Why Kids Don’t Come With Instruction Manuals.

baby instruction manual

She came to pick her little daughter up from my language development class. And she looked harassed. Now, she is normally not a mother to look like that, so I asked her what was wrong.

“Sunita,” she said, almost in tears, “I feel like such a bad mother. I don’t know what to do.”

“Why? What happened?” I asked surprised. She is generally one of the most sensible mothers I know. “Riya starts her appraisals tomorrow and I am terrified that she will do badly,” she said.

“But she is only in the first grade. And these are the first appraisals of the year. So why are you so worried? And even if she doesn’t do well, it’s just a school appraisal. Why are you so tense?”

“I was not tense. Her teacher made me tense. She says that Riya does not do anything in class.”

At that moment, Riya piped up. “I learnt vowels in school today. You put an before apple and elephant because a, e, i ,o and u are vowels. But you will say a book or a fan.”

“See, she is learning. Isn’t that what matters?”

“I thought it was. But all the other mothers have even stopped looking after the home to sit and take up their kids studies. Their husbands help in the house. I cannot afford to sit with their lessons all the time like that.”

“Do you want to?” I asked, “And why?’

“I don’t want to …..but then when I see how much the other kids are doing , I start feeling guilty. Even her teacher was critical of me as a mother.”

“Tell me, is Riya happy? Is Riya healthy? Does she talk to you and share everything that happens in school? Is she friendly and sociable? Doesn’t she love going for her dance and drawing classes and as you said, she hates missing our language classes.”

“Yes, I know and I felt that I was doing a good job till I realised what the other parents are doing.”

“And what are they doing?” I asked. “Turning their kids into assembly line people.  Into school at 3 years and out at 18; all of them with the same mindset, the same ambition, the same goals. ‘Get a good job that will pay me well for which I have to slog my whole life’, live the same life as everybody else and finally die.”

“They will never have a single original thought in their heads. They will never be independent learners because Mom or Dad is sitting next to them controlling and directing their homework, their projects, their lives.”

“What you have done is you have allowed your kids to chose. You do not tell them not to go for dance class because they have an exam tomorrow. You do not sit with them the whole time they are studying. You are teaching them so much more than school will ever teach them. You are teaching them to be independent learners, not just students. You are teaching them to be responsible. You are teaching them that life is meant to be more than just chores. While other parents are preparing their kids to earn a living, you are teaching them how to live.”

“Thanks, Sunita,” she smiled, looking vastly relieved. “I feel so much better now. I guess, being a parent is such a responsibility, that we are always second guessing ourselves, especially when we are doing things that no one else is doing. As they say, kids do not come with instructions booklets; it’s trial and error all the way.”

As she left, I couldn’t help thinking of the many parents who want to do something different with their kids, but buckle down to the system and become “normal” parents with “normal” kids.

When we become parents we are given a gift. A gift that is so unique and beautiful. Every child that we have is precious not only because they are our kids, but because there is nobody else like them in the world.  I have a pair of identical twins, and believe me; even they are so different from each other.

And what do we do with that precious gift, we immediately try to change it and make it just like the millions. If you were to own something unique like say, the Kohinoor, what would you do? Would you change it and make it just like any other diamond? Or would you do your best to ensure that its inner fire sparkled? Then why don’t we let our kids sparkle? Why do we dull their fire? Why do we not let them be what they are born to be?

There is a reason why kids do not come with instruction manuals. That’s because each child has to be brought up differently. Each child is different. One manual would not work at all.

You as a parent have a choice. You get to chose whether you want your child to be one in a million or just another kid in the system. YOU CHOOSE!  Because the kids can’t. And by the time they are old enough to realise that they could have been different, it’s generally too late. The years of conditioning have taken their toll. They are too weary to even try.

So what can you do? First of all realise that getting good marks in school is not everything. A school can make your child study. Only you can help your child learn. You can allow your child to explore different things, which are not necessarily academic. Is your child passionate about dance or drama or drawing or even cooking, encourage him to learn as much as he can. You never know, that might just be their ticket to fame. But more important, it will give them something that will add meaning to their life, something that will flavour an otherwise insipid existence and make it delicious, a life worth living!

My daughter, a wife!

naki

I can still remember your first kick,

The wonder of that tiny bubble of a movement within me,

The love that flooded my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

I remember how you would wake up,

With a cheerful toothless smile,

Bringing sunshine to my day

Your first words, your first steps,

The first poem you wrote, the first book you read alone,

The delight on your face with each experience.

