Kids

Kids

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Driving

Another milestone...another opportunity for the progeny to look down on me :)

Armed with lots of theoretical and very little practical knowledge, Ads has evolved into an effective backseat driver/commentator.
"Your hands are supposed to be at 9 and 3, you know that right?"
"Amma, can you stop driving with one hand?!!!"
"Did you check the speed limit?"
"I don't think you indicated for exactly 4 seconds before you switched lanes"....and so on and so forth.
My funny remarks about other drivers on the road are funny only to my own ears, I guess. I am anticipating being canceled by my own kids, very soon!
Ah, what's life without being patronized by our teenagers?
It's ridiculous to allow 16-year-olds to take the wheel, but that's a rant for another day!

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Some thoughts (before Mother's Day 2022)

Where did the years go? Almost 17 years as a parent, and I am still stumbling and fumbling. Amazed at other parents' confidence that they have it all figured out. NO. A hundred times no. This parenting thing is humbling and emaculating. 

The days are long but the years are short. This cliche has never seemed more real than now when the days seem to be rushing by with indecent haste. He is driving. He is shaving. Soon he will start filling out college applications. 

In a little over a year from now, I will not know things that I have known with certainty every day for 17 years. When he woke up. When he left for school. When he had lunch (did he have lunch?!!). When he returned home. What he did in the evenings. What is his weekend schedule.

This one thought terrifies me. Knowing that millions of parents face the same choices some time or the other is irrelevant. I read that sending your kids off to college is "bittersweet" and I think - "How is it sweet? There is nothing but bitterness."

I take solace from these lines from Gibran.

"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

NOW they tell me I have to be a stable bow, whatever the hell that means?

I have, however, been an excellent potted plant. Some years ago there was an article in the New York Times citing research showing the psychological benefits for teens of having at least one parent around in close proximity. “Importantly, the studies of parental presence indicate that sheer proximity confers a benefit over and above feelings of closeness or connectedness between parent and child.....Quality parenting of a teenager may sometimes take the form of blending into the background like a potted plant."

I have loved that metaphor and unreservedly shared this pearl of wisdom with all and sundry. I can be a potted plant, no problem! Our teens may act like they don’t really need us, and they often ask us to get out of their rooms, but they do need our simple and silent presence. I know it when Ads comes up to my bedroom every night and silently nuzzles me and I know we are communicating even though I'm not exactly sure what's being said :) Probably (I hope!) the things that have no words- I love you. I'm fine. Thank you?

Oh well. Thank goodness for potted plants and stable bows :)

Monday, 3 January 2022

Goals for 2022 and 2021 report card

Since 2019, our family has had a formal goal-setting exercise every December, for the New Year. Since 2020 we expanded to doing a family meeting at the end of every month to review where we are on our goals, how the last month went, what's top of mind of us for the next month, etc. 

Last year had me set relatively modest goals. Here is the report card :)

Report Card 2021 

Learn swimming - I was hoping to resume swimming lessons in 2021 but ever since our health club closed in the pandemic, none of us have been able to go swimming. Reluctantly, I struck this goal off my list when it was apparent it was redundant.

Lose weight- Wanted to lose 6-8 kgs, managed 4.5 kgs in the year. But walked almost every day, worked out (yoga/strength with free weights/mobility work) almost everyday and fitness levels are far higher. So I'm not going to quibble over weight loss :)

Meaningful work portfolio (including my Board work) - Checkmark for this.

(Continue to) paint, sing, write - Painting was a washout. Wrote quite a bit, got published in a poetry anthology, and sang a LOT including several shareable songs and a series for Navarathri. Hope to continue this momentum in 2022.

Ads' college research - Okay-ish. S did all the initial research and my part of the research starts this year.

Connect regularly with friends and family - something we started doing more intentionally in 2020 when we couldn't travel. I reconnected with school and college buddies and with cousins and extended family a lot more in 2021. Hope to continue this good habit going forward as well.

