What does Patience mean to us?

By far the most manipulated word I have come across is’ patience. Here’s a fun activity to do; ask people around you of varied ages what they mean when they say ‘have patience’. You will get a mixed answers, some may make you feel pessimistic about it, some may make you feel good. You see, patience is like a shawl that all of us have had to wrap ourselves with at some point in our lives, and based on how our issues were resolved we define patience. I know that a lot of the people around me take patience to be this miracle that will cure all problems, but their way to practicing it is just sad.

Patience around me mostly has been defined as to bearing with whatever is happening, basically putting up with whatever rubbish it is that is going on in your life. Now mostly our problems are due to others around us and not so much because of ourselves. So once we do whatever we can to resolve our problems, we have to be patient while others continue to be the way they are and hence continue to mess with our lives. Spiritual people will manipulate patience with no end. They will say God will reward you for your patience (as defined earlier in this para), you shall go to heaven for your patient (ditto) blah blah blah….But I was never satisfied, why would my own creator want me to just sit and suffer?

So I got very interested in the topic of patience/Sabr and found much to read, and understand. Some of the stuff didn’t set with me, as humans we always try to apply every concept to our own personal lives and see if it fits, and if it doesn’t or seems like it doesn’t we totally reject the idea/concept/belief. In Islam patience is of different types, there is much reward for the one who is practicing patience etc etc. Understood. My ultimate understanding of patience was discovered in an interview of Maulana Jaun, it wasn’t even on the topic of patience BTW, but in his talk he cleared the air about it. And that is when the cloud of confusion moved away. However this cloud is one stubborn cloud and keeps coming back, and pushes us to despair.

As struggles in life increase with age, I have noticed that the most difficult problems are the ones caused by others. We don’t control the universe, and anxiety can totally take over our sanity and leave us pessimistic, sad and depressed. The worst state that one can reach due to such happenings in life is despair AKA Yas. (It is the second greater sin in Islam). Basically once you reach there, it’s all downhill!

Anyway, today being the first day of the month of Ramadan, I decided to listen to a lecture I had saved in my ‘watch later’ list on Youtube. Usually in life I have noticed that I go looking for something, with good intentions but I most of the time do not end up getting it, however I end up with something more. I guess it’s Gods way of guiding His people. Just like the lecture above I actually went about to know more and learn more from and about Bibi Zainab (AS) since I share her name and believe it is important for us to understand the affect of the name of the person on whom you have been named.

It just so happened that Sheikh Jaffer in this lecture speaks about the various good qualities of her, but focuses the majority of his lecture on Patience, and while some of the information (like the types of patience) was already familiar to me, it was his explanation that answered some of my questions, brought peace to my heart, and most importantly gave me the inspiration to be more patient.

Patience in all it’s true meaning, means to be steadfast, while waiting for the results. And so you don’t sit thinking patience is the finality of your struggle, it is what will enable you to work, struggle, move to make things better.  The truth is that it’s a phase, and Islamically your patience being tested is a sign that you are chosen to be tested.

As mothers and human beings, we have the responsibility of a society on us as we nurture future adult members of the society. It also the responsibility of the fathers, but I am focusing on mothers because I am one. And I firmly believe and second Maulana Jaffer in educating and supporting our children in understanding what patience is. And most importantly as parents we need to not just jabber about the theory of patience, but be brave role models. We all know that children learn through what they see, and they should see the beauty in our struggles, so that they are chosen for bigger struggles and grow closer to their creator, and also become the support system for others who are going through a difficult time.

Anyone can make you laugh to take your mind off worries, but it is a true human who will help you through your difficult time by showing you how to be patient, and be patient with you while you struggle 🙂

Accepting Ignorance

I just came across a quote that inspired me to write this post. This is going to be deeply intellectual and thought provoking readers….

