Super Short Story – Theme “Fear”

I took part in a Halloween special micro-fiction challenge in which we had to write a tale in less than 50 words using the word “fear”. This is the super short story I came up with as my biggest fear is losing my loved ones.

Super Short Story 12

Short Story – Is it just my responsibility?

// This story is the winning entry for “Muse of the Month September” contest conducted by Women’s Web and has been first published at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/09/motm-winner-papa-dont-preach/

“Oh! I have done all the research. It is an excellent day care with encouraging feedback from parents, some of them being my friends. I also liked the infrastructure and aura of the place and felt positive vibes emanating from the staff there. The best part is that they have the facility of CCTV cameras through which I can monitor Kaeira at any time of the day and this gives me a strong sense of comfort and security. I think Kaeira will enjoy the company of kids in the day care and will get the kind of stimulation she probably misses at home. So, I…”

Nipa’s tête-à-tête over the phone with her dearest comrade was brought to an abrupt halt by a rebuke from her mother-in-law.

“Nipa, you will burn the vegetable. Can you finish off your work first and gossip with your friend later?”

Nipa grimaced and hung up the call, and made a dart for the kitchen. As she deftly stirred the greens with a spatula, a silent, little tear drop trickled down from the corner of her eye. Her mother-in-law was never pleased with Armaan’s choice for matrimony and had never hesitated to articulate this disappointment. “Overambitious, too modern, selfish” were just few of the terms used to describe Nipa and dissuade Armaan from tying the knot with her. But, he was clear about what he wanted and his family had to eventually give in.

Even though things began on a bitter note, Nipa tried her best to maintain a cordial relationship with her in-laws post marriage and was successful to some extent. However, this was at the expense of doing things she was not comfortable with sometimes, but because they would visit each other just for a few days, she thought it was fine to let go. But after her father-in-law’s demise, her mother-in-law moved in to live with them permanently and then began the challenge of living under the same roof. It dawned upon Nipa that she had built the foundation of the relationship with unnecessary expectations and fulfilling them constantly had become an obligation and daunting task now. She was the one who was always compromising to maintain peace at home. The scoffs that seemed trivial earlier had started piercing through her like daggers.

No more labeling my child

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/no-more-labeling-my-child

As a new age parent, I find myself exhibiting paradoxical behaviour sporadically. That’s because as we are evolving and aligning our parenting methodologies with the ever changing times, we are also somewhat influenced by several other factors, both external and intrinsic. More often than not, we are aware of what the right thing to do is in a given situation but we end up contradicting our own ideologies. Refraining from labeling my child has been one such aspect of parenting which I personally have struggled with for a while. Most of us do understand the repercussions of tagging our children and strongly believe that it is unfair to refer to a child as “bad girl”, “bad boy”, “arrogant”, “stubborn” etc. Indulging in attaching such labels to them is not only an insensitive act on our part but can actually leave a long-lasting impact on the child who is at the receiving end. Sometimes, the psychological damage can be irreversible. Children behave according to their age and their personalities are not even fully developed. In fact, negative labels can lead them to believe that they belong to a certain bracket and then they subconsciously start manifesting those traits. But, as the famous adage goes – it’s easier said than done, more so when it comes to parenting. In spite of acknowledging all of this, I found it difficult to not label my daughter at times in the past.

I recall an incident when I was undergoing a particularly tough day and was feeling debilitated. My daughter was having a typical toddler meltdown over an insignificant matter (well, insignificant according to me!) when we were inside the lift of our block. In a fit of anger coupled with a state of mental frenzy, I retorted with a bitter “You are a bad girl and so stubborn” comment and continued to utter these words. At that point, I just took her back home instead of taking her to the park but felt awful later on when my temper had diffused. I knew in my heart that what I was saying was extremely unwarranted and thoughtless, all the more because I did so in the presence of some acquaintances. Yet, I could not hold back those hurtful words. I wondered why. Was it because I was just frustrated? Or was it my way of justifying my inability to control her tantrum? I don’t know the reason for sure but what I do know is that it was a parenting blunder. The next day, my heart broke when my daughter repeated my words and in the midst of a casual conversation told her father that she was a “bad girl”. The twinge I felt at that moment is something I can never forget. That day onward, I sincerely began to work towards attaining a grip on my emotions and one of the things I did was to identify the triggers for these outbursts.

How NOT to create a fussy eater!

