforts , there was a beauty soap advert, where there was a fuddled husband running behind his wife to know the secret of her lasting fresh looks. I wondered what was there to achieve through this commercial that was running on a channel dedicated for children.

The commercial break ended after conducting a litmus paper test on my patience.

It’s good to see a good bunch of home-grown cartoon characters coming up. It’s equally sorry to see the contents famished of positive messages. There seems to be no concerns for what an average mother must be going through when she overhears her kids laughing and rolling over something like, “Bidu tera fatela hatela advice nahi mangta”.

There are some new crop of characters and episodes running on different channels. One common pattern that runs through the tapestry one after another is that all protagonists are good at kicking, punching and resorting to physical violence to teach lessons to the devil ones. One popular cartoon series is about three ghosts who keep track of sins committed on earth and they come down from their ‘bhoot-lok’ to torture and punish. There is also a timid and coy cop in the story. Law or rules are at mercy of these supernatural trio. If you are going to tell me that it’s a harmless subtle entertainment, hold on, this is exactly my issue. Our definition of entertainment is so grim and gross! From an early age we are allowing those impressionable minds to get conditioned to normalcy of laughing at somebody’s misery, pulped beaten faces, deformities and abnormalities.

How are we defining entertainment for school going children? What kind of apathy and aggression are we slowly injecting in them through the colourful hunky-dory characters?

The Indian cartoon factory is yet to spin out a character which can solve his problems with his good humour and positive attitude without having to beat the devil ones to pulp.

We should move towards more participatory and interactive format, where parents have more say in what kind of cartoons characters they want to be aired on TV. Definition of entertainment that is being formed and slowly gaining acceptance will have detrimental effects in the long run. There is another new series in which there are two he-cats who flirt around a neighbour she-cat. This she-cat has the tendency to tilt towards the stronger and better provider of her needs. It’s appalling!

As Indians we have the tendency to adjust to everything, make room for everything. Let this passivity not hamper the personality development of our kids. Their understanding of life should not be marred by the junk they take through TV every day. Let’s take the control button in our hands and let our voices be heard.