You Can Do Everything Except…

Picture credit : Google

Your smile melts me,

Your pain petrifies me,

Your anger worries me,

Your embrace soothes me,

Your call awakens me,

Your progress delights me,

Your purity enchants me,

Your helplessness weakens me,

Your faith in me strengthens me,

Your sweet (not street) smartness amuses me,

You can make me smile, reel in pain, frown, worry, struggle, brave, fight.

You have gifted a rainbow of emotions to my heart which wonders if ever it would ably accommodate this treasure in that petty corner.

Today I want you to hear this once and for all:

You can do everything except to embarrass me.

(A small heartfelt note by every autism parent to their kids )


We were busy with our preparations, the festive mood was so on. There was hustle and bustle all around. Some were doing mundane chores, some were specialists, some were chirping in pearls of laughter while some were making faces for no apparent reason. In short “A Family” was there in its raw elements.  But someone […]


Don’t Need To Belittle One To Praise The Other

Picture Credit: Pexels

**Something I wanted to write since a long time.

Originally Posted On Candles Online

Can the knowledge of a particular language be the sign of intelligence of a person? Can the fluency in a particular language be an indication of one’s educational background and character certificate? Sounds gibberish, right?

Well not completely. This is just a reflection of how the attitude of people in Indian subcontinent has shaped up over decades now. Fanatic love for “English” is an IT thing (rather a HIT thing).

People getting mocked for not being able to converse in English at native level. People finding themselves to be in a fix, out of place, losing confidence, nurturing low self esteem and inferiority complex are direct of shoot offs of our fetish for one particular “International Language” English. We (A majority) somehow have come up with the terms that mastering this particular language is a ticket to a better treatment in masses ; a person who can speak English impeccably is a genius and if some accent is sprinkled he/she is already a star – knowledge, character, education, skill doesn’t really matter. Look at the wannabe insta stars, you will know what I mean .

Let me share few examples/ incidents that I came across or heard:

*I heard people praising someone who got expert skills in English “Kya angrezi bolta hai, wah!” (He speaks so good in English) never mind the grasp on subject matter is ZERO.

*My friend once shared with me his experience at his daughter’s school. The poor child faced the ire of the teachers because she wasn’t able to converse in a free flow manner in English and was comfortable in her mother tongue. Such a shame!

*If a person belonging to a foreign land (read West) speaks in any of our regional language though broken we go gaga over the attempt. “So Cute” is the expression that follows our excitement (not referring to Donald Trump saying Swamy Vivekanand ). But when the tables turn and someone among us try to speak the broken English we brand him “Illiterate” literally. What double standards!

*Parents insisting kids to speak in English (leave aside the schools) even at home (I strongly believe there are other circles/ places/ avenues where English can be practiced), it’s a matter of fame while on the other hand more and more parents are coming out saying “our kids can’t speak/ read/ write our mother tongue” almost without any sense of attachment. I am at loss of words!

*People refraining from talking in the language they are comfortable with just not to be jeered by peers. How sad!

Well I can go on and on with such illustrations not so great to put forward for any country / society. In short we are focussing on the mode/ language of instruction and completely ignoring the importance of effective communication or the content intended to be delivered.

Talking about our overtly attachment with this particular language, light must be thrown at helm of affairs in other parts of the world, countries which we see as synonyms for “Development, technology, power, economy” and every possible positive superlative. I live in Belgium, have been to France, Germany, Netherlands; Have heard the social speeches of public figures from Japan, China and the counties aforementioned. No one carries a chip of shame up their sleeve while talking in their respective mother tongue. On contrary they are proud. And this sense of pride is seen at every level. A public representative is not mocked by the citizens for his or her lack of grip on English. Preference is given to learning rather than belittling their own language (I have a friend who is a professional English language trainer working with bureaucrats, diplomats, parliamentarians etc. SP this is for you ❤) A complete inverse picture of what we see in the sub continent. We have this mind boggling equation, English = Knowledgable/ Educated. On the other hand mother tongue is given the utmost importance right from the beginning in all those countries mentioned above. Schools that lay foundation and aid development of a child from the grassroot level emphasise specifically on the country’s mother tongue. If you are a foreigner in these lands you got only two choices either integrate with them via their language or be ready to pay exhobirant charges for translation be it education (international schools are pretty expensive) in schools or otherwise. I myself have paid extra charges for translator service for driving test because of my incapacity to understand French fast 😁 . In a way they are promoting their language by using simple economics, period! Priority to the mother tongue is something we must learn from these countries.

