On Kids and Family Vacations

Kids are well, kids. They have way too much energy, they can make you want to hug them and never let go at times, and at other times, tear your hair apart. During family vacations, especially, their “fresh eyes” and excitement that is so pure is, unfortunately, also accompanied by the compulsory incident when they go red in the face and scream so much, you wonder how. But no vacation is complete without them! The excitement that radiates from them as a result of things that we’ve begun to take for granted gets to me every time.

From my vacation experiences as a kid, I also know that satisfying them is way hard or shockingly easy, depending on the way you look at it. Our parents had, for instance, bought my little brother and me a model toy train set from a gift shop, this one time. But what really really made our day was cutting out pictures of mobile phones from the box of our parents’ newly purchased phones (It was the era of the Nokia 1100 then), sticking it on cardboard and talking to each other through our pretend-phones throughout the trip. This really amused passersby and sort of baffled our parents, especially since the train set was used twice or thrice, at most.

Also, “monuments” and “scenic routes” bored us to death. There were only so many gardens we could gush at and so many miles we could walk. It was the roadside cotton candy stall that made us clap our hands with awe! And the gift store next to the EXIT sign of the monument. Of course, I guess that was just us. There probably are tons of other kids who appreciate these things. But if the kid is going to like Disney World more than the museum or Euro Disney more than the Eiffel Tower, do not exclude these things from the itinerary. Other things that we’re really glad we did was collecting souvenirs in the form of shells, Polaroids, random “journal entries” of my stay written in my then loopy cursive… Making a “scrap book” of things they’ll remember ensures that they have a bit of the memory with them throughout their life.

Along with the usual “sites to see” and so on, I guess an equal amount of mindless, unaccounted for “plain family time” goes a long way. Just sitting by the beach, playing a game of throwball, lounging by the pool and having an impromptu picnic (even better if the kid is involved in preparing for it), is as important and enjoyable as “getting the feel of the city” or “soaking up in the culture”. Vacations are a time when everyone is off schedule so turning it into another scheduled run-around might just kill it. I loved visiting the Taj Mahal and Jurong Bird Park fascinated me, but ask me what I remember the most, and it’s definitely my dad finally having time to crack jokes and be relaxed, my mum enjoying breakfast that she didn’t have to wake up for three hours earlier to cook, running around by the pool and playing a quiet game of carrom: the “boys” of the family versus the “girls” in the hotel’s game room.

This post is a part of Indiblogger’s Happy Hours Activity, courtesy Teddy Travelogues. Visit their website here: http://membership.clubmahindra.com/TeddyTravelogues/index.html

Fear story

I’ve always been afraid of screwing up. I guess that’s a pretty generalised fear and we all have that, to some extent.

I fear screwing up an initial good first impression, other people’s lives, an exam, my future, and more. The more I gain a decent footing in whatever I’m worried about making a total mess out of, the fear only grows. Everything I do feels akin to building a card castle, and I’m scared that one incorrect placement can cause it to collapse.

As a result, I may avoid things that I’m actually pretty interested in. What if I suck at it and make a fool out of myself? Or may appear unusually inhibited and silent, because I’m afraid of asking the wrong questions. Or make sure my grievances and wants and dreams stay in my head. In a way, my fear of screwing up has caused the most number of screw ups.

In my third year of undergrad, I was especially daunted by a multitude of fears. It was my last year. I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I had a post in the Student’s Council which involved coordinating with teachers and students and absolutely didn’t want to piss anyone off. I worried and worried about every single event or initiative I had to take, especially ones where helping one person out would mean displeasing the other. For a placater like me, it was like this web of chaos. It lead to so much internal conflict, and tears, and anxiety.

How did I overcome it? It’s funny how the fear of failing, and falling, and in general, “screwing up” disappeared the minute I actually screwed up. It was the day after an event that went horribly wrong. Fingers were pointed, and mostly at me. I knew that while the situation had been unavoidable, I did have a role to play in it.

That conversation with the “disappointed” teacher, where I got a big lecture, the conversation of my nightmares, was finally a reality. And… while I was living that dreaded moment, my mind was finally, shockingly clear. It was one of the few times in my life when I felt truly calm.

I was there, in that moment. I had let someone down, essentially “screwed up”, but I was still whole.

My heart was beating fast, but it was still beating.

My mind was still working. I was alive and kicking. The ground that I was walking on was still solid. Nothing exploded.

I screwed up, and yet I was totally okay. Even the disappointed teacher was only talking about what I should learn from it, rather than playing the blame game. And boy did I learn from it; way more than I’d ever learned during the times I’d run away from a situation or taken the easy way out so that it was guaranteed that I wouldn’t screw up.

I learned that screwing up is inevitable; and as long as you learn from it, rather than feel let down because of it, you can only rise from and above it. There are far more important things in life to focus your energies on anyway: like being true to yourself and doing the best you can, rather than avoiding danger and avoiding chaos. 

This post is a part of the IndiBlogger Happy Hours activity, courtesy Mountain Dew. You can visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia

On fighting classroom hunger

In our twelfth standard Economics class, we learned about the cycle of poverty; which may remain unbroken for generations. I mean, think about it: a poor household means limited access to a lot of resources like food, water, education, and so on. This obviously affects their health and literacy, which limits their skill and productivity. Low incomes, large family sizes (ie, more mouths to feed), susceptibility to disease and poorer generations to come are an inevitable consequence. The cause of poverty becomes, to quote my Economics teacher, poverty itself, which only perpetuates poverty.

Education is one of the ways to break the cycle of poverty. However, as Maslow explained in his need hierarchy, more often than not, you have to satisfy the lower order needs (basic needs like food and shelter) before you can even dream of higher needs. Which is why the Midday Meals Scheme is extremely relevant and important for India’s children. It beautifully provides a solution to two interdependent needs.

Because, well, education on an empty stomach isn’t going to happen. It’s that simple. You cannot learn about fractions and photosynthesis when you haven’t had even a square meal a day. Chances are you won’t even feel like making an appearance in that classroom when you could be working odd jobs and making money to get that square meal, or provide for your family.

Or well, just for a second, forget about poverty and hunger but think about hunger by itself. Think about the last time you skipped breakfast and had to attend class. What were you thinking about? I remember my eyes constantly shifting to the clock, my mind already in the canteen thinking about what I’d get and nothing else entering my brain.

classroomhunger

“Think about the last time you skipped breakfast and had to attend class.”

Classroom hunger defeats the purpose of classrooms and eliminating it is imperative. While midday meals give parents a reason to send their children to school… it also helps these children, if implemented adequately, benefit from the purpose of school. Food fuels the brain and clears the mind. For a lot of the children benefiting from the midday meals scheme, I’ve read that it may be their only meal of the day. Perhaps, a morning meal can also be worked out, and further such motives to benefit from classes and study beyond the minimum requirement. It will be a significant step toward breaking the cycle, once and for all.

This post is a part of the Akshaya Patra initiative, in which every blog post sponsors meals for an Akshaya Patra benficiary for a whole year! I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.