Why I think Parenting is tiring

Parenting I think is a moment by moment minute or minimum impact decisions for which your whole brain has to use immense resources to compute and decide on each of them. Parenting is deciding what is good for your child every moment. It’s tiring because there are many times that you yourself don’t know that something is good for your child or not. Added on top of that, the behavior you might be prescribing or expecting of, in your child goes completely against what you might believe or it could be something that you think it’s good because some expert thinks so.

Parenting is a profession where you practice it, as you learn it and you become expert when it’s already too late. Maybe useful for nephews or grand kids!

Parenting is a lot about doing exactly what you believe in and setting examples to your child but often what we say, what we believe and what we do is so in-coherent that it hurts to see that we are sending mixed messages to our own child.

Parenting is tiring because in essence it’s a minor step in the grand scale of this social conditioning, this retrofitting of a free flowing wonderful creature into tiny slots and shapes of order, structure and behavior.

Parenting is tiring because you sometimes get that glimpse of your own conditioned self – preaching, pontificating and trying to convince your child about ideas, theories that you don’t believe in.

That’s why I think parenting is tiring. I am not saying it’s bad or good (it’s your call) but it’s my observation. It’s a multitude of unexpected and unseen challenges. One that makes me feel extremely thankful to my parents and have high regard and respect for other parents.

Look Up!

I love this video. Somehow this guy has managed to put this so well!! “We are a generation of dumb people with smart phones”

I could say that not to look awkward on BART without digging myself in my cell phone – I end up closing my eyes!

I notice that the speed at which people walk now a days is how fast they can like the things on their facebook wall! The amount of time we spend at red light is how many text messages we are reading and sending. It’s kinda sad.

I love what this article talks about how we don’t know any more about just purposeless walking – –http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27186709

And added to that this book really shaped about what I think about how technology is disrupting families.

Big Disconnect

This is me

Watching this moved me a lot. This was me growing up. This was me in every social situation that I came across. This is still me. I vigorously cut those cutouts and work very hard to fit myself in. It never worked perfectly and I ended up carrying so many of them with me. This is me. This made me both sad and happy.

My Worst Fears

Couple of days back I had a great realization. I realized what my greatest fears are (and have been). I mean I kinda knew some – but this time I came across the core of them. We all have our own dark corners and I nurtured mine with complete denial and ignorance. It was culmination of what I have been reading and that one amazing video watched the night before. Here is the book –

tamingA simple and amazing book which talks a lot about how internal chatter creates these seemingly uncontrollable gremlins that we carry around and believe the picture they paint as true. It’s really hard to identify them as they usually become part of our identity and severely limit our scope to catch them in action.

The books premise is – there is a core in everyone of us. The pure core and then there are these gremlins. We are kinda slaves to these gremlins (if you watched Cloud Atlas, there is a perfect example of it in that movie. The “Old Georgie” is nothing but a personification of Gremlin). Gremlins control us based on a pattern. They keep us anywhere except the present and now. Obsess about past, fear the future – that’s gremlin talking.

I think that book needs to be re-read and re-read till we can clearly identify and sort out those gremlins. So, here are my worst fears.

1. The Fear of not fitting in : This is so much part of me that it was really, really hard to dislocate and watch it. Basically not fitting in for me means anything from clothing, accent, pronunciation, culture, politics, knowledge, humor, sports, finances, habits and everything else. I am so dreaded by the fact that I won’t fit into something that I will totally avoid anything if I have a slightest hint of not fitting in well. It’s a painful truth and probably has kept me off of many astounding opportunities in my life but yeah that is my fear and it’s part of me.

2. The Fear of not being nice : This is nuts as well. I hate to be one with conflicts. I mean internal conflicts I seed and grow a many but outer conflicts I can’t take it. I am so scared of not turning out to be nice to other people that I will actually avoid them rather be angry at them or even show even a hint of discontent. Once again this fear is part of me and defines me.

3. The Fear of not being smart enough : This is the most craziest and the more I dwelled into it the more I realized that this is a double edge sword. I hate to be not smart enough among a peer group. If I am among a bunch of smart people, I strive really really hard to act and do smart things. But on the other hand if I come across someone who is not as smart as I think they are – then I drop, I completely drop and “act” stupid to accommodate me. So, I act more smart and more dumb when required to fit into the above two fears.