Why? Language is a part of what and who we are. It’s an integral part of our history, heritage and culture. Precisely ROOTS! Can a tree stand still and upfront if it is alienated from the ground, if roots are uprooted? How meaningful it would be to have mastered a foreign language and yet not knowing the homeland? If we distance ourselves from our history there’s no way our future generations will know the past and future is definitely not bright.

I may sound as a fanatic talking over the clouds but a study is available that proves that for kids who start learning their and in their native language cognitive developments are better. Expression and communication comes easy to them. Better understanding of curriculum and positive attitude towards school are few more points to count. They feel more at home. This is just a bird’s eye view.

But unfortunately learning in native language may not be possible for everyone owing to the small social village world has become and constant migration of people from one place to another. It all comes to availability, feasibility and choice.

I want to reiterate that my argument is not against any language but the meaningless romanticism we have inbred within ourselves about a particular language belittling our own identity. I myself went to a school that had English as its medium of instruction but my teachers never made their students feel bad about their shortcomings in a language and most importantly my school had my mother tongue (Telugu) as one of the subjects and my parents wanted me to learn it. At home too we had an environment where we spoke to each other in our native language. For us English was just a language which we needed for a better exposure outside the safe cocoon of our home/ town/ country ( we were not aware or exposed to the other world languages at that time). English was (is & will be) required to excel in any competitive exam or other podiums. And we simply took it that way. Rather the entire emphasis was on developing thoughts, transformation of a person to personality, ethical behaviour, earning dignity and respect. In short the purpose of imparting education was fulfilled to the core. It was not washed down by a meaningless glorification of a foreign language because it is spoken by “Fair Skinned” (another obsession of my land sadly).

A petty request: I am not out of “Parenting Mode” since last week’s article was published 😉, excuse me for that and kindly bear with me. Parents please make sure that you encourage kids talking (the least) in native language. If you could impart the knowledge ( reading & writing) of native language nothing beats that. Remember their thoughts have to be eloquent and it’s never about which language they chose to communicate.

Teachers: Please don’t shame any kid for their inability to converse in English. It’s just a language and can be worked upon. Debates, workshops, group activities, essay writings and lot more. Different tools and hard work can achieve everything including a grasp on the language but if the confidence gets shattered that might be something beyond repair.

* Schools / Authorities: Please focus on giving a buoyant support to the local language. Its a way to save our heritage and culture.

Everyone: Learn as many languages as you can but remember your mother tongue is your inner feelings you share with your mother (loved/ closed ones), that comfort is the ultimate. And if Englishmen are speaking in English, it’s their own so nothing so great about that!

And here I rest my case.

*** Writing this post in English because it does have a mass reach and I am not against English but our shallow thinking process of trying to compare languages.

Parenting – No Kidding

Originally posted on Candles Online

Source: Pexels

As a parent what is our constant wish and effort – nothing but to give the best to our children. Isn’t it? Be it the opportunities or the materialistic things at their disposal, we as parents never leave any stone unturned to provide our kids with nothing short of best even if we have to go an extra mile. That makes me ponder “Is providing of provisions enough to make us good parents?” Well in my quest I stumbled upon an example from the mythological story of Mahabharat:

Duryodhan (the eldest Kaurava), son of Dhritarashtra had everything at his disposal – loving parents, strength of 99 brothers, “Never Say No” best friend like Karna yet his greed led to his downfall and demise. Though his greed and jealousy were given flames by his ever conspiring maternal uncle Shakuni but it is an offshoot of Dhritarashtra’s failure as a good father. He always used his physical handicap as a trump card, as a camouflage to his insecurities that thrived against his own brother Pandu (father of Pandavas) and this very feeling made him to give in to every unjustified demand of his son. He thought the jewelled crown and the throne of Hastinapur rightfully belonged to his son and disruption of any sort will leave Duryodhan shattered and he never wanted that. He couldn’t see because of his physical disability but his insecurity piled up over the years decayed the truth in his heart, blinded his vision (morally) as he couldn’t see the harm his son is causing to the very roots of his own family in the disguise of snatching power, humiliating and even trying to kill his cousins (the pandavas). Had Drithraashtra intervened and took strong stand against the scrupulous ways and moral corruption of his son he could have prevented Kurukshetra war that saw innumerable deaths, wailing widows and orphans. But he always had crown and materialistic pleasures on his mind for his son because he thought that’s the only responsibility he had as a father. A perfect example of how providing materialistic world isn’t enough to be Good Parent.

