JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to see "WP Copy Data Protect" effect. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To see full result of "WP Copy Data Protector", enable JavaScript by changing your browser options, then try again.

About Me

I am an independent writer and multi-award winning blogger who writes on parenting, humour, fiction and general lifestyle topics. - Sid Balachandran

Published

Featured

Author: Sid

On Gender Equality and being trolled

On Gender Equality and being trolled

So it finally happened.

 

Truth be told, I’ve been expecting this for a while so I cannot say that I am entirely shocked or surprised. After all, this is what social media has been largely reduced to. A place for anonymous and faceless trolls to align themselves with an agenda and not engage in healthy discussion, but just try to beat others into submission.

 

It wasn’t the social media that most of us signed up for, but hey, this is what it has become. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion; but that’s what it is – YOUR opinion; so say it, but don’t beat others over the head with it.

 

Anyway, on to the subject matter. Today, amongst other things, I was called an armchair activist for gender equality and told that I’m someone who won’t walk the walk. To the people (yes, more than one!), apparently, I am like the thousands of others who just sit and harp on about gender equality and do nothing about it in reality to break stereotypes. Of course, not to mention the other messages which went along the lines of:

 

You’re a SAHD because you’re sad (Yes, great work with the pun! )

You’re just an attention whore who does nothing to empower anyone. You have a rich wife, so it’s nice to sit at home.  

And of course, the very stereotypical, You are not being of any use to society. By nature women are the primary caregivers and it’s not a man’s place to change equations.

 

Of course, some of the others I can’t really put up, because hey, family audience 😛. And I did try to amuse them by pointing them to my blog and the various write-ups, but they were obviously having none of it.

 

Now, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation about what I do and why I do what I do, but this is important for me to get it off my chest.

 

I am a strong believer of gender equality and do whatever I can to help reach or get closer to that point. So, while I may be an armchair activist for many other things, I think over the past few years I’ve tried to do whatever little I can to help support the cause.  I did not become a SAHD so that I could sit at home and watch TV all day, or just enjoy while my wife went to work. It came on the basis of a lot of discussion and practical considerations where it made perfect sense for my wife to go back to work and for me to be around for a few years so that our son had someone around.

 

Yes, it may not have been a pre-planned thing, but I refuse to let anyone, least of all some faceless trolls, belittle it by saying that I did it to seek attention.I did it because to us it did not matter who went to work and who stayed at home because of our gender. It mattered to have one parent at home, and I gladly took on that role. It has been a learning curve and I learn new things every day, just like my wife would have, had she been the stay at home parent.

 

 

I agree that I am perhaps generalising here but look closely. All around, perhaps right in your own home, you will find instances of situations that reek of gender inequality. For instance, I personally know women who have chosen to be homemakers. And that’s a valid choice – the idea being that they are free to choose their own path without external influences. Now take a look again. How many women do you know who have perhaps been asked to stay at home once they became a parent? Perhaps quite a few. Now, I ask – how many men have been asked to stay at home once they became a parent? Yes, you hear that awkward silence – that’s the truth. Why is that? It’s largely conditioning, don’t you think?

 

Similarly, I know career women who manage both their careers and things at home successfully. But here’s another question. Why do they have to? Again, at the risk of generalising, a lot of men still don’t. IT’s not that they are incapable of balancing their work and how they contribute around the house. They can if they choose to.  And this is where the conditioning factor comes in. Some people say it’s not expected of them. In fact, I’ve even heard a couple of men say that they (spouses) don’t want their help. Perhaps the issue is that they’re looking at it as help. It’s not helpit’s called doing your bit. You are partners and that means equal responsibility. Treat them as you’d want to be treated.

 

So yes, I will continue to work in whatever way I can to ensure there’s a world where women aren’t forced or made to feel guilty for wanting to choose to go back to work after being a mother and a work where fathers can take on the responsibility and primary caregiving without having his intentions and masculinity questioned.

 

So men here’s your new definition of man-up. Take responsibility and don’t shame or emotionally blackmail your wife or partner (or any one!)for going back to work if she chooses to or for apparently choosing her career over her kid. She has a life outside the kid and you – don’t be that douche who sticks to the mentality that women ARE or MUST BE the primary caregivers and that if they do go to work, they must after they make sure your lunch boxes are packed and kids are ready to go to school. You wouldn’t do it to yourself, would you? Why expect them to?

