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…

View original post 702 more words

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

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

wallpaper-2659885_960_720

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.

A conversation on friendship with my 5 year old daughter

bambi and thumper.png

It’s easier to talk to children above ten about complex things like relationships. (Maybe I am oversimplifying the problem). But when it comes to the audience whose understanding is limited to ‘sharing is the way of caring baba, baba black sheep’ it’s difficult to present something complex in a simple way.

Though Khalil Jibran has explicitly put everything that friendship is in these lines:

 Your friend is your needs answered.

He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind, you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”

 The problem was how to talk about this to my little 5 year old. There were many helpful parenting sites that talked about the clinical aspects of making friends or being one. I was looking for something more. I was looking to touch the root of the concept, to talk a bit of philosophy with my bitsy baby.

Let me tell you the background of what prompted me to take up this topic with her. After we shifted to a new country, I had a daunting task at hand. There was a park nearby our apartment. I and my daughter would stroll down there in the evenings. The task was to find a friend to play. A few initial visits were stressful for me, she played swings and slides with her roving eyes looking for a pal amidst her unanswered smiles and waves. My little one was disappointed but not disheartened.

One day she took her new bicycle to the park and there was a girl of her age who came to play with her. They both rode the bicycle by turns. I was also relieved that she finally had a companion. The next day she went without her bicycle. She looked for her friend everywhere. Finally, she saw her playing with a group of children. She waved to her and went near them expecting that she would be invited to play. But nothing like that happened. The bicycle friend turned out to be an opportunist.

That day my little brave heart was heartbroken. She came running towards me and she plonked her head in my lap and cried. We returned home.

She was yet to start her new school. Her mom, dad and a few stuffed bunnies and bears were her only acquaintances in the new land. I wanted to talk to her about what had happened in the park but I kept it to myself. Though she was back to her normal self but it was evident that she was hurt. It was the next day at bed time when I groped a chance to begin the conversation on Friendship and making friends.

I chose to read ‘The Stinky Little Kitten’  — Jim Peterson, a story about a friendly kitten who is refused help by all the farm animals when she jumps over onions and starts stinking. A piglet, whom she had always avoided, is the only animal which comes to her help to clean herself. When the stinky little kitten is washed and cleaned, she runs up to her mother, nonplussed as to why none of the animals whom she thought were her friends, helped her. To this, the smart mommy cat says:

“It’s not always that you choose your friends. Sometimes the friends choose you.”

 The end of the story brought a smile on my kitten’s face. I smiled back.

Me: “What do you think of the story?”

She :“I liked it.”

Me: “What did you like in it?”

She: “The stinky little kitten found her friend at last.”

Me: “Ummm okay but what made her think that the piglet was her friend?”

She: “Because he helped her.”

Me: “Yes dear helping is friendship, but it’s not just helping that makes good friends.

She: “Aunty (maid) helps you too.”

Me: (laughing) “I pay her. Helping is in return of something.”

She: “I know mama friends share things.”

Me: “Hmm okay you shared your bicycle with that park friend.”

She: (frowning) “Hmmm I was friend, she was not friend.”

Me: “Yeah okay tell me which cartoon friends you like the most.”

(Thinks for a moment)

She: “Yes I like Bambi and Thumper”

Me: “They are my favourite too. Why are they your favourite?”

She: “Umm Thumper and Bambi have lots of fun together.”

Me: “Yes they do, indeed.”

She: “Why do you like them?”

Me: “I like them because they are different yet they understand each other, try to improve each other. Remember how Thumper teaches Bambi to ski on ice.”

She: (giggling) “Yes I remember.”

Me: “So a friend is someone who has all these traits. Somebody who shares toys but doesn’t help is not a friend. Somebody who helps but does not understand you is not a friend.”

She: “You are my best friend.”

Me: “Yes, I am dear and will always remain your friend. When you will start your new school, when you will attend your music or craft classes, when you will grow up, you will find such a friend who will be polite, helpful, understanding and who will like the things you like, who will not come to you because you have a special toy or a new bicycle. That friend will befriend you for who you are.”

 A bright, bright smile spread across her face that brightened my heart too. I switched off the side lamp. While sleep was slowly pulling my eye lashes down this quotation by Gloria Naylor was running through my mind, “We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.