Why (not) to be a perfect mother

With so much discussion about parenting going on, I thought I should contribute my tuppence worth to it too. So sharing an old post of the L&M and Brats kind from the archives with some  ‘valuable’ tips on parenting.

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“Pick your clothes up or…” I screamed at the top of my voice.

The older boy gave a lazy look with one eye (the other was hidden behind his overgrown hair) and gave a lopsided grin. That meant yes, in teen parlance, by the way. If he had frowned, it was a no.  I drank a glass of water and flopped on the sofa.

Then my eye fell on the younger one sitting in front of the TV, carefully watching it, as if it was about to explode. I had already told him twice to shut the thing off . Now, I walked slowly behind him and snatched the remote from his unsuspecting hand.

“Oh mom! If you wanted the remote, you could have asked me like a civilized person instead of pouncing on me like that!”

“Oh yeah?” I must have looked like a dangerous maniac, so he backed off hastily, going to his table.

It was a normal weekday in our household and all was well with the world.

But then I went to the bookshop that evening and things were never the same again.

‘Take a look at these ma’am. This title has sold over a million copies.’ The young sales clerk accosted me in the aisle holding up a couple of books. Thrust into my face, I had no choice but to look at them. ‘How to raise confident children, the right way,’ said one; the other one proclaimed, ‘Get to know your teenager.’ (I am unable to remember the exact titles for reasons I have given later in the post, but they were something to this effect).The scene of the morning flitted across my mind. Maybe I could do with a little expert help….

And so the next morning…..

Beta, will you please make your bed and clear up your desk?” I asked timidly. The concerned older one tossed back his mane and gave me a suspicious look with both eyes — he needed both to look at this new mom of his. I gave him a bright smile. “Do it later. No hurry,” I added as I left the room. When I sneaked a look through the corner of my eyes I saw his mouth hanging open. A large mosquito had just completed a survey of the insides before flying out.

I felt good. No more yelling, (it hurts their self esteem) no more threatening (it intimidates them). Determined to follow the dictum of the books, I valiantly went through the day. That I felt like someone else is another matter altogether.

“What’s with you mom? Are you okay?” asked the younger one, concerned.

“Of course! What could possibly be wrong?” I chirped sunnily.

I kept peering into the book for more insights into teen rearing. I was becoming a nervous wreck wondering if I was spending quality time with them; if I was feeding them too much junk food; if I was giving them ‘support’; if I was showing enough concern; if I was showing too much concern…Suddenly I felt as if I had two left hands with all thumbs, two left legs and no mind at all….

“Are you reading some X-rated stuff or what?” asked the L&M when he saw me furtively glance through the book every now and then.

That was not all. I began joining in on the discussions at work — about bringing up children. “I give them space. Lots of it…” said one. “One should leave the kids alone to make their own decisions,” said another. “Give them respect,” said yet another. The more I heard these remarks, the more unsure I became of myself.

I gave so much space to the boys it spooked them. “Mom, where are you these days? It doesn’t feel like home when  you don’t yell, ‘Don’t throw your shoes in the living room!’ the moment I walk in the door,”’ said my first-born giving me a hug.

“There is no fun changing channels when you don’t scream at me to stop,” complained the younger fellow, tossing away the remote dejectedly.

“You forgot to wake me up and I got late today,” accused the first born the following day.

“But I had set the alarm for you! Haven’t you always told me to let you get up on your own?” I stammered, thinking of chapter 3, page 2 of the teen-training book.

“I hate the alarm. I am so used to your voice that it feels strange to wake up to that jangling noise.”

“But didn’t you always complain that I should quit shouting?” I was baffled.

“Okay, so I made a mistake,” he said and went into the bathroom.

I shook my head wonderingly gazing at the closed door. Would I ever learn anything?

Still I persisted with my anxious efforts, consulted more books, and talked to more mothers of teenagers to compare notes. I began realising that I knew nothing whatever of teen-rearing. I had been screwing up their lives all along.

“You mean, you never talk to them about their studies? That must be terrible for them. I am sure they feel neglected enough to be become under-achievers,” said one horrified woman.

“But my boys have always been near the top of the class!” I said. She gave me a pitying look before edging away from me.

“Don’t tell me that you don’t even monitor the number of hours they study every day?” asked another matron. I shook my head miserably.

“I study enough number of hours, okay?” yelled the older one, when I discreetly put the question the next day to him.

“Don’t keep peering into my copy. It makes me nervous,” said the younger one.

The next day I tried something else. “Oh, so you have started learning calculus! Isn’t that tough?”

