Thoughts on Parenthood

Parenthood

  • The tender feeling in my heart upon seeing a close friend’s kid and being amazed by how wonderfully life replicates itself.
  • The mind-blowing realization that I am no longer just one person – a part of me lives, breathes in another being.
  • The life lesson that what matters is not what I say to my kids but what I do because I know that they are watching my life unfold before them.
  • The joy of sharing my interests with my children – of introducing them to people, things, places I love.
  • Conversely, learning to love new things that they experiment with.
  • Reliving the angst of innocence all over again through my child.
  • The realization that love is solely in the giving, not in taking/ asking/ demanding.
  • The life lesson that too much of anything- love, care, affection does not nourish but smothers.
  • Learning from my mistakes and learning to let my kids make their own mistakes.
  • Knowing and remembering every misstep I have made as a parent and still hearing “I love you as you are” from my kid. If only I could learn to love with that compassion and humility.

Children’s picture books that evoke nostalgia- a few of my favorites

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Given that I am in a particularly nostalgic frame of mind these days ( for instance this recent post-link ), what better way to indulge this emotion than to do a round-up of some of my favorite picture books that in their own ways evoke this wistfulness….

Here are a few gems:


The Little House (public library)
By Virginia Lee Burton

This book published in 1942 tells the story of a little house in a rural area, that was pledged to never be sold and to be preserved and passed down to the generations coming thereafter.
The years pass, seasons change, the landscape of the surrounding countryside undergoes modernization, eventually transforming into a bustling city whilst the little house retains its old-worldliness, seemingly lost amidst the towering buildings surrounding it. Forlorn it remains, until the day that it is discovered by its rightful descendant and is then restored to its former glory.

I am drawn to this book because it evokes in me memories of holidays spent in our ancestral home in a small town in India, of that home being a rooted place in my recollection of an otherwise nomadic life and of the aching loss I feel, now that the house has met its fate in the inevitable urbanization of that area.

A heartwarming story relevant to today’s changing world, and detailed illustrations make ‘The Little House’ an engaging read.


The Relatives Came (public library)
Story by Cynthia Rylant , Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

A family visit over the summer- lots of hugs passed around, big families, simple pastimes, communal eating, makeshift beds on the living room floor, kids playing with cardboard boxes……all delightfully illustrated with colored pencils.
And finally, an end to the summer and time for the relatives to return to their home. The house suddenly seems large and empty but the hearts are assuredly comforted at the thought of the following summer when the relatives would come again.

This charming book harkens back fond memories of childhood visits and of a simple time wistfully gone.


The Paperboy (public library)
Story and Paintings by Dav Pilkey

The story begins with the early morning delivery of a stack of newspapers to the house of the little paperboy; and meanders languidly around his routine of waking up, fixing himself breakfast, folding up the newspapers for delivery and setting out on his paper route. Accompanied by his lovable dog, the little paperboy bikes on, delivering the papers on a route he seems to know by heart, enjoying his solitude and contemplation. The changing hues of the morning sky and the gradual rousing of life in the neighborhood  are beautifully captured by the illustrations in acrylics.

A simple story about a time that has passed and a once ubiquitous routine that has faded away.


The Hello, Goodbye Window (public library)
By Norton Juster and Chris Raschka

A story told in the voice of a little girl who gets dropped off at Nanna and Poppy’s home when her parents are at work; and a world viewed through the lens of a child’s eye and mind and literally through a window at the front of the house. A window of hellos and goodbyes, and observations of the charming details of everyday life.
The most remarkable thing  about this book are the illustrations which seem to be drawn as if in the hand of a child, the fuzzy details and scribbles highlighting the things which seem most remarkable from the child’s point of view.

A lovable account of a day in the life of a little girl.


Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (public library)
By Simms Taback

An overcoat that is refashioned and recycled into many forms, adopting many new lives, put to a great many uses, ending up as something far removed from its original entity. I love the twist/ moral at the end, which exhibits the crux of all creativity.
Beautiful artwork done using watercolor, Gouache, pencil, ink and collage injects vividness into a universal story.
This book reminds me of my childhood when every old thing in the house found a new use and hardly anything was thrown away. The sheet music to a song at the end – ‘I had a little overcoat’ (Hob Ich Mir a Mantl) is a wonderful bonus.


These were a select few of my family’s favorites- books that I have enjoyed reading myself as much as reading them to my kids. What are some of your fond memories/ nostalgic books?
Please share..

*Image courtesy of  I ❤ 2 read
for the love of reading….. 
by Kate Ter Haar ( CC BY 2.0 )

What is it like to be you?

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Mom, sometimes I wonder about what it is like to be you.”

A little more prodding from my side and this comes up – “I often think about what it would be like to be other people but I don’t know because I have never been a grown-up……I wonder about what you think and feel…about me…..Do you ever wonder about what it is being me?”

Taken aback and caught off guard, I end up telling him – “I feel a sense of wonder that I am a parent and that you are my kid. I feel responsible towards you and your well-being, but most of all I just feel happy that we have each other. It is a great quality to be willing and able to consider how other people think and feel. I feel happy that you are thinking this way and hope that you would continue to do so.”

We reach the school, he gets out of the car and that is the end of the conversation.

But the thought dwells in my mind all day, it ruminates and that last line -“Do you ever wonder about what it is being me? ” really floors me and I think to myself, “I DO know what it is to be a kid. I have been one, and I have lived through a lot of the experiences that my kids are going through. Yet, how often do I put myself in their place and think about their perspective?”

Granted, the world has changed drastically since the time we were out and about riding our bikes, just being kids. However, the angst of that age is still the same. The journey of discovering multiple realities that spread outward from our family is still relatable.

