Guest Post : The Parenting Black-Box


Yet another guest post from my ex-manager and good friend of mine. This time around he tries to assuage some of the constant fear that all parents have as to whether their parenting techniques and methods are good enough for their children.

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Image courtesy: http://www.advice-with-dr-julia.com/
Image courtesy: http://www.advice-with-dr-julia.com/

Those days have gone when my college buddies and I used to talk about whose career is zooming and who is making how much money. These days we exchange notes about which school is better and how CBSE’s trimester pattern sucks. Wisdom dawns when we realize that at some point we need to take our foot off the ‘career’ pedal and we start to look at other stuff at home that requires our attention.

Both my kids have a similar upbringing. Both go to the same school. My financial position has not changed dramatically over the last few years (Hope my boss is reading this and is picking up a hint!). We haven’t even changed our residence in the last 11 years. Yet, both of the kids are as different as chalk and cheese. This Diwali, the elder one hated bursting crackers while the younger one wanted to do it all by herself. The elder one is quieter & more reserved while the younger one is gregarious and usually makes friends easily. The elder one needs variety in the lunch box while the younger one wants only curd rice. Till recently, we used to blend curd rice in a mixie as the younger one wants it to the exact consistency! The elder one fancies Siddharth while the younger one has a crush on Madhavan.

In Software Testing, we expect similar inputs to lead to similar outcomes. We place a lot of importance to consistency and predictability. I wish parenting was that easy! The truth is while bringing up kids, all parameters are not in our control. we sometime don’t even know all the parameters in play. While this is reassuring to parents who think they are responsible for everything, it is also scary because despite our best efforts, due to some unforeseen influence, the kids turn into someone that we don’t even recognize.

So what do we do? Just relax and do your best. Parenting is a journey with delayed gratification. You avoid buying a flashy car and you postpone buying the Tissot that you always wanted. You use the money to enroll you child in an expensive school. You realize that you will know the results of your sacrifices and compromises only later. Sometimes these sacrifices are in vain. Sometimes we make mistakes in the process. You hope and pray that your mistakes are forgiven and that your mistakes have no consequences.

Money cannot buy good parenting and I am not tired of repeating it. Mukesh Ambani rolls in money. But, I am sure Mukesh & Nita Ambani had worrisome moments with their child’s weight related health issues. They are no different than us in dealing with children.

You know the best part of parenting? Your goals become lot more realistic. Did the baby burp? Did the kid have a good day at school? No complaints about the kid in the PTA? Great! You have had a great day.

Last night, as I was reading Devdutt Pattanaik’s book – ‘SITA’; the elder one curled up to me with Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire and seeing us, the younger one brought the Ramakrishna Mission’s Illustrated Ramayana and all of us spent a quiet hour reading our own books. It was a magical moment simply because it was ordinary. I now realize that life will take my kids through different paths. As long as they love and cherish each other’s company, I am fine with that.

As I write this post, my driver is checking with me about enrolling his Std. III son in the British Council Library. All parents are similar. We want our kids to have better opportunities than we do.

Do you know what is every father’s nightmare? It is that his grown-up daughter will bring home someone like Dhanush or Simbu as their spouse.

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Absolutely wonderful post, wouldn’t you say. You seriously have to love the way he breaks down all these so called issues right down to the basics, and then, when they are objectively viewed, they don’t seem like issues at all 😀  Do share your nuggets of parenting advice in the comments below. I would love to hear about what techniques work for you 😀

Kalidasa's meghadhoota

Schooling choices – Related considerations


Image courtesy : inclued.wordpress.com
Image courtesy : inclued.wordpress.com

This post deals with one of the most critical but one of the most under-appreciated and technically difficult topic of choosing the right school for your children. I have dealt with this topic in a bulleted manner, ie, have jotted down my thoughts based on broad categories to be considered when selecting a school for children. Please note that these categories are not prioritized in any manner and are in a random order.

Read the rest of this post here … [Link to post]

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Sakshi Nanda, who I personally believe is a wonderful writer/blogger and an even more wonderful human being (evidenced by the topics she posts and the absolutely refreshing honesty and genuineness in all her posts) has been kind enough to publish this guest post of mine on her blog, Between Write and Wrong.

Do hop over and read some of her other posts as well, they make for really interesting reading.

Guest Post : Bringing up children nowadays


This is a guest post from one of my previous managers, somebody who I consider a role model, mentor, guide and friend all rolled into one. Given that he has two daughters aged around 12 and 9 yrs old, his words and views on parenting are precious pearls of wisdom to me.

And his writing skills are second to none as this post proves.

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http://www.readingreview.com/
http://www.readingreview.com/

The Parent-Teachers meeting just concluded for both my kids. The school informs us that they are implementing an IT system to display kid’s performance records over the net and we are supposed to log in and track the kids’ performance online. So, no more progress reports and no more meetings… I secretly hope the system crashes and we are back to the good old way of discussing kids’ performance in-person with their teachers.

The school my kids go to is a fairly conservative one with parents from all walks of life. Some of the challenges which the teachers face and report are –

a. Kids talking a lot in class because they have no one to talk to at home.

b. Kids who are hyperactive and who get distracted quite easily.

c. Kids using profane language with other kids and with the teachers.

d. Kids indulging in bullying, damaging school property & other such aggressive behavior

e. Kids who are super-competitive and who do not hesitate to hide other children’s note books during exam time, cheat in exams and will do anything to get a grade.

f. Kids making inappropriate and in some cases very offensive posts in Facebook.

