I have questions for you, Mom!

My 9 year old is growing… pretty fast. The recent questions from him were:
“Why is the middle finger bad?”
“Sex is either male or female, then why did the person in the movie PK said it is something we do?”
“What is that and why do you use it?” (referring to sanitary pads)
The list is endless.

If you have faced these questions or the like from your child, read on.

My husband has found a very apt solution to handle these questions. Walk away as if the question has disappeared into thin air or he very smartly finds something urgent to do. Good job! Well, his excuse is that since I handle kids of this age all the time in school, I am more adept at handling these situations better than him. Sometimes being not so good at something is also a life saver.

So that leaves me to handle these I-could-do-away-with-these kind of questions.

I had undergone a training programme on Child Sexual Abuse by Enfold and as a part of the curriculum, there was a very interesting discussion on handling such questions from growing kids. I will share here a few very handy pointers told by the trainer, which has helped me immensely.

1. Mostly children ask such questions not for knowledge but to check our comfort in answering the questions. 
Simply put, they just want to test our reactions. Infact, most of the kids will not even wait for the entire explanation. They will soon get bored when they see that we are ready to explain without any discomfort or shyness. So the important thing is controlling your reactions.
When your child asks you an uncomfortable question, the first thing for you to do is NOT SHUN or AVOID them. Never say, “What are you asking me? Leave me alone. Don’t say such dirty things”…. and so on. What I do is just keep a straight face, keep an eye contact, just nod and listen. This applies to ‘all’ the questions my child asks.This very reaction tells them we are prepared to answer their questions and they have not surprised us. This puts them under ease. Remember that the child is also going through a gamut of emotions when they ask us something of this genre. They are confused, anxious, little embarrassed.

Remember, mostly children stop asking such things to their parents once they enter teens.

2. Never answer these questions immediately.
This does not mean that you answer the next day. It simply means that you buy a few moments before answering. A simple few things I do is turn around, go and sit on the couch or say ‘Let me wrap up what I am doing, so that I can sit with you for this.’ This gives me a few moments to think well in my head and come up with the right words. In a need to answer immediately, we may end up giving answers which could give rise to more uncomfortable questions.

There is another reason for this. The children are so anxious to get an answer that they are impatient. Most of the times, they will blurt out what they already know about the topic. So, that will help in framing your own answer. It will help you play around the fence.

3. Do not give over information.
This is the biggest tip the counsellor gave me. She said it is important to know how much the child is already aware. Age appropriate and just the enough information is the key. For that, the best thing to do is to follow point no. 2.

Replaying the situation in which my son asked me: “Sex is either male or female, then why did the person in the movie PK said it is something we do?”

(PK threw googly over googly: Dancing cars, condoms, sex is something we do … Gosh! It was like playing with fire.)

I was in the kitchen when A came and asked me this. (Yeah… the eye opening discussions happen in my kitchen.) M remembered to respond to his ‘important’ mail just then. I immediately turned my face away from A to regain composure. (Come one… the least you expect while making Paneer sabzi is your son asking about sex) It also gave me some time to think and wait for him to speak to me more.

I then said, “Yes, sex also means Male or Female. But it also has another meaning.” 
A: “Ya, so what is that?
Me: “It also is something humans do to reproduce. 
(I further waited for a while, when I saw him thinking. I did not say another word.)
A: It is something husband and wife do right?
Me: Yes. 
………..Period. (I am waiting for another mind bender)
A: Ok… 
And he hopped away. Wow! Not bad. I thought. 

Precisely at that moment M came back, gave a smirk and said, “May I please bow before you. I could have never done that!”

I think if your child is coming and asking you these questions, you are in the right path of parenting. It simply says that your child is comfortable talking about things which somewhere in his heart he knows is ‘different.’

I hope this post helps you to handle such situations better. Happy Parenting 🙂

Let the kids be…It’s HOLIDAYS!

Finally, the academic session has got over. Though I must say, the last year just flew by just like that. Kids are at home and so am I. The first feeling I got when I wrote the last sentence was that of being super-relaxed. I still get up at 5:30 am. Thanks to M, he convinced me to keep up my previous schedule of finishing off all my household chores by 8 am. So, be it. Here I am, blogging…and yes, I have had my breakfast too. I have now got time to read, write, listen to music, study (for my B.Ed exams next month) and watch good ol’ TV.

Now comes the I-am-scratching-my-brain-out part. KIDS + SUMMERS + HOLIDAYS = The Deadly Combination.

I am seeing every parent cribbing about it. Yours Truly included………………..till I thought otherwise.

Now, I am not much of a patient parent. I love my me-time and I am not a parent who can sit and do activities with my kids for a long time, if you know what I mean. The max I can do any such thing is for 15 minutes, after which my 33 year old brain asks me for a feed. Keeping this in mind, I think I have over-performed by going against the present times norms.

I CHOSE NOT TO SEND MY 3.5 yr old and 8 yr old TO A SUMMER CAMP. Why? Here it is:

1. Summer camps are highly over rated. Most of them do very basic activities and charge 2 – 3 K for about 20 days. Most of the times kids are sent to summer camps not for them, but for parents.
One, we do not know what to do with them. Ya, so whose problem is that?
Two, Kids get bored. True, but that is because we do not know what to do with them. Kids need direction. And we are unable to do so. Blame the weather, the heat, the holidays. So whose problem is that?
We could go on arguing or rather justifying how creative these ‘workshops’ or ‘camps’ are. But I would not agree. The rooms are cramped. There are atleast 15 – 20 children sitting in a room. Okay, maybe 10 in some cases. But at the end, it is a glorified version of a classroom session.

