Friday, July 31, 2009

Barbies, Math and a very efficient baby sitting service



Really sorry--I have had to remove this post as it will soon appear in a book. Making it available online would have been very unfair to my publisher who has placed so much trust in me. I hope you enjoy the other posts as much as you enjoyed this one. A heartfelt thanks for your support and understanding.Thanks for continuing to read what I write.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When a man loves a woman


Satish and I are both movie buffs, though our tastes in the department of what constitutes a good movie might vastly vary. Therefore it was a pleasant change when both of us were glued to our seats the other day while watching a movie, fixed like pinions as the film transported us smoothly from one scene to the other and within the first four minutes, we realised that the female protagonist was exactly like me and the male was exactly like him—heck, even the lines they spoke and the way she sits in his lap and the slightly crazy things she does, balanced by his very grounded-to-earth attitude was almost the exact depiction of us as a couple, and we were hooked from the word go and so we went. We laughed, we cried ,we rejoiced ,giggled, chuckled, felt enraged, nodded in agreement (I with the woman and he with the man) and laughed some more as we watched in delight and shocked surprise, the very lines we say to each other being uttered by Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan. (I never knew we were in such esteemed company or perhaps the script writers did a darn good job of reel imitating real)

Later (after the accusations and justifications had died down along with the charged up adrenalin) he and I discussed what makes a good marriage and what makes many marriages break down. Each marriage is as different and unique as the two people who are in it, and the dynamics of the relationship can be understood by the two alone. A third person is no one to sit in judgement (with due apologies to marriage counsellors) but the more I observe and more I think about it, I am convinced that there are indeed certain basic things that help keep a marriage fun, happening and something to look forward to. I actually wanted to write about what are the things that help a relationship but I think I shall save that for another post.

Satish happens to be at senior level management and in his previous organisation (whose name is a very coveted thing to have on your CV ) he had a huge fan following of twenty something B-school graduates who were taken in as management trainees, all wanting to do a stint under him during their training period. Unlike many people at his level, he is friendly, has no airs, is very jovial and witty as well. He would really take interest in his mentees and there was a long list of people who wanted to train under him. With many of them, he had(and still has) a personal rapport and they would often come home for dinner or lunch and mingle easily with our family and we all had a great time. Almost all of them would say that they hoped to have a family like ours someday and hoped to have as great a marriage. To them we seemed like the perfect couple and the perfect family. (Touch wood)

But I do feel that what many do not see is the amount of work that goes into creating family bonds and a loving relationship with your spouse. It is indeed one of the most fulfilling relationships one can have, provided it works out well.

I think the basic thing that has to exist no matter how long you have been married (and we have been married 14 years now)or been in a relationship is deep, unconditional, absolute love for the other person. You have to just love their quirks, the oddities, the unique (and sometimes annoying) habits that make them them. You have to love their laugh, their smile, their way of speaking or whatever it was that made you fall in love with them in the first place. If this is there, I think everything else will fall in place.

At an office party in Satish’s previous organisation (he handled a large brigade of twenty somethings—so you can imagine how the atmosphere was) which was being organised on a grand scale with a compère, a professional DJ, pulsating foot tapping music , disco-lights ,(you get the drift) the Master of ceremonies picked a very Pretty young thing (PYT) from the audience and asked her to name who she thinks the most attractive man in the organisation is. All the eligible, single guys in the room sat up a bit straighter when they heard that. The PYT blushed and flushed and said she could not possibly name him. Everyone insisted. They all wanted to know. Then finally, being in the spotlight and with a mike thrust in her hand (and therefore no escape) she confessed—and you guessed it—she named Satish! (I was blissfully unaware at that time as it was a party for only the employees). Satish was taken aback (he says and his loyal band of followers support this) and he did not know what to say. (I can just picture his reaction). After the ooh-ing and aaah-ing had died down, the compère had to ask her “If there was one thing that you could change about him, what it would be?”

Everyone was all ears and waited with bated breath to hear what she would say.

“The fact that he was married,” she smiled and answered as collective gasps filled the air.

Needless to say, that evening as he came back and narrated this incident to me, I couldn’t help feeling like the luckiest woman on Earth. :-)

_______________________________________________________________




Now, the Monday question for you (see this post if you are new and/or do not know what this is all about ):

If you’re single and ready to mingle, what according to you are the things that you will look for in your future partner, which you think are essential to make the relationship last till death do you part?

If you’re married or in a relationship, what are the things you cherish most in your partner?

