Parenting…choices

IMG_0258

Long ago, I dreamt of writing a book about living in China and walking on the Great Wall. And it happened.

I chose not to chase my dream instead I spent majority of my time chasing my sons.

My children came to me in my thirties. By then, they were more than welcome. My longing to be a mother overrode my other dreams. I reveled in my sons and brought them up to what I considered the best of my ability. I read Dr Spock when they were babies and talked to my friends about their babies’ developmental processes. I remember, I was worried about my son’s teething. Our friends’ daughter had many teeth by the time she was one and she loved eating watermelons. My son had few teeth and objected to fruit. He only drank mamma’s milk and half boiled eggs! He hated orange juice and clenched his gums/ few teeth when we tried to feed him solid food. He even spat out the food we tricked him into ‘eating’. My friend argued that all humans had teeth. Hence, so would my son, even if the process happened a little later. And she was right! Every child is unique and develops at an individual pace.

As parents, we can only watch, wait and pray. We do our best but the ultimate call is made by the child and the force that drives all life. As a parent, I discovered that I really enjoyed my children’s childhood and I miss it now that they have become older and have learnt to fend for themselves largely.

The funny thing that happened to me as a parent was that I forgot that I had my own dreams and goals from long before… from my teens and earlier. Perhaps, my dreams underwent a change. The feeling I am left with is these years of my life have been well spent. What could be more important than helping mold the future of mankind? Children are our future and to prioritise them over and above our own needs seemed the most natural thing to do.

I always remember the lines by William Wordsworth about the rainbow, poetic wonder and the child…

My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man;

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.

The wonder that a child feels in discovering not just rainbows but even his father’s oversized shirt or shoes often becomes a source of infinite delight and wonder to the parent too because as an adult we get in touch again with the novelty of things when we watch our child fascinated with what we had started to consider mundane. That is a joy that keeps every parent young at heart. And, thus the child forever continues the ‘ father’ of man. And perhaps that is what happened to me. I lost myself in the wonder of rediscovering life with my children. And on a daily basis, I want to thank God for giving me these bundles of joy and my husband for letting me revel in their childhood, while he slogged to bring home the bacon and help realize our dreams.

Encouraging children to have dreams, goals and ideals from a young age goes a long way. No age is too early and no dream too small or big! It can be a dream of being a princess, dressing up, flying to outer space in a rocket, driving a lorry or a dustbin dump truck, inventing something new, cooking a dream dish, writing a book or drawing a picture.

I know of a mother who helped materialize her son’s dreams by helping him publish a book in elementary school. The child at the age of three told her that he wanted to write a book and have it on a bookshelf in a bookshop. By the time he was eight he had the book. It started with doodles and ended with stories. His mother helped him materialize his dream of being an author. And she used his dreams to help him learn to read, write and develop a love for books!

For my children, the dreams were different but no less important. My elder son was so fascinated by trucks that his first poem in his kindergarten was a list of names of these juggernauts. That gave way to dreams of making robots. I was happy to hear out his dream because he said it was better to have robots clean high rise windows rather than humans as people could fall and get hurt. From then on, his journey started in the quest of making robots to lighten mankind’s burdens and it continues more than a decade and a half down the line. My younger son dreams of animations with music, math and science… I wait eagerly to see how it will concretize to make a rainbow.

Sometimes, we need to work to make our children’s dreams come true. For example, when my younger son wanted a sunshine cake for his fifth birthday, I made it! And the biggest reward I had was when my little one when he said, “Mamma that is exactly what I imagined!”

Children need to sense that dreams can come true without compromises. Let them fly… and you can fly with them. They can help you fly and materialize your own dreams while you watch them grow and soar.

Actually, that is how my book happened too. One day my younger son came back from his school in China and said, “Mamma, you have never been to university.” I contradicted him and said that I had been to two. And then he said, “But my Chinese teacher said that mammas who stayed at home had not been to university!”

I was alarmed. I spoke to the school, which was a well-known international one. Many of the expat wives in China had chosen to be full time mothers, which is something that the world did not comprehend. I had chosen to be a full time mother even when my elder son was in my womb because the doctor had recommended bed rest and I stayed home from then on.