2. I want my kids to love being at home as much as being out. 
Now, this is something very personal to me. As a growing up kid, I never used to like being at home. My parents were hardly there during day time. As I grew, friends took over my life. They meant everything to me. But I had friends who used to love going back home. The reasons were as simple as sitting in front of the cooler and watch TV while sucking orange lollies with their family. Because, I never got to do that, I want to do it with my kids. I want our kids to enjoy simple pleasures of life at home. This is the foundation that we build as parents for our kids, for them to find reasons to come back home as an adult. I am talking from experience.

3. Desperation brings out the best in us. 
This may sound bitter, but it is truth as well. Children get bored. We hand over the i-Pads, our cellphones, X-box and the n number of gadgets in the market. While all this is not that bad, but I think it is taking over our lives, rather our children’s lives.
Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences  speaks about Naturalistic Intelligence which is very organic in children. They are born with it, and it gets eroded as modern technology and external methodologies gets kicked in. It is basically the type of intelligence which a child or an individual develops when he/she is in touch with nature (plants, animals, mud, trees, playing with natural objects). Studies show today’s generation is lacking in this intelligence.
On the first day of the holidays, A came up and said, “I am getting bored. What should I do in the holidays?”
I said, “Go, figure it out. You can do whatever you want.” His next question was, “But what do I want?”
I deliberately did not offer any advice. I wanted to drive him to the level of desperation. After 15 minutes of roaming around aimlessly (It pained my heart, yes), he disappeared into his room. N followed obviously. After about one hour, emerged something that A made using a simple circuit based pencil cap light. I should have taken a picture to share here…Hmfff! I was left wondering I would have paid money to a summer camp for that one hour! This is just one of the instances I have shared here. Many have followed since.

So, what do my kids do at home?

  • They both wake up by 7 am. 
  • They freshen up and drink milk by 7:45 am. 
  • A goes for cycling for half an hour, while N gets busy chit chatting with me while I complete my morning chores. She also ensures M gets ready on time shouting orders, “Papa, do faaaaast!”
  • 8:30 – 9 am: They watch TV. I am not anti-TV. but at no given time can they watch TV for more than half an hour at one go. During school days its just  1 hour TV for both during the day. Holidays are more relaxed. 2 hours does no harm. I regulate what they watch. Some channels are banned in my home. For instance, A watched an amazing documentary on global warming today on NatGeo. 
  • 9 am – 10 am: Breakfast and laze around. 
  • 10 am – 11 am: Water time. They are in the bathroom with water toys. You gotta see my 8 and 3 yr old playing squealing with delight! 
  • 11 am – 1 pm: Miscellaneous jobs. They help me the kitchen with whatever little work I have. They have to be in their room and figure out whatever they want to do with their time and toys. Some TV perhaps. Yesterday, we went grocery shopping. It could be a visit to my neighbour’s house. Sometimes kids’ friends drop in. 
  • 1 pm: Lunch together 
  • 1:30 – 4 pm: N sleeps for about 2 hours. I do my Reiki, watch TV ( I just love watching Taarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma, A watches with me), we read our respective books and take a nap of about an hour. 
  • 4pm – 5 pm: I cook dinner and the kids help me. They help me with washing the veggies, I am teaching A to differentiate between different pulses, cut tomatoes and the works. He is showing a lot of interest. They also water the plants and tend to them. 
  • 5 pm: Milk and outdoor play time. 
  • 7 pm -9 pm: Not a tough time to pass at all. M is back from work. Dinner, music, piano, chit chatting. 
Now, where is the time for a summer camp?
Accept it, kids are kids. They will get bored quickly. They have high metabolism, quick brain activity and active bodies. It is holiday time. Take them to different locations, help them explore, chill at home and teach them to enjoy doing NOTHING. They are anyway going to school, hobby classes, tuitions through the year. 
Let the kids be….It’s HOLIDAYS!

I have been outsmarted.

I have been proved wrong…by myself! After a long weekend of 4 days, when last Wednesday I kept N’s lunch bag in her bag, I noticed her alphabet practice workbook. I casually took it out and to my utter dismay found that the self proclaimed awesome mother has not helped her daughter with homework since 20/12/2013 !!!!!! The many pages had a not-so-discreet ‘?’ written. I just felt like becoming invisible.

What else could I do now? I couldn’t have sent the workbook yet again. So, I kept it aside promising myself that I would help my 3.5 year old complete about 7-8 worksheets at one go, later that evening. Bad mommy! 
Anyway, after my little girl came back after her play time, we sat with her box of colours and worksheets. A had nothing much to do, so he joined the ‘project work’ too. I was cooking alongside, and had to keep checking on the food. Atlast, A said, “Could you please do one thing at a time?” (Yeah…my son said that to me.) I just looked at him, and he further added, “It’s ok. You cook, I will teach her.” (Yeah…my son said that too to me.)

(When I peeped from the kitchen, the scene was this ^^)
After ten minutes, the output was this:

Yup! All done. This was the last worksheet. 
I heard N asking A, “Are you my maam?”
In response, I heard A telling N, “Will you stop talking and do your homework? There is more to do. Now keep quiet.”

I guess, my work is done here. 

One more reason to add to my kitty of “More reasons to have 2 kids”. Thank God, I say!