I have made three pop-up cards this time. (I am quite pleased with my efforts. See picture above, click to enlarge) I shall pick three responses that appealed most to me and update this post on Thursday (not Friday) at 10.00 a.m my time (2.30 pm IST) and will be mailing them the cards.

________________________________________________

Update as promised:

Choosing which three comments will get the cards is the toughest thing in the world! Each time I choose I feel lousy because it feels like I am judging the emotional content of each comment and that is truly something that cannot be judged. So I just pick three that stuck in my mind for whatever reasons.

This time I did not want to do it. I was very moved by almost all comments.

So I solved the problem by asking Satish to pick three. :-) (Clever me) He is not familiar with any of you, and does not know anything about you all at all. (Unlike me--I make it a point to know each one who comments here) He spent more than an hour yesterday evening reading all the comments, after coming back from work. (Poor guy! And he hates looking at the computer after he gets home as he has been working on it the whole day.) Anyway, these are the three that he picked. (In no particular order. Click on their names to be taken to their blogs) { and if you want explanations as to why he picked these three you will have to ask him :-) }

Shades of Grey

Mamta

Piggy Little

Please send me your postal addresses so that I can send you the cards.

From my last posts, Scotty and Deepti wrote to me saying the cards that I mailed reached both of them. (hooray). The others whose names I mentioned in my previous posts--your cards are on the way. Please let me know when you get them.

For all the others to whom I am not able to send a card, I am soooooooo






I really wish I could!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Keep smiling and bloom!



Sometime back when we first moved to UK and into this home where we’re now staying I was happy as well as sad, elated as well as a little depressed, joyous as well as sorrowful. It was truly a bag of mixed feelings as the move was definitely for the better, but I hated leaving everything familiar behind and starting life in a foreign land. We have been married fourteen years now and have moved several times to different cities but it was always within India. So wherever we went, my collection of plants and whatever pet(s) I happened to have at that time also moved. The best memory was my forty little guppy babies and the mother and father fishes arriving safely from Pondicherry at Bangalore, in a huge red bucket along with the rest of our stuff. Wherever we went our potted plants went too. I had a lovely collection of about 35 pots that had travelled with me all over India. I am fond of plants and especially my indoor plants which I love to have in the living room.

But when we moved to UK, there was no way my plants would survive four weeks in a ship. Neither would the fishes. Sadly I had to give them away.

When I arrived I was dismayed to see the ‘garden’ here. It was a little patch of land overgrown with weeds and really run down and looking miserable. The previous occupants obviously did not have gardening as their priorities. In India, I have always had gardeners to do my garden for me. Here in UK, it was different. Hiring gardeners are forbiddingly expensive and most people do it themselves.For the first time in my life, I was faced with this huge challenge of transforming a weary, neglected run down patch into something habitable. I have never ever done gardening before. I read up books about it, and asked people for advice.

Then began the hard work. It was really cold when I first arrived here. The temperatures were about 4- 6 degrees and there was strong cold wind blowing. The moment I stepped out, It was like someone slapping me hard on the face and in the beginning I could hardly bear it. But I did want a garden; I so missed the one I had in India. I was determined to have it, no matter how much hard work it involved.

First, I had to eliminate the weeds. There were more weeds than the lawn or the plants. Painfully one by one I sat uprooting each one. It was hard to squat and muscles in my body that I did not even know existed made their presence felt as I struggled with the muscles as well as the weeds. Then there were stones—hundreds of them. Again I had to pick out each one individually. Collectively they made a large sack.

Then began the process of raking the soil and planting the seeds. Then watering them. It looked hopeless at one point in time. I wondered if I’d ever have even a few flowers. Slowly they began taking a shape, began rising. And then, one fine day

BLOOM!

I actually had grown flowers!(These are pictures of my garden clicked today) I couldn’t believe it. I quite like my garden now. There is still a lot more to do, but at least the flowers make me smile.

It made me think how true it is of life too. There are situations which we go through which test us initially and then make us bloom like the flowers. It helps to keep smiling throughout. Smiling has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, increase immunity and a feeling of positivity. The health benefits of smiling are tremendous. People who smile more often have more friends and are perceived as leaders. A smile costs nothing and it truly enriches the giver and the receiver and spreads warmth.



So that is the message on the four cards that I have made this time. “Keep smiling” and “Bloom”

I shall pick four responses that appealed most to me and mail them the cards. (See this post for details if you are a first time reader)

So here is this Monday’s question for you

I shall update this post with names of four people who will get the cards on Friday 2.30.pm, IST (10.00.am, my time).

