Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Last post in 2009 – lessons learned

As the year comes to a close, one tends to sit back and reflect on the year gone by (a light work week also helps).

To me, as far as the kids go, there were three big lessons learned this past year.

#1 – Empathy – Our kids lead busy lives: school, homework, activities, play time. What was happening was that our kids were often cranky, whiny, uncooperative and we would come down hard on them. What we were forgetting was that these are still very young kids that get tired easily and hence cranky, like the rest of us. Cutting the kids some slack and empathizing with their situation has paid off handsomely. There are a lot fewer frayed nerves in the house and everyone seems happier.

#2 – Consistency in behavior – I am terrible at this. My wife on the other hand, is exceptionally good. Our kids know what they can expect when she says something. With me on the other hand, thye know that if they whine/cajole/complain enough I will sometimes give in. I need to work on this.

#3 – You can teach all you want but you need to live what you teach – This is a cliche but couldn’t be more true. Things that are important to us : being honest, compassionate, patient human beings are best passed on if we ourselves as parents live that way. This point was brought home to me on more than one occasion by my older daughter when she caught me doing something that I have taught her not to do e.g. yelling when angry or frustrated. A positive example of this in our lives is that our kids seem very comfortable in their dual Indian American identity much as we, their parents, are. There is no discomfort in wearing Indian clothes, taking Indian food to lunch etc.

Anyway, enough pontification. I hope you are enjoying your time with your friends and family. Have a wonderful New Year and I will speak with you in 2010.

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Santa Claus

I don’t know about you, but our kids are still young and believe in Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy etc. (all of the aforementioned individuals now are reachable on email, believe it or not). Anyway, we find that this is the perfect time of year for us to use one more incentive for good behavior: Santa Claus. You better behave/be nice/not whine otherwise Santa may not get you everything you want. It works better than the threat of taking away their favorite toy or timeout (in our younger daughter’s case).

Our older daughter has lately been making noises about how there is no Tooth Fairy and that either her Mom or I put the dollar under her pillow when she loses a tooth, but even she hasn’t touched Santa yet.

This is probably the last year we will have an innocent couple of kids waiting for Santa to bring them their gifts on Christmas. Next year Shibani will probably be too old for Santa. I am going to enjoy it while it lasts and milk the Santa incentive for good behavior for all its worth.

Happy Holidays!

Christmas

Growing up in a Hindu household in India, we never celebrated Christmas. Diwali was the main festival. But over the years of living in the US, I have been sucked kicking and screaming (my wife will attest to that) into celebrating Christmas. And, it has grown on me, I love it.

In many ways, Christmas is similar to celebrating Diwali in India, in significant other ways, it is quite different. Like Diwali, it is a secular festival for the most part: people celebrate this time of the year with their loved ones regardless of their religious beliefs, buying and exchanging gifts, having the holiday meal together…

Unlike Diwali, the buildup to the actual day starts almost a month back (right after Thanksgiving). The rituals of putting up a Christmas tree, having holiday parties, Santa Claus etc are a lot more formalized. The retailers and the entertainment industry do their bit by making the entire month of December feel quite festive. I’ll go out on a limb here: one could argue the season is almost more festive that Diwali in India.

Christmas began in our house this year right after Thanksgiving with the kids writing up their wish lists for Santa and putting them in the fireplace. The lists were gone the next morning when they woke up. The look of innocent amazement on their faces in the morning is something I will cherish forever.

Between now and the new year there is a lot to look forward to and each day feels like a celebration. Hope your holiday season feels special too.

Happy holidays!