“Whoever abandons saying, “I do not know” meets his destruction”- Imam Ali (as)

The above quote holds great significance in my life. It has been my point of realisation of many people and mentalities around me. This isn’t specific to Hyderabad per say, even though here is where I came to my realisations. I will break this quote down into three…Child, parent and society

1. Child-A child will never be afraid to say “mommy I don’t know”. He is willing to learn, and so he understands the only way to do so is just express that he doesn’t have the knowledge. This eventually dies in some kids, we call it lack of confidence or self-esteem, when the child returns home and has so many doubts. “why didn’t ask your teacher?” we say. This issue arises partially due to the extreme pressure on students in schools. When it comes to education we want children to be top notch, ‘know it alls’. But a child who isn’t willing to accept his ignorance will never learn, simply because he will never ask questions.

2. Parent- As parents we are the role models, we are older, more mature, more experienced than our kids, and this gets to our heads. Accept it! Many of us are guilty of this; we change topics when we can’t answer the questions of our toddlers, we are embarrassed when we don’t know something, and even more embarrassed to accept it. This happens to teachers as well, they will ask the child to “keep quiet”, “this isn’t part of your syllabus” instead of being human and accepting that they don’t know. Our kids didn’t come with a manual, and we are only humans, so why not accept our ignorance with finesse? This will be a great model for your child to follow at school too. He will not be afraid to face the truth, and ask questions an make and effort to find out the answers.

3. Society- This is very tricky, because this is the land of adults. In families I have noticed when the elders have a mind set of “i am infallible’ such dialogues occur. You can’t move forward with time if you’re not willing to constantly educate yourself, and for that the first step is to accept that ‘you don’t know’. The lack of this courage in turn sends the message to the whole society that once you’re a certain age, or become the only elders alive in the family, you can do whatever, no questions asked; in other words Being unreasonable is your right. What sets us apart from animals is our capability to evolve intellectually, learn, educate, move forward, and if we can’t accept that we don’t know something, we are definitely headed for destruction. No one likes a person living in denial of the obvious. We shouldn’t be proud about things that are going to make us backward, everyday is a learning opportunity, and to make the most of it, we need to accept that God has created a world for us to explore and educate ourselves.

What mothers can do, in an unsafe country like India

I have been through a roller-coaster of emotions and thoughts since the rape and molestation cases in India have been the buzz. I am not talking about any particular case, all rapes are wrong, there aren’t levels to it. All types of physical molestation are wrong, no matter which part of the body is involved.

I always try to look for solutions and ways of being pro-active. It is important to me that all female  humans of India keep aside their aspirations, and desires and chose to be safe than sorry. Because in the end of the day, it we who are going to be exploited. Till a change comes in this country it’s all about being safe and not raising your voice for small skirts, late nights and drunken nightlife. We have to be educated and practical.

No one is guaranteeing a change right now, not even the women. But as mothers there are several things we can do.

1. Mentor your son– In India women are treated as a liability. This thought process is most commonly seen amongst women, women are the worst enemies of women here. When the women themselves are projecting themselves and their daughters and other women in general as inferior, or as a pain or liability, then the boys/men are sent the message of ‘ go ahead and dominate all you want’. Accept it, we are at fault here. As mothers it’s important to make sure that your sons especially, know that women are human beings just like them, they are important, they are equal, they have feelings and need to be treated with respect NO MATTER WHAT. The reason why men are able to grope, or rape, or tease or molest is because they have been taught from the very beginning that the woman is a slave for the world. And women enticing men on bilboards, and movies isn’t helping either. It sends the message that woman are willing to ‘bear all’ for money and to entertain the men, and let’s not be hypocritical here. Denial isn’t getting us out of rape nation. Raise boys to become men of honour, who can create a safe environment, who respect, value and protect women.

2. Communicate with your schools– Yes!, the school, get involved, ask your school if they’re having any program for students about ‘good touch/bad touch’. Are the boys and girls being educated about basic morals of physical conduct and boundaries. Compel them to conduct such workshops at-least once and year, and have class teachers remind students about these concepts in class regularly.

3. Educate yourself– There are workshops and seminars conducted for school faculties AND parents on this topic. Go with your husband, call your friend mommies, expose yourself to the psychology and thought process behind these happenings. Learn about the symptoms, signs, and experiences of the victims. Learn how to communicate with your children, figure out how you can discuss these issues openly in your circle of family and friends and come up with solutions. Don’t chose to be ignorant about it, don’t blame the victim and think you’re safe. Advice your childs school to actively participate in such workshops, or I would suggest change the school to one that cares about your child!