 

And women, if a man chooses to break the mould and be the primary caregiver, support them. Encourage them. Breaking stereotypes is difficult. I know. I’ve been through it.

 

Remember, we are all in this together. In this age, if you still think a woman’s place is in the kitchen or being a domestic goddess, or her only identity is that she’s the mother of the kids – then YOU are part of the problem, not the solution.

 

And enough with parenting being seen as primarily a mother’s territory. Yes, we’ve made some progress, but it’s not enough. Look around you. What we need is an attitude shift, and a willingness to accept the responsibility to be that change.

 

 

Parenting: I confess!

Parenting: I confess!

This is a confession of sorts. Perhaps, this may make you look at what I write in a completely different way, but I think I need to get it off my chest.

 

We’re now sort of midway through the son’s summer holidays and I am pleasantly surprised that neither of us have ended up hurting each other or in the hospital. Well, our egos are probably hurt a little, but then again, whose isn’t.

 

To the frequent readers of this blog, you may be familiar with the fact that I usually write about (my wife calls it complain) some of my son’s antics. While some of it is, well, mildly edited for humour, a lot of it is the truth. Unlike my wife, I do find him quite a handful. Of course, it also has to do with the fact that he is perhaps a completely different person with me than he is with my wife. But there is also an uglier version of this that has been bothering me for the past few months, perhaps even a year. And that is that I am probably a lot more awful at this parenting thing than I care to admit.

 

My wife and I had a discussion the other day. Something which sort of ended with some deeply philosophical statement from her.

 

“Did you really think this parenting thing was going to be a joy ride, Sid? Maybe you weren’t ready.”

 

Of course, the emotional side of mine started to rumble a little bit in protest. But for some reason, I did not reply. In the interest of being transparent, I must confess. My son and I had the mother of all meltdowns earlier. Actually, strike that. My son and I have the mother of all meltdowns every time we have a fight. And it’s worth pointing out that he has just turned 5; so if you are fairly religious, this might be a good time for you to say a little prayer for us for the teenage years. So, subsequently, my wife decided to drop this mother of all bombs (not to be confused with the MOAB that President Orangetoon dropped as an after-dinner entertainment on Syria) on me with that observation.

 

Now usually, I react quicker to such statements than most chemical reactions. So, I was quite shocked with myself when I actually remained quiet and just waited for what she had said to sink in. It took some time, but it eventually did. Now, I can’t give a yes or no answer for this, but I might rephrase it slightly.

 

I really can’t answer if I knew the moment that I was ready to be a father. We’d always wanted to have children and if it wasn’t possible biologically, we were always ready to adopt. But what I did not realise was this fact that been said before, and probably will continue to be told for many generations to come.

 

Parenting is extremely hard work.  And some days, I really wonder if it is truly worth all this.

 

I am not a sexist. So the thought of having a kid and then expecting my wife to take care of him or her was never on my agenda. In my head, I had been ready to share the responsibilities. But yes, perhaps I did expect it to be easier that what it has been. Mostly because my mum used to gush about how awesome I was as a child and how adulthood spoilt me.

 

In fact, if I think about it,  I may have been born an adult and then aged mentally in reverse. Sort of like Benjamin Button, except it is just my brain with this ‘curious case’.  But what I probably underestimated was the enormity of this responsibility that we had undertaken. Wait, I had undertaken.

 

I understand that this confession is really not selling parenthood to anyone who may be considering having a child. And that is not my job. It’s a choice you must make, and all I am saying is that ‘expect the unexpected’.

 

I must also take responsibility for the fact that perhaps, some of the reasons for me finding ‘parenting’ quite difficult at times, is because of my behaviour – being constantly on the edge, procrastinating – the list could practically go on.

 

Having a child was a conscious decision. So, I will not (and can not) imagine the world without my kid. Just like I find it incredibly hard to imagine a time when I did not know my wife. That’s how deep these relationships sometimes become – sort of like the roots of a tree, slowly getting entangled with each other, supporting us through everything.

 

Over past few years, I have come to terms with a number of things about parenting. Things that I never even imagined that I would one day think – not even in the most far-fetched dreams of mine. And these feelings.

