Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What is God?

Vish and I are not religious people - however we are not atheists ether. We believe in God, in the miracle of life, in the superpower that holds everything together. With religion, come murky waters - while we enjoy the traditions that our religious roots bring,  the festivities, the feasting, the celebrations - I am wary of preaching of religious exclusivity and deriving your personal identity from the religion you are born into.

If you have begun to wonder why this post features in my mommy blog and not my personal blog - no, I have not forgotten my much neglected blog. This post is here because God has started appearing in our conversations with the daughter more often now, and while every aspect of parenting unfolds a better (or a more confused) understanding of your own stance and beliefs, I though it would be interesting to pen down here how we are educating our 3 year old in this context.

How God features in our everyday lives: We have hindu God idols in our house. (What is that, mommy?) Manya has seen her nana offer morning and evening prayers in the puja room to the gods. (Why does nana pray?) We talk about going to a temple. (Does God stay only in temples?). We cross a fancy church during our drives (What is a church?). Oh my god, Manya, what are you doing? (Why did you say my god mommy?) For god's sake, Manya stop screaming. (What will God do if I don't stop?)

And this is what mommy explains...
... God is the positive energy, the joy, the happiness, the love that you feel all around you. 
So, is Ganesha not god, she asks me. No, I say. These are idols of god, images of god that different people create. She nods her head in understanding. He is just like a drawing, she says.
Encouraged, I continue, it is easier to pray to something that you can see, focus on rather than something you can only feel. Her attention begins to waiver - but she tries. Like I pray for play dough, she quips.
Never mind, some other day, I sigh.

Before she loses interest completely, we talk about temples and churches and how people can choose where to go worship based on the idols they believe in. She understands. She wants to go visit both. We say okay. I make a conscious effort to leave out the vocabulary of religion, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam from our discussion. I don't see the need for that. 
Religion has not been the defining aspect of my personality or who I am as an individual - I don't think it does for her, nor should it for anyone. Religion is a matter of personal faith; it should not be up for display or debate. Whether I am a hindu, or a muslim, or a christian, should not dictate how I conduct myself or interact with people or judge situations.

As the years go by, I want my daughter to know about the religions that exist, the massive literary works (all those mythological stories are so fascinating) that come from them, the rich cultural traditions that find their roots in the various religions - As she lights diyas and makes rangoli on Diwali, she knows that it is in a way to ask God to visit us and bless us (She asked me the next morning, if I am feeling happy because god is happiness and god should have visited yesterday :D.). She celebrated Holi earlier this year, and Easter and Halloween too. She is waiting for Thanksgiving to get over so that we can put up the Christmas tree and write letters to Santa - I can't imagine telling her that on diwali, happiness comes to only hindus or that Santa is a christian. 

I am not against religion - I am against teaching small children that they belong to a certain a religion and owe allegiance to it. Teach them slokas, and carols, and verses from the Quran, and gurbani too. Teach them how to love, help and differentiate good from evil but don't teach them to divide themselves - teach them the joy of togetherness.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The festival of lights...

Even though Manya is 3, I realise that it is only now that she is at an age where we can actively celebrate our festivals etc. Therefore, this year has been special in the sense that we have been really enthusiastic about celebrating major festivals and holiday traditions and hope to continue doing so in the years to come.

Diwali was all about lights - this is the first time we set up light in the US. Manya and mommy also did a simple rangoli inspite of it being a rainy day. Indian goodies were made in the kitchen - we kept it simple with all of us down with cold!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The third year milestone!

