Saturday 30 January 2010

Ads and r2i

There is a sense of relief now the the r2i decision has been made and we are moving to Delhi in a month or so. The uncertainity of the last few months has come to an end and I am even looking forward to experiencing a new city. As we make humungous to-do lists, sort and dispose of our stuff, call up Delhi brokers and schools, and explore shipping options, there is at the back of my mind an unease and anxiety which I know is only going to intensify over the next couple of months. You know that uncomfortable and nasty feeling that wells up from the pit of your stomach before an important exam or interview that you haven't prepared for, a feeling that makes you almost nauseous? There is only one person who can make me feel that way nowadays, and that is Ads. I am deeply anxious about how he will adjust in India, to a new school, friends and lifestyle. He knows we are moving but I'm not sure it has sunk in yet.
Maybe I'm over-protective about him because he is my first-born. Maybe I got so used to being anxious about him and his well-being, right from the time I saw those two dark-blue lines on the home pregnancy test, all through those not-so-pleasant months of my pregnancy where I prayed incessantly that my baby should be full-term and healthy. Maybe because he hates change, and disruption to routine. Maybe because he is so gentle and I fear he can't handle a big school and a strange environment.
So even though I am a logical reasonable person and I know that children are far more resilient that we give them credit for, I worry about him. I worry about this conscious decision of ours to uproot him from the loved and the familiar. I hate the thought of his first day in the new school, when he will cling to me and cry and beg me not to leave.
As a mother, I know that is a burden you have to carry all your life. A few years ago, I would scold my mother for worrying about me and my brother; but now all I feel is empathy.
As we move to yet another stage in our lives, I have my fingers crossed that it will be an easy journey for Ads.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Naughtiness thy name is Yukta

Highlights from a typical day of dealing with Y's naughtiness -
8 am: Y methodically plucks sundry keys from S's laptop keyboard. Rare yelling session by S occurs.
9.30 am: Y drops S's cellphone into a mug of hot tea, which I was holding in my hand. Another yelling session by S.
11.30 am: Ads is watching TV and she keeps fiddling with the DVD player. Manages to pull open DVD tray and Ads is in tears when the cartoon stops playing.
3.00 pm: Bites Ads in his stomach, leaving behind red puncture marks. Poor Ads reels and cries from the unexpected pain.
5.00 pm: I find the trash can in the bathroom emptied all over the floor (WHICH FOOL LEFT THE LOO DOOR OPEN??? Oops it was me!)
Every 5-10 minutes: Climb onto dining table chair and bang on my laptop keyboard randomly. I'm surprised it's still working.
She needs a contructive outlet for all that energy. Oh for the rains to stop and sunny park-weather days to be here again!

Monday 11 January 2010

Of brothers and sisters

The three of us, kids and I are alone in the apartment. I'm in the bedroom folding and sorting laundry, making the bed or some other random and mundane chore. From the living room, I hear giggles and snatches of conversation. My mommy antenna pops up. I sneak to the door and slowly extend my head to peek into the living room. Two dark heads are bent over a book. One with black, straight, closely-cropped hair; the other with dark brown curls tumbling in an unruly mass over forehead and neck. Unasked by me, of his own volition, he is reading to his sister. He points out objects and calls out their name. Car. Bus. Apple. Baby. She repeats the words after him. He puts down one book and picks up another. And then another. She is engaged and amused. Every now and then he says something that both find acutely funny.
The sheer beauty of the bond between brother and sister is second only to the bond tethering parent and child.

Lessons learnt when flying solo

S is away in India and I am handling the kids by myself for the last several days, with another week to go. I was terrified of this scenario. Countless questions spun around in my mind. How will I shower? How will I entertain the two? What do I do on weekends? What do I do for adult conversation? And so on.
It has been far easier than I envisaged. I realized that the fear of the unknown, untried and untested is so much more fearsome than the reality of the unknown. My fears turned out to be tissue-paper thin and after a few days, I found myself ridiculing the old me who made a mountain out of a molehill.
Yes it is hard to take a shower. Yes I long for a break, even one just long enough to eat one square meal in peace. Yes they both jump on me and whine and vie for attention at the same time. Yes it is incredibly hard to devote time to both, fulfil their different physical and emotional needs, keep the house clean(ish), do the laundry and the dishes and drive them around to school, library, park......the list goes on.
Thus, second important lesson learnt. Their behaviour mirrors mine. If I remain calm and in control, they stay calm and in control. I don't have the luxury of flying off the handle and losing it, because if I get mad at them, whom can they run to for support? At this point, I am the only parent they have. So I have to be good as gold. And you know what? They are being good as gold too. (Well, mostly....).
Playing Supermom has done wonders for my momfidence!

