Category Archives: Parenting

The Absolute truth

PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman

“Is daffodil a boy or a girl?”, my child asks.

“There is no boy or girl in daffodils”.

A plant grows out of a single seed with all the knowledge it needs. This human seed came with a list of questions instead- and trusting eyes to absorb any answer as the absolute truth.

“Am I a boy or a girl?”, my child asks.

“You are a …”, I pause…to laugh at life’s irony…any disappointment leftover from the day I saw the tiny blip between the sonogram legs dissipates…

“You’re an angel”, I finish…it’s the absolute truth.

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It’s the absolute truth …children are angels until they hit their teens and then all bets are off ūüôā

To think that we assign gender even before a child’s birth and expect gender typical behaviour when a child is born with no concept of gender…

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This 98 word story was written for a 100 word Photo prompt based writing challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  Rules and details can be found at this site:

https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/12-february-2016/

The Photo prompt is copyrighted to “The Reclining Gentleman”. PHOTO PROMPT ¬© The Reclining Gentleman

To read other amazing takes on the prompt by fellow “Friday Fictioneers” , click the froggy below:

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The junk pile

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

¬† ‚ÄúHey boys, how ‚Äôbout y‚Äôall makin‚Äô yer Ma some wind chimes?‚Ä̬†,I had said years ago. My two boys had turned up hours later with a wind-chime and a story:

“it’s a two headed monster..this is a eye and this the mouth …one head eats only beans..”

“and the other one drinks only beer”, the little one interjected , turning my head over to his side.

They competed to be the sole story-teller that day… for a place in my lap…for my undivided attention.

My love, ran like a gushing river giving each shore it’s fair share, uniting and ironically dividing them ,at the same time. What can I do to be a better mother? I had wondered.

As I watch them, from above, sifting through my earthly possessions and throw the wind-chime in the junk pile , I realize I did the best I could and that’s what¬† matters in the end.

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The above story was in response to ‚ÄėMonday‚Äôs finish the story‚Äô flash fiction challenge. This unique flash fiction challenge¬† provides¬† a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. Details are available here:

https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/381/

The biggest con of my life

“There were about 10 percentage problems Aunty. I got everything right Aunty. I think I will get 100% Aunty”, Manju was telling my mother about how she did in our third grade Annual math exam, her pigtails bouncing as she spoke with enthusiasm. My mother looked at me with a mixture of disappointment and anger after she left,¬† “Look at Manju, How perfectly she speaks. She’s going to get A+ in all subjects”.

In a month , I got my exam results with an official promotion letter to 4th grade. My math score in the high 90s. That year Manju failed math. She was not promoted to 4th grade.¬† Schools don’t hold back a child to repeat a grade for trivial reasons…. they do that only if the quarterly report cards and annual exams together paint a very bad picture.

All year Manju had been painting herself a wonderful child in all respects and my mother had been singing the “Look at Manju…Be Like Manju” song.¬† “What? She told me she is going to be 100%. She failed?” mother exclaimed with surprise.

Boasting didn’t run in my family. My parents didn’t boast. My grandparents didn’t boast. So when we heard others indulge in self-praise, we believed it without question thinking that they did have something we didn’t….. Often basing our self-worth relative to what others projected.

The experience with Manju was an extreme example .. still didn’t learn from¬† that until much later. Over the years we have let others determine our self-worth.¬† Let’s call them “under-miners”. These under-miners impacted our self-worth is these ways:

1) Self-praise ,with an implicit comparison ,with an intent to invoke jealousy¬† E.g My son earns $$$ knowing fully well that the other person’s son makes way less.

2) Veiled insults

3) Offering unsolicited suggestions to improvement, for real or imagined issues, with an intent to prompt feelings of inadequacy. E.g. “If you are so thin how will you manage childbirth…put on some weight”

4) Openly pointing out your problem areas (usually speaking out of context)- The classic “You have a pimple in your chin”…”You have gray hair”..(really!?! We have mirrors people!)

I do not know all of the motivations of these under-miners..but some are:

1) Extreme love and pride for themselves/children/loved ones

2) Jealousy

3) Low self-esteem and low integrity

More often I have found that these people are¬† motivated by jealousy like Manju’s mom who cut 6 inches off my hair without my permission.

I can still remember her telling me while I stood in her kitchen drinking a glass of water (after playing with Manju), “Your hair is tapering at the end. It looks like a rat’s tail” . Without any preamble she took a scissors and cut off the end of my pigtails. My mother was furious when I came home with only half the hair that she sent me out with. ‘How dare she cut your hair’ she seethed.