Goals 2022
Continue to work on physical and mental aspects of well-being- This year I want to focus on strength and agility/mobility work. I will continue with my breath work and meditation as well. 
Meaningful work portfolio (including my Board work)
(Continue to) sing, write - have targets for each of these :) 
Ads' college research and applications 

2022

January 1st, 2022. An unseasonably warm day and I spent the first few minutes after waking up inhaling the cool fresh air, watching the soft raindrops soak the ground, and listening to the sweet sound of birdsong. What a positive, uplifting way to welcome the new year! I have been feeling very grateful for the gifts that 2021 has brought to us. The continued good health and good spirits of everyone in close family circles (no Covid cases!). The kids being able to attend school in-person, the freedom to go out to a restaurant and watch a movie without worrying (too much) about the after-effects. The freedom to travel, experience new places, and meet family and friends. Every one of these a precious blessing that I have cherished to the hilt. 

It feels to all of us that 2021 was such a disappointing year, and in many years it was- just without the novelty of 2020. Once again, the pandemic upended lives and families and created an unending saga of frustration and despair. Yet we all got vaccinated (boosted in some cases), accustomed to our different-looking lifestyles, and started limping back to a new normal. Omicron notwithstanding, I feel optimistic that 2022 will be better. 

We spent Thanksgiving in Seattle with my brother and his family, which was really nice. We had vague plans for heading to India for the winter break but that did not materialize and we instead headed to California/Nevada for a vacation in Vegas, Death Valley, and Los Angeles. The kids thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the casinos, playing golf, and visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. We came back home on Christmas Day, and have been spending the rest of the break doing various errands - opening bank accounts for the kids, getting Ads his Covid booster, and a couple of trips to the DMV for acquiring his learner's permit. In addition, I spent time connecting with various friends and cousins etc; something that is becoming an annual ritual and one that I very much enjoy. 

S & I had our annual physical a couple of months ago. All is well except my nemesis, low hemoglobin levels (something I have been struggling with for years), and slightly high triglycerides (a new development). Have been trying to reduce sugars and saturated fats from my diet with a small degree of success. 

I hope to be more frequent with my blogging in 2022. I am proud of how many books I read in 2021 (59 was what I recorded in early December but I finished 2 more by year-end) and hope to continue that streak in 2022 as well. 

Friday, 17 September 2021

16th birthday

Ads turned 16 last month. I had dreamt that his grandparents would be there for his birthday but sadly, that was not to be.  However, my uncle and aunt were down from Texas and a few days before his birthday, we had a family dinner with them and my cousin. Y and I baked a cake and I got him a cute coffee mug from Etsy and also splurged on a fancy cake topper, in addition to buying him a pair of bluetooth earphones.

So all pretty low-key. The day stands out in my mind for being swelteringly hot. We have been dealing with AC issues on the ground (first) floor for weeks now so the frosting kept melting and I had to keep pushing it into the fridge to cool it down! Plus that was the day the whole snake drama happened. A very memorable birthday indeed! 




Hiss-trionics at home

 “Ma……” Ads called as he quickly climbed up the stairs from the basement. 

It was his 16th birthday, a sweltering evening in August. I was in the kitchen, having just popped the cake frosting into the fridge to cool it down before I worked on the cake again. 

Clutching his phone in one hand, he walked towards me, his expression unreadable as always. 

“Don’t panic. But...….I think there is a snake in the basement.”

“What! WHAT! A SNAKE!!!!! Oh no!!! Oh my god!!!!! And what do you mean you think! Don’t you know?”


A picture of calm and poise I was not. So much for asking me not to panic. 


As I started hyperventilating, Ads began to grin, unable to mask his amusement at my absolute terror. He pushed his phone towards me, on which (horror of horrors!) there was a photo of something large and black coiled up in a corner behind a couch. 


My cries brought put the husband and daughter rushing from their respective rooms, convinced that at the very minimum the house was on fire or being burgled by a gang of robbers in broad daylight. 


Let me backtrack here. We live in a nice house with a large backyard and lawn. It’s a side lot so we have no neighbors on two sides, something I’ve always considered a huge advantage. The large tract of land to the back and one side is green and verdant, essentially shutting us off from the outside world and providing a safe haven for all sorts of wildlife - foxes, deer, beavers, squirrels, rabbits and more bird species that we can count.


And apparently snakes too.


This was not the first time we had encountered Mr (or was it Ms) snake? It (a rat snake, non-venomous) had found its way a few times earlier into the garage and slithered under a convenient hole in the wall. On that first occasion, I had displayed some finely-honed maternal instincts by insisting that the kids go out to the garage and get rid of the snake with a stick or broom handle. 

Y was shocked - “This is great, Amma. You’re asking to your kids to go out and handle the snake while you sit inside the house?!!”

“Yes”, I retorted. “If it bites you I know the number of the poison control center. And I can drive you to the hospital, which is more than you guys can do for me.”


(Let’s not dwell on that incident too long. As PG Wodehouse would say, it was the day the scales finally fell from my children’s eyes). 


So anyway, the damn thing (was it the same one?) was now actually INSIDE the house. Which was good, come to think of it, because the county animal control would only come out to help us if the animal was inside the living area (the garage doesn’t qualify). S and Y were dispatched to go down to the basement and keep an eye on the snake and make sure it didn’t run away somewhere while I feverishly hunted for the animal control number. To my relief, they promised to come out within 30 minutes. 


Soon enough, a police van rolled to a stop in front of the house and a very smart policewoman walked in. She was in and out the of the basement within a couple of minutes, and reappeared holding a large bag in which, presumably, the snake rested. 


And then she went out and let it out in my backyard :( 


“What if it comes back?” I asked her, biting back some choice expletives. 


“Oh I think he just came in by accident...he shouldn’t bother you again. Just make sure you plug up any possible points of entry.” she smiled. 


I think she was the bravest person I’ve ever met. Y & S later told me it was a long snake (3 feet or so), black and thick. 


Since then, Amazon saw a sudden uptick in purchase of snake repellents from our zip code :) Apparently those things work only against venomous snake but who cares? At one point we had barricaded the exterior basement door with a couple of small tables so that the snake couldn’t get in. I discovered some suspicious looking poop near the patio and promptly started researching about how to identify animal poop (and of course there’s an app for that!) I am now a certified expert in snake poop and snake repellents...only not on how to stay calm when you spot a reptile. 


Who says city life is exciting? Come live in the suburbs!

Sometimes it’s a family of squirrels making a home in your attic. Sometimes it’s your basement flooding after a heavy bout of rain. Sometimes it’s the burglar alarm going off when you are hundreds of miles away on vacation, waking you up at 4 in the morning. 

And sometimes it’s a rat snake making itself at home in your basement. 


“Ads, I wish this stupid snake wouldn’t come into the house. Why can’t it just stay in the yard?” I complained.

“Ma,” he replied “ Unfortunately for you, snakes don’t respect property rights!”



Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Summer 2021- it's almost over!

This summer has been a lot busier than anticipated. We renewed the lease on our house, and we are here for another two years. 

In July, we drove to Cleveland, Ohio, for a short vacation. Met an old friend of S's from high school. On his suggestion, went to a place called Put -in-bay which is an island in the middle of Lake Erie. It was a 2-hour drive from Cleveland to the place from where we had to catch a 20-minute ferry to the island.  From the dock, we took a bus to get to the downtown area. The town of Put-in-Bay is small and quaint and entirely dependent on tourist traffic. The kids were able to go parasailing for the very first time. Who would've thought that a cold dreary city like Cleveland would afford that opportunity?!!!! They had a blast that day - parasailing over the lake on a perfect-temperature sunny day, wading and swimming in the cool waters, playing ball near the beach.....Y pointed out that it was the first time she and her dad had been able to go swimming since March 2020.

Overall, I was very impressed with Cleveland. It has a small but nice national park, a couple of good universities, a nice museum and arts district, and Lake Erie (one of the great lakes). We were blessed with very sunny bright weather most of the days so I guess we saw the city at its best. 

Back home, one of my besties visited for the weekend, her family in tow, and the next weekend, we drove to North Carolina to meet her and tour UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University. In a few days, we are off to Columbus, Ohio where Ads is playing in a tournament and where I will meet yet another friend from high school whom I haven't seen in years. In between, we have middle school orientation for Y, and I have been prepping to make sure we have clothes and supplies for back-to-school. Before we know it, the summer vacation will be over. 

Ads recently received his very first paycheck which was quite thrilling for me :) More on that, coming up soon!

