Monday, February 27, 2006

Open House today

You will be delighted to know that this brat is the life and spirit of his classroom, so I was informed not by one, but by three of his teachers, independently of each other. Which brought much cheer to my heart. He is also picking up speech by leaps and bounds, and though he might not say too much in terms of the nursery rhymes, he does know what is expected of him and makes an attempt to respond. Joy to the world. Hummmpy Dummmpy chatonawaaa.
The brat has his observation next week where they will be expected to respond to queries and tell the teachers the colours, numbers, alphabets, poems, vehicles, fruits and veggies and other such stuff that they have been teaching them all this year. I can already see the brat pull up a table, perch himself on it and start off in his inimitable way--- Huumpppy Dummpy (why do all the first two words of every nursery rhyme have to be long drawn out one wonders). The rest of the colours shapes, fruits and veggies and such like, I wonder how he is ever going to respond. Of course, the teachers have assured us not the pressurise the child and dont make them mug up stuff, which honestly made me laugh out loud. How on earth do you make a 2 year old mug up stuff, something's seriously rotten with the state of our education. Anyway, I'm just going to let the brat be, if he feels like answering their questions correctly he will, and if he doesnt he wont. Anyway, he is underage for the class, the rest of the brats on an average are 2.6 to 3 years and some are even 3 plus. So there's no way I am going to compare him to them. And as all the teachers singled me out to praise my child, it really makes me feel on top of the world. After all, the sun does shine out of his you know what for me--he is flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood and born of my womb. Now I know how parents actually take their children's achievements to be their own. I take such pride in his little achievements, although I know that he is far far behind his peers, but nonetheless, the heart swells with pride at every new word and tears burst unguardedly when he finally masters some miniscule new skill.
Bleeding heart thats what I am.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Weekend trip done with

We’re back. From the big car ride to another city. And we behaved ourselves so beautifully that mamma could also take a three hour nap with us. Isnt that wonderful? Perhaps, I think, I underestimate the brat’s ability to stay cooped in a moving vehicle for hours on end. Anyone who has traveled with a brat under three will agree that staying still is synonymous with Japanese torture for them, and every available moment is opportunity for generating some action. The brat kindly consented to sleep for an hour and a half on the way to, and on the way back slept almost the entire journey. Which has actually kindled hopes of me taking him for more such journeys. As long as the Lays, cheese slices, chocolate, banana and gape (grape) keep coming, he is a content child. As long as we don’t pass by the McDonalds at the base of the expressway without picking up fies he’s fine. As long as mom keeps em fies coming we’re fine.
He had a ball most of the time in Pune. Sis in law played babysitter while I took myself off to the parlour to get some highlights put into drab hair to spice up my look. “Such a good boy he is,” she says when I come back. “No trouble at all. You just keep complaining about him all the time for nothing.” Now where I have I heard that before? The mother. When she babysits him. I am always an evil mom, complaining endlessly about the sweet as an angel grandchildren whom I paint as a Hitlerish figure constantly keeping me on my toes. I guess he has a different side to show to me. And he knows exactly which buttons to push with me, and is really an angel when I am not around. But then even in his most hellish tantrums, he still seems an angel to me. But worn out and stressed out 24x7 donot make for a pleasant mother. And if I complain a bit, forgive me.
Anyway, by 2 pm the next day, he had had enough of Pune. Chalo Chalein. Let’s Go. Go Home. Ghar Chalein. Both English and Hindi. In case we couldn’t get the point. And multiple times, until, he began sobbing bitterly because we were showing no signs of Chalo Chalein. Poor baby. So we did. Got up and Lets Go Home. Which is after all where the heart is. And our swing and our toys. And our Noddy car. Which we jumped into in sheer delight the moment we entered into the house.
Lets go drive. In the big car, I ask. No Nai. Chitdown. Jhool Bachca Jhool.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pune, here comes Humpy Dumpy

