Schooling choices – Related considerations

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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]


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.

Lessons in patience

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Patience has never been my strong forte. I guess it had to do with the fact that I was an only child and pretty much grew up with other boys my age. I never had any girl cousins or friends who were around my age and that automatically meant that I had the normal ‘rough and tumble’ childhood that every boy born in the 80s had. This was further compounded by the fact that I studied in an all boys’ school from my 5th Standard till I completed my 10th Standard. And growing up with so much testosterone around me and within me meant that the particular hormone which would generate patience within me (if there is such a hormone) didn’t quite work well at all.

Net result, I ended up having a reasonably short fuse. If things didn’t go my way, or the way they were supposed to, I ended up losing my patience quite a bit. It took me joining a college with more than 2/3rds of the population being girls, and the fact that I actually made a few friends with girls quite early on in my college days for me to realize that the patience hormone existed in me as well. College taught me how to take things in my stride without necessarily getting angry and worked up about the fact that they didn’t necessarily go according to plan.

And surprise, surprise, when I got married, I realized that my wife was also similar to me in that particular aspect. While her fuse was much longer than mine, the occasional outbursts that she would have in our early married days gave me much joy. It helped me realize that I was not a stark raving lunatic as I would have myself believe, and that our patience levels were reasonably compatible.

All of this however changed two years and a month ago for both of us. Little R coming into both our lives taught us that we had a reservoir of patience within us which we probably had reserved for bringing her up. While it is one thing to read up on how to bring up kids during the first and probably the most critical year of their lives, these books don’t necessarily prepare us for ground reality. These books, and websites, at best are pointers towards what to expect rather than how much to expect.

My wife got her lessons in being patient, courtesy the fact that Little R was not a night sleeper at all during her first few months. She was the type of infant who would need to be fed as soon as she opened her eyes, which meant that my wife hardly got any sleep during the first six months of motherhood. And the low reserves of patience coupled with sleep deprivation meant that she was in a perennial bad mood during that time. It was only after Little R’s sleep cycles slowly started matching ours that her patience levels increased gradually.

And once Little R started crawling around, and walking on her knees, that was the next big test of patience for both of us. While she was a good little girl who never used to crawl to the dangerous or creepy little corners of the house, the fact that she pretty much had a mind of her own in terms of figuring out when she wanted to crawl and when she wanted to be carried meant that we had to have a watchful eye on her almost all the time, watching out for her mood and figuring out the appropriate course of action.

The last year, since Little R has started walking, talking and in general having opinions of her own has been the biggest test of patience for my wife and me. And these tests come in various forms at various times of the day. Sample this, when we prepare Little R for her walk in the evening, put on her diapers, dress her up, she ends up pooping after we put on her shoes, and then put on our shoes.

And this effectively means that we have to undress her almost completely, clean her and then re-dress her, and given the fickle Bangalore monsoon weather, there were more than a few days that we lost our walking ‘window’ because it just starts to rain. And then there have been numerous occasions when Little R insists on walking all the way, even when there is a busy intersection or a busy main road to be crossed, she refuses to be carried across, and wants to walk across. Even if my wife or me forcibly try to carry her, she squirms, screams and in general causes a scene on the road. Now, if that is not a test of patience, what is.

Now while the above instances were patience tests of an outdoorsy variety, there are quite a few incidents of the funny variety as well. The past few days, when Little R announces that she wants to poop, my wife or me take her to the bathroom, sit her on the pot and stand next to her waiting for her to do her ‘job’. And it is precisely at this moment that Little R decides that it is a good time to start reciting her ‘Ring-a-ring-a roses’ or ‘Baa baa black sheep’ rhymes. And the funny part is she doesn’t do her ‘job’ until the rhyme is sung by us as well and finished to her satisfaction. While this was funny for the first few times that she did this, the fact that she is doing this almost every time she wants to poop, which is at least twice a day makes this whole excursion a test of patience.

As the saying goes Child is the father of man and given that my father didn’t quite teach me how to be patient enough, I guess Little R has taken it on herself to ensure that I become more and more patient with each passing day.

Go ahead and share your ‘patience anecdotes’ as comments to this post. At least the rest of us can have a laugh, right.

Jill of all trades


We all want our children to excel not only at academics but also at various extra curricular activities as well. So much so that as soon as the kids are a little old enough, we enroll them in various classes, Summer Camps, institutes which specialize in imparting special skills to children and the like.

