Monday 23 February 2009

A man of his word

We had a meltdown at drop-off time in school last week and Ads' teacher suggested that when I bring him back on Monday, I need to have a “short talk” with him before he enters class, sign him in, hand him over to one of the teachers, then just leave without hanging around.
I took her advice to heart (leaving him in school was becoming, not exactly a heart-rending experience, but acutely painful). I told him multiple times over the weekend that since he was having so much fun in school, and since his teachers were so nice and since I always always pick him up at noon, there was really no reason for him to shed any tears. He is always amenable to reason so he told me that he would say just 3 things at drop off time.
“Pick me up”
“Po” (“Go” in Tamil)
And that’s exactly what the little darling did!
I am so proud of him :)

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

Or, to put it differently, a 30-something woman who lived in a messy apartment.
This is what our place looked like yesterday. There were sundry plastic bags floating around because S had just come back home after a round of grocery-shopping. All of Ads toys were (as usual) on the floor. I was in the midst of cooking lunch and had not yet cleared up the remnants of breakfast so the kitchen was upside down too. Anybody who knows me also knows what a clean freak I am. Having children put paid to my notion of always having a spotless and tidy house. I cleaned the house a few minutes after this picture was taken. In less than an hour, it was back to its usual messy state.
Some battles, you know you're never gonna win :)

Ad-lib #1

I don't want to forget these...

When told that he was an Indian, Ads indignantly said "I'm not an Indian! I'm a fireman!"
When Y was crying, he tried to distract her by shoving a photo frame under her nose and saying "Here, watch some youtube."
When Y woke up from her nap, he ran to me and said "Mommy, Yukta is wake-upping!"
And the best and most gratifying comment, made to S and me - "You guys are cool!"

Sunday 22 February 2009

Gotta love the stuff preschoolers bring home

It’s funny how just yesterday I was thinking about how Ads has never thrown up big time and if at all there is someone up there, he decided to make my unspoken wish come true :)
(One may rightly wonder -- I certainly do -- why on earth I am thinking of puke when there are doubtless other nicer and weightier matters that could do with my intellect....What can I say, I guess there comes a time in your life as a mother when these ARE important and weighty matters!)
Ads had been feeling a little under the weather all day yesterday. His appetite was poor. On returning from the park in the evening, he complained that his eyes watered whenever he blinked and he had a temperature of 102 degrees (another first - we’ve been lucky enough never to have to deal with a fever higher than 101 in the past). So I dosed him with Tylenol and put him to bed early. I woke up at 1.40 am to change Y’s diaper and feed her and I checked on Ads to see whether he was okay. S told me he had given him another dose of Tylenol and that his fever had come down. So I went back to bed relieved only to be woken up moments later by S asking for help because Ads was throwing up. No gory details here - but we spent a good 30 minutes cleaning everything in sight, including our generously-vomit-splattered son!
So we have spent a glorious Saturday indoors, keeping an irritable little boy occupied, in passable spirits and as far away as possible from his sister. The latter has been difficult since he wants to hold and cuddle her and we aren't allowing him to do so, leading to the odd tantrum. We'll keep him home tomorrow as well and keep our fingers crossed that a) he is well enough to go to school on Monday and b) he doesn't pass anything onto Y.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Obsessive complusive behaviours #2

1. When he is in the bathtub, we can't turn on the shower. He keeps saying "Shower vara koodathu" (the shower shouldn't turn on) throughout his bath - atleast 15 times.
2. Before going to sleep, he will say "Bad dreams vara koodathu" - again atleast 15 times. I have no clue where that one came from.
3. While sitting on the potty, I need to be very close by and in plain sight. If not, he will keep calling out to me ("Mommy. Mommy. Mommmmmeeee!) repeatedly and continuously until I appear in front of him. It drives me nuts! :)
How humdrum would life be without such craziness?

