Book Review: “Raising Kids with Hope and Wonder in Times of a Pandemic and Climate Change”

I chose to read this book because of the importance it lays on raising resilient kids, especially in the extraordinary times we all are in. The book is written by famous author and columnist Ms. Kiran Manral and starts with a rather angsty conversation between her and sixteen-year-old son. “Are we all going to die?” is what he asks the author.

We all have faced such type of questions from our kids at one time or another. There are lot of other things as well in the book that one can resonate with as a parent. I am a mother of two boys, eleven and nine. My elder one is up to speed with the latest news (his general awareness is better than his Mom’s 😊).

The author talks about several relevant issues such as climate change which is the elephant in the room, we all should have acknowledged way back and its impact on us. We all were very happy to be in denial mode when the pandemic hit China thinking this is not going to happen to us. In fact, like most people, I had booked our tickets for the summer vacations.

Kiran touches the unprecedented experiences we had all gone through during the lockdown. She also talks about accepting the new normal (which is interestingly not defined till today!) and the sudden way of life we all are forced to be living in since the outbreak of Covid 19. One good thing that has come out of this madness is the much needed pause it has given, compelling us to turn inward.

The author also talks about the lack of physical activity and increase in screen time and what can we as parents do about it. Well I could resonate with the ideas as I have been following some of them too. My boys do contribute to the age appropriate household chores making them take ownership of the work and feel responsible too. I did enrol my kids for an Online Yoga and breathing Program in July itself. They have learnt few breathing practices which they now continue to do on their own.

The uncertainty of how long we have to live like this does create anxiety. The author rightly says that we must, as a parent, first address our own anxiety by being positive. This attitude will help our children too. She also stresses on answering the kids questions honestly.

Manral stresses the need for discussing actions which we can own and act on. This will give kids a sense of ownership and control, besides raising their awareness and hope.

“Look to the past and be assured that humankind has survived in worse conditions”-This thought is very important to give our kids “hope” amidst all the negativity.

Looking for the benefits in lockdown, I do have a long personal list here. Right from the precious time I am getting to spend with my family, doing the household chores together, taking additional responsibility if one member is pressed for time because of other commitments, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, learning to manage with what is available, mindful of our actions and their impact on others.

The e-book is available online, go ahead and enjoy the read !

My Kids first brush with baldness…!!!

They say it takes a village to raise a child and I say, maybe we require two for his first Mundan ceremony. More so when it is for two kids together. It is an important ritual in India and the ceremony is performed during the first or third year of a child’s life (mostly odd years). It is said that this ceremony helps to free the person from the last birth and make a new beginning in this birth. And as per our family rituals, if the mother is pregnant than the elder child can’t have this ceremony. So, after I had my second delivery, we had to get this done for both my kids together.

We stay in Hyderabad and since most of our relatives are in Delhi, we had the ceremony in Delhi. It was around Diwali when the cold weather begins to set in. Though we wanted to keep it a simple affair but given the number of relatives we have in Delhi we could not bring down the list to below seventy. The day of ceremony arrived, and we were all set.  The guests had come in.

A Panditji was called to perform the rituals and a barber was there too. Me and my husband were sitting with the kids in our lap. The first touch of blade on my elder son’s head and I felt the pain. My elder one had beautiful locks grown in the last three years, so it has heart wrenching to see him lose them in front of my eyes. My son, however, was very patient and cool during the entire process.

My younger one was just a year old and I thought he would feel the blade more because the area was sensitive. He started crying and soon I had tears rolling down my eyes too. This made everyone emotional too including my husband.

The experience might have been painful for the kids (may be only the younger one) and me at that moment, but today, they remember it as an important day in their life when they look back at the photographs.

Thank you for always being there…!!!

You are my favorite place to go

When my mind searches for peace
Or maybe thinks of some mischief

When I want to shout or scream
Or maybe celebrate a small win

When I want to shed some tears
Or maybe introspect for internal repair

We may not talk for days at end
But pick up right where we left off to blend

Over years I have realised one thing
That one good friend is equal to a thousand blessings…

As long as the relationship lives in the heart
True friends will never part…!!!

Our First Stage Anxiety…!!!

Ganesh Utsav has always been celebrated in our Community with great fervour and enthusiasm. During the days of Ganpati various competitions are organised for the kids. One such event was Shloka recitation. My elder son was three-and-a-half-year-old that time and I had enrolled him for the same. I spent a week making him prepare for the competition. In fact, in my excitement I had made him learn seven or eight shlokas. The day of event arrived, and I was looking forward to seeing my kid perform on the stage for the very first time. It was his first performance on stage and it was going to be my first experience to witness my child perform too.

The event started and when it was my kids turn to recite on stage, I made him go up to the stage alone while I went back towards the audience looking for a front seat. He introduced himself on mike and had started reciting the first shloka at that moment. While walking, as my back was towards the stage, I suddenly heard my son calling me from stage “Mamma aap aa jaao, mujhse nahin hoga..!!”(Mamma please come back, I can’t do this)

I suddenly felt my heart sink and rushed towards my child who was crying. I also felt embarrassed as there were around more than hundred people from our community sitting as audience. I took it as a personal failure. I consoled him and told the organisers that we need some more time and would like to come towards the end, when he is feeling settled. They did oblige and he finally recited three shlokas in the end.

The entire incident was a very big lesson for me that day. In my excitement to make him perform well or rather outperform others, in front of everyone, I never realised that my child was going through a bout of performance anxiety. Like other mothers I could have been near the stage to encourage him and prompt if needed 😊. He would have felt more confident and comfortable. Also asking him to remember so many shlokas at that age, especially for his first performance was unfair on my part. As parents knowingly or unknowingly we try to put pressure on our kids.

