Sunday, September 10, 2006

Article - The Brat Syndrome

“Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Poor child! So, no - cannot agree with that..… Moreover, if that is one tough kid you are dealing with, then, “poor rod

Seriously, though, parenting has never been and will never be an easy task. As far as jobs go, being a parent is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding one! However, until you yourself become a parent, you never can fully appreciate your parents and the kind of experiences you might have put them through.

As a mother, life is that much more…. everything! It is more complicated- more gratifying, more terrifying and more work. Parenting - especially for the mom, begins right from pregnancy. Yes, the responsibility of being a parent begins with conception. What you eat, how you look after yourself and your general emotional “well-being” - are all relayed to the foetus. That is how complex motherhood is.

Having gone through a great deal to establish the “mother” status, you are already headlong into the job of your life! Your foremost responsibility is to provide a safe and secure childhood for your child. Once you are well on your way into that, one concern - just one of the concerns that might face you, is the “brat-syndrome”. Toddlers with tantrums and children with occasional bursts of frustration do not necessarily mean that a brat is in the making.

You are sure to recognize a brat when you see one! However, it is more difficult to recognize it in your own child. It is unpleasant to realize and keep in mind that if your child is a brat, you are at least partially responsible. Having said that, (and the damage having been done) it must be pointed out that you will have to do something about your brat as he or she will certainly not “grow out of it”. In addition, here is another incentive to undo the damage done – it is an end to your frustration as well as all those tiresome and very sapping moments, a brat can cause.

Undoing the “brat-syndrome” is daunting to say the least. More importantly, the child actually suffers from being a brat; Being branded as one, for instance. Enduring snide remarks and being sidelined thanks to “brattish” behaviour. I have even known people who avoid socializing with parents as families because of their brat(s)! Nobody likes brats – deep down, not even the brat himself! Believe me, the child goes through a lot thanks to the stigma. Equally important to note is that the child has to make a great deal of adjustments to undo the brat status. Besides, how reasonable is it to expect the child to undo what you have (albeit unwittingly) done?

First of all, learning to say “No” will go a long way. The trick is to be firm and consistent about it. Easier said than done! Secondly, try not to hate yourself or feel sorry when the tears come. The child can sense your weakened mind! Thirdly, do not fuss over your child unnecessarily. Children need some independence and their own footing. A control-freak of a mother may do more damage than she thinks.

It is a fact that half the problem is solved once you have been enlightened about your child’s transformation into a brat. It is easier when you as a mom spot this early as, if you leave it to the child to evolve out of it naturally, there can be other psychological damages and bad memories in your spoilt-child-turned-knowing-teenager. He or she will find it difficult to live with or even shed the “brat” tiara!

Not for nothing was it said “Spoiled children rarely make happy adults”.

Article - Dress you up!

Look good, feel good and be good.
Every woman’s motto.

After my baby was born, life came to a standstill. Correction: MY life came to a standstill. My baby’s life has been …well, you know what babies do - drink milk, burp, and play, soil self, sleep, and on and on. My husband’s life has been … the usual. Read newspaper, go to work, get back home, relax in front of TV, chat on phone (or in person) with friend, and drop down to bed! But, my life?

My life is all about other people. Agreed - it is my baby I am tending to, and my husband I see off to work, but it is still other people, right? What about me?

My wake-up-call is a “get me coffee” grunt or a “waaaah” or a phone / doorbell ring. After that, its rush hour - sorry, rush hours – plural. Get baby milk, get you-know-who coffee, get breakfast organized, run after maid / baby / husband…so on and so forth. By the time baby settles down for a nap (or basically, when the house is at rest), I am ready …for nothing.

That’s just it. I am ready for nothing except more of the domestic stuff. Earlier, when I was working, in the years of B.B. (Before Baby) so to speak, life was different. However, having quit the job to look after family interests, which, by the way is no mean task, I find that being a “home-maker” is even more challenging than my air-conditioned, sit-on-my-backside-8-hours job! Suddenly, I am home – dealing with everything that and everyone who - comes my way. At least when I was working, I had my work, my job. What is in it for me now? (Yes, sure, I am with you on that can’t-beat-feeling of being a mommy!)