 

 

I have realised that it is absolutely normal to want to throw someone off a cliff but at the same time feel overwhelmingly hurt when the same person says they don’t want you. I’ve realised that sometimes you may find yourself wishing ‘What might have been’ to wishing you never have to even live a moment without this tiny little being who is, quite literally, your heart walking outside your body. And that you will constantly swing between hoping that he or she would just leave you alone for a moment to wanting nothing more than hearing them whisper sweet cute nothings into your ears

 

If I am honest, most of all, I have realised that it is normal to sometimes want to just climb into a cave and sit alone, especially when this tiny human being is pushing all the ‘right’ buttons to make you do ‘wrong things’. But the true love comes from seeing it all through and being there. Because at the end of it all, the goofiest of smiles from them soothes your aching, overwhelmed soul better than anything else ever could.

 

You may be wondering why I’m telling you all this. Mostly because this post is both a confession and a commitment.

 

A confession of the fact that perhaps, I have been a more shittier father than I had ever planned to be and not as awesome as I sometimes make out to be.

 

And a commitment to my wife that I will not complain so much. And of course, to my son that I will keep striving to be a better parent, yell less, do more things with him and though there may be times when he sees the darker side of mine, I will always love him. Possibly more than anything or anyone else.

 


Addendum:

I do not REGRET having a kid or being a parent. That was not the intent of this post. I also realise that these are perhaps some of my deepest thoughts that I’ve now made public, mostly so that I acknowledge that I may not have been trying as hard as I possibly should have. But as with anything, the first step towards being a ‘better you’, is knowing what to fix. 🙂
Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle

 

 

Ah, scorching hot summer! 

That wonderful time of year when your electricity bills are higher than your monthly EMI; that time when you contemplate cooking eggs on a pan outside on the pavement because it’s heated up like a furnace; and also the time when you feel the need to take out over mitts just to handle the car’s flaming hot steering wheel.

 

 

 

Yes, the glorious sweltering, make-your-clothes-stick-to-your-body and leaves-sweaty-patches-all-over-your-shirt summer is here. And it’s just beginning.

 

 

As you’ve probably gathered, I am not a big fan – Pardon the pun! While I cannot deny that fact that my son does have over 70 days of summer holidays – or joyriding doing whatever he pleases while I try to work from home, as I call it – does contribute in parts to my irritability, that is not the key reason for my discomfort with these dazzling days of the sun. It is the heat. And the humidity that comes with the heat that does many ‘unspeakable things’ to my hair.

 

One of the life-changing discoveries in the 3 decades that I’ve been here, is that once the temperature starts to soar over 20-degree-celsius, my body starts to react rather violently; and that reaction is called ‘sweating’ – something that drives me to the point of being bonkers.

 

My tryst with the heat also seems to get worse during the summer months because of another reason. And that is because of this amazing place called The Gym. Now, before you burst out laughing at the thought of me being at the gym, let me give you a little history here. I’m pretty rotund. Okay, who am I kidding? I am the big fat panda. But here’s the thing – the reason why I always end up considering hitting the gym during summer months is because that’s the time I realise that I no longer have the luxury of hiding my round shape under a jacket or sweater. And also because in this case, there’s a bakery right opposite my gym.

 

 

But while my sense of hygiene is debatable at times, two things that I find rather difficult to appreciate are sweaty gym equipment (hello, there are tissue boxes, paper towels, and gym towels for a reason!) and the fact that most people in the gym do not seem to have heard of this thing called a deodorant.

 

I complete understand this – we sweat. All of us do. And it gets worse during summer. In fact, I often say that the plus side of hitting the gym during summer is that you could simply stand on the treadmill and walk away with enough sweat to make you think like you ran a marathon. I call it – the illusion of exercise. But the body odour is unbelievable. Especially when, if the advertising is to be believed, we now have not just 4 or 8-hour, but 48 hour-lasting deos.

 

 

But the issue is that during summers, most people at the gym sweat like sinners at a church during confession.And it is not a fun place to be stuck at. In fact, I find myself muttering a silent prayer of gratitude for the fact that I am not Spiderman. It cannot be a fun experience trying to get out of the spandex-like suit during summer.

 

 

So rightfully, I am not much of a summer person. And if I think about it, I believe I may have been spoilt by my time in the UK. To most people who love the sunny and hot weather, summer in the UK is very much like your favourite actor making a guest appearance in an otherwise awful movie. Pretty much the only ‘weather highlight’ in a country that is mostly wet, windy and overcast. In some ways, summer in the UK is like the happy ending that you were promised with the girl of your dreams, but it ‘came too soon’.