“Oh, mom! Will you quit being a pain?” the older one asked and the look that accompanied the words told me that it was not the most intelligent of remarks. I sighed. It sure was tough trying to rear teens the right way.

I swear I kept trying my best till one day…

“I knew I would not be able to score marks, the way you were hanging around and acting so weird.  Will you please get off my case? You were so distracting that I couldn’t concentrate at all,” complained the older one, upset at having scored less marks than usual.

Ditto with the younger one. I felt miserable. I had finally gone and done the very thing the books and the women at work were warning me about — I had failed my children.

That evening I threw away the books along with the old newspapers. (Now you know why I can’t give you the titles of the books!)

“You kid! Pick up your litter this instant!” I yelled at my first born the moment he threw his bag and shoes in the living room the next afternoon. “And while you are about it, clean your room and make the bed…you will not leave home till you complete…”

“…and you! Touch the remote and I will hang you by your earlobes!” I warned the younger one in a sinister tone.

The reaction was most unexpected. Far from being upset at being threatened in such tones, they were thrilled to bits!

“Hey, mom is back! Did you hear? Our mom is back well and sound!”

They were both dancing around me, happy as two yelping puppies. It felt great to be ‘back’ too!

Homepage image: www.gospelgifs.com

 

83 comments

  1. This was very very funny and a lovely read, Zephyr 😀 Sigh, I wonder what my daughter will think when she reaches the teen stage 😉

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    1. Oh you don’t have to worry, Shailaja! She won’t be ‘thinking’ but telling you loud and clear. That is the beauty of this generation — of parents as well as children. We speak out and let things be known to the other, don’t we?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first half almost scared me. And then I was laughing and nodding at the same time. The elder one is just ten and she can sense if I try underplaying myself. Like your sons, she once mentioned that if I don’t yell at her at least once a day, it doesn’t feel like I’m her mom. Parenting is fine. But the confusion starts with advice and discussions from all and sundry. To add to it are the professional parenting books. Some of them make me feel that I was getting trained to manage a team of managers. This post makes me want to throw away all of them into the bin. Thank you once again for sharing this wonderful piece of your life. 😀

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    1. I am happy you could relate to the post Rekha. We all go through such phases when we are assailed by self doubt, but we have to stick to our instincts and common sense while parenting no matter what the neighbour, friend or parenting books say to the contrary.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was chuckling throughout the post but when I came to the part of you being asked whether you were reading X-rated stuff, I almost choked over my coffee!!!
    Perfect post for any new parent – just be yourself and toss out all those d**n parenting books!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not just new parent, but even older parents should remember to go by their instincts and also their children’s temperaments and nature. Out children understand when we are upset, angry or are plain mad by the same token. Thanks for the retweet, Roshni.

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  4. I was really ROFL – Rolling On Floor Laughing …. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lovely Post !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Vasantha. I am happy you enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Now I ma trying to figure out what my mom thought .. I was such a BRAT i tell you … Thoroughly enjoyed that,Mami what a lovely post .. reminded me of some of my childhood days ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are all brats when we are growing up, Bikram. So don’t feel sad or bad about it. If you had asked my mother she would have thrown up her hands in exasperation at my mule headedness in not listening to her 🙂 It is what makes us learn parenting better too.

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  6. Haha! Thoroughly enjoyed that, Zephyr! And I’m still laughing away.
    Parenting – definitely no ‘one size fits all’ and definitely not ‘child’s play’ as some of these ‘perfect parenting books’ quote.
    I’ve been guilty of buying some of these books too – but now, I just use them to throw at people who disagree with me 😛

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    1. Ha ha! Hope the books find their mark when you throw them! Disagreeing is fine, as long as they don’t start dispensing gyan. I have caught myself from doing it with my DIL and when I have failed to, she has pointed it out to me, bless the dear girl 🙂 We have to use what works with us and our kids, for they cotton on to our clues pretty early and pretty fast. Glad you liked the post, Sid.

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  7. alkagurha · · Reply

    Haha, what an adorable post. The bookish gyan is blah!
    Well, I am not the yelling kind but I can’t stop myself from saying what I have to say. My son felt nagged so I tried giving some space. But I’m not sure it worked. Because now he is an adult and I can neither yell nor nag. And some habits like cleaning the room and brushing at night need to be instilled early on with whatever works…shouting, yelling, nagging, giving space. Whatever. Perhaps, there has to be a balance between all. Darn, who said, parenting was easy!

