Parenting in public

… is probably the hardest thing. It’s one thing to stick with your beliefs when you’re in our own comfort zone. But it’s quite another to be observed minutely as you take each decision. The last two holidays gave me a lot to think about. I particularly talk about these because most holidays are with family and friends. But these were 2-3 day holidays on resorts where the kids got pally with other kids and we were forced to hang out with the parents of those kids. They were neither strangers we could ignore, nor friends who know what we’re like. They were a strange in-between.

The Brat and Bean are running around a resort and playing with a bunch of kids. A grandmother is there with her son, daughter in law and grand-daughter. Her chubby little grandchild is hampered by flimsy sandals and a dress but joins  in anyway and runs with them happily.

The older lady watches with her heart in her mouth and finally turns to me  with a plea in her eyes. What am I supposed to do? I don’t want to be rude, so I smile but ignore the plea. They are kids and they need to run around and scrape knees.  The kids are laughing and shouting and I am happy to see the brat and bean leading the pack. I forget about the lady and get back to my book, only looking up once in a while to see if they’re okay.

And then I see the lady come and not just grab her grand child but also the Bean and tell them to sit down and play with some dolls or something quietly. I get really pissed, because she is telling them not to run around and I’m honestly not interested in what her child does, but I brought my kid here on holiday to have fun. I’m not having anyone else telling her to sit down and entertain their grandchild. I watch and wait.

The Bean comes up to me – Mama, that aunty says I mustn’t  run around. She says to sit down and play with X. She’s got dolls in her room.

MM: What do you want to do?

Bean: I want to run with the Brat and the other babies.

MM:  Ja beti, jee le apni zindagi. (Or words to that effect)

Bean runs off and plays.

Old lady glares at me and struggles to hold her child down and finally gives up when the child’s father tells her to let go. Child runs a bit with the other kids and then realises she can’t keep up and panting heavily sits down. The OA was amused but I was not. I don’t tell other people’s kids what to do if they aren’t doing something illegal/ dangerous /hazardous to the environment and I don’t like people dictating what my kids should do.

A little while later the Brat is touching something in the hotel that is not allowed and I warn him off it. Within seconds another child walks up to it and starts pulling. The parents look on, unconcerned. The Brat argues with me – But why is he touching it? Why can’t I?

MM: I can’t tell him what to do. His mama and dada must decide for him. But you’re my son and I can tell you what I think you shouldn’t touch.

And then I give up. This whole public parenting thing is a pain. How do I tell the Brat he can’t do what the other child is doing, without it sounding like I am criticising their parenting?

A little later the mother of the chubby child decides to do something to entertain her daughter sitting glumly and starts some game. I join her to help out. Within minutes the kids are all over the place doing what Simon Says. Simon asks them who their favourite girl is – Hannah Montanna or Barbie. Bean’s clear little voice rings out – I like Batman. Err.. okay. Batman is not a girl, I want to tell the Bean, but hell, can I help it if she’s out of options?

At this point all the mothers are looking at me. Doesn’t she play with dolls?

Umm… I fumble. What is okay as a personal philosophy and as a blog rant, goes into grey areas when you have to say it to someone’s face. It’s not something that I don’t stand by. But it is the exact opposite of their beliefs and comes across as criticism. I’m thinking of a polite way to phrase this. So I say I don’t buy guns and dolls  – the only ones they have are gifts and both have lost all interest in them since I don’t encourage it in any way.

Next, which is your favourite cartoon? Shinchan or Pokemon (I hope I got the names right). The Brat and Bean consider this and say they love Lightning McQueen. The mothers turn to look at me.

I finally say, “Yes, we don’t watch cartoon network at our place, I usually play a VCD for them so that we don’t have to suffer through advertising.” I can see that I’m already That Weird Woman We Met At The Resort.

The Brat now pulls a rubber scorpion out of one pocket and a rubber cobra out of the other. He hands one to the Bean and they begin to crawl around in the mud. The Bean by now looks like we tied her to the bumper and dragged her through the dust and mud. A look  she specialises in.

“How do you keep them away from TV all day?” one asks, genuinely surprised.

I realise how draconian I must sound to people who are hugely different from me and I wonder how to temper what comes next.  So I warily tell them that I’ve just told the kids not to put it on and they know that a no is a no. I might have to take stricter measures later, but for now they don’t defy me. Also, there is really no time for TV. In summer they nap away the worst hours and then run down to play. By the time they are back its time for a bath and dinner and maybe, just maybe 30 minutes or less of TV. In winter they go down to play the moment they are back from school and stay there till dark. Then some reading, some games, dinner, and maybe a little TV. Simple.

She shrugs and says, “Oh we don’t want to live in an apartment. We have our own house even though it is Bombay (err.. good for you!) so we don’t have too much garden space for her to play. ” Ah, so you were crowing because?

These  conversations are so pointless. I live in an apartment and hate it, but I know my child gets loads of friends and space. You live in a house because.. whatever your reason.. and your child has no space. There are pros and cons to every situation.

How do you keep them entertained, they ask? I shrug. I don’t. I spend time with them but they have each other, they have their books, their toys, their friends. They have a lot to do and not enough time.

