Monday, August 25, 2014


We are wired to appreciate rewards. To need rewards. To give rewards. We are inherently motivated by rewards. We pretty much do most things for rewards. I think that no act, including the kindest of the acts, is ever self-less and is a form of self-reward. We tend to slow down in the absence of rewards. How many of us can go on unfazed in the absence of rewards? And for how long?

It is absolutely ridiculous the number of times I say good job to Sammy and Rehan at the tiniest of the things. I will not start calling those things out to avoid further detailed embarrassment. But I like the approach that their teachers at day care take. They don’t say good job to kids for performing the most basic of the functions. Functions that they are expected to perform at their skill level. I understand the value of rewards in providing positive reaffirmation to kids. In fact everyone needs it. It builds confidence and faith in oneself and I am all for it. But at what point do we stop and let an action be self-fulfilling? Independent of any reward. To be honest, my language with kids is so intertwined with reward that I may find it next to impossible to interact otherwise. I am not against rewards by any means. I just question my tendency to need rewards for every single thing I ever do.     

Just the other day, Siddharth was on a flight sitting in one of the front most seats. An air hostess came and asked if he would be willing to take a seat at the back of the plane because a grandma wants to sit close to her grand-child. Siddharth did not even think for half a second before jumping up from his seat and saying “of course’. What shocked him was that the air-hostess came up to Siddharth and gave him a gift voucher for showing kind behavior on the flight. While Siddharth isn’t one to deny an airline gift voucher, he was slightly upset to see that an act as basic as letting a kid sit with her\his grandma was considered reward worthy, which means, it was not considered the most natural thing to do. This is something he would expect anyone to do without giving it a second thought. I know that Siddharth has a certain utopian concept of how people should be – they should be who they are, without being apologetic, not changing yourself to suit other’s expectations, not changing your behavior (either to good or bad) because someone says\thinks a certain way about you. But in this particular instance, I am with him. Certain causes are too basic to be rewarded.

I will try really, very, hard to not say ‘good job’ to kids every time they do something nice. It is going to take all of me to do something like this. It does not come to me naturally. In fact it is hard for me to stop those words from coming out of my mouth. But that’s the plan. To let kids get motivated intrinsically rather than by my ‘good job’ every time they take a step. I want to let them take a few steps when they know they will not be rewarded. When they know no one is watching. I am really hoping they will get to that point someday. I am also hoping that I am just being paranoid in thinking that my kids are overly dependent on these explicitly stated rewards. Except, I think they are.

Again, I have nothing against rewards. I think rewards are great. Clearly. I reward all the time. The point is, these rewards sometimes take away from the core of the act. And I feel that absence of rewards is sometimes necessary to maintain the integrity of the action. If it makes any sense. But I want to be able to draw a line between positive reaffirmation versus constant praise of every single thing.

So here is to me trying. As many takes as it takes. As long as it takes.

My Positivity

A beautiful weekend spent sleeping, beaching, eating, sort-of-biking with friends! Nothing replaces beauty that a good company brings!

Monday, August 18, 2014

All day, every day

Most of our everyday routine is quite uneventful and somewhat planned, which, for a family with two toddlers is a good news. We wake up every morning, give juice to kids, get them ready, get us ready, play a little depending on how much time we have, eat something, and, head to work\day care. Siddharth is the one who drops and picks up kids to and from the day care. The kids are used it. Even the day care teachers are used to it. I drop off and pick up kids whenever Siddharth is traveling. That’s when the entire day care knows that Siddharth is traveling. And then there are some days when both Siddharth and I go to drop off kids. Just because. Those are the days we are not rushing and enjoy every minute of drop-off and\or pick-up.

Dropping Sammy to day care is a very interesting experience. She wants to run to her friends and teachers as soon as we set foot in the area. She sometimes doesn’t even look back to see if we are still there. She goes straight from throwing tantrums to greeting all her friends and teachers like hasn’t seen them in a thousand years. Picking her up is also an interesting story because as soon as she sees me come to pick her up, she runs to her friends and starts pretending that the two of them have been playing together for a while and we are disturbing them. She then slowly warms up to the idea of going home and gives us a hug, starts saying bye to her friends, insists that her friends hug us, and so on.

