Thank you all for the warm response to my previous post - When I read those comments some of them felt like gentle pats on the shoulder, warm palm squeezes and hugs. This spontaneous and unselfish display affection in the blogosphere never ceases to amaze me. Reminds me of the words on a poster I saw somewhere -'There are no strangers in this world - only friends we haven't met yet.'
I am fine thank you. The tone of the post may have been a bit misleading - a bit of a head fake.

Head fake? I just learnt this term and am showing off actually. Apparently this technique is used in basketball where the player looks in one direction while actually moving in another with the intention to mislead the opponent. I recently read Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture" where he talks about this technique:

When we send our kids to play organized sports -football, soccer, swimming, whatever - for most of us, it's not because we're desperate for them to learn the intricacies of the sport.
What we really want them to learn is far more important: teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, the value of hard work, an ability to deal with adversity. This kind of indirect learning is what some of us like to call a 'head fake."
There are two kinds of head fakes. The first is literal. On a football field, a player will move his head one way so you'll think he's going in that direction. Then he goes in the opposite way. it's like a magician using misdirection. Coach graham used to tell us to watch a player's waist. "Where his belly button goes, his body goes," he'd say.
The second kind of head fake is the really important one - the one that teaches people things they don't realize they're learning until well into the process. if you're a head fake specialist, your hidden objective is to get them to learn something you want them to learn.

Pausch who was a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006 and all treatment failed to arrest its spread and in August 2007 he had been given nothing more than 3 to 6 months good health. At 45, married for just 8 years and with three children 5, 3 and 1, Pausch decided to make the most of what was left of his life by living everyday to the fullest possible extent. Accepting the fact that his children would have to grow up without a father he decided build some wonderful memories with them in the short time left which would help them remember their father later in their life. And yet he agreed to devote a lot of his precious time to do a lecture for the students at the university. In reality he intended the whole lecture titled 'Achieving your childhood dreams' to be his talk for his children containing all the wisdom that he wanted them to have from their father's life and beliefs. That was the head fake.

On September 18, 2007 Randy Pausch delivered his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon. His book 'The last lecture' was published in April 2008. Randy Pausch died on July 25th, 2008. The book is a simple narration of the high and low points of his life and a tribute to people who influenced the course of his life. The mood is so positive at all times that it is easy to forget that the speaker has a few days left to live. Another of his famous head fake techniques perhaps.

P.s: So what was the head fake in my post? I had seen some mother-in-law bashing around the blogosphere and I thought I might get people to see things from a new M-I-L's perspective. Just hoping that would let them view their own a little more charitably.
22 Responses
  1. Praveen Says:

    amazing guy! I remember watching this video and thought the book won't be any different. I think I should pick up that book.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Usha this is very informative article and a good term to learn for me. I have fallen prey to "Head Fake" a lot of times while playing Soccer and Basket ball in school. I have watched this guy's speech on TV on a particular Oprah Show. He didn't look anything like he was going to die soon. In fact he was full of energy that he took push ups in front of the audience. One of those amazing guys who inspire you everytime you think about him.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Ha! That was SMART! :)

    But not an entirely valid argument Usha. Most of us young DILs understand a mother's feelings. Its when we don't get the same sort of understanding of our own feelings that the bashing starts. ;-) In your case, you seem to understand both sides of the story perfectly. Which is why I will repeat my earlier comment on your last post - if only all parents of married folks thought like you!

    I remember watching Dr. Pausch's speech on youtube. Very inspiring and very sad at the same time!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    This is one intresting post for sure.. i feel that you are gonna me one Kewl M-I-L if at all there is some kinda mutual understanding :P

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Hmm.. Intelligent idea I must say. I hope you've accomplished your goal.

  6. hillgrandmom Says:

    Must read the book on Randy Pausch. Had seen bits of the 'Last lecture' quoted here and there.
    Good head fake there :)

  7. Anonymous Says:

    The question is why were watching Oprah on the first place ;-)

    Usha... very good piece of info!! Touched and moved!!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Yes - I've watched him on the Oprah show too. He is simply amazing and definitely a great inspiration!
    And what you did with Head Fake was smart indeed :) loved this post as usual :)

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Devaki echoed my thoughts. If only all MILs (and DILs) had similar thoughts, families wouldnt break apart as easily! You cant clap with one hand, can you? :)
    Interesting review, if I may call it so, on The Last Lecture. Will keep in mind!