I thought calmly, did it really matter to me? It was not my job to educate a confused ‘educator’ who looked down on child rearing as the task of an uneducated person but it was my need to be respected and seen as a role model by my son. I wanted to show my child that one can dream big and materialize them under any circumstances, even while indulging in the most daunting and time consuming adventure of bringing up children. So, I wrote a book, one and a half books actually within a couple of years. The half was a compilation of recipes from thirty countries by well-respected professionals, including chefs, writers, school teachers, principals done in collaboration with a German friend, who is an engineer and dreamt of writing a cookbook while in China as a homemaker; and the other, was my own book, a humorous retelling of living, travelling and bringing up non-Chinese children in China in a society where borders no longer were a truth. That was my individual solution.

But, it made me think… why would a mother with university degrees not want to bring up her child? Is bringing up children really a job to be relegated to a substitute with values and education at variance with your own? Do you want your child to feel closest to you or to the person who has substituted for you as a full time caregiver?

These are choices you need to make when you think of child rearing. You have to decide who to prioritise, yourself or your child?

 

 

Advertisements

The Creators

IMG_0118

15

 

In the misty forest, hushed whispers seemed to emanate from the very trees. Mysterious beings rode on strange horses among the trees. Everything seemed to have a fleeting sense of reality. A soft moist breeze twirled its fingers on the white robed, silver girdled riders. A sense of unreal surrounded Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge as they walked through the woods from the beach. None of these figures harmed them. They seemed intent on their own tasks.

A soft Zephyrus song seemed to pervade through the mists of the whispery creatures. Suddenly, the mists began to clear and the three reached a meadow by the woods. The meadow was grassy and had a little pond in the middle. There were flowers of different colors in the grass. The sun was peeping out from the mists. The music seemed to be coming from the mysterious white robed creatures that stood by the pond. There was a tall girl with beautiful tawny eyes and hazel hair wearing a tiara made of daisies. From the tiara hung a veil of diaphanous silver. It glittered in the sunrays. The clear voice rose from the girl drowning the earlier notes with its clarity and intensity. It sounded like the sunray had pierced the mists and was ringing out in clear notes.

At a distance, there were some enormous white steeds gamboling around. The sky had a vibrant rainbow on it. The steeds, on closer examination, had wings on them. A group of grey flying horses landed near the white ones and started grazing on the soft green grass. A blue bird chirped and flew out from a tree by the pond. Jasmine, Gorge and Jacaranda looked a little surprised because though they could all hear the song, the singer’s lips did not seem to move. Everything seemed to be in harmony.

As the song rang out, they could see the flowers in the grass bloom and a bright yellow bird flew out from a tree, followed by a red bird. The surroundings seemed to spring to life with the mysterious music. Again the whispers rose in a crescendo and the clear notes dissolved in it. The song slowly seemed to fade into the swiftness of a breeze. The tall, white robed beings now turned their focus on the three intruders.

“Welcome, O creations of Janice and friend,” said a strange voice in their heads. It felt as if all the surroundings spoke in unison. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge looked at them with stunned surprise on their faces.

“We come for help,” said Jasmine.

“We can hear your thoughts,” said the voices. “But we will use voices if you so desire.”

Gorge could sense the speech too. He was absolutely quiet and a bit scared. He had never seen anything so weird.

“Some of you are scared. There is no reason to be scared. We will help and not harm. Trust us,” said the voice.

Three of the white robed creatures, including the girl with the diaphanous veil, came over to where the three of them stood.

Their walk was more like a glide. They were much taller than Gorge, had pale but tawny skins that seemed to glow like moonlight.

“Let us lead you to our halls before we start to talk,” said a tall grey-haired man.

“Summon the steed.” Now, they could see he was moving his lips and talking just like them.

Three of the white horses that had been grazing at the far end of the meadow gamboled over. The three beings got up on the horses each one taking one of the three outsiders with them. Then the steeds took off to the skies. They soared over woods, meandering rivers and meadows till they reached what seemed to be a silver cliff-like structure. The steed descended just outside the cliffs

The riders and their guests descended and they went in through an enormous opening. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge stared in amazement at the hall made of some translucent, crystalline material. The walls seemed to diffuse a natural yellowish white light of their own. There were more of these creatures in the hall.  Most of them were seated in small groups on plush sofas of red and gold against the walls. The floor was covered with downy carpets of mustard color. The shelter seemed to be a kind of cafe as most were sipping drinks in tall glasses. There were some who were behind a counter handing out drinks from different taps. Hushed whispers emanated from the different groups. Sounded like a pleasant chatter. The group sat down on an empty sofa.