Remember the question here is NOT “why am I this way?” Doing that encourages another gremlin and you lost your battle already. It’s just to put the fears out. Pull out these grotesque creatures I have nurtured and created since my childhood and just watch them. Just be aware of them and do nothing. As simple as it sounds, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. Just writing this blog post makes me think that I am publicly shaming myself and making vulnerable to outside world.

The video I talked about which helped me to figure out the above process is by Alan Watts. Here it is.

I created this blog to actually post stuff that surfaces in my psyche and in the past there have been many books and stuff I read that have helped me to identify these. Here are some of them that come to mind.

I just came across this gem – The Blerch is nothing but a Gremlin – http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

 

 

 

practicingmind artofwar mastery

 

 

 

Like is the new Subscribe

First there was print media. Next came the Internet revolution and it got the 4th estate all riled up and they started out their websites. Blogs started complimenting the news and then came Twitter. People started to talk to each other using tweets and then the idea coalesced into leaders within Twitter providing information. The media was late to it but it joined eventually. The news started getting disbursed in 140 characters matching the 10 seconds attention span. Then came Facebook – colonizing the friendship graph. They pulled in all of us and all our friends and everyone we knew. Enticed us to “Like” each other’s stuff and encouraging activity, eyeballs and addiction. The media was late there as well, but now it’s catching up.

Facebook announced 2 major things last week. In video side of it’s 1 billion dollar acquisition of Instagram. Perfectly timed 15 secs (as opposed to 6 seconds on Vine) – matching the advertisement requirement, videos in your feed. Another thing is about Mark Zuckerberg’s passion to make Facebook as a place to get all your news. I think this is a genius move on Facebook’s behalf. I have literally stopped going to websites to read news – all I do is like them on their site when I visit them first time – and lo and behold I get all my news on my wall. Facebook turned it’s “Like” button into a “interested”, “permission to invade”, “subscribe me” button.

Pretty soon we will have news media saying – “Only available on Facebook“, “Watch it first on Facebook” – because that is where the action is. Because that wall you take for granted on Facebook is definitely a wall – a wall where you put your virtual TV on, a wall where you pin your address book on, a wall where you have your calendar on. Facebook wall is the new Desktop – it’s just that we are not aware of it yet. It’s here and it’s slowly creeping on us.

I feel sorry for Google and Apple – both companies still stuck in the old thinking and investing in good old media hardware – Google TV, Apple TV(the actual TV which is rumored). I feel sorry that Google dropped it’s Google reader which could have competed with Facebook wall. I feel sorry for Youtube Channels because you are way too far from my wall and need a new tab to visit you. It’s just a matter of time before we see HBO exclusive on Facebook wall.

This is how a simple Like turned into a mass consumption channel. A pathway to new consumers.

Mourning

This morning I got a call from my home in India. My dearest grand dad passed away. It hurt so much to learn that. He has been sick from some time and I made it a point to spend a lot of time with him on my trip to India last month. It’s been a weird day. I tried so many ways to find solace in many things. It’s hard. Death is such a full stop to everything that happens around it that it throws people off their rhythm.

My grand father was the sweetest person in the world. The only person who would let me do and let me have whatever I want while growing up under my strict dad. I don’t remember when it started to happen but I think around the age when I was 7 I started to go spend all my summer at my grand parents place. It was so much fun. I used to look forward to that. The summer was the best. I would just spend time with my friends and watch movies. My grand parents took care of me.

Then later when I was went to college, it so happened that it was like 20 miles from my grand parents place. I loved it. Every weekend I would go visit them and spend a good amount of time. My grand father was so much fun to hangout with. He was a farmer. I would go to fields with him and watch him do the work and try to help. He loved farming. He has un-usual way to telling weather. Just by smelling the air and looking at the sky he could tell if it’s going to rain or not. It was fascinating to me.