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    1. O can understand how a gentle person like you can never have yelled. And all mothers are nags. It is just a question of who is bigger or worse 🙂 The cleaning part goes through a rebellious phase when everything needs to be sloppy for them to assert their individuality and to let us know we can’t make them do things. But it gets ingrained- so much so that when I visit their homes, they discreetly straighten things in MY room!! As for balance, while we are going through things, it is a wonder we maintained any kind of balance at all.

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  8. An adorable post,Zephyr! Even kinds understand the predictive behaviour 🙂

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    1. Sorry for typo… Read kids not kinds as autosuggestion says:)

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      1. It is ok, Rahul. We all know about the mischief of auto correction, don’t we? 😀

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    2. They sure understand the motive behind our behaviour — more than we can imagine. Glad you liked it, Rahul.

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  9. This post is such a gem. Why didn’t I read it earlier. I laughed and laughed when I read it. Now I finally understand why I relate so well with you. You are exactly how I am. Oh gosh, the yelling, the non-monitoring, the sometimes wondering if I am doing right — all true. You really should do more such posts for all of us to learn. I will share this post with Sid. I am sure he will have fun reading this one. Thank you for the ping. 😀

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    1. This was one of my early posts on the blog and now that I am sharing posts from my archives, you will read more of them 🙂 I had felt the same when I met you and the kids for the first time. “A yeller like me!” I thought happily. Do tell me if Sid liked it 🙂

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  10. That was terribly funny and an entertaining read 🙂 I was giggling all the way.. probably i wont have the liberty when mine becomes a teen ! 😀

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    1. Liberty? We take our liberties, Asha! Don’t worry, they know what we are, no matter if we scream or threaten 🙂

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  11. Ha Ha Ha, madam. This is soo true. I think the concept of a perfect mom has been created by authors of such books so that they sell!:). My son is slowly approaching his teen age, and thanks for this bit. I can happily be an imperfect mom now!!

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    1. Good to see you here, Preethi! Yes, we should all glory in our imperfectness and let the children grow up withour applying ‘techniques’ to deal with them. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

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  12. Amazing post indeed. It was like watching the entire episode live. It is so easy to get lost in the myriad of books and advise from others and lose track of the inherent parent in us who probably knows what to do best. A great lesson for me that am sure will come in very handy.

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    1. Thank you Raj! Sometimes parenting tips come in handy if just to compare and come up with one’s own solutions, but basically one has to rely on one’s instincts while dealing with children. Even within the family they can be so different from each other and one rule doesn’t apply for all.

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  13. What a great post, Zephyr! I could just imagine the scene in your home, your descriptions are that vivid and lively. I loved the bit about ‘reading X-rated stuff’! Even as a non-parent I enjoyed this post a lot because I felt you were speaking of something lot bigger than parenting. It felt to me as if you are speaking of the need to rely on one’s inner intelligence more than what any of these self-help books meant to help make our lives better. Wonderful!

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    1. This was one of the popular series on my blog, Beloo, only I am not inspired enough to write more of them 😦 Trust you to look and find something deeper in it! When I had written this, I was indeed chafing against a lot of things that were supposed to be done in certain ways. Child rearing was one of them. Oh, the kind of advice I got and the scornful comments my methods elicited! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Very interesting read, Zephyr! Our children like us to be the original ‘us’ always!

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    1. How come you got to read this old post? Yes, we should be our natural selves instead of trying to conform to someone else’ idea of a perfect mother.

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  15. inducares · · Reply

    What a lovely post-& i love your brats too!

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    1. why don’t you come for a blogger meet in Delhi, when it happens? You can meet the younger brat 😀

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      1. inducares · · Reply

        Thanks for your invitation.Let us see!

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    2. You should attend a blogger meet in Delhi when it happens next. You can meet so many of the bloggers and also the younger Brat 🙂

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  16. rofl!! loved this blog.. and loved the names L and M and the brats :-))) have read a lot of other posts(loved the jargon one!!) and now have to follow!!!!

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    1. Oh, thank you Jenny. I am glad you liked and enjoyed the posts. Have you started following the blog? Welcome here again 🙂

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  17. I seem to be shouting all the time and the chap replies back just as loud… and considering that hubby now works from home, and he is the silent one around, i keep hearing of how i should tone down! but this post makes me feel so much better! i too hear about all those opinions at the rare school meetings… ” u dont even make him read what has been done at school?” “u havent put him in tutions?” “u dont make him write every day?”! seem to have alienated almost the whole bunch with my negative answers to these questions…and when this chap goes and disturbs the whole class with his antics and then aces his exams, have to listen to complaints too… ” ur son disturbs the whole class” ” he doesnt let my son concentrate” etc etc etc! wonder whats coming up next!!!