 

I believe I may have the privilege of being part of a small portion of people who actually did not mind the relatively short duration of summer while in the UK. So needless to say, when we returned to India, I was in a world of pain. My Global Warming (yes, it’s a real thing – President Trump) had been busy at work, and even the otherwise manageable Bangalore seemed to be getting all ‘heated up’. Which meant that my wife and I suddenly had another bone to pick.

 

 

 

Some like it hot. And some like it cold. In the bedroom, I mean. The challenge is often finding the middle ground. My wife, for instance, needs the comfort of a warm room to sleep. I wouldn’t go on to say that it needs to be a furnace (although, personally I do feel like that some days!), but she can’t sleep in a reasonably cold room. Now, me on the other hand, I would rather have the room feel like an igloo.

 

 

So my wife and I often ended up playing a game that I now fondly refer to as ‘Attack of the Blanket Hogger’, in the middle of the night. My wife loves to be wrapped up like an Egyptian Mummy, failing which she finds her nightly rendezvous with sleep quite arduous. I, on the other hand, am not too fond of blankets. I’m more of a free spirit and will only use a blanket as the last resort. The problem starts during the wee hours of the morning when my wife wakes up shivering, only to discover that the blanket is now being hogged by me. Yes, the very same person who coincidentally gave her the long lecture about ‘blankets being for wimps’ and insisted on having the AC on the coldest possible setting.

 

So, yes, summer for me is a tough period. Between expelling my body weight in sweat, battling sticky equipment and smelly folks at the gym, trying to lose weight while the bakery opposite the gym bake delectable goodies and having blanket and temperature-setting wars with my better half, I have decided that the saner option is just to tell people that I’m not fat; I am just hot and expand during summer.

 

And of course, as some famous person said once,’Fortunately my culture believes in cremation. So I still have a chance to have a ‘smoking hot body’.

Oh, what a wonderful world!

Oh, what a wonderful world!

Growing up, I used to watch a lot of two cartoon shows called ‘The Jetsons‘ and ‘The Flintstones’(Millennials reading – You’ll probably need to Google this; it’s way before your time) 

 

For the uninitiated, The Flintstones was set in the stone age, but the characters face modern conundrums; well as modern as things were in 1960s. On the other hand, The Jetsons was set in, what I can only call a futuristic Utopia world  of sorts, where technology and machines, quite literally, had a hand in everything.

 

The Jetsons had an all-in-one robot called Rosie who was pretty much the lifeline of the family. She did almost everything. Or so I thought. Until I recently caught a few episodes trying to see if my son would enjoy the cartoon. That’s when I realised that even Rosie, the robot maid who was meant to do everything, only did the non-trivial things. That’s because the Jetsons lived in what we today call a smart home. Quite literally a home that took care of all the trivial things at the push of a button. Okay, maybe a few.

 

Of course, all of this was envisaged to be the norm in the year the Jetsons were set in – 2062 to be precise, I think. We’re in 2017 now, and considering that we are already dreaming about vacations to the moon, I think we’re pretty much on track.

 

I believe it was Plato who once said that ‘Necessity is the mother of all inventions’. I sort of disagree. I think laziness is.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]We are forever trying to find ways to do more with less (or no) effort. [/tweetthis]

 

And while in India we fondly often call it jugaad, it is the art of invention as its very best. So unless we consider ‘laziness’ as a necessity, I think the quote is probably debatable 🙂

 

Today, we are busy building gadgets that will help us save time by automating the trivial processes. Gadgets that we call ‘labour-saving’ devices. They exist for the sole purpose of making our lives in this world a little less stress-free. From Artifical Intelligence software like Apple’s Siri with its smart quips to self-driving cars and trains. Why we even have houses that have been printed on a 3D printer. I just hope they don’t decide to 3D print humans to live in it.