It was always sad to leave their place to go back to my place. But one thing that got etched into my memory when I was kid was – as I was saying good bye to him – my grand father started to cry. I could never imagine that he could cry and I was shocked. I still remember that day.

10 years ago he had a stroke and everyone thought we would lose him. But he came back like a rock star. He got healed and miraculously also managed to do his pilgrimage and live this long. He was 80+ and in a good health. He doesn’t have any of the modern lifestyle diseases, no eye sight and still was going around on his bi-cycle.

I love him so much and I am going to miss him a lot. My only solace is that I saw him last month and he saw Sahana and was able to bless her. It’s painful to digest this and there are no words sometimes to express it. One song keep going on in my head and I just keep listening to it. It somehow soothes me.

Rest in Peace Nana. I will miss you a lot.

nana

Dream

This morning I had a pretty amazing dream. I mean this one really tops the list. I was led into a chamber by my mentor or some person who I don’t remember now. This chamber is a special one which bestows on you special powers if you are ready for it. There were other people behind me who were getting inside.

As soon as I got in, I felt this energy wrapping me and I was feeling completely different. Then I put my legs on the wall and was able to walk on the wall! Later I was pulling things out of walls etc. 

That went on for quite a while but the cool comprehension I came out with was – I am creating my own reality. That’s what the main message was. This energy which was within me was letting me do that. And it felt like the dream went on forever.

That was one of the coolest dream I ever had!

Talking to the 6 year old in me

Last weekend – as our dear friend Rebecca agreed to babysit Sahana – we decided to go watch a movie together! Just me and Sangita. Sangita picked a non-commercial movie called – The Sessions – to watch. I had no clue as to what the movie is about. When it started out with a man who is paralyzed – I was expecting a miracle and thinking that the movie will end in a happy ending by Mark getting better! (It’s based on a real story of Mark O’Brien). How lame of me.

The movie is very touchy and moving. It shows a completely basic level of human nature which we don’t encounter in a day to day life. No drama, just great stuff. There is one scene in the movie which moved me a lot and I have been thinking about it a lot. In one of the scene – Helen Hunt who is the sex surrogate asks Mark – who is getting upset about how he is doing – to close his eyes and imagine the time when he was 6 years old in a nice place. Not in the body of the 6 year old, but as if he is watching the 6 year old version of him. Then she asks him to tell that 6 year old – There is nothing wrong with him, he is not the reason for his disability.

That was really moving. The 6 year old in me keep banging on my door asking for me to talk to him. After a lot of thought, I relented. I imagined a time when I was 6 year old. This was 1980, so we were in Bapatla, AP. After my school the best place to play was in a big pile of sand in our backyard. I would take a bunch of bricks and make them bus, car etc and drive them around – often resulting in some accidents. I watched my 6 year old playing for a long time and then approached him and said these 3 things-

  1. There is nothing wrong with you
  2. You don’t have to be perfect
  3. You are loved, always

I  know that this may sound very kooky – but there are 2 things to take into consideration. First, if you study time. I mean the time time, you will know that past and future are nothing but ideas – temporal placement of events in our minds. They don’t exist. To add a meta-physics level to it, you will learn that everything is happening at this moment. Irrespective of how hard it is for linear mind to understand it – I believe in that. The 6 year old is playing with those bricks right now as I type this. Second, the emotional release it had on me was immense. I just couldn’t take it and it explains why I had to wait like 5 days before I talked to the 6 year old – even for my imagination.

My Second Childhood

I grew up in India. All my education was in India. The only reason I got out of country was for opportunity and better life. With Sahana in my life I am experiencing something extraordinarily new that I believe wouldn’t happen again in my life. I am experiencing a second childhood. I have many bits and pieces of memory from my childhood. I remember some sweet ones and some sour ones. But what I am experiencing now is totally different.

I am part and parcel of American culture, but mostly contemporary. I mean if you refer to something from India which has roots in every kids childhood there, I would get it – but if you refer something related to American culture which every kid born here gets it, I probably wont. I mean I can read up history and politics and understand it – but I won’t be getting the essence of growing up here in this country – ever. Well until recently.