Was there any situation (or person) in your life that made you bloom? (It need not be in a ‘great way’. It can be something very small too) Did you keep smiling? (It is ok even if you didn't!)
______________________________________

Update as promised.


Like I said before, if I could mail each one a card, I would. But since I cannot I had to pick four. Like the last time, I am picking four which stuck in my mind, out of all the comments. For me the treat was reading what you shared. Here are the names of four people whom I will be sending the cards to. (their names are links)

Shachi:
You can't help but instantly like Shachi. She is an engineer by profession who is currently living in the U.S. She is warm, compassionate, honest, kind and very likeable! But that is not the reason why I picked her comment. Read what she wrote in my comment box and I am sure you will be moved.

Prashant Dhanke:
When I first came upon his blog, I was totally carried away by his writing. It had a certain something that I could not define. It moved me, made me think and affected me in some strange way that I could not quite put in words. His comment on this post of mine was very inspiring and motivating. I know just how much trauma ill health can cause and how valuable being fit is. It is very hard to achieve it and the effort, determination and hard work he has put in struck me as remarkable. (I have had my share too. I have blogged about it and it is buried in my archives)

Rohan
Rohan describes himself as a twenty something wannabe adman who is keenly observant, highly forgetful (and you would be forgiven for thinking they were contradictory) and many more things that made me smile. His comment about the joy and the surprise that he got gave me a high as soon as I read it and it still brings a fuzzy warm feeling when I think of it.

Meira
She lives in Gurgaon, got married recently (sorry to disappoint the single guys--she is very cute!) :-) and writes in a way that makes me smile, giggle and relate to what she has said so well. Her comment about 'transfer' of her dad's gift which inadvertently caused a lifelong love of reading struck me as perkily delightful--just like her!

Please send me your postal addresses so that I can mail you the cards.


What had been really heartening is that many of you have written to me, saying cards or no cards, it is my posts you look forward to! That is so lovely to hear! Thank you!

(And if you really don't like the idea of these cards (since only a few people get them even though all of you deserve them), please do let me know. It will save me the trouble of making more!!)

So please tell me--cards or no cards? Based on your responses I shall decide whether to make more or trash the idea.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The best gift. A new project.


What is THE best gift you have ever given somebody? What did it involve?

To me, the ‘best gift’ isn’t really expensive or flamboyant or splashy. It is the ‘best’ because of the thoughtfulness behind it, the time spent in choosing it and the trouble that the person took to make it special. The pen-sets and hastily picked up thermos flasks or clocks, just does not do it for me—and somehow I can always tell! (I am sure you can too!)

One of the best gifts I have received which I truly cherish is two original paintings made by a brilliant Artist—Niall Young-- whom I am also very proud to call a good friend of mine. (I have blogged about him many times. Just search for his name in the box on the right if you want to read the posts) One of his paintings hangs above my desk where I work, so that first thing I see when I look up is that picture. One of my favourite artists Van Gogh once said Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul. " Since I paint myself (Click here to go to my art site) I could so agree. Niall said that only very very few people have had the privilege of being gifted his original work. I did feel special and I could relate so completely because it is the same for me, even though my work is not one tenth as good as his. Very very few people (in fact only three) have had the privilege of being gifted my paintings. When people ask me casually “Oh—Can you paint something for me?” I really am so enraged that I want to ask them to—well-- you know what I want to say! :-) But I smile politely and change the topic. They have to truly earn it.

I also make cards for people who I really like. If I could make a card for each of you who take out the time and make an effort to comment on my posts, I truly would have. Like I said in the ‘acknowledgements’ section in my book, a big thank you to all my blog readers and subscribers. (On the last count it was more than 480 (and 161 followers)—I was amazed.) Since I really cannot make that many cards (else in the 'about me' section I’d have to write ‘full time card maker’ instead of ‘author, artist, poet, mom’ !) I have decided that I am making 15 cards to give away. I will be giving away three or four cards, each Monday for the next four Mondays. (depending on how many I am able to make during the week) The cards aren’t ‘professional’ or 'perfect' but I have done my best and a lot of effort and thought has gone into each one.

Why Mondays? Because Mondays are usually the dullest days of the week (at least, I hate Mondays) and this will be something nice on a Monday morning. To choose who would get the card, I’ll ask a ‘thinking question’ (Don’t worry—no Math or science here) and then choose ‘3 best responses’ . Of course you’ll have to send me your postal address and I will mail the handmade card to you. If you do not want the card but still want to comment, you’re most welcome to! Just mention it in your comment—that’s all (and don't worry I wont be offended if you don't want my card!).

