On phonics, bullying, art and why Neil Gaiman always has the answers

Scene 1:

The other day, I was at the library with Re and I saw another mother and child, sitting beside each other. Libraries always make me think of this piece by Neil Gaiman and smile. So here, a mother was reading to her child. Correction: Child was reading and mother was facilitating. Correction: Child was trying to read and mother was interrupting him every second with, “Tell the sound of the word!”

Normally I have a warm, fuzzy feeling about libraries. Especially children’s libraries, like MCubed, which we are members of.The feeling gets even warmer and fuzzier when parents and children are reading together.

But I am intrigued and confused by phonics for kids. Ever since Re came home and said sh- am- poo one day. A word he surely knew before, but now was saying it in a weird way, I thought. How can breaking something that is whole help in making it a new whole?

Something happened between my childhood and Re’s childhood. Phonics happened. What was this strange way kids were learning these days, I wondered. I looked at his books for the first time. I felt dizzy. I called Maria. She said, “Stay out of it. You will thank me one day.”

I took her advice. She is one of those people I always listen to. No questions asked.

These days, Re and I are best friends. I never ask him about homework or school work or sounds of words. But we talk about everything and discover new words every day. I am just the cool mom who takes him swimming and to the library every week.  Sometimes we go on rainbow hunts and make cards for people and post them.

I am a new kind of hands-on and I love it.

Scene 2:

Re came home with a note one day. It said he had been chosen for an inter-school art competition. I jumped so high, I almost hit the fan. I immediately got on to the Whataspp mommy group that I had muted (for a year) and shared the news. Who else is in, I asked, excited, plotting future art play dates with artsy mommies.

Stunned silence. No reply. I rebooted my phone. Still no reply.

When I checked for the third time, the other conscientious mommies on the group were busy discussing Olympiad and Hindi homework and other such ‘more important’ stuff.

I felt like a badass who was excited about art. I suddenly felt like a bit of an activist about art being considered a ‘co-curricular’ activity and vented on social media.

Many moms and dads jumped in saying, “Of course they do art in school; they also do plays and sing songs and what not. What are you saying?” A mother of a toddler informed me it is part of ICSE. (No less, mind you)

They obviously hadn’t heard me screaming, “But why is it called co-curricular?” And yes, I know that bit about art being the choice for sixth subject in class nine, because I taught in a school. It still doesn’t say much about the state of our curricula.

It’s very hard to make parents think about why they do what they do. So I give up, and celebrate the child and his art and we draw ten more ‘wainbows’

Scene 3:

Re tells me about being hit regularly by a boy in his class. This is not new. It is not the first time he has been hit/bullied and I am a bit depressed and sad.  I tell him to say he doesn’t like it the next time it happens or inform the teacher. What else is one to do, I wonder. Hitting back has never been an option for Re and I don’t want to be the one to suggest it. 

I peep once again into the (still muted) Whatsapp mommy group conversations so see if I can pick up a thread from there. Perhaps they are also discussing behaviour and other issues? No. They are busy sending cheesy Raksha Bandhan forwards or discussing lost and found Math books. And more homework. I run. 

Scene 4:

Re tells me once again about being hit by the same boy and now my maternal instinct takes over strongly. I track down the mother of the boy who starts out being all understanding although intrigued by my concern, because “no one has ever complained about Y before”. I mumble something about how there is always a first time which doesn’t make sense even to me. A few minutes later, she texts to say her son has denied doing any such thing. I then do the unmentionable of saying perhaps he is not speaking the truth because he has been cornered. All hell breaks loose. She then sends me a long list of things I am doing wrong (thankfully encouraging my child to make art is not one of them). I shudder. I write a note to the teacher asking her to change Re’s place of seating, and she obliges. I have learned the art of “this will do for now.” Re teaches me how to make dresses from playdoh. 

make good art

Art is the answer

Scene 5:

My first PTM meeting at Re’s big school and I don’t have a list of question or concerns as I wait my turn and overhear another mother going over the progress of her daughter subject by subject and thinking about how little I know about what he is ‘learning’ in school. Then I think about the art we made and the laps we swam and the books we read and castles and rainbows we drew and feel better.

When my turn comes, I quickly rush through the interaction, while mentioning concerns of the alleged bullying. The teacher explains that Re is an extremely ‘well-behaved” child and the other child is a very “vibrant and expressive” child and so there is a clash of personalities.

