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#DoYourHomework, Diary of a Doting Mom, Shailaja V

The word homework has never had a very positive connotation for as long as I can remember. The phrase, ‘Do your Homework’ has caused more tears to erupt than any tantrum in the history of childhood and parenting; probably because it’s got the word ‘work’ in it.

So you cannot blame kids when they choose to dawdle over it, put it off and maybe completely turn away from doing it too. Homework sessions at home for the last few years have been challenging, to put it mildly and every strategy I’ve tried has come up short until recently, although I have done a lot of reading on the subject.

So it was with some relief that we welcomed the Christmas vacation as it signalled a time when we could be relatively free of the homework struggles.In late December, we took a family trip to our native village in Palakkad, Kerala. The occasion wasn’t a festive one, sadly, as we were gathering to bid farewell to Gy’s great-grandmother who’d left us  that month. After the ceremonies, an elderly uncle who’d been observing Gy over the entire trip called me over and said something which warmed my heart.

“Gy is a bright child and I don’t mean that in the academic or educational sense. She has a sense of wonder and creativity that will take her far. You are blessed to be a mother of a child like her. Never forget that.” Before I could say anything in response, he continued, “You must nurture this talent of hers. Find out what she likes to do and encourage her. I personally can sense that she has an artisitic side to her and know of many good design schools where she’d feel right at home.”

I’ve never been at a loss for words much in my life, to be honest, considering I’ve made my living as a teacher and now as a blogger/writer. But this sincere wish from one who’s only seen Gy once in a few years touched my heart. I’ve also never been one to plan way ahead of my immediate needs, although checklists rule my life and my daily tasks. 

This got me thinking, though, have I ever given serious thought to doing my homework and plan for the child’s future? It was with some interest that I saw this video on the #DoYourHomework campaign. I must say the title intrigued me, for the simple reason that homework has never been associated with anything fun or motivating. Take a couple of minutes and watch it. You won’t be disappointed, I promise!

When I realised that it was targeted at the parents and not the child, it made me sit up and view it with more attention. I also wondered if perhaps it would make sense to download the Homework app and use some of the tips suggested there.

A few weeks ago, I watched Gy as she threw all her interest and focus into making a quilled creation and for someone like me, a person who frankly is scared of anything art-related, it was an epiphany of sorts. She loves colouring books too, like any child her age. Here was a child with so much potential, if only I knew how to tap it and channelize that into something positive. Let’s face it, things are expensive these days and it helps to be prepared, financially, for anything that the world can throw our way.

I really can’t say what my child will grow up to be, five, ten or fifteen years from now. We cannot claim to foresee our children’s aspirations. That’s something nobody can predict, of course. Plus, dreams change very often these days, sometimes every single day. 

The few things we can do, as parents, is to ensure that they have a secure nest egg which will help them achieve whichever dream they choose to pursue once they’ve made up their minds and stand by those decisions when the time comes.

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SHANAYA TALES · January 28, 2016 at 3:58 am

This post speaks to me more than you know, Shy. D is very much like Gy, which means he and I are poles apart. I am a task-oriented list-maker, and D is more of a dreamy child. I walk, he strolls; if you know what I mean.

Also, he loves to draw. And me – if my life depended on it, I guess I could come up with stick figures (not very good ones).

Sometimes I worry that I might not be able to identify his potential in an area, simply because I don't understand the field.

Ls · January 28, 2016 at 4:48 am

Shailaja, I can so relate to choices changing every day. My 16 year old decides on completely unrelated careers in a span of hours. Of course, I know he is just assessing, but I am at my wits end trying to explain. Every time he says he wants to do something particular, it is left to us parents to do the homework and see if he has a clear path.

Shailaja Vishwanath · January 28, 2016 at 4:50 am

I know it's going to be hard, Shantala, especially when we have no idea what they want to do with their lives. Of course, D is still very young, so you have some time, but planning for the future, irrespective of their careers should still be possible. Don't stress too much.

Shailaja Vishwanath · January 28, 2016 at 4:51 am

I know it's going to be very challenging when I reach that stage, Lata. I just hope financially as well as emotionally we can be there for them. The idea of education itself is undergoing a change so I hope we keep the concept of vocations open and accessible to the kids. Agreed, as parents we still have so much homework, right?

Sid @ · January 28, 2016 at 5:24 am

Nobody said parenting will be easy. And with each generation, it gets tougher for us to keep up. But it all comes down to letting them follow what they have a knack for. Or even something they're passionate about. As parents, we tend to miss a lot of these 'indicators' as the child grows up – we're far too focussed on the 'now's' to be focussing on the future.
As far you're concerned, I know you, Shy, and I know you'll do everything in your power to support Gy in whatever career or choice she wants to make.

Rekha Dhyani · January 28, 2016 at 6:16 am

Shailaja, what makes me happy is that the mindset of parents of our generation has involved beautifully with the changing times. We are open about discussing issues and welcoming the varied interests of our children. Unlike older times when only studies were forced upon the child irrespective of whether they like it, whether they're moulded for it or whether they have the ability to pursue it. If you couldn't being good grades, parents as well as the society would conveniently label you as a hopeless case. Thankfully we do have these SIPs which enable us plan even with minuscule incomes.

Vidya Sury · January 28, 2016 at 7:55 am

Encouragement is key. These days it is nice to see parents being more open-minded about being alert to what their children want. It also helps that the choices are more and the scope is much better, thanks to multi-disciplinary options. I am really glad corporates who can make a difference are engaging their audience more in ways that will help them. Gy will make you proud, you wait and see! Hugs!

Rachna · January 28, 2016 at 8:48 am

Amen to that, Shailaja. I feel it is the basic thing we can do for our children and yet so many parents find it so hard to wholeheartedly support their child's dreams especially when they are at loggerheads with their own designs for the child. Luckily, parents in our generation are more open to communication and modifying our own approaches to see our children's points of view and invest in their happiness. God bless Gy and your family!

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 2, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I am certainly hoping that I follow in my parents' footsteps and let her choose what she wants to do, with all her heart, Sid . Thank you for the support.

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 2, 2016 at 4:15 pm

That it has, Rekha and I am glad to see that we are fostering the idea of more open discussions on the idea of alternative vocations. May we always help our kids find their own way 🙂

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 2, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I have a nephew who works with Dreamworkz Animation and I know how he struggled to get approval from the family. I am so glad to see him doing what he loves and doing well too. We must all encourage, so well said, Vidya!

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 2, 2016 at 4:18 pm

I know what you mean. At some level they must be thinking that can live their dreams through their children, which is frankly, a waste of time. It also ruins the child's happiness. Thanks for the love, Rachna. With so much of it, I have only good hopes for Gy 🙂

Mary Brown · February 6, 2016 at 10:55 am

Parents, I feel, are more open and broadminded these days. My daughter is just seven and she is pretty clear about what she wants to do once she grows up. Unlike my parents, I fully support her ideas and inclinations. That's all I can ever do perhaps.

Shailaja Vishwanath · February 13, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I agree, Mary. They do seem more self-assured and confident, this generation. I hope that it sustains well beyond childhood too 🙂

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