Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our experience with our first yard sale

I am currently in the process moving (USA to India). This time around, we had enough time to plan our move and hence were able to plan to dispose of the things at home with a yard sale. This being the first time of hosting a yard sale, I was unprepared for the challenges it would bring with it.

Couple of mothers with toddlers decided to come and have a look at the things at home before they were put up for yard sale over the weekend. I was emotionally drained after they left. Their kids were running wild inside the house picking up everything they saw, throwing them around, going into all the rooms without their Moms, waking up my sleeping child (poor thing did not even whine and was so understanding that she waited patiently for me to lift her), walking over crockery. The mothers just refused to even budge from their haggling and buying process to intervene.

At a point, all my decency and courtesy went out the door and I had to ask the kids to stay put in the living room and not come into the room where we had organized the things that we were planning to put for Yard sale. Even that was not the end of it. Again, they ransacked the entire house (Kitchen, Living room, master Bedroom) and brought things from there into the second room, mixed them with the yard sale items. This was getting me irritated, but my irritation was towards the Moms.

It got me thinking how parents do not bother to keep an eye on their child and go about doing their own thing with the least concern for place they are in or the people around them. Though it is wrong and not my place to discipline someone else's child, this day became an exception. I just could not help it and had to put it sternly to the children not to take everything, take away things from their hands, and finally physically move them out to the living room.

That experience left me angry at the parents for not teaching good behavior and etiquette to their children. It is not the child's fault if the child does not behave well. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them right from wrong, good behavior, manners, etiquette (inside our home and outside), to choose, to decide etc. If we do not do these, then we fail as parents and when the child grows, he/she has every right to blame us for not giving them the proper tools to be successful in their life.

Instead of enabling our children's bad behavior by ignoring them or saying "They are children.They will outgrow it", spending quality time with them, talking to them, playing with them helps. Children understand what we say and what we do, however young they are. Irrespective of the child being 6 months old or 6 yrs old, they understand us. It is up to us to find the right way/method of communication to them. The more time we take to be with our children, not just physically, but wholly, giving them the attention they need, the support and love they need, and the time they need, the better mannered, smarter, stronger, loving, happy and well communicative they get.

This said, there were other parents who came over with quite, well behaved kids, who politely asked if they could take a toy or a book that was on the sale pile to us and their parents, before they picked it up from the pile. Overall it was a great experience organizing the sale at home and a wonderful opportunity to know more people even at a time when I am leaving the place.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Appreciation for Old Age !!

Old Age - All of us go through it one way or other. What we all fail to realize is that, life is a big circle and  the truth "what goes around comes back around" - sometimes with 'extra baggage' as well ! In today's fast-paced world, all of us hear and read about families where elders (especially parents and grandparents) are not taken care of and ignored. Respect for elders and multi-generational households are also dwindling. Many ‘old age homes’ have opened as a reflection of this change, where elders live either from choice or because there is no one to look after them. I recently came across an interesting e-mail forward, which prompted me to post this blog. Here is a snippet from the same:

"Mr. ABC booked an air ticket for his parents' trip back to their home town instead of booking it in a train and was awarded with a very emotional thank you from his parents, as it meant a great deal to them to be travelling by air, for the first time in their whole life."

This is probably a trivial incident. I am sure there must have been various instances in each of our own life's experiences from where we can take countless examples. We often take our elders for granted and undermine sacrifices that they have done for us over the years with the simple statement - "It was their duty to do the same for their children". But if we really recount such 'simple sacrifices', it will be countless. There was a selflessness in their actions towards us, making our life better within their limited capacity, without us knowing the hardships that they might have gone through to satisfy our demands and delight us.

For example, during a traditional function like Diwali, they would have borrowed / saved money in advance, foregoing their needs, to ensure that the children are not disappointed about their fun with fireworks or new clothes !!! For such innumerable selfless acts, what do they get in return when they get old? Lack of emotional support, neglect by the family members, feeling of insecurity, disrespect and loss of dignity. Children often cite reasons such as being too busy with their own work, 'family' and children (yet they are always able to spend both time and money on holidays, expensive clothes, restaurants/parties...). They blame it on "Generation Gap" and 'brand' elders as 'conservative, boring and out-of-touch with reality'. When our own children grow up, it might be surprising to find us being categorized as old-fashioned, ignorant of latest gadgets / technologies :-)

On the same note, in many families, parents and their married children are not able to get along with each other. We also know about many parents, who still treat their married children like kids, dominating their choice of career, lifestyle and even family planning. The children are also lectured on degrading traditional values, lack of shouldering responsibilities and undermining sufferings of the earlier generations.

Having said that, younger generation and elders should respect each other’s 'culture', feelings and compromise to some extent.  Children need to spend time listening to and addressing specific emotional and material needs of our elders, and treasure them.  After all, our elders expect them to be heard, age with dignity, spend time together with the loved ones and a lot of love !! It is never too late to appreciate and cherish elders for their roles in our lives.