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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From my childhood to yours

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood. There is a world of difference between Adi's wonder years and mine. There were many, many things that were ubiquitous to us but will be at a premium for him... playing space for one.

If there were a few things that I could pick up from my childhood for my boy to experience in his life, they would be these...

Pets - We always had dogs in the house. One of my first memories is of a very large German Shepherd. I can still close my eyes and feel her fur in my mind. My mom tells me, pretending to be disgusted but actually rather amused, that I would often be found behind doors as a toddler, sharing my food with the dog OUT OF THE SAME PLATE!! So much hygiene, I tell you... but I still grew to be five feet seven inches and a frame to match!! In the later years, there was a black labrador and I can assure you - you can never know true love till you have one of those in the house.

On top of that, I was always getting strays into the house and my parents never turned them away. There were other animals - a sick kitten who we nursed back to health, a calf who adopted me at the school bus-stop, a frog that lived in my doll-house, a cow that would come asking for rotis....it was not a surprise that I turned out to be a staunch vegetarian in a family of non-vegetarians.

So, yes, Adi needs to have a dog at some point, a nice St. Bernard. And a cat, too. And a calf, if one adopts him at his school bus-stop.

Pets make us better people.

Books - My father was a doctor and he worked for the UP government. Resultantly, we were always getting stationed in small, mofussil towns. New books were expensive and these small towns did not boast of public libraries. Yet, my parents struggled to keep us flush with books. There was no one to guide us about suitable books, so we read whatever we could get. To this day, M gets shocked by how eclectic my reading list has been! There was a time that a friend of my father's invited all three of us kids to come and borrow his sons' books. The boys had both gone away to IITs. We licked their collection clean. Alistair MacLean, Dr Seuss, Ian Fleming - and other authors that boys like, all were read and re-read!! Of course, I was only 10 at that time and probably should have waited for some time before diving into such stuff - specially the raunchy James Bond numbers - but hey, there was no choice!

About a couple of years after that, my mother took me and my younger sister to the Book Fair. And she told us that we could buy WHATEVER WE WANTED!! It must have taken my parents a lot of effort to be able to say that but that really was the happiest day of my life. Again, a strange mix of books was bought - Gone With The Wind, To Sir With Love, Love Story, David Copperfield, Lust For Life - and we spent so many happy hours poring over those lovely, delicious books. That was also the trip that started my love affair with PG Wodehouse and my sister's with Agatha Christie. To this day, the two relationships are flourishing.

So, Adi, I may not say Yes to a lot of things. But every year, I will take you to the Book Fair and you can buy whatever you want.

These are material things - the last thing is in the mind.

It is the ability to be comfortable in one's own company. All relationships, however deep they may be, are transient. Ultimately, there is only one person you need to be happy with. Loneliness can be strangely liberating, if spent in the company of a person you like and admire and love - you. I have this ability and I can assure you, its a remarkable gift.

So Adi, I hope you don't always need people around you to be happy and can seek happiness in solitude. What I am saying means many things at many levels and if you read the books I mentioned above, one day you will be able to express what those things are.

That's it, then.

What is it about your childhood that you would like to pass on to your children? Tell me, I am listening.

28 comments:

Shobana said...

I would love to pass on to Thambi, my love for books, playing the drums, being comfortable and happy while being alone and there is nothing else to play with, pretend play and oh my...so many things that I know, I would like Thambi to know.

GettingThereNow said...

Too many freaking similarities!!! My maiden name is "Sharma" (of course, I can't be sure it is yours too. Is it?) and my real name rhymes with yours - except for the "L" at end :O I think I gave away too much!!

I too believe that pets make us better persons (though I grew up with only one pet), I grew up with books too - and like you read a lot of age-inappropriate material but turned out just fine, have read (and like) the same authors you mentioned - Alistair MacLean, Agatha Christie, P G Wodehouse...

And like you, I also wanted to teach my daughter to be comfortable in her own company - and I have been able to teach it to her to a great extent.

These are the same things I want to pass on to my kids. And some of my otehr values, beliefs and opinions... Too many to list here. Gotta run home now.

Orchid said...

Oh vow! now you've got me thinking.....i have reflected on this and i think the one thing that is entirely different about li'l A's childhood is "people" (or the lack of it)..staying so far away from home means he gets to grow up without knowing his family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone else. I don't know if there is anything I can do to remedy this at all other than move back to India :(
Sorry for hogging space here but really enjoyed reading about your childhood :)

Squiggles Mom said...