This one character made me understand that there’s a difference between attachment and love. Attachment makes us to justify and act according to every unjustified demands of our kids lest our denial might upset them whereas love strive to work tirelessly for the evolution of a better human being and a great character. That’s some heavy philosophy, isn’t it?

Back to the present: With the family structures / set ups changing (disintegration of joint family systems into nuclear families), social dynamics changing so fast, the increasing distance between the parents and kids as to how they process thoughts and understand a particular situation parents have an uphill task of safeguarding their children from physical dangers, moral corrosion and emotional exploitation with an added responsibility of preparing them for life. What are we supposed to do then as a parent since parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual? What should be our parenting goals? Is preparing kids for competitions, making them do good in academics and extra curricular activities, giving them a comfortable cushion for a secured life ahead are characteristic traits of good parents? Well, I strongly believe that these are only perks. The foremost responsibility of a parent is to aid in character development of a child. If parents are successful in nurturing good human beings individually they are actually assisting in constructing a better society and pave way for a better environment for the country. To put it simple: parenting is about understanding and explaining the difference between literacy & education; price & value; right & wrong.

Face to Face with the current reality: Sadly incidents of cruelty, ghastly violence, atrocities are outnumbering gestures of kindness, love, compassion. And what is more horrific is that the young minds and souls are found on both ends – both perpetrators and receiving. For instance – in one incident that I came across on social media platform, a 15 year old autistic boy committed suicide because he was bullied so hard by his schoolmates that he found death as an easy escape. Both the culprit and the victims are kids only. In another incident in the Mumbai city of India it was found a school going students group (all aged between 13-14 years) were talking in an obnoxious manner in their group chats on WhatsApp, to be more precise they were talking about rape, one night stands, sex, making fun of homosexuality, tagging peers with tags like “gay”,”lesbian”. New (much talked about) to the list being the “Boys Lokcer Room” incident. That was horrendous. Where is our future heading? Who bores the responsibility for this? Schools as usual shrug off their shoulders and dust off responsibility. And to be honest not everything can be entrusted to someone else be it a person or an organisation (specifically in the times we are now experiencing where the teacher-student-school dynamics are not the same they used to be a decade or two back)

Parents time to think and act!! Perhaps time to reevaluate ourselves. Are we doing enough for our kids? Are we available to our kids when they need us? Are we listening to them? Are we aware of their exposures and exploitation? Are we setting good examples for them to follow? Before setting goals it is important to understand parenting isn’t JUST about Imposing rules and Supervision. It’s not just about telling kids “do this, don’t do that, sit there, don’t go there, don’t speak” and a long list of DOs and DON’Ts. Simply parenting isn’t a linear correlation formula. Also parenting isn’t about providing the comforts and luxuries (provision of basic needs is no more a parenting criteria sadly, we have surpassed that stage long ago). It’s a pretty complex web often comprising of simplest things. It’s about:

Inculcating the right values: Its the most tedious job of all. The paths of upright morals should be trend relentlessly to set a direction for them to follow the footsteps. Compassion, benevolence, trustworthiness and likes can never be taught by preaching only. You show, you sow and you reap, period!

Right kind of exposure: With the availability of world at the touch of a button or a click away our kids are highly vulnerable to the wrong influence. The different kind of applications and social media platforms have effectively targeted their audience and exploited their vulnerabilities. This situation demands parental intervention. Training of young minds with tools of moral stories (for young kids); history of great personalities who have contributed to the humanity and society, healthy conversations sharing own life experiences, constant to and fro communication with kids in the wake of understanding and addressing their fears, answering their doubts are few ways of providing the right exposure and limiting the unwanted ones. Praying together, eating together, doing household chores together too promote good communication flow. ** Take a cue from the past, remember how our grandparents used to tell us stories be it fairy tales, parables from epics, life accounts of great men and women and there’s no denial that they did leave a lasting impression on our minds** Since this generation is more at ease with technology, use the same for the right exploration. Parental guidance needed is not just passable condition