At this point the conversation peters off and we notice the other kids are all playing together – a good 8-10 of them, the Bean even drawing by the hand an older girl to join them. Everyone except this kid, who again, doesn’t know how to play with others, follow rules of a game or get up, dust herself off and run around. I feel a twinge of sadness because its not her fault. On the other hand, its is not the other children’s fault either. They’re all playing together quite sweetly with no violence or aggression.

A gentleman (and I use the term loosely) walks up to the little girl, pinches her cheeks and says, “Never mind beta. You look so cute in your little skirt and long hair. When you grow up all the boys will come after you. They won’t be interested in those girls. You don’t need to get dirty and tanned and lose your chubby cheeks.” And he nods towards the grubby kneed Bean who is by now climbing up a rock, egged on by a bunch of kids. Her hair is out of its pigtails, her teeshirt is filthy, her hands look like they need to be disinfected.

I can see he wants to be helpful and cheer that child up, but what he’s really doing, is making a complete hash of it, ass that is. Also, scarily, that is exactly how such people think. And then they infect our kids with their thinking.

What I want to say is, Really?  Have you missed the obesity memo? This is what you tell an overweight 3 year old who no doubt makes for a cute chubby kid. Her parents are overweight and in a country where the number of obese kids is increasing, we’re telling our kids its okay to sit around, not run around and play, but stay fat because the boys will like it?

It is so wrong. Let me count the ways.

1. She’s overweight – you need to encourage her to run around. Pot bellies only look cute on toddlers. No later.

2. She’s shy. That isn’t her fault, but you’re making it hard for her to join the other kids in her rather sexualised short tight denim skirt, her belly button baring halter neck, heeled sandals.

3. You’re teaching a girl child that the most  important thing is for boys to like you? Nothing else? What about spunk? Personality? Friendliness?

I lose my cool because I’m a short fuse person by all standards. He just dismissed my daughter in her presence. And he taught this little child the wrong lesson.

So I smile and say – ” Ha ha. Don’t listen to uncle, darling. Girls should be smart, intelligent and confident and they should learn to have fun. How does what the boys think matter? Come, I’ll show you some fun” I take her by the hand and help her up the rocks while her mother sits there looking confused. The Bean reaches down, grabs her hand and hauls her up next to her.

It’s not a big deal but I tell the OA about it when I get back to the hotel room. The OA laughs at me and maroes the Tamil saying (that he doesn’t ever get right) about even crows thinking that their kids are very beautiful. Actually I don’t. I think the Brat who looks a lot like his father is an exceptionally good looking boy. The Bean, she takes after me and has a sweet but ordinary face other than her big eyes (I don’t even have those!). But she has a lot of personality if I say so myself. She’s full of fun, makes very good conversation for such a young child, is sharp as a tick and picks up on nuances of conversation that grown men would miss (actually men are no benchmark) and has a lot of empathy and compassion. She’s everything I probably am not and I am very very mad that someone told her to her face that what she is, is of no worth. Never mind that he is of no worth, but these are the kind of messages our girls don’t need. She doesn’t need to be told that the overweight girl with a plain face is going to be more fun because she is even at this age dressed so inappropriately. Would I want some strange man coming up, leering at my daughter’s 4 year old butt and telling her that the boys will soon want her? I think not.  And oh Mr Cheek-pincher, someday she’s going to thank us for the genes that currently make her a skinny child. I’m the last one to criticise someone else’s child’s looks but at some point parents need to wake up to the perils of childhood obesity leading to health problems as an adult.  It’s not about the looks. It’s a health problem. And oh – last but not least – I am a mother and I refuse to be apologetic for thinking that my child is bloody awesome as she is (or else I’d be unreal) or for getting mad at someone who had the gall to criticise my child to my face and walk away.

I’m not sure what the correct responses to strangers are, but in the last 5 years that I have blogged, my opinions have only been aired on this blog. Never in the living room. Never as part of conversation. I don’t comment on how others rear their kids or on anybody’s personal life which is why I have so many single people still hanging out with me. I don’t do the smug married thing and I don’t suggest to people that they should have kids.  We have friends who do things very differently from us and we’ve known each other long. Neither of us questions the other. We all just go with the flow. Discussion never arises.

But to suddenly be confronted by a bunch of mothers and questioned so deeply rattled me a bit. I am not sure what they wanted to know and why they felt the need to examine our lives so deeply, but they did. Also, I am sure they didn’t mean to be judgmental or critical, but I suddenly realised what a bug under a microscope feels like. And by the end of it, when I’d answered each question, I was quite tired of the whole thing and still pissed with the man. I called the kids and we went to bed.

98 thoughts on “Parenting in public

  1. Wonderfully written MM and well said. I am not a parent, but would pretty much bring up my kid(s) the way you do mainly because tahts the way I was brought up and I am very happy with that.
    Sharing a small incident which shows the mindset some people have towards the dos and donts for girl children. This happened at a relative’s place… This old lady’s DIL was cooking and her 1.5 yr old daughter was sitting on a small chair next to her, rather she was playing with her toys and generally jumping on the chair when this MIl suddenly shouts on her DIL – what are you doing? what if she falls and hits her face? there would be bruise marks which may not go and in future it will be a prob to marry her off with those marks/spots on the face?
    I was too shocked and numbed to respond….