The cards I have made this time have an inspirational quote on the front and insides are blank. (photo at the start of the post;Click to enlarge and you can see the details on each one) If you want it for yourself, I shall personalise it for you and send it. (from me to you, on the inside) If you want to send it to someone else, I shall leave the inside blank and mail it to you with a matching envelope, so that you can send it to whoever you want to gift it to. The cards are all 14.5 cms x 10.5 cms. So in case you want to, you can slip it into a standard photo-frame and you’d instantly have a framed picture which you can prop on your desk at work or home. If you’re too lazy to, you can just pin it up anywhere without any frame—honestly what you do with it is your business! These were just suggestions.

But one thing I do ask of the recipient is to ‘pay it forward’ (like the movie of the same name). You don’t have to make a card necessarily but please do a random act of kindness for somebody. You don’t even have to tell me (but if you want to I’ll of course listen). Brighten up somebody’s day. That is all I ask.

On a different note—Have you noticed the new 'My current mood' panel on the right side? If you’re using IE, it may appear different. It works best with Firefox. I plan to share my favourite songs and videos and it will be updated and changed frequently. (Sometimes I change it even twice a day, sometimes I don’t change it for a few days. But I will surely change it, each time there is a new post. )

Okay— Here is the question for this Monday. (I shall update this post with names of three people who will get the cards, on Friday at 10:00 a.m, GMT which is 2.30 p.m IST)

“What according to you, is the best gift you have ever received or ever given somebody? Why was it so?” (There is no need to mention names if you don’t want to)

__________________________________________________

Update as promised

Firstly I really wish I could send cards to every single one of you. Each and every comment that I read made me go 'aaaaaawwwwwww..'. Truly ,the emotional value of each and every gift can never be judged. Each one is as valuable as the other, because of what it means to the sender and the receiver. So I am not judging the gifts that were given as they are indeed priceless.

However I had to pick three comments, as I had only three cards to give away. I knew it was going to be very very hard to decide which three. So I did one thing. I read the comments just once, replied and did not read them again. Then this morning ,I tried and remembered which ones have stuck in my mind. Obviously those were the ones that had made an impact on me, for whatever reasons, as those were the ones that came to mind instantly.

They are (click on their names which are links)

Scotty

Scotty is a Firefighter from Adelaide, Australia. He writes amazing poetry.He has some lovely music on his site. He is wise, warm and very intelligent. Most importantly he is sensitive. His comment really moved me because what he did wasn't easy. It is never easy to swallow pride and make that first step to mend bridges. Read his comment and you will know what I am talking about.


Mayank

Mayank is a banker from Mumbai. He is also a friend,but that did not influence me the least bit when I read his two comments.In fact he asked if he could mail it to me instead of putting it as a comment on my blog, but I refused. I said that the rules which apply to others apply to him as well and I cannot make any allowances just beause he is my friend. What I liked about his comment was that in both places he is humble enought to admit what he really is and how unusual both incidents were. Both moved me. Read both his comments and I am sure you'll feel moved too. They brought a lump to my throat when I first read them. He does not blog, so I have linked his Facebbok profile.


Deepti

Deepti, I am presuming is in IT and is based in Bangalore. She says she forgot to grow up and I think it is great if we all forget to grow up! As adults we can be so drab and proper and boring! What moved me about Deepti's comment was teaching her parents to use the computer and the pride in her parents. Old age can be really lonely and that is when you need your children the most. Sadly that is also the time Children have least time for their parents as they are busy in their careers, their family and their life. A computer can make such a difference to their lives . I know, because I too had taught my mom, step by step how to mail me. My dad learnt himself and graduated to a whiz. Something in Deepti's comment brought tears to my eyes.


Please send me your postal addresses and also tell me whether you want blank cards or want me to personalise it. (from me to you) and the cards will be mailed to you as soon as I hear from you.Mail me on ps @ preetisatish.com (without gaps--I have put the gap no purpose to discourage bots and spammers).

I must also say that I remembered Piyali's comment, because I could so relate to what she has been going through, having quit her job recently. But I did not want to be biased as she mentioned my book (probably the reason why I remembered!) and so Piyali, I will be sending you a postcard from Norwich. (Not a handmade card) So Piyali, please send me your address too.

All the others, I am really really sorry that I wont be able to send you a card this time. But I am certain you wont mind or be disappointed and that you will understand my limitations, given the number of people who have responded.

