Of change, adapting to it, life and kids

I have been reading Aparna for quite some time now. I enjoy her posts about her kids, Ads and Y, on her sort-of-mommy blog and those on books, travel and other things on her non-tot blog. I have always found her posts interesting, informative and thought-provoking. She comes across as an intelligent, balanced, informed individual, who clearly values her kids but loves to make time for the other good things in her life as well. I admire her for that.

Today, I bring to you a guest post by Aparna on the subject of change, and how it has affected her life. Read on, folks!

Thank you so much for this beautiful post, Aparna! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I was chatting with a friend and neighbour some days ago when she mentioned that her husband had gotten an offer, the acceptance of which would require him to move to Belgium, with his current company. She wasnโ€™t too keen on the move. Her elder son is moving to 8th grade soon, the kids will find it difficult to make friends in a new country, they donโ€™t know the language, itโ€™s an entirely different culture out there, it would be so tough to deal with the harsh winters there….yada yada yada… she rattled off her reasons for not being all that interested in the offer. True, true, all true, I admitted; yet, I tried very hard to convince her to move. Why, I would have moved in a flash!!

She smiled. Really?, she asked. After all youโ€™ve moved around already?

Iโ€™m not sure if my roving childhood has anything to do with the fact that Iโ€™m always up and ready to move every couple of years. It feels to me that my current restlessness is a logical result of my early circumstances, even though there are plenty of real-life examples to the contrary as well. Friends who have moved around a lot in their early years have now settled down in one city, and do not want to ever want to move out of their home, not even to the next street.

Iโ€™ve been a nomad all my life, except for a few years of stability during my high school and college years.

It has been a life of constantly letting go and moving on.

It has been a life of very short-lived friendships, a whole lot of acquaintances, and a very few old friends. It has been a life of 11 schools, 12 cities, 2 countries, at least 20 houses we called โ€˜homeโ€™, and more moves than I can keep track of.

It has been a life of belonging nowhere and feeling at home everywhere.

What have I missed? Iโ€™ve missed friends who grew up with me in the same street, friends who were part of my life since kindergarten. Iโ€™ve missed the luxury of living in and loving a city or town with my whole heart, knowing every street and landmark like the back of my own hand. Iโ€™ve missed speaking in the typical local idiom of a native Chennai-vasi or Bangalorean or Mumbaikar. Iโ€™ve been asked if I ever felt rootless, and I answer that my roots have always been with my family and where they are is where I root myself!

And yet, I wouldnโ€™t have it any other way. Growing up in states culturally very diverse from my austere South Indian roots taught me tolerance. Being the perennial outsider gave me perspective. Navigating a different school every year and a new city every other year taught me self-reliance. Being ridiculed and singled out every now and then (for example, because I always wore a bindi to school) made me grow an extra layer of skin! And knowing that I was moving on made me tolerant and empathetic. After all, I had nothing to lose by being nice!

If there was a downside to that life, it was that it made me too nice. I was so used to adapting that I adapted and accommodated even when I did not need to, bad habits that I am trying to discard to this day!

In sum, what I gained is far more precious than what I never had. Therefore, exposure to different cultures and milieus is something I crave for my kids, too. I believe it will make them much more self-sufficient, independent, empathetic, flexible, risk-taking, tolerant and interesting people. Our world is on the cusp of powerful socio-economic changes, which are rocking the boat everywhere; learning that change is the only constant is probably one of the most important things the new generation needs to learn in order to successfully navigate and flourish in this tricky, uncertain world.

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18 thoughts on “Of change, adapting to it, life and kids

  1. Think change is very important, as some one who does get easily and happily rooted to a place. That is where travel, real travel (versus the packaged tourist viewing type) works…for us. We try to ‘live’ where we go, husband has issues separating out ‘live’ from ‘stay’! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Stayed in one town but moved schools 3 times. Was considered ‘rolling stone’ in a way that only a small town can consider! ๐Ÿ˜€ I have to say that I wouldn’t trade my best friend, someone I have known from UKG for anything. Not everyone who has stayed in one place gets to have one like her in their life, I agree but the chances are more when one stays long enough to root themselves in others’ daily lives.

    Try to make sure that my kids stay in touch with people, even after they’ve moved schools. That also gets kids out of their comfort zones…that theirs is the best school or other such faulty thinking!

