Monday, July 30, 2007

Am running an escort service...

I am busy. I have never been this busy and popular in my life. Of course, my mother will defer. To her, I have been the belle of the ball. Only I know the tweedling of fingers at home, and the burying of self into books to escape the self inflicted loneliness, caused by perceived ugliness and obesity and acne and what were then politely termed sodabottle glasses. Anyway, enough of my beauteous reminescences.
Coming back to my current hectic diary. A dentist's appointment tomorrow. Three black caves occasioned by chewing on the toothbrush rather than letting mamma brush them pearlies. Three dentists have already tried and failed to keep brat in the chair. Lets see how this hapless one fares. A playdate later in the day. To cheer him up, post dentist. Actually two consecutive days of playdates. Two birthday parties to attend. One, a schoolmate's birthday, one an acquaintance's birthday. Both must attends. (Me being a total sucker for believing in karma, that if you dont attend anyone's birthday party, no one will come for yours and you will be stuck with hordes of eats and return gifts and mountains of cake with no one to eat it.) Another birthday party over the weekend. And we've just had two birthday parties last week. Plus a trip to Pune, which was one big picnic. Please donot ask what this is doing to mamma's monthly household budget.
The humbling moment in my life. Have just realised that I have been relegated to escort status, with my entire schedule rotating around accompanying brat to his various social obligations. It starts at 8 am for the school drop, and continues till 8 pm, till we reach home. Through therapy and park and mall and parties and playdates and such like. I even dress for the part, with tight black tshirts and tight black jeans and black mirror finish sunglasses, and stand around in corners with a stern menacing expression dare anyone just jostle my superstar in their quest for an autograph. Though more likely than not, its the other way round, with my superstar brat jostling his adoring fans. Like throwing a rockstar into the crowd, a little swipe here and there never hurt anyone. Here's an alternate career option in case no one wants me to write for them, I throw a mighty mean punch, as some hapless souls could testify.
Signing out now, the Brat is leaving the building.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My two hunks


Brat gets more swimming lessons from his father. Guess he gets his fear of water from his mother....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Let sleeping brats lie

Thanks to the Mumbai property rates and the absolute disclination to cut the umbilical cord (and not to mention the brat’s propensity towards febrile seizures), the brat has been co-sleeping with us, and we are in absolutely no hurry to chuck him out to the next room. With the consequence that I am now relegated to sleeping on a makeshift mattress on the floor, with the husband and the brat sleeping like lords on the bed. On the comfortable, 16 inch double foam mattress I had selected for myself. Ah, the ironies of life. The bed was made during those cant-keep-ones-hands-off-each-other phase when we were perfectly happy with a smaller bed, all the better to cuddle with you dear, and keep some floor space in the little extended closet masquerading as a bedroom. Now, between the brat kicking furiously through the night and turning in every direction like the hands of a clock, and the husband needing extra leg and arm space to throw around, I would end up shriveled in a corner, sleeping on the edge in terror of falling off through the night. With the result, that one slept through half the night with wonderfully scary falling dreams terrifying the hell out of me, and stayed awake the other half watching television on mute, hoping that sleep would overcome me. Thankfully, a stray single mattress then resolved the issue, and I decided to sleep on the floor. No fear of falling off anymore. The feudal situation of our nocturnal arrangements hasn’t escaped me. The menfolk sleep on a higher level than the women folk, who sleep at their feet. But before a barrage of angry comments and emails assail me, let me explain that I am the one with the bad back benefiting from sleeping on a firm surface which is why this option was settled for. The brat sees it as a bonus. He wanders around in the darkness of the night, depending on whom he wants to snuggle with. The first time it happened, it took me around an hour to get the heart rate back to normal.
The husband: Kiran, Kiran, (shaking me violently), where’s Krish?
I jump upright, all dreams of Richard Gere and me as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, dashed with the consciousness of the stomach shaking more than the rest of me as I jump to my feet.
You must remember the room is pitch dark.
Me: He was with you, sleeping next to you!!!!!! (increasing pitch of shrillness in voice) Where is he, where is he???? (muted shriek of panic)
Husband has a brilliant brainwave and switches on the lights.
Curled where my feet would be, half on and off the mattress on the floor is the brat. Snoring.
Anyone who has a dog would know the feeling. In the middle of a deep dense dead sleep, suddenly feel heavy breathing near my face. Open my myopic eyes to vaguely decipher the brat face centimeters from mine. Fast asleep. The good lord knