Raising a child who is not homophobic

// This article was written for media/news company “Youth ki Awaaz” and has also been published by Women’s Web. It is available at below links:

https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2017/09/raising-a-child-who-is-not-homophobic/

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/10/help-child-accept-homosexuality-as-normal/

The other day we were at a social gathering and my friend’s 8-year-old child came trotting to us. Her innocent inquisitiveness brought an awkward silence into the room which had been bustling with chatter all this while.

“Mummy, Ria said that one of her friends has two fathers and not one mother and one father. How is that possible? Isn’t that funny?”

I shot a glance at my friend whom this question was directed at and I could sense her discomfort as well as a tinge of displeasure on her face. She was almost about to tell the child to go away but I could not stop myself from intruding at that point.

“Come here Shuchi! Well, there is nothing funny in that, dear. Some children have one mummy and one papa, some have two mothers, some like Ria’s friend have two fathers and some have a single parent. It is all normal. You might have found it funny because you have not come across such families before. But they exist and are just like any other family.” 

“Oh! But why are such families not common, Aunty?”

Before I could answer any further, my friend diverted her daughter’s attention towards a tattoo artist and rolled her eyes after the children left. I confronted my friend because I knew that she was not opposed to homosexuality and hence, her reaction had left me befuddled. I was genuinely curious to know the reason she dismissed her daughter instead of making use of the opportunity to talk to her about homosexuality. I discovered that she felt it was too early to discuss about “such” things with her daughter and that she didn’t want to wreck and pollute her mind with “all this” talk. She, however, was grateful to me for handling the situation as best as I could. I didn’t prod her further but I did feel sad for the child.

While there is increasing awareness and acceptance of sexuality in today’s times, we still have a long way to go before it becomes a norm socially and legally. I strongly believe that a lot of the change that we wish to see in the world will come about from the way we raise the next generation. If we truly want to raise children who are not homophobic, we need to accept it wholly ourselves first. It is one thing to be aware of it but it’s very important to normalize homosexuality for our children without judging them for their questions or chiding them over it. If they witness us feeling embarrassed or cringing when the conversation steers towards such topics, or if they watch us mocking someone due to their sexual orientation, they are certainly going to imbibe it all from us.

7 tips to keep your child safe this Diwali

//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/7-tips-to-keep-your-child-safe-this-diwali

It’s that time of the year! Diwali is around the corner and every household is bustling with enthusiasm. Preparations for the “Festival of Lights” are on in full swing. It’s heart-warming to witness the manner in which the kids are also getting involved with equal fervour. Diwali is indisputably one of the most celebrated festivals in India and it signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. In today’s world when we are all caught up with our chaotic and frenzied schedules, personally for me Diwali is also the time to unwind and spend quality time with my loved ones. My daughter is now a toddler who understands what is going on around her, hence this time she is looking forward to thoroughly enjoy the merriment and splendour associated with this much-loved festival.

Since few years, we have been celebrating cracker-free Diwali. Offering our prayers to almighty, decorating our home with beautiful lights, relishing lip-smacking delicacies and bonding with those who matter – this is the essence of Diwali for us. As a result of this, my daughter will not directly be engaged in burning firecrackers but there are many other factors we intend to take care of to ensure a safe and joyful Diwali experience for her. Below are a few hacks that one can follow to keep children safe this Diwali.

Make sure kids are not unattended at any point: While this may seem like an obvious thing to mention, it is important nevertheless. Diwali has been the cause for quite a few accidents as per statistics. This is a festival which keeps us busy in many ways and unintentionally, we might tend to lose focus while keeping a watch on our children. Please keep in mind that firecrackers, diyas, candles, matchsticks etc. are potentially dangerous and can be injurious for kids. Hence, ensure that they are supervised at all times during the festivities.

A Letter To My Daughter On International Girl Child Day

// This letter has been published by Women’s Web on the occasion of International Girl Child Day and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/10/the-perfect-woman-a-letter-to-my-daughter-on-international-girl-child-day/

Dear Daughter,

Today is International Girl Child Day and this day always evokes myriads of emotions within me. As you grow, you will comprehend the significance of this day in the world that we dwell in but this letter is not just about this one day. This note is, in fact, going to be an aide memoire for me and if I ever try to enforce my beliefs and opinions on you, this will hopefully serve as a reminder for me to back off and let you be.

I endeavour everyday to raise you as a sensitive and strong girl, but achieving this in a patriarchal society is no child’s play. While on one side I will always strive to encourage you to be yourself and stand up for your values, there will be a counterbalancing effect from a section of the society which will threaten to bog you down and crush your fiery spirit. At times, you might struggle to decide what you want to do; you might find it overbearing to fight loved ones and in a bid to want to fit in and be accepted, you may end up losing a bit of yourself.

