Discipline and Morality: Collective Lessons through Parenting and Teaching

I had been to the School PTM last weekend. And this is what I had scribbled as the young faces occupied my heart and mind almost all day long.

“All it takes for a dull moody me to jump up all excited is to attend the school PTM. The keywords to take away: silent star, hard-working, talkative, naughty, distracted, quick learner, shines bright, lacks initiative, speaks less, under-confident, committed, disciplined.

A teacher must be respected for she/he knows your child much better than you. They know their strengths and weaknesses and can help focus on the need areas. Felt bad watching some parents who literally gheraoed the teacher for a typo error in the question paper of grade I. How is the child going to respect the teacher when the parents exhibit this behaviour in front of them?

I love to listen to their complaints more than the academic performance. Actually, it is not the complaints but the expressions on those not-so-innocent baby faces worrying about what the teachers are going to disclose today. While most parents looked stressed, upset, angry and dissatisfied, the children had lit up faces meeting their friends, shaking hands and winking to each other in the school corridors.

Marks or less marks or no marks, these carefree days must be cherished. It’s their right. We owe it to them. Those little secrets. Those silly gossips. Those crazy friendships. Those cold stares. Those adolescent glances. All of them.”

But there is also something that has been bothering me since then.

I noticed that almost all the parents had some complaint or the other regarding one teacher or the other. Instead of interacting with the teacher to assess your child’s development, most of them were spending longer periods of time in pinpointing the mistakes of the teacher. Interesting thing is most of the mistakes that were being highlighted sounded really silly and sometimes made up. And in almost all cases, those parents were more interested in humiliating the teacher.

It is natural that we want the best for our children because we spend half of our hard-earned money on the school fees which keeps on getting inflated year after year. Teaching good manners, kindness and compassion for others is not only a teacher’s job. It starts from day one. Right from the time you hold your baby for the first time. It is our responsibility. I heard a parent tell the teacher proudly, “I told him to give five-six punches if anyone troubles him and I’ll take care of the rest.

Is that what you must teach a class three student?

The other day Li’l Love ran up to me at ‘home time’ crying. Upon asking she revealed that two boys from her class stepped on a small butterfly that was sitting on the floor. When I told her that they must not have seen it she said that they did it deliberately even after she told them not to harm it.

She is over-sensitive when it comes to tiny insects, except lizards. She wouldn’t allow us to use Hit or Baygon. Instead she wants us to chase the mosquitoes away. A cockroach she says never bites and so must not be harmed. I still remember how her three-year old self had spoiled our holiday in Munnar after she found a beetle she had admired one evening lying dead the very next morning. We tried to tell her that death is a natural process.

I repeated the same lesson on the butterfly day. But she said that this is not death but murder. She is not wrong. Any death that is not natural and is inflicted by others is a murder. A definition that WE taught her. I finally told her that may be their parents forgot to tell them that hurting others is wrong and killing a live being is a murder. Her father too had a separate session with her.

  • Why are young children showing signs of aggression?
  • Why are they so disrespectful?
  • Why are they so indifferent?
  • Why are they apathetic towards others?
  • Why can’t they feel the pain of others?
  • Is it because of lack of time from parents?
  • Is it lack of moral education at home and at school?
  • Is it because of excessive exposure to violence and crime through newspapers, television and other medium?

I feel there is something grossly wrong with the way children are being brought up these days. Parents I have noticed are encouraging improper language used for fellow students as well as teachers by their ward. In the name of being more understanding and accepting, we are sometimes being supportive for all the wrong reasons.

Excess of anything is poison. Love. Neglect. Trust. Criticism. Discipline. Sympathy. Punishment.  Learnt it the hard way.

But the point is how do we tackle this problem that is consuming our future generation? I believe only a collective effort from parents and teachers can solve the problem. Instead of finding faults with each other we must learn to find solutions to behavioral issues in children and provide timely counselling to the child to help him/her escape from major wrongdoings. They must focus on teaching the child the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Together we can.

