Friday 29 May 2009

Y starts talking + Ads and I stop talking

I hate to have to admit that I am fighting - yes, fighting as in dispute, quarrel, disagree vehemently - with my almost-4 year old. But I am doing it. I have reached an unpleasant place in Mommyland where I am simply fed up with Ads' multiple daily tantrums. Somebody should have warned me about the terribly terrifying threes. I feel qualified to sit for an exam in Tantrum Management 101. I had a talk with his teacher a couple of days ago and it appears that I am doing the right thing when he throws a fit. I simply ignore him and do not relent until he apologizes and starts acting reasonable. It's difficult to be consistent with this discipline strategy when there are three other people in the house unwilling to play along. But someone has to do it and I have willingly taken on the role of EVIL WITCH.
Some days, like today, it is tough to say when one tantrum ends and another begins. I heaved a sigh of relief when I dropped him in school. When I picked him up at noon, he started in on another tantrum and I quickly handed him over to his grandmother as soon as I got home, locking myself in the bedroom with my sweet pumpkin daughter who is much much easier to manage! I kept my interaction with him to the bare minimum all afternoon until he apologized (at S's prompting).
This too shall pass. Or so I hope.
But the really notable thing that happened today was that Y said her first words! Thatha and Appa. Too exciting!! We are simply thrilled. It looks like we are shortly going to welcome another chatterbox into the family.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Ads' new mantra

Ads' grandma has been teaching him some slokas. In particular, the mantra of Lord Vishnu (Shaantakaaram bhujaga-shayanam) is something he can recite perfectly. He was suffering from night terrors a few months ago and started asking me every night "Will I get bad dreams?" and I always used to respond with a simple "No, you won't". His grandma told him that he would never get bad dreams if he recited the sloka before he went to bed. He obediently went about doing this and obviously (and coincidentally), the night terrors stopped. So he attributes his peaceful sleep to the sloka. He has started saying it diligently at all times of the day and night. For the last week, he has been starting every sentence with "Bhava bhaya haram" and often interrupts himself in the middle of a sentence to say the same phrase. It appears that it has become an emotional crutch for him.
I don't know whether to be (slightly) irritated or (highly) amused by this new idiosyncrasy. I think a strategy of placid indifference might just do the trick.

Friday 22 May 2009

New acquisition

After weeks of lurking on Craigslist and some false starts, I finally managed to buy Ads a bike. It's a 12 inch Huffy bike with training wheels and he rides it very well. It's second-hand of course (I was determined not to buy a new one -- they are exorbitantly priced for something that will only be used for a year at the most) but in near-perfect condition. And I paid only 20 $$ for it!! That's the part that thrills me the most :)
He already has knee and elbow pads that came with a pair of skates (which, incidentally, he refuses to use) but I still have to get him a helmet. He's very pleased with his new "toy" and has thus totally ignored the scooter that is also a recent acquisition. The fact that the scooter is much harder to maneuver may largely account for his indifference. Ads likes things easy.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Of family and friends

Yesterday, we were at home the whole day. Quite rare considering it was a Saturday and we try very hard not to stay home on the weekend! It was just as well that we did because it was a blistering hot day (90 degrees though it felt like more to me). We had one of my father-in-law's cousins and his wife visiting from Toronto. They stayed for several hours - over lunch, dessert and tea-time - and in the evening another cousin came to pick them up and take them to his house.
Ads didn't want to nap because he was afraid he would miss all the excitement and talk. He brought many of his toys to the living room and was playing/drawing there in the midst of all the noise. Someone commented on the fact that both my kids seemed to like having people around and were participating in the conversation every now and then (Y's contribution was to listen with rapt concentration to the talk, as though she understood every word). It had been the same on Friday when S had a friend from India visiting.
So anyway, when people started reminescing about how life was so different when they were kids, and how summer holidays were nothing but tons of idle fun, and how children nowadays get bored inspite of all the toys and gadgets and entertainment options that they have, I began to think (not for the first time) how nice it is for Ads to have lots of people around to talk with and play with. I guess that was the biggest advantage of the joint-family system. The multitude of people (complele lack of privacy nonwithstanding), the abundance of playmates, the excellent support system, and the rapport one developed with every member of the extended family, is unbeatable.
I know that because I live so far away from my family, I tend to crave the old familial bonds just like a lot of desis do. Not all the time, not even most of the time, but ocassionally yes I do feel it would be nice for my kids to live in a place where there were a lot of cousins and family around. It would drive me crazy after a point, but then you can't have everything :)
I'll settle for our old apartment complex in Bangalore where twenty-four kids were born in 2005, the same year that Ads was born. No more agonizing over organizing playdates and coordinating the calendars of several kids. Any time the grandparents want to see my kids (or vice versa), they are just a short train ride away. At this point, when my kids are so young, this would be my biggest motivation for going back to India.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Not so fast, please

