Things I want my son to know. Lesson #12 – Have Courage, But don’t be afraid to cry. “Big Boys Dont Cry”is something I used to hear a lot when I was growing up. When I… More
Lesson 9 – Sometimes you just need “Me-Time”
After a tiring evening putting my son to bed I realised that in the past 3 months, i’ve not taken time out to go for a walk. It was a bout 8pm and I was getting to that agitated point in my day where I felt as though I needed to expend some energy before I rest my head.
As I grabbed by jacket, keys and phone (for emergency) and exited the door and down the street, I realised I had left my prized partner at home – my wife. For once, in a very long time, I was doing something that I wanted to do, that was just about me and fresh air (as much as can be had in the suburbs of the UK) and I was actually glad for the time to myself.
It was only a short walk, about 25 minutes but in that time, I came to the realisation that in this world, I came alone, and I will leave it, alone, and no one can change any of that.
This thought continued and I began to feel slightly isolated, cocooned off from the remainder of the world and all alone. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a negative emotion, more like a free feeling, that actually being alone isn’t something to be afraid of.
Son, we live in a time where we are wired into the brains, phones, homes of millions of people. Our thoughts, once put out into the social ether, are not solitary anymore. They are listened to and answered by the masses, and this overload of opinion, emotion, connectivity, as often thrilling as it can be, is actually a source of much strain.
Be in tune with yourself, your own thoughts, vibration, and solitude.
If you find yourself needing to be disconnected from the over-connectivity, take it. There are many that will say that this is a bad thing, or that it goes against the grain – but for your own peace of mind, find peace in your mind.
A spiritual teacher from India shared that peace in the home begins when there is peace within. Find that which brings you peace. Meditate, walk, switch off to reconnect with yourself. Build yourself up so that you recognise your inner peace, a place where you find balance to face the world each day.
Lesson #8 – No, Means No.
I was asked to comment on the topic of “Sex Ed – Should schools improve their delivery, including the topics of relationships, consent, abuse, sexting etc” on the BBC Asian Network.
I was thinking about my own experience of sex-ed at school and how poorly it was delivered. We never got any relationship advice, no support with dealing with the emotional turmoil that was puberty, and then counter that with the only relationship and sex ed that we did get -Growing up with Bollywood movies meant watching nearly each and every lead actor trying to win over the heroine of the film, and so on ….
Every single movie had this theme.
No matter what genre the actual movie was supposed to be, be it horror, or thriller, or even comedy there was this underlying seedy romance.
Now the problem with these films was that, they very nearly always had the male lead chasing the female lead, and no matter how much she rejected his advances, he pushed and pushed and pushed, and even through all the songs and dances, she would still say “no” or a variation of “bugger off”, he would still persist, and ultimately win the woman.
This left most guys with a warped viewpoint on how to score with women, and that was this.
“If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying, and even if she says No, she really means Yes.”
I remember an incident at school. I was about 12 years old. It was a regular Tuesday (maths was after lunch) and I remember some sort of commotion in the class room while the teacher had gone for the whiskey break.
See I remember this one guy, we’ll call him H, and this girl in class, we’ll call her K. Now H had a crush on K, but K couldn’t stand him. After a lot, and I mean A LOT of encouragement from the other guys, he decided enough was enough and he was going to “pounce”.
And I remember this crazy chase around the classroom tables where H was chasing K and eventually he caught her, and kissed her, among the raucous applaud from the other kids in class, and I remember seeing K, thoroughly disgusted and stressed.
It was a given in school then, and it seems like it is now too, that if you want to get the girl, you keep chasing.
Son there is a massive problem here with this. Sometimes a girl just isn’t interested.
If there’s one thing I need you to fully equip your mind with, that is that No means No.
We will always tell you “No you cant do this” or “No that’s not appropriate” and we may back down. That’s because we’re your parents and sometimes just want an easy life.
However when a member of the opposite sex says it, back off. Immediately.