Parent-Teacher-meeting

Kabini Diaries – Part I

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kabini river lodge

One summer night of 2011, the husband returned home after his graduation ceremony at IIM, Bangalore. To celebrate the occasion, he had been to Kabini with a bunch of his batch mates for two days. Ever since that night the girls and myself have been listening to his wish to take us to Kabini one day.

Our travel adventures are mostly restricted to North India because of his love for long drives and the fact that both sets of parents reside within a radius of ten kilometers from our place. Air travel for us is like that Bharat Darshan offer for Central Government employees; once in four (or five) years affair.

So this summer I was supposed to plan a vacation for Dad where the entire family was together. Just when I was about to click on ‘proceed to checkout’ on the Yatra flight booking, the man said, “Anyway we are going to spend so much on air travel for your Dad’s dream vacation, why not extend it to include ours too.” Thus the Kabini dream saw light.

There were lots of hurdles which kept looming over our heads and making us doubtful about our vacation till the day we actually flew. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.

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We had booked a Myles car for our five-day stay in Karnataka. Due to some mistake at the agent’s end we got our vehicle only after about two and a half hours spent sitting in the scorching sun. Thankfully we had booked our stay at Kabini from the next day onward. Otherwise we would have missed one safari.

The ride through the Bangalore-Mysore Expressway was one beautiful ride.

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These cotton candy clouds gave us company all along. After taking a break at Mysore for the night, we set out on our journey to Kabini the next morning.

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And as we approached closer to Kabini, these were the mesmerizing scenes that welcomed us.

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Covering these beautiful patches we finally reached Kabini River Lodge, located on the southern fringes of the Nagarahole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park). This was the former hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore and was rated as One of the Top 5 Wildlife Resorts in the World by the British Tatler’s Travel Guide.

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Situated on the banks of river Kabini, the 54-acre property in itself is a pleasant treat. Lush green scenic views around the tented accommodations and the lavish cottages.

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This tent was our home for two days and we enjoyed every bit of the wilderness around it.

The very next morning, we woke up to this. Bliss!

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The Maharaja’s bungalow has a well-stocked bar and the interiors showcase the rich history behind it. The former hunting lodge that’s been converted, speak of erstwhile elegance and comes with comforts like charming accommodation and even a fully equipped conference room for those meetings that spell business as unusual.

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That’s the skin of a real tiger who died. It’s been treated and stuffed to give you an idea about the size of the deceased.

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That’s the bar. Tastefully done and well-stocked to suit your taste.

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The pictures on the wall speak of those old royal meetings, hobbies and adventures. Something that speaks of a culture gone by.

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The Kabini River Lodge, to me looked on the higher side when we were about to book. But the experience tells me that the property is absolute value for money. The entire experience from the stay, the weather, the staff, the safari naturalist, everything was just perfect.

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What I loved most about this jungle lodge is the time management. You check in around 12 p.m., settle inside your accommodation, relax for a while or go on a nature walk around the property, assemble at the GolGhar (the river-facing gazebo restaurant at around 1 p.m. for a lavish spread buffet. You can either go back to your rooms, or head straight for a walk around the place or enjoy the scenic view near the river. Assemble back at the GolGhar around 3 p.m. for a quick tea/snacks and head for the three-hour jungle safari.

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Once back, you’ll be served another round of tea/coffee and at 7 p.m. there’s a wildlife documentary showcased at the Maharaja Bungalow. By 8.30, dinner is served. Another sumptuous spread.

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The very next morning, you’ll receive a wake-up call around 5 a.m. Freshen up and assemble at Golghar around 5.50. Sip your morning cuppa and take your seats in your respective safari coaches. You’ll be back sharp at 9 a.m. and your breakfast will be ready.

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Around 10 a.m., you can take a round of the river on a traditional coracle or you can opt for a regular motor boat. On this ride, we got to know from our boat driver Mr.Nair that just 35 kilometers through the river and we could land in my home state, Kerala.