Tomorrow we take off on a long distance journey. From Bombay to Pune. Via car. With one hyper brat, one stressed out mom, and one driver cum papa in charge of the expedition. Piece of cake you would think. You couldn’t be more off the mark. With brat in tow it seems like an expedition to the Antartic. Via steamer. From Europe. With two galley slaves to keep the coals burning. Namely me and the husband. With the husband driving, my sole purpose through the entire car journey will be to physically restrain the brat from jumping into the drivers lap and take over the steering.
But first things first. To start with, there is the packing to be done. Considering that it is packing for just two days it couldn’t be much right. Right. My list is two pages of an excel sheet printout, with special columns for ticking and cross ticking. Seven bags the last time we went. Let’s see how it goes this time round. Last time round of course, one extra bag contained the gu gu bottles. Now that the gu gu bottles and the formula have gone to the big playground in the sky, that would mean one less bag. Or so I hope. Will only know the true situation tomorrow when the bags are packed and ready. Do I overpack? Of course I do. I am a paranoid mother who always wants to be prepared for every situation. Boy scout style. I even pack a torch and the entire gamut of the brat’s medicine kit. Never know what malaise will strike in the middle of nowhere and render one helpless by the lack of available medication. For myself I pack Anacin. The one with superpowers of immediately reducing Godzilla size headaches into a pleasant buzz around the base of the neck. Sis in law will have Amrutanjan balm available and handy at the other end of the expressway.
Here is a summary of how the ride will be. Haul oneself and brat and assorted bags down to the car and pack oneself in. Then sit in the backseat with brat. Brat will promptly proceed to attempt going up front. His father will gently rebuke him, a point which will only be taken as a sign of encouragement for further effort to make it to the front of the car, where he will drive. So he thinks. He will handle the steering, and god forbid the father tries to do any steering on the sly. Loud wails of protest will ensue. Of course, all this will happen while we’re still to get out of the driveway. Then he will be sent back firmly. Where he will continue to squirm relentlessly to make it to the front. Aaaja Aaaja (come, come) he will ask his father hopefully. Aaagaya (here he comes) he will reply to his own query with great joy as he makes the big leap to the front zone. A seat belt is of little use, he slips through. And now with the shoulder in a brace, restraining him should be a fair bit of a wrestling match. Between all these Herculean endevours, he will down a gadzillion liters of water and juice and assorted lays and such like. A burger and fries might happen, but if he decides to take a short nap between all this hectic activity, it might just not. We reach Pune in an average of four hours, by which I am a frazzled mass of raw nerve ends, and the brat, having happily slept away the last stretch is awake and kicking for his next round of activity. Which involves tearing around the house and the compound in the manner of Ashish Nehra post wicket haul. You know the style, aeroplane wings outstretched and running into various things including team mates. Only with brat it involves furniture. And then Humpy dump will have a great fall.
Mustnt forget to pack the bandaids.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Picnic time

Friday is when the brat is scheduled in for his school picnic. Now that seems innocent enough, but there are two schools to this entire issue, which probably seems like the Lok Sabha bill needs to be passed on it. The husband, of course, is of the firm opinion that I am mollycoddling the brat, and let him go and enjoy himself. I and the mothers, both mine and the inlaw, are deadset against it, knowing as we do, the brat's propensity to get into trouble wherever it can be found. Considering he has just about got himself into a cracked clavicle problem, and he can never sit still in a car with two adults supervising him full on, wonder how he would fare in a bus full of other assorted brats, all in equally high, if not higher spirits. After all, this is a child who spends the better part of a car ride going from the front seat to the back seat, insist on sitting in his fathers lap and driving the car and yell at his father to get his hands off the wheel so he can steer the car. Apart from this, the brat will not follow instructions, will not walk in line, and will go just where he feels like. What if, shudder, shudder, he decides to wander off and no one notices? A giant hand wrenches my heart just at the thought. Am I being paranoid? I am sure every mother is. Especially every mother, who like me, knows her child is difficult and different from the norm. And needs careful handling. Though now, of course, he's a gadzillion times more receptive and reactive than what he was and can actually take the effort to communicate what he wants and needs. Therefore he can ask for water and mum mum. So I know he will not go hungry or thirsty if I am not around. Or maybe its just mummy panic thinking that they are indispensable to their brats, little realising that the brat will do perfectly well, thank you, if they are not around. After all, if you had one bonded lackey whose job was to serve you hand and foot day and night, cater to all your whims and tantrums, tolerate your whining, feed you your favourite foods, play with you, sing with you and do all you want, wouldnt you like it too! This lackey cum bonded slave signing off.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Nursery woes begin