4. Communicate with your kids– Keep a healthy communication with your children girls AND boys. Make them comfortable enough to be able to tell you anything and everything. Make sure you teach them about  physical boundaries, what is expected out of them in terms of conduct with the opposite gender, at school or otherwise. Build trust, tell them you won’t be judgmental, that you’ll always support them. Make sure you know who they hang out with, monitor their television, cell phone and internet usage. Remember that you’re the adult, and how positively you project adulthood will reflect in your childs enthusiasm in growing up and being one him/herself. Speak to them about good and bad touch, there are books available online to buy, visit a library, ask your school counselor to help you out. There are videos also on YouTube that can be a great aid to this communication. There’s no excuse, your resistance is going to turn into regret, if you don’t take responsibility as the adult.

5. Better safe than sorry– Make this your motto. There are many things in life we want to do, but we don’t because of a variety of reasons. The same goes with your wants to wear certain clothes, speak a certain way, live a certain lifestyle etc. just like the many things you compromise, compromise a little on this for YOUR OWN safety. Reality check: we’re not living in a perfect world. Maybe in the future there will be a time where women will feel safe wearing anything they fancy, doing anything they fancy, at any time of the day. Hopefully that day will come. But till then it’s better to be safe. Carry a can of pepper spray, it’s 100% legal, be ready to knock anyone out, you have all right to protect yourself. Mentally prepare yourself and your daughters to be safe, and this will automatically reduce the fear that we are carrying around on a regular basis. The fear is not only there because men with ugly souls are around us, the fear is also there because we know we aren’t prepared enough. The fear is there because somewhere our poor parenting is resulting in such men also.

Please be proactive, leave comments below, start a discussion, voice your opinions, share your thoughts and knowledge on such issues. Be an educated, proactive and safe mom.

Scholastic haul

The school had distributed a hand out by Scholastic for books to order. It’s their initiative to promote reading at schools. Batool has always loved books, and enjoys it. And I thought this is a great way to just purchase selected books for age levels. So I got all excited and ordered few, it was my first experience, and even though I was tempted to buy almost all of them, I tried to keep in mind that they’re for Batool and not for me to explore!. So I decided to go for books that she didn’t have, variety to expose her to.

The great thing was all these books arrived in separate parcels, which made it easier for the teachers also to distribute them at school. Let’s get some picture in shall we?

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1. Trees to paper- This is a science based book, and since the daughter knows what paper is and trees are, it would e of interest to her. The concept to learn is how things come into being.

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2. Trash crafts- I mainly got this to have fun activities to do with her. This should be interesting

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3. Fly Guy Dinosaurs- She loves dinosaurs, there was no other reason to this order

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4.Night Sky Glow- Batool hasn’t shown much interest in space, and I had once almost picked up this ginormous book at Crosswords on the planets and space and all that beautiful stuff. But then I thought she needs something simpler, I should expose her to the idea first and then pursue it if she enjoys it. Because these space books for kids are a litle on the expensive side, they have many pictures, and textures too, some even have stickers. They make it super interesting. Anyway, when I spotted this on the list I thought this will be a great way to introduce Space into her little head. It has radium content also, that should make it grasping.

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5. Enjoy Phonics level 1- I wanted to explore this frankly, the book is nice and colourful with a CD too. There are writing activities as well, she’s just been introduced to the various lines (standing, sleeping, slanting) at school, so good timing.

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All of these books and others can be found on the website. Reading is the best and safest habit that can be inculcated in children. And the sooner it happens the better.

If you want a detailed review of any of the above books do let me know in the comments below. Happy reading.

children till they’re 18

It’s childrens day, and I thought today I shall share some information on how we can sustain the childhood for our children for long. These days children are going through problems that only adults faced, these range from health to emotional. Childhood diabetes, stress, anxiety, insomnia, fear etc. are just few examples of problems of todays children. So lets ponder over the following points, and remember that they are children till they’re adults!