Manya is three, and here are some highlights:
  • She talks, and she talks, and she talks :D. You get the drift. With quite an extensive vocabulary, M manages to impress most people with her conversation skills (not sure where that comes from? umm, think again...:p)
  • Manya loves drawing, painting - her weekly art classes help her channel that enthusiasm. Almost every day, you can see her engaged with her crayons, markers and even pencils. I have been particular about encouraging free hand - I don't give her drawing books to draw within lines or trace patterns or connect dots. And am glad with this approach, she draws and paints a lot of abstract - dark stormy nights, spooky voices, sunsets. She draws monster faces, dinosaurs (stegosaurus is her favorite), and all by herself she has started drawing rectangles, circles, ovals and triangles and the letters - A, m, N, Z, b, O, P, Q, q, T, I, U, V, X, and the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 7.  She loves doing little projects like wrapping boxes, making cards, cutting (which she has still not mastered) and gluing stuff etc.
  • Eating is a dicey topic still - she loves her standard breakfast of milk, egg, and fruit on most days. Red sauce pasta, spaghetti, peas and rice, tofu, bread butter, yogurt smoothies, blue berries, apples, bananas, strawberries, spinach and yellow daal are her favorites. White lindt chocolate truffles and gold wrapped chocolate coins along with orange ice bars are her favorite junk!
  • Manya loves books, and we are a regular feature at the library - she likes all kinds - stories, non fiction - especially if they are about animals, reptiles, sea creatures etc.
  • She has eclectic (;)) taste in clothes (we are thankfully still not in the princess phase - and am so not looking forward to it!) and toys - she loves her stuffed toys, dollies, legos, puzzles, fire engine etc all equally.
  • She loves the swing, slide, monkey climber at the park. She also mastered cycling her tricycle towards the latter half of this year.
  • We are fully potty trained (finger crossed) and are hoping no relapses happen.
  • We still have only 16 pearly whites - 4 more baby teeth are eagerly awaited (but show no sign of arrival). That's exactly where we were on her second birthday, by the way!
  • Tall and thin seems to be the mantra still - Mommy is just learning to fret less about the thin aspect.
  • Emerging personality traits: Cheerful, social, happy to be around people, smart enough to manipulate people and their reactions (;)); can and will use emotions to alter situations in her favor, total drama queen (I love you, M); tantrums are usually because of lack of sleep or hunger or too much boring stuff going around - they don't last long if attended to efficiently; chirpy with almost everyone, displays love and affection openly and very often; can hold her own in an argument/discussion, very very observant and inquisitive.
So, we herald the tiring threes :D.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Oh goodness gracious, SHE is THREE!

Our spunky bundle of sunshine turns three and we are so overwhelmed! 

Dear Love,

You are three and you are so excited - I think this is your first birthday that you are really conscious and aware of what the day means - you have demanded a party, presents, trips, decorations and what not and you are so happy to tell everyone that you are three. You have told us to look for a school now - Yes Ma'am!

Mommy and daddy wish you a lifetime of happiness and joy - may the sunshine that you bring into our lives bring warmth to yours too - every single day.
I don't recall many days wherein you have not amazed us with your fantastic vocabulary and that toddler-teenage attitude that is not all that cute all the time :D. You are smart and spunky, and we know you are going to go places (Never mind that you didn't think much of Dr. Seuss' book :P on the subject.)

There's lots to look forward int his year - you'll join a preschool, you'll be more independent, you'll have more thought and opinions that are truly yours and will give us an insight into your personality, you'll learn more skills - motor, gross,and what not. Going by most dictionaries on babies, you are not even a toddler anymore but a preschooler - change of status - promotion of sorts!

As you turn three, so does the mommy me. I feel like a pro sometimes and sometimes I feel like I have still not figured out the mommy thing - You know, I am not the most patient mom, and that is the major reason for almost all the unrest that we have between the two of us - you are learning to work around it though - a quick summon in the sweetest of voices reminding mommy that talking nicely helps more in the middle of a shouting match is sure to drown mommy in guilt for the rest of the day atleast - oh aren't you cute (and very very bratty)!

As we celebrate your day and you, we honestly believe that you are really the best thing that happened to us. We love you - to the moon and back. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

First time trick o' treating!

I had already blogged about M's Halloween obsession here. Well, yesterday was her first time ever trick o' treating and she did have a blast!

Dressed up as bat girl, our very own caped crusader had not one but two parties to attend. 

I was a little apprehensive about her going door-to-door for the trick o' treat, but was shocked at her independence and unabashedness as her cries for candy became louder as did the amount she was grabbing with each passing house. I would like to assume it was because she was with a known group and knew mommy is close behind - but I must also mention, at one point she asked me to go back home and wait for her. The gall of the girl!