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Obsessive compulsive behaviours #1

An ongoing list of my son's obsessive behaviours.
A couple to start off with:
1. Taking off his socks atleast 4 times in the day and checking between his toes for any signs of dirt (or cotton lint from the socks)
2. Brushing his hand against his face as soon as someone kisses him, in order to "remove" the kiss.
More to follow.

When will my little boy grow up?

And do I want him to?
Most of the time, no. Occasionally, oh YES!
The mornings and afternoons are hard sometimes. He gets very upset if I am nowhere to be found when he wakes up from his night's sleep or his afternoon nap. He needs to sit on my lap to drink his cuppa milk. He has to have mommy's warmth and cuddles. No one else will do. The funny thing is that this only applies when I am in the house. If he knows that I am not at home, he will make do with whoever is available! Some mornings, he will follow me around all over the house like a lost puppy. Every now and then when he wants my full attention, he will say " Mommy, I want to hug you" or "Mommy, I want to kiss you". Now which mother can resist that?
The other day, S said that Ads' cute phase would last only about another 6 months. I felt a pang of sadness and regret when I thought about this. It's true, another 6 months, maybe 12, and he will become all grown up and independent. He won't be my baby any more. And then it will be me who will follow him around the house asking for a hug or a kiss.
I became a better daughter/daughter-in-law after I became a mother. Now when I see my mother-in-law making a fuss of S, I can really truly understand how she feels. It's very very hard for a mother when her child grows up. And I think we never quite get over it. Even when the child is a great big hulk of 40 with grown-up kids of his own!

Pizza outing on a rainy day

This morning, I took Ads and Y out to Round Table Pizza. They have tours of the kitchen and the kids can make their own pizza. A bunch of us moms met there for some gupshup and pizza. The gupshup doesn't happen so much, since most of the women have two kids hanging onto them; but sometimes you can speak a few sentences to each other inspite of all the noise and mayhem! They showed us their huge walk-in refrigerator, their dough-making machine and oven. The kids got to choose their toppings and were allowed to spread it on their pizza, which was then chucked into the oven to bake. Ads was quite interested in the whole process. Predictably, he panicked a bit when I stepped away from him for a nanosecond to click a photograph of him preparing his pizza. So I didn't manage to get a snap after all.
He managed to finish most of his personal pan pizza and I mopped up the remains. Y was a very interested onlooker. The high decibel and activity level kept her awake and engaged.

Saturday 14 February 2009

I just read this post and loved it! I can totally identify with the "stuff that SF parents like". So often, I have been the only mom at playgroup whose kid was munching cheesy Goldfish instead of multigrain crackers dipped in hummus. I have had to organize two parties for my son - one with a "no-gifts" policy for his playgroup buddies (where I had to remember to serve ultra-healthy snacks to make up for the cake that was ruining the kids' health and digestive tracts); and one "regular" party for the Indian junta with balloons, streamers and yes, gifts.
Yes, I freecycle and recycle but I don't cloth-diaper and I don't use paraben-free sunscreen and I don't shop for organic food. I think farmers' markets are nice but pricey so I don't buy my produce from there. And phthalates....err....what are those? I think I forgot!

Drop-off time and the peace lesson

Ads has started a new stunt at school drop-off time. He says to me "Pick up me" atleast ten times each morning. Hmmm....his grammatical errors are entirely logical, I must say. His teachers are used to this by now and invariably one of them requisitions him as a helper for some job that they are doing in the classroom e.g emptying the dishwasher, feeding ths fish or the bird etc. In this way, they draw him away from me so that I can beat a hasty retreat.
The class had a "Peace lesson" last week. The peace lesson is a lesson in conflict resolution and negotiation. The class has a "peace table" to which kids who have a dispute or disagreement, retire to. They are supposed to sit there and talk until they reach an amicable resolution. The wall next to the peace table has a notice tacked to it which says things like "No name-calling. No shouting. Be polite. No accusing." I am amazed at this concept and wonder how they get it across to a class comprising 2-6 year olds.

Three months already?