Building Strong individuals: The biggest hurdle in being a good parent is Our Fear! We are in constant fear that if we say no to our kids or if we tried to be strict with them they might get hurt, they will cry or worse being they might end up in depression. In few instances we also fear social embarrassment. “If we don’t oblige on something what would everyone think of us as parents” also impacts the way parents deal with their children That’s a big NO. By holding ourselves back from correcting them or by deflecting and acting / dancing to their tunes, whims and fancies we are not only spoiling them but creating an overtly sensitive brigade waiting to be released in the vast ocean of hostile world. And we all know life isn’t a bed of roses. Our children must be trained to accept “No”. In no way I am up for any kind of dictatorship but they must know that they can not boss us  (one of my friends, a great woman who never ceases to motivate and inspire me shared this view with me. She is a mother of twins herself and doing a great job in bringing up her kids, we all call her SP fondly. If she is reading this she will know).

Disciplining and maintaining decorum: Every organisation and institution needs a set of rules to be run smoothly. So does a family. Without discipline in ways of life and thinking parenting is a penance without any fruit. It might be an algorithm of to do things during the day or a constructive manner of expressing the emotions or processing the same, discipline streamlines course of life.

What we have discussed so far are just touch and go pointers. Parenting is a humungous subject yet without any predetermined formulas or theories that fit into every individual case without modification. With every mind and soul beautifully different parenting is a thankless job which if done to the perfection will yield a healthy society to dwell in. And if handled inappropriately could prove to be fatal for numerous lives. This needs introspection..

Slowly And Steadily Change Has Set In

Hello Everyone,

As parents of an autistic kid the struggle to find a place in schools apt and catering to the special needs is equally hard as accepting the fact that autism is going to be a part of their lives.  I can say this with utmost conviction because I am a parent to an autistic kid.

Source: GoogleAutism-brain-lead

Life never remains same once parents learn that their kids differ from others or let’s put it this way : their kids have different needs which are labelled as “Special Needs”.  And I am among many such parents whose purpose of life after the diagnosis is to make constant efforts in a bid to make this world a better place for their kid, acceptable to and fro (world to kid, kid to world).

The first worry that struck me instantly was to find a place in school with a staff efficient enough to handle, in fact handle with care my little bub with his diagnosis attached.  The previous school gently informed me that they won’t be able to take care of a non social, non-verbal kid once they had the knowledge of the reason behind his behaviour. It was a real tough time for us as well as for him as he was forced to spend more time at home (no place even in summer activity schools) and he despised it for he wanted to be set free and discover more and we simply couldn’t let him. I don’t and can’t blame them as they had their limitations.

After prolonged chain of meetings with the doctors and social services, a year or so being spent in a day care hospital (routine was just like any other school, going in the morning and coming back in the evening) finally we were able to register a place in a new school specifically commenced for children with autism.   Here within Brussels such schools and organisations are limited hence that adds to the woes of parents like us.  Waiting lists are like blows on already sore thumb.  But on this occasion we were lucky enough as recommendation from the hospital and social services worked in our favour.  Moreover his trainers thought that he was ready for the school and that prompted them take the next leap.

We were ready for a new routine now and equally apprehensive as the kid was supposed to spent more hours in school/ transportation as his day usually begins at 7:00 AM (pick up time) and ends at 4:30 PM when his school bus drops him back.  Given the long hours and new environment I was more concerned about “What would he eat?”, “How he would cope with the new environment and his hunger?”, “Would he able to demand for his needs?”  Basically all I could think about was his hunger to begin with 😉 which is I guess is normal for any mother.

At the end of the first day when I received him at home I saw a smile on his face which did send a signal of relief to my heart.  But I was not sure if it’s just one day wonder or not. Gradually with every passing day my son proved me wrong as till this day I haven’t faced any tantrum (except for few rough days when he had his melt downs right after getting off the bed) while dressing up for the school.  In fact he eagerly waits for the bus to arrive every day.  That’s a blessing I have been longing for!

At school he is kept engaged in various activities that help him to work individually, in groups, communicate better (he is still non-verbal and utilizes pictures for communication at school),  concentrate, learn day-to-day activities that would make him autonomous.  To be precise he is being prepared every day to better himself for the next day.