 

Most of us are probably old enough to remember the first TVs in our houses. Ours was a Sony. It had 8 channels. And here’s something for you kids – it had no remote. Yes, no remote. So every time we had to change the channel, we had to walk up to the TV and press a physical button….oh, and each channel had a separate button. And not to mention, turning the volume up or down was another trying affair.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Back in the day, walking up to the TV to change channels constituted our daily workout routine. [/tweetthis]

 

Today you could walk into your living room and the TV would automatically​ switch on, even greet you and maybe even select the channel that you’re thinking about. Okay, spy on you too, if the current US government is to be believed. Although if my TV did that, it would mostly find footage of us arguing about what to watch. Or maybe a lot of instances where we’re searching for the remotes.

 

In fact, soon we’ll all have robots effectively doing everything for us – from waking us up to even clothing us. I’m totally naming mine JARVIS though! Or maybe I should give it Scarlett Johansson’s voice from HER. Uff, too many choices!

 

We even have edible printed food these days. Remember how they used to write about pills that could give you an entire day’s energy? Probably not a thing of science fiction anymore. Even with wearable technology getting so popular (apparently it’s risen by 400-odd% in the past 5 years), your doctors (assuming they’re still human!) already know your basic stats before you even check into the hospital or clinic. So we’re getting there. [I know privacy of the data is a concern – but I’ll do another piece on that later]

 

Just to confess – I am absolutely not against technological advancements that help the world. In fact, I am an early adopter for most gadgets. Or rather, I would be if I had the money. [Which is probably why I don’t – damn vicious circle!] But sometimes I can’t help wonder if all the stuff that we’re inventing to make our lives easier, are also holding us hostage in some way. Like how we desperately hunt for a charger, when the battery indicator on your smartphones automatically activates the low-power mode. Or when the ‘check engine’ light in your car turns on. (Yes, Sheldon Cooper – we saw that!)

 

Of course, the plus side remains that for all this to happen, humans are still very much in demand. For we possess the power of perseverance and the out-of-the-box thinking ability to program these machines. The world is therefore still our oyster, so to speak. But once the machines learn to evolve and adapt, well, we won’t be left with much to do.

 

Except maybe sit and get old and die. Or worse, maybe we’ll just die of the boredom from not having to do anything strenuous. Or maybe, we’ll just freeze our bodies and auto-time it to wake up 10 years in the future in a world where perhaps we’re the minions instead of the machines being ours.

 

Of course, considering that we are still debating women’s rights and equality in 2017, people are dismissing Global Warming as just hocus-pocus, and some are still arguing about our rights to eat what we want – things that should have been sorted a long time back – I guess we’ll still have something to do. 

 

Maybe there will be an app for that.

On the other hand, we still have these – Enjoy the slideshow! 🙂

 

[GIFs courtesy : Giphy.com]

*jugaad – hack.

Hello, Can you hear me?

Hello, Can you hear me?

 

 

Have you ever wondered how it would feel if you could hear nothing? Not the chirping birds, the whoosh of the wind as it rustles through your hair, your favourite music track or those squealing peals of laughter of your little one, as they splash around in the pool. How would your life be without these sounds? Or worse yet, not knowing what these sounds were. I shudder to imagine a life like that. 

 

I’d like to start with two questions for all of you reading this.

  • How many of you have had an eye test done?
  • How many of you have ever had a hearing screening done?

 

Even without counting your answers, I can almost blindly (forgive the pun!) say that the number of people who’ve had eye tests far outnumber the ones who’ve had a hearing test/screening done. Have you ever thought why that is the case? I mean, after all ‘hearing’ is one of those five key senses that a human being has. So then, why is it not given the same level of importance as say, sight, smell, touch etc.?

 

While there is no correct answer to this, the very ugly truth is that loss of hearing or deafness is something that is very real and affects millions of people all around the world. Over 300 million of us in fact, if a WHO report is to be believed. And almost 11% – around 32 million – of them are children. A quick look at the stats will tell us that almost 1 billion young people – i.e. between the ages of 12 – 35 years-  are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds. Yes, it’ll serve all of us well to remember that the next time we play that bass-heavy song at an ear-shattering decibel on our headphones or watch a movie with the volume turned up high.

 

But here’s the part that is not all doom and gloom. Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through prevention. In fact, about 60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable – but yet, it exists. And that’s where we need to act. Now, before we go into some detail about all this, let me tell you why I’m going on about hearing loss.

 

Recently – on #WorldHearingDay to be precise – I was invited along with a select few other bloggers to attend an event organised by Cochlear India, who are pioneers in the field of cochlear implants for hearing-impaired people.  And surprisingly, the organisers wanted me to bring my 4-year-old son along too.