  2. Hugs, hugs, hugs, for that reply in front of that horrendous guy. Thank God Bean has you for a Mom. As for her having empathy and compassion….that’s sooooo important, I think.

    I totally detest this sexualisation of girls, have a couple of them in my building prettily (every day!) pirouetting in their navel-baring hip hugging skirts and high heels.

    I get questioned on my ideals and policies a lot, esp the no TV one. I’ve stopped justifying myself, taking comfort in how self-reliant my kids are…they’ve not been bored even ONCE these hols. That’s what no TV does.

    As for other adults telling my kids what to do….aaaaargh! Dealing with an adult bully in my building right now.

    You know what, people try to shred your beliefs and values mercilessly and question you on them, much more when they’re threatened by you….so you rest easy. You’re doing a better than fine job.

    • I know. Everyone is asking me what I have planned to keep the kids busy during the holidays and I’m actually beginning to get the feeling that they think I am neglectful for not having a plan!

        • no you’re not. I hate school days. I love having them home. and I wish I could home school but I dont think I have the patience and temperament and commitment it requires.

  3. such a well relevant subject MM..we stay in a flat and beleive me even though we dont have kids of our own yet, we have so many blaring examples of how not to raise your child before us,unfolding everyday.

    Imagine a 3 year old girl wears a super cute pair of shorts and walks to the playground with her mother. Another 4 year old girl looks at her, laughs and announces”tune chaddi pehni hai” all the while the mommy of her smiling at her daughters wit.
    Thankfully this 3 year old will be one smart chic when she grows up and replies “shorts hai shorts, tune nahi pehna kya kabhi”

    i dont know what kind of parents G and i would make, but hell she/ he will be one free spirit as long as they dont break things in peoples homes 🙂

  4. what do i say? it’s just so sad that parents who can point out the smallest flaw in others’ kids are blind to the obesity of their own. every mom likes feeding her kids and it’s a great way to show love, but love which can kill? and it’s much easier to not let the weight build up than to bring it down once it’s up. my cousin was very obese till a couple of years ago. 82 kgs for a 18 yr old at 5’1″ height. but her mom would still show all her love through food. thankfully once she went to college she got some sense and has lost a lot of that weight now.
    anna is only around 8.2 kgs at 11.5 months. according to the triple the weight by 1st year rule she should be 9.6. i do worry. but i’m trying to let it go. doc says as long as she’s active (and she is super active) and eats well it’s all fine. plus my husband and i are both slim so not much chance of her being plump. but the ‘bohot kamzor hai – try feeding her this this this’ comments really get me. when she’s 16 and able to wear all the pretty clothes she wants to i know these moms will come and ask me how she is so slim. maybe then i will have the last laugh.

    • Anna’s Mom, please don’t let it bother you. I still get those comments for my 9 yr old daughter…and have regretted letting their criticism get to me all these years. It esp irks becoz we don’t go around commenting on other people’s kids’ excess weight and lack of activity.

      • @Anna’s Mom: dont get one bit worried as long as she is active. both RD and I are overweight and R looks like a puny when she walks with us. I get comments ranging from ‘aap uksa khana khate ho kya’ to ‘you leave your daughter at the daycare and she doesnt get fed properly’ I have stopped bothering. She is what she is and I know she has a tendency to put on weight when she grows up because of RD and me. So chill and ignore

        @MM: Super post 🙂 I have a girl and most of the time people mistake her for a boy because of her short hair and the t shirts and tracks I put for her. I put them because in the morning rush, thats the easiest for me to slip on. yet people comment! I think your parenting techniques rock! and if I ever ever ever (hardly possible) yet if I ever have a second child, she will be only because I have been influenced by your sentence ‘they have each other’ at some corner of my mind 🙂

  5. You know, this is funny. Ppl around me tell us that Ishaan is brought up differently from the other children. But i dont feel it at all. Because i know no other way of bringing up children. You, mama of twins, Artnavy, everyone else i know, brings up their kids the same way.. so what is it?

    And yet, in public, i have had to handle stares from other parents when i tell my child, loud and clear, that a thing is too expensive and we cannot afford it? In public, i have had to handle tantrums thrown and managed.. at first, i got flustered. Then, i realised that its the same thing – i have to be comfortable in my skin as a parent just as i m comfy in mah skin as a person. This is the kind of parent i am . Live with it. Or ignore me. Simple. 🙂

    I have never had to handle parents at other holiday destinations. All that happens is that because i run around with him so much, other parents happily leave their children with us and go away to sit. But maybe gender has something to do with it. Boys are expected to run. Once,a girl came to play too. She was a good runner, but her father threw a fit when he saw her run so hard. She was expected to “look after the little boy” – the girl was 4 and the boy was 2.5. The boy was just plain spoilt and refused to have fun. I left the boy with his parents and the rest of us ran races, climbed up and down and so forth.

    A lot of parents stare at a pot bellied fat woman running climbing and jumping.. but like, who cares?