Best thing about this has been reading the comments that bring back happy memories.

The next post and next question coming soon! I have already made four cards this time. So watch this space! (and a BIG thank you for responding to this so well)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A single flower can be my garden


A long time back a friend of mine sent me a picture of a flower and wrote “A single flower can be my garden and a single friend my world.” It struck me as intense and deep. Twenty years later I still have not forgotten those words although I have no idea where that photo or the friend is.

Everywhere I turn these days, flowers are in bloom. They enthrall me, mesmerise me and compell me to stop and click a picture. Usually by then, my family has walked ahead and I hurry to catch up with them, satisfied that I have captured their beauty in a snap shot.

A little while ago I told a good friend of mine “I have no idea why, but flowers make me insanely happy.”

Flowers have inspired thousands of Artists and thousands of poets before me. They have made fascinating subjects for photographers. I am no different. If you want to read a flower poem I wrote click here.

Here are some more flower pictures that I clicked—something I just had to do.





I know you will enjoy them as much as I have.(Click on each one to enlarge)

Because as someone once said "Where flowers bloom, hope does too."

Monday, July 06, 2009

Is it a man's world?



This post is very different from my usual posts. This is a post not really meant of those less than 18 years of age. I know many children, especially my friends’ children read my blog (my own two do not, but I’d have absolutely no issues even if they did and I would deal with it) and therefore the warning as I am not sure what their parents might feel. So, if you are below 18, please stop reading now and leave. Also if you’re easily offended by strong language please leave. Sometimes there is no other way to say it. I might moderate comments for this post (something I never do) as I don’t want to entertain frivolous discussions on this topic. Having forewarned and having put the disclaimer in place, here goes:

It is a Man’s world. Unfortunate, but true. If you’re a woman, especially an emancipated modern, free thinking woman, you may scream and rave and rant and deny. You may say that women are equal, there is nothing that a woman is not capable of doing better than a man. I would agree completely with you. But still, by and large, women do live by the rules which men have made. And I am not referring to the Law here which in some countries, is totally against women.(In many countries women are not allowed to even drive a vehicle)

Throughout history and right up to modern day, women have been treated as sex objects first and then everything else later. Men look at women as their ‘possession’ or ‘property’ that they have to guard and defend from other men. You might be a modern, politically correct, free thinking man, but I am sure, deep down you’d agree with what I have just stated. The first thing that a man sees when he sees a woman is how she is, physically.

Traditionally, it has been the duty of the male to protect his family and provide for them. In the Ancient times, when a king conquered a new territory, it was accepted that he and his men got the women of the defeated kingdom. Soldiers, raping the women of the defeated kingdom was common and not unacceptable. When Bahadur Shah took over Malwa in 1535 many of the women burnt themselves to death rather than submit to their capturers, while their men fought till their dying breath. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the men would ensure that their women wore chastity belts made of iron to prevent temptation of having an affair with another man while they were away. For men, the physical faithfulness of women has always mattered, much more than they are willing to admit. In 2004, the USA today carried a news item where a woman’s steel chastity belt had triggered off a security alarm at the metal detector at the airport in Athens, Greece. The woman claimed that her husband had forced her to wear the device while she was holidaying in Greece as he did not trust her to be faithful to him.

The above example may be an aberration of modern day practice and that is why it made news. But the fact is, things have not changed much.

The women may have discarded the chastity belt. But the men still know how to keep a woman in place. They don’t use devices—they use words ,which sadly many women are afraid of, too. To describe a woman’s sexual behaviour, most often derogatorily (you see, women should not have physical needs—that is the sole prerogative of the all powerful, supreme MALE) there are as many many words—slut, floozy, harlot, hooker, hussy, prostitute, tramp, vamp, whore, call girl, concubine, fallen woman, loose woman, painted woman, nymphomaniac, street walker, jade, scarlet, trollop, bitch, to name just a 'safe' few.

To describe a man’s sexual behaviour there is at the very worst, a gigolo, a seducer, a skirt chaser, a ladies man and also Casanova or Don Juan-- all of which are actually complimentary and definitely not as derogatory as the above category of words.

It clearly suggests that if a woman does it, she is a slut, but if a guy does he is a stud.

To all the men in the world, I can say only one thing on behalf of all the women in the world.

“You may have our bodies but you will never have our souls.”

So perhaps, it really may not be a man’s world after all !