Met up with dear friend for coffee yesterday. Like all urban time pressed moms, she too has a three year old ready to make his way into the big bad world of school. Her kid has managed to get his admission into Jamnabai Narsee School, that bastion of Juhu snobbery which has been churning out celebrity kids into filmstardom for the past so many years. Will Ecole Mondiale displace it now as the place to send your kids if you can afford it? I wonder. Frankly, even to me, Ecole Mondiale feels like a place that is too expensive. I wouldnt mind even a boarding school, but not a dayschool that charges quite that much. But then, nothing is too less when it comes to quality education for these kids. She unfortunately has afternoon school timings for her brat which effectively manages to ruin her entire day. Thankfully I had the prescience to choose the morning shift which does mean that I ruin my sleep but I will have the day to myself once the brat is back from school and safely deposited in the custody of either mother. Discussing the merits of schools versus schools and realised how cut throat the competition is to get the brats into good schools. Have another friend who is not at all concerned about admissions and such stress. Considering her brat, at a month older than my specimen can probably rattle off the dictionary backwards, she shouldnt be worried. That brat was using complicated words like aeroplane in correct context while my brat was making gurgling sounds. But her lackdiasance is a little worrying for a natural panicker like me who likes to have all things wrapped up well in time.
Cut across to the deadwood suburb I live in and the playschool where the brat currently goes where all the mothers are just looking for a school they can trot across to with brat in tow, not a single one wants to take on the stress of any sort of travel to a school.
Brat runs into school with such joy these days that it is a delight to see him. I know that the first few weeks at Billabong are going to be replete with wailing and temper tantrums. But hopefully he would love it there too. And yes, there is a swimming pool too. Considering that the father is a national swimming champion, hopeful that he will take to water like a duck. Right now of course, coordination is so shaky that pedalling is also not happening, therefore, we sit on our 'shakal' and walk our way around the world, seated on a bicycle. By the way, brats verbal skills are developing at such a ferocious pace that he actually told me to shut up yesterday when I was in the midst of giving him a dressing down for making a mess with the water he was supposed to be drinking. Talking of drinking, why is it that the brat can drink an entire glass of Maazaa mango without spilling a drop, but needs to be spoonfed a cup of milk painfully for the better part of an hour. Now that he has been weaned off the bottle (rather cold turkey one might add, in the short stint that he had in hospital recently).
Coming back to school, am already working backwards on my timings. School to be reached at 8.45 am, therefore, home to be left at 8.15 am, therefore brat to be woken up at 7.30 am, and self to be woken at 6 am. Gawwwwwd. How on earth is one to manage that? Guess one would have to grab some shut eye in the middle of the day. Can just see myself nodding off in the middle of a meeting. Just like me to do that. The brat of course, will get his dose of shuteye and then be awake bright and sparky to ruin the rest of the world's sleep.
Will cross that bridge when one comes to it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Avian flu hits the city...no eggie.

No eggie. No chicken. What will this chicken and egg addicted child do? This is a child who gobbles through a minimum of three eggies a day, and is forcibly restrained from entering the refrigerator to pull out more eggs and compel us to fry them while he sits on the kitchen platform and watches us to ensure that the deed is done. So is this the bird flu or the Ranikhet disease caused by overgrowing birds and not vaccinating them beyond 75 days so they all fell dead? The jury is out on this and knowing the chances of us getting accurate information from the government, I would rather keep my sanity and my child safe by not feeding him any form of egg. So where do we get our daily dose of protein from now that egg and chicken are off the list of mandatory requirements. Mutton and fish will rule the roost now. And if the brat pushes away at the plate demanding 'Ticken' he will just have to learn the tough way. 'No ticken'. Momma's sad too. Momma loves chicken too.
The newspapers are full of countless images of round eyed hens looking sadly into the camera lens. The mother in law was very upset seeing the piles of chicken carcasses. I of course, matter of factly notified her that these chicken are being bred to be killed anyway and eaten. And how she herself loves a good sukka chicken. I dont think it was a wise move. I have fallen further in the popularity charts. Nonetheless. Did a alooticki and tried to con the brat into believing it was a chicken burger patty. These kids. He saw through my con before I could even put it into his mouth and sweetly fed it all to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Billabong, here we come....

It has finally happened. We have been granted admission to Billabong High, that bastion of good schooling located barely 15 minutes from home. Which we had earmarked as being the ideal school for the brat since he was a zygote awash in amniotic fluid. Have always believed in the importance of a good school, coming as one did from the rarified stratosphere of a convent education and a boarding school teacher mum, who duly impressed on one the necessities of a good school and classmates from a comparable social strata (to enable networking to begin when one is still playing with Play Doh). Snobbery apart. Necessity compelled me to put brat into playschool next door where (though he loves it there and that is enough endorsement for me) the rest of the brats donot have mothers I can make two minutes of conversation with because their world revolves around lunch dinner, sarees and temple visits. Forgive me if I sound snobbish, but it is true. And they all speak in Gujarati and treat me like the pariah as I dont fit in. I actually know the nursery rhymes taught in school before the teacher teaches them, I make conversation with the teacher in English (like that is a great qualification) and, horrors, I work. Out of the house. I dont cook the food at home myself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hell in the mall....