Yes, the smile, always the smile!

And today too I see that smile,

Wider, more brilliant than ever before.

As you stand beside the man you love,

Walking together down a new road,

A new life, a new beginning

And once again, the love floods my heart,

Bringing tears to my eyes,

As I see how happy you are.

If there is a tinge of sadness

It’s just because I am selfishly aware

That now no longer will every Christmas be shared.

No longer will this be home

I am not the only mom in your life.

But that sadness is fleeting,

Coz I can feel the love that surrounds you.

Not only from your husband, but your whole new family.

And as you walk down the road of this new life

All I can give you is a heart full of love and blessings!

 

Note: This is part 4/4 of the Letting you Fly Series.

To read more check out the links below

Part 1: Letting you Fly

Part 2: Your first day at school

Part 3: And You Fly!

 

For all you aspiring writers out there, I’ve started a weekly Newsletter;  Let’s Write.

To view the very first newsletter please click here. The next one will be out this Wednesday,

To subscribe please use the subscription box below.

A newsletter?

Sunita_saldana_newsletter

Me? Writing one? OMG! I am feeling so many things all at once! Scared to the pit of my stomach! Yet, somewhere tiny butterflies of excitement flutter.

I have always loved writing. It is my “thing”. Something that made me different from others. Something I was good at. Something that took me from being the girl that no one noticed in school to being the girl who could make the school magazine stand out.

Yet somewhere along the line, writing took a back seat to life (familiar story?); to getting a degree, getting married and raising kids.

This year I turned 50. My babies have flown the nest and I realised that it was finally just me in my life. There was nothing and no one to stop me living my dream of being me.

And so “Project  Being Sunita” has begun. With the help of a couple of friends and a lot of brain storming, I set up my website Sunitasaldhana.com. I started writing and posting regularly and am now working on getting my book of poems published.

And since being a writer is just one part of me, I needed to cater to the teacher and trainer in me as well. This lead to the birth of my newsletters. Yes, there are two of them. One is “Let’s Write” for all those who want to explore the creative side of words and find the magic in them.

The other is called, “You Are Perfect” and is all about growing into the wonderful person you really are.

You can sign up here for either of them, or both and I’ll be with you each week, coaching and guiding you to live the life you dream about.

And You Fly!

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When we talk of letting our kids fly, I never realised it would be so literal. Here we are at the airport, each fighting a million emotions.

You seem so calm as you look at the doors to the terminus and say, “So guys, I guess this is it!” And then you let out your breath in a whoosh which belies both your excitement and nervousness.

You give me a toothy grin as we hug. You cling on just that little bit longer, rest your head on my shoulder and whisper, “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll be all right.”

How many times over the years, have I heard these words. How many times over the years have I had to still the fears of my heart and say, “I know” and then let you go on to do whatever next you had to in the process of growing up.

But today is different. You are no longer going to be with us, where we can keep an eye on you as you try your wings, to catch you if you fall. No, today you are flying, all on your own. Away from the nest, to create a life of your own.

You hug dad. He holds you close, reluctant to let his baby girl go so far away. Your eyes mist over as you say, “Come on papa! It’s not like I’m going out of India. I’m just going to Hyderabad.” He kisses your forehead and jokes about how he can now expect some authentic Hyderabadi biryani.

Natasha, your twin, has no qualms about letting her tears flow. It is the first time the two of you have ever been separated. I wonder how you will cope with that.

It’s time for you to enter those monstrous doors. My worries spill over. This is the first time you are flying. How will you manage? Where will you stay in Hyderabad? What about your food? Should I have gone with you to help you settle?

You enter the terminus and turn around and give us a cheeky wink. We laugh through our tears. I feel Dad’s hand on my shoulder and I lean back into him. We stand there as one, giving each other strength as our baby walks away towards her new life, her new job at Google.

Note: This was six years ago when Nakita left the nest. I must say I am so proud of the way she has managed and continues to manage her life. You would think that knowing this would prepare me for the time when Natasha prepares to fly. But though my head tells me that she will be okay, my heart wants to cling and pretend that she needs me, when the truth is that it is I who need my kids and want to hold on to them. So once again, I will smile through my tears and say, “Go on, my baby, fly!”

Note: This is part 3/4 of the Letting you Fly Series.

To read more

Part 1: Letting You Fly

Part 2: Your first day at school

Part 4: To be Announced