The “Wow-I-became-a-mom”-high notwithstanding, the feeling of nothing to do for the self is quite unnerving once you have stopped to think about it. I always need to have a purpose otherwise, depression or frustration rears it ugly head too often! Certainly if you do some serious introspection, you will find that which is missing. I reiterate - being a daughter/wife/mother/grandmother, etc. are wonderful roles to play. Still, I bet there is a certain longing inside everyone, to do something. I cannot tell you what to do. Nevertheless, there is something that you can do until you figure it all out.

Get ready.

That is all there is to it, to begin with. Yes-get ready. Don’t sit in your nightie – or worse, change into yet another nightdress after you wake up in the morning - that might well be your first step to self-loathing!

As soon as possible in the morning and at your convenience, bathe, wear a nice comfortable, breezy, smart outfit; and apply some light make-up and …generally, spend some quality time in front of your mirror - With yourself. It is a psychological thing. You can be purposeful even without an immediate purpose! It is reverse strategy - which gives you a fantastic, refreshed feeling.

If I have not yet figured out what to do with myself, at least let me get ready for something that might come my way! Whether it is a call from a friend with an invite for a cuppa, or your husband frantically calling to order you out of the house to buy a gift for his boss’ birthday, or a sudden realization that your baby “wants” a new toy… you can decide later. To start, focus on the feeling of being clean and fresh and “all made-up” – it’s something else!

Want to try it? I have. I got ready.

It is as good as it gets.

Unpublished Article - Mental Hygiene

“Mental Hygiene”

Bet you are all about fitness and health. Working out and exercising -- aiming for or maintaining a toned, fit body. It is all about your body: its BMI, measuring skin-folds and converting fat to muscle. Great! Some of the good things you do to your body make their way up there to your mind –Increased agility of mind, concentration, alertness and so on. Conversely, whatever goes through your mind shows on your body. Umm…bad mood, anyone? It will even be apparent in the way you walk. Heavy steps, jerky movement or a disquietingly placid exterior – Dead Calm. The simmering mood hides inside! That can’t be good.

What caused the bad mood? It could have been a fight with a (currently-opposite-of-) loved one, or the imbecile auto-rickshaw who scraped the side of your car and jauntily pushed off, or an irritant colleague’s chirpy phone call that rudely interrupted your morning caffeine-kick -- Anything that threw your mind off–balance. Irrespective of what causes the bad mood, it is there for you to deal with. After all, is it not a little too easy to lose your temper? The repercussions on the other hand, are so-not-easy to deal with.

An “I am so sorry” card used to be popular. On the inside, it read, “You know how temperamental I am…90% temper and 10% mental!” All of us are “mental” in some way or the other. To put it kindly, it means we each have our own idiosyncrasies. However, if our idiosyncrasies include moodiness and short tempers, it can lead to offshoots like frustration, depression, “friendlessness”, hysteria and worse… not necessarily in that order, so it is time we cleaned up our acts. As geared up as we are to work out, lose weight and get healthy, these are bodily aspects and the mind may feel left out! It needs relaxation; which few of us have learned to do – Relax. It is no wonder that there are so many relaxation techniques, books, CDs and lectures galore out there to help people relax!

Any relaxation “technique” or exercise needs practice and patience the latter of which is the lacking element in the first instance! So, we may as well try to accomplish this by ourselves first instead of spending good money on outside factors to do it for us! Try listening to old, bring-on-the-nostalgia songs, or indulging in any activity that you love; be it cooking, baking, watching a favourite sitcom, going for an evening stroll, having a long chat with a friend or…absolutely anything that gives instant, easy pleasure and that does not have any value-add except that it makes you smile a bit! Take a break that you like.

Ever notice how your whole body tenses up when you frown? It is an unexpected by-product of a frown. Now smile – you automatically tend to breathe a bit slower and your body smiles with you. Observe that when nobody is watching! It can be fun.

If you cannot afford to take time off your schedule to do what you would ideally like to, then how about a “one-to-one” chat with yourself? Talk yourself not to the brink of insanity obviously, where you will end up talking only to yourself (!), but…give yourself pep talks and words of encouragement that only you will be able to hear – a true monologue! It is really quite relaxing and motivating...Sometimes, silly things that you can say to yourself will make you smile. Which is what we are trying to achieve – a smile is reflective of your mental good health. Mona Lisa, here we come!

Bottom line: Mind your mind… you cannot afford to lose it!


Sujata Tarakesan.

Thought for the month: -

The mouth may do the extra munching,
But the stomach ends up with all the crunching!
The more you sit down and munch,
The more you gotta sit-up and crunch!