From that day onward, I take competitions in a healthy spirit. This eases off a lot of pressure from the kids. I also realised kids can deal with stress much better than the adults and become self-motivated over time. We just need to let them be themselves…!!!

My Son’s First International Trip without Passport…!!!

It was in the year 2008, I had conceived for the first time and was happy to see the two solid lines on the pregnancy test done at home. The happiness and excitement that me and my husband felt was beyond words. We had been planning a trip to Paris and I was keen to take my to-be-born child to his first International trip without passport 😊

Thankfully, by the grace of God my health was fine, and my Gynecologist gave her nod to travel during the second trimester after doing the necessary tests and giving the do’s and don’ts for the trip. Unlike our earlier travels when the shopping before a trip could comprise of clothes, we also did purchase a rice cooker, ready to eat curries etc. to ensure I was able to get my healthy dose of vegetarian food in a foreign land. My parents and in laws were in Delhi that time and sent some home-made delicacies by courier too 😊

Our trip started on a bright note as we reached our Hotel in the balmy autumn evening. Interestingly the hotel was in the heart of the city where most of the popular monuments and visitor spots were all within walking distance. The evening was more of soaking in the city, walk around, check out the sights & sounds while being on our own feet.

The next day we took a “Paris á la carte” pass which gave an option to move around the city at your own pace by bus and boat. Since we wanted to keep the trip relaxed and do things at our own pace, we covered few sights before checking out the cruise on Seine River in the evening from Notre Dame to Eiffel. When you are at the top of Eifel, or for that matter at a height anywhere, it gives a feeling that the smaller things do not matter in life. It is life itself that matters. The feeling of parenthood suddenly stuck us at that time, and we were looking forward to welcoming the new member in our arms.

The next morning, we reached Louvre early and spend full 3 hours in exploring all the galleries and checking out classical paintings, sculptures & artifacts. The tour of course would have been incomplete without a glimpse of mysterious smile of Mona Lisa. This made us think that our kid will also have his own mysterious ways of making us love him/her.

The last day was completely dedicated to “Parc Disneyland”. The theme was “Halloween” and the shows were around this. Highlight of this place, besides the wonderful rides and the magical Disney characters, is the “Disney’s once Upon a Dream Parade”. That day I lived those magical moments feeling the little flutters of my child, his way of sharing the excitement with his parents to be.  I was looking forward to this dream becoming a reality soon.

I must say this was one of the most wonderful trips that we had and the memories of it will always have a special place in our heart.

Now when we talk to our elder son about his first International trip without passport, he chuckles… !

I am Unique and I am Enough…!!!

You don’t always need a validation for your choice
Or a medium for people to hear your voice

You are you and You are unique
Just be willing to do some inner tweak

Your flaws and limitations make you complete
You are the product of experience you accrete

No matter what happens, always be yourself
Just be willing to invest in your own self

Take out time to get acquainted with yourself
“I am enough” keep reminding yourself

Cultivate your own little garden
Slow but sure there will be transformation…!!

“Kai Po Che”​-Sushant…!!!

Our real self is hidden deep down inside

Layers of mask we put to maintain our pride

 Some to please our friends and family

Some to hide our pain and agony

 Some we wear longing for acceptance

Some to show, others our rock-solid endurance

 Only the close ones know our real self, hidden deep inside

During our difficult times we must keep them by our side…!!!

–      Gunjan Kapoor

I had penned these lines few days back and pondering how relevant these are today. Just as everyone, I too am shocked to read the news about Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput committing suicide at his Mumbai residence. It is difficult to know the feeling one goes through before taking such a drastic step and I have no words to express the sadness level that I feel today. The last movie he had acted was “Chhichhore”. In the movie he hadplayed the role of an inspiring, positivity-filled, middle-aged father who leaves no stones unturned in bringing his son out his suicidal thoughts and showing him that there is always hope! The movie also talked about how important it is to accept and deal with failure Being a fan of his work, I had watched the movie in the theater and remember the conversation me and my husband had, that we will not try to put any sort of pressure on our kids on what career they should pursue. Irony of the situation, that it did not inspire him enough to come out of his negative thoughts makes me heartbroken.

As human beings we are wired to connect with others. We all have a need to talk about our feelings and thoughts with our loved ones rather than keeping it to ourselves. Sadly, these days it is the electronic devices (smartphones to a greater extent) that give us the comfort of being easily accessible all the time.

Mental health issues are not a person’s mood but something more at a deeper level. In the past various actors including Brad Pitt, Trevor Noah and Deepika Padukone have openly

talked about depression and mental illness. Real strength lies in talking about it openly and reaching out.

I personally feel that being sensitive, compassionate, and reaching out to those struggling is very important. We do not need suicides to remind us that mental health matters. It is important for people to feel valued and being cared for specially during such unprecedented times that we all are in today.

Sushant had made his debut in Bollywood with the movie “Kai Po Che” which originally is a Gujarati phrase meaning “I have Cut” used to express cutting off competitor’s kites.

“Kai Po Che” -Sushant you have cut off your ties from the world…!!!

May your soul find eternal peace…Om Shanti…!!

What’s in a Name… Old memories haunting… !!!

“Albert, you are late again “, said Nancy in a complaining voice. He sincerely apologized. Nancy told him about how well the client presentation went last evening while they had dinner.

“But your name is not Albert, Mr. Ram Sharma” asked the astonished new maid. “What’s in a name” replied Ram.

Nancy was the survivor of a car accident that happened 5 years back. She suffered traumatic brain injury. Memories of him driving rashly, crashing Nancy’s car and entire life still haunt Ram. He struggles every day to make up for the irreplaceable damage he caused in Nancy’s life… !!!

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