Went to the mall yesterday............(long pause for long suffering sigh). Was fasting yesterday, therefore glucose deprived and already crabbity. The brat was on a carb high having scarfed down an entire packet (repeat, entire packet) of Lays in one sitting, and having rejected unequivocally healthier options like milk and fruit had also chewed up a Kitkat bar. Okay. So there were we at the mall like two mismatched characters from a daily sitcom with mom in law who in the least bit is not inclined to carry or take care of brat in public situation, poor thing, given her arthritic hand and knee situation. One squiggly wild brat and one paranoid mother and a mall full of bemused onlookers watching the wrestling match between the two. At the supermarket running between the aisles with a hand casually out to drop all the carefully stacked goods onto the floor. Sudden temper tantrums when one wouldnt let him do so. Clambering onto a kids cycle on display and insisting on taking it out of the store. Throwing more tantrums and goods onto the floor. Wriggling like an eel through one's restraining arms (cant lift him from under the armpit because of his collarsling bone situation and he takes full advantage of it) and hurtling towards staircases going down at full speed. Diastolic and systolic levels of blood pressure elevated to head bursting points, I picked up brat finally like a little baby, carried him kicking and squealing right out of the mall into a rickshaw and back home.
Am still tired out.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Birthday party at school

Brat went off to school after almost a week's break. This occasioned by a national holiday and the before mentioned collarbone episode. The joy was palpable. Going skool. Going skool. He asked disbelievingly. Yesterday, a Sunday, he dragged me down to the gate and demanded to be taken to skool. So I did. Thankfully, this is a small playschool, with the owner residing in the same premises. So his teacher was there, making her Sunday lunch. Arey dikra, su thayi gayo? She asked, lapsing into Gujarati, shocked by the neck brace. Arey Khodai! So the child was delighted at getting back to skool, where Rajnish threw his birthday party today. So no tiffin, since cake and sweets were to be distributed. Hallelujah. Cake is always welcome. Will return home looking like a caveman after a feast with cake dribblings on our clothes. Rajnish of course, was looking as cute as only two year olds can in a red Ferrari racer jacket with a red tee underneath and denim jeans. Just makes one wonder what studs these guys will be when they grow up. My hero too, looks an absolute killer even when he is in his dirty home vest and chadhi. Really want to get him that Ferrari jacket, considering we handle Ruff Kids, can I angle for a discount on the already on discount merchandise which is on sale, or will I be perceived as being cheaper than the cheapest. I think so, so lets drop the idea. Generous relatives can be given subtle hints and hopefully someone will pick the tab. Anyway, the brat needs a completely new wardrobe, given that he needs to wear a brace 24 hours and he cannot wear sleeves. Therefore ganjis with jackets are his best bet. Sleeveless tees need to be bought. Expenses mount. Hypertension rises.
New words--mobile, chaddhi, money/honey (as in Sing a song of sixpence), hokey pokey (which, by looking at the actions that accompany it is a bastardisation of Boogie Woogie) and some more which I cant quite recall right now.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Damned clavicle

The brat is now condemned to three months of wearing a neck brace 24 hours. An impacted clavicle. Caused by a sudden toss from the crib, in turn caused by what I assume was a simultaneously attempt to get down from over the railings, while doing the bhangra to the Rang De Basanti theme song which had then come on the telly. Doing the bhangra to Daler Mehndi's rendition with its characteristic gusto has now become almost a Pavlovian response with the brat. Feeling immensely guilty for leaving him unsupervised for that split second while I dashed into the kitchen to keep a plate. Who would know that he would chose that precise second to clamber onto the crib and attempt an unguided missile descent. He howled inconsolably, shaking in fright, in a cold sweat for the better part of an hour, and while a detailed examination of all body parts, revealed to my untrained eye no obvious injury, but since he continued to howl and inform me valiantly between sobs 'Lagi' (translate to 'hurt' for those not familiar with Hindi), I decided to take no chances and took the brat to the pediatrician where an xray later and an orthopaedic surgeon visit later, we confirmed a clavicle dislocation on the left shoulder. Poor baby. It hurts one more seeing one's child suffering. I can bear almost any pain stoically and have a high pain threshold, but two tears from the brat's eyes and I'm the baby sobbing in pain. The child is more resilient than I am. Some ibulgesic later, he was back to his usual monkey business, and horrors even attempting scaling up the crib again. The father encouraged him. If he gets scared of doing so, was the reasoning, he will never be able to overcome the fear of falling. Sounded logical to me, though I hovered around in fear. I now realise that the hardest part of motherhood is seeing your child suffer.
Am back at work, with the brat being babysat by mother where a frantic phone with sobbing brat in the background has already done its fair share to aggravate guilt factor. Am I a bad mother?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Papa papa...


The brat's papa walked in past midnight. Brat was still awake. He let out a whoopee squeal of joy when the doorbell rang and rushed, in his lopsided hypotonic way, to the door, squeaking papa papa. The reception and red carpet that papa gets is unbelievable considering that he barely spends anytime with him. Okay okay. Confession time, am unbearably jealous of the affection brat has for his father. Unfairly so, considering I am the one doing everything possible for him and the only thing the father does is play with him for around 30 minutes in a day. But one has to see his face light up with happiness when his father walks into the room, with his esperanto gibberish he tries hard to tell his father about his day, talking at the top of his voice, trying to get his attention, calling out papa papa. Trying hard to impress his father by rattling off his alphabets and his nursery rhymes. He then spent the better part of the next hour playing rough and tumble with his father who also clearly adores him but doesnt really know how much rough and tumble should go into play and how much becomes child torture. He is a heavy man, and is still to guage the pressure levels that make play fun, but brat enjoys it all. Basically he looks forward to playtime with his father. I guess whatever is rare is what is most precious. Mamma is perennially available so she doesnt really matter. Papa comes tops on his chart.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jonny jonny yeah papa

This is the brats favouritest nursery rhyme ever. He says it with feeling. Acting out the yeah papa, no papa bits with vigorous headshaking action. I enjoyed it in the beginning, but now I feel I need a little more variety. Nope. Not a chance. Sit down and listen to Jonny jonny yeah papa. Kishi, say teddy bear teddy bear. He will stare at you impassively. Shake his head imperiously. No. And then get right back on the Jonny jonny yeah papa bandwagon. Twinkle twinkle little star. No. Chitdoown. Jhool bacha jhool. And then, the piece de resistance. Jonny jonny yeah papa. Uuuugggghh! Let me put this into context. The situation is that brat needs to be placed in the swing (thats why the jhool bacha jhool factor), I have to sit and push the swing (sit purely because this swing business will go on for the better part of an hour and I dont have the leg power any more to cope with that-- and thats why the Chitdown command from the brat) and once we are swinging in the breeze thats when the Jonny jonny yeah papa starts. Eegawd. Then sometimes when the yearning to be in school and with teacher and assorted brats gets too much, he pulls me by the hand and states gumoningteacher. And answers himself. Gumoningkishi. Then comes A for apal. B for ball or apal again depending on how the wind blows. Every time we pass the vicinity of the school he squeaks in delight. Gumoningteacha. A for apal. Am wondering how to get the brat into serious toilet training. Drag him to the loo for his su-su after every couple of hours where all he seems to want to do is splash in the water. And immediately on taking him out of the loo after ten minutes of making inducive sibilant sounds, will proceed to wet my cedar wood flooring. Or worse my ducksdown comforter. Lordee. Potty is another post altogether. Right now we're addicted to suppositories. The trauma of passing hard stools has still not been overcome, and he still jams buttocks together when the urge comes on him. Poor baby. As long as he expels. How many battles can one fight in a day? Especially after listening to Jonny jonny for three fourths of it. Yeah papa.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Go to school...

