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!