2007 Attack at Madame Tussauds – By Harshil Goel

//This story has been submitted by 12-year-old Harshil Goel who resides in Hyderabad. He had written this tale as a part of  the weekly Creative Writing Classes which I conduct in my society. The kids were given different word prompts to pen a short story and his prompts were “Museum” and “Actor”//

It was a lovely sight as we were passing through a garden. The beautiful green trees and the fruits hanging on them made for a peaceful and mesmerizing view. We were on our way to Madame Tussauds and I was eager to see the wax statue of my favorite actor, Tony Stark. Once we reached, I couldn’t wait anymore to witness the figurine of everyone’s favorite and the most adept actor in the whole world.

Veera’s adventure at the Ice-cream Parlour – Various Authors – Illustrated by Alankrita Ahuja

Illustration

Illustration By: Alankrita Ahuja, 7 years old

// This story has been authored by Shashank, Arnav Sharma, Avni Malhotra, Tvisha, Alankrita Ahuja, Sharanya, Hridaya, Abhiram, Jeslyn and Kylie together during a creative writing class. I started the story with the first line and then every child added to it one by one and hence, there is a contribution of all these young writers to the tiny tale. During this activity, kids learnt to identify loose ends in a story and also about how all the threads in a story should tie up together. They also understood how to maintain a consistent flow in a story.//

Veera was waiting in the ice-cream parlour for her friends. After a while, her friends arrived and they all exchanged hugs and pleasantries with each other. They enthusiastically placed their order for delicious ice-creams. Most of them wanted to have chocolate and strawberry flavors. Veera told her friends about a beautiful fountain that she had witnessed next to the ice-cream shop. She mentioned that she had seen a mysterious bird there which looked very strange. The bird’s right eye was large and the left one was bleeding. Her friends got scared listening to this but they all decided to visit the fountain nevertheless.

Beauty does not lie in the eyes of the beholder

// This is one of the winning entries of “Warrior Women” blogathon contest conducted by Women’s Web in association with Juggernaut Books. Fact meets fiction in this tale of two warrior women.

The alarm kept ringing unremittingly but Reeti woke up from her deep slumber only after her mother’s squawk reached her ears. She shot a hasty glance at the clock while she dived towards the bathroom to freshen up. She was late for office again and she knew she would have to face her mother’s wrath as this had become a routine off late. It had been almost 3 months since 23-year-old Reeti began having prolonged midnight conversations with Ritul who lived in Pune. Ritul and Reeti had connected on Facebook through a common close friend. What started as a casual Facebook messenger chat had now turned into a clandestine affair, though there were no talks of commitment from either of them yet.

Reeti gaped at the mirror and felt crestfallen. She was almost in tears looking at the malevolent, outsized pimple that had popped up right at the tip of her nose. All the efforts she had been putting in since the last few days to ensure a scrupulously clear and radiant face had gown down the drain. Ritul was in Mumbai for a customer visit and it was a special day for her – their first date! But she did not want to meet him now. He would also mock at her skin just like some of her friends and relatives did during her growing years. From medical treatments to her grandmother’s hacks, she had tried it all in the past but the pimples kept coming back with a vengeance. There was a time when Reeti was extremely miserable and down in the dumps because apparently no boy had a crush on her ever, even though she was considered to be a benevolent, affable and intelligent girl. But, once she began working for a leading MNC, her self-confidence increased and the thoughts about her physical appearance started taking a backseat. Though she had never met Ritul, she felt a connection with him and was keen to take this relationship forward. He seemed to be a sensitive and level-headed man but Reeti was too scared to lose her worth in his eyes. She did not want him to think of her as an unappealing woman and wanted to look beautiful for him.  But, the bulky bump on her face had shattered her desire. With a heavy heart and moist eyes, she sent him a text message.

“Sorry Ritul, I cannot meet you this time. Something very urgent has come up at office and I will have to work late hours. Hope you understand. Hugs!”

Hydro and Strikers – By Shreyas Saboo

//This story has been submitted by 8 year old Shreyas who resides in Hyderabad. He had written this tale as a part of  the weekly Creative Writing Classes which I conduct in my society. The kids were asked to write a story related to friendship.//

In 1999, there lived two aliens – Hydro and Strikers. They were best friends and both loved hopball. They also liked to invent things and their latest device was the tracer which could trace anyone, anytime. They kept all their inventions in a laboratory. They also started working on a new invention – a spaceship which they named MP390. Both of them worked hard on the spaceship and were delighted when it was ready.