The world we’re in now is very different to the one I grew up in. Nowadays, its all about texting and sexting, body-shaming, unrealistic expectations from the opposite sex, relationship dysfunction and poor self esteem as a by-product, cyber-bullying and so on, and I can’t imagine what life will be like in 5-10-15 years time. Kids are being pressured into revealing things about themselves that they shouldn’t (because at this age its very illegal) sharing things about themselves that should stay very private, and being ridiculed, harassed, blackmailed and abused as a result.
If there’s one consistent rule I want you to live by, it’s that You are Your Own Property, and No-one is Your Property. No will always mean No.
We all have our own boundaries. Never allow anyone to cross your boundary. Never cross anyone else’s boundary without their say so. This goes for emotional and physical.
Lesson #7 – 30 seconds can change your life.
I heard a story about a 23 year old man, who was the sole man in the house looking after his mother, his siblings after his dad left.
As fate would have it, trying to make ends meet he gets into the wrong company and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It took 30 seconds being in the wrong place, and he’s caught by the police, and I jailed for 2 years.
He wasn’t doing anything wrong per se, he was with just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.
30 seconds is all it took and he lost everything. His mothers respect, his family’s love, his own dignity.
When he was released from prison, it had such a profound impact on him that his immediate response was “there’s no way I’m going back there.”
Son the choices you make, and these are conscious choices, can change your life. Every single choice.
As your parents we will try and give you the best possible guidance and support to allow you to make the best decisions, to know your right from wrong, and hopefully be strong enough to choose a positive path.
Lesson #6- be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.
I was watching an elderly lady who sat down to have a cup of tea today at a coffee shop.. she was by herself and had a walking stick.
I saw another elderly lady, who was sat watching this same old lady. Dressed really well, taken good care of herself and I thought to myself, “I wonder what she’s Thinking?”
As it turns out, I watched her get up of her seat, walk over to this lady who was sat with her coffee, and ask her if she needed anything else… she asked her if she wanted a cookie, some toast, if she had transport home.
Kindness is an amazing thing.
I’ll tell you what I thought she was thinking. I thought she was looking down at her slightly, almost condescending.
How wrong I was.
I see it like this. She must have seen her reflection in this lady, and saw herself, possibly needing some love, support, a cookie..
Son, there are two elements to this story, that I need you to understand well.
Firstly. Respect and love yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Of all the species on this planet, you, me, humans have been gifted this human body. The “pinnacle” of creation. The opportunity to change ones surrounding, self, and company to its own desire. Not all creatures have this ability.
Respect yourself. A wonderful saint in India, in the mid 50’s told his flock “no matter how much or how little you have, whatever station you are, keep yourself physically clean, clothes clean no matter what you wear, and always stand out well.” He also made more of his focus on having clean character, moral fiber, and a giving heart however I take this to mean that whatever you have in your life, dress appropriately and make sure you are well presented for each occasion.
Recognise that your own worth is important. I live under the guidance that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but is thinking of yourself less”
You Are Unique.
Remember your value as that, and treat yourself well. How you treat yourself, will form the reflection of how others see and treat you.
Secondly, be kind to others.
As I grew up, people valued things like manners, respect, patience, honesty, kindness, generousity. As I see the world now, it values these things less and less, ironically needing it more and more.
If theres anything you can do for others, without diminishing the values you uphold, without being a huge burden on you or your family, do it.
The world needs kindness. It spreads happiness to people, often who need it the most. And to add to that, never have the expectation that you will get a reward. Even a thank you. Do it because you see yourself in that person. If you have valued and respected yourself, you wont need validation.
You will find this easy. It’s in your blood. Your mum is one of the kindest people I know, and even if you have 1/10th of her kindness you will be an asset to society.
Lesson #5 – Laugh. Lots.
I have always believed laughter is the best medicine.
My friends will say whiskey is, but I’ve never had a hangover from laughing too much.
Growing up my school friends thought I was weird. I found everything funny. Names, crap jokes, foreign words, a random memory, farting.