Recovering from the long weekend. Have panda like dark circles under my eyes, and a very sleepy brat whom I woke up with a wet towel this morning at eight am to much protesting and scrunchy faced howling, thanks to a sleeptime that has pushed itself back to an average of one am. Sleep is an opiate which must be fought with and conquered, and not succumbed to. In case sleep ever decides to overpower one, must promptly increase rate of activity to include such vigorous activity as jumping on mamma and papa, and making them squeal in pain if such jumping makes us land on tender parts of the body. Poor hubby. Shall get him a groin guard now. The brat believes that the head is meant for standing on. So taking the Hindi maxim to its literal enactment. So there is pappa deep in slumber land, with an occasional grunt of a snore. And there charges brat full of purpose and determination to ensure that pappa's sleep is cut short, he will clamber on the stomach. Pappa will turn on his side. Brat will slip down. Undeterred by such obstacles, he will clamber onto his father's shoulder and from there make his way to the head and finally, in a manner reminscent of conquering Mount Everest stand on his father's head. Needless to say, sleep ruined. I get a verbal blasting for not being able to put brat to sleep. Brat gets chucked down onto his bed unceremoniously. And thinking this is a good sort of sport, brat goes back for seconds.
Coming back to the school part in the title of this post, Saturday afternoon, brat pulls hand and takes me to the cupboard where his school stuff is kept. Opeya (translate to open), so opened. Bag, he commands, imperiously. One picks up the bag. Pappal, he gesticulates. One thinks hard, but puts ones slippers on. Come on Kishi. He is all set to go to school, where he will say, as he tells us, gumoningteacher. One word no break or pause. Then he will do some exercises on the lines of up down/ open close. Then he will says his Jonny jonny yeah pappa, eatingsugah, no pappa...HA Ha ha. And finally A for apal. Bforballl, cforcar. At least now I know the chappie is truly and honestly enjoying school. Thank god for small mercies.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Beanbag, therapy ball and trampoline....

These are part of my latest wishlist. Have to buy these for the brat. But am also broke. Consequently, am without a mobile as well, did I mention that brat dunked the mobile into just boiled tea. Probably thought it was a unique form of bread or biscuit. Anyway....wish there was some fairy godmother who would drop in and drop off these things for my brat. Could get him to do some therapeutic activity at home. Ah Well! Money money money. Perhaps I should have a garage sale and sell off all his old things. People gift, with all good intentions no doubt, things that have been of absolute no use to the brat. Not in a good mood. Too broke and depressed so will end this post here and now.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Baby love

Taken from Babycenter.com a wonderful article on the mother and child bonding which I think every mother should read to understand why she loves her child so unconditionally.