It makes sense to me for 30 seconds and then I wonder. Is a well-behaved child really a cause for concern? When did it start being the exception and not the norm? And when did ‘vibrant’ become a euphemism for ‘aggressive’?

I don’t seek answers to these questions. Instead I quickly ask for directions to the art room so I can meet the art teacher.

As Neil Gaiman would say, when everything fails, Make Good Art.

(A version of this post appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 31st August, 2015)

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Parenting sharenting: Love, hate and social media

Funny things happen when you write parenting columns and blogs, especially when you manage to wing them for five years and counting. In these years, I have put a lot of my life and Re’s out there; I have been at the receiving end of a lot of love, warmth, affection, cheer and many meaningful friendships. I have also been hated, blocked, sly-tweeted, unfollowed, spite-mailed, ridiculed, even trolled by Chetan Bhagat fans post a blogpost that condemned his view of homemakers. But since the former outweighs the latter, I have let it slide.

In the recent movie Masaan, there is a scene in which a corrupt policeman, soon after threatening a poor shop-owner on his failing to pay a ransom, turns all warm and mushy when his little daughter appears. I figured all the people who showered me with hate must be going through the motions of love in the same manner. There was one woman, who in my early blogging days took the time and the effort to draft me a long email about my stay-at-home-motherhood decision then — about how I was self-indulgent, judgemental and living in la-la land. I don’t believe she even read my post entirely, so quick was she to attack me. I could have counter attacked her, and we could have gone back and forth spewing a lot of poison, but I did what I thought was best for my sanity. I deleted her email.

Another lady wrote to me post my column about how memories are our real estate and not the houses we live in or buy. She accused me of being an irresponsible parent who has brought a child into this world with no fixed address and urged others not to listen to me, and first buy a house before considering having children. Again, I ignored her, because clearly, we had different vocabularies. One thing you learn from having children is to pick your battles. At least I have.

A third pointed out to a study which mentions that “On one hand, social media offers today’s parents an outlet they find incredibly useful. On the other hand, some are concerned that oversharing may pose safety and privacy risks for their children.” To which my response was: I don’t really live my life measuring up to ‘studies’, and I do what feels right. I first started blogging about motherhood when I was lonely as a new mother, and when I got lonelier, I wrote a book about it. The book came out when my son was four, by which time my sharings on my blog and column had grown organically.

But I can say this with a lot of conviction that by putting myself and my child out there, we have only grown together. And in a good way. We have been recipients of a lot of kindness and love and affection, and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

There are many occasions in parenting where you just don’t know what to do; I often falter many times and hit a blank wall, and now I know I have this huge community of people to reach out to, some of who are not even parents. There is much wisdom in a collective consciousness.

Someone else warned me that the online world leaves a digital trail that never disappears. In that sense, the information that you put out about your children will always be there. How do you cope with it, she asked me?

I don’t cope; I don’t look at it as an ominous trail. I’m just grateful that I was able to document interesting bits about my life. When you write things down, they become clearer. You know why you do what you do. I am sure our ancestors had the same issues with the telephone that we have with social media. It’s just about accepting what’s part of our times and making the most of it. If you think of it as the enemy, it will always be the enemy. In any case, privacy in social media has always baffled me as a concept.

Of course there must be a catch, mustn’t there, people wonder. Well, I haven’t seen too many negatives, except being recognised now and then, and often people acting familiar with Re in the manner of “I know the things you say!”. But that is easily circumvented by establishing boundaries quickly. It’s not that I am a private person and my son is in the public eye. Very often, we are a unit. I also see that our circle of love had increased manifold in the last few years and so there are more positives than negatives.

But more than anything else, I follow the rule of my grandmother: If you have something nice to say to someone, say it immediately. If you have something nasty, wait a day. And if there’s something you would never tell a person to her/his face, don’t write it.

It has mostly worked.

 (A version of this post appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 27th July, 2015)

 

 

How children sometimes make better parents

And just like that, I seem to have logged in nearly five years of writing on parenting. Five years of being daunted by my own fears and insecurities, not knowing if I was doing the right thing as a parent, but often resigning myself to “this will do for now” and putting it out there. It’s like people who write about finding love and have no clue how to do it for themselves.

I used to write a relationship column many years ago and it felt way easier, because, in the end, all men and women fall into fixed matrices and it’s not very hard to extrapolate and theorize. With children, it’s trickier. So every time I get an email or a message asking me for advice, I stop to think how much do I really know, and I am queasy about what to say.

But I know this: I am okay if my child shows me the way.

I used to constantly write parenting scripts in my head. What will I say if Re asks me this or that, what will I do if he does this or that. But every other day he throws a googly I haven’t googled yet.

In the past few years, I have made many virtual friends, some of who I even met in real life. I made a few enemies, like the lady who wrote to me saying I had no business bringing a child into this world without buying a house first. Or the one who thought I was being self-indulgent when I wrote about stay-at-home-moms. Or Chetan Bhagat fans who got all riled up when I wrote this.

Six years of being a mother and I can’t say I know things better now, or that they have become easier (as friends constantly promise you). But there are the few things that I make a point to remind myself and perhaps they might work for you:

Here are my top seven:

  1. Talk to your children: In the time that you spend talking to each other, combing the internet for ‘parenting’ ideas, jumping on every ping of the Whatsapp mommy groups, talking to the teacher, the school, TALK to your child. I found most of my answers in Re’s words.
  2. Know that everyone is trying to wing it: Yes, even the one who wrote that book on parenting. Or the one who conducts workshops on how to talk to children. Or the one who hosts a talk show on parenting. Or that teacher at school who gave you tips on how to raise a child. Even your mother.
  3. Live like a child once in a while: Like children if we live life as units of micro time, dealing with one thing at a time, and moving on to the next pocket of time to fill, we would be happier parents. What messes us up is our five-year plans.
  4. Trust your instincts: When you have no time to talk to anyone else or scour the interwebs for solutions, talk to yourself. Listen. The answers are within; you just haven’t reached out to them.
  5. Write: I know it’s easy for me to say, but try and keep a journal of tough parenting times. Some day you may want to read what you were battling with. Life is always easier in the past tense.
  6. Grow something: Collaborate with your child on bringing something up – a plant, an animal, another child, if you have the mind and body for it. Every child is an amazing parent if given a chance.
  7. Ask and you will not receive: Talking to your children is not about you asking the questions and them giving the answers all the time. It is a conversation, it’s two-way, it’s open-ended. Re once told me I ask too many questions. I learned to tone it down that day onwards.

Parenting is live, 24/7. It’s like being in the Big Boss house without even being aware that there are cameras in your child’s head. That everything you say and do is being recorded. There is no editing, touch up or color correction. You can strategise how you will present yourself at a date or an interview and make an impression, but as a parent, you are there, in the moment, in all your naked vulnerable state, without makeup or filters. There is no auto-correct, and children pick up on everything. Even the things you don’t say. Life is what happens between Facebook posts.

 (A version of this post appeared as my column in the Pune Mirror on 6th July, 2015)

Why I never worry about empty nest syndrome

Earlier this week, Re told me he wants to be a ‘take-carer’ when he grows up. I was amused, and asked him what that was. He replied, “It means I will take care of you when I grow up.”

I have no idea where that came from. Perhaps it is from the fact that we now have my mother around, so there is a constant shift in balance of who takes care of whom. So there is Re who looks after his babies (Dipsy and her baby, various princesses, Pooh, Bertie, Twilight and the gang) and occasionally, doubles as their doctor when it’s time for their checkups (ever since he took a shine to Doc McStuffins). There is my mother, who looks after the cats, Re and me in turns. And lastly there is me who looks after Re (when he will allow me), and my mother (when she will allow me or when it comes to doctors or paperwork or airports and other outside world negotiations that she cannot be bothered with). So there are three generations simultaneously playing out roles of child and parent and quickly reversing them with great felicity. But in the overlap of these roles is a lovely, fuzzy comfort zone where we are just ourselves, with no tags attached.

Re is taking his future ‘take-carer’ role rather seriously. He’s been holding doors for me and my mother and fetching our slippers when we can’t find them. He is the chief locator of my mother’s reading glasses and my phone, and the presser of lift buttons and the answerer of doorbells and telephones. So far, so good, I thought.

I watched Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (it could well have been called Motherhood) a few months ago, and it’s a movie that moved me deeply. The movie was made over 12 years, in real time, and films the coming of age of two children and their parents, as they individually and collectively go through some big and small upheavals. Patricia Arquette’s remarkable portrayal of Olivia, the doughty single mother in the film who is struggling to keep her family together fetched her an Oscar for best supporting actress this year.

“I just thought there would be more”, she says in an emotionally intense last scene, as Mason, her screen son is leaving home to go to college. In that one scene, she manifests the empty-nest syndrome as a full-blown existential crisis. She talks about her life as a series of milestones revolving around men, marriage, babies, career and raising kids and at the end of all this, there is a sense of bankruptcy which is so palpable. That scene encapsulates with minimal words the gritty and sobering nature of motherhood, the story of mothers who live for their children and completely lose purpose without them.

A few months ago, Re and I were riding with a PYT who was visibly intrigued that I chose to be a mother when I was 40 and clearly youth and sprightliness (the two ingredients most marketed for motherhood by the media and doctors) were not on my side. I told her it was all in the mind and my mind has never been as fertile as it is now, so clearly my child is at an advantage, because there is no angst of having to spend my ‘youth’ rearing a child.

She didn’t get it, and said, “But the gap between you and your child is so much!”

I then realized our vocabulary was different. She was a checklist girl and I was a follow-your-heart girl. So yes, the fact is that I will be 60 when Re is 20. And I will be 80 when Re is 40. But then, it is still math. Life is something else. I would like to meet her at 40 (if I am still around) and compare notes once again, but for now, I am going to let it go. Because we all plot our coordinates and figure the optimum time to do this and that when life is stealthily creeping up on us, and the funny thing is, even if you do everything by the book, there absolutely no guarantee that you will get it right. We are all winging it, as Ethan Hawke says in the movie. And the beauty of not knowing what comes next is a huge facilitator.

But I can say this with complete confidence that I will never be high and dry one day when he is all grown up and flown the nest, wondering if there should have been more. Because there will be more. There will be me.

 

(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 11th May, 2015)

How I met my boys

BY SAILAKSHMI DEEPAK

As a new mother 10 years ago, I had so many different experiences, some good, some bad, but all memorable. But the one memory that stands out is my obsession about how my child looked like me. His little fingers had a bend just like mine, his chin stuck out like mine, he smiled like me, he had a long face like mine, he walked like me, and he nodded/shook his head like I did….. Three years later the second baby came along, only to see my obsession getting worse. His eyes were just like mine, they had that naughty spark I had, his smile was like mine, his teeth were like mine……

And through all this, I was comparing my childhood with theirs. I recognized that I learnt a lot from the way their father was brought up and how he has turned out to be. So, I wanted them to have all our good traits, yet worried about them picking up our bad ones.

But sometime in the last few years, I have changed – and definitely for the better. Parenting books, parenting blogs, watching other mothers do their job, my own experiences – none of these helped. My kids taught me what was probably staring at me all along. They were just themselves….. both different from us and more importantly different from each other. Yes, their father and I made them, the proof is in their looks, and partly in their mannerisms, but it stops there!

It is better late than never. I have no regrets, just feeling grateful and proud to be able to learn from my babies. Yes, I actually did stop to listen so my kids will talk. I am now noticing so much more about them. I wish I had more time and better memory to soak in all that they are giving me.

My 10 year old wants to be treated like an adult but is still a baby inside. He is always talking about when his upper-lip will sprout hair, when he can go for an outing alone with his friends, when he can carry his own mobile, when he can have a room all to himself, when he can play his guitar like Bryan Adams…… Yet, he is the one who spends hours at the wash-basin making bubbles, begs us to give him a bath, plays with his food, does baby-talk, and worries when I leave him alone even for a few minutes. He does not like wet mess, so painting, cooking, baking, gardening are all no-nos. He chooses his clothes and steps out looking cool, hair spiked, carries a red and white Man-U bag, reads teenage fantasy fiction filled with beasts and battles, and wants to prove he has his testosterone levels building crazy high.

My 6 year old wants to be treated like a baby, but is the closest girlfriend I have. He is always talking about wanting to sleep in our bed, wanting to sit next to us at the table so he can be spoon fed, wanting to be read a bedtime story every night, wanting to be carried upstairs after dinner. Yet, he is the one who spends hours in front of the mirror with his very Bollywood style heroine dance moves, looks at frocks and jewelry when we go shopping, wants to sing songs in his artificial squeaky voice, wants to watch every move of mine when I am using make up, wants to give his two bits when I shop for clothes, or choose what to wear when I go out. He loves messy hands, so painting, cooking, baking, gardening are a big yes-yes. He doesn’t care about what he is wearing as long as it is bright and colorful, hates any hairdo that screams macho, carries a bag big enough to take his books. He reads his Rainbow Magic and goes through his fairy obsession.

They spend time together creating / directing / acting out plays for us, building Lego structures and cities, writing and illustrating books, running a pretend restaurant, pretend library, pretend supermarket, giving us a musical performance – guitar, keyboard, squeaky voice and all, building a zoo, a car showroom, quizzing each other, playing word games, but play to each of their interests and strengths. The outcome of that combination is outstanding. Yet there are times when the older one is kicking his football alone in the garden, while the younger one is cutting out paper dresses for his Barbie. The older one is out riding his cycle, when the younger one is playing in the sandpit. The older one is in the pool, swimming and showing his confidence in the deep side, while the younger one is filling water in his sand toys and swim cap and pretend kitchen in the pool.

I now celebrate their differences, and look at them with pride when they complement each other so well, and enjoy the balance they offer me when I play mom. But more than anything else, I am so glad they are unlike both of us.

 

About the author:

Sailakshmi lives in Dubai with her three boys: 6, 9 and 39. She loves to eat, bake, sing, dance and watch SRK on screen. She loves her job in the library, yet yearns for one in the big, bad corporate world. She hates parenting, but does it because the boys need it.

 

 

When I grow up, I want to be Atticus Finch

This year was my first time reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as a teacher. We have been reading it in my grade eight English class and each reading is a revelation.  The more I think about it, the more I feel that the book is as much about racism, equality, legal rights and courtroom drama as it is about parenting. I read it first as a child, may be when I was 15. I am now reading it as a parent.

The problem with parenting books is that they usually tell you what to do, and they often make children appear to be a problem and adults, the solution bearers. But I have found, fumbling through most of my parenting career of five and a half years, that the problem, very often, is me.

In my first time in Atticus Finch’s world as a parent, I realized how much I needed to grow. This small town lawyer and widower is arguably fiction’s greatest father.  He is neither hands-on nor a stay-at-home dad, but he parents his 10-year-old son Jem and his daughter Scout (6), with a demeanor that most of us can only strive for.

50 years and 30 million copies of course counts for a lot in book’s success as a literary piece of work.  But in its core, Harper Lee’s book is a “show, not tell” parenting book that hardly ever even uses the word ‘parenting’ in it.

I could see my class was as in awe of Atticus as I, and so I gave them a little assignment. I asked them to describe Atticus Finch without using a single adjective. They all wondered why. Everyone loves adjectives, they are our crutches. Giving labels to things and people simplifies the process of decoding them. And then I told them that was exactly what the book doesn’t do. It never tells us, it only shows.

Here are just a few things they came up with:

1.  He knows how to treat everyone equally and with politeness.

2.  When he is in a crisis, he doesn’t panic

3.  He is a parent who doesn’t control his children’s life.

4.  He lets his children discover their life for themselves, and just suggests or advises them when they steer away from their path.

5.   He doesn’t have a wife, but he makes his children feel so comfortable and ‘at home’ that they never feel the need for a new mom.

6.   He lets his children call him by his name so that they feel like equals.

7.   Though he has his own secrets, he doesn’t keep anything from his children that doesn’t need to be kept away from them.

8.   He believes that appearance and background should never be of any importance while judging a person; what mattered were his thoughts and actions.

9.   He thinks that if you have patience, you can accomplish anything.

10. He believes that everybody should have the same rights, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.

11. He is always prepared for any upcoming situation and knows how to act.

12. Whatever the situation, he keeps calm.

13. He looks at many aspects of a situation before coming to any conclusion.

14. He keeps his tone under control and never lets his anger rise.

15. He always tells his children to keep their heads high.

16. He never feels embarrassed or puts anyone in an embarrassing situation.

17. He always makes sure no one is hurt by his remarks.

18. He looks at things from the other person’s point of view and encourages his children to do so.

19. He manages and divides his time between his work and his children very well.

20. He treats both his children equally even though they are of opposite genders.

21. He doesn’t spend much time with his children, but never lets them feel neglected.

22. He believes in the strength of his kids.

23. He always stands up for the truth and inspires his children to do so.

24. He listens to other people and their opinions and he never thinks that he is right all the time.

25. He always answers all his children’s questions truthfully, even if they are difficult.

26. He makes sure his children’s life was not affected by his work as a lawyer.

27. He gives his children their space and time.

28. He is a brave man, although he doesn’t believe in violence.

29. He trusts his children to do the right thing.

What lies in the above lines is the simple, yet complex beauty of the parenting philosophy of Atticus Finch. I didn’t write this, my students did. And they are children. Atticus makes you believe that it is possible to raise courageous, resilient, fair and empowered children and prepare them for treachery of adulthood without letting go of their innocence. As long as you know when to give them the right answers and when to trust their instincts to find them.

Parenting is about a lot of things. But mostly, it is about courage and bravery. And it takes bravery to trust your children. And that’s why I want to be Atticus Finch when I grow up.

 

(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 9th March, 2015)

Letters I write to my son

BY ADITI SHUKLA FOZDAR

 

“LBM, mama, please?”

“Please, Ro, I’ve work to do. Please, not today.”

“Okay, will you run your fingers through my hair?”

I get off my bed, with little grace about the fact that my 9-year-old wants to Lie down Beside Me (LBM) as he goes to sleep. I’m muttering audibly, even though I have been told that he will, very soon, run from my touch. I don’t care for the future: right now, I’ve deadlines to finish and I wish he was asleep already.

As soon as I sit down next to him, on his bed of two mattresses stacked up on the floor, he flips on to his belly and puts one hand across my knees, almost as if he knows I can’t wait to get up and go.

I kiss him and inhale the non-existent baby smell that I can still recreate from memory. Today he smells of body lotion and shampoo, but his skin still feels as soft as that chubby dumpling who first made me a mother.

I run my fingers through his hair, frustrated at how long it still takes him to fall asleep, worried about him not getting enough sleep before school, his rough hair invoking the working-mother’s-guilt of how I always forget to oil his hair regularly. In a few minutes, the movements of my fingers have calmed me down and I do what I’m meant to do in that moment: I look down on the sleeping face of my baby, marvel at how big he has grown, grateful about how much he wants me even on days when I push him away, hard.

He has deep, sunken eyes, like mine, so I wonder if he will obsess over dark circles the way I did when I was a teenager. Don’t worry about it, Ro, I want to tell him. There will be times when how you look will seem like the cornerstone of your existence. That phase will come more often than anyone will admit: at all ages. But it doesn’t matter. Truly. I wish I could rub that into his consciousness, make it a muscle memory so his confidence is never battered over this particular issue. If only I could. The lips part slightly and I know he’s slipped into sleep, his hand lighter on my knees, easier to remove if I want to get up. But now, I want to sit and watch him, a little while longer.

This is where I have imaginary conversations in my head with him, when I tell him things that the rational part of my mommy-brain won’t let me, when he’s awake. I want to tell him that it’s okay if he finds the world confusing, and that there will be many days when he will wish he could unlearn the things that make him who is he. That there is no right way of doing things; that sometimes not breaking the rules takes as much courage as breaking them.

That he will suffer because he has inherited both my sentimentality and his father’s inability to express. That the storms will rage and build in him, without the outlet of words that I have, or the armour of the I-get-knocked-down-but-I-get-up-again soul that my husband has. And that it may not get better, but it always gets easier.

The hair on his upper-lip has begun to grow darker: two days ago, he looked up from his homework with a question, his face awash with that soft afternoon light that makes everything seem ethereal. In that instant, his future-moustache caught my eye and stopped my heart. So soon? It can’t be.

How do I tell him that I write him letters in my head? Letters to the 10 year old. The 14 year old. The 20 year old. The 33 year old. The boy who falls in love and/or gets his heart broken. The boy who will wonder which path to choose: the one that instructs him that he is the master of his own destiny, or the one that tells him control is just a mirage, both ending A or B, already dictated by his choices. That I want to leave him clues about life just as much as I want him to solve the puzzles on his own.

His nose has a low slant nearly all the way down, but just before the tip, it rises in a fleshy mound, almost as if it decided it wasn’t going to continue growing that way. Since the time he was born, his grandmothers took turns to claim the nose, to tag it to their sides of the genes. But it isn’t quite any side’s. Maybe my son’s soul is like his nose. That he will take what he has inherited without his choice and while walking that path, not surrender to it. That he will, right where it matters, rise to be his own person, aware of his roots, but never defined by them.

 About the author:

Aditi Shukla Fozdar moonlights as a writer, when she’s actually just a curious cat. Most days she can be found under the badam tree in her garden, sprawled alongside her 9-year-old and 2-year-old.

(Want to write a guest post for mommygolightly? Mail me at mommygolightly@gmail.com)