We are talking about kids who are in primary or who are pre-teens! Teachers report that though these numbers are less, they are growing these days.

My most anxious moments are seeing my kids off to school and waiting for them to come back safely. I don’t claim to have figured out all about parenting. It is still very much work in progress! Some pointers from my journey so far –

1. Girls are as difficult to bring up as boys. In fact, things tend to be difficult with girls as they tend to cry very quickly!

2. Grandparents are good care-givers but very poor role models for the children. My kids return with a lot of currency notes every time they visit their grandfather. Their grandmother cooks whatever the kids want. So what if it is Maggi everyday!

3. Parents in IT industry beware! Many of the problems I have listed above are from families in the IT industry. We folks in this industry are generally awash in liquidity, foreign holidays happen like clock-work and frequent shopping visits are the norm. I am sorry to say this, but our kids know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

4. Put a budget or an upper limit on everything – dress bought for Diwali, a sleepover at a friend’s place, buying a new toy or game. Don’t make it obvious that you are earning so much!

5. Some parent tend to ask their children to mix with their own social class. Merc owning families with Merc owning families only! As long as your kids friends seem to be good kids, their background should not matter to you.

6. Too much of religion and fantasy is also a bad thing. My younger one had sleepless nights when she read too many stories about gods and goblins.

7. Avoid watching TV serials (especially Tamil soaps!) with your kids. After watching one such episode my elder one wanted to know if I have a second wife. (Managing one is good enough!) Families depicted in such serials don’t exist in real life.

Life @ office is a lot easier. Our company buses run on time, food in canteen is bland but safe, our promotion processes are slow but predictable and there is a method to everything. Life outside is a lot more chaotic!

When my kids grow up and raise families of their own, I will put my feet up and I will then write a book on parenting.

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Missing School Days


crazy4teachers.com
crazy4teachers.com

I am sure that all of us would agree that school days remain among the best days of our lives, and for whatever reason remain fresh in our memories as if they happened just yesterday, don’t they. All of us long for those wonderful days when innocence was in plenty and life was much simpler, don’t we.

Ok, now that I have managed to get your attention to this post, let me come straight to the topic. Just like the rest of you, I also miss the good old school days, the only difference being that at this point in time I am not missing my own school days, but the school days of my little daughter, who is at home full time since October 2nd, courtesy the puja holidays at her play home.

When R was younger, both my wife and me used to read out stories to her, talk to her and make her reply to our questions, show her different things and help her identify them, play with colors and teach her the various shapes and sounds, used to read out her animal books, vegetable books, fruit books, and teach her various things. Little did we realize that keeping my daughter engaged for a good portion of her day would end up backfiring in such a crazy manner.

Since R joined playschool in June, my wife has been enjoying her three hours of peace in the morning, after which R comes home, has her lunch and naps for a good two hours. So all in all, my wife had a good five hours at her disposal during which time she used to complete the cooking, house work and also have some time to pursue her hobbies which includes reading, putting up posts on my blog and other assorted things. However, as all good things come to an end, so did this. Come October 2nd, and after spending one full day with my daughter, both of us realized that we were in trouble for the time that her school remained closed.

She has developed into this relatively hyperactive kid who cannot sit still for even a small period of time. She needs to continuously be given stimuli to her brain in the form of books, crayons, shapes, colors, physical games, conversations, questions, answers to her questions, the list goes on. And to add fuel to this fire is the fact that nowadays she is not tired by the time it is her usual nap time. And this means that she has a very light nap in the afternoons which is invariably disturbed by some courier delivery person who picks the wrong doorbell to ring and hits the switch which has the weird song which always wakes little R up.

My parents, my wife and me have all had enough of reading out the same books to her again and again, we have all had enough of playing the same games with her. My wife and me have had enough of taking her to the park and hoisting her up the platform from where she slides down. For whatever reason, she refuses to climb the steps up the platform and insists on being physically hoisted up by either of us. All in all, our levels of patience are severely depleted, and we are now turning to divine assistance to help us get through the 10 odd days more before her play school reopens.

While we truly appreciate the fact that the little one is not at all interested in television viewing of any kind for a duration of more than 5 mins at a stretch, at times we end up praying that she watches a little more TV to reduce the hyper-activity that surrounds her when she is in the same room.

To be really honest, I have never really missed school so much until the last week or so, when I have truly wished and prayed that it reopened soon.

I would love to hear your viewpoints on how you tackle hyper activity in your two year old children. Any tips and suggestions will be rewarded in the form of inclusions in our daily thanksgiving to the Almighty.

Projecting parental expectations


andertoons.com
andertoons.com

I love my Michael Jackson songs, McDonalds French Fries and lounging around in my boxer shorts at home. I hate rap songs with explicit racy music videos, self help books and people who spit in public places. The above is a small subset of my likes and dislikes and how I perceive the world. But the question is should my little two year old daughter also share the same likes and dislikes as me?

To find out my thoughts on this topic, please visit this blog where my guest post has been put up today [Link to post].

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Sakshi Nanda, who I personally believe is a wonderful writer/blogger and an even more wonderful human being (evidenced by the topics she posts and the absolutely refreshing honesty and genuineness in all her poets) has been kind enough to post a guest post of mine on her blog, Between Write and Wrong. Do read her “About me” portion of her blog here and you will realize that she is not a person to be messed around with given her stint with English literature and publishing houses.

I sure hope that I am leaning more towards the “Write” side of her blog rather than the “Wrong” side 😀

Thanks once again Sakshi for hosting my post on your wonderful blog. Truly appreciate it.