I had read this in parenting books a few years ago and still use the "choice" weapon to my advantage. The "choice" weapon is giving your child choices and making him feel independent, important and happy while he makes the choice. Of course, the choices you give him are all that you want him to do. If I were in the child's place, I might feel more like "Between a rock and a hard place" but as smart as a 8 year old's brain is, thankfully, they still fall for this one as was proven last weekend.
Me: Taran, Roshan, if you want we can play a chess tournament on Saturday.
Both (truly excited): Great! And what is the plan for Sunday?
Me: Well, we can play another chess tournament or go to the museum or celebrate Easter.
Roshan (who had no interest in playing chess on 2 consecutive days): Mom, I would really love to observe how Easter is celebrated and compare it to the way we just celebrated "Hanuman Jayanti" so I would love to go to the church.
Taran (ever so logical): Yes, we can go to museums whenever we want to. But I would love to go to a church for Easter service! It will be a great experience.
Me: Wise decision! I am so proud of you, T & R!
As much as it was pre-planned, the experience was truly memorable and I am glad we went to the church!

Circa August 2009
Taran: Maa, can you please read the "Hanuman Chalisa" to us?
Me: Sure. (I read it to them)
Taran: Can you please translate all that you read?
(Happy to see Taran's interest, I gave the translation a sincere shot).
Taran: Now can you please read "Hanuman ji's aarti"?
Me: I certainly will (and I sang the same).
Taran: Maa what means "Jo Hanuman ji ki aarti gaaye, basi baikunth param pad paaye"?
Me: It means that whoever sings this "aarti", will go to heaven and live with the Gods.
Taran (with immediate concern): Maa, what will happen to Morgan, John, Max and Liana? They don't even know about Hanumanji!
Me (trying to bring him succor and also seizing the opportinity for sermonizing.... I can't leave that, can I?!): That is ok. They worship Jesus Christ who is also a God. But what is important is that we all lead good lives. We should not hurt anyone or be rude. We should always show respect, love and affection and help everyone.
Meanwhile, Roshan, who was a silent spectator to this conversation, had a twinkle in his eyes. The moment I saw that, and dreading that it may have been the calm before he storm, I ventured into choppy waters: Yes, Roshan.
Roshan: Maa, why did Ramachandraji have to do all this fighting?
Me: Because Sita maa was his wife and he wanted her back.
Roshan: That's ok. If Ravan took his wife, he could have just taken Ravan's wife. It would have been a swap and there was no need to do so much fighting over wives!!!!!

The Australian Open was perhaps the best physical, mental and tactical tennis game we had seen. Watching it with friends made it even more enthralling. The adults in the room kept inserting comments such as “Wow, neither wants to give up!”, “Amazing play under so much stress”, “A game like this requires so much mental strength”…… all with the dual intention of actually enjoying the game and giving a little lesson to the kids on the sidelines.

The record 5 hour 53 minute game got over only for us to watch a jubilant Novak Djokovic celebrate “Salman Khan” style and pander graciously to the shutterbugs. We all remained glued to the television soaking in every moment of the match and the ensuing celebration. Our friend, however, was hoping to remind the kids the valuable lessons of grit and sportsmanship that we had witnessed and so addressed the kids, “So guys, what did we learn from this game?”

Roshan’s immediate response: “We learnt that after you win the game you should take off your shirt and keep kissing the trophy!!!!”

A 2007 study involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends. Since peer-support makes a difference in success rate with New Year’s resolutions, I decided to share our resolution with you.

A few days ago I asked Ritesh what his New Year resolution was. After a long silence (and a look that meant “Do I really have to answer this?”), he responded “Spending quality time with you and the kids.”Needless to say, I was utterly pleased to hear that notwithstanding the fact that he spoke one sentence in a 15 minute drive when it was just the two of us in the car and when he was asked a question and he didn’t really have a choice but to answer it. Irrespective of that, I totally endorsed his plan since he planned to make a new beginning in the New Year.