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    1. Now that my kids are older, I think they shd keep in touch with old friends too…I realized this only yesterday when my son said he’d taken down the phone numbers of his classmates since we were moving…I hadn’t even thought he would think of doing that!!

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  2. Thank you so much for the lovely guest post, Aparna! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I cannot really relate to a roving childhood, since I have always stayed put in one place. I was in Ahmedabad for all of 25 years, till I got married. Since then, I have been in Bangalore. I studied in one school, one college for my graduation and post-graduation. That said, I still had trouble making friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I know several people who have travelled a lot, though, and I have seen what a tremendous difference it has made to the personalities of some of them. The important words being ‘some of them’. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Lovely post! I had more or less a similar childhood that involved moving around but probably lesser when compared to you. In short – 7 schools, 4 cities, 3 states and a dozen houses.

    As you say, I miss rooting for any city wholeheartedly but I like the fact that I like so many cities/towns and can’t choose one.

    I wasn’t and am still not quick at making friends but still I liked the ‘move’.
    I turned self-sufficient but I wouldn’t attribute it to the change. The stability in college did help me in bagging some friends for life! And sometimes, I just can’t think of being tied down to one house while it is a norm of life for others

    All that said, I enjoyed the whole thing to the core!

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    1. Err.. wrong choice of words. I understand that you get attached to a house rather than getting tied down to it. But my childhood is so marked with harrowing experiences like water scarcity and nosy neighbors/owners that I’m ready to flee at the drop of a hat!

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  4. Totally agree with you Aparna. Exposure to different places and cultures certainly widens your horizons, level of tolerance and way of looking at people and situations. It also makes you more open to change in life. I have seen some people who have spent their entire lives in one place and are then reluctant to let go of their kids when they get a job opportunity at another place however good it maybe because of their inability to accept change.

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    1. Yup have seen those cases too. Not to say that everyone who has travelled widely is broad-minded ๐Ÿ™‚ And that really puzzles me!

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  5. Very interesting post!

    I think moving around a lot would be fun and exciting for an adult, but for children it can be quite unsettling because it can be hard to make new friends at certain ages. On the other hand, travel does help young people learn tolerance for others, and also exposes them to a “larger world” of ideas and cultures.

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    1. Sure, it can be unsettling for the kids **at certain ages**…however it all depends on the child I think…some kids become quite adept at making friends quickly, some withdraw and become a lot more self-sufficient.

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  6. Lovely to read about your life Aparna, and your perspectives on the same. True, the exposure to new places, cultures and experiences make life interesting and full of learning and shape our personalities in a different way. And tolerance is very much the need of the hour. Moving around could outweigh the predictability of being rooted to one place. Both are difficult choices indeed, but once you have chosen just embrace it fully, I say.

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  7. Very insightful post Aparna ๐Ÿ™‚ I love travelling – like, LOOOOOOVE and exactly for the reasons as you have mentioned, the kind of enrichment and enjoyment that comes along. While I love being on the move, I still like to come home to one place that has my favourite things. It’s like, I want the best of both worlds ๐Ÿ˜› Now, that is something ideal for me but does not mean that I will never have it otherwise if I cannot help it.

    Loved reading your thoughts – a lot of my own resonate with yours. I haven’t been a backpacker, in the truest sense. But I realize how much fun it can be and how much wider one’s perspectives can get with the little travelling I have done ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks TGND for having Aparna; loved reading her! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thanks for your comments kismitoffeebar ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m like that too – the faourite part of my settling in process anywhere in a new place is when all my favourite treasured belongings are up where they belong…really makes it feel like home. So I guess there’s one part of us that never raelly lets go!

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  8. I completely agree. Having an exposure of different cultures from childhood makes you a better human being. Sometimes, children don’t like the constant shifting at that point of time but the realization do come, however late it is.

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  9. Beautiful post! For someone going through a similar phase like the one your friend is, this post brings in a lot of clarity to some of my own conflicting thoughts, Aparna.

    Going by what you’ve said in the last few lines, the pluses that my child can gain from being exposed to different surroundings and situations, certainly outweigh the minuses I have been sensing this probable move of ours would bring.

    Thank you for this post, aparna ๐Ÿ™‚

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