If we make the effort, the world seems magical when looked at anew through our children’s eyes. Also, we somehow seem to see ourselves in a clearer light when examined through these different lenses.

As parents we have a ready frame of reference to fall back upon, and our task is somewhat easier than that of our kids who are still learning to navigate their way around the world.
In spite of this difference, we inexplicably expect our kids to know how to behave according to our expectations of them, assuming that they should be able to figure out what it is that we need from them, when they have no idea about our thought process, our current experiences.
They cannot metaphorically or realistically fill our shoes.
Simply because they have not lived that life yet.

So maybe it is time to let go of our egos and our self-consciousness about our roles as parents and simply remember what it is to be a kid.

To look at our kids and wonder —What is it like to be you?


*Image courtesy of Childhood by Rantes . Some rights reserved ( CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 )

Daughter

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Little girl,
I brought you into my consciousness
and here into this tangible world.
You,
a whole new self
thinking, believing, exploring…
What is it that I owe to you?

‘Now and henceforth –
A resolve to joyfully
tend to you, your needs,
your thoughts and your dreams.
An honest effort to awaken our minds- yours and mine
to the enormousness of life, the loftiness of ideals,
the sanctity of truth and the pursuit of self-realization.
A pledge to f
ind inside of myself
a love
that lets you go unfettered
on the path you choose.’

This is all that I hope I owe you
little girl, my daughter –
a person, her own being.


 *This is something I wrote a while back and I often find myself revisiting and reworking this as the years pass.
*Image courtesy of  flyzipper ( Some rights reserved )

Books + Nature + Children = Wondrous

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Today I want to write about some select nature-themed children’s picture books that I have added to the home library over the years. I treasure these books because they celebrate,in their unique voices, the communion of a child with nature. They remind us ever so gently of our coexistence with other living beings around us. They coax us to be aware of and feel a oneness with the natural world. I appreciate being made mindful, through these books, of the permanence of change in life.

Here are a few gems from some masterful authors and illustrators:

Owl Moon‘ by Jane Yolen , illustrated by John Schoenherr

Tells the story of a winter night owling excursion undertaken by a young girl and her father. The search entails the need for quiet anticipation and little conversation, thus the book speaks in the internal voice of the little girl. The lyrical verses describing the sounds in nature, the building excitement, the omnipresent uncertainty of spotting the owl, the quiet solitude of the woods and the beauty of the snow in a moonlit night are simply magical. The text is nicely complimented by pictures in gentle watercolors creating the perfect backdrop of a night out in the woods. The book deservedly won the Caldecott Medal in 1988.
I love this book for its stillness and quietude and the little girl’s understanding of the need to play by nature’s rules.


Time of Wonder‘ by Robert McCloskey

This is a truly wondrous description of a family’s summer days on a Maine island: bright sunshine, fog-filled and rainy days, the humdrum of coastal life, the tide coming in and going out, sea creatures and child explorers, the busy preparations to ride out a hurricane, the destruction in its aftermath, and finally the inevitable end to a glorious summer. The illustrations in watercolor have an old world charm and evoke memories of the fun-filled and carefree days of childhood. This book won Robert McCloskey his second Caldecott medal in 1958, the first being for ‘Make Way for Ducklings’ which is another one of my all-time favorite children’s books.


Blueberries for Sal‘ by Robert McCloskey

“….kuplink,kuplank,kuplunk!”
Yet another treasure by this beloved author, it is a charming story about picking blueberries at a hillside on a summer day in Maine. On one side of the hill are little Sal and her mother and on the other side are a little bear and his mama; how the pairs get mixed up and what ensues next is endearing. The line drawings are done in a deep dark blue color, aptly reminiscent of blueberries and feature detailed sketches of the humans and bears. The scene in the kitchen is a masterful etching of blissful domesticity. ‘Blueberries for Sal’ got the Caldecott Honor in 1949.


Red Sings from Treetops: a year in colors‘ by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

A stately young person and their lovable little dog talk about colors in the changing seasons. I love the captivating details in the illustrations- the little hats, the recurring wheels, the floating windows and musical notes, the lush vivid colors, the patterns on the clothes, the notations; I find something new and delightful each time I go through this book ! Each verse of poetry is quirkily illustrated- this book is a delightfully whimsical union of text and pictures. ‘Red Sings from Treetops’ got the Caldecott Honor in 2010.


A Child’s Calendar‘ -Poems by John Updike and illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman

A poetic and picturesque calendar detailing each month of a year in the life of a young family. The aspect of this book that I love the most is how the little kid in the family notices everything about life in the changing seasons around him- you see him peering in through the windows of his house, looking up at bare trees, observing bees buzzing over flowers, watching birds gathering around the hanging feeders and so much more. The poems and the wonderful illustrations paint an idyllic portrait of the everyday life around us. ‘A Child’s Calendar’ got the Caldecott Honor in the year 2000.


The Snowy Day‘ by Ezra Jack Keats

Narrates a day in the life of a little boy who wakes up one winter morning to find a snow-covered landscape outside his bedroom window. The innocence and charm of the story are reflected in little details like a darling orange-red snowsuit, wispy snowflakes and a snowball tucked into a pocket for safekeeping. The author has used varied illustration techniques such as collages, stamps, inking with a toothbrush and the final effect is quite striking.
Peter,the central character,is featured in six other books by the author- a pioneer in celebrating diversity in children’s books. ‘The Snowy Day’ won the Caldecott Medal in 1963 and is a beloved classic today.


These are just a select few of the books that have enthralled my family over the years. What are some of the books that you and your family love? Please share.

*Image courtesy of  Florin Gorgan  CC BY-SA 2.0