Tag Archives: parenting

Let’em fail

PHOTO PROMPT © Luther Siler

My poor babies…I ache to scoop’em and tuck’em safely under my wings.  I even take a step forward. But I back away  remembering  mother’s mantra:

” Let’em fail”.

“Let’em fail, until they learn how to succeed. They all will in their own time.”, mother had said.

I stay away  unable to watch them floundering. One of my babies succeeds  first, way before the others. I want to check who it is. I even bend down to sniff his scent. But I don’t , recalling my mother’s second mantra: “Keep count of ’em , not the score”

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The below video would explain my story.

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This  100 word story was written in response to a 100 word photo challenge  posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields each week. PHOTO PROMPT ©  Luther Siler

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes on the same photo prompt:

 

1st or 9th ?

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Finish the story begins with:  “Now this is living the life of Riley.”

Content. Without a care in the world. With no worry about tomorrow. Pop some kittens when the urge hits and go on napping.

No need to run the kittens around to football for measly college scholarships. No need to stand on the sidelines  worrying about concussions  or ruptured spleens…like humans.  Why worry when you can drop another litter of 4 or 5 to replace that one lost?

No decision to mull around on whether to push kitty to do the ACT or the new SAT. No need to worry about college essays,  college admissions, grades, drugs, rape-culture.

Most importantly no need to keep with the achievements of the kitten’s next door. No pressure.

And if this life get screwed up ….there’s 8 more to go. Although this could be the 9th …. in that case there’s nothing to be done anyway …so why stress?

If you have a choice : Live like Riley

Note: Riley is the cat sleeping upside down contentedly.

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The about 150 word  story above was in response to ‘Monday’s finish the story’ 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/2015/10/12/mondays-finish-the-story-oct-12th-2015/

For other interesting takes on the same prompt click the blue frog below:

The junk pile

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

  “Hey boys, how ’bout y’all makin’ yer Ma some wind chimes?” ,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 ‘Monday’s finish the story’ 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/

First moon party

Note: Seriously mature topics on Feminism. Please refrain from reading further if you are grossed out by red or blood. There are graphic images in the link provided that are not suitable for male children. (of all ages)

This is a bit of an old news by now about  Rupi Kaur’s photo being taken down by Instagram and then added back after the protest of feminists:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11503621/Instagram-deletes-womans-period-photos-her-reply-is-great.html

When I saw this I had a mixed reaction. First reaction: It’s gross. Did this woman really have to do this? I ignored the news it generated but then it started to burn a hole in my brain. I realized that whatever medium a feminist chooses to bring across the gender message the most important thing is the message. Rupi’s message was powerful:

I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified. and treated less than human

Maybe photos like Rupi Kaur’s will superimpose on those barely-adult-barely -clothed woman’s photos in the psyche of men  and allow for less objectification and more humanization.

Growing up in traditional India, there were a lot of taboos that we girls grew up with with regard to menstruation. When I came home with the ‘news’  the living room was rearranged to make an empty corner for me to sit on the floor. Relatives and neighbours were summoned. The women streamed in and out, ready to pour their share of turmeric water to purify me. Everybody in the world knew. (So, whatever I’m blogging about my life in this post is no secret.) No one was grossed out on hearing the news but I was treated as if I was gross.

This celebration of my grossness culminated in a wedding like event with a lot of presents for me. It wasn’t all that bad. Unless you count being suddenly alienated from your father…Looking at my father barely 5 feet away when he came in from work that day, sitting in a corner ,ordered not to get up and greet him like I usually do ,was the most traumatic moment of that whole episode.

Basically the message I got when young was that a woman is impure during this time and therefore has a lesser status than her usual lesser status in the society. From being the lowest in the totem pole to untouchable.

Things have changed a lot now with educated women breaking taboos on menstruation. There’s even a facebook page: Menstrupedia

https://www.facebook.com/Menstrupedia

In countries with developed economies and different cultures  there are no such taboos but there are jokes about PMS, dismissing women as hormonal.  Those are the things I think  Rupi’s message is trying to address.

I still find Rupi’s picture gross…as I would find a man’s leak gross.

Now , if I had a daughter , this is how I would be celebrating:

Without the ‘coffee filter’ gift ofcourse 🙂

So parents, please please invite me to your daughter’s ‘First moon’ party and let’s make it all fun for her! Let’s welcome her into womanhood by building a better gender equal society! Period!

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 – e.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 – © Madison Woods

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

The bridge to no where

Frost on a stump. Sandra Crook.

He told grandpa what he wanted for his 10th birthday.

“A bridge! Why?”, grandpa laughed.

That laugh froze the words in his mouth: “I love the big tree. Playing on it’s branches  makes me feel loved and secure, like being in my mother’s womb”.

Anyway, who spoke of feelings? “Only girls do that!” he remembered father saying often. So he just shrugged feigning nonchalance.

On his birthday he ran out to the meadow and saw the new bridge. His excitement turned to tears. Grandpa had cut his favourite tree to build the wood bridge.

He never once crossed that bridge.

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The above 100 word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. Photo prompt  by Sandra Crook.

I love Alpha Males !

My baby – my first born son -an alpha male-  makes my day…..everyday.
Every morning , my baby ,now a teen,  wakes  up to go to school on time without any prodding to complete his daily routine. He prepares his own breakfast( Peanut butter/jelly sandwich or a bowl of cold cereal), eats leaving little to no mess on the counter, puts the plate/bowl in the sink. When I make him an omelette later in the morning, he says “Thank You Amma”…..Everyday ,with an genuine sincere sense of gratitude; making eye contact. Every time, with a gentleness that has become the source of my strength. Everyday he lives his life with that compassion , dignity, respect to fellow (female) humans  and self sufficiency despite not having  role model to mimic or reinforce that respectful and gracious behaviour. That ‘bad nurture’ cannot suppress ‘good nature’ fills me with hope for the future .
And then comes the rest of the family, the “pretend alpha males”, looking strangely at the cup of cereal soaking in milk  just the way they want it, waiting on the counter missing a spoon or the bread without its crust cut off. A mild expression of surprise and annoyance ,and suppressed aggression masked in a thin veil of civility, precedes the question: “where is the spoon”..”can you cut out that crust”. As I drop whatever it is that I am  doing and walk across the kitchen , to fetch the spoon that sits within an arms length of the said “pretend alpha male’, I draw from that earlier “Thank you” the strength to give that spoon ,to those role model deprived, and walk away…… Hoping that one day they would learn from my first born son how to be a true ‘alpha human male’!