But still there is a void especially during weekends and school holidays.  Now that he is used to a routine of going out everyday he wants a continuity in that regime.  People with autism can be very rigid with the schedules and it can be an uphill task to explain the reason for change.  Rigid adherence to the schedule is their way of confirming security (they have different prism to look at the world).  That made us look for other options of engaging him when he is not going to the school.  And we ourselves wanted it more than him because that could help him to build his confidence and social skills when amidst new people.  And more importantly keep him engaged with new activities and away from YouTube 😉.

Thanks to the registration with a social services organisation that works for children we have been able to book places (so far) for our son in different institutions during different vacations (there are so many school holidays in Belgium)  as well as Saturdays are also occupied with swimming sessions.  It seems he has taken a liking for swimming instantly.  His excitement is there to see every Saturday.  He has started filling the bathtub with water up to his neck and practicing his swimming lessons there.   The way he moved his body in the water surprised me.

Along with swimming he has a peculiar interest in cooking for he is having a cooking activity every Friday in school.  He likes to observe, stir after spices are added and add water in every recipe (his idea of cooking 😁).  I occasionally instruct him to add the requisite ingredients in the pan so that he gets a sense of involvement in the process.

Over a period of time after he has begun his school changes are quite noticeable in him.  His receptiveness to things and people is evident, no matter how trivial but nevertheless it is there.  And it’s a matter of rejoice for us.  Now we are aware of his interests, probably skills too.  Talking about skills I must say that he sings really well 😁.   He is little bit more independent everyday.

I understand we have a long way to go.  From understanding to controlling his melt downs; from a place in an organisation to a better future, we have a daunting task at hand.  But these petty changes do give us a glimpse of hope towards life.

We Are Hopeful 😊.


Parental Guidance – Be More Careful Parents

As the title suggests this is especially for parents, to be specific parents of kids (age bracket, I leave this task for you😀)

Without beating around the bush I would like to know from parents themselves how do they decide which movie their kids should watch? Isn’t it obvious – of course, the film certification stating the suitable age group aids the decision. I am sure everyone is aware of the different classifications. Here parental guidance is clearly mentioned beforehand.

Basically, parents can safeguard their kids against any kind of sleaze, blood, gore, and anything which is not meant for the tender minds with certifications on display.

But it might come across as a shock that kids need monitoring against the seemingly safe content that they watch especially on YouTube (one of the most widely viewed, there can be other online sources too). There can be no denying that kids of this generation are more or less net-savvy thanks to their early exposure, knowingly or unknowingly to the gadgets and WiFi connections. There can be numerous reasons accredited to this. Our nuclear family set-ups, less time spent with family, our addiction and submission to the internet (after all kids follow our footsteps ☺), and so on.

What’s the threat? Recently I caught my two years old daughter watching a video on YouTube which had no adult content but the portrayal of characters in that video was just unacceptable. It showed a family of four (two daughters aged around 8-15 years, a father and a mother), everyone with a pacifier in their mouths and doing pretty much nothing but destroying things. Throwing bad tantrums along with objects was predominant in that video which was meant for viewership of toddlers. That was pretty much in a bad taste. I immediately switched it off.

One more example: Recently I read that the famous cartoon “Peppa Pig” is having a negative impact on the target audience, you know whom I refer to. The central character is a loud, inconsiderate, spoiled child (a pig as the name suggests) with Haute tempers.

Considering the tender minds kids have such kind of portrayals influence their behavior in the long run if not checked in time. It might sound bizarre but continuous viewing of such negative characters train kids to exhibit traits that they watch. They might turn aggressive, throwing tantrums at the drop of hat, indifferent towards their siblings and responsibilities as well.

The irony is the animations and videos designed specifically for young ones are falling short of the most important aspects that should be their highlights – subtlety and drive home a point. Aspects such as Body shaming, violence, bullying are gradually having sedimentation into the content meant for kids providing wrong illustrations altogether. This is not only pitiable but an alarming situation.

Therefore as parents, we should be vigilant enough to monitor the view list of our tiny tots.

Reason: They watch, they learn, period. This is the only reason why we are constantly careful about our behavior, about the language we use in front of our kids, isn’t it? We want to set the right examples. Then why not go that extra mile?

Think about it.