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Of food and other things

An important lesson I learnt after moving to the States and observing American moms at work was that the sooner you teach your toddler to be independent, the better (for you mostly, but also for your child). I still have a big problem with the western habit of plonking a 6-week old child in her own crib and room, far away from her parents; but other than that, there's a lot of be learnt from the super-efficient way in which American moms teach their children to feed and dress themselves from a very early age. It was a little too late for me to implement these ideas with Ads, but I am trying to remedy that defect now that I have Y to practise upon. She has been a most willing and eager student.
The first thing to know about Y is that, she loves to eat. Period. I've been lucky that Ads is a good eater too, though his menu of choices has gone down but it's still large enough for me not to worry about what he's going to eat when we are on the road. (So why are both my kids so skinny????). With her good motor skills, she is able to grasp a plastic tumbler filled with milk and gulp it down with a minimum of liquid tricking down her clothes. She has been snacking on an assortment of finger foods - paneer and cheese bits, cheese puffs (her favourite), cookies and crackers, slices of apple and banana, and frosted cereal. Not content with what is offered to her on the highchair tray, she insists on snacking from my plate. In the last few days, she has gobbled down a quarter of a roti, bits of bread with nutella and sunflower seed butter, a couple of grapes, and some pulao. With such a cooperative ward, I would be incompetent indeed if I didn't teach her to feed herself by the time she is 18 months old.
She has picked up a few more words like Yeah (she uses it all the time, mostly in context!), Bye, Hi. There's a lot of babbling going on all the time all of which means something I am sure but which is all quite incomprehensible. She is still pretty clingy but doesn't have as much stranger anxiety as earlier. She is constantly trying to find out how things work. Having noticed how we point the remote at the TV screen, she walks around pointing my cellphone at the TV, willing it to spring to life. She points the car keys at the car and my house keys at the elevator button!
Here is a snapshot of Y working hard at some munchies.

Monday 4 January 2010

Blogging after a break

Posting has been slow after we got back from our vacation in Hawaii. The lazy holiday mood carried over even after we landed in 40 degree chilly San Francisco after enjoying the 85 degree sunny and gorgeous Maui climate. It was our best vacation ever (I seem to say that after every trip but this time I think it's really true!) and there were a lot of memorable sights and activities but two things really stand out. One sounds really rather silly when put down in black and white but it's just that, with kids, life becomes so hectic and one of the things my post-baby self has always wanted to do is relax in a cozy armchair with a cup of steaming hot coffee or tea and gaze at the ocean waves lapping on the beach; and I got to do that in Maui. I would wake up by 7 am or so, too late to catch the sunrise, but early enough to beat the morning traffic of S, Y and A; make myself a cup of coffee and sink gratefully into the rattan armchair in the balcony of our condo. Coconut trees everywhere, a mountain with windmills lined up near the summit, and the restless sea. Bliss.
The second thing that I remember with great clarity was the random walk Ads and I took one morning, to the beach near our condo. We wandered through knee-high unkempt grass with no particular purpose, stopping every now and then to (literally) smell the flowers. We plucked some wildflowers, examined the bark of some coconut trees, and even tried to climb one (horribly difficult!). Ads ran ahead of me calling back to me "Honey, come here!" He was a tiny figure in his blue shorts and white T-shirt. He looked so young and vulnerable and I felt a sudden pang of regret that just because he has a younger sibling, maybe we treat him as older than he is and expect a standard of behaviour that is simply not possible for a kid his age? I see parents with just one child who still treat that child, whether they are 5, 7 or 10 years old, like a baby. Maybe we would also treat Ads like the not-long-out-of-babyhood kid that he is, if Y hadn't been around. I decided to be more patient with him, a noble resolution that lasted only as long as his next tantrum that same day :(
Speaking of which, it has been an uphill task dealing with Ads' multiple daily tantrums. For the last 1.5 years, we have been having a hard time dealing with his emotional ups and downs and somehow I thought that after he turned 4, the problem would sort itself out. He would be more mature, we are giving him lots of attention despite (or indeed, because of) Y being around, he would be more settled at school etc etc. None of our predictions have come true and while we are managing this frustrating phase in his childhood, we are far from knowing what triggers these outbursts or whether, as his teacher claims, it's just a stage many kids go through and we don't need to fret about it. Neither the carrot nor the stick approach seems to work. Withdrawing certain privileges as a punishment for bad behaviour is my formula; but what do you do with a kid who calmly accepts a temporary ban on TV and reading books and drawing (his 3 favourite activities) and doesn't seem to learn anything from it? S is amused, I am sheepish and frustrated and the whole incident has no impact on his Majestic Tantrumness.
Y has been engaging us in a different manner; but that is fodder for another post.