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There is also an Ayurveda Wellness Centre, a unit of Vishwa Vaidya Ayurvedashram, Mangalore. They offer ayurvedic treatments for a rejuvenating experience in the enchanting woods. Mom and Dad enjoyed their share of body massages. If I were to believe Mom, the treatment did help her with her aching muscles for a few days.

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All their lives my parents have slogged for the sake of their respective families and for us. I don’t remember them taking a vacation ever. This was probably the least I could do for them.  While Dad enjoyed taking the girls around the property and help them with the swings, Mom was eagerly sharing her Botany knowledge with the excited girls.

That did leave me with ample time with my camera and I went Click, Click, Click!

The best part about visiting such rich wildlife resorts is that you get to meet inspirational people who patiently and persistently capture wildlife with their larger than life gadgets that make you feel like beginners at school. We had the good fortune of meeting Kalyan Verma, the famous BBC documentary man and Janardhan N Doraiswamy, who organises wildlife tours nationally and internationally. He did give us quite a few tips on photography workshops and the tricks of the trade. Much appreciated!

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I leave you with this overview of Kabini River Lodge, a JLR initiative. The next post will showcase the Nagarhole National Park experience and my wildlife encounters. Stay tuned!

On the Right Side of the Fence (#MondayMusings)

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As dawn broke, she was blossoming into a vibrant and energetic belle. But just as she surged higher, the fire-spitting dragon emerged from inside the dark clouds and engulfed her, swallowing her piece by piece, inch by inch.

These are the thoughts that passed through my mind earlier this morning as I witnessed yet another sunrise which was soon faded out by the deep dark clouds that engulfed the bright blue sky. I am very fond of rain. Truly crazy about it. I can weave thousands of stories around rain, but these clouds that appeared this morning made me feel sick. Was it the clouds? Was it because I couldn’t sleep during the last two nights? Was it because everyone else in the family is unwell? Was it the fear of the unknown residing within me? Was it the depressing news that I have been reading recently?

There. It is the news. I had skipped reading the newspaper for almost a month. And I was happy. Or so I thought. I had actually buried myself under the falseness of what happiness is. I had tried to run away from facing the realities of life. Escapism.

This made me wonder if I was becoming weaker than before. I have handled some really difficult times in the past. Then why am I running away now? Why am I trying to escape? The inner voice spoke. Spoke she did and how.

Those were the times when you decided to endure it all yourself for everyone’s sake. Those were the times when you didn’t have the support of your loved ones. Those were the times when escaping or running away too meant hurting your loved ones. You had no options left. Either way. It was like you were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. This way or that way. And so you fought.

I asked her, “Then why am I not facing it now? What’s stopping me?”

You’re under the misconception that you aren’t facing it. You’re. But the only thing that’s stopping you is the knowledge of being helpless in changing the mindsets of those thousands. You’re unable to control their destructive thought processes. You’re upset that you’re not heard. You’re upset that they’re all blindfolded with piece of cloth painted by land, religion, race, caste, gender, sexual orientation, politics and the likes.

You want everything to be like a fairy tale. But you forgot that Cinderella had to struggle in the cinders for years, Rapunzel had to remain in captivity for ages, Snowwhite too had her share of battles to win and Little Red Riding Hood too fought the Wolf. The happily-ever-after in every fairy tale came after a fair amount of struggles for each of the characters. We often tend to focus only on the happily-ever-after and ignore the closer-to-real-life struggles that were an important and major part of all the fairy tales. The evil demons have to be fought, the blood-thirsty dragons have to be faced, the cunning wolves have to be killed and the wicked witches have to be defeated before you reach the happily-ever-after.

Prayers for those who lost their kith and kin in battles they never fought. Prayers for the millions who have lost their path on their quest for a better life. Prayers for those who spend their time provoking the youth and feeding ill-thoughts. Prayers for a better, peaceful, painless tomorrow for all of us. Because praying is all I am able to do right now. Know that the world, the better part, the harmless soul, is with you in these tough times.

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May you be able to cross the fence and be on the right side of it soon. May the super power that each of us believe in shower good sense upon each of us. Life is nothing less than a fairy tale. Fight till you reach the happily-ever-after.