Let’s Learn It From Kids


Source: Internet

Hello Everyone,

In the process of raising our kids we impart (try to constantly) many things, per say – discipline, values, ethics, etiquettes.  From how to eat to how to and what to wear, how to sit and how to behave especially with strangers (read do not entertain), we keep on instilling things into their heads.  But have you ever wondered what our kids can teach “US”?  They are of course very good teachers if only we can see:

  • Unassuming they are: As we grow and evolve we become complex. And not just us but our relationships too get tangled many a times.  One of the main reasons behind things not remaining linear in our lives is our nature to “Assume”.  “I want to go on an all alone trip but I can’t express it because I know the answer would be NO” this is an example only.  We don’t express and assume that we would be misunderstood.  That’s where the problem lies.  We assume a lot and that messes up things many a time as a result of lack of clarity of communication.  On the other hand we have tender minds that speak up their likes, dislikes, preferences, whims and fancies, wishes – literally everything that leaves no room for ambiguity.  “Mom I want an ice cream, I don’t want broccoli” (I know not a healthy choice though😉)  but what’s important is they don’t assume our response and keep their thoughts to themselves.  That keeps things linear, period!
  • Ego at bay:  They fight, they unite.  I remember this particular episode from my childhood – I fought with my now best friend.  Face-offs, grouping followed but not for long.  We broke the ice when the other one needed help, it was that simple (hope she reads this😊).  But somehow Ego has become our staple and a constant companion which we misspell as “Self Respect”.   We find it really hard to extend our hand to sort out the differences cropping up only to see them develop as a permanent damage.  I wonder what would have been the outcome of our fight had it been fought now.
  • Never fail to question:  That might irritate us as adults but their eagerness to know things is something that we should learn.   Joy of exploration is surely something we should give a shot at because hadn’t it been the eager nature of questioning, we might not have our major inventions and discoveries that improved our lives.  Don’t you agree?

These are seemingly pretty simple things yet difficult to inculcate when you are an adult but as they say “Learning has no age”.  So keep trying and let the child in you Blossom to keep the complications at bay and make life simple, isn’t it worth that?




viaDaily Prompt: Blossom

Share the chores – It Helps!


Hello Everyone,

In one of my article I said “Your time is best gift to your child” (  I am sure everyone would agree with it but many find it difficult to do it effectively.  Thanks to our lifestyles, complications, obligations, choices made out of compulsions we as well as our kids are at the receiving end due to “Lack of Time”.

Well it is not practically possible to sit with them and spend couple of hours separately or exclusively because of various deadlines we have.  In this scenario I think sharing chores with kids can be a very effective way of spending time with kids.  Sharing of chores here doesn’t mean burdening them with orders over orders, I believe you know what I mean.  Ask them to arrange plates on table for dinner, ask them to arrange books on rack or do their beds, they can accompany you in tasks like shopping from super market or gardening.  There are numerous petty chores that your kids can be a part of to make the big difference – for you and for themselves.

How sharing of chores with kids can be instrumental in their development?

  • Helps In Developing Bond:  Guiding kids how to go about a task, appreciating their participation and most importantly being patient while handing over the responsibilities or handling the crises (I mean mistakes) gives a definite boost to the bonding between parents and kids.  Such moments can help parents / kids to get closer, to understand each other (starting from understanding the instructions 😁), talk more often thus giving quality time that we were talking about earlier.
  • Independent individuals in making:  To begin with delegation of responsibility as chores helps kids not only to learn daily tasks but it makes them independent over the period of time.  They become responsible as well.   And confidence is surely an icing on cake.
  • A helping hand for sure:  Help from those tender hands would surely make your day, isn’t it?  And over the period of time when those hands master the little tricks they surely prove to be a huge help and relief.

So dear parents don’t stress too much thinking you are unable to spend time with your kids.  Just give this idea a chance, make smart use of time, let your kids share the chores, contribute in their development the fun way!







What’s the Rush?

Hello Everyone,

When I look at the kids of this generation  (yeah I can use this word “generation” as I am already over three decades😉) I find them very smart, competitive and raring to go. Be it studies or other than that, there is always a rush.  And I have this question at back of my mind “What’s the rush?”.  Why there is a rush to win at any cost?  Why there is a rush to grow up too fast too soon?  Who is prompting it after all?  Frankly, I have no idea so whatever I am expressing here is definitely not a blame game or finger-pointing someone.