My instant response was “So what’s your action plan to achieve your goal?” His response was a quizzical look! Only after we reached our destination did he respond, “I will be more involved.” OOOOOH! The pearls of wisdom had finally been uttered! Of course, I am not the kinds to let go of such moments that deserve celebration apart from the fact that I am a very supportive wife. So I promised him that I would help him achieve his goal. That evening, when the kids needed help with their homework, despite protest from the boys I directed them to their dad who was busy on his iPad at the moment. And then when the boys wanted help in analyzing their chess game, I, dutifully guided them back to their dad who was lying horizontal on the sofa watching a game of football. This time the kids were the one who gave me the “What?! Dad?! Really?!?! look. By this time, Ritesh, a man of few words, looked completely helpless but I remained steadfast in my support to his cause and gently suggested that one way to demonstrate involvement in the family would be for him to load the dishwasher. For good measure I even pointed out towards the dishwasher lest he gives me the excuse “I don’t know where the dishwasher is!”
Soon it was time for story-telling and to put the kids to bed but before I could utter a word Ritesh had that “Come on! You don’t have to take my resolution that seriously” look, so I took Taran and Roshan to bed and told them a story. Fortunately, for all of Ritesh’s reticence and reserve, I can talk for the both of us!

And this brings us back to the first point stated in this post - “88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail” and women succeeded 10% more when they made their goal public. So this one’s to you Ritesh - I intend to celebrate your New Year Resolution with a glass of wine, a whole lot of loquaciousness, and by making your goal public. May you spend QUALITY time with us!
P.S: In line with the norms of full disclosure this post has been published with Ritesh's complete approval and he was not subjected to any duress.

Hello again,

Welcome to this year’s edition of the Idnani household newsletter. We wish to share with you how the family fared in 2011 and welcome 2012!

Taran and Roshan turned 7 this May. They are happy 2nd graders. Recently Roshan directed and acted in a “Ramayana” skit in his class. But he is still not convinced about the reasoning for the battle between Ram & Ravana. He insists the non-violent way to resolve the conflict would have been for Ram to get Ravana’s wife since the latter had taken the former’s wife! The boys also continue to progress in chess with Taran winning the North American championship in the U8 group. The win resulted in FIDE (World Chess Federation) awarding him the title of “FIDE Candidate Master”. They are also enjoying tennis lessons though they seem to focus more on imitating Djokovic’s court histrionics than on tennis skills. Nidhi couldn’t help analyzing that Roshan has been spending 38% of his rather expensive tennis lessons on bouncing the ball!!!!! Can anyone please ask Novak to stop bouncing the ball 22 times before serving?

Ritesh went back to school to participate in an Executive Education program at Wharton. He kept describing how intensive the course was. Interestingly he made these calls from the Wharton bar where he was apparently discussing the case study for the next day! He was also selected by SSON, the largest and most established community of shared services and outsourcing professionals as part of their G6 list - the top 6 outsourcing visionaries in Europe and North America for 2011. The kids instantly imbibed best practices and attempted to outsource their homework to their mom!

This year Nidhi took up the position of “Treasurer” on the PTO of The Albrook School organizing events and managing the finances for the school. Reminds her of her banking days and keeps her away from retail therapy, thereby saving Ritesh’s tiny treasury. Nidhi also tried her hand (and legs) at kickboxing. As a result, Bob, the kickboxing dummy’s obituary was published in The New York Times. Ever since, Ritesh and the kids are very supportive of her Friday lessons.

Ritesh and Nidhi have started running!!! No, not away from each other but - towards a common goal! They ran together at the Rutgers Big Chill 5 K – a fundraiser for children. They hope to participate in many more runs next year. They will be happy to have more running partners so give them a shout if you are interested.

Sports continues to be a big part in the Idnani household with Football nights becoming sacrosanct. But cricket still takes the number 1 slot with the family holding a World cup finals party and the boys having a “Kids vs. Adults cricket party” on their birthday. Needless to say, the kids wiped the adults out. Shhh! We didn’t mention anything about match fixing!

This was also the year of a few more new experiences - the kids watched their first musical at Broadway (Mary Poppins was enthralling) and their first Jazz festival in Montreal. Ritesh and Nidhi also watched a few comedy shows in New York City with a wonderful group of friends. They also went for their first camping trip to Vermont with family where apart from hiking in Quechee valley and sightseeing, they gorged on s’mores and handmade ice-cream, the results of which were prominently displayed on the weighing scale.

The Idnanis spent time with friends and family in Toronto, upstate New York, Dallas and Virginia, paid their annual visit to Washington D.C, explored Montreal (Old Montreal was stunning as was the Bio-dome), relaxed for a week at the Wildwood beach in the summer, enjoyed a few nights (and museums) in New York City and travelled within the state and outside for chess tournaments.

2011 has been spectacular and we hope that 2012 is even better. We wish you and your loved ones lots of happiness, good health and good luck in the New Year.

Stay in touch!
The Idnanis

Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)