//This article has been sponsored by Junior Horlicks and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/how-not-to-create-a-fussy-eater

The other day I was whining about my toddler’s exasperating antics in the presence of my friend and I was consoled by her with just one statement – “At least you do not have to worry about food and her eating habits. That is a big thing you know.”  Well, I get that a lot, because frankly my daughter is not a fussy eater and most of my friends are aware of this. However, this does not mean that she blissfully gobbles up all her meals every day, but that has never been my expectation. I know that for most parents, a key concern is “Oh! My child does not eat” and I absolutely empathise with their situation.

Personally, food is never a matter of anxiety for me whether at home or outside, because my 2-and-a-half-year-old tiny tot is experimental and usually finds something to her liking in most situations. Partly, I would say I am fortunate but I would like to believe that this is also because of my weaning approach with her since the beginning. I would love to share some tips here which hopefully can help parents to raise children who have a healthy relationship with food. However, let me clarify at the onset that this is not a rulebook. Every child is different and hence, I would urge you to ultimately follow your own instincts when it comes to introducing your child to solids. Whatever I am penning down in this article is just based on my own experience and research – this is how I went about helping my child to embrace food and not be averse to it.

Let go – It may seem beyond the bounds of possibility in the beginning but we really need to learn to let go of our own apprehension and fretfulness if we want our children to associate food with happiness.  When I started the process of weaning with my daughter, there were days when she did not ingest even a morsel of food, and I would just let go to normalize the process for her without making it a battle of sorts. I did not want to overwhelm her and wanted to let her take it slow. I let her develop a taste for the various food items offered to her at her own pace.

I would recommend every parent to read the book “My child won’t eat”. It marvelously elucidates how we need to align our own expectations to tackle this “problem” before we expect anything from the kids. In the initial years, children have tiny tummies and hence, they do not require large portions of food. In fact, in the first year, solid food is not the primary source of nutrition (breast milk or formula milk is) and food is just a supplement to fulfill the growing nutritional needs of the child. So by letting go we are not depriving our children of nutrition but are rather helping them by not pushing too hard.

Allow them to self-feed – I think this is the most important factor which aided in getting my child interested in food. She used to self-feed certain kind of foods since the time she started with her intake of solids and because of that, she began to enjoy the process of eating gradually. Most of us think that babies cannot self-feed and worry that they might choke themselves. This is where research comes into play. Making ourselves aware can help curb such concerns related to weaning. The fact is that children without teeth can very well chew soft food as their gums are strong enough for that. We just need to ensure that the finger food or whatever else they are being offered is squashy yet firm and well cooked. Also, we need to understand the difference between gagging and choking. Most of the times kids can handle gagging by themselves and choking can happen even when we feed them mashed or pureed food. The best bet is to equip ourselves to handle such an untoward situation. There is an excellent video on YouTube which explains how to deal with a child who is choking and how to identify it. Also, I know that self-feeding causes so much of mess and it can be such a daunting task to clean it all up. But it all seems worth it today when I witness my toddler relish a meal tidily.

Down with flu? Breast milk is not the carrier of your infection

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/down-with-flu-breast-milk-is-not-the-carrier-of-your-infection

The other day I was at a friend’s place to meet her 3 months old daughter for the first time. Her adorable infant was asleep with an endearing expression on her face which made me nostalgic. We settled down for our candid tete-e-tete which was primarily centered on parenting. Like most new mothers, my friend had several queries and doubts about various aspects of parenting which she wanted to clarify with me and seek my opinion on.  I could gauge that she was feeling under the weather and when I checked with her, she mentioned that she was down with the seasonal flu.  She had been coughing and sneezing since a couple of days due to which she was advised by a friend to refrain from breastfeeding so that she doesn’t pass on the infection to the little one through breast milk. She paid heed to the advice and as a result of this, started giving her daughter formula milk which was causing much agony to the baby who only wanted mother’s milk. I was taken aback when I got to know about this and immediately requested my friend to feed the baby without any hesitation. I assured her that her breast milk would not infect her daughter and also shared a few links with her with practical and useful information related to breastfeeding.

Many a times, when a breastfeeding mother falls sick, the first thought of uncertainty that crops up in her mind is whether she can safely breastfeed or not, lest she transfers the illness to her child. But the fact is that it is safe to breastfeed a child in case of most illnesses and even if one is in two minds about it, it is best to consult a professional rather than just going by hearsay and unnecessarily depriving the child of breast milk. Professionals maintain that breastfeeding when one is down with flu, etc in fact passes on the antibodies generated in our body to fight the infection to children which aids in building their immunity.

Carrying Your Child Will Not Spoil Your Child

Are you a mother to a tiny tot? How many times have you heard the statement – “Oh! Don’t carry your child all the time. Kids get accustomed to it and then always want you to carry them. Don’t spoil your child.”? I am sure each one you must have been the recipient of this unsolicited advice at least once. I have been too. It is a ubiquitous notion that carrying a baby habitually is going to spoil the little one.

Firstly, I am not sure if I understand what people mean when they say “spoiling”. Do they mean that the parents would end up carrying around their grown up children in their laps because they did so a lot during their infancy and toddlerhood stage? Or do they mean that the children would be too dependent on their parents for life? If it is the former, then it is such a preposterous thought. Have you all ever seen a grown up wanting to be carried around? What are we really trying to caution the parents about here? If it is the latter, then pray tell me, how does one make a child independent without making them feel secure? In fact, it is the other way round – providing your baby the comfort and security which they need for their emotional growth is only going to make them independent faster than when you try to keep pushing them to become self-sufficient while they are not even ready. They will certainly come into their own sooner or later depending on their environment and personality.

5 natural ways to fight Swine Flu

// This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/5-natural-ways-to-fight-swine-flu

We were anxious and befuddled. Apparently, my child was all set to make an entry into this world and the labour pains could start anytime. There was slight spotting and after having a conversation with my gynaecologist over the phone, we rushed to the hospital emergency ward as per her advice. Certain tests were performed, post which we were given the green signal that all was good and we could go back home and wait till there was any further indication from the bun in my oven. While my husband was completing the formalities of making payments etc., there was a sudden commotion in the emergency ward. On inquiring with the staff, we were apprised that there were some swine flu cases and hence, all of us were requested to put on masks and leave the area at the earliest, especially me because I was pregnant. I still remember the trepidation that had gripped me at that moment. I was petrified and clouded by uncomfortable thoughts – What if I caught swine flu? What if I passed it on the child in my womb? The deadly disease had never caused me as much worry before but when it comes to our children, the strongest and most cool-headed of us can experience the jitters.

 The next day I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and since then, not just her health but ours too has become a matter of top priority for us. Swine flu is a contagious and life-threatening disease which has become a menace and every time we hear of these cases, all of us wish to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves and our loved ones from its claws. While there is no sure shot way to prevent contraction of Swine Flu, there are a few hacks we follow in our family to do our best to stay fit and healthy, and fight the attack from flu viruses.

Avoid contact as much as possible –Because swine flu is a highly infectious disease, it is best to avoid contact with someone who is affected by it. If we are ill, we stay at home to avoid spreading of infection to others.

It all started with a mouse

// This article has been sponsored by Disney Junior and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/it-all-started-with-a-mouse

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

Disney is almost synonymous with childhood, isn’t it? Since generations, the Disney characters have been adored by one and all, and I witness this love being passed on to our kids too. While there are several admired and popular cartoon characters, there is no one more endearing than Mickey Mouse. So, when we were invited by a friend to a Mickey Mouse themed party, I was elated and was ready to walk down the memory lane with my toddler.

When I received a call from my friend, she informed me that she was throwing a lavish party to celebrate her daughter’s triumph in the International English Olympiad. She also mentioned that this would not be the customary run of the mill success party, but it was going to be based on Mickey Mouse theme. The idea sounded exciting to me and I was keen to know how this fantastic plan took shape in her mind. She talked about how her daughter was a huge enthusiast of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show that’s telecast on Disney Junior. In the show, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy, Donald Duck and many other Clubhouse friends help young viewers with shapes, patterns, numbers and other educational activities. It is this adulation that prompted her to plan a surprise party for her daughter to make her feel special.

The imagination of children starts where our imagination ends

// This article has been sponsored by HP and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/the-imagination-of-children-starts-where-our-imagination-ends

When my petite friend who attends my creative writing classes wished me “Happy Teacher’s Day”, I responded by saying “Thank you and same to you”. She was perplexed and wanted to know why I was wishing her because I am her teacher and not vice versa. I smiled and wanted to tell her how much we can learn and discover from children and how they are the best teachers. I did try explaining this to her by using explicit examples but she did not think much of it and was just amused by the idea of her being my teacher.

I absolutely love interacting with kids and imparting whatever knowledge I possess in any field to them. For me, it is always enlightening to listen to their views and opinions on myriad subjects. Many a times, their innocent and rational minds show us a perspective which our conditioned and superficial minds fail to see or perceive. If we pay heed to their voice, they can actually provide us with some fodder for thought always. Their energy levels and fervor always keeps the child in me alive and motivates me to give my best to whatever I do with zeal and vigor. So, it was only natural that I began thinking about ways to involve children in creative writing and provide them a platform to express themselves freely without being judged for their thoughts and imagination. This desire is what gave birth to the “Children’s Corner” section on my website which is for the kids, by the kids and of the kids. This space is for those who are looking at avenues to help their children explore their creativity in literary art form or those who wish to unleash the writer in their children through informed guidance and constructive feedback. Writing is a great way to give an outlet to the imaginative streaks in your child. I am sure most writers will concur with me when I say that becoming a good writer is a continuous process and it takes years of practice to be able to write effectively. So, why not start early?

When I announced the first Children’s Corner contest, the little wonders amazed me with their creativity and flair for writing. That’s when I truly realized that the imagination of children starts where our imagination ends, and my experience propelled me to commence with regular creative writing workshops and classes for children. The aim of the classes is not just to help kids to improve their writing abilities but also to encourage them to read, think and act independently.  The objective is to make them more sensitive, positive and confident individuals too. I rack my brain every week to come up with novel ways of engaging kids and making the classes interesting for them. So we have a different topic with a new activity or exercise in every class, and I am glad we all have been enjoying these sessions so far.

Want Your Child To Learn How To Learn? Go Outdoors!

// This article has been sponsored by Unilever and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/want-your-child-to-learn-how-to-learn-go-outdoors

Recently, while surfing the internet, I discovered that Action for Children’s Environments (ACE), an NGO and a charitable trust which works towards creating safe, healthy, all-encompassing and resilient living environments for children and young people, is calling on teachers across India to take at least one lesson outdoors on Thursday, October 12, 2017, as a part of the global Outdoor Classroom Day campaign. Not just teachers but even parents and anyone else who cares about childhood can get involved in the campaign. Apart from taking a class outdoors, people can contribute by encouraging their child’s school to sign up, or by helping to spread the message far and wide. Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate, enthuse and inspire outdoor learning and play.

I was mighty impressed with the idea and reading about this campaign took me back to the day when I had wholly realized the importance of outdoor learning in case of my child. That day I was gob smacked! My fidgety and impatient toddler was playing “Passing the ball” with her school mates in a field next to the Montessori House that she goes to and they were all waiting for their turn uncomplainingly. At home, it had always been a herculean task for me to get her to wait for something but I was amazed to see the impact of great company, the right atmosphere and natural surroundings on her. Someone has rightly said that play is the best way by which children can learn how to learn because they are naturally drawn to play outside.

It is not that we are not aware of how spending time outdoors is of paramount importance in the overall growth and development of a child. But, in keeping with the changing times, children are exposed to a completely different kind of environment today as opposed to the kind we grew up in. With the advent of new technologies and changes in societal structures, the amount of time spent outdoors is dwindling resulting in sedentary lifestyles. Staying connected to the natural world is actually a necessity but unfortunately, it’s becoming a luxury. According to studies conducted on this subject, probable perils, interactions with strangers and getting grimy are also factors which act as a deterrent for some parents in encouraging their children to play outside, even though they are aware of the importance of such experiences. Though the fear of safety is understandable, we can certainly ensure at our end that children are unfettered and unshackled under the supervision of a responsible and trusted caregiver. And as far as getting dirty is concerned, all I can say is a little dirt does not hurt, right?

I have realized that the importance of outdoor learning and play is undermined by many, because it is largely considered to be “fun” time. Truth is that it also contributes to immense learning right from the infancy stage. Being outdoors provides kids with unlimited stimulus and boundless opportunities to develop their gross motor skills, soft skills, problem-solving skills as well as language skills. Fresh air invigorates and fuels a child’s imagination and senses, which ensures that whatever they grasp during that period stays with them forever. It is not just about play but just simple things like taking a stroll in the midst of nature makes for a perfect setting for erudition. Experts also highly emphasize on the impact of outdoor play and sunlight on a child’s sleep patterns. Needless to say, sound sleep is essential for the development of a child. I have also observed that children who are well acquainted with nature develop a keen sense of environmental awareness.