 

Now, I have to confess – I didn’t think it was a good idea. Mainly because little kids are as unpredictable as the famed English weather. They can be bright and cheery one moment; and dark and moody the next. And not to mention the potential ‘storm’ that they could unleash.

 

But do you know why I decided to take him along? No, it wasn’t because he’d get to meet the famous Aussie pacer, Brett Lee. In fact, on seeing Brett, he loudly asked – ‘Who’s that boy?’. See, that’s another reason why I didn’t want to take him – they have no filter. But more on that in another post.

 

The reason that I took him along directly from school was because of this little nagging feeling that I had in the back of my head. Yes, about his hearing. Now, if you’re a parent, I am certain that you’ll agree with me when I say that ‘we’ve often wondered if our kids have ears for decorative purposes’.  While the smart parent in me had the inkling that he was merely pretending, the slightly overly concerned parent side of mine wondered if he had some hearing disability. So, I was keen to also get a hearing screening for him done by a professional. Plus, I also had the chance to meet Brett Lee – I mean, any cricket fan worth their salt wouldn’t give up an opportunity like that.

 

For those of you who’re wondering, Brett is the Cochlear’s First Global Hearing Ambassador. In fact, you can watch his message right here:

 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the hearing screening. My 4-year old is notorious for running out of the chair when his paediatrician just wants to check his chest for congestion. So yes, I was a little bit nervous. But what amazed me was not just how professional the technicians who did the test were, but also how relatively stress-free and simple the whole thing was. In fact, I think the test took less than 10 minutes and the results were promising. Well, promising in the sense that my 4yo had perfect hearing. So apparently he just had selective hearing when his parents called him for something 😃

 

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief when I saw the results. In fact, I think had it not been a public place, I may have done a little happy dance. But then I thought: shouldn’t this be done when the kids are younger, say within the first year of birth? I realised that I’ve never actually heard my son’s doctor (or any one for that matter) recommend a hearing test for newborns. It would make a world of sense to do it right at the start of their lives. And as I sat there thinking about this, the organisers brought in someone who would confirm these thoughts of mine.

 

8 year old Komal – a recipient of the new Kanso™ implant

 

The lovely girl here is Komal, who is 8 years old, is a cochlear implant recipient. Her implant is the new Kanso™ – dubbed to be the smartest, most discreet innovation in the field of cochlear implants to date. 

 

 

In fact, Kanso™ is so small and discrete that one of my fellow bloggers, Vidya Sury, who was offered the chance to try and ‘detect’ the unit, was unable to locate it without Komal pointing it out to her.

 

There was something that Komal (and her mother) mentioned that really stood out for me. It was that the loss of hearing is often not just a loss of sound. It also means a reduced ability to converse and speak. That’s something that I would have never associated with hearing loss. Often after an implant, it takes a certain amount speech therapy to get the person communicating effectively. So, it makes sense to do the screening as early as possible and ascertain if there is a hearing loss.

 

The simple truth is that hearing loss can be caused by a number of things – genetic causes, complications at birth, infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, use of particular drugs, ageing, exposure to excessive noise and so on. Some of these may be well outside out control and sometimes there’s no way to ascertain it. But there is certainly one thing we all can do.

 

And that is to get ourselves (and our family, especially kids) a hearing screening done at the earliest. 

 

Now, that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Are your kids missing out on their last chance to grow?

Are your kids missing out on their last chance to grow?

 

Did I scare you a little bit? Perhaps. But there’s a reason why I asked you that question.

 

As a parent, I’ve always naively assumed that a lot of parenting woes about my child’s growth would end by the time he reached five. This was until I recently spoke to a fellow mother who said something that set some alarm bells ringing in my head. And I quote her verbatim here:

“I’m worried about my son. He’s just turned 13, but is quite tiny and I’m worried that he may not grow much more. He does have a glass of XYZ health drink daily, but I don’t think it’s helping much.”


Of course, I didn’t know what to say. My kid isn’t in that age group yet, but as a fellow parent, I couldn’t just remain silent. So I tried to alleviate her worries by telling her that he would probably experience some sort of growth spurt soon and that she should refrain from comparing her kid with others. But the truth was that I didn’t know if he would have a 2nd growth spurt and I was just merely trying to telling her what she probably wanted to hear. So, I started to do some research of my own and learnt a few things that I think may come handy for some of my fellow parents too.