1. Educate yourself- Psychologists all over the world are doing tremendous research on development during childhood. As parents and caregivers it’s important to always keep knowledge of children and their innate age-wise capabilities. This is important because it will help us not put too much pressure on the child. Familiarity with milestones is the key to providing the right care, responsibility, boundaries etc to your child. Resources like parenting magasines online or print are helpful, self-help books, or if you’re enthusiastic enough you could read texts books on life-span development, or child psychology.10173529_863366093697014_5291794490731707564_n

2. Birth order blues- Children struggle greatly when a sibling arrives. Sibling rivalry is common, but what is even more common is bias treatment by parents and other adults. The little one no matter how old he gets will be the little one, the eldest no matter how young he is is burdened with being the elder. Take a second and think, no matter how much we try to not give in, we do compare our kids. And this lets others compare them openly too. This phenomenon is undeniably common in India. Unsolicited advice is the expertise of elder ladies, especially the grandparents. Remember that no matter how many kids you have, you have to treat them according to their age, not their birth order. It is not the responsibility of the eldest to be the role model, it’s the responsibility of the parents to be role models. Putting that level of pressure on a child will only make him aggressive, lose confidence in himself, become anxious and self-demotivating. Let me bring this into perspective, take a tiny moment, and ponder over this:

In class 2 at XYZ school, the students are all in the age bracket of 6-7years. There are two friends both who are 6 years of age, but R is he youngest amongst his siblings and T is the eldest amongst his. Both these kids are treated very differently at home. Yet, they’re both the same age, possess more or less the same capacities of normal 6 year old, have similar interests, want to play and be active. We need to start looking at the big picture here. Our children are what their age represents, it’s not their choice to be born first or second or third, or alone.

3. Let them play- It’s important to give exposure, set boundaries and schedules, equally important is providing child time to play. And this play shouldn’t be restrictive, it shouldn’t be like a class, it should be free play, the child should choose his/her toys/games, do whatever he wants to do, let them create that mess, help them clean up after wards, but don’t program their mind to believe being a “good” boy or a “good” girl means doing nothing you like. Parents are very concerned about play time, and regard it as useless, but that’s not the case. Children learn the fastest through play, and they show their true personalities and talents when they’re not being penalised for every choice they make.

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4. The future adults- Children are the future of our society. They should be shown positivity when it comes to adulthood. Children who are surrounded by adults who are quarreling, or news that’s blasting about the horrible crimes committed, scare them. No child will look forward to becoming an adult if he starts associating negativity to it. Explaining to them about difficulties, and importance of faith, values, societal responsibilities etc will enable them to understand that life as adult will be challenging but it doesn’t need to be regretful.

5. No gender bias please- Snatching childhood from one genders not fair, girls are made to act older, more responsible from an earlier age. It is true that they emotionally and physically mature earlier, but that doesn’t mean they should start taking up adult like responsibilities. Responsibilities should be age and capability specific not gender specific. Simple chores like cleaning the room/closet, or helping set up supper shouldn’t be only a girls responsibility, the boys in the house too should help. Boys too shouldn’t be burdened with outside work, it’s good to allot some simple chores like a grocery run, but the house shouldn’t depend on a child, adults are the pillars of a home. Even while play girls should be allowed to play outside, just like boys. If the environment is unsafe for the girl, it’s unsafe for the boy too. They’re both precious and hold great relevance to your life, and none should feel they are inferior or superior to the other.

6. Look back- Make time to think about your childhood, what you liked and disliked, how you want to make the experience better for your children. Try to ponder over the methodology used to convey messages in your time, understand that not all are applicable in the todays world. Make a deliberate effort to bridge the generation gap between you and your children. Be humble enough to forgive, and stern enough to set boundaries, communicate and reason with logic.

I could go on and on, but the above 6 points are worth mentioning the most. Childhood is a very significant period of anyone’s life time, it’s the base or personality. Memories created and experienced at this stage have a lasting impression. Lets enable our children to have the best that they can, and have beautiful memories to give them hope for the future.

A minimalistic life- Rambling away

I despise clutter. Over the years I have truly found my style, I used to be a total tomboy layering clothes, mixing and matching, this was reflected not just in my clothes but also my room, study table etc. But I have changed, Pinterest can do wonders to your taste, and add motherhood to the chaos and you know you have to cut down on everything.