  6. A big applause for giving that man the rightful treatment and showing the little girl a bit of common sense. It is atrocious that the man is teaching the girl about boys running after her. Its not just wrong, it is wholly inappropriate and misleading!!
    Kudos for taking that step (there are times when I wish I had the short fuse too)
    My kids dont watch cartoon, they hate it, but are keen on ‘cocadile’ and ‘eli-pants’ on the Animal Planet. It the only channel that manages to captivate their attention for some time (maybe 5 minutes at the max).
    As for the clothes, I’ve seen kid’s clothing which would put a sex-worker to shame!!
    Very well expressed MM. And no, please don’t feel like a bug under the microscope. Parenting is not easy, except maybe for those who dump their kids in front of the telly. You are doing a stupendous job and have nothing to worry about.
    Lets catch up with that man and that chubby kid a decade from now, then we’ll see 😀

  7. Hey ‘weird woman we met at the resort’…Quacking a hi five to you.

    You quack at the others and they will surely quake and leave your kids alone, and hopefully will also be inspired enough to let their kids learn from yours.

  8. Ok, I am a mother who has qualities of both extremes…I do let my daughter watch television, I do allow her to dance to all kinda filmi songs (well because I realised she loves to dance …even for shlokas), she plays with her gifted Barbies; On the other hand I do take her outdoors, read to her, play with her, encourage her to run and play as I’ve learnt it the hard way from my own obesity issues. She’s never been to the movie hall so far…she might not go till her brother is of movie-going age!

    I dont know which category I fall into…but I think I am sensible for my cause (:P whatever that is) and the one where ppl dress up their daughters like Barbie dolls or such is a bit too much though.

    Ahything I said makes sense? Not to me!

  9. i don’t know how many “i am holier than thou” posts i have to see from you in this lifetime.

    • Aww.. you poor, poor thing. You don’t have to see anything you don’t want to see from me in this lifetime. All you have to do is stop reading my blog. Unless you are suffering from a rare and incurable disease that forces you to read stuff you don’t want to. Are you? You know, like those shoplifters who say they can’t help what their hands do. *looks deeply concerned*

    • She is trying to do things right, doctors and science and common sense says that kids dont watch TV, should run around and play, and some one comes and says you are “cheaper than me” (look at us we are sitting more than running around, our kids dont want to get dirty and tanned, they just need to look cute ???!!!) then if what she responds sounds holier than thou, then so be it.

  10. A very belated Happy Anniversary!
    I hope Beanie didn’t listen too closely to that stupid man. You’re absolutely right to let her live her childhood out, the way it’s meant to be. I told my sister the same thing about my niece and now she prefers the running around to the tv and i am so glad about the change (have you seen the drivel that passes off for cartoons now? yeesh!)
    i’m lucky that way. i grew up with sisters who danced/played cricket/drew/sang/fell off every wall/tree in the neighbourhood. in short, my parents let us do whatever we enjoyed best (and cable television happened a little late- i’m probably the last generation that remembers having only DD :P)
    this whole concept of girls having to pander to a boy’s whims continues, you know. a friend n i had a common male friend who treated us very badly. contemptous, sneering,prone to lashing out, he was a really nasty guy. her mother told her that “boys are like this, you must learn to compromise.”
    my mum? told me to let him rot. that he didn’t deserve my friendship and that i should never, ever debase myself for someone who obviously doesn’t appreciate me.
    i love my ma 🙂

  11. You need a nice, wise-ass answer to the world:
    ‘We’re just weird.’
    Zimble- we are like this only.
    So many people are eejits. Doesn’t matter if they think you are criticising their parenting- I personally can’t stand parents who ignore their kids touching/handling stuff they shouldn’t, either in public places or someone else’s home. Let your kids know, that for better or worse, you are the parents they got, and you are the parents they’ve got to live with.

  12. Sowmya G, I’d have published your comment if you’d skipped the profanity – and worse – you were rude to my readers. That is taboo. They’re mine. And oh, about mommy bloggers scratching each others backs – well, when you’re a mother your hands are often full and its helpful to have some kind soul stop by and scratch your back. I’m guessing compassion, understanding or helpfulness don’t feature in your vocabulary or lifestyle. That’s okay, we don’t judge you for that.

    What we do judge you for, is reading something that you obviously don’t want to. Is it some sort of disease that forces you into doing things against your will? Very sad. You should get it checked up. Hell, we mommy bloggers might even get together a fund for you. Yes, we’re kind and generous like that.

  13. I think at times like this you should pull out the ” unho ney” card as in my Mr says so. Many a times I have played the Of course I agree with what you are saying but my mom (now husband) will not have it any other way. From That Weird Woman you will be the Hai bechari with the man who is depriving kids of TV and feminine clothes

  14. I am also suggesting a bachpan mangni of our kids ( you started it with that balika bean baidau post !) that will solve both our problems of finding like minded samdhis and also make the gene pool a bit more interesting

  15. Hey trolls came by after a long time. U know that question brat asked, why the other child can do it and not us. Going to keep on coming. The 12 yr old still asks me. I always calmly reply, in our household we have our own rules. They are not my kids it doesn’t matter what they do. U have to listen and follow our rules.