That being said, do we even pause for a moment and think about what the right way of identifying and encouraging our childrens’ talent is.

Every once in a while, my wife and me get around to talking about some of the hobbies that we have developed and how our parents were not particularly enthusiastic about our extra-curricular pursuits. Not to say that they discouraged it, but they didn’t put in any special efforts to try and identify the hobbies that we were good at or did not go the extra mile to encourage us to pursue a hobby to enjoy it completely.

While my wife at least had the luxury of learning the violin and later on learn the basics of Carnatic music, for me it was more of my parents trying to generate an interest in music, which due to the ignorance and innocence of childhood, I completely ignored. They did not push me enough to get exposed to any new hobby or creative pursuit at all and were content to let me be, just playing gully cricket with other boys my age.

Based on our childhood experiences, both my wife and me have decided to let our daughter (who is all of 2 years old now) have an exposure to as many extra-curricular activities as possible at an early age itself. And then, based on her interest levels and relative skills in comparison to her peer group, pursue one or maybe two hobbies seriously. Rather than put her through the grind of enrolling into various summer camps and talent workshops, we would rather that she gets the basic exposure required to figure out what activities she really likes and enjoys doing and then letting her pursue the same.

While, this approach brings with it the risk of her taking up an activity seriously initially, and then gradually losing interest in the same. It also allows her the freedom of being independent at a very young age itself and doing things which she is genuinely interested in rather than something her parents want her to do. After all, we are not anticipating another Saina Nehwal or Shreya Ghosal in the family (although that would be kind of nice, given the amount of adulation, adoration and appreciation that the parents of such superstars get in India, today :D ).

During our walks in the neighborhood during May and June, both my wife and me noticed the proliferation of summer camps which offered training in things as diverse as craft making to sports coaching. And, we also noticed that quite a few kids were enrolled in these and the classes went on for a good part of the day for a substantial portion of the summer vacations of kids. And this phenomenon is among one of the many things that completely turned both of us off of the summer coaching camps.

Per our reasoning, one of the main reasons for so many summer camps cropping up and loads of kids lining up to enroll for the same is due to the fact that most families today are double income families, i.e. both the parents are working and they have no other choice but to enroll their kids in these camps in the summer, so that they don’t trouble their grandparents too much for a large portion of the day. That being said, our personal opinion is that this will end up with the kids being “Jacks of all trades, but master of none” and that is something which is good in the short run, ends up being somewhat detrimental in the long run. Kids are better off pursuing one or maybe two hobbies which they enjoy and take up seriously and excel at, aren’t they?

I would really love to hear other parents’ viewpoints on this topic, as this is something that both my wife and me continuously grapple with almost once every fortnight.


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A letter to my 2 yr old daughter


Hi R,

You just turned 2 years old on 25th August. I still find it hard to believe that 2 whole years have passed by since that fateful day in 2011 when you decided to pop out exactly after 38 weeks in your Amma’s tummy.

The auto ride back home, the drive to the maternity centre, the 3+ hour-long wait in the labour room withAmma, the approximately one hour-long wait outside the operation theatre, most of these incidents are still reasonably crystal clear in my memory. And then, when one of the midwives carried you out, all wrapped in green, looking like a half Caucasian-half Chinese kid of whom only the face was visible, I still remember the serene expression you had when you were asleep. I still remember when your Amma was wheeled out on the stretcher, her ‘doped with anesthesia’ expression and her words “wow, what are all you people doing here?” with a smile on her face. Man, that was one crazy day…

But then I digress, this letter was meant to be about your second year and not about the day you were born. As you grow older, you will realise that I have a tendency to digress from the given topic that I start with. But again, I also have a tendency to course correct in a short while, just one of those endearing character traits, I hope.

In any case, most parents talk about the ‘Terrible Twos’ in hushed tones. They make it sound like the second year of all kids’ lives is probably the worst phase in all parents’ lives. I mean they do call it the ‘Terrible Twos’ for a reason, don’t they! Apparently, this is the age when kids slowly start learning to be just little more independent of their parents compared to the first year, this is when they have figured out how to be mobile on their own (walking and running), this is also when their vocabulary starts developing and they start stringing words together and start screaming their lungs out.

And based on anecdotal evidence, I also believe that this is when they start figuring out that tantrums work in their favour and quite obviously, they start using them extensively as a bargaining tool.