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    1. Oh I know all about the shouting matches. The one with the loudest voice wins, but most of the times it is we who win. But it is so tiring, isn’t it? Relax and learn to laugh at yourself. That’s the best way to go about it. 🙂

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  18. The day I don’t scream My 4 year old checks my temperature 😛
    Hilarious post

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    1. They do worry don’t they? And the best thing is that they know that as long as we are screaming at them, we care.

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  19. Lol ! Zephyr.Enjoyed surfing through your blog.
    I always feel that old fashioned parenting is more realistic.Kids are relieved to have Parents who act as parents.

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    1. Nice to have you here, Varsha and thanks for the comment. Yeah. Kids want to be set limits so that they know how far they can go. Sometimes i wonder if today’s kids are getting too much space and freedom that is making them confused about their own limitations.

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  20. […] I had done with my brats! But they were human kids and I could rely on common sense and instinct to bring them up, though I went through a phase of doubt and uncertainty. There had been no pets in our family and […]

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  21. very well expressed.I am a bit lucky on this. my two sons have grown up now.eldor doing msis.at kelly school bloomington usa.other at mayo college ajmer.12th. I never scolded or threatened them in my life.It’s just how we deal things.
    A chennai n.r.i. in America. when he threatened to beat up his son. the son warned him that he would call the police.
    the n.r.i. was aghast. he closed down his work there and took a return back flight to chennai.
    on landing he started spanking his child at the airport itself. now call the police .poor man, still in chennai. afraid to go to america.

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    1. Welcome here Pramod. That story about the NRI is really something. Can people be that bad? I mean, you want to beat your child so much that you quit the country! LOL

      Yes, most of the time children turn out wonderfully well if we just guide them along instead of leading them by hand all the time!

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  22. that was hilarious!
    loved it!

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    1. Thanks magiceye! Glad you liked it.

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  23. It was an absolute delight reading this post.

    Chuckled so loud, imagine consulting a book to bring up your teens….LOL

    I love reading your posts, no wonder Vineet is so proud of you :))

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    1. Hey, thanks for the comments, Purba! Oh, you know Vineet? It is all thanks to him that I became a blogger!

      As I had mentioned in the comments on your post, it is better to handle exasperating situations with a sense of humour. I feel it is the most positive way of doing things, I guess!

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  24. LOL Well I learned something here thanks to you .

    Will apply soon . Gosh I needed this post so badly .. Boys I tell ya .. I am sure the youngsters are learning too 😉

    awesome post Zephyr .

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  25. It was amazing to read through ur blog… the way u have put your feelings is great.

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    1. Welcome here Veena. Thanks for the comment. I am glad you liked the post! 🙂

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  26. My gosh..Being parent looks like a tough job in this world 😦

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    1. Welcome here maverickshree! You bet it is, but the rewards are well worth the efforts! 🙂

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  27. Amusing!!!You pushed me to think how tough parenting is,my mom must have had a hard tym,but i guess i turned up just fyn ;)I realized how often we tell our mothers to stop nagging about every small aspect of our life,but we kind of secretly enjoy that attention i guess,what would we be without our mothers,and you Zephyr are doing an awesome job being one.
    Kudos to you!!!!

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    1. Oh yes, just so that you guys (and gals) turn out fine, we nag and yell! 🙂 And all kids being kids, love all that but would not own up to the fact 😀

      Btw, I am long past bringing up teens; am a grandmom now!

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      1. Ohhh!!!You are a grandmom,well your grand-kids sure do have a cool granny blogger 😉

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  28. I must take up these tips 🙂 . Gosh raising boys is not an easy task. Ask me. Sigh!!
    I have boys who see through the cover and give a blank look as if they are the biggest morons ever born. Disgusting .!
    good post for a helpless mother like me .:p

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    1. 😀 did you mean ‘as if they are the biggest morons’ or ‘as if WE are the biggest morons’? Because that is how they sometimes act, don’t they? 🙂

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  29. This was funny. I have no clue how my mom did it or still does it – there are 3 of us 😀
    But what I do appreciate is that all 3 being different there obviously isn’t a singular formula but then she has done well with at least 2 (am sure :P) as for the third, i’ll wait till he is out of his teens 🙂

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    1. Any mother who follows her instincts while dealing with her children can’t go wrong. children turn out differently for many other reasons like genetic characteristics and environment, but the basic grounding remains with them all through. 🙂