    Regarding everything else, people suck. If one has the lowest expectation then one would not get shocked.

  16. These trolls amaze me. If they don’t agree with your post, they could try to (articulately?) argue for keeping kids inappropriately-dressed and inappropriately-fed. But no, all they can think of is getting into blame and abuse mode. I doubt that naarebaazi will get one far in blogosphere.

  17. Whenever my kids go for a playdate to someone else’s home, I always tell them to listen to the elders of that home…my exact words are “Auntie’s house, auntie’s rules!!”

    At the same time …”My home, my kids, my rules!!”

    So do what works for you MM. Only you know what suits you and your family. The trolls can F’Off and poke their noses elsewhere…

  18. We should travel together. We’ll be Those Weird Women together.

    If asked, Ayaan is quite likely to say his favourite show is How the Universe Works (on Discovery Science) and he doesn’t know his Batmans from his Ben 10s.

    Don’t get me started on girls’ clothing. I see this in the park all the time – short, tight skirts which get in the way of little girls running, climbing up slides and playing in the mud. Totally ridiculous

  19. Its funny how its the exact opposite here in the US (or may it is my social circle). Most parents dont allow their kids to watch TV, and so if you tell them that your kid watches TV, even for 30 minutes, you get judged. Same with not co-sleeping, feeding them solids too early, blah blah. Parenting in public is hard, period.

    • I think it was just that – they felt judged by me. That wasn’t my intention. I was on holiday and there to lie in a hammock and read. They decided to question me and didn’t like my answers…. And the reason I blog is to air my views. Its precisely why you will never hear me say any of these things in public. It’s already been vented!

  20. How about this approach:

    chooti par aaye hein ji.. bachchon ko jo karna hein woh karne de rahein hein… and then just listen to their ‘gyaan’ ( be it here or in any where in the world)?

    Also, really missed the potential of a good catfight up there somewhere 🙂

    sigh.. where is Vasundhara when we need you?

  21. MM-
    I don’t have kids but I’ve been in the same position myself more times than I’d have liked. It’s what you said in an earlier post about everyone being more vocal, everyone having a platform to voice their opinions, and consequently, everyone making it harder for everyone else to say/do anything non-mainstream.

    Here’s one example:
    I feel quite embarrassed admitting that I have, on occasion, told people I was an agnostic only because I didn’t want the drama and the judgment that comes with telling people I’m an atheist.They can be as religious as they want to be, I’d be the last person to judge them for that or try to convince them that I’m “right”. But they can get away with it because they’re in the majority. They act like they have every right to consider an expression of MY religious beliefs a criticism of their way of life.

    You’re right in that things get messier if impressionable young kids are subjected to this treatment. You have to do right by your kids. These adults should be able to handle their own feelings.

    • Someone rightly mentioned a few days ago, its difficult to admit to anything. If you admit to being a vegetarian, you are judged. If you say you eat meat – you are judged again.Apparently there is no room for dissent. We must all do the exact same thing and be the same homogeneous mass of people. And that mass is supposed to do everything, regardless of what their beliefs are – so they must attend all places of worship, bow their heads and do what everyone else is doing. There are places where its necessary to follow rules and laws. In other cases, I don’t see why its anybody’s business if you are an atheist. How exactly does it impact their lives? Do you go around digging up roads and chopping trees? Gah. It makes me so mad.

      • If home is where the heart is, my heart is forever moving, a gypsy

        If a piece of cloth and a stadium slogan is a test of nationalism, I have no nation

        If piety is measured in prayers, in a ledger in a language I don’t understand, I am a heathen

        If speech is an adequate expression of sentiment, I have no words

        If living by somebody else’s rules is sociability, I am a misanthrope

        If white is black and black is white, then I don’t exist.

        that was in echoing with the sentiment you were talking about. It was from this blog –

  22. i think you were quite civilized in ur reply to the moronic ‘uncle’. I would have found it hard to be.
    I see little girls in absolutely ridiculous clothing everywhere and cant help wonder what kind of torture are we subjecting them to…with short tight skirts and high heels and back baring halters. they’re kids for heaven sake!! boy or girl-…. just put a tshirt and pants and shoes and let them loose.

    as for parenting in public…i think its like everything else that u feel strongly about. do what u think is right and to hell with the world. there will always be one person …if not several ..who will have views violently opposite to yours…but then…they are not raising ur kids 🙂

  23. Hi MM,
    I have been reading your blog for a long long time now. I really like reading the stuff you write 🙂
    I hope you won’t dismiss my comment as one of the trolls! Anyway, I thought I should tell what’s on my mind.
    It’s your blog, your prerogative to think and write anything that you wish – I agree. But somehow in recent times, though you speak of dissent, I don’t see you considering other people’s opinions/ ideologies as having any merit. I just wish you were a little more , what shall I say, accommodating?
    I understand that we all have our rights to disagree, disrespect even. But it feels bad to see someone as mature as you going down the slippery slope of conceit.
    That said, I know it’s really none of my business to tell you how you should think/write. And I’m really sorry if I was rude or said something that hurt you. 🙂

    • Not at all! It’s your right to an opinion and you’ve been very respectful about it. I hope you will read this as willingly as I heard you out.