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It’s difficult though, I have mastered the art of donating or simply getting rid of things, I try not to think too much, the more you think the more time you give yourself to change your mind. My mother has this issue, I did too, sentimental attachment to everything. Saris, broken watches, books, rusted picture frames, old fashioned bags etc. the list is endless. My mom can’t part from spoons, water classes etc as well. I hoarded too, but that was more like a habit, I wasn’t consciously keeping any of the things I did keep, there was no reason, no ‘sentimental attachment’ nothing, It was just the way I was raised I guess. But I am not like that anymore. And boy am I glad. In the end you’re not going to take all of that to grave, there will be so much confusion for your children to sort through the junk you left behind. The more you hoard the more you hoard, there’s no two ways about it.

I’ve realised the only practical way to live is to live like a minimalist, and I struggle the most in the wardrobe. Us Indian women have two wardrobes, Indian and Western. That’s a lot of wardrobe to manage, not only is it financially annoying, it is super difficult to maintain no matter how big your closet is. I hardly wear Indian ethnic wear, so I take all joy in distributing and donating it all away, but right now I’ve come to a point where it’s too much. Everything I have is either new, or I like a lot, or will definitely get a lot of wear out of. Yet the quantity is large, not to mention my mom buys me Indian wear, I don’t shop for any of it, I have no taste in that genre of clothing. Every time she comes from Dubai and reminds of a particular dress my mind goes “oh oh! I gave it away”. And with clothes you just can’t say ‘ I misplaced it’ like a freaking pen. Then it’s a big blasting from her, can you blame her? So I tried to nip it in the bid this time she came, I told her to stop buying me clothes period, unless I specifically ask her to get anything, I extended that request to Batools clothing too. She has a tendency to not just buy a set but a whole suitcase!. She didn’t take that very well, but I guess it’s the only way. I can’t be forced into hoarding, and ‘not having enough space’ is not good enough for her. To her my western wardrobe is useless, and vice versa for me!

Point being, your home, flat, bungalow, castle or whatever it is you reside in, should be clutter free. It should only contain what is necessary. You will always have money to spend on important things, plus you’ll never have to feel like you have constantly sort through junk. Hoarding usually starts when you already have a lot of junk and just don’t now where to put it, so you just let be, because it’s too much hassle to figure out what to do with it, the thought of throwing it away simply doesn’t occur, or seems very difficult to digest. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Monthly cleaning always works, especially if you’re a mom, children grow out of their clothing super fast, it’s best to only keep those things that you want to give to your child when they grow older for memory sake, everything else should get donated. You can always buy more clothes when your next baby comes, till then many many children can benefit from them.

2. Purchase only what’s essential for your kids, we are made to believe kids require a load of clothes, when they don’t. Wash the clothes frequently buy good quality clothes or clothes on sale. The child won’t complain, and when they grow up look back and complain it’s going to be too late anyway 😉

3. Don’t buy anything for the purpose of storing it, like books unless you already have plenty space available and know exactly what you’re planning to do with them few years down the line. Donating books to your local school library is great. Even your childs books, they grow out of their books too. It will be a while before your kids have books they can store too.

4. Manage your space, look at how much space you already have in your house before deciding to keep things. You have space of one shoe rack but you want to keep 20 pairs, it’s going to make you mad.

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5. Buy only what you can store. don’t buy clothes before buying hangers to hang them, don’t buy shoes without making space to keep them etc.

6. If there are things you haven’t used for over a year, even if it’s a knife, chances are you didn’t need it in the first place, GIVE IT AWAY.

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7. Get used to giving things away, in the end they are just things. non-living things.

I am trying to get my daughter to be minimalist. If you only need one box of crayons, then she will get only one and be responsible for it, I will of course keep in hiding a spare box. But the child should learn to value what she/he has. Toys too, most kids have too much toys, too much of left overs from many games, get rid of the half missing pieces, they just add clutter. The child too gets confused about what to do with random pieces of toys from various kits.