That's a lovely post Parul. I felt very nostalgic. I don't have a ready answer from my childhood but I'll think about it and let you know.

But I HAD to let you know that my brother turned up last night from India with the Om Shanti Om CD and guess what.......

I hope you're back to humming it and that it doesn't get out of your head FOREVER!!! Evil woman.

Deepa said...

I especially agree with the last. It has taken me 32 long years to get there but last year I finally did. And boy, you are right on the money on that one. I absolutely love spending time with myself now( and my ipod, ofcourse:-))

karmickids said...

Beautiful post Parul. I know the only thing I would want to pass onto my son is the complete and unswerving knowledge that whatever happens mamma will be there for him. I had that from my mother, complete love and acceptance, and it is still my rock.

SUR NOTES said...

nice post... my list- love of books for sure- and curiosity, about the world... i never had pets but cousins did, and unfortunately bby houses not a good place for pets- but she should love animals and never fear them.
ps tai took one my chappals.so porblem solved for s.

stuti said...

Hi Parul, loved your posts, all of them. Very, very haha :) ... i ofcourse refer to the past posts on the haha bit.

when i do have kids, a few things (material and otherwise) i would like to pass on to them are (other than what you mentioned):

1. ability to have a good time with just friends... without any need for toys / playpens / video games / sport equipment etc... a la my childhood which was spent whiling away hours chasing kites, playing in the sandpits, devising 'ghar ghar', 'teacher teacher', 'doctor doctor' and what not!

2. Appeciation for money

3. Ability to question, reason and form their own opinions

4. Honesty - in the sense of facing and accepting the truth, however unpleasant, in their own heart and mind.

There! Phew.

stuti said...

Hi Parul, loved your posts, all of them. Very, very haha :) ... i ofcourse refer to the past posts on the haha bit.

when i do have kids, a few things (material and otherwise) i would like to pass on to them are (other than what you mentioned):

1. ability to have a good time with just friends... without any need for toys / playpens / video games / sport equipment etc... a la my childhood which was spent whiling away hours chasing kites, playing in the sandpits, devising 'ghar ghar', 'teacher teacher', 'doctor doctor' and what not!

2. Appeciation for money

3. Ability to question, reason and form their own opinions

4. Honesty - in the sense of facing and accepting the truth, however unpleasant, in their own heart and mind.

There! Phew.

stuti said...

Hi Parul, loved your posts, all of them. Very, very haha :) ... i ofcourse refer to the past posts on the haha bit.

when i do have kids, a few things (material and otherwise) i would like to pass on to them are (other than what you mentioned):

1. ability to have a good time with just friends... without any need for toys / playpens / video games / sport equipment etc... a la my childhood which was spent whiling away hours chasing kites, playing in the sandpits, devising 'ghar ghar', 'teacher teacher', 'doctor doctor' and what not!

2. Appeciation for money

3. Ability to question, reason and form their own opinions

4. Honesty - in the sense of facing and accepting the truth, however unpleasant, in their own heart and mind.

There! Phew.

nomadz said...

dont have kids ...yet...but when i do...some things i would want to pass on to them:
1. the ability to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for what they decide. and the confidence that their parents will support them no matter what...i always have that from my parents and its my rock.

2. acceptance...of life...and what it brings...and acceptance with a smile...no cribbing and whining

3. being happy spending time with themselves...i totally agree with u on that one...and yes..a love for books and classical music...i hope i can pass that on!

4. ability to think without bias and discrimination.

sorry for the long comment!

Malavika said...

I think space to play is the big one, frankly. And being addicted to books. Not really knowing what TV was.

BTW, check out this link:
http://www.babywit.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?

Mala

Mahogany said...

This was really cool! My son shares my dog's dinner plate - and yes she is a retriever too, though a golden rather than a lab. I think all kids should grow up with a big dog.

NainaAshley said...

Lovely post. Made me think about my childhood and the things I want to pass on to my daughter. Books is definitely one of them. I also had lot of fun with my cousins who lived near by. Apple will not have that since we are so far away from everyone. I hope she has some good friends to make up for it.
Also in my childhood, my dad, bro and sis used to listen to music and watch videos of old hindi songs together. We shared our love for music with our dad( not classical music, just light music. I hope apple has that too.

rayshma said...