________________________________________________

Addendum : After reading some of the comments I want to say that I am not for a moment suggesting that ALL men are sexist pigs. Male bashing is not what I want to do. I am pointing out historic instances as well as difference in language terms that exist when it comes to men and women. My post is full of real references, if you notice and think about it :)


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Will you make a good parent?

Photobucket

Many mothers (and a few fathers too) wrote to me after my last post (which got an overwhelming response) asking me to write more posts on parenting. So this is a post for all who asked and all who never asked but always wanted to know. :-)

Parenting is a tricky business. More so, as there are really no rules, no guides, no absolutes in terms of right and wrong. Most of us seem to use what our parents did with us, as a ‘good guide’. “Our parents did this—and we turned out okay—so how can it be that wrong?” This seems to the Mantra many follow. But the thing is times are different. The exposure that the children these days have is humongous compared to what we grew up with. Our parents didn’t have to face the Media and Internet invasion like we and our children do. So we need to balance ‘old fashioned diktats’ and adapt them to suit modern needs. (If you are a parent reading this and you do not have a Facebook or Orkut id, please open one quickly! At least you’ll know what it is all about when your child starts to use it—and these days they start as young as 10 even though FB allows only those 14 and over. )

They say Life is the best teacher. Having worked with schools for many years I got a lot of opportunity to observe children closely and also the privilege of discussing a lot of issues with their parents. Writing for 'Times of India' and other publications, gave me plenty of opportunity to interact with so many different kinds of people. Whenever I would come across a well rounded, balanced, smart young person, I would invariably either ask them what their parents did while raising them or speak to their parents directly. I made mental notes as to what these people did right and tried to incorporate that into my style of parenting.

I always look up to older women who have done a remarkable job in bringing up their children and I mostly take advice and tips from them. I have been fortunate to have a few women who are at least 10 years older than me, as my very good friends. When I see their children (who are now in their twenties and are young adults themselves) I hope that mine will turn out as well as theirs. One such remarkable woman is my cousin (and good friend) Gayathri who is a single mum and her daughter graduated recently. This post of hers illustrates so well what good parenting is all about.

There are so many aspects to ‘good parenting’ that I need to write a book to contain it all. (A project that I am seriously considering) A single post won’t do.

But for now, let me share with you an incident which happened to my son’s friend (let me call him Ryan as I don’t want to give away his identity)—and I think most of us can relate to this one.

Ryan is a ten year old who plays with my son and his group of friends who are all in the age group of 10-14. Ryan’s mother is very strict with an authoritarian style of parenting. Her children do not dare disobey her as they are severely punished. (I have no idea what the ‘severe punishments’ involve but I know that the children are petrified of consequences if they disobey). Ryan’s mother, one evening, decided that the weather was a bit cold and she insisted that Ryan wear a sweater and a monkey cap (a woollen cap designed to cover ears. Click on word for image) and only then would he be allowed to play football. The mother was acting in best interests as Ryan had a slight cold and the mother was scared that he would get a sore throat and fall ill which has happened on several occasions in the past. Poor Ryan tried protesting but his mother would not hear of it. She was firm and he did not dare disobey. When he reached the park, he was the laughing stock of all the boys. (And you know how boys can be at that age) They all said he was un-cool and refused to play with him. My son felt sorry for Ryan. He took him aside and told him to remove the cap and sweater and to wear it just before he went home.

Ryan refused. He said “I can not disobey my mother. If she comes to know that will be the end of me.”

My son said “How will she come to know? She is not going to come here to the park and look.”

But Ryan’s fear as so great that he was not convinced. My son is quite popular in his gang of boys and he felt sorry for Ryan. So he convinced the others to let Ryan play with them, despite the sweater and the cap. Since my son advocated strongly for Ryan they agreed.

At the end of the football match, Ryan’s head was covered with sweat. He was profusely sweating all over and yet refused to take his sweater or cap off. My son later told me “Ma—he was stinking because of the sweat. Nobody would go near him. I am sure they wont let him play next time. Why does his mother do that?”

I had no answers.

But I sure know that this is something I’d never do. I don’t think any of my older women friends would have ever done anything like this to their children. (I am not claiming that everything I do is perfect. Nor am I saying that what the mother did was wrong. Something else that I am doing must be seeming so wrong in eyes of others. That's why I say there are no absolute rights or wrongs when it comes to parenting)

I know for a fact that ostracization and peer pressure can be a deadly combination. A child that age has enough pressures as it is. They don’t need parents adding to it.

So if you really love your children, allow them to make mistakes. Trust their judgement. They will learn. More importantly when their own experience teaches them something they will remember the lesson better.