Hello there,

It’s that time of the year again when I pen down the sojourns of the Idnani family in the year that is passing by. This year, I take a break from self-inflicted tradition, wear my parental hat and share my observations and hope for parenting 11 year olds.

                                 The latest inmates ;)
@ Olympic Museum, Lake Placid, NY June 2015

As we wrap up 2015, I observe the growth in my sons, in all spheres – intellectual, physical and emotional. Often, anything we say is responded to (No, I did not say “answered back”) in clear, concise language loaded with examples from our own lives such as, “How can you ask us to not use our phone during meals when dad reads CNN on his phone during meal time?” and the latest one, “Holidays are for down time. The very meaning of the term “holiday” means that you are exempt from work; as opposed to a working day, hence logically, we will spend our time playing, watching movies and hanging out with friends and family this holiday season.” Take that, mom and dad!!!!! What was I thinking when I enrolled my boys for chess in the first place - that they will use their analytical and logical abilities only for the board game and the rest of time they will function like mini robots, suspending their cognitive abilities and other brain functions and operating in an automated mode????

Well, over the years I have come to the conclusion that as much as I, or for that matter, many parents, expose their children to the ways of the world, sports, arts, culture, travels etc. and hope that our child blossoms into this exceptional child possessing a brilliant mind replete with irenic qualities, promoting peace, love and joy around the world, we want that brilliance to be subdued in the area of responding to their parents commands and instructions. Hence, when I say, “Taran, please eat your veggies before you eat the bread”, he will not only obey my command, he will oblige me with a beatific smile and with a response that goes like, “Of course, mom!” Of course, it is understood that my commands are ALWAYS well intentioned, based on research and on my life experiences. With this in mind, I am documenting the 10 things that I wish my children follow in 2016 and for the years to come. Taran and Roshan, this is for you….

  1. Mom is always right – this is rule no. 1. You have to hardcode it into your system. No matter what/when/where/how/why, mom is always right! When mom feels indulgent, she will change this rule to “Mom and dad are always right”. She has the vetoing power. ALWAYS! 
    August 2015
  2. Courage – This is the force that makes our life brilliant. Be fearless! Tread forward courageously. Should you fail or lose, pick yourself up, applaud yourself for trying and move on. Remember that fortune favors the bold and the brave. Set goals and challenge yourself.
  3. Enjoy learning – Grades are a byproduct of knowledge. Enjoy learning for the sake of learning and knowledge/opening up your eyes and mind; not for the sake of grades. Keep trying new activities and exploring different subjects. May you be a lifelong student, always learning something new every single day. May you be the “Rancho” of the movie “3 idiots”!
  4. Time management – The most precious resource we have is time. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait for the last day of a two week project to make your science model. Be a man of action – State the problem, find a solution, and solve the problem/ task at hand. 
  5. Be in the moment - Multitasking is what your dad and I were taught at business school. However, we are spending time and money in our 40s trying to unlearn what we learned in our 20s ;) When you think you are multitasking, you are rapidly moving from one task to another, as a result, not paying 100% attention to either of the two tasks in hand. It kind of reminds me of the time you switch screens between your homework assignment and Marble Blast or V0.2.0 the moment you see either of your parents arrive into the room. There is no way you will get “Gold time” if you keep switching screens. So, pay 100% attention to what you are doing and be mindful. Squeeze the present for all it’s worth. When studying, gather all the knowledge you can. When singing or playing the violin, perform as if no one is watching you. When playing chess/ tennis, play as if there is no tomorrow. When playing Madden Mobile, play as if you are playing to get an elite player J
  6. Get Bored – I wish you times where you feel you have nothing to do. This is the time for you to reflect, to introspect, to think and to just be. Only once you know who you are, can you improve yourself. Have a relationship with yourself. You cannot forge a bond with anyone, if you cannot connect and bond with yourself. 
  7. Technology – Don’t let it distract and enslave you; instead master it. Use it to connect with others, to inform yourself and to widen your horizon but keep it away during homework/ work time. Wonder aloud! And don’t ever replace wonder with Google. Before you Google anything, spend time thinking through the answer. Further, you really don’t need a phone at a party. Socialize with others - not with the phone. If possible, one day a week or a weekend every season, go on a technology free diet. You will be pleasantly surprised how uplifting and relaxing it feels.
  8. Recharge your battery – No, not your phone. I meant YOUR battery. Read a book, go for a run, breathe deeply, be present in the moment. Do whatever it takes to clear your head and calm yourself. Live your life from the inside out. Don’t let Darth Vader get the better of you. Instead, be the Jedi that uses the force for constructive purposes.  
  9. Give space for dissent – Well, I already know that you enjoy a good argumentJ But what I am really referring to here is treating feedback as a gift. Wouldn’t it be lovely to accept it in the “low lunge” yoga pose (chest open, shoulders relaxed and hands joined to heart) especially when mom is giving you feedback? And before you express your dissent here, remember Rule no. 1 - mom is always right! 
  10. October 2015
  11. Family and friends are precious – I thoroughly enjoy all the attention and affection you shower on me and everyone else. I hope you continue to laugh aloud with friends and family, live precious moments, be with them in good and bad times. Don’t let life get so busy that you let its beauty and mystery pass you by. 

