Tuesday, October 24, 2017

RIP Sherine Mathew

It was with great pain I read about the death of the little girl Sherine aka Saraswathi in USA.
The child had some special needs and the adopted parents failed in their duties to understand her and parent accordingly.
One may ask if they were her biological parents would they have done so. Well there is no clear cut answer. Biological parents have also been known to be harmful to their wards.

Parenting is no easy task. Yet society puts tremendous pressure on couples  to become parents. It is a crime towards the child. It is amazing to note how we think that parenting comes naturally. Maternal or parental instincts may be present naturally in most of us. But parenting is not instinct. It is a task that comes with huge responsibility. To be responsible means one has to devote time and effort. Here effort is engagement- engagement with focused attention. So before considering having a child biologically or via adoption the couple has to consider if they are physically, mentally , emotionally and financially ready. Here readiness also speaks of being open. Yes sometimes heredity or environmental factors can impact and children are born with some special needs. Are we open to this? Can we equip ourselves then to learn how to take care of such children? It may sound cruel or too forthright but these are questions a couple needs to talk about. Every family will have its own history. Later there should be no blame game. A child thus conceived will be nurtured well.
 Saraswathi may have been abandoned due to several reasons- poverty , gender, abuse, minor age of parent etc.
When she would have been considered for adoption by a couple in the USA it would have been life changing. The couple would have been utopian in their dream
Of giving life to a child. Yet when there were challenges life turned into death. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why do children lie


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Choices and life

An old man with matted beard came up to me asking for alms. I do not encourage begging but there are exceptions like this old
Man who would have been almost 75 years. When I gave him money he thanked me in English. His voice and tone suggested that he had seen better times. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him speak fluently. I got curious and I began chatting with him. 
The first sentence he uttered was , "I made the wrong choices. Now I am paying for it. "
And I asked him the reason. His name is Prakash. Prakash owned a distribution company for ITC. Plenty of money passed through his hands. He did not bother to save. He spent all of it on entertaining people in posh hotels. His mother would warn him every day that he ought to save. He did not pay heed. His vices grew.His wife died of asthma. His daughter died of brain tumour and his mother of old age. His biggest regret was that he could not afford treatment for his daughter. His money had all gone. So were the so called friends. He lost everything. 
Today Prakash wishes that he dies 
soon. But he knows even that is not in his hand. 
His parting shot was," make the right choices, you remind me of my daughter.. I wish..." 

indeed make or break our lives with choices! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scratch the surface

I had been to a play that was adapted from the very popular movie 12 Angry Men.  This play was obviously adapted to Indian context.  12 jurors contemplate if an 18 year old boy form the slums was guilty or not,of murdering his father.
Each juror contemplated from his/her viewpoint. The social inequality- after all he was a slum boy so he would have done- shone through several jurors. It was exciting to note the predictability, the emotions and the debate.

I was discussing this play and our social prejudices with a highly educated friend of mine. He said very callously, 'well what is surprising, aren't they capable? In real life if this were to happen we would judge the boy as guilty. After all a slum boy. They are like that!'
So the play reflected our mindset?  Scratch the surface and the real layer is revealed is it not. After all we see the world as how we are brought up - secular, communist, capitalist, optimist, pessimist, discriminatory, comic, tragic, morose, suspicious, derogatory, rosy, e.tc .etc. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Parenting in the West- my learnings

I visited the USA to spend time with my 7 month old granddaughter. I had a lovely time and gained another perspective in pregnancy and childrearing.
1.       The pregnant woman is not treated like an invalid: I was amazed to see pregnant women happily swimming and exercising in the pool. It is easier to do leg lifts in the water. The pregnant woman goes about her tasks as usual till she enters into labour.
Neither does she eat for ‘two’. She eats wisely. Hence it was refreshing to see slim and healthy pregnant women.
2.       After child birth- On the 5th day they are up and moving about, if they have had a normal delivery. They are taking the new born in the stroller for a walk too. Both parents take equal responsibility of raising the child. Hence it is wonderful to see the father so active in taking care of the infant. The couple become self- sufficient.
3.       Raising the baby- While some mothers decide to take up their jobs after the maternity leave, some opt to sit at home or work part time. 
Unlike here, they do not have hired help.