Dropping Rehan to day care is a whole different ball game. This kid does not want us to leave him. Ever. He comes running to Siddharth every evening he picks the kids up. His face beams with inner joy, which is probably a little deceptive because his face almost always beams with inner joy. These kids I tell you. They have the knack of being so blissful and so unaware all the time. Anyway. The point is, his mischievous face lights up even more when he sees either of us. This morning as we were dropping Rehan to day care he made a sad pout showing a clear disagreement with the sequence of events, which included us playing with him in the day care for 5-10 minutes and then leaving him with his teachers. But instead of wailing and crying, which is what he normally does, he had that sad face of understanding. I know but I don’t like…but I will live with it…because I know I have to. That face. You know. And it hurt. It hurt me to see him grow up like that and be all understanding.

Can the world please stop so my kids won’t grow up this fast? I don’t think I am ready yet. I had a long, busy, crazy day at work today and the only thing that kept me going was the crazy evening that would be waiting for me at home. The crazy evening with both the kids throwing tantrums at dinner time and us struggling to keep up with them. Oddly enough, it motivates me. And I miss it when I can’t witness our evening dinner time madness. My day feels incomplete without it. In the middle of this utter chaos, sometimes, just sometimes, Siddharth and I find each other sitting back and chuckling at the drama. It’s like watching our own movie from a distance, while still being a part of that movie.

Here is to many more movies. Our never ending movie. Our everyday movie. Our day in a movie. These really are the best days of our lives!

My Positivity

A realization that I am so lucky to be married to my best friend. Completely random realization. For no rhyme or reason. It happens.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Find your voice

I sometimes have a recurring theme in my dream. That I am being attacked or potentially harmed by someone. It could be something extra-terrestrial, it could be someone scary, it could be someone I know in my real-life. Or it could just be an adverse situation. In my dream I know exactly what to do to get out of that adverse situation. I know I have to scream, yell, shout, hit back. Maybe run. But at that point in time in my dream – I freeze. I am screaming but no voice comes out of my mouth. I am shouting but no one can hear me. I try to run but my feet don’t move. Typically at such a point, I wake up from my dream. My dreams rarely go past this point.

When I wake up from such a dream, the first thing I do is say something. One word. Two words. A sentence. I do this to make sure I still have my voice. I still have my strength. I get angry at myself for not shouting and yelling in my dream. I get angry at myself for not finding my voice when I most need it, in my dream. I get angry because I knew I had it in me to save myself from that alien if only I could find my voice.

This dream is of fresh in my mind right now because I had it last night. After waking up, I spiral into the whole thought of not being able to find my voice when I need it. There are certain situations when someone says something hurtful to me. But I don’t react. More often than not I find it extremely annoying afterward when I am recapping the scenario in my head. I get angry because I didn’t react when I could have. Most of the times I don’t react because I feel like that’s the right thing to do. The problem with doing the “right thing to do” is that it does not do justice to our thoughts and us. In an attempt to do the right thing, I forget to voice my opinion and tell someone what I actually want to say. My point is, it is not always important to do the right thing. It is ok to sometimes do the wrong thing. Because it is more important to find your voice and make it heard. It may sometimes interfere with what is right, but it will surely appeal more to my body and mind.

When have we ever seen kids not voice their opinion when they are in public? Kids cry when they want to cry. They scream when they want to scream. They shout when they want to shout. They make sure they are heard when they want to be heard. I understand that most people find this trait of kids rather annoying. But here is the flip side. That small tiny tot has the courage and the fearlessness to find her/his voice and make it heard. At whatever cost it might be. While most of the times I am busy thinking of the life lessons that I will pass on to my kids, these are the times when I stand back and pause to admire the miracle and life-lesson kids are and what they have to teach me. At some point in their lives, these kids will learn to hold back and restrain and keep quiet – and a lot of those traits are probably inculcated by us parents in an attempt to make our kids civil. But why does it feel a little wrong? Why does it feel like we do this for everyone else’s and our own convenience and not really for our kids?