For Jen Harrington of South Riding, Virginia, having a baby was a revelation. As much as she looked forward to meeting her son and as much as she wanted to be a mother, she was completely unprepared for the big moment. People had warned her that she was about to fall in love like never before, but she didn't know what they meant until Joshua came along. The feeling hit as soon as she saw him. "It was like I wasn't even living before I looked at my baby," she says.The bond between parent and child is one of the strongest connections in nature. Romances come and go, but once you've bonded with your baby you're probably hooked for life, and not because you enjoy the prospect of changing thousands of diapers. Clearly, children have the ability to reach deep into our brains as well as our hearts.The love you feel for your child isn't just intellectual or cultural — it's a basic part of your makeup. In recent years, scientists have started to explore this mysterious but crucial part of human nature. Their findings help explain why babies are so addictive and why we deeply love our older children, tantrums, arguments, and all. The bond will change over the years, but its importance never fades. Your child needs love like he needs food. And, even if you're a little nervous about parenthood, you'll be ready to give him the love he needs. After all, you have biology on your side. Pregnancy: Love before first sightDon't be surprised to find yourself loving your baby before you even meet. A potent mix of emotions, expectations, and powerful mommy hormones kicks in during pregnancy, setting the stage for your relationship with your child.While you're daydreaming about your baby and picking out names, your body is already laying the foundation for a strong emotional bond. And as your due date nears, your brain starts producing more and more oxytocin, a hormone that literally helps bring out the mother in you. Also known as the love hormone, oxytocin turns on maternal behavior like nuzzling and grooming in animals from rats to monkeys. For now, it helps keep you calm while intensifying your anticipation of your new baby.Oxytocin has attracted serious scientific interest in recent years. Animal studies suggest that it plays a huge role in all sorts of social behaviors, from raising babies to forming long-term relationships. Animals that don't produce oxytocin ignore their offspring and find different mates every season. Species that do make the hormone tend to be doting parents that form lasting bonds with their mates. So when your body starts pumping out oxytocin during pregnancy, it's as if love is coursing through your veins.Your baby is also developing a bond with you, even in the womb. Studies show that his heart will beat a little faster at the sound of your voice. It's something that will excite and comfort your child now and for years to come.
You and your baby: Addicted to loveWhen it's finally time to have your baby, the stream of oxytocin in your brain and bloodstream suddenly becomes a torrent. Among its many other jobs, the hormone causes contractions and gets your milk flowing. (It works so well that doctors routinely pump pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, through an IV to induce labor.) When you finally get to hold your baby, you'll be practically swimming in the hormone. Oxytocin can break through your exhaustion and pain to give you a feeling of euphoria and intense love. According to pediatrician and child development expert Marshall Klaus, the power of oxytocin helps explain why babies are almost never abandoned in hospitals that allow mothers to hold and nurse their babies in the first hour after birth.New fathers aren't immune to the bewitching power of babies. Steve Bradley of Issaquah, Washington, says he never gave much thought to fatherhood even as his wife entered the last stages of pregnancy. "I was pretty much in denial until she (his daughter Olivia) started to crown," he says. Bradley never expected to start crying, but the waterworks came as soon as he saw his daughter. "She came out face up, looking at me first," he explains.Like mothers, fathers get a rush of oxytocin when they see their babies for the first time. But that's not the only change to their system. A Canadian study in 2001 found that men's testosterone levels tend to plummet (for a couple of months anyway) after they become dads for the first time. Even more intriguingly, some men start to produce extra estrogen, perhaps the clearest sign of the transformative power of fatherhood. According to Diane Witt, a neuroscientist with the National Science Foundation, estrogen helps make the brain more sensitive to oxytocin, presumably helping fathers become more loving and attentive.Oxytocin isn't the only chemical of love. As you hold, rock, or nurse your baby, each of you gets a rush of dopamine, the main currency of pleasure in the brain. While you're both enjoying the high, your baby's feelings for you are taking root. Again, animal studies give us an important insight into human love. In 2004, Italian researchers reported that baby mice that couldn't sense dopamine didn't especially care whether or not their mom was around, the strongest evidence yet that dopamine plays a crucial role in mother/infant bonding. Incidentally, dopamine is the same compound that "rewards" users of heroin or cocaine. In a very real sense, addicts who get hooked on drugs are simply chasing the feeling that flows between a mother and her baby. Parental love just happens to be infinitely healthier.The natural flood of chemicals gives new parents a huge head start on a lifetime of attachment. Still, you don't have to be a biological parent to fall in love with a child. According to Witt, adoptive parents enjoy hits of oxytocin and dopamine too. They don't get that rush of hormones that accompanies birth, but the moment when they first meet their new child is plenty powerful in its own right.In some cases, missing out on the birth experience may actually make it easier to bond with a child. According to Dr. Klaus, about 30 percent of mothers don't immediately fall in love with their babies, often because the baby or the birth process wasn't exactly what they expected. Disappointment, stress, or exhaustion can be enough to drown out the powerful hormones of love, but only temporarily. The vast majority of parents grow attached to their babies within the first few months.Carrie Hook, a Bozeman, Montana, child-abuse prevention counselor and mother of three, was fully prepared to fall immediately in love with her first child, but she never got the chance. After a long and excruciating labor, Madison was born with a small amount of meconium in her lungs, and the nurses in the hospital immediately whisked her away. Hook couldn't nurse or even hold her baby for at least eight hours. Even then, she had trouble connecting with the screaming bundle in her arms. "I just figured that your baby is born and you fall in love," she says. "I never thought I'd need impulse control to keep from throttling her." Suddenly, she wasn't sure if she was ready to be a mother.Hook often tells her story to mothers who are worried about connecting with their babies. The story ends on a happy note: After about three months, Madison stopped screaming, Hook started to feel more