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  30. ha ha, what a lovely post. i like your sense of humour zephyr and I so identify with you. When my daughter was in her teens, i used to have the same questions hurled at me about not monitoring her study hours, not knowing what she was studying, etc and my answers were the same as yours. In fact even my daughter at times tell me that i am probably the only mom that she knows among her friend circle who tells her not to study too hard, and to take time off to watch tv, or movies or to just do nothing.

    and when it comes to shouting? oh yes, i am a champ. and if i did not do that often, “what is wrong with you? are you depressed or something” would be the questions that i would be accosted with from the otherwise “tortured’ souls.

    great to be a mom that you know only you can be zephyr. love.

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    1. Thanks Sharbori! Oh yes, I used to tell the boys that they should play and get some fresh air, much to the chagrin of other mothers in the vicinity who felt that I was setting a bad example! 😀 As for shouting, I think they know that it means nothing sinister and also know that the scolding is deserved when they have done some unacceptable thing. We are all good moms, like i had commented on one of your posts! 🙂

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  31. Lol!!
    It isn’t easy being a parent..what if you make a mistake, that ruins the life of your child! Phew..hats off to parents! It is the most difficullt job in the world!

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    1. I am glad you appreciate all the hard work you mom must have put in! 🙂 Yes, it is hard, but also fun and a kind of reliving process for the parent, so it is fine! 🙂

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  32. This post is awesome.. I have tried some baby advice books some people swear by and NOTHING works. All the books are collecting dust. I am being a mom the way my instincts lead me…right or wrong! Am I going to spoil Babystar or make her super needy..I have no idea…I’m just doing what I think works for me.

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    1. Welcome here, Ltlstar! The reason baby books don’t work most of the time is because they tend to generalise and we each have a very individualistic baby on our hands! what better way than to learn with hands-on experience that might be difficult but rewarding in the end. 🙂

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      1. Mami its me. I am Ltlstar :D..writing a blog now. Nothing specific..timepass ;)…don’t know how long it will last.

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  33. 🙂 certainly brought big smiles to me. But honestly, I think I used to yell and Mom more than she did! or is it guilt that I yelled at all at her? But I guess, my yelling never made any difference since she used to be back to nagging me about the same thing ofcourse without heeding my remonstrations!

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    1. Hah! No amount of shouting by the kids would make any mom worth her salt stop yelling and nagging! 😀 And kids do yell back, sometimes out of frustration and at other times out of anger at being denied what they want! 🙂

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  34. LOL….was pretty much the same with my mom and us. It would definitely have been so different, and not herself had she followed any books. 🙂

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    1. Exactly! Any offspring that understands its mother would definitely be concerned when we mothers stop yelling! it comes with the job, you see. 🙂

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  35. Funny but so true 🙂 As parents we are what we are. As far as I can see, those who have time to write books about how to be a good parent rarely had time to practice it 😉

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    1. You said it AN! I think that the writers of these books are so theory oriented that they would need a notepad with suggestions to deal with everyday crises that arise with any child and remain clueless when the solution doesn’t work! 😀

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  36. lol too funny z – i hope u repeated the ‘perfect mom’ act once in a while to freak the kids out

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    1. You bet! They would stop in their tracks to see if it was real and relax when they saw a suppressed smile or twinkle in the eye. 🙂

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  37. I was smiling through the first half, half-expecting what was to come up eventually. I’m sure you were and are a super-cool Mom and don’t need any external aid to make you do a better job of it! 🙂
    I’ve always wondered as to why and how people come up with such ideas and books, when more often than not they mess up our minds and lives. Yours, for example.
    Our way of dealing our kids is always the best one. True, we need to emphathise with them, and try to be close and friendly with them, but where discipline and rules come, they need to follow them too! 🙂

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    1. Oh yes, Varsha, the books not only screw up our minds but that of the kids too! 🙂 talking of cool moms, as you say our individual methods of dealing with our kids is always the best, since each child is an individual too! Also kids know when they are being scolded for a good reason! 🙂

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  38. ha hahaha… it was pretty much the same at our home.. only mom nvr wavered from her stern-strict-mom-act.. never!

    i still look furtively arnd, expecting my mom if at all i drop a chocolate wrapper… no matter how many miles i am away from home 😀

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    1. Actually I would have continued being the screaming banshee had it not been for my memories of how I used to feel at that age! Also the boys know ‘garjte badal baraste nahin!’ imagine being hung by your earlobes! 😀

      Like

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