Sometimes it seems just like yesterday that Y was born. And sometimes I feel like she has been around forever. Just like it is difficult to remember a pre-Ads life, it is getting harder to remember a life when we were only a family of three.
Y has crossed the 3-month milestone. She reaches out and hangs onto things. She loves tugging at people's hair. She has become bigger and cuter. She is now entering my favourite baby phase; I love the 4-12 month stage. I find this the most adorable stage for babies. She interacts beautifully with her brother. She makes all sorts of sounds when he is near, calls out to him and gurgles enthusiastically at him.
She hasn't yet rolled over, but I don't find her trying too hard either :) She has been losing a lot of hair due to lying on her back all the time. She has bald patches all over her head.
She insists on being picked up a lot of the time. I can't get any work done around the house unless I carry her in the baby sling. She has got over her initial aversion to it and hangs onto me quite happily. The one contraption she is still averse to, is the carseat. She is okay as long as the car is in motion but the minute we stop at a traffic light, she chafes at the restraints and starts yelling at the top of her voice.
Life will get more interesting as she gets more mobile. She likes watching us eat and I have a feeling that she will be ready for solid food earlier than Ads was. Maybe I will start her on solids when she turns 4 months.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Home alone with two children

This is my first week alone with two kids. My mother is out of town and will be back at our place only for a few days before going back to India. Day 1 was better than expected. I have designated Ads as my "special helper". Foolishly, I also promised to make him a badge saying "Mommy's special helper". What idiocy - I am barely able to get the essential tasks done :( I am hoping his elephantine memory will fail him for once.
Yesterday afternoon I actually managed to hit the snooze button for 30-40 minutes, lying on our bed with a kid on either side of me. That was very unexpected and very welcome . Y was the surprise package - I think she must be teething. She was so cranky all of last evening. S took Ads out on some errands but Y would not let me put her down. I put her into my sling and managed to do some cooking, all the while swaying in an up-down vertical motion (this sequence of movements is guaranteed to soothe her and make her drowsy) I must remember to stretch my gluteals while holding her so as to tone muscles that are shortly going to atrophy from disuse.
Ads has been doing alright at school. He has a hard time when I drop him off in the mornings. I get about a hundred kisses and several very tight hugs from him. Fat tears collect in his beautiful eyes and he wants to know whether I will pick him up the afternoon. "Pick me up", he keeps repeating like a broken record. I keep the farewell unhurried but firm and gently hand him over to one of his teachers, who have an activity ready to distract him. Y provides backup vocals in the form of loud and sustained wailing. It's a little difficult to provide the few minutes of undivided attention which Ads needs, while also frantically rocking the car seat and trying to ignore the (mostly sympathetic) looks from the other parents. Today Y was being pacified by all three teachers in the classroom while I was pacifying Ads!

Wednesday 4 February 2009

2nd day at school....

...went well. Whew!

The school has a weird system of handing the kids over to their parents. The classroom door is locked from the inside. Parents like me wait just outside. One of the teachers peeks through the window to see who is waiting and those kids are brought to the door and handed over to mom/dad. And almost immediately the door is locked again, but not before some eager kiddos have collected all around the teachers feet, looking out for their absent parent. Like a bunch of puppies in jail! There's no update of what my child did during the day. I don't expect a long update (I know the teachers don't have that kind of time) but a couple of sentences would be nice. It seems that they will talk to you only if something unusual happened (for e.g. today I was told that Ads might be hungrier than usual because he refused to eat the snack that was offered). But they reserve the feedback for the semi-annual parent teacher conferences.
I have got used to the extremely affectionate demeanour of the teachers in his previous school. They never let any of the kids go without a hug, kiss or high-five. The teachers here are very nice, but not overly affectionate or demonstrative.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

A nail-biting finish

On Sunday, I was clipping Y's nails and I accidentally nicked her right index finger. It started bleeding, not profusely, just a little bit. So I applied pressure on the cut with a clean cloth and tried to stem the flow of blood with cotton and a small bandage, but that didn't work. Ice didn't work either and after the flow didn't stop for 20 minutes (A quick babycenter check said that 10 mins is the maximum it should take), I called the advice nurse at the hospital. She made me hold while she spoke to the emergency room doctor and advised me to apply firm pressure for another 20-30 minutes, and if it didn't stop bleeding at the end of 30 minutes, I was to take Y to the emergency room.
Of course the bleeding didn't stop and I was really irritated. I knew that the cut wasn't serious at all. So taking her to the ER was plainly overkill. At the same time we didn't have any alternative even though all that was required was for a nurse to look at the finger and bandage it. I was totally bugged at the thought that we would have to shell out $100 for a tiny nick to be seen!
We went to the hospital. We had the sense to examine the cut in the parking lot and it had stopped bleeding. What a relief! The inadequacies of the US healthcare system are many and this is just one of them. S and my conversation naturally turned to a comparison of healthcare systems in India and the US. We have so much more flexibility to handle such situations in India. Although the average (poor) Indian often has no recourse to affordable and quality healthcare, people in our socio-economic strata fare so much better. Losing one's job equals being uninsured equals very very scary situation.

First day at the new school

Today was Ads' first day at his new school. He needs to be dropped between 8.30 and 8.50 am and I have to pick him up at noon. I was a little nervous whether he would let me drop him off without an emotional outburst, but it went well. I had prepared him beforehand - we have visited this school several times and spent atleast 30 minutes in the classroom and playground each time. So he is familiar with the teachers and some of the kids. He gave him a long and tight hug but he didn't cry. His teacher said she would take him to the kitchen area and he must help her unload the dishwasher and he went with her quite happily. I picked him up at 12 and apparently "there were some tears" around 11 am (he claims he missed me!).
It's tough adapting to a new environment at this age. I should know. I studied in 11 schools and the start of every year was a nightmare. I don't think I ever wondered why my parents were putting me through this trauma year after year after year. Now I know and in hindsight it was a very valuable learning experience for me. It taught me how to blend in, be flexible and make friends quickly (and not mope when I had to leave them!).
Hopefully Ads will enjoy his new school as much as he did his old school.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Sleep tales

I remember visiting one of my old school chums two years ago. We were sitting on the floor in her living room and her younger son (he was less than 6 months old then) was playing on a mat as we chatted. And then, he fell asleep - all by himself. I was amazed because, at that point, 1-year plus Ads still had to be rocked to sleep every time. We had to employ a combination of rocking plus music to get him to sleep. How much of this is due to the pampered-first-baby-syndrome and how much due to his inherent inability to soothe himself, I don't know. I knew that some parents sleep-trained their babies and didn't waste half their time devising ways of getting them to sleep faster and easier, but I didn't personally know any such geniuses.
So it has come as a very pleasant surprise (somewhat like an unexpected gift), that Y frequently falls asleep on her own. There are times during the day when I have to use a rocking chair to get her to nap but most often she just sucks her thumb and drifts off into dreamland. Last week there were three nights when all I did was lie down next to her. She gazed into my eyes, her thumb in her mouth. I gazed back. After ten minutes of this, her eyes closed. Just like that. Only a mother (or father) who has endured endless sleep-deprived and frustrating nights will know and understand the miracle and blessing that this is. If we're lucky, this happy state of affairs will continue.
Incidentally, last night we wanted to watch a movie ('Rab ne bana di jodi', for those interested). I always need to give Ads fair warning of a movie screening, so that he knows to play by himself and keep the talk to a minimum. On a whim, I also told him that neither mommy nor appa would help him to sleep tonight and if he liked, he could lie down on my lap and sleep while we watched the movie. I didn't actually expect him to fall asleep like this; I was just trying my luck. But he did. 30 minutes into the movie and he was asleep. What luck!
My white friends are constantly amazed at how high-maintenance Ads is. I tell them all Indian (and Asian) kids are the same.