The girl in the diaphanous veil broke the silence. “Come partake of some refreshments with us and let us talk over your issues,” she said. “I am Janice.”

“I am Halon ,” said the grey haired man.

“I am Anouk,” said the third man.

“We are from a distant planet called Lemuria,” continued Janice. “ We came here long, long ago. Earlier, we lived with mankind in the same dimension. Then the conflicts between different groups of mankind started. To keep out of these conflicts, we receded to this dimension.”

“I have read that,” pleaded Jasmine. “But we really need your help…”

“I know,” said Janice. “But this will be for the queen and her council to decide. I would like to help as you were an emanation of our ideals. We poured the emanations into your multiple selves as they were being formed. Your parents at some point were visited by dreams from us, which they would have forgotten. The dreams would translate to a physical reality…enough of this. You must be tired. Come, let us have some drinks.”

Janice and Anouk walked to the counter and carried back two trays. There were six tall glasses of a delicious drink. The drink was amber and filled Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge with a sense of peace. Their hunger disappeared and they felt rested.

“ Wow!” said Gorge. “What is this?”

“It is delicious,” said Jacaranda.

“This is Ambrosia, our main nourishment,” said Anouk.

“I feel really energized drinking this,” said Jasmine.

“So do we,” said Halon. “ It is our main diet. I would suggest that we adjourn to the queen and her council this evening. This is the time for our refreshment and then, we go back to work.”

“Perhaps, you would like to come with us to another meadow…” said Anouk.

 

Cosmos

IMG_0116

 

Cosmic Lights

Dancing lights,
Starry nights.
Sparkling, winking,
Swirling, twinkling,
Like the eyes I adore,
Memories galore.
Happiness, joy, fleeting life,
Radiant, glowing light.
Jewels on the river bob,
Sun’s reflections froth,
Strung by a melodic quatrain,
Of a strange,unknown strain.

From the forests deep, I hear,
A distant flute drawing near.
Who is it that plays the song
In harmony all night long?
Who is it that each dawn wakes
And the lingering darkness chases?
Who is it that this earth makes
Full of wonders and of quakes?
Is he in the lights I see
Dancing, bobbing with glee?
Is he the one for who stars do shine
And lines do haunt a poet’s mind?

Enthralled

Here are some thoughts generated by Beethoven’s music and a live classical sitar performance by Supratik Sengupta.

Pastoral

Overwhelmed,
In a crescendo of sunshine, I rise
And then glide
Through the starry night
Of bright and vibrant lights.
I see an aurora quiver in the sky.
Bathed in delicious rainbow shine,
I become a bird and fly
Beyond the reach of strife,
Towards an infinity …
With my wing tips bathed in light,
I slide and high up glide.
I am unique and translucent.
I absorb the lights and the sounds.
I shiver and like diamond glitter
With the prismatic colors of white.
I peak and touch the zenith of sunrise
And then to Khayyam’s turret I fly.
I hear the clear notes of the flute
In the blueness of dawning light.
And then, again, I am lost,
Lost in an ambient light,
Stirred by the melody of a single note,
So clean, so pure,
Like an angel, I soar.
And unicorns gambol in my lore.
What am I?
An unicorn, a bird, an angel
Or a sprite stretching out to touch the beauty
With my excited mind?

Cloudburst

A sitar string plucks,
Plucks to intensity,
Till it tugs your heart string
And it beats to the melody of the tune.
Your ears burn,
Your being cries for more,
The beauty,
The sound,
The melodies
Eternal in their intent.

Rhythm and beat dance.
Dance to the
Infinite notes of eternity…
The tandava
With Shiva
Raising his foot
In the eternal dance of destruction,
And Brahma
Picking up the pieces and creating…..

Losing oneself in melodies,
Dancing to the tunes of spring.
Flowers bloom in unison,
Melodies sway
In the breeze.
The spring flowers blossom,
Filling the boughs,
Falling, falling
Falling…
Fragrant grass with tiny yellow flowers,
Me bedecked with petals,
Awaiting, awaiting…

This one streak of intensity,
Of creation,
Of spring,
Of life.

The melody becomes an extension of the body and soul.
It is all a part of the Whole.