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Summer 2021 - Rhode island vacation

Cobalt-blue water, beautiful bays, divine sunsets, fancy Marlinspike Hall-esque mansions (get the Tintin reference?), the sun shining on it all...Newport Rhode Island is a paradise. The famous Cliff walk is a moderately challenging 3.5 mile walk along the Atlantic ocean, paved in paths and rocky in others. On one side is the aquamarine water pounding on the rocks, the other side is lined with the mansions of rich and famous (some of them converted into boutique hotels). The Sachuest Wildlife Refuge, the Cliff Walk and all the beaches were close to the airbnb where we stayed. A short drive away was the Fort Adams State Park which claimed to host the best sunset in the area.

Good food (first time in a while all of us went to a restaurant), long lovely walks, and a side trip to Providence to walk around Brown University. We spent a day in Yale (New Haven, CT) on our way back home. 

The summer holidays have just begun, with a bang :)













Thursday, 10 June 2021

3 years of school - recap

3 years completed in the public school system in the US, and the kids have grown and blossomed. Well beyond my wildest expectations. When I think of the anxiety I experienced in July/August 2018, it feels almost absurd that I should have been so scared. But worrying is a parent's prerogative and burden; thank you to Ads & Y for showing me what resilience is all about and for taking the good bad and ugly in your very smooth stride. 

Reflecting on the past 3 years, some strange and some interesting happenings:

1- Y and I standing in line to pick up Advaith's laptop in middle school, the teacher mistaking Y for the incoming student (8th grade) and profusely welcoming her until I corrected her and said that Y's brother is actually joining. Y was happy that she looked taller and older!

2- A horrible afternoon on the first day of school. Ads' bus from middle school was late, and he wasn't on board! Made the driver call the school. They said he had missed the bus. Rushed to his school. Couldn't find him anywhere. In full panic mode now. Realized I was getting late for picking up Y so rushed to her bus stop. Fortunately, she was on board. Quickly dropped her home. By now, am almost in tears and at wit's end. Suddenly a phone call, Ads using some random stranger's phone. He had taken the wrong bus and also got down at some stop that he didn't recognize! Fortunately, it was not far away. Told him to stay put and jumped into the car (again!) to pick him up. All this in 100-degree heat and 90% humidity.

That same evening, marched Ads to Verizon and bought him a phone! Later on, the same kind stranger from whom Ads had borrowed the phone called to ask if everything was okay :) 

Where was S in all this? Travelling as usual!

3- Colonial Day in Y's school where I volunteered for several hours, and watching Y dance colonial dances, play the violin etc. 

4- Watching 4th grade perform a musical based on the Wright brothers 

5- Last week of 4th grade and a lovely pancake breakfast in the classroom. I volunteered and got to meet other moms and make pancakes. The homeroom teacher got sudden back pain/muscle spasms and started crying. Dramatic ending to a fun morning!

6- Y contracting the flu just a day before a much-anticipated field trip to Yorktown and Jamestown. She was so upset. 

7- Proud parents watching Ads make the honor roll in 8th grade, and getting a prize for best student in English 

8- Open houses in 8th and 9th grade, and wandering bemusedly through school corridors, wondering how my kid would ever navigate the confusing layout and crammed daily schedule! He could, and he did :) 

9- Working on the 8th-grade science fair project, and helping make Ads' charts 

10- This year, proud of Y for getting a President's Education Award Certificate for outstanding academic excellence, one of the few in 6th grade in her school. It is given to graduating elementary school students who maintain a certain high level of academic performance (in Y's case, in 5th and 6th grade) and get atleast one "Pass Advanced" in the state exams. It was totally unexpected and a lovely surprise. 

11- Being able to participate in the many wonderful events and activities planned by the school staff, teachers and the PTA, for graduating 6th graders. Car parade, a virtual promotion, a field day, a memory walk etc - truly they made it a very very special send-off. I was very skeptical of all the tamasha initially. What's the big deal, I thought? Much ado about nothing. But it is a cute rite of passage as these kids transition from carefree elementary school to becoming responsible teens. Middle school is a different ball game. No one is going to handhold you or spoonfeed you. You are accountable and responsible for your grades, cocurricular activities, and your schedule. Parents and teachers are no longer going to support you as they did in elementary. In fact, parents will rarely even know what's going on. I am glad that we got to experience this with Y. 

Here's to summer, and new experiences in middle school!

Yard signs for all 6th graders




Memory walk