8. Teach them to organise their toys after play, not just put them in one place organise them. All toys should first go into their respective bags/boxes/cans/ etc before they are thrown into the main toy box or room. This is HW for you, make sure there are different boxes for each toy set. The kitchen set shouldn’t mingle with the animals, there’s no logic to it. Jigsaw puzzles should always go into a box or (I love) zip lock bags. The boxes in which toys actually come in are useless, they break apart in two seconds. Unless they’re the ones with the screw on tops or containers, keep those. Don’t expect the kid to manage random cardboard boxes, it’s not going to happen. Plastic is the best, a trip to your local ‘china bazar’ should do it, get cheap ones, nothing expensive or airtight required 😉

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The earlier in life we teach our kids about a minimalistic life the better more self sufficient they will be. There’s not doubt about there will always be things we will have when we don’t need, as long as we have the strength to let go of them when need be it’s fine.

 

Understanding your child.

Perception plays a key role in our lives, more so when you’re a parent. Once you have a little one of your own in the world you become Imagethe most protective person ever, you will find in you power like never before, there’s more fight in you, you are more spirited than ever. All this reaches it’s peak when your child is sent into a new world- the school.

Parents are concerned about so many things, it’s almost like our kids are not human. What has come into the world is another unique being, with unique talents, a unique personality, comparison kills this child. This is exactly what I want to discuss today, it’s not all black and white, and it will never be. When in school the child experiences things he never has, a lot affects his thoughts and actions. Every parent will experience the complaints from school, and while some of it may appear absurd and may very well be, it’s no reason to lose your sanity. Stressing too much, or too less is bad. With every issue or probable issue it’s good to seek help, there’s nothing wrong with it. Seek advice from the school counselor, always be open to figuring out solutions instead of quarreling with a teacher, in the end the aim is your childs happiness. Now I know not all schools are this altruistic, and while some teachers appear meaner than others, they’re all human!

Point number one; research online, pick the school that best suits your childs personality not your expectations or idea of “good”. If you’ve realised that your child is not in the right school, don’t hesitate to take him out, trust me even a year at the right school can do wonders for your childs self-esteem. The right school will bring out the childs talents, and help in his overall development. Emotional health plays a crucial role in development, especially in adolescent children. Make sure your child makes plenty of good friends whom he can share life with not just a few hours each day at school.

Point number two; if there are constant complaints regarding your childs scholastic performance, or beahaviour go for a simple educational assessment, DAAP has a good one. This assessment will help everyone including the school understand exactly what the issue is (if there is any), and once that’s discovered everyone can work on a proper plan. Some schools have an educational psychologist or counselor who takes care of such students, build a good rapport with the school counselor they can be great assistance in helping you parent better and know how good you do your job. We all could use some counseling once in a while.

Point number three, don’t worry if your child “only” scores 98/100 when he’s in 4th grade!. Children are only children when they play and explore their surroundings. What childhood stories will they have if they never had fun, never enjoyed school, seldom played out in the sand, never spent endless hours with friends, never got called out for pranks?! All these experiences will mold the child into a strong individual who will learn from his mistakes, and be clear of his boundaries.

Point number four, Don’t fret going to offices of psychiatrists, making your child pop pills because he’s “hyperactive”, Hyperactivity is a term being used very loosely these days, ADHD is a disorder of a severe caliber, every child who jumps and is active is NOT hyper. Be very educated about these things before you self-diagnose your child, and don’t let anyone but a certified experienced psychiatrist do that. Be very clear about who has the authority to prescribe medicines, and how much experience they each have in their field. NEVER hesitate for more explanations, if the concerned counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist truly understand the child they will be able to prescribe less aggressive methods of dealing with the childs problems.

A child behaves a certain way due to a zillion reasons, you will surprised what these turn out to be, sometimes it’s a very petty misunderstanding or could be a severe emotional trauma from the past no one knew about. These and many other phenomenon effect the childs performance and behaviour at school, putting a label of a disease on a child is a big deal, it will scar him for life. Counseling helps the child to unveil these hidden feelings and everything can be taken from there.

Parenting is not easy, no one prepares you for it, no one will every be able to. At the same time it doesn’t have to be a pain you regret! Do your best, hope for the best and be positive! All children are special, all are beautiful beings including yours!