I understand it completely that competition is the norm of the day.  Excellence in studies is not enough to stand out among the crowd. “All Round ” development or excellence is the target of both parents and educational institutions.  “Zero” hour studies, “Extra / Special” classes, Extra curricular activities – few terms that are most commonly tossed upon these days. And to include the term “Extra” in the brochures educational institutions are charging extra (read: mind boggling high) fees, just to reiterate the fact or illusion for that matter that they are providing kids with an edge that could steer them through the competitive world and make them a winner.  And parents are definitely falling prey to this willingly (almost).

As parents are coughing up or made to cough up hefty donations and fees for the bright future of their kids they start expecting from their kids to “perform”.  And when expectation sets in  or rather seeps in, it changes gear and acquires the form of pressure on kids.  It’s a pretty much race like situation out there, whose kid is going to make it to the finish line that never exists.  I remember this incident from the days when I used to work as a teacher to pre-primary kids – a father of one particular student came to collect quarterly report of the child and asked me “What’s the rank of my child?”.  I was startled by this question.  I said to him that at first place there is no ranking system at that level.  Ranking (at least at that tender age) can hamper their confidence.  Our emphasis is on how a kid is learning, how he or she is behaving in the class with teachers, elders and fellow classmates. Are the glances of good behaviour and better learning can be seen out of the premises of classroom (at home) as well and more importantly how happy a child is.  As long as a child is picking up the things taught in classroom with interest and shows interest in the collaborative and other individual activities other than studies and most importantly are happy (psychologically not intimidated) we can mark the report card with “A+”.  It was just an isolated incident but I have many to recite if time permits.

This is new age mark of excellence and a guarantee card for success – Rank!  And the grind to attain ranks begins even before a child can spell his or her own name.  It’s a matter of real pity that despite of numerous explanations given n number of times as to how pressurizing could do more harm than good there’s no alarm ringing for those who are constantly pushing their kids to align in this race format.  So much pressure is encouraging methods like mugging up the content rather than soaking the subject.  Result: “Marks on report card with zero knowledge in brains”.

Carrot and Stick” rule of rewards is being strictly followed which says if you perform well then get Carrot (not literally 😀, it means rewards/ gifts) and if you fail get a Stick – get ready to be beaten up (many a times it happens literally too).  I personally feel it is okay to reward a good effort but too much negative approach if one fails could demotivate too.  There is a possibility that kids inculcate fear of failing and expect repercussions rather than perform with heart in place and mind free of fear.  I want to re-emphasise that ranks don’t guarantee success. Success is purely based on the inherent talent and how it is put to use.  I won’t repeat the names of great men and women  around who stand as icons to success but are not rank holders, that would be too clichéd.  I would rather quote people from my circle, whom I know personally.  They may not be icons to the world but are successful in their own right and of course no the rank holders – they are my school friends (hope they don’t take offence 😊), many from my relatives and so on.

It’s also important to see that when we talk about competition it’s not just restricted to books and education.  People want their kids to learn and excel in other activities too.  You may be thinking how it could be considered as something harmful.  Let us take a look at current scenario.  There is nothing wrong in letting a child pursue his or her interests.  There is nothing wrong in letting them compete or participate in events concerning their interests as long as it is only meant to boost their confidence and helps acquire more skills and not to rate their “standing” per say.  In this retrospect I would like to mention about the plethora of  reality shows which showcase kids of as young as 3 years doing stuff like dancing, acting, singing etc. in the full glare of camera eye.  Purpose – to be famous; to earn money; to assess your talent.  I condemn it wholeheartedly.  I don’t see a reason why the burden of parents’ of dreams are dumped upon tender shoulders.   It irks me to no end that kids who haven’t even started speaking properly are given dialogs that they can’t even mouth.  Believe it or not they are made to smile, laugh, play even cry for the perfect shot to be captured in camera as everything is scripted.  Isn’t it cringe worthy?  What is the rush to be popular or make them popular as if there is no tomorrow, I simply can’t understand.