Y has been practicing standing up for the last couple of days and today, she has been catching hold of a proffered hand and getting up on her own. She has been refusing to sit down, instead preferring to practice the standing pose. If she keeps up this blistering pace, she might very well be walking in a month or two - a prospect which might have filled me with pride and delight had it happened with my first-born - but with the weight of experience behind me, only fills me with dread. Sigh -- I was looking forward to a few more months of a not-so-mobile baby.
The excitement over Y standing up has been such that we almost didn't notice that she has also started crawling well, ditching her seal-like close-to-the-floor movement in favour of the traditional baby crawl.
Exciting times now and ahead!!!

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Teacher's report

Earlier, I had posted about our first parent-teacher conference at school. This afternoon, we had the second conference with Ads' teachers (they have 2 every school year, one 6 weeks after the child starts school and one in May a few weeks before school breaks up). We were handed a booklet which had a very detailed breakup of the various activities done by the children and the rating assigned to the child at these activities. A rating of 1 is a "New Presentation" which means the child has just been introducted to the activity; 2 means "Making progress"; 3 means "Age-appropriate" and so on. Ads has made significant progress in motor skills, language skills and social skills. The feedback given by the teachers is much the same as last time. He is friendly, polite, gets along with everyone, is eager to learn and has adjusted well to school. His school persona is completely at variance with his personality at home which is that of screaming banshee and temper tantrum expert.
Nowadays he screams so much, often very close to Y's ear and never for any justifiable reason, that I find myself shouting to make myself heard over the din. I have to repeatedly tell him to keep the noise level down; not that my entreaties have any effect. He quietens down for a few minutes and then starts shrieking again. Sometimes the apartment sounds like a madhouse. I'm dreading the day when Y stops being a passive observer and adds her contribution to the decibel level.
In any case, we were pleased with the good report he got from his teachers. They asked us to work on boosting his independence by allowing him to dress himself and eat by himself. Apparently I must give him more "choices" everyday, like allowing him to choose what he will wear to school etc. Yeah that's gonna lessen my stress - waiting in the wings while Ads stands in front of his closet deciding what to wear - when we have to be out of the door in 5 minutes.

Y's movin' n groovin'

Y is all over the place, crawling, sitting up independently and for the last 2 days, trying to stand up! She holds on to whatever is available -the couch, someone's lap, a chair - and tries to haul herself up. Her pudgy legs aren't strong enough yet but she is making enormous progress. I can see incremental improvements on a day-by-day basis, sometimes even within a 24-hour span. She is on the move throughout the day. She falls on her back dozens of times (hurray for wall-to-wall carpet!), nonchalantly gets up, dusts herself off and gets back to work.
Observing her at these times reminds me of Ads' babyhood all over again. She is so much like him, and yet completely unlike him. I get a lot of pleasure in watching her grow day by day. This is my favourite phase in babies - I think they are cutest between 4 and 12 months.
I made a quick trip to Target and installed electrical outlet protectors throughout the apartment. But there is still a lot of baby-proofing to be done around the house.

Saturday 9 May 2009

My first Mother's day gift

I'm not sure Ads knows what Mother's Day is, but he made a "gift" for me at school. It's an extremely pretty glass jar with a candle inside, the jar decorated with transparent squares of paper dipped in paint. Adorning the neck of the jar is a bead bracelet that he made. A card with a butterfly motif proclaims - "Happy Mother's Day! Love, Advaith". The whole thing comes custom gift-wrapped in a white paper bag decorated with his crayoned scribblings. Obviously I am thrilled to bits :)