:)
things i'd like to give in legacy, whenever i hv a kid?
books, pets (a retriever & a fat cat), music, honesty *to oneself* d ability to think for herself/himself and take responsibility for their own actions.
really liked this post... :)

Parul said...

Everyone - thanks for sharing. I am so taken with the responses that I am planning to do a post on the themes that emerge from here. There are many common ones and should be interesting to know what kind of parents we all are and plan to become.

Shobhana - you play the drums? That's so cool! That is one of my big regrets, not being able to play an instrument. I make do with playing hard to get.

GTN - Is your name Charu?

Orchid - Hog all the space you like, I love long comments!

SM - I have moved beyond OSO and am now into Johnny Gaddar!

Deepa - yeah - that is one of the few good things about stepping into the darned 30s.

karmickids - beautifully said, as always. you're amazing.

sur notes - good to know about tai's chappal. curiousity about the world is a good one.

stuti - happy to make you laugh. I like the appreciation for money one. Very important to inculcate that one, yes.

nomadz from hyd - you will make a darned good mom someday if you can pass on all that. Don't worry about the length of the comment, I love long comments!

Mala - TV was not a problem at that time also because there was nothing to watch. Things may be different now. We plan to put a cap on screen time. Let's see.

mahogany - welcome here. I agree.

NA - family time together at an activity - that would be NICE!

rayshma - fat cat - nice!

~nm said...

Such a nice post! Brought back such memories from my childhood. But before I make this comment into a post (which I usually tend to do) let me tell you about the few things that come to my mind straight off which I would like Anirudh to take on

1. Learn to be independent.
2. Learn to fend for himself from the class bullies
3. Be adventurous and sporty
4. Be a jack of all!

DotMom said...

parul, hon, you have outdone yourself. brilliant post. took me right into your childhood.. especially the bit about getting old books.. precious. I need to pick this tag and do a post. what "things" would I like to pass from my child to Chip? what indeed?

z = zeenat said...

Lovely post.....3 things I want to pass along:

1. Ability to enjoy the simple pleasures in life
2. Ability to always be a honest and geniune person
3. LAUGH LAUGH LAUGH

Collection Of Stars said...

A couple of us friends were discussing the same over lunch today and on similar lines. Love thyself first would be my mantra I think self confidence stems from here.

Parul said...

nm - why don't you do a post on this? consider yourself tagged!

dotmom - looking forward to the post.

zeenat - nice name :) Laughter, is it? I like you!

COS - yeps, I think loads of affection and displayed love should go towards making them secure in themselves and thereby love themselves, aye?

Mona said...

i wanted to think about this one which is why i'm late commenting. this could turn into a book but i think the most important things are
1. giving hana a real childhood - like the one we had, with space to play, friendly neighbors and lots of kids to play with. not the one that's common now, scary childhood with children hitting puberty and 9 and what not. don't want to elaborate anymore, too depressing.
2. an appreciation for all things simple
3. the ability to question and learn
4. the knowledge that as long she does her best at whatever she's doing, she'll be fine - no competition - no self-worth issues
5. the confidence that she doesn't have to earn mine or her daddy's love
i'll stop here and now.

Parul said...

Mona - Go ahead, elaborate, maybe in a post? I would really like to know.

Anitha(Nikki's mom) said...

Oh my, is this Paruls' blog? Check, check, such a serious, touching post.(did not mean to demean your blog anything, just that I am tuned to look for humor when I come here).
I need to write a post on these lines too. Right now, what comes to my mind is, my love for books, like for solitude (reminded of Daffodils poem, "bliss of solitude"), DH's nature to stand up and fight for a just cause no matter what, DH's love for pets, hmmm thinking... will do a post in the coming week.

choxbox said...

lovely post parul.

what would i like to pass on to my kids? mostly what everyone before me has said, and the topping the list would be having rock-solid faith in themselves.

GettingThereNow said...

Yup! (There goes anonimity) :P

dipali said...

Beautiful post, Parul. Now that my kids are mostly grown up I think I should ask them what they cherish most about their childhood.
Your post has set me a wondering.....

The TAAMommy said...

Your loneliness bit drew me in. I have been thinking along some lonely lines, especially after listening to Anne Frank, that we are truly truly lonely creatures. There is not that one person who can understand, empathisize and just know how to react at all our varied moments and that only person who can truly satisy my core is me, and yet we seek company, and yet we seek for that one person to understand us completely, at all levels. And do we ever think that we could ever be that one to others, we are so engrossed in our own selves. Just fleeting thoughts. Take Care.