The thing about finding your voice and not being silent is that it teaches us to get outside our comfort zone. It teaches us to stand up for ourselves. It makes us more vulnerable but that much more rich with the knowledge of our own capabilities and what we can achieve. It makes us heard. It makes us stand up in the most adverse of the situations so we can emerge as winners. Or losers. But that is not the point. It makes and shows us who we really are. So never lose that voice in your heart. Don’t let circumstances or people or adversity deter you from reaching for your voice. My hope is that if I keep looking for it, I will surely find it. One of these days I will find it in my dreams too!

Hopefully these kids will always find their voice when they need it

My Positivity

The light in my life came from a festival we celebrate in India at this time of the year. It is called Rakhi. It is a celebration of the brother-sister relationship. Sister ties a thread on her brother's wrist and the brother in turn resolves to protect his sister. While this is the traditional meaning behind the festival, I have a slightly more open interpretation of this festival, which includes, sisters standing up their brothers and protecting their brothers - even when no one is watching. Brothers doing the same for their sisters. In fact, especially when no one is watching. The beauty of this relationship is not what happens on face value - because there are always fights on face value. In fact, I would say fights is a sign of a healthy relationship. Lack of fights would mean you venting your anger with your siblings somewhere else. The beauty of this relationship is what happens when the other sibling is not around. It is standing up for them, loving them and protecting them when no one is watching. But surely, fight away to glory when you are in front of each other. Because that's how siblings roll.


Monday, August 4, 2014

If I could…

If I could learn one thing from babies…what will it be?

It will be their ability to be in the moment. Have you ever seen kids play? Or eat? Or read? Or pretty much do anything? It is a life lesson happening in front of your own eyes. They are so focused on that one activity in that one moment that it is mind boggling. Admittedly their attention span is low and they tend to switch activities quite often. But while they are working on one task, there is nothing else on their mind.

When Rehan plays with his blocks – I am convinced that there is nothing else on this planet earth he'd rather do. Obviously it lasts about five minutes and then he switches to another activity. But I envy him for the five minutes that he invests in doing that activity. I am pretty sure he is not thinking about what happened at day care that day, who snatched his toy, who let him ride a tricycle, or who did he snatch the ball from.

When Sammy plays with her school bus or when she reads her books – there is nothing else she’d rather do. She seems content, happy. Well, until she is not. At which point she switches to another activity. But the point is, while she is doing one specific thing, she is thinking about that one thing only.

I wonder at what age kids lose the ability to be so singularly focused. But how I wish I could steal their ability to not think about a hundred other things when I do something.

Although now that I think a little more about it – I realize that Siddharth is actually quite similar to Sammy and Rehan in his focus and attention. When he is eating or writing or playing xbox or watching TV or talking – that is the only thing that is on his mind. He doesn’t think of the past or the future. I have very rarely seen an adult so focused on and be in the moment for what they are doing at any given time.

I cannot get that “be in the moment” attitude to save my life. I could be typing a mail, watching a video, talking to someone, in a theater – and be all over the place in my head. From our morning routine to traffic on the way to work to some specific conversation to something that’s been bothering me – I could be processing any of these things while doing whatever I am doing. But that is the main reason why I am a multi-tasker.

So, I guess it is sort of a double edge sword.

All said and done, there is so much to learn from these little people. If nothing, then I would lke to learn to be in the moment for my own peace of my mind. I definitely believe that there is a certain amount of awesomeness in simplifying things. Simplifying life. And one of the ways for me to accomplish that would be to be in the moment. So so so hard. At least for me. I have attempted to do this so many times and I focus so hard on being in the moment that I kind of lose the moment. I guess I just need more practice. Or I just need to find the child in me. The latter might be much harder. Being the mere mortal human that I am, I have lost touch with that inner child in me. I am so surrounded by the world and what’s current and what’s relevant that it makes me feel like I am too far away from the inner child. But at least I have the willingness to learn from other children’s inner-child :).

I will take that.

Kids busy doing what they do best...being in the moment of their goofiness!

My positivity

A reminder to self about being healthy and eating healthy. We are taking baby steps toward it. We are discussing it more among us and with the family. That first step and the earnestness in the intent is monumental for me.