Just about anything.
I believe I hardly got ill because I laughed so much, and when I did, I found things that made me laugh and I recovered quickly.
Now I’m older I still hold this theory true (and yes- my friends still think I’m weird!)
Whenever, my son, you’ve been ill, your mum and I have tickled you, played with you, and done anything to make you laugh to get you to recover quickly. The times we haven’t done, you’ve not recovered as quickly and we’ve all been miserable as a result of it.
Laughter makes you feel good. For a lot longer than the laughter lasts. It raises your endorphins, lowers your cortisol, and lifts your spirits, higher than any intoxicant can.
Son, life is a beautiful gift and a wonderful journey. Take every single day as an opportunity to laugh about something.
Every night, think about, remember, or share with us, something that has made you happy or smile in the day, and you will find that your mind looks for the positive more than the negative.
Whatever you get dealt with in life, may not be fair, or the result of your own actions. But you have a choice. To deal with it happily, or get upset through it.
If you develop the habit of erring towards the positive, you will seek out solutions, and find that often, the solutions find you.
Lesson #4 – Make it Better.
As he scratched my cheek one morning, Sid saw that it was red and grazed. He asked me “Daddy, have you got aowee?” I said “yes son, you scratched me, remember”.
He followed with, “daddy, shall I make it better?” And then kissed it and blew away the pain.
He does the same with his toys. If he sees a toy broken. He either tries to fix it, or he will tell me to fix it.
To him, right now, everything in this world is fixable.
Son, almost everything you see in the world appears to be disposable. Phones, dishes, cars, clothes, everything.
There was a time that people would fix, rather than buy or replace. But the world seems to have changed.
And we have applied the same rule to people that we have to things. If they’re broken, rather than try and help fix them, we replace them. If a relationship has soured, throw it away and find a new one. If friends let us down, we act out on social media to find new ones rather than understand why they let us down.
Just as you, at this really young age of 2, understand that my pain (which by the way, you caused) could be made to to go away with some effort by yourself, always remember that everything can be fixed with effort.
Make things better. Apply it to your consumables, your toys, your furniture, your microwave, your TV.
But most importantly, apply it to your relationships. If you do anything that hurts someone, or see someone in pain, try and make it better for them. Treat the symptom, but try and get to the root of the pain and help deal with it.
There is a lot to gain in this world when repairing relationships. It builds trust, communcation, love and appreciation.
Take time in these things, they will put you in good stead for life.
Lesson #3 – love your parents. Your first teachers.
As I disciplined Sid following a Weetabix incident (all over the breakfast table) I got the whole “I dont love you daddy”, followed by 2 verses of “I’m not your friend, I don’t like you anymore”.
At this point I realised I have a 12 year old living with us, and I had fast-forwarded 10 years.
Oh crap, here come the teenage hormones.
I began to realise that unconditional love from a parent, as natural as it is, and as pure as it is, isn’t always reciprocated.
Sid is lucky.
He has two parents that love him. Not all kids are that lucky.
I think to myself, as parents, we try to nurture, guide, encourage our kids to be the best version of themselves. To think for themselves, to be compassionate, kind, generous, and big hearted.
That teaching isn’t always met with applaud from your kid!
I learnt a lot from my parents. Resilience, grit, knowing that silence often ends an argument quicker than sound.
Also that the love of parents is beautiful. Untainted. Pure.
Son, you will have many teachers in your life. Your friends, your school teachers, your spiritual teachers and peers.
Remember your first teachers. Your parents.
I hope that we teach you that kindness is a necessity in this world, not a luxury. This world needs it more than ever.
I hope that we teach you that compassion is the key to an enlarged life. Being there for others doesn’t detract from your time or your “busy schedule”, but it adds value to it.
I hope that we teach you that remembering that everything we do, we do for you. We will try to be the best examples of joy, fun, kindness, compassion, empathy, spirituality. Everything we do, we do out of love for you.
You will completely understand it when you have your own.