One day, Hydro told Strikers that even though the spaceship was ready, he wanted to ensure that it was working fine.

“I think I should take the spaceship for a test drive”, said Hydro.

“Oh yes! I think you are right.”, replied Strikers.

So the next day, at the crack of dawn, Hydro set off for testing MP390. His route was from Mercury to Earth, and then back. But alas! When he was between Earth and Mercury, the spaceship started slowing down and even before five minutes had passed, it crashed into a house on Earth.

Book Excerpt: Shadow in the Mirror – Deepti Menon

SHADOW IN THE MIRROR – DEEPTI MENON

Shadow in the Mirror

Excerpt:

The door opened and her aunt bustled in. An air of expectation hung about her, tempered by an aura of anxiety that surprised Kavita. “Kavita, child, please don’t let your heart rule your head!” Her aunt seemed to be actually pleading with her. Kavita nodded mechanically as she looked at the older woman’s lined face. Wasn’t this her future being decided? “I will not make any compromises, whatever Aunty says!” she said to herself, but at the moment it was easier to concede to her. One last look at the mirror, the smoothening down of an unruly curl that kissed her flawless profile, and then she waited in impatience for the summons. The minutes went by, dragging their feet, emphasized by the ticking of the clock. Or was it actually the beating of her heart?

Black and White – By Jeslyn

//This story has been submitted by 8 year old Jeslyn who resides in Hyderabad. She had written this tale as a part of  the weekly Creative Writing Classes which I conduct in my society. The kids were asked to write a story related to friendship.//

Today is a day of celebration and jubilation. The American Civil War has come to an end. It is 1865 and the 15 year old and shabbily dressed Martha, a black African slave girl, is bidding farewell to the noble looking Stella, who is also of the same age. Stella is the daughter of the wealthy white landlord and Martha and her parents worked as slaves in his cotton farm. Stella and Martha have known each other since they were just 7. Stella used to feel sorry witnessing the plight of slaves at her father’s farm. She became Martha’s friend and began to teach her whatever she learnt at school. Martha grasped things fast. This continued and for 8 years, Stella educated Martha to bring her on par with herself in knowledge and skills.

Are we worth it?

// This article was chosen as the top article on India’s largest parenting platform mycity4kids in the month of August 2017. This was also published by media/news company “Youth ki Awaaz” and is available at the below link:

https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2017/08/are-we-worth-it/

Bhavya traversed down the memory lane as the classic patriotic numbers played out one after the other in her locality. The reminiscences of her humming these songs along with her friends in their school bus brought the rare authentic curve on her lips. She recollected how she used to wait ardently to gorge on the delectable laddoos offered by her school on the occasion of Independence Day post the flag hoisting event. Her heart yearned for those idyllic days.  Lost in her own thoughts of her erstwhile life, she was blissfully unaware that her next client for the day had stepped into the room and was calling out for her. Her reverie was broken by the blaring honking of a vehicle in close vicinity and she realized that the musical extravaganza had concluded as well. On a reflex, she turned around and fear gripped her. Had she frittered her client’s valuable time away? Before Bhavya could apologize, she had been stripped off her garments and her façade had been put on. Bhavya had become Rosy. Rosy was aware that there was no way to escape from the besmirched, dingy brothel. She wondered if she would ever be able to breathe freedom again. The 17 year old was awaiting her Independence Day.

Raghu was an optimistic and affable soul. To the world, he was blind but he could see through the darkness he was born with and at times, could probably even observe what the people with the finest eyesight missed. He often thought that maybe, God had compensated him with this innate knack of sensing people’s emotions and mind-sets. He earned a meagre income, just enough to survive, by performing his daily job as the milk delivery boy in a particular neighbourhood. He had completed his basic education and could also type well on a computer. Those who knew him were often amazed by his independence and self-sufficiency. One day, a lady walked up to him to seek permission to cover a story about him. She clicked his pictures as he posed with a beaming smile and gave him hope when she mentioned about how the story would undeniably go viral and make him instantly famous. Though recognition was nowhere on his priority list, he presumed it would make it easier for him to get another job, a more respectable one, which could help him improve his living conditions and support his debt-ridden family. He was confident about his capabilities but unfortunately, most people did not even give him the benefit of doubt and assumed that his visual impairment would be a deterrent to his dedication and effort. So, as expected, his story did go viral but nothing altered for Raghu. A few did mention to him that they were proud to share his story as they “knew” him. Life was still the same for him – the same old routine, the same old “isolation” and the same old “pitiful stares”. At times, he speculated about the reason why no one out of the many who read his story felt that he was worthy enough. Perhaps, they were now engaged in making another story go viral.