  10. dipali Says:

    Being you, I doubt if you'd ever have a problem in any relationship:)
    Good head fake, that:)

  11. Sai Says:

    I have seen the video Mr. Randy Pausch. It is really moving. But I never heard of this term 'head fake' before. I never imagined that Randy was doing this head fake for his children.

  12. misthi Says:

    Its sad Tandy Paush is no lonegr with us. He was an amazing guy. If you liked him you should also watch Dr Jim Bolte taylors video on Inspiring, insightful.
    I welcome u to do a peek into my space and leave yr footprints

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I can think of no one who would make a kinder, wiser or better MIL than you, Usha. But isn't that odd how we can form such strong impressions of people we've never met face to face? The internet is truly wonderful -- it allows us to share so much of ourselves across all the old barriers -- mountains, oceans, nations and cultures. So, it no longer astonishes me that I've formed such a strong gut opinion of what a wonderful MIL you'd make. But if you had asked me 20 years ago whether such a thing were possible, I would have said you were confusing science fiction for reality!

  14. Anonymous Says:


    Imagine, applying your knowledge, your goodness of heart, wisdom, EQ, well readness, caring, love, spirituality and empathy for the downtrodden alchemistically blended into an elixir (and of course, using head fake approaches where appropriate) that is applied to progress the cause of your diaspora across the world. The possibilities are endless methinks, and that is your true calling.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Head fake. That is a new term I learnt today.

    About the MIL thing, I have seen really bad MIL's and I have seen people really suffering. I strongly believe that sons (like daughters) should leave home and set up house on their own so their wife gets the chance to express herself and be herself. People say it is easy for me to say this because I have only daughters, but well, my mom is like this too and she believes in keeping the distance from my brother and his wife. It works. The temptation to interfere is strong when everyone lives together.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Ditto Nita.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    ditto devaki and whatsinaname.

  18. Unknown Says:

    Just landed in your blog thru my google reader feeds, and really loved the way u write!! have bookmarked ur blog, so u have 1 more regular reader of ur blog now :)

    Thanks for writing about this book...based on ur review, I picked it up and really loved the book!

  19. B o o Says:

    "Just hoping that would let them view their own a little more charitably."

    We are trying, Usha. We are trying! ;)

  20. About the Mothers in Law bashing around the blog, just think Usha, exactly half of the Mothers in Law are daughter's mothers. They go through the same pain when their daughters leave home, don't they?
    Many MILs mothers of sons) are victims of our biased culture. Our patriarchal society is so son-centric that when we are raising a son we have a lot more expectations, not only from the boy but also from his wife! If you have a daughter, you are prepared from the beginning to let her go and in traditional families, you are expected to teach her to think of the boy's parents as her own and to forget her own parents!

    Your post even if it was a head fake, was a heart warming account of a mother coming to terms with the growing of a child. I hope more mothers in law (boys' moms) learn, how to let go from you.

    I agree with Devaki, Nita and whatsinaname here.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Nita has summed up exactly my thoughts.

    I (although married only for little over a year and know that its too soon to comment on this issue) also believe that sons should set up their own homes after marriage. For some reason, my mom too believed in the same thing. Familiarity breeds contempt usually. Staying afar and having love for one another works fine rather than getting on each others' nerves with every little disagreement that is so bound to happen that comes free with living together under the same roof.

    I have read your post almost everyday ever since you posted and have been trying to place people that I know who "may" benefit if they read your post and find some meaning in it and more importantly, "learn to let go" however difficult it is.

  22. Usha Says:

    Hi everyone, I am sorry I wasn't able to respond to you all earlier. Was a bit unwell.
    A big thanks to people who gave me additional links on randy pausch.
    Thank you Paul for the sweet words. Isn't the internet amazing? I for on, am so thankful for the opportunity of meeting such wonderful people like you.
    Nita, maami,IndianHomemaker:
    Sometimes we don't judge people too harshly if we understand the reasons for their behaviour. There have been bad mothers in law and good ones but most have been misunderstood ones. May be , Just may be, it is worth a try, getting to understand the person before condemning them.
    And thank you all once again.