Raise Kids as Independent and Logical Thinkers

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“Mamma, are Muslims bad?”

“Why? Why are you asking me this question? Who told you all this nonsense?”

“So-and-so told me that her mother has told her not to talk to this particular boy in our class because he is a Muslim and they are not good. She has also asked him not to share food that the boy offers.”

“What do you think? Is that boy in your class bad? Does he harm you or anyone else in the class?”

“No. He is a good boy. Ma’am also likes him. He is a polite boy. He like to play with everyone.”

“What does that tell you? Is he good or bad?”

“He is a good boy.”

“Exactly. You already know what is right and wrong. I have also told you that your right may not be right for others. So don’t judge anyone by what you have heard from someone else. Try and learn to answer that question yourself based on your interaction with the person and what you know about that person. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. That does not mean that we are all perfectly right or perfectly wrong. Do you get this?”

“Yes. I understood.”

“Will you play with him? Will you share your things with him if he needs them?”

“Yes. I will.”

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This was a conversation I had with my EIGHT-YEAR-OLD a few days ago. Ever since I have been thinking about it and feeling extremely annoyed about how a parent was misleading their child against another innocent child.

Why the hell do we have to drag young and innocent minds into this dirty mess of religion, region, politics, racism, caste and gender?

Why can’t we let them be themselves?

Why can’t we let them develop their own perceptions on different aspects of life?

Why do we have to brainwash them?

As a mother I do understand the fears and worries of another mother. I myself do warn the girls about impending dangers from strangers. I warn them to be careful with people they know as well as people they do not know. But I have never told them to boycott another child because he was a bully, or because she was dark, or because he was from a certain community, or because she was from a family that supported a certain political party. What are we doing? Is there an end to this?

I know it was a personal decision of that mother and may be of their family but it left me fuming because I don’t like children being involved in these petty matters. We complain of young minds being radicalized or being brainwashed. What was this? If we continue to drag them into these, why should we complain about others?

I don’t support any such nonsense. If we really want to protect our children, we must teach them love, kindness, sharing, compassion and being sensitive towards others. We must teach them not to hurt others. We must teach them to respect another’s feelings and their properties. We must teach them to not bully others. We must equip them with wisdom to make out good from bad and right from wrong. Encourage them to use their logic to reach conclusions based on their experiences instead of forcing your own experiences on them. How can you proudly tell your child that a certain boy in the class is not good because he is a Muslim while you encourage your child when he tells you how he managed to knock down another child in the school?

What are your views on this?

Do you think children should be taught to judge others in this manner?

The School Bus: #BarAThon Day 5

The initial excitement and enthusiasm shown by Mehul during his first few days in school has faded away completely. He doesn’t want to go to school anymore he says. It’s a tough task to get him ready for school every morning. He has become cranky unlike his cheerful self. And he screams at the top of his voice shaking the entire neighbourhood. Thankfully Rahul, Mehul’s older brother, was a sport. He happily hops into the school bus every single day. But then all kids are not the same. After all, he is just three. Aditi thought to herself.

Tring…tring…tring!!!

That must be the milkman.” said Aditi as she buckled up Mehul’s shoes.

“Hurry up! Finish your milk. The bus must be here anytime now.”

While Aditi put the milk pouches into the refrigerator, she heard the school bus honking.

Rahul, Mehul, pick up your bags and water bottles. I’m coming. The school bus is here.”

As she marched out of the kitchen, she saw Rahul getting out of the front door. Mehul must have already gotten into the bus she thought. As Rahul climbed into the bus, Dinesh bhaiya, the cleaner asked, “Mehul is on leave today?

Aditi was taken aback. That boy must be up to one of his pranks as usual, she thought. She ran into the house and started looking for him.

“Mehul, come back here right now or else you will have it from me. The bus is waiting.”

The bus honked for a while and then left.

“Mehul, Mehul…”

She searched the length and breadth of the house but couldn’t find Mehul.

Beads of sweat ran down her forehead. She was now gasping for breath. Abhay is out-of-town and is expected to reach only by tomorrow night. Aditi decided to call him up as she finally realized that Mehul is nowhere to be seen. Tears rolled down her cheek. She ran into the bedroom, picked up her mobile phone and started dialing Abhay.

That’s when she saw his tiny shoes hanging from the loft of the bedroom.

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Mehul”, she heaved a sigh of relief as she disconnected the call.

Has he left?

Who?

Dinesh bhaiya. He is trying to steal my peepee every day. It hurts.

Aditi stood shocked and motionless before she came to terms with what she just heard.

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A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.

It’s not your child’s fault or crankiness. Look beyond what is visible to the eyes.  

Here’s the scope of the child abuse issue on ChildHelp.org.

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Stop the Abuse Now: Here’s How You Identify Child Abuse and Report it: The Better India
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I am with Team #CrimsonRush for the #BarAThon from 1st to 7th August 2016.

This post if written for the prompt ‘tiny shoes‘ for August 5, 2016.

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Mothers must share their experiences. We all must.

Why should we share our thoughts and experiences? 

We must share because we tend to learn better from another person’s life lessons. And we also get to see a particular situation from different perspectives.

One hot June afternoon, as I lay on the tile floor cuddled with my girls telling them stories from their childhood and mine, my phoned beeped. A message in my chat box. Nothing special about it…right?

It was special. It was from someone I had been friends with through Facebook for over two years. But we had never interacted previously. A few likes here and there on photos and status updates.

What was common between us? We were both mothers. 

She told me that one of my old posts on our life with Dad working in a different country stayed with her. And then she asked if I could help her in understanding her older child’s psyche as they were in a similar situation. We chatted for a few minutes. But as I shared my childhood experience, why I was not close to my mother and what troubled me, she immediately related it with her recent experiences. She said she’ll take corrective measures immediately to help her older child. And I was happy that sharing my experiences might have helped her take control at the right time.
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Children are innocent. Soft like clay. You can mould them the way you want in the first few years. But everything depends on the way they perceive your actions. So give logical explanations to support your actions. Understand they will.

When Dad left for the Mid-East, I was five and my sister was just over a year-old. Mom was working as a teacher in the same school that I attended.  We had three of our relatives staying with us to “help her” take care of us. Mom was the best. But she had lots of responsibilities as a mother of two, a teacher, a single parent and the additional burden of having people at home. And this left her with not much time to express her love. 
I was the older child but not old enough to understand her situation. I had suddenly been deprived of my Hero. My Dad. And like every child, I wanted to take refuge in Mom and her cuddles. I would go up to her every now and then to smother her with kisses and if she was in the midst of cooking, washing or nursing, she would either scold, ignore, postpone or show irritation. I would feel hurt. At night I seldom got to sleep with Mom because of my aunt who wouldn’t let me sleep next to her. They thought I might kick the little baby. I would lean over to kiss Mom a good night and she would push me away. Not because she loved me any less, but because she was worried that I might hurt my little sis.

I was staying physically with my mom but in my mind I had wandered away from her. Far far away. To me she was someone who gave me instructions and I had to follow. Almost like a hostel warden. She did cuddle with me occasionally but by then I was least interested. The bridge was already built. And I was at the far end of it. Poor Mom didn’t even know that her child wasn’t the same anymore. Imagine how all those years could have been saved had I told her about my feelings right then or if she had spoken to me at length. Now when I share it with her she feels bad, so I don’t. 

These were small instances for big people, but for that five-year old, it meant a lot. I wanted to write it all to Dad, but I was scared of hurting Mom when she reads the letters. So I didn’t. Now I think I should have. I should have shared it all with someone, so my mother could get a hint of what I was going through. I regret this and so I share every possible thing that I learn from my parenting experience or others with as many as possible. Sharing is caring. And you never know who finds help in your experiences. So share you must. 

I try and express my love for the girls as much as possible. But I am sure they will have their own set of complaints against me. Every generation has its own book of complaints and regrets. All we can do is to do our best. 

So read, share and act, I will. Will you?