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I’m an honest person.

That sounds like such a trite and seemingly weird thing to say about oneself, right? I mean, would you ever actually say that if you were asked to describe yourself at a job interview? 

No, you’d probably start off with your strengths in your field or the fact that you excelled at something, because that is what the interviewer wants to hear. He doesn’t want to hear or probably won’t believe you if you made a statement as simple as, ‘I believe in being honest. It’s something that I think everyone should bring to the table.’

But, the fact is honesty, simplicity, sensitivity and kindness are undervalued in the world today. It’s probably more important or cooler to seem cynical and look down our noses upon everything out there, since that gets more notice. 

Small wonder then that we need networks like Good News network or The Better India to remind us of the goodness that abounds in life. The media does a bang-up job of presenting the worst of the worst, all in the name of ratings and views. 

It’s one reason I appreciate and look at the #1000Speak initiative as a welcome breath of fresh air. But, this post is about how honesty starts at home. So, let me talk about how it has impacted me as a parent.


As a parent

To be brought up in a home like mine, with a dad who stood up for the most upright principles- honesty and straight talking- I have never found it incorrect to be straightforward in my opinions. Yes, I think before I speak, but I cannot, for the life of me, do double-speak or nod along for the sake of doing so. 

This trait has earned me , not surprisingly, very few friends. A large part of my school and college years were spent in isolation or in the company of a close-knit group of trusted pals.

Learning to be honest though, has its pitfalls. I cannot sweet-talk. So if I find something unpalatable, I say so. Most times, I keep my trap shut, but you know how that isn’t always possible. It has its downside when you are parenting a strong-willed kid, of course. Being told you’re wrong is difficult for most adults to accept, let alone a nine-year-old. In the interest of good upbringing, I think it is an important skill to impart to our kids. 

To be honest takes guts and the fact that we need to be willing to let go of things like friendship at times. We teach them not to gloss over disappointments but face them with courage.We learn to become tougher but stay true to our principles.

This was brought home in a bittersweet way this afternoon and it came from one of the wisest souls I know- my daughter, Gy.

Last week, she had enthusiastically participated in the elimination rounds for both song and dance contests at her school. She was very thrilled and kept asking me day after day if the results were out and if she’d made the cut. This morning, an alert on my phone indicated that the names of shortlisted participants had been put up. Checking warily, I was disappointed to see that she hadn’t made it to either list.

Sitting her down, I gently explained to her that this time, she hadn’t made it through. Her eyes filled with tears and I hugged her to say that I was proud of her for having participated and that there would be other contests.

‘But, I am allowed to feel sad, right?’

‘Of course you are. It’s very normal and even healthy to feel sad. Always express the emotion you feel.’

To make her understand further, I told her, ‘See, I too had applied for a blogger award this year. Last night, I found out that I didn’t make the shortlist. So, you know? I understand exactly how you feel.’

With a smile, she turned, hugged me and said, ‘It’s okay, Amma. You can cry too, if you want to.’

Smiling, I returned the hug and said, ‘You know? I think I will. Maybe just a little.’

After a while, I said, ‘Hey, do you want to go out and celebrate with ice-cream?’

‘What are we celebrating?’

‘Well, we both didn’t get selected, but we both participated. Isn’t that awesome? I think that deserves ice-cream.’

Jumping up, eyes shining, she said, ‘Yes! Let’s celebrate!’

She then ran off to get dressed and came running back to say, ‘You know? I am actually glad you didn’t get selected for the blog awards.’

A bit hurt, I asked her, ‘Why do you say that?’

‘Well, this way, you get to spend more time with me and lesser time blogging. Isn’t that awesome?’

As I watched her smile, jump up and down in gladness at my loss, a loss that seems so insignificant now, my heart filled up with gladness that my daughter has imbibed an important lesson- to be honest, no matter what.

*Since we are on the topic of honesty, I must admit that I just broke my no yelling streak again, this morning, much before the episode mentioned above. Lasted just 52 days this time. But, as the saying goes, tomorrow is a new day.

It’s tough to be honest, but also very rewarding, don’t you agree?


Comments

comments


Aparna · September 5, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Awww my dear.. how honest of Gy, and of you as well :). We shall power on in the best way known to us, as always.

Gowri · September 5, 2015 at 6:32 pm

That's a lovely lesson to impart shylaja…thank you for sharing

Uma Nigith · September 5, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Her last bit left me mouth wide open. …heheheh. .yeah its a good thing to be honest, but I feel it's also important to be considerate about others feelings. Sometimes people are just downright mean in the name of honesty 🙂

Vinitha Dileep · September 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Aww, this is sweet because of many reasons. Honesty is indeed the best policy. Your girl is very wise, Shailaja. I checked the link yesterday and was actually surprised to not see your blogs there. Celebrating participation is the right way to treat life I guess. 🙂

Jaibala Rao · September 6, 2015 at 4:33 am

Shailaja, Gy is such a amazing person. And she has such an amazing Mom. Celebrating participating, I would never have had the guts to do that. Thank You for reminding me how easy it is to celebrate.