 

Thanks to plenty of science text books (and other random information guides, the names of which shall not be revealed!) I had always known that at some point we would all go through a growth spurt. Until I became a parent though, I never realised that this spurt was actually the second one – the first being our ‘magical increase’ in weight and size during the first 12 months of our life. The one that most of us are familiar with often occurs during the teenage years. Yes, that short transitional phase of spontaneous emotional outbursts, rolling eyes and general distrust, and of course, wanting to time-travel to another decade. That weirdly confusing period when we experience a rapid increase in height, sometimes weight, achieve psychological maturity (some of us, anyway!) and cognitive developments.

 

While the age of onset of the 2nd growth spurt varies from person to person, there’s an important thing to realise here. This period often represents the last window of opportunity to gain optimal height and to prepare for a healthy adult life. Of course, we all knew that, didn’t we? But here’s the other thing. While a lot of parents do acknowledge the awareness of this growth spurt, what we often tend to overlook the fact that in order to facilitate good development during this period, there are certain nutritional requirements – things like proteins, calcium, Vitamin D and Iron, to be more specific.  [You can learn more about 2nd growth spurt here]

 

When I was teenager (seems so long back!), all I was really bothered about was trying to find the balance of not putting on weight while simultaneously satiating the enormous hunger pangs that I had. I’m not even sure if my parents knew what my protein requirements were, because they were busy, much like other parents of that generation, making sure that I did not eat too much junk food, avoided unwanted company and engaged in some form of outdoor activity. But now as a parent, I sort of realise that eating healthy doesn’t often mean just avoiding junk food. It also means knowing what your body (or in this case, your kid’s) nutritional requirements are. Inappropriate nutrition can have lasting impacts on growth, development and physical fitness of a teenager. And protein is an important part of this mix. For instance, did you know that protein requirement is DOUBLE in 8-15yrs as compared to 4-5yrs? That triggered a thought – Is the current health drink not good enough anymore?

 

If you’ve studied basic science (which almost all of us have), we know that proteins help in increasing muscle mass. But there’s more to it. It is also plays an integral role in promoting the hormone insulin (such as Growth Factor – 1 or IGF-1) concentration, which then aids in growth. See, I never knew this until I started researching.

 

Take a look at this graph, for instance (based on this report).

Between the ages of 6 – 12, both girls and boys require at least twice the level of proteins to promote adequate levels of IGF-1 in their bodies. This is what helps in longitudinal bone growth, skeletal maturation and attainment of optimal peak bone mass; in effect what could help the kids grow taller, stronger and healthier like they say in all those adverts for kids’ drinks. Seems quite achievable, right?

 

But here’s the ugly (and slightly sad) truth.

 

According to studies by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau report (India), the intake of protein was found to be low across this age group. So in effect, children aged 13 and over were falling considerably short of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for vital nutrients like Protein, Calcium and Iron. Which means that if these levels remained consistently inadequate, kids in that age group were likely to experience a reduction in linear growth.

 

So the short version is, make sure that we’re giving our pre-pubescent and teenage kids enough proteins in their food during their 2nd growth spurt. But there’s a catch here too. Most of our Indian diets derive a large chunk – about 60% or more – of proteins from wheat, rice, bajra, jowar etc. However, the quality of the proteins in these cereals are often quite inferior.

 

A survey from by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), stated that the main sources of protein in rural and urban India were from plant sources, and these are generally not of the same quality as found in animal ones. For proteins to be ‘good’, it needs to contain all the essential amino acids. And these usually come from egg and flesh foods.

 

But wait! Before you outrage at my suggestions, I am not saying that everyone should turn non-vegetarian here. Milk, milk products and soy proteins also provide good quality proteins. See – there’s something for everyone, irrespective of your lifestyle choice.

 

I appreciate that a lot of the information that I’ve covered in this article may be reminiscent of our high-school science text books. But think of this as a public service announcement. After all, as parents we don’t want our kids missing out on their last chance to grow, do we?

 



This post is written in collaboration with a brand and all scientific and relevant facts were provided by them. However my opinions are unbiased, and as a parent I wanted to spread the awareness about it.

%d bloggers like this: