Tuesday 14 December 2010

Cat out of the bag

I'm that mom. You know, the crazy one who's mostly unrecognizable without the big backpack or baby bag. The latter which contains all the stuff required to sit out a Richter 7 earthquake :) My Virgo instincts found full expression once I started going out and about with a baby. Disinfecting wipes, diapers, snacks, change of clothes, plastic covers, ziploc bags, medicines, bandages - you name it and it's there in THE BAG! While I like being this prepared for spit-ups, hunger pangs, wet and soiled clothes and dirty restaurant tables, I can't wait to ditch the bag and start lugging around something more elegant and classy. I thought that my ditch-the-bag moment would come in a year or so, max. Witness my surprise and disappointment when we visited one of S's cousins over the weekend and I found the cousin's wife (mom of two kids ages 8 and 12) lugging around a similar bag, brimming with all kinds of sports equipment, 2 water bottles and snacks. 
I mentioned this fact to her. She nodded sagely and said "There'll always be a bag. Only the stuff inside will change." Grrr. 
That was the day that I bravely left the bag at home while we stepped out. Within an hour Y had soiled her hands and face (we needed wipes, didn't have them), Ads was dying of hunger inspite of a heavy meal just before we stepped out (we needed snacks, didn't have them) and there were mosquitoes everywhere (we needed Odomos, didn't have it). Mr. Murphy, I know you're out there, you don't have to prove it to me! 

Thursday 9 December 2010

To cover all contingencies

I asked Ads why he was carrying 2 hankerchiefs and he said "One is for my nose and one is for my tears". Ufff....too much! It sounds so tragic, doesn't it? The melodramatic fellow!
Well, atleast no one can say I didn't allow my boy to express his feelings clearly. Nobody shall accuse me of curtailing his emotional growth or ignoring the emotional quotient in his personality.
To set the record straight, he'd been going through a weepy phase and just felt the need to be prepared :)

Afternoon activities

I never seem to get any alone-time with Ads nowadays. By the time he gets back from school, cleans up, has a quick snack and we settle down to some activity, Y is generally up from her nap, often a little cranky and I have to give her the lion's share of my attention. So the infrequent days when she naps longer than usual, are times when Ads and I get some much-treasured one-on-one time together. This morning, while walking to the bus stop, we were talking about the human heart and he wanted to know how it worked. I gave him the basic dope but he had so many questions which I could not answer because he was the cynosure of all eyes today and other children and parents at the bus stop kept coming up to talk to him. He was dressed up in the garb of Arjuna (from Mahabharata), complete with shiny bow, mustache and crown! While walking to the bus stop, one of the uncles left Ads speechless by coming up to him, bowing deeply and saying "Namashkar namashkar"!
When he was at school, I looked up some videos on the cardiovascular and digestive system and we watched them together, Ads continually interrupting (and not listening!) to ask tons of questions. Then he wanted to read some "new" books, so I feel back on my favourite online resource, Tumblebooks. We read 3 books together, two of which he really enjoyed. Well, actually the reading was done by tumblebooks, we just listened and commented and giggled over the silly stories. Y was still asleep (stroke of luck!), so he helped me fix his afternoon snack - stuffed puris. He was asking me whether doctors are also scientists. Whew -- one question I can answer without running to refer an external source!
Then Y got up, in just a terrible terrifying mood. I couldn't handle her and handed her over to Ads, who generally does a better job than me :) 

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Ads tantrum, and mine

I'd be a fab mother if I was more patient = less short-tempered.
Yeah, that's the ONLY reason I'm NOT a fab mother yet :(
Whom am I kidding?!!
That apart, being more patient, more zen, less liable to fly off the handle, has to be a good thing in itself. I know this. The constant struggle to get there, and the more-or-less constant failures, make me suspect that I'm simply not trying hard enough. My kids aren't angels, but they are pretty good kids; and I always feel I'm shortchanging them just a little bit by not being a little more angelic myself.
Last evening, I really lost it with Ads. The time between 6 and 7.30 pm is when a casual visitor sees my family at it's worst :) We are just back from the park, the kids are hungry, they have to have their baths, and mommy is just terribly tired and waiting for the day to end. Some days I just feel pretty pissed off because I know that after the kids are in bed, I can't kick back with a book or TV but have to sit down and slog at my books for a couple of hours, and THAT is my free time (yeah I dug my own grave with this diploma)
Anyway, so all three of us are whiny :) Ads is generally the whiniest of all. He has this thing nowadays where he has to come first in everything. So if I am talking about him and his sister to someone else, I cannot and should not say "Yukta and Advaith" - EVER. It has to be "Advaith and Yukta". Hugs - he has to be hugged first, before Y. Ditto for kisses. Mealtimes - he needs to be served before Y. I've gone along with this OCD-type behaviour, knowing it's just a phase that will peter our sooner rather than later. Yesterday, Y wanted to bathe first too, and given that she was filthy after having rolled around in the grass and mud at the park, I asked Ads for "permission" to bathe her first. He said no. I reasoned, saying that she never asks to be first and she's pretty dirty so can we please bathe her first. Predictably, he started whining even more and maybe if I'd handled it more calmly, we could have reached an amicable conclusion. As it was, I was too tired to argue with him. Irritated, I told him that since he cries and throws a huge tantrum at this time everyday anyway, could he please go into his room and cry and not bother us since I was going to bathe Y first. He threw a fit, started crying loudly, much to Y's mystification. At first I ignored him and when I could take the noise no longer, gave him a piece of my mind (which did not help, but it was good to vent!) He protested by removing all his clothes and staying stark naked for 10 minutes (it's cold nowadays!), consequently making me feel horribly guilty. He has had his TV privileges removed for the next few and doesn't seem too bothered about it.
I'm still feeling terrible about losing it for what, in the cold light of day seems like (and was in fact) a pretty trivial reason. I certainly wish I had handled his tantrum in a mature way instead of throwing one myself and setting a lousy example. But what are these incidents but steps to a purer, higher self? :) Thanks to yesterday, I have been a super-good mom today, but then it's not 6 pm yet :)

Monday 6 December 2010


So it has been more than 9 months gestation for us in India :) Time to take stock. Why wait for a year? 
How has the move been? A rollicking success, I'd say. There were teething troubles yes, in the first couple of months, when nothing was getting done. Vodafone screwed up, as did Airtel. We couldn't install cable. We followed up for several weeks just to get a couple of mattresses that we had ordered, delivered. The stuff we shipped from the US was delayed by 2 months. It was burning hot. Tempers ran very high! It was inevitable that I ended up comparing at that point the silky smoothness of our transition to the US, where utilities were up and running in a day, and it took one trip to Target to get our home up and running. 
But after the initial and I have to admit, expected startup issues, it has been a breeze. Probably since we weren't away from India all that long, we didn't come back with a lot of excess baggage in terms of unrealistic expectations.Probably since we really really wanted to come back, the road seemed smoother. Probably since S thinks India is the market to be in, he has been stoic about some really lousy working conditions. Probably all of the above. Net net, we are loving Delhi, kids have adjusted well and didn't fall ill (a big concern of mine) and we are reaping the substantial benefits of grandparents and family being a short flight away. We get to attend weddings, get groceries, veggies, medicines and diapers home-delivered, order library books and toys over the phone, celebrate festivals India-style, shop in Delhi's fantastic markets and gorge on street food whenever we feel like it.
It hasn't been all hunky-dory, of course, especially my domestic help situation - but that's India. You take the chillies with the jaggery :)
More friends are moving back in the next couple of years and that feels good!

Saturday 4 December 2010

Boys will be boys. Oh yeah?

All boys love sports! Girls love dancing and makeup. Boys will be boys. And girls will be girls, I suppose. What do these statements, these sweeping generalizations, really mean? I used to think they were harmless phrases, to be tossed out casually while making polite conversation. Now, from the standpoint of a parent, I find them frightening in their ability to wrongly slot and categorize.
We have come far from the days when the woman’s lot was to cook and clean and bear and rear children (it is still like this in many countries/regions but we aren’t going there). But what’s with the whole reverse discrimination? Girls excelling in sports, math, science, not knowing how to cook, couldn’t care less about kids, can’t thread a needle to save her life – all good. Boys wanting to cook, dance, sing, can’t kick a ball to save his life – hmmm……Indulgence and amusement yes, acceptance NO.
It has to cut both ways. When will we, as a society, learn and accept this? I need my son to learn household skills just as much as my daughter does. I need my daughter to be independent and self-reliant and confident, the same as my son. Why is it wonderful when my daughter gets a permanent commission in the Indian Army (yay for that bit of news!) but not okay when my son wants to learn ballet? Why is it ok for my daughter to start crying at the drop of a hat while my son is expected to be rough and tough? We don’t do anybody any favours when we reinforce the stereotypes of women being touchy-feely while men are analytical and logical.
I admit, I feel sorry for the boys nowadays!  They have to be tough yet sensitive, career superheroes AND a dab hand at mixing a pasta salad, fun guys AND expert at changing a diaper.  Not to forget that most young couples desire to have a girl first rather than a boy! (the latter is strictly an empirical observation, I’m guessing most couples are not going to come out in the open and say they really really want a boy just in case someone accuses them of being……err….. anti-female or something! Not like my grandmother who observed, sagely, when I was pregnant with Ads “Let us hope it is a boy, then you are ‘safe’.”)
It is my earnest desire to live to see the day when the “daddy wars” will take center stage and daddy bloggers will heatedly debate which is better – working dad or stay-at-home dad? J

Friday 3 December 2010

Why full-time motherhood is unfashionable

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the feminist movement, in trying to bring reform into important issues that affect women, has swung too far to the right and diluted the essence of femininity by making it unfashionable, in certain sections of society, to be a proud and fulfilled mother, who does NOT hold a paying job outside the home. Don't get me wrong. I think all women should have the CHOICE - to work or not to work, without any kind of judgement being passed on them. Leaving aside the issue of the millions of women who have a financial need to work outside the home, I personally feel every woman (and man, for that matter) needs to be financially independent and employable at all times (not necessarily employed throughout their lives). However, in a particular strata of society, predominantly middle-class, well-educated/professionally-qualified, the question that gets asked of SAHM moms is "So what do you do?" Subtext: What do you do all day? I hope your children are better-behaved, more polite, more accomplished, and A-graders at school to justify your stay-at-home status!
Certainly, I feel that I got the short end of the stick twice - I worked full-time for almost 2 years after Ads was born when most of my peers who's also had babies around the same time were taking their break. I was something of a puzzle for having gone back to work 45 days after giving birth to my first-born. Now that I am happily unemployed for the last 3+ years, things aren't any better. A few days ago, someone commented that "Whichever B-school you girls go to, at the end of the day you are all doing the same thing" (that is, nurturing and raising children). 
Now, this really bothers me. Not the debate on working moms vs SAHM (which has been done to death anyways), but the fact that being a full-time mother is somehow not enough. There has to be something else that defines me. I'm not sure that is a general need in all women. I might be quite happy to be identified as nothing but a mom for a few years (and a mom is everything, not nothing!), someone else might not - but why does that something else have to be a job or a career? Who are these others to decide my identity or identities?
I think we do ourselves and all other women, a disservice when motherhood is demeaned in this way. When people ask me if I work or if I have a job, I always say, yes I do! It's the most important job there is. And it doesn't matter whether you are a working mom or SAHM, the only difference is how many balls do you have up in the air. 

Thursday 2 December 2010

Hit or be hit?

Ads complained to me a couple of times about how some kid (a year younger than him) was hitting him on the school bus. This same kid used to forcibly take his water bottle away and drink from it, leaving Ads with no water in the afternoons. I told Ads to take a firm line with this kid. I'm not sure whether he did so, but I had also told the bus didi to keep an eye out for such goings-on, and the problem seemed to get resolved.
Contrast this with a conversation I had with Y's class teacher recently. She says "Y has been hitting other children. This is a phase, many kids go through it. You should talk about it at home, make her understand through the medium of stories that it is not okay to hit or push other children. We will do the same here at school." I was like - WHAT???? How did my children get to be so different? One is getting hit (and bearing it like a saint, I must add) and the other one is pushing poor kids around with no provocation. Every afternoon, Y comes back from school with some story about "So-and-so pulled someone's shirt, someone pulled so-and-so's hair". What is clear is that one of the actors in this drama is herself, but with her current lack of knowledge on pronoun usage, I am not sure whether she is acting or reacting! (Sure hope it's the latter, I am so not looking forward to the next PTM!)
Then I stumbled upon this article. Boy, did it explain a lot!

Large motor skills, and tennis lessons

A few days back, we had another parent-teacher meeting at Ads' school. As expected his teacher gushed about him - what an ideal student he is, how he is very bright, how she thinks he's going to be a scientist or a Prof (!), how his Hindi skills are improving, and so on. She wants him to be a little more outgoing in terms of participating in music and dance activities, putting himself forward to act in class skits and generally "loosening" up. I have been working on this; every evening after their bath and dinner and before bedtime, we have a session of full-on Bollywood music and all three of us shake a leg. It started mainly because Y loves to dance; Ads was reluctant to join in but after seeing how much applause Y gets on her performance, he was driven to compete! He has definitely become more confident about dancing, even in public, though he's pretty stiff and definitely looks like he has two left feet :(
The other feedback given by Ads' teacher is about how uncoordinated he seems to be. We have been noticing for some time that he runs in a strange manner, all arms and legs flailing about anyhow. He also cannot run very fast, he is still lousy at catching or throwing a ball, and the general effect when engaged in sporting activities is a complete lack of orchestration. The teacher suggested that we develop his large motor skills by getting him to run and jog more, for starters. I have been doing that every evening with him, and yesterday I hesitatingly mooted the idea of tennis lessons. We have classes going on right in our complex. It seems like the best option for him. He doesn't like team sports, especially contact sports like soccer. I've been wondering what would be the smart/wise thing to do. Should I persuade him to give a team sport a chance or just direct him toward an individual sport? Should he be given a chance to get over his aversion to "violent" (his term!) sports or should I not pressurize him to do something he clearly does not enjoy? 
I did ask him whether he wanted to go for soccer classes, especially since one of his good friends is going, but he vehemently refused. Tennis, he seems more receptive towards. So for the last couple of days, we have been sitting in the tennis court for 15 minutes, watching the session, just to get him acclimatized. He starts next Tuesday. Hopefully, he will enjoy playing and his eye-hand coordination will also get a boost. 

Thursday 25 November 2010

It starts early in the morning

It’s very difficult for me to sneak away from the bed in the mornings. Most days, I try to get up by 6 (it’s getting harder now that winter is upon us) so that I get almost an hour to myself – brush my teeth without having someone hanging onto my knees, have a peaceful cup of ginger chai while browsing the news, and pack Ads’ school bag – all this before Ads wakes up. But Y has some sort of deadly accurate body clock that senses when I am up, and then she’s up too. There goes my peaceful early-morning routine! 
Last night, I was heading out of the bedroom when I saw her tossing and turning. In the dim almost-darkness of the room, I froze in mid-motion, not daring to move a muscle until I was sure she was asleep. I was so terrified she would wake up I swear I was barely breathing :)
I stayed motionless for almost a minute. My eyes were now accustomed to the darkness and what did I see? A pair of very bright eyes looking straight at me from the bed! She was staring at me, unblinking (Gawd, it was eerie!), probably wondering when I was going to start moving!
Every time I try to outsmart her, she proves that it cannot be done :(

Thursday 11 November 2010

Y speaks

Y has been rapidly expanding her vocabulary, especially since she started school, and ever so often she will throw out a phrase that she has heard someone say. Stock phrases are OH MY GOD (that comes from me!), HOW MANY TIMES….? (again, my contribution!) and WHATYA DOIN? Her newest thing is to question us as soon as she hears or sees something new. She’ll say “What is…” except that she doesn’t pronounce the “is” and instead says “What-ee?” And sometimes, she will say “What-ee, intte-ting?” Translation: What is this, it’s interesting?
Now, SHE is intte-ting!


We visited Akshardham, that stunning edifice to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, last weekend. Although S and I rarely visit temples, we made an exception for this one because it looks so lovely (especially at night with all that cunning lighting) and also because they have a few “exhibitions” which we thought Ads would enjoy. Boy, he did and HOW! I thought he was going to join the Swaminarayan cult right then and there! He was suitably amazed and overawed at everything - the marble carvings of various Hindu gods and goddesses, the giant stone sculptures of lions and elephants,  the musical fountain, and the robotized depictions of Swaminarayan’s life.
What all of us enjoyed the most was the boat ride which meandered through India’s ancient Vedic history, offering snapshots of major achievements in the sciences, arts and technology. S called it an executive summary of ancient Indian history! Ads was mesmerized with every exhibit and didn’t know which way to look – left, right or behind!
I will admit freely that it was all very well-done, well-organized and cleverly-marketed, not to omit how clean the whole complex was (no mean feat considering the throng there on all days). To someone who is as interested in history as Ads is, it was an absolute treat. S and I have been wondering whether there are any good gurukuls in NCR – why on earth are we paying for an international school?!!! J

Tuesday 9 November 2010

An eventful 2 weeks

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted. So much has happened. My mom left, and within 2 days of her departure, my parents-in-law arrived. It's been raining grandparents out here :) As nice as it is for me to have another adult in the house, I am ceaselessly gratified to see Ads (and to a large extent Y as well) bloom under his grandpas and grandmas. My children are so lucky to have four doting and patient grandparents in their lives. S frequently observes that the biggest beneficiary of our India move has been Ads, and the quantity and quality time spent with his thathas, naani and daadhi have a significant share in this. They tell him lots and lots of stories, play with him, cook with him, take him to the park, never ever scold him and are forever willing to fly to his defense when the evil mommy makes eyes at him :)
My parents-in-law visited us because they wanted to spend Diwali with us, and Y turned 2 on Diwali day! It was a double celebration, a bitter-sweet one for me and one milestone I haven't been looking forward to. My baby is TWO - already??? It's heartbreaking. Soon she will turn all tall and gangly and heavy and I won't be able to carry her or throw her up in the air and revel in her gurgling laughter. It doesn't bear thinking of.
Her birthday party was organized a few days before the actual birthday. For the first time in 5 years, I outsourced the whole thing and it was relaxing to just land up and not worry about the decorations, menu, music and games. All I did was pre-order the cake and choose and pack the return gifts. It wasn't even that much more expensive. 
The children enjoyed Diwali - their first proper one, even for Ads. New clothes, crackers, sweets, lights, rangolis! We had a Diwali mela in the apartment complex. Every house was lit up with electric lights more than a week before the festival. The management decorated the complex with tons and tons of electric lights so that it looked stunningly festive. The waste of all that electricity jarred at me but I have to admit that it looked lovely. They had food stalls, music, performances by the kids and an awesome fireworks display. Ads, Y and my father-in-law shook a mean leg on the dance floor!
All of us got into the swing of things. I elected to buy just one string of electric lights and the rest of the lighting was done with diyas. Ads stencilled some rangoli, and painted and set up the diyas for me. Y got under our feet and kept rearranging everything :) Ads loved the crackers - the flower pots, the groundwheels, the sparklers and the pencils - while Y screwed up her face at all the noise and smoke.
We decided to dispense with the traditional meal on Diwali day and after a quick trip to the temple, set out for Hauz Khas village and yummy lunch at a restaurant there. The kids got to play in the Hauz Khas deer park and mil and I wandered the shops in the village. In the evening, S and I took Ads downstairs for a second session with firecrackers.
It was a very satisfactory Diwali, in large measure because for the last few years we haven't celebrated it in any meaningful sense. There's something about being with family and being part of a common tradition that we had missed in recent years. Seeing how much Ads loved everything about this festive season has made me resolve to make more of an effort - from next year!

Thursday 28 October 2010


We were in Jaipur last weekend. I was sure Ads would not enjoy it...come on...a lot of traipsing around forts and palaces and shopping in street markets? Not his scene at all! I was right, and so wrong! 
Yes, he did whine a little bit when he had to walk much more than he is used to; but what was really interesting was how he cottoned onto stuff that I never though he would notice! I suppose his intense interest in Indian mythology and epics, and a blossoming interest in history in general, has something to do with this. He didn't understand our guide's accented English all that well, so I had to keep listening with one ear while simultaneously translating to Ads. It reminded me of the translators jabbering away when two heads of state meet! I am sure the guide was a mite annoyed at my constant murmur in the background. Poor guy could not complain, of course!
From the fact that the Jaipur royal dynasty are descendants of Rama's son Kusha, to the fact that the Sheesh Mahal at Amber fort had mirrors imported from Belgium, to the fact that one of the Rajput kings weighed 250 kg and ate kilos of food every meal, to the textile museum which housed stunningly well-preserved garments and fabrics from the 17th to 19th centuries, Ads was gratifyingly engrossed. On my part, it was satisfying to add to his knowledge and excite his curiosity while learning a lot of new things myself.
There were two things that really excited him. One was the camel ride, Ads squashed in between me and S, jumping up and down as the camel galloped or trotted or whatever it is that camels do. The other was listening to a bonafide miniature artist (whose family has been artists for the royal family for generations) explain his craft and demonstrate the use of a single-hair brush (the hair plucked from a squirrel's tail). The artist kindly drew a very sweet elephant for the children, wrote their names and signed the drawing. My mom encased it in a plastic sheet and it is now proudly standing in a shelf in the children's room.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Give it to 'em babe!

I can distinctly remember the number of times people (relatives, acquaintances) have asked me: "So what do you do all day? You don't have time to study? C' have the WHOLE day!!!"
I only wish I could have given a snappy answer like this.
Quoting: When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.
It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.
It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything -- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.
It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time.

Aah. Did she just read my mind?!!

Monday 18 October 2010

Random update after Navaratri

The holidays are over - yippee!! It feels good to be back to the routine and the prospect of a shade under three hours of kid-free time everyday is wonderful. Every time I left the kids to their own resources and did my own thing, I was wondering whether I should not be doing stuff to stimulate their imagination, unleash their creativity, and jog their mental processes. What pressure!!!
Our Navaratri was low-key, once again because I was too lazy to make the effort to erect a Golu. My excuse this year (as it was last year) was that my time would be better spent in studying for the exam. Next year, next year I will have a Golu. I promise myself! We did manage to catch last day of Ramlila by watching a large effigy of Raavana blown up with fire-crackers. Ads was fascinated by the sight whereas Y clung to her father and whimpered incessantly.
My studying is (sort of) on track. No major derailments so far. Yesterday, I suddenly remembered that I had given myself not more than 5 years to be out of the workforce (well yes, it is an arbitrary number that I chose. 6 seemed to be too much!) Given that I have not been in a paying job for 3.5 years now, it gives me only another year plus to get cracking, pass the exams and find a job. Scary thought! 

Friday 15 October 2010

CWG holidays

So the Commonwealth games have come and gone and the kids have been home for two whole weeks. A mom in our complex was conducting art and craft classes everyday from 11.30 am to 1 pm, and thinking it was something Ads would enjoy, I enrolled him. I was right; he has enjoyed the daily activities (and they lend some structure to his day) and he has met a few new kids of his age. 
During this break, we've done phonics everyday, discovered and patronized a newly-opened children's library nearby, tried to learn roller-skating (and failed miserably!), cycled, scootered, played in the park, napped every afternoon, watched three movies (Enthiran, Ramayana - The Epic, Lava-Kusa) and generally had a ball. Not to mention enjoyed the company of Naani (my mother) who is visiting.

Thursday 7 October 2010

The notion of sacrifice

Every now and then (though they are - thankfully - increasingly rare), I will get the following comments/questions thrown my way: "Oh you 'sacrificed' your career for your children, good for you", "This is the right thing to do",  "Don't you get bored sitting at home"; and one day it hit me out of the blue that on that fateful day in 2002 when I decided I was going to drop out of the corporate rat race, I sentenced my husband to a lifetime of the very thing that I was discarding. However bad a day I am having with the kids, atleast my demanding bosses love me and I love them back and we pull along together somehow. However often they drive me up the wall, I have the choice and the privilege of staying home with them instead of catching glimpses of them through the day. Yes the payment I get for my work is tears, tantrums, hugs and kisses but this paycheck is worth it's weight in gold.
The days that S comes back home exhausted and yes, disgusted, with his workplace, the people and the rubbish that he has to put up with, the guilt gnaws at me. I mutter meaningless consoling words. I know that in order to maintain our "luxurious" (as S terms it) lifestyle, he has to continue to do the kind of work he's doing now. He has to continue making pots of money because even after I get back to work, anything I make will be pocket-change compared to him. We're too invested in our way of life to consider downgrading. So I get to do "meaningful" "fulfilling" work that I enjoy, and he gets to dream about how it would have been if he had become a Prof while his wife was out earning the big bucks.
I wonder who made the "sacrifice"?

Maybe I can go to more night shows now...?

Exactly a month before her 2nd birthday, my littlest one has finally been weaned from mother's milk. I was a little anxious, anticipating a repeat of Ads' non-stop 3-night crying sessions when he was weaned (at 16 months). However it turns out that since Y is much older now, she can be offered reasons on why she should not demand milk and offered alternatives instead, so it's been unexpectedly easy. Whereas weaning Ads was a relief (I was a working mum at that time and pretty gung-ho about getting my "freedom" back); with Y all I feel is a deep sense of sadness (even depression). My baby is not a baby any more now that she does not depend on me for sustenance and physical comfort. Anyone can feed her now, anybody can hold her in their lap and cuddle and soothe her. But there is also a very tangible satisfaction in having successfully breastfed her for long beyond the mandated 6 months. I suppose I went that extra mile with her simply because she is a girl. Girls (and women) have so many demands placed on their bodies, so many stresses through out their lives, that I just felt I had to give her immune system that extra boost. I had to do my extra bit to shove her firmly along the path to lifelong good health. 
Now - if only that stubborn toddler would not refuse to eat anything that is NOT junk, I'd feel much much happier about her prospects!

Wednesday 29 September 2010

The crooked finger

Y is home today because of a bad cold and cough (Just when I was thinking that the kids hadn't had the sniffles for a few weeks; I must've jinxed myself!!!). She has two new pastimes now. One is to strip herself as soon as I manage to dress her up. I turn around and there she is half-naked, having removed her pants/shorts and diaper and trying very hard to remove her frock or top! Well, atleast her motor skills are improving :) The second thing is painting (perhaps inspired by her Anna). She asks for water, paper to paint on and newspaper to spread on the floor. She gets the paintbox and brush from Anna's drawer and is all set for atleast 30 minutes of creative expression.
So, anyway today she stripped and painted, in that order :) I wanted to put her down for an early nap but obviously the mere suggestion was enough to make her all contrarian. I cajoled and pleaded before belatedly realizing that I was just wasting my time. So I yawned loudly, picked up a pillow and sheet and stretched out on the bed, telling her "Amma thaachika poren" (Amma is going to sleep). Instantly, she was up there with me on the bed, proclaiming - "Me thaachi too!". I pushed her away a couple of times - Illa, Yukta vendaam, only amma thaachi (No, Y not needed, only amma's gonna sleep) - waited until she was bawling her head off (yeah, I'm mean like that!!) and then reluctantly allowed her to sleep on my chest. She was out in five minutes! 
I guess that's what they mean when they say in Hindi - seedhi ungli se ghee kabhi nahi nikalti. I wonder what the Tamil equivalent is.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Out and about in Dilli

We have been Delhi-seeing, and I am very impressed with what I have experienced. The phrase "steeped in history" takes on an entirely new meaning in Delhi. I'm fairly sure they coined the phrase after visiting this city. I've lived or extensively visited all the major Indian cities and there is no other Indian city which has so much to offer (Calcutta may come a distant second and Hyderabad, which is the one city I know nothing about could be a close contender from what I hear).
We have been to Akshardham, ISCKON temple, Red Fort, Humayun's tomb, Lodhi Gardens, India Gate, Chandni Chowk, Hauz Khas and the Ba'h'ai temple. I love that Ads is now reaching that age when there are so many more teachable moments. We can point out intricate carvings on the marble walls of the Red fort and know that he'll appreciate it. We can show him the warm hues of the red sandstone as the setting sun strikes Humayun's tomb and know that he can see beauty in that sight. We can explore the crumbling structures in Lodhi gardens and witness his dim understanding that these were buildings built hundreds of years ago and real people actually lived in (and are buried in) them.
And the food!! This weekend, we went to a very hip fine-dining place in South Delhi. The reason we went there is that S had eaten there with his office crowd and he said we simply HAVE to try the paneer in that joint. It was the whitest, softest, creamiest, most-melt-in-the-mouth paneer I have ever had the good fortune to eat. It was not cottage cheese, it was ambrosia. The next day, we were in Paranthewali gali in Chandni Chowk where we could not decide whether it was the tomato and bhindi paranthas, or the boondi laddoo or the aloo tikki which was the best. The last couple of weekends have been a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth!
Enough gushing. I wanted to upload a few photos from our jaunts; but blogger is acting weird today. Seems to think I don't have a license to display my own photos! Anyway here's one of Ads in front of Humayun's tomb. Our American was miffed that we were taking him to a "rusty" place for dinner in Chandni Chowk - he wanted to go to someplace with "decoration". That is Ads-speak for a hole-in-the-wall joint as opposed to a regular restaurant.

2 weeks of?

Finally it's official. Received circulars from both the schools, confirming that they are closed for 2 weeks due to the Commonwealth Games. Y is off from the 1st to the 17th of October, and Ads is off from the 4th to the 17th. All the stuff that I would liked to do with them, unfortunately are out of bounds due to traffic restrictions. I wanted to take them to the Zoo, some museums, some parks. I can still do those if we take the Metro, but everyone else is having the same idea, so...:)
I think we will read a lot of books, do a lot of craft, and explore Noida! Maybe I can teach Ads how to skate........hmmm..........

Sunday 26 September 2010

Saturday morning

Weekend mornings are no different from any other. The usual wake-up, brushing teeth, potty, diaper-changing, DVD-watching on the laptop, breakfast for Ads, cajoling Y to have one more sip of milk from her glass (finally giving up in frustration), all 4 burners roaring way on the kitchen hob as I deal with lunch, making the beds, explaining to Ads that this is NOT the right time to start his homework...............heaving a big sigh of relief when S wakes up earlier than usual (because he came home before midnight for once!), cooking a second breakfast for Y (one that she will actually eat)........
S takes charge of the kids and heads off to the park with them for an hour. I plaster my face with a face pack, my hair with henna, make a cup of extra-strong ginger tea, and sink down before the laptop. The value of "me-time" has never been this appreciated.

Friday 24 September 2010

Of Rama and Krishna; masjid and mandir

Over the summer, my father started narrating the Ramayana to Ads, using Rajaji's famous book as the reference. He narrated all incidents and episodes in the book, to a spellbound audience. Back in Noida, I supplemented my not-so-extensive knowledge of the two great Indian epics by picking up a few Amar Chitra Kathas and reading them out to Ads. When my dad visited us for 3 weeks this month, he came armed with the Tamil version of Rajaji's Mahabharata. Every night, I would hear grandpa and grandson discussing the stories in great detail, in their darkened bedroom. As happy as I am that Ads has been introduced to two classics from the Indian tradition this early and displays so much interest in learning more about Indian mythology, I have also rediscovered just how filled these tales are with every kind of human failing - greed, injustice, lust, treachery. Who is supposed to be the role model here? Rama? I don't think so! What about that other avatar of Vishnu, Krishna? His only redeeming feature seems to have been that he was a super-cute baby!
The point is, I feel like a heel asking Ads to cut down on watching Ben-10 because it's too violent even though the themes and situation are completely parallel to what is written in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Where's the difference? In fact where's the difference between the Pandavas and Kauravas fighting for a slice of kingdom and Ads and Y fighting over a toy? The same argument could be made of every historical and mythological drama. I wrote a post quite some time ago about fairy tales being sanitized for children; but now I feel that they offer an important moral lesson - about what NOT to do!!
The growing public apprehension over the upcoming Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi verdict is affecting me personally too. I still have vivid memories of being in the thick of communal riots in Meerut, and lurking with fear inside our Lucknow house as mobs went on the rampage following Indira Gandhi's assassination. This time around, I don't know what hot-headed fanatics will do. I wish someone would drill it into their thick heads that the God they are fighting for probably never existed, and even if he did, didn't deserve to have generations of Hindus and Muslims fighting over his alleged birthplace. I don't believe that religion is the root of all evil (rather a simplistic explanation, that) but sometimes I come this close to believing that it just might be.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Two much love

Each time, I am amazed at what a good elder brother Ads is. It simply catches my breath, the adoration he has for his sister, the care he takes of her, the support he provides when I am mad at her (My favourite comment, Ads saying to Y: "Let's not talk to amma until she's in a good mood". WHA......TTTT????!!!!).
On the few occasions that Ads has come to Y's school with me at pickup time, he dashes to meet her, envelops her in a bear hug and showers her with kisses. She reciprocates by refusing to hold my hand, insisting on Anna taking her to the car and strapping her in the carseat. On days when she wakes up all sulky from her afternoon nap, Ads (rather than me) is a better choice to lovingly transform her mood into something more manageable. All I manage to do is infuriate her further!
I've written about this earlier (here and here) and if I ever needed any post-event justification for having brought a second child into this world, my kids have given it to me many times over. I'm immensely grateful that this particular pair of siblings dote on each other. Yes they fight and argue and drive me up the wall, but oh well, all in a day's work huh? I know that I am going to eat my words after 14 years when Ads sneaks his sister out to a late night disco, lipstick and miniskirt and all :)
But I think I will deal even with that as long as I know that several decades down the line, they still love each other as much as they do now. Is that too much to ask?

Monday 20 September 2010

The art of the power nap

An indispensable weapon in the armoury of any parent is the Power Nap, defined by wiktionary as "A short sleep taken in the daytime in order to refresh a person and generally terminated before deep sleep begins so as not to leave the sleeper drowsy." I credit my transition to motherhood as having been the driving force behind my learning this skill. The actual encouragement (=NAGGING!) came from my husband. When Ads was born, S took over the responsibility of putting him down for his naps. It was understood that if S was at home, then it was his job to put Ads to sleep. It didn't matter how busy he was, or even if he was working; because what used to take the rest of us atleast half an hour, would take him 5 minutes, no more. He would literally saunter out of the bedroom after putting Ads to sleep, raise a supercilious eyebrow at us lesser mortals who could not accomplish this laughably easy task, and go back to whatever he was doing. Sometimes, if he was tired and had nothing better to do, he would just place Ads on his chest and both father and son would snooze for a bit. S would get up after 20 minutes, fresh as a daisy. He would keep telling sleep-deprived me to take a nap too. I would excuse myself, saying I'm too busy, I'm working, I don't have the time etc etc and S would say: "Oh but you DON'T need the time, it's just 20 minutes!". The thing is, if I went to sleep, I'd pass out for a minimum of 1 hour and I could never understand how it was possible to wake up in 20 minutes and still not have a heavy head and an irritated mood.
Anyway to cut a long story short, S nagged me so much after Y was born that I decided to give it a shot. It changed my life. I know, sounds too dramatic; but believe me, a nap in the afternoon makes such a difference to my day. It alters my entire outlook. I feel refreshed, more active, infinitely energized. I know I can stay up late at night and hit the books and not be all bleary-eyed and drowsy. And it only takes 15-20 minutes. 
I told a new mommy the other day to start taking power-naps. It's a killer app, like the ability to clean, lubricate and diaper a wriggly baby's bottom in 10 seconds flat. Now that's matter for another post :))

Sunday 19 September 2010

How I teach conflict resolution

Roundabout a year ago, I realized that I needed to have a strategy to deal with those most annoying of sibling interactions - the arguments and the fights. What I didn't realize is just how annoying they would become. Some days it seems that all Ads and Y have to do is get within six feet of each other and a battle begins. In most cases, Y is the trigger. She will voluntarily give Ads one of her possessions and a few seconds later, demand it back. When he refuses, she protests - loudly. She will ignore her new cycle and when Ads starts pedalling on it, she suddenly develops an immense interest in it. Sometimes, Ads, in his role of the typical elder brother, will irritate Y just for the heck of it.
My strategy (if you can call it that) is to completely ignore them. Yeah, go ahead and laugh.............There is a method to my laziness! In fact, it is a deeply thought-out parenting tactic, designed to help my children negotiate the slippery territory of inter-personal relations, sibling rivalry and conflict resolution. They know that amma won't coming running every time they have a dispute, so they just have to work it out on their own. Believe me, it works! Ads' school in the US used to have a peace table. Kids who are arguing about something are made to sit there and arrive at a solution all by themselves. It is an awesome concept. Hmm....I should have a peace table installed in my home too!
A very, very neat idea one of my friends gave me was to grab a camera and start filming if the kids throw a tantrum or fight among themselves, and if the whole messy and loud situation shows no sign of abating. It always works - Ads for one shuts up INSTANTLY because he can't bear to see himself sad or upset on camera. The bonus is that the home video provides a ready stock of amusement when you need it :)

Saturday 18 September 2010

Books! Books! Books!

I've been going a little nuts with buying books for Ads lately. Reason #1 - No library, for kids or for adults, nearby. So although I'm not that big on buying books (I prefer borrowing and only buying those which we really  like and want to read over and over again), I was left with no alternative. Reason #2 - English writing for children in India is now BIG. Where one once (I'm talking of way back in the 90s) had to be satisfied with ladybird books, other imported books or poor quality Indian works, the appearance of publishers like Tulika, Zubaan and Pratham, just to name a few that I learnt about, have completely transformed children's writing in English. Innovative content, fantastic illustrations, links with Indian traditional art forms, and reasonable pricing make them  a must-add to any children's library. So these are the books we picked up recently (all ordered online). These are in addition to the few Amar Chitra Katha comics and Karadi tales DVDs that I ordered for Ads' birthday. (Incidentally is Karadi tales awesome or what???? ACK completely messed up my order but they were also service-oriented enough to ship me a new set in lieu of the ones they lost. So I got the books and DVDs a fortnight late but I was impressed with their ability to admit their mistake and make amends for it)

I just found out about Amma's Tales which sounds like something Ads would really love. Time for more shopping!!!

Thursday 16 September 2010

School feedback

Feedback I received about Y and her activities in the classroom, from her class teacher. She is a very lovable child, very bright, quick to grasp. Extremely naughty, finds it very difficult to sit still in class, keeps walking around, pushes other kids and looks for a reaction from them. My only question was what did she mean by "naughty"? Because to me all of Y's behaviour is quite age-appropriate. One does not expect any 22-month old to sit in one place for long, understand or obey all instructions, and NOT try to cross limits. So I just wanted to clarify from the teacher that she meant naughty in a positive sense. It turned out that she did.
Anyway, Ms Naughty is doing very well. Saunters off without a backwards glance once she reaches her school. (I cannot help but contrast it with the way Ads clings to me everyday, lest I forget his goodbye hug and kiss!) I leave you with a photograph. This isn't exactly the way I'd choose to display all my jewellery, but hey, maybe she'll start a trend :)

I don't need any protect!

This was the indignant response from Ads' when I told his dad "I think we need to send Y in the school bus to protect Ads."
And why did I say this? Every other day, Ads complains that the "big kids" in the bus (the kids are all in LKG and UKG so I suppose by big kids he just means someone taller and bigger than him, which is most of them!) take away his snack, or the chocolates that he gets when it's a classmates' birthday. And when I ask him why did he give away his snack, he says "Amma, he asked me for it, how can I say no?"
Grrr..........all my protective mother instincts are roused I give him a long lecture on how he doesn't need to share stuff with kids who are not his friends, especially not if they try to grab it from him. How he should say no very firmly but politely, and how he should escalate to the bus didi or bhaiya if required. How his class teacher has told me to teach him to be more "stern". 
Sorry, dear son who-doesn't-know-how-to-say-no, I really think I'll breathe easier when Y is old enough to offer you some protect! :)

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Proud mommy

I'm insanely proud of Ads. Because, as of yesterday, he can ride his cycle all by himself i.e. without any training wheels to support him. He's been riding his bike with just 1 training wheel for several weeks now. About 10 days ago, S removed the remaining training wheel also, but since then it's been raining every evening and Ads has not been able to practise. It took just a half-hour session with my father yesterday afternoon for him to become independent on the bike (or cycle, as I should start calling it!)
I think he was ready 6 months earlier, but we never had the time to spend with him, helping him get over the initial fear of falling, holding onto him as he tentatively pulled his feet off the ground. It seems like a big milestone. Probably it isn't really; but I just feel as though it is. 
We've not upgraded him to a larger 16 or 18 inch bike yet, but it's time now. He's way too big for the tiny 12 incher that we bought more than a year ago.

Monday 6 September 2010

After a long time, a movie (uninterrupted)

Saturday night. The end of a long day filled with errands - taking my father to the dentist, grocery-shopping, filling up the car with petrol, buying a birthday gift for one of Ads' friends, stopping by at the mall to buy tickets for a MOVIE!!!! I was very excited. It's a really big deal for me, that after five long years, last Saturday nightI got to watch a movie with S, in a movie theatre. The last one we watched together was Bunty aur Babli,  which as we all know was released a century ago. I was 6 months pregnant with Ads and blissfully unaware of how drastically our lives were going to change.
The movie - Peepli [LIVE]. The show - 10.25 pm. The idea was that we would leave Ads at home with my father and take Y with us. It would be well past her bedtime by the time we started off, so hopefully she would nod off in the car (she cooperated). She stayed asleep all through the movie except for the last 15 minutes which she insisted on watching. So, definitely the whole experiment was an unqualified success. Obviously, this model is not a scalable one; we can only do this when one of the grandpas or grandmas is around.'s a start!
We're going to catch another movie next weekend. Can't wait!

Sunday 29 August 2010

The big 5

It has been a very busy and eventful week.
Ads turned 5 on the 25th of August, and we seem to have been celebrating ever since the 21st. For starters, we flew to Chennai for 3 days to spend some time with my m-i-l as she turned 60. We were throwing a party for her anyways, and then she had the brilliant idea of celebrating her 4 grandchildren's birthdays also, in advance. The 4 grandchildren being aged almost 6, almost 5, almost 4 and almost 2 :) So in addition to the large cake we had already ordered for my mil, we also ordered 4 large pastries from the Taj Coromandel cake shop. It was a cakefest with each child cutting their individual cakes and finally S's mom cutting her own cake. Ads really enjoyed the trip, not least the chance to play and bond with his cousins who are much the same age. 
We got back to Delhi on the 24th, and the next day Ads was off to school, clutching a large bag of chocolates to be distributed to his teachers and classmates. Unfortunately a large portion of the chocolates seem to be have been demolished in the school bus itself, leaving just the right amount to be distributed to his classmates and none at all for the teachers! I asked Ads why he allowed the bus kids to dig in without protesting, and he said "It's ok ma, how can I stop children from having chocolates?" Sometimes he talks like a grandfather.  I met his teacher yesterday for a parent-teacher interaction, and it was all good. He is picking up Hindi, has made more friends, reading and writing all ok. She was also relating the incident where he landed up in school on his birthday with half the chocolates missing. I quote her: "He is a very simple innocent child. There's absolutely no guile in him anywhere. You must teach him to be more stern with other children."
My little boy. The one quality that is at a premium in this world and I am being asked to rub it out of you. Your simplicity, your innocence, your trust and your tendency to take things and people at face value are so endearing. But these wonderful qualities will only hurt you as your grow older. I'm so happy at this core of goodness that I know will always exist inside you, no matter whether you learn to be more stern or more selfish or more street-smart. 
Another birthday means another birthday party! And that means loads of stress that I manufacture out of nowhere and dump on myself. Thinking about food, games, music, decorations, return gifts, party favours.....I kept it simple and invited only 5 kids and their siblings. Unfortunately a couple of parents that I had invited couldn't make it so we ended up with only 1 adult and 7 kids (including my own) which worked out quite well because I could completely focus on them instead of trying to make conversation with their parents. It was a simple affair - juice and pasta, cake, lots of music and dancing, four games, and before we knew it, 2 hours had passed and parents started arriving to pick up their children. Ads enjoyed all the fun and frolic which was the main thing and the bonus was that Y seemed to enjoy it even more than him. It was a real challenge keeping her out of harm's way; she wanted to be in the thick of things but with 6 other loud and boisterous kids running around all over the place, the risk of her getting knocked down was significant. It did happen, not once but several times; she seemed to get hurt only once though and managed to stay on her father's lap for all of 10 seconds, bawling and getting the necessary sympathy and consolation; before sliding down and rejoining the festivities!
I shall now relax for 2 months before planning Y's party :)

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Conversation with a friend

Today, as I waited for Y to walk out of her classroom (they call it a 'studio' at her school) and toddle the 20 or so steps towards waiting me, I saw an extraordinary and very endearing sight. She was walking almost step-in-step with another girl, also carrying a backpack, who appeared to be almost the same age. They were walking (weaving would be a more appropriate word to describe what they were doing!), smiling at each other and very obviously speaking to each other, though I could not hear the words. And I thought, what on earth are they saying? Come on, Y can hardly string a few words together and I doubt the other girl could do very much more. They really looked like they were having a real conversation!! Does she already have a best friend and does she already have heart-to-hearts with her? I don't think I'll ever know :)

Birthday cards

We were off to Chennai last weekend to celebrate my mother-in-law's 60th birthday; and before we went, the kids undertook an art project to create birthday cards for both their grandmoms (my mother's birthday had come and gone earlier in the month).
This first card, had artwork by Y. She was supposed to be vegetable-stamping but ended up using an okra as a brush to swipe colours randomly all over the paper; the effect is quite pretty! I mounted it on a latticed paper frame which was supposed to be used for a scrap-booking project that I never started. Ads stuck some stickers all over it, I wrote a message on the back, the kids applied lipstick and kissed the card (!) and it was ready after just an hour's work.
This next one, for my mom, was very much the same, except that Ads' vegetable stamps were used.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Naughtiness thy name is Yukta Part 2

What do I do with my bundle of mischief?
I was on the phone and so touched that Yukta was lovingly stroking my head, until I realized that she was painstakingly applying petroleum jelly on my hair! I now look like I applied brylcreem to every strand. 
Yesterday, Ads was peeing and he told me that "your computer part" is in the toilet bowl. I fished out the ENTER and SHIFT keys from inside the bowl. Now how did she know these are the keys I use most often?
Yes yes I cute is that? 
Now you just try typing this blog post without the ENTER and SHIFT keys ;)

Sunday 15 August 2010

Uff teri ada

My mil says Y will become a very good HR person (that field sure needs some good people!). Her school vice-principal and teachers says she is a "leader". It would be interesting to see how much of leadership qualities she goes on to display in the future. For now, the power balance between the siblings is equal; if there is a slight tilt, it is surely in favour of Y.  
The funny thing is that she's not that gregarious. She takes her own sweet time to warm up to people, and she doesn't exhibit that wild excitement that still consumes Ads when we go to somebody's place or have visitors over at ours. But the overall impression is of mischief and a strong will. 
Her sense of humour is wicked and satirical, and therefore quite sophisticated for a toddler. She loves to tease. If about to indulge in inappropriate behaviour, she considers the moment wasted if there are no witnesses! For example, one of her favourite activities (which she has toned down a lot nowadays after several verbal lashings from all!) is to throw things down from our 4th floor balcony. But what's the fun in doing that if there are no spectators, right? So she will dangle a nice dress (or my watch, or cellphone) through the railing and call out "Amma, paaru!" and calmly watch me as I make a mad dash for the article, letting go at absolutely the last minute when I am this close to grabbing it from her.
And then, the piece de resistance: "Amma, sorry sollu"
The gall of the woman! And mind you, for this piece of cheek, she gets an instant hug and kiss from me - talk about charming the birds from the trees!
Both the kids have developed the habit of collecting different varieties of leaves and flowers as we play in the complex every evening. Y makes her anna collect several samples for her. The simple fellow wades through puddles, reaches up high into tall shrubs, and bends into bushes to collect the wanted leaves and flowers. She takes it from him, looks up at him for a minute with a half-smile and mischief glinting in those eyes, and very deliberately throws away the leaf/flower and coolly walks away while he looks on open-mouthed.
I can only say: Uff, teri ada. What a song! For your listening pleasure.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Independence day

Ads' class conducted an assembly for the primary school (KG1 and KG2) last week and the theme was "Unity in Diversity". He was supposed to dress up as a Malayali and his lines were:
I am Advaith. I am from Kerala. I speak Malayalam. I love eating coconuts. Thank you.
The parents are invited to attend the assembly and I duly landed up. All the kids spoke so well. I was impressed. Advaith wore a veshti, white shirt and angavastram.
The next day, I had to come up with a costume for Y. Her teacher asked me to dress her up as a leader because she anyway behaves like one! I recycled the same veshti material to improvise on a 2-piece saree. My plan was to get her to wrap it around her head like Indira or Sonia Gandhi but she was having none of that! She fidgeted and complained so much during the dressing-up that I almost gave up in frustration. But that effort was worth it. I created one cute pint-size politician!

Monday 9 August 2010

Written while the kids watch Chota Bheem

Could Y get ANY more clingy?
Oops. She just did.
She has been sick (both of them have been) and for the past hour, she has refused to get off my lap. Really, she is too heavy for me to carry around as I get stuff done around the house. Until a few minutes ago, she insisted loudly on sticking her face to mine so that all I could see were her big eyes in closeup and her little nose was pressing uncomfortably hard against mine. We must have stayed like that for 5 or 10 minutes.
I peeled her off me and plonked them both in front of the TV. I need a breather.
The books have been stagnating on my table. I swear there is a thin layer of dust on them already.

Saturday 7 August 2010

Missing Ads returns to this blog

If Ads has been missing from this blog for quite some time, it's because, at this particular juncture, Y occupies a much larger share of my mind, time and attention. It's been often said that the crying baby gets more milk, and so it is with Y and Ads. The latter is so much more independent; he washes his own hands, eats on his own; fetches his own water/juice; dresses himself to a large extent; attends to his own peeing (!), and largely amuses himself with various imaginary games and with drawing.
In consequence, he has been suffering from benign maternal neglect. 
Every now and then, he will come up with some strange words and phrases which will crack me up! For example, a few weeks ago, he saw me studying and asked me whether I was "reading to be an office-woman"! Yesterday, he was annoyed with me because he had asked me for a particular brand of chocolate and I said "Maybe tomorrow". He responded "You always say tomorrow! You have become a tomorrow-lady!"
His 5th birthday falls on the 25th of this month and on the 28th I'm planning a small party at home. I've already started planning for this - my organized Virgo instincts are kicking into high gear! 

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Y's school craft

Y came home with some craft last Friday. It was so unbearably cute to see her toddling towards me, a huge smile on her face, clutching her "trophies" proudly. One is a pink fan-like contraption which she very clearly has NOT made :) The other was a white sheet of paper, much crumpled, on which she had scribbled all over and she said it was meant to be a "doggy".

This week, they are learning about fruits, in school. Every day, she is supposed to take a different fruit with her to class. Monday was mango day and she insisted I click this photo of her clutching the mango. Check out the colour-coordinated outfit and shoes!

Sunday 1 August 2010

Sick sick sick

We have all been sick ever since the beginning of last week; not sick enough to have visited the doctor, but sick enough to cause plenty of inconvenience. On Tuesday night, Ads threw up on the bed a couple of times - I deduced the result of eating not one, not two, but THREE bread rolls at lunch in school that day. The greedy pig! He was complaining of stomach pain and had a low-grade fever on Wednesday and ended up bunking two days of school. On Thursday night, Y threw up (again in the middle of the night, on the bed) no less than SIX times. I felt like I was back in time to my post-partum days when one had to get up every hour to feed or soothe a crying child. It was exhausting and very very yucky. Aaah - the joys of a child-free existence. Y's puking, was, once again, the result of some gluttony. Her thatha (S's father) was visiting for a couple of days and he bought her some chocolates. Though she just had a couple of small slabs, it was on top of some potato chips that she had demolished earlier in the day.
Yesterday, we all decided to take a Metro ride and on the way to the station, she said "Amma, vaandhi" and just when I was thinking, how can a 21-month old express the feeling of wanting to vomit, she had puked all over the carseat! We were all more impressed with the fact that she had actually managed to give a warning rather than feeling bad that the poor girl had thrown up :)
OMG.............more cleaning. 
And today, I was sick. Thankfully it's the weekend so no school; on the other hand there have been two bored kids needing to be entertained. I left them to their own devices (as usual, S got dragged into some weekend conference calls).
Y's latest is the Happy Birthday song. She bursts into a lusty "Happy budday to you!" whenever we say "Cake"! She was upset today because she had her weekly shampoo bath. She should get her hair washed more often but she screams and wails so much during the entire process that I have limited it to once a week. She started her mantra of "Yampoo (shampoo) no" as soon as she saw me prepping her for the bath. 

Friday 30 July 2010

Sorry for...almost anything

We are a very polite family. No really, we are :) To the extent that we even apologize to each other for the wrongs we did not commit. This weird trend has been kick started by our resident goonda (I've decided that this is the only adjective suited to her), Y. Whenever she commits a mistake or gets into trouble, she orders the nearest person around (usually Ads and I are caught in the line of fire) to say sorry! "Sorry sollu!" is the reigning anthem. The way she says it, it comes out as a very cute "Yoyyi yoyyu!" so of course the command is hard to disobey.
So, if she stubs her toe, we say sorry. If she hits Ads and promptly bursts into tears, he says sorry. If I admonish her for something she did, I say sorry.
If she is like this at the age of two minus, I shudder to think of Y at age 16. As PG Wodehouse would say, the mind boggles.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Mommy's little helper - or not

I tried to get Y to help me with some chores around the house. She was bored, I had work to do and I needed to keep her occupied. Realized very soon that it's an activity more suited for a child older than two and a half. She kept misunderstanding me and wanting to play rather than help! What we got out of it was a) One very messy bed b) Several clothes-pegs that got flung from the 4th floor onto ground floor. Bonus: She got into the swing of things and threw some of Ads' toys downstairs, prompting a screaming fit from that child.
Remind me not to try to engage Y in "constructive" tasks from now on :(

Pushy and headstrong

These are the adjectives being used to describe my daughter, less than a fortnight into school. And they mean pushy in the literal sense - she has been pushing older kids around! How did my gentle Ads get a sister like Y? Beats me!
She goes the whole hog - 9 am to noon - from tomorrow. She has been doing well, except for a daily crying fit that begins the instant we step into the reception area and ends 10 seconds later when Mrs. B, who seems to be the Assistant Director and who is extremely nice, takes her in hand, tells her "Ok, what is this drama, you're a big girl now, come with me and play with your rabbit" and whisks her away.
I see most of the other moms lingering on, watching over the fence to see what their kids are upto, whether they have stopped crying, whether they seem happy. I feel like telling them it's pointless, their kids ARE happy, don't get stressed over a few tears and please please don't hang around. Kids can sense their parents' presence uncannily well; and as long the mom/dad is around, the kid is not going to stop crying. But it's none of my business and in any case many of them get ticked off by the teachers for hanging around too long!
On a related note, Y has started calling me - "Aei, amma!" in a bossy tone of voice. I wonder when she will dispense with the amma altogether and just call me Aei!