PS:Honestly you not being shortlisted in either category shocked me.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 6:24 am

You said it, my dear. Let us always power on in the best way known to us, today and forever.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 6:26 am

Thank you for reading and stopping by, Gowri. Much appreciated.

Rachna · September 6, 2015 at 6:51 am

Oh Shy, I love Gy and indeed kids who stun us with their wisdom and little joys. Yes, honesty requires guts. Honesty with your loved ones even more. Like you, I have seen such honest, upright people in my parents that honesty was always the best policy. And, I know a lot of people who love me for this trait. I certainly cherish people who can tell me to my face if I am not good at something. But, well that is you and me. You know that disappointments are stepping stones to success. You and I have discussed awards in depth so I won't comment any further. Love and hugs!

Roshan Radhakrishnan · September 6, 2015 at 7:46 am

I honestly went searching for your name in the shortlist, checking through multiple sections thinking maybe it was in this or the other one… sorry you did not make it but I honestly believe you were a shoo-in and a strong contender under Parenting.

You prove it more and more with every post

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm

Oh yes, the mean people are there in bunches. Can't do anything about that. It's a fine balance we must walk between honesty and being candid beyond cruelty.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm

She surprises me each day with her wisdom and maturity, Vinitha. And it is also refreshing to see that she can be sweet and child-like. I cannot tell you how grateful I am. As for the awards, the disappointment was fleeting, I assure you. God has a grander plan in mind, I am sure of it .

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 5:53 pm

To be honest, that idea of celebrating it just occurred to me. I mean, she had put all her soul into preparing, so I felt it needed to be acknowledged 🙂 As for the shortlist, my heart is full with at least 5 people letting me know that they actually looked for my name. Such warmth that I am blessed. Truly.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Yes, I am blessed to know the wonderful friends who take me for what I am, who accept me with all my flaws and who value my honesty. It's a lonely road at times but one that I am glad to walk. I have a whole chapter on disappointments in my upcoming book, so yes, I know what you mean 😉

Love and hugs right back, Rachna. Really glad you asked me to write for this.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 6, 2015 at 6:03 pm

You know, you're the sixth person to tell me that since yesterday and I am deeply touched by that, truly I am. Thank you, Roshan, for being here and I wish you all the best with the awards 🙂

Corinne Rodrigues · September 8, 2015 at 1:53 am

What a wonderful attitude, Shailaja. I'm sure the ice-cream treat was all the sweeter for what went into making your choice to celebrate it. These are moments that Gy will treasure more than the times she got a treat for winning!

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 8, 2015 at 10:06 am

I certainly hope that happens, Corinne. Kids these days are far more evolved, thinking creatures and I find that being open with them has always been productive.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Sanch LivingLife · September 8, 2015 at 11:21 am

Love the attitude and the honesty of this post Shailaja…Gy will learn that it's the participation that counts and the joy you get from trying. Also, shame about the blogging awards…I just assumed you'd been nominated…I haven't looked closely into it I must admit.

Keirthana · September 8, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Your daughter is so much mature and honest, you must be proud of her right? Bless you guys!

Roshni AaMom · September 8, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Lovely post to share with 1000 Voices for Compassion!! I love how cute your daughter is! And, icecream really helps get out of a sad mood!!

tulika singh · September 9, 2015 at 6:12 pm

I love Gy! She is so good for you Shailaja. Isn't it wonderful when the kids start showing these tiny signs of maturity? Such absolute joy.

Vidya Sury · September 10, 2015 at 6:52 am

Honesty is the best policy! I love how you conveyed the “participation” angle to Gy so wisely. She's a good girl! I had a taste of the “honesty” thing recently from Vidur – we were having dinner with a group of people – who commented on a particular religion, stereotyping it and I will never forget his expression as he said quietly, “No. I disagree” and calmly continued to eat, comfortable in the silence that followed. 🙂

Thank you for sharing this beautiful incident, Shailaja. Love to you.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 13, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Hey Sanch, thank you for those warm words. Yes, I was very glad to see the enthusiasm with which she had participated. She followed it up this weekend with a swimming fest at school. Although she came in last, she was so happy to have swum because we cheered her on for participating 🙂

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Very proud indeed, Keirthana. I hope she always stays this way. The world has a way of turning people into cynics.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Oh yes it does! I love that about ice-cream, a bit too much, I'm afraid though 😉 Thanks for the love, Roshni!

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

You said it, Tulika. She is so very good for me. V is also good for me, in his way. Sometimes I realise I am so incredibly blessed that I feel ashamed to complain about anything these days.

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Yes, that does sound like something Vidur would say 🙂 As for Gy, she is still learning and I am hoping she will retain these lessons and recall them when it really matters. Really tough to bring up kids in today's world, Vidya. Sigh.

Thanks Vidya. Love to you as well 🙂

Nabanita · September 20, 2015 at 6:20 am

Honesty is certainly rewarding Shailaja…And how it comes from kids reminds us of the purest form of joy that brings with it..Stay blessed!

Shailaja Vishwanath · September 20, 2015 at 4:34 pm

In every single way, Naba. I think being happy and being at peace is inextricably tied in with that innocence that we all used to have as kids, don't you think?

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