After Sahana turned like 14 months old – she has become more active with couple of things – TV shows (not much), language & education. Tv shows are fascinating because I had the same response Sahana has when she watched Elmo. I was surprised how well made is Sesame Street. When we watch Elmo – trust me I watch it with same intensity like Sahana does and I love it.

Language – Talking with Sahana and teaching her words has been a totally unique experience. The way she is picking up words and the way she remembers names is very interesting. Like many Indians who don’t speak much English but only written – there are some things which I do which usual Americans don’t do. A lot of Indians convert questions into statements and then add a visual or verbal cue in the end – signifying it’s a question. Like for example: “Do you like this?” becomes “You like this? No?”. I know it’s confusing. Similarly, when I ask Sahana – ‘Do you like this?’ – she would say “No”, and when I confirm by asking ‘So, you don’t like this’ (a statement) – she says “Yes”. I know this may not be special but thats just fascinating. I mean she understands – a question from a statement. And it took me 25 years to see the pattern in me (and other Indians) about that.

Education. I have always been fascinated by Education. I mean the whole idea of receiving knowledge from outside source. I mean a source outside of me other than my intuition and my reasoning. I don’t mean that the outside sources are bad but it’s been interesting to test out a lot of things at least for me to see how I learn better and how having better education changes things. My education made me who I am today. Escaping middle class in India. But I did had a crazy education. I was part of the boarding schools which competed on how long can you keep a student awake and make him sit in front of a book. They would make us get up like 4 am and would not sleep till 12am. Those were some crazy 7 years of my life.

But what made me stand out from the crowd during the period was how I was internalizing my learning and how I was spitting out a completely different notion of what I was learning. For example – they would teach us from 2-3 text books for a subject and we are supposed to write up what we understand. Instead of just filling up all the junk from remembering, I would draw stuff and make comparisons which was at least new to my teachers and they loved it.

Anyhow, when coming to American education – I am excited about how I would participate in Sahana’s learning and have my say in it. Only last year I learned the school system here and picking up on a lot of information from what Sangita tells me. I think I want Sahana to learn 3 things:

1. Mathematics – Whether or not if it’s a queen of sciences – Math is definitely needed not for calculating stuff but to expand ones imagination. I mean math is a science about perfect world. It proposes an alternative reality, one better than what we experience – but in a sense it’s perfect. I believe Math would teach Sahana how to imagine better and see things in her mind’s eye. I want to introduce Math as an art form and let her deduce her own things. Learn by exploring.

2. Science – If Math expands imagination, Science expands reasoning, causation. Science is cool because there is no BS in it. It doesn’t fool around. Whether it’s there or it isn’t. I want to teach her the curiosity through science. I want to strengthen her rational thinking through Science.

3. Computation – I think computation is nothing but problem solving. The tools, utilities and reminiscents are actual physical computers, programming languages etc. But where else would you get a world for yourself to create, craft and test out solutions for problems. Computation is tightly packed with Math and Science. Math gives one a liberty to imagine things and craft an ideal solution, Science builds limits and makes it more creative to solve it within the limits.

I know I am missing a lot of stuff in the list. The above 3 are the ones I am most excited about. I am having a second childhood experience through Sahana and what’s coming up for her. Super exited!

Google please make this…

I have a request for Google. I believe only Google can make this happen, well Apple can too but they won’t. Given how Google maps trump Apple maps and given how the usage of WiFi everywhere has gone up, I firmly believe this will be a great device. Here are the details.

– Create a GPS device with Google maps on it.

– This could be android based and it doesn’t really matter.

– I should be able to see the device through some Google interface.

– So, when I am looking for directions on my laptop – I should be able to save the directions and send it to my device.

– The killer feature of this device would be – in addition to GPS connection, it would also be connected to a cellular network.

– This device will take the cellular network and spit out a local WiFi network. Like what those Verizon MiFi devices do.

I believe this would be a cool device. Imagine if you can stream Elmo on Netflix to your kids in the backseat of the car (on their iPads or iPhones). Imagine that every address search you make online is saved as a maps search history on this device which you can conveniently use it. The device could be small enough so that when I am out of my car I can carry it with me and still use it as a MiFi device.

So, Google please make this device and I am willing to pay for it!