The Great Indian Tiffin Box Story

The hottest story on all mummy channels! And we all are as strongly opiniated about this as Arnab Goswamy is about all his debates.

‘What do you put in your kid’s dabba,” has the potential to either take a mother to the pinnacle of pride or to the nadir of guilt depending on how precisely she feels about and handles it.

It is a legacy that is passed on from generation to generation and despite modern attitudes, a woman in India is still evaluated on her basic skills of housework, cooking, rearing kids and of course, her relations with her in laws.

Please tell me I am not the only one who has heard the following questions: Have you packed the tiffin properly? Have you prepared it fresh in the morning? Do you give proper food to your kids in the tiffin?

I wonder what is the definition of proper. Is it an elaborately prepared meal, complete with chapattis, rice, gravy, sabzi and raita? Or is the fact that it is made fresh in the morning by the mother? I think the keywords here are morning and mother. And if the mother and mornings are in place then the rice, chapatti etc automatically follow. This is the second assessment a mother has to go through after how many marks her kid scores in the exams. But does she have to take this test? Is she not an intelligent, independent thinking entity who can work out practical solutions to suit her needs and that of her kids? Who & what puts a dampener on her will to innovate and think out of the box?

indian mom worrying about their kids not having food properly - ZenParent

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I recently came across a couple of commercials on the national television. While one of them showed a super mom making multiple dishes for the tiffin in a jiffy, the other showed a kid’s status/ acceptance in school being elevated by the tiffin his mom gave him.

Seriously?  What are these trying to say?

Are they by their constrictive and definitive role portrayal trying to put the onus of a kid’s progress in school or for that matter their willingness to wake up each day to face the world on their mom’s tiffin box? That is indeed ridiculous. In case you have consciously or sub-consciously already taken bait to such pointers, I ask you to pause and think ….Does it makes sense? Isn’t this just another marketing gimmick playing on your psyche?

Then there is the mother /mother in law factor. They did it for their kids and you must do it for yours. If you don’t perform that feat in the morning you are a lazy mother. And your kid is most probably thin, weak & sick.Well let’s not get into that. They put that into your head didn’t they?Mine managed to do so. If I don’t personally supervise and pack my son’s tiffin then it is surely not hygienic & nutritious.Er…do you want to teach your kid only dependency and let him/her take you for granted? If no, let them be a part of the process. They can come, help you or sometimes make it themselves. What’s the harm? You are there for them emotionally, physically and whenever they need you so you are by no means only a good mother if you keep them well fed. Kids abroad don’t necessarily have their mothers prepare a tiffin for them every morning and they are not under nourished. It is just another way of life and people have to come to work their way around it.

And Aah! The other mothers issue. So and so sends a seven course exotic meal in her kid’s tiffin and the whole gang goes gaga over her achievement. I just can’t help remembering the dialogue from the movie ‘karz’ here. ‘I am the maker!’ And I know you secretly wish that you too can create such gratifying moments. You can. You have it in you. But do you need to prove yourself by doing so in front of people who think as shallow as this that you are only as good as your food gets? While I do agree on making lovely comforting food for our kids once in a while to make them feel elated in their circle and us to get that shot of self-esteem as we boast, but to do it every single day to prove ourselves is only an indication of an insecurity lurking somewhere. Let’s face it. What damage is a sandwich going to do to your kid if you replace a shiny steel multi-layered dabba with it? And hey, haven’t we all enjoyed that vadapav, samosa or the mouth-watering pavbhaji once in a while from the canteen or from that restaurant across the road in our school days? Our kids enjoy the break too.

In the movie ‘Stanley KaDabba’ we all hated the sadistic teacher who unjustly placed undue importance on a school tiffin and sigh! We allow ourselves to do exactly the same.

The question here is that are we to blame for this attitude or should we put the blame on the influences around just like how they do it to us?

Have they been attacking us from all the sides, conditioning us and leaving us with no choice but to define our mother-hood according to their standards or are we letting them take over our rational thinking that is clouded by a dent somewhere in our self- esteem?

mom prepares breakfast for kids - ZenParent

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Next time you look into the mirror, ask yourself this. ‘Do I want to be a reassuring guiding mother to my kids or a cook that prepares tiffin robotically every morning’ I think you already have the answer.

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