There are quite a few things that parents need to understand ASAP:

  • Teach your kids to be happy at first place.  Let them grow up at their own pace.  Let them enjoy their childhood, don’t force them to grow up out-of-the-way.
  • Know the difference between literacy and education :  If a person can read and write and sign his or her name he or she is merely literate.  Education in true sense imparts values and wisdom.  Give education to your kids, that would count in the long run as it would help them to differentiate between what’s wrong and what’s right, period.
  • Let their interests blossom before you pluck the fruit.  To compete or not should be a child’s prerogative. Never ever force your decision and whims & fancies on your child.

A lot more has been said already in this context and a lot more will be said after this and the question will be same every time “what’s the rush?”.

Play Groups – More than just play


The social setup of families in the current times is “Nuclear” – parents and kids, that’s it.  The Joint Family system is more or less dwindling away especially in the urban lifestyle.  Whatever be the reason psychological or financial;  self-imposed or otherwise the links of the joint family system are slowly de-linked and what we are left with is the single or nuclear family structures.

Mine is also a Nuclear Family in a foreign land.  With no help around, no near and dear ones around going can be tough sometimes.  I can sense it often.  Though days are busy with daily chores and kids more often than not I crave for support, emotional and otherwise.  I am sure many mothers/wives sailing in the same boat  (read living offshore) face such moments – moment of truth.  And of course we cannot call our husbands at the drop of a hat lest we end up disturbing their professional fronts.  And no matter how many times we use our Skype option to call home a void is still there because of physical distance.  And it’s not only us who fall prey to this “I am alone🙁” syndrome our kids also get impacted by the nuclear family set up and foreign domicile at least till the time they start going to school and exploring the world outside.  And this is the time they (between the age of 10 months – 3 years) befriend gadgets namely smart phones and tablets.  With parents busy in their respective duties and with no grand parents or other family members around to engage them television or phones come to their rescue.  They get this addiction  (more or less).  Such involvement also hampers their social skills along with their health beginning with their eye sight.  Sad but true.

What could be the possible solution?   How can I keep my kids engaged and entertained. Taking them to parks everyday or  just a walk outside…. one probable solution but weather in Brussels can be spoil sport many a Times.  What shall I or rather one do?

My sister-in-law once told me about playgroups that her son attends.  It’s a very good idea I thought with kids of almost same age together.   Then I started to search for playgroups in nearby areas to my place in Brussels.  I found few, in fact I am a dormant member of two playgroups on Whatsapp ☺ (never attended because of reasons known to me).  But being a member of a group on whatsapp gives me a detailed account of activities going on in playgroups and trust me it’s definitely a place to be for kids.

So as the name suggests is play group only about just play?  I would dare to say “NO”.  Playgroups are not just about play but beyond that.  Let’s see what else:

  • Break from monotony:  Though we are housewives we do have a set strict routine to follow, if you know what I mean.  Day in day out we are churned in that routine.  Playgroup meets give mothers a break, much-needed relief from the monotony.  Be it at someone’s place or outdoors such meets help refresh moods, that makes a lot of difference.  When kids meet their friends we too can make new friends for that much needed emotional support (to have fun as well😉😃) in a foreign land apart from family.
  • Develop social skills:  When kids go (before schooling begins) out and meet their counterparts again and again at regular intervals and involve in interactive activities be it learning alphabets, recitation of rhymes, colouring, playing outdoors, constructive activities etc. they develop social skills of interacting with peers and manners as well.  And the best thing is that I could think of is such meets would keep them away from mobiles and tablets at least for a considerable period of time.  Double bonanza, isn’t it?
  • Informative/ Educative:  When I say informative I don’t mean rocket sciences.  When mothers meet in a playgroup there is exchange of ideas (chatter added 😉).  Ideas as to how to inculcate habits, healthy recipes, information regarding health issues, vaccinations, schools –  you just name it, mothers know it all.  And playgroups facilitate healthy exchange of ideas helping us to better ourselves for the betterment of our kids.
  •  Potluck ( icing on cake😉):  I am not sure if it happens all the time because as I mentioned earlier I never participated in playgroup meets but I have a hint of doubt that potluck do happen.  If it does then definitely its a feast for taste buds 😋.  Well this might not be a serious point to advocate but definitely an icing on cake, isn’t it?

What I mentioned above are few instances of how playgroups could help mothers and kids equally.   I am sure those who are active participants of such playgroups would have few more points to list.  But the matter of fact is playgroups are not just about play, it definitely play and more.  I would definitley love to be actually active in those circles.