I end this note with the hope that you will practice these in action and in interaction as you journey through life. The more attention you pay to these qualities/ points, the more it becomes an integral part of you. And I also hope that I can practice what I preach :)

Love always,

Happy holidays and a happy 2016 to all our friends and family. May the force be with you!

Ritesh, Nidhi, Taran and Roshan

A TOAST - adieu 2014, welcome 2015!

To friends and family, for always being there.

To my parents for being your usual effervescent selves, your “normal” is a constant source of inspiration.

To my father, for pampering me every single day with your “adrak wali chai” (ginger tea).

To my mother, for piping hot and delicious food! Lucky me! ;-)

To Lake George, our spring destination, for the incredible time we spent there. We shall be back.

To river rafting and para-sailing, new experiences for us. Oh! what fun!

To The Albrook School, for giving an all round education to Taran and Roshan, and more importantly, for giving them values which we hope they will forever imbibe. We shall always be grateful!

To Newark Academy, for accepting the boys as 6th graders. We are grateful to you for taking on our troubles ;-)

Getting ready for the hike - Sulphur Mountain, Banff, Canada

To the Canadian Rockies for opening up vistas that we never knew existed. Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, you have forever made a place in our hearts and memories. On our return flight, while I was reminiscing about our trip, I remarked to the boys, "I felt we left a little bit of ourselves there." Instantly, Taran responded, "Yes, I dropped my baseball cap on our last hiking trail in Jasper!"

To Sulphur Mountain in Banff. We hiked 5.5 km to the summit and enjoyed every bit of our journey as well as the awesome panoramic views from the peak. 

To the wildlife we spotted in the Canadian Rockies - 10 bears, a dozen elks, bald eagles, a wolf, mountain deer, and the list goes on. 

To canoeing in the Banff river where we took a group canoeing trip! While we canoed upstream, our guide/coach happily pulled Ritesh’s legs as Ritesh was tiring out the fastest. He even exclaimed. “Sir, the one with the red cap, can you please watch your wife and follow her as she is doing an excellent job!!!” Why is it so difficult for Ritesh to realize what even strangers can gauge in a few minutes?! ;-)

To touring a glacier (Columbia Icefield), a first ever for the Idnani family. Touring the Triple Continental Divide (one of only 2 places in the world) was surreal. Here the glacial water flows to 3 different oceans – Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans from this area via the Columbia, North Saskatchewan and Athabasca rivers.

To a summer that was filled with family, friends, play dates, lunches, dinners, swimming, tennis, watching a baseball game in the local stadium, movies and lots of fun trips.

To amusement parks (Hurricane Harbor and Hershey's Park), for bringing the child out in each one of us! 

To New York City - from the cruise on the Hudson & East river, to Central Park zoo, to Statue of Liberty/ Ellis Island, to becoming engulfed in a giant bubble in Washington Square Park, to playing baseball in the Upper East side with our friends - the city entertained us like never before.

To the Met, a treasure we only partly explored this summer. The artifacts made us feel as if we had witnessed history if only for a few hours.

To movies/ musical nights/ stage shows, for providing an avenue to the arts that we lack genetically!

To improv, chorus, dance, orchestra & digital art - activities that stretched Taran and Roshan's mind and imagination for the first time ever.
In Florida - Chess Nationals!

To chess, for all the fun, travel, tournaments, friends, coaches and for embracing our family. We enjoy every bit of it and a nice way to round off the year was a top 5 finish for both boys in the Nationals in Florida. Thank you coaches!

To chess again, for the patience it taught Ritesh & me when we played along with our boys in a team tournament. This time, it was the boys who taught us the basics and reminded us to focus on our boards. Phew!!! It was tough!

To our running/ walking buddies for their willingness to motivate us and to slow down their pace while training with us.

To half marathons that Ritesh and I participated in and Team Idnani's first 10K as a family. An easy one for the boys while I huffed and puffed to the finish line.

To my uncle, Narendra chacha, for the daily phone calls, regular meetings and above all the unconditional love! 

To my nieces and nephews for the unlimited delight and excitement you bring to our lives.

To Reiki and SGI members, for personifying absolute happiness. 

To a winter break that was filled with friends, family (a special shout-out to my brother and his family), skiing (another "first" for the boys), holiday parties, movies and good, fattening, junk, delicious food.

To time spent with my girlfriends, connecting with folks over WhatsApp and Facebook, and celebrating birthdays (some milestone and otherwise), anniversaries, festivals and holidays with friends/family. May we continue to create special moments this year and always.
Relaxing in Jasper, Canada!

To smiles & tears, laughter & sorrow, success & failures, aches & pains, for keeping us grounded, modest & humble.

To Taran and Roshan, for the non-stop entertainment that they provide us, their wit and logical arguments (While I agree that "Jr. Idnanis Vs Sr. Idnanis - the case of the iPhone" - was nicely done, the jury (grandparents) was biased).

To Taran and Roshan again, may you always carry your childhood with you!

To 2015 .... may the new year bring 365 days of opportunities for you.

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