4.       Routine- This is something religiously followed. My aged mother found it perturbing to see a clockwork routine being followed. I saw the ‘routine’ to be so beneficial. The wake up time, feeding time, nap time, tummy time, bath time, play time, outdoor time and sleep time is followed to perfection. There is a time and place for everything. Feeding is always in the kitchen or in the dining space.
5.       Sleep routine is: baby is taken to his/her room, curtains drawn, fed, put into the crib. Baby is allowed to cry. Parents wish goodnight and walk out. If the crying persists more than 10 minutes, one of the parent goes in, talks softly to the child and comes out. This is called ‘cry it out’ routine. Some follow this while some parents allow the baby to sleep while feeding and then put the baby to sleep. Cameras are fitted in the baby’s room so that parents can monitor through their phones.
The advantage of routine is the predictability. Both baby and parents are prepared. There are exceptions when some days are not predictable. But largely the routine helps immensely. The parents also can plan their schedule accordingly. Weekend outing and household chores are centred on such routines and make it stress free for both parent and baby.
6.       Being ‘engaged’: Since there are no drivers and ayahs, the parents play a huge role in keeping the child entertained. Personal supervision of the child is ensured at home, at the park and at the pool. The swimming pool is the hub for children in summer. From the 5th month the child is introduced to water. There are disposable swim wear diapers available for babies and toddlers.
7.       Peaceful parenting: What struck me was the patience. I witnessed patience in large doses at the pool, at the park and at play. Yet another quality worth mentioning is that I did not witness children being compared. Parents do compare notes on routines and food but they do not compare one child with another. Hence there is no stress among children nor among mothers. I saw children being taught swimming, cycling, skating e.tc. A child who is very shy was given enough space by the parent. The mother would bring him every day to the pool. He would watch all the children frolicking around. One day he decided to venture into the pool and his mother happily obliged. She did not praise him then. Rather she waited for him to pick up a few nuances and then appreciated is effort. So praise not he child but praise the efforts.
8.       Reading:  Reading to the infant as early as when it is 5 months old is a ritual I loved. There are tiny books with colourful pictures and a couple of words. There is no story as such but it is read diligently to the infant. Many parents read at bed time. There are water proof books made for bath time too.
9.       Breastfeeding- There is a law protecting breastfeeding mothers! Hence mothers can breastfeed the baby anywhere. Here we have the saree or dupatta to cover the infant being fed. There I saw a cute sling like overall which a mother slips over her and the infant. This is so comfortable that the mother can feed the baby while standing too.
10.   Conversation with your baby- Every child- infant or toddler - is addressed as an individual by itself and not as a helpless baby. The baby may be just babbling or cooing but the parents respond in normal words. Hence as the baby grows into a toddler the conversation is normal as between 2 people. So when the toddler begins to talk he/she is talking in a very mature manner. Conversation is built around facts more than just baby talk. Parents are encouraged by doctors to maintain normal conversation.

The above is my learnings and my opinion only.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Insensibility and FM- Radio 1 & Fever

I read the other day that transgenders were requesting the media to support them. They emphasized that if the media lends support to their voices and life issues, the society would be more accepting.

I usually listen to Radio 1 or Fever on my way to work and back home. Today happens to be the birthday of a celebrity producer and director. He has come out clean that he is not straight. Both the radio channels were making a mockery of his voice and identity. I felt pained at this insensitivity.
And to my incredulity one of the RJs made fun  of a racist bias held by the same celebrity. She mentioned sarcastically that the celebrity was here to cleberate his success of distributing the film Bahubali. recently some in Bollywood commented that Bahubali was a tamil fim when in reality it is a telugu film. So this RJ mocks at the situation emphasizing that Tollywood and Kollywood are not the same.
So was it the pot calling the kettle black? we get so infuriated about such bias but do not think twice about mocking someone's sexual identity. But then we Indians are such hypocrites are we not? Always mocking , mocking at someone in the name of anything!