But there were several other incidents that mother has been manipulated into figuratively ‘cutting my hair’. Like my weight “‘problem'”. For all my teenage and early 20s , the constant barrage of comments were on how thin I was. I was always made to feel inadequate about my body. My mother fed me all fatty foods¬† my teenage years and still I gained no weight and hovered around the low 40 kgs. My husband gave me an order(years before our marriage) : “I atleast want 55 kgs”

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(The above are excerpts from two letters to me – Proof of weight gain request)

Then I moved to the USA , got married, gave birth twice and over the two decades went from 45 kgs to 60 kgs. I reached the goal of ‘atleast 55 kgs’ and even exceeded it by a good 5kg! ( Overachiever !)¬† Now I am too fat according to these same people who criticized my thinness years ago.¬† My epiphany came when I looked at one person’s eyes and saw joy when she pointed out my “excess” flesh with glee and snide remarks. I realized that I was conned into self-sabotage.

Nowadays no one addresses me directly on my weight….maybe because they¬† feel the “duck off” vibe emanating from all my pores …they address my mother instead, “She (your daughter) has put on some weight”. My mother visibly humbled , slightly ashamed goes, ” Yes, she has”. I wished she said, “She’s fine the way she is” both now and 20 years ago.

wii

(above pic taken Mar 2015,where Wii Fit tells : I am perfect at 60kgs too!). Yes, my ‘center of balance’ is slightly off but my mental balance has never been perfect ….ever since I disallowed others to impact my self-worth.

Here’s my formula to preserve/guard your self-worth and those of your children/loved ones.

1) List all your (or your child’s) strengths – Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient, and Physical attributes, achievements, the acts of kindness you have performed , skills, special talents, friends, family support etc.

Feel proud about it!

Most importantly be grateful.

2) List all your (or your child’s) weakness

Identify areas that can be improved – Chart a plan to improve

Identify areas that you cannot change – e.g Height , Skin color, singing skills- Accept it

Identify mistakes in the past that contributed to the weakness Рe.g Missing an opportunity to go to college and study-  Forgive yourself and move on.

When the under-miners attack:

Type 1: Self-praise – Control feelings of envy. Recall your strengths. Do not get into a competition with the under-miner. Be gracious in your praise of them. Remember to be grateful for all you have.

Type 2: Veiled insult – Depending on the nature of the relationship with the under-miner, the location, the witnesses around etc. the tone of the response can vary. The underlying message should be “Duck off”.

Type 3: Unsolicited advice for a real or imagined problem –¬† Assess if there is a real problem. Are they your well wishers? Do they really care about you ? If yes, then accept that advice. Thank them. Ask them how they can help you. E.g. Ask them for money to buy an exercise machine if they tell you that you should exercise.

If the problem is imagined (or your perspective on the matter is different) – Firmly tell them what’s on your mind- Or ignore.

Type 4: Pointing out your problem areas – Tell them you are aware of the issue and ask them if they want you to return the favour and point out some issues in them. Either now and in another time that its inconvenient to them.

The biggest challenge is to determine who is self-praising or giving out unsolicited advice without an intent to undermine you. It’s a trail and error method ..so for the first time you encounter this situation¬† give the “maybe-under-miner” benefit of doubt , while remaining on guard.

Euripides, a tragedian of classical Athens, wrote (translated to English):

If speech were got by purchase, there is none

Would care to lay out money on self-praise.

But since the bounteous air provides it free

There’s none but dwells with pleasure on his merits

Real or fancied, for it cost him nothing.

So please remember, It costs these under-miners nothing to self-praise , to get you jealous, to make you feel inadequate, but if you let it affect you it will cost you a lot.

Please share any insights , or the tactics you use to deal with annoying under-miners.

Crazy!

“Did you brush?”

“I did!”

“I didn’t hear the water run”

“You go : ‘save water‘, ‘don’t let the water run‘. Now, You want me to let the water run huh? ”

“The brush is bone dry”

“I dried it”

Go brush NOW!

“You’re crazy you know!” I say and stomp away.

Mother is crazy. You can see it in her eyes when she stands over me at the Orthodontist. Laughing maniacally. Clicking pictures. Taking videos.¬† Who does that?! It’s so embarrassing!

You’re crazy” I want to scream.¬† As if she heard me, she giggles , “Yes, I’m craaaaaaazy!”. She sings that all the way home. CRAZY!

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The above 104 word (true life )story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PHOTO PROMPT ‚Äď ¬© Madison Woods

Click on the ‚Äėblue frog‚Äô¬† below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.