confident, and the love-fest began.If you can't hold your baby right away after birth, don't despair. There isn't a magic "window of opportunity" for bonding, Witt says. Even if your baby is born prematurely and has to spend a few days or weeks in an incubator, you'll still have plenty of chances to fall in love. For one thing, the mere thought of him can be enough to get your hormones rushing. Still, you should push to get as much "mommy" time as possible as soon as possible, for your sake and your baby's. Recent studies show that skin-to-skin contact with a mother, often called kangaroo care, is one of the best therapies for premature infants.As you're falling in love with your baby, in his own way he'll be falling in love with you. In the first hour of wakefulness, your child will look you in the eye and memorize your face, or at least a blurry version of your face. (Studies show that infants can recognize their mothers just a few hours after birth.) And by 7 or 8 months old, your baby will have developed strong emotional attachments to you and other important people in his life, says Julia Braungart-Rieker, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. "It's important for infants to learn to trust their caregivers," she says. Your baby will care deeply about the people who hold him when he cries and feed him when he's hungry. He'll miss you when you leave the room, and he'll be happy when you come back. It's not exactly "love" as adults define it, but it's one of the strongest emotions he knows.Note: It's impossible to "spoil" a baby with love, attention, and affection, says Emma Adam, a developmental psychologist at Northwestern University. When you comfort your child, you're building a foundation of trust and affection that will last a lifetime. Toddlers: Are tantrums a sign of affection?The bond between you and your child grows stronger in the toddler years, even if he spends much of the time stomping and screaming. In fact, those fits are a testament to your closeness. Tantrums from toddlers are a bit like lover's quarrels, according to Adam. "They're only capable of that meltdown because they love you so much," she says. In other words, your child couldn't be so disappointed or angry unless he trusted you deeply in the first place.And no matter how many fits your child throws or how many dishes he breaks, you won't love him any less. In fact, you'll probably forgive his shortcomings quickly. British researchers recently scanned the brains of 20 mothers who were looking at pictures of their own young children. The part of the brain that controls pleasure — the same part involved in romantic love — lit up like a slot machine hitting the jackpot. The part that judges and criticizes, however, practically shut down. No wonder it's so hard to find fault with your child when you look into his eyes.Jen Harrington certainly has trouble seeing any shortcomings in her son, even now that he's a big 5-year-old. He was one of those angelic, no-hassle kids that other parents envy. ("When he was a baby, we would sometimes joke that we should poke him just to see if he could cry," she says.) But they're equally crazy about their daughter, Abigail, a crier and screamer who's as strong-willed as her brother is mellow. "Before she was born, I was worried that I couldn't love another child as much as I love Josh," Harrington says. "But I do."Your toddler has a rich range of emotions. (If you spend 15 minutes with him in a grocery store, there's a good chance you'll see every one of them.) But he still doesn't understand the concept of "love" as you know it. Toddlers often throw the word around loosely: They may say they love you, but they'll also say they love their books or their toys or their third-favorite cereal. (Remember, these are the same people who like to call all four-legged animals "doggies.") Even so, Braungart-Rieker says, you don't have to worry about your place in your toddler's universe. He's keenly aware that you're important, and when he gets his heart broken or wants to cuddle, he doesn't run to his toys or the cereal cupboard. "Children want help from the people they trust the most," she says. Preschoolers and big kids: A more refined loveAs your child gets older, he'll start keeping more of his emotions hidden, partly because of peer pressure and partly because the toddler method of expressing every passing feeling can be exhausting. Still, some older children are extremely generous with their affection. Jen Harrington's son Josh acts as if his mom and dad need constant reassuring. "When I drop him off at school, I can't leave without him saying 'I love you,'" Harrington says.Even if your child doesn't hug you at every opportunity, the signs of love will still be there. Some kids are very confiding and will tell you everything, while others are by nature more likely to keep things inside. But as long as you're there when he needs you and are ready to listen, love will still flow in two directions.The needy, clingy love of early childhood is starting to become more rich and complicated. Your child now feels empathy for you and others, and he'll start to love you as a person, not just a caregiver. As a preschooler, he may enjoy spending one night at Grandma's house, but it won't be long before he's begging to come home. At the same time, he's starting to push for more independence, which means he needs your love and support now more than ever. "It seems contradictory, but the more security you give your child, the more independent he can become," says Emma Adam, the Northwestern University psychologist.Even as your child strives to become his own person, he can't break the bond he has with you. You have a connection that goes back to before he was born, a connection that's propped up by love, memories, and, yes, hormones. When you hold your 8-year-old or watch him in a school play, you get a little bit of oxytocin, a literal reminder of your first hours together. The emotions that hit you when you first met him will come rushing back. It's enough to make you fall in love all over again. The BabyCenter Seven: Signs that your child loves you
1. Your newborn stares into your eyes — he's actually working hard to memorize your face. He doesn't understand anything else about the world, but he knows you're important.
2. Your baby thinks about you even when you're not around. Between 8 and 12 months old, he'll start to scrunch his face and look around when you leave the room — and he'll smile when you return.
3. Your toddler throws wicked tantrums. Nope, those screaming fits don't mean he's stopped loving you. He wouldn't be so hurt and angry if he didn't trust you so deeply.
4. Your toddler runs to you for comfort when he falls down or feels sad. Kids this age may not truly understand the meaning of "I love you," but their actions speak louder than words.
5. Your preschooler gives you a flower picked from the garden, a finger-painted heart, a sparkly rock, or another gift.
6. Your preschooler wants your approval. He'll start to be more cooperative around the house, and he'll look for chances to impress. "Look at me!" will become a catchphrase.
7. Your grade-schooler trusts you with secrets, like his first crush or his most embarrassing moment. You're his confidante, even if he shies away from your hugs in public.