      What I don’t get is why people assume that I’d change a lifetime’s opinions or a theory I’ve thought out, just because of one comment they made. What exactly is it that people want to hear? “Yes, you are right. I change my mind?”

      No! that is not possible. My commenters sticks to their points. Similarly, i stick to my point and defend it bravely – that is the entire point of an opinion. If you went to a debate, be it on tv or anywhere else, you’d see participants state their opinion and argue it to the end. I definitely don’t need to agree with what others say just to make them happy, but I defend their right to say it – just so long as they remember their manners. Have I ever said – you can’t say that on my blog unless it is profane or disrespectful to me?

      This is clearly a so called mommy blog so 90% of the time posts are on parenting. Now what I’d like to know is, who would change their parenting style or agree to do things differently because someone stranger on the internet said so? Would you even change your opinion on a book you read? no! So what makes them think I will change my way of parenting/thinking, and say – okay, you’re half right. I’d rather be honest and say – I don’t agree, than lie, just to make this a politically correct, popular blog. I’ve never done it and I never will. I have strong opinions and I am not apologetic about them.

      What commenters forget, is that this is might be a blog, but it is a personal blog about my life. YES, I am leaving it open to you to comment, but NO that does not mean you can be rude or comment on more than I am offering you. There are places I draw lines and there will always be inherent contradictions, because we’re human and as Whitman said, we contain multitudes ;). If people can’t view this with the compassion it takes to observe someone’s life at close quarters and treat it with respect, I don’t believe that their opinions deserves any respect either.

      Accommodation is for public conversation when you don’t want to fight or spoil a party. Accommodation is when you are sharing a space and have to get along. But the joy/specialty of a printed piece or a blog is that you can be honest and stick to your guns. Else an opinion that can be swayed easily is quite pointless. Right? I’d really have no respect for one who didn’t stand by their point. How often have you seen anyone come to my blog and say – oh okay – I change my mind, you are right. NEVER. Those who agree, will continue to agree. Those who don’t agree, will say so. The reason you see a lot of agreement on my blog or any blog, is because like minded people will agree. A few have the maturity to disagree politely and keep reading. A small percentage will either troll or stop reading.

      I just think its a measure of your maturity as to how you deal with my disagreeing with you. Why do you want me to say – I agree, or I see your point? Maybe I don’t. So? Why not say okay fine, I don’t understand your point, but its your choice. I have never in a comment told a commenter that they HAVE TO SEE IT MY WAY, I just say I don’t agree. I think that is fair enough, so long as I don’t delete their equally valid points. And I never do, unless they get sarcastic or rude – in which case, read the house rules, my blog, my rules. I have a right to allow dissent and delete disrespect. Those at least are the rules of engagement on this blog and it’s not a news site like rediff or yahoo where people can do or say as they please. Think of this as a restaurant – not a railway station. Everyone is welcome – but please remember the bouncer is at the door.

      If you feel that is conceit, there is nothing I can do or frankly would care to do, to disabuse you of that notion. That is entirely your take on something/someone you don’t really know at all and it doesn’t in the least bit change my life or my thoughts or my blog.

      No, I’m not hurt. How can I be hurt by something politely stated by someone who I don’t know and means nothing to me? its just an opinion, like one of mine and I see no reason to get excited about it. I hope I explained myself. Now see -even after this comment – you’re not going to change your opinion in the comment – so you will ably demonstrate my point!


      • I learnt it the hard way while growing up.. that never disagree with my younger sister 🙂 it has worked wonders for the rest of my life.. first with my wife, then with my daughter… and of course so far with MM ( coz I opt out on commenting when I do not agree with her views 🙂 ).

        • You smart man 😉
          honestly though, if i ever read another blog where I disagree completely – I usually don’t comment either. What is the point? I know what I think. And now I know what he thinks (this is usually great bong 🙂 ) as a blogger the way I look at it is different. No one ever changes their opinion. The best you can do is hear the other side. It’s a privilege to know how others are thinking, particularly if they think differently to you because then you know both sides. You don’t need to change their mind and you already know yours. Whats left to do ?

          • Holy cow!! great bong!! pliss pliss do not publish this comment.. abhi bhi UP wala hoon….

            I also do not agree with him ( almost 75% of the time) that is why I never comment… but, at the same time, I do read him)

            Please MM, I beg you…

            • *evil laughter* he he heee hooo hooo hoo ha. kar diya publish.

              🙂 arre I love his blog. Am a huge fan. Bought his book. Went for the launch. Got an autograph. But that doesn’t mean i agree with every word. Which is why I dont understand the idiots who feel that if they disagree they have to come for me hammer and tongs. Why can’t they do it gracefully? And who said they have a right to be published? its a personal blog!

              Moreover, with him the opinions are on general affairs and politics. Its not so rude to say – I disagree. In my case its my parenting and my kids. The moment you say – I disagree, you are judging me, which is bad enough – then you want to be rude and think you will get away with it!

      • Thanks MM for taking time to reply in such great detail. This is exactly what keeps me coming back to your blog, your diligence in making a point!:)
        I guess I wasn’t clear enough when I said you weren’t meriting other people’s viewpoints enough. I don’t certainly mean that you have to try to be equivocal or even show something of that nature when someone who has an opposite viewpoint comments. And of course, I don’t mean that you have to give any shred of importance to comment-ers who are just trying to write flame comments. I was not even referring to the comments section in particular.
        My point was in general about your posts. (This post and the cricket post mostly) My understanding was that, you write posts as a way to think aloud. And when you think, you would want to weigh several streams of thought as objectively as you can and then conclude one way or the other at that time. Sometimes, that balance and an objective viewpoint seems to be missing! (Not always, I should stress, which is why I am trying to point it out in the first place!) You sometimes seem to be getting a lot more defensive than you need to be at several points.
        Of course, if the purpose of your writing is just to “vent out” your opinions, I will agree, apologize for misunderstanding and will quickly rest my case, but I have always felt that it’s beyond just that.
        I used the word “accommodating” for the lack of a better word to say what I was trying to say! As I said before, I certainly am not suggesting that, you should show fake agreement or speak in platitudes, No. But what you could do is to see, with a little more openness, if there could be avenues for agreement(or some learning) in the opposite viewpoint.
        I feel really really weird writing all this stuff, MM. I really don’t mean to intrude or talk bad. I hope you understand! I don’t mean to diss your writing or your ideas, definitely not. It’s just my opinion about how I can enjoy reading your posts all the more:)
        Thanks again for hearing me out, MM. Just ignore my comment if you think it’s out of place.

        • No, no… it’s not out of place. You’re taking the trouble to reply aren’t you? Some posts are defensive I guess because of people like Vasundhara. I’ve been writing for 5 years and I see idiots all the time. Naturally defensiveness creeps into your writing because although you’re writing as you’re thinking – the thought suddenly crosses your mind that – ugh – some troll will say this or that. It’s one of the perils of living out loud on a blog, in the way that I do. The other option, like Dooce or Amit Verma, is to write a post and turn off comments and say – “Hey, read and move on. I’m not interested in anything you have to say in response.”

          Let me add, my posts are never meant to be objective. Why should they? Its not a news article where I am obliged to talk to five people and report on it- it’s my point of view! I’m human. I have my biases – who are these people who come here looking for news articles where the 5 Ws are addressed or a saint? They need to go elsewhere. The beauty is that if people agree with me, they will not care that the post is not objective because it echoes their thoughts. The whole you-are-so-biased argument only comes up when they don’t agree with me, which is what I saw on the cricket post and found most immature. Dude, what about all these years when you did agree with me?

          If I am radical or leftist or earth hugging, its going to show up here and I refuse to either be apologetic or balance it out. That is why I blog! that is why people read personal blogs atleast that is why I read and write personal blogs – for personal opinions that take a side and a stand. for the rest I have a newspaper. As I said in the comments earlier, no one is going to change their mind while reading my post – did I convert a cricket fan to a non-cricket fan? No. So why look for balance or any such thing in my post. More importantly, the topics I blog about are those topics on which I have already clearly taken a side. If I am balanced in my viewpoint on it, and feel there is merit on both sides, I don’t bother to blog about it. What is there to say? A=B? How boring. Doesn’t inspire me to write at all.

          Most of the topics I blog about, are topics I’ve thought about over a while. Or already heard the opposite side. You think I havent heard everything that everyone said about cricket? Sure I have! ten times over – all my life. I still disagree and I knew exactly what people would say when I wrote the post – national pride, joy and unity, atleast I know where my money is going, its harmless celebration, blah blah, yawn. :p No one said anything I haven’t heard before and surprised me. Which is why my post was very clearly what I believed and waited that someone would have something new to say, something I hadn’t considered. They didn’t.

          I’m not a fence sitter and this is a blog where I am unashamedly emotional, biased, honest. The day I stop being those things, I’ll shut down the blog forever.

          • I see what you are saying. That put many things in perspective about your blog for me!! And thanks again for writing back so patiently, MM. cheers..

            • eh? No! nahiiiiiiiiii. Lets debate this. This was fun. Come baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Okay I take it back. Let’s find another tack. Don’t stop now! :p
              Thanks for being patient and hearing my side out. I’ve heard yours and I am glad to understand what expectations people have of me. Sadly, they’re not ones that I can fulfill.

            • hehe:) I wasn’t sure if you were up for a debate.
              I broadly agree with your point on being defensive. But I guess, instead of writing the post assuming that there would be trolls, you could rather ignore trolls altogether and not let your posts get affected by that. I just think that’s a better idea because sometimes, just sometimes, I get this feeling if you think people reading you are all just gunning for your head. Again, it’s just entirely my opinion, I’m stating it with no expectations whatsoever!!

              Yes, absolute objectivity is not even possible, so I didn’t say that your posts *have to be* objective. I just implicitly assumed that your blogging exercise was to flesh out many of those thoughts that are still budding. Now that you clearly said how you blog only about stuff that you have thought about, arrived a conclusion at and are pretty much sure won’t be changed – my point doesn’t hold. I shall just mentally place a tag “rant” for such posts from now on! I hope you understand I don’t mean any offense:)

              Certainly, MM. I know you are not a fence-sitter and as I have said repeatedly, I don’t even suggest anything of that nature. My point was only to say that, you should also look at the other side of the fence a little more. If you say that you have seen enough, I have nothing more to say!

              Such a pleasure talking to you!:) cheers..

            • You’re right. I should ignore the trolls. But I’m too immature for that :p
              No seriously, I’ve had some pretty hurtful things said to me – and all for something silly like me not watching cricket or believing that smokers have a right to smoke in their own homes… something trivial like that ends in people getting abusive. Its hard to be forgiving or kind after someone says they hope your kids die of lung cancer. Makes you realise what vicious people there are out there. Not everyone is gunning for me. But there are enough to justify ‘defensive’ posts.
              this was nice. we should do this again…

  24. I was testing you kid.. even I have his book 🙂 .. and some how I knew you’d do that to me…. I know to never ever trust a woman… and FYI, I do comment there and yes.. sometimes he is too sarcastic for me and too much dada-phile

    P.S.: no hard pheelings.
    and gud nights..

    • See, as a blogger whose patience is also sorely tested, I totally see his point. I’d be sarcastic in his place too! After a point you get tired of saying the same thing. And no, no hard feelings at all 🙂

  25. You are like a breath of fresh air:) Sometimes I wish i could turn the clock back by a few decades when there were lesser choices & lives were simpler! Parenting must have been easier! Or was it?

  26. I find it strange that some parents find it embarrassing when their girls want to have pink clothes, pink rooms,pink furnishings etc. What is so embarrassing about liking one colour. It is all a stupid concept to say that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. In fact there is a brand called Pinks & Blues. If you daughter likes Barbie and ur son likes Ben 10 or ur daugther likes Ben10 and son loves Barbie, it is all perfectly normal and sooner than later they grow out of it. There is nothing to be embarassed at your child’s preferences – when your daughter likes’girly’ things or likes to be a tomboy. Just let them be and do what they want as long as they – like madmomma says – dont harm the environment, are illegal or rude to others.

    • I don’t think people are embarrassed by their daughters wanting pink. I think some of us are disappointed by the influence society has on our children when we try so hard to show them that the world of colours is wide open to them and yet they succumb to social conditioning and go for pink or barbies. Its not embarrassing so much as depressing that the world at large is playing a larger part in helping them define themselves, than us, who are telling them that they don’t need to allow these things to define them.

  27. You know MM, I think you should learn to change the way you answer to such questions.
    When they asked you about TV, You should have answered ? “OH! your kids watch more than 1 hour of TV daily. Is that good for their IQ and development? Nooo….. my kids don’t watch such bekaar stuff.” 🙂 .
    Put them on the defensive! That’s what I do, when I realize they are going to come up with rude comments. My son hasn’t watched Ben 10 and Spiderman … but he “loves” them :). And has their T-Shirts and bags etc.

    Usually when people judge others in a rude or condescending way, I believe, it usually stems from issues or complexes they’ve had or have.
    Bean & brat are such wonderful kids….

  28. My soul sister you are! I get so many people right from random shoppers at the grocery store, to friends who tell me- “Feed her this” “Kitni sukdi hai, khaani nahi khilaate kya?” when you know how much I do to just get one meal down her throat. When I let her eat ice cream or chocolates – when we are out – I have to justify it saying – “Atleast she’s eating *something* I feel the pressure SO much when people start comparing weight/height and so forth- even though in my head I know every child is different, I get all defensive about her or my parenting style..Like when I cut her her because of the Chennai heat , I had people tell me – “but she’s a *Girl* and has such lovely hair ” ! SO?! Does that mean she has to endure the sweat and feel uncomfortable all day long?!

  29. i wish the world were a more live and let live space. where it didnt matter if my child played in the woods and yours danced to sheila ki jawani in the confines of a bedroom – as long as they’re both happy and not bringing harm to others. where we know what works for us and ours, and have the confidence and security not to judge what works for them and theirs.

    i wish we were back in the 60s hippie era. i like to think of it as the era of love and acceptance. if i am wrong, please dont correct me.

    • LOL! Parenting is an area where people will always judge. I didn’t feel judged by them. I think they just thought I was weird and worthy of examination.

  30. Was watching that fail movie IHLS yday and what struck me was the thread of ‘Don’t be a girl’ thrown at Imran throughout. By his friends, boss, the girl he louves, his mom even!

    How is it that the film industry wants to be seen being pro-homosexuality but continues to promote gender stereotyping?!

    “Don’t be a girl. Don’t cry like a girl. You’re a girl if you do such and such”


  31. Hi MM,
    I am a new mom, already being judged for the decisions i make about my 3 month old. Whomever i had met i the past 3 months have lot of friendly advices. Most people seem to think that their style of parenting is the best way to go. So far managed with a thank you and i will think about it.
    Reading your experiences is helping me know about the problems of parenting better, starting to think of a reply to my son when he grows up and ask like your brat that why cant he do the things the other kids do 🙂
    Thanks a lot.

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