However, in your case, R, the second year has been quite a wonderful and eventful one. First of all, seven months into your second year, we moved down to Bangalore and are now staying with your paternal grandparents. That way you have the benefit of being with your grandparents every single day and being showered with their love and affection. You also made two relatively longish trips to Thrissur and spent some quality time with your maternal grandparents as well, who in turn absolutely loved your company for the couple of weeks that you spent with them. And two months ago, you also joined a playschool near home. Based on what the teacher has to tell your mother, it looks like you are yet to make friends with your classmates, but that is only just a matter of time.

You have settled down into a good daily schedule now with 3 hours of playschool in the morning, approximately 2.5 hours of nap time in the afternoons, around 1-2 hours of walking, shopping, etc. with your mother and me in the evenings, around 1-2 hours of reading books and playing other kiddie games in the evenings and nights, and a good bedtime routine with your mother where she reads out your favourite books to you. That is a good schedule, and this was developed in the terrible twos’ year.

You have been an awesome child in this second year. You have almost been potty trained, and are now able to put together more than 3-4 words to make a reasonably coherent sentence. You recognise all the English alphabets and are more than happy to show off your skills wherever you see a signboard, or anything which has capital alphabets written on the same. You are absolutely in love with your books and keep reading and re-reading them at every given opportunity. You know the days of the week, months of the year by heart and narrate them out to yourself even when nobody wants you to. What more can parents ask for from a 2-year-old girl? You, R, are the best gift that your mother and I have ever received.

Soon, you will be making friends at school, and in your third year, you will also begin real schooling starting off with Lower Kindergarten. Slowly you will start loving your teachers and friends as well and we will have to compete with them for your attention. But we don’t have any issues with this setup as that is the way things have to be, and we are more than happy.

Go on R, it is time to learn that there is a big world out there beyond the boundaries of your immediate relatives. Go on, explore the world, the wonderful opportunities it offers to be happy and contented. We (Amma and Appa) are always going to be there for you.

Yours lovingly…  Appa


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Separation Pangs



As parents, all of us are so accustomed to having our kids (especially little ones like mine – 23 months old) around all the time that we just don’t realize how time flies by us on a day to day basis. More often than not 24 hours in a day is simply not enough with a hyperactive toddler running around begging for your time, energy and attention.

That being said, the one off occasions where my wife S takes my daughter R to her maternal home are the times when I really and truly miss both of them a lot. Funnily enough R is at an age where she adapts beautifully to her surroundings and circumstances and doesn’t miss me even a little. I wonder if kids are like that only with their fathers, as they are used to their fathers being out of their sights for longer periods of time. I remember this one week where S left R in my charge and went out of town. After 3 silent days, R started missing her mother and frequently started asking me where Amma was and it took all of my imagination to come up with answers to this question for the next 4 days. However, this time around R is with her mother, who informs me that she has not asked for me at all for the last 5 days now, and that makes me wonder.

This is probably what is termed the ‘maternal bond’. After all R was in S’s tummy for a good 9 odd months and still heavily relies on her for all of her daily needs like food, water, safety, etc. God does give the fathers a raw deal in such cases, doesn’t he? Almost all the good qualities that a child has is almost always attributed to the mother of the child. If a child is healthy, funny, active, smart, all the credit goes to the mother. It is assumed that the mother has taught and conditioned her child so well that she displays all of these good qualities. It is extremely rare that the father gets the credit for any of these qualities in a child.

I really don’t blame people for not recognizing the father’s contribution to a child’s development. After all, we live in a country where most fathers deem their primary responsibility to be the earning of enough money to keep the mother and child happy and contented. I still have to see too many fathers who actually contribute in any other way to the upbringing of the child, and this observation of mine holds good across all economic and social strata of people that I have interacted with. That being said, I have also had the privilege of having interacted with more hands-on fathers as well who step up, take the responsibility of the child so that the mother can take some time off from parenting.

In any case, I digress. The point of this post was to highlight the fact that even as children we probably are more dependent and reliant on our mothers than our fathers. The ‘maternal bond’ that I spoke of earlier is so strong in the mothers as well. I personally have had instances where S has realized that R is in trouble in the next room or downstairs when she was playing with her grandparents. And on more than one occasion, S’s intuition about things like these has proven right, which clearly explains the existence of the ‘maternal bond.

Wonder why God or nature didn’t come up with a similar ‘fraternal bond’. It would be awesome if fathers also had this natural intuitive sense when it came to gauging what their children wanted. That way I wouldn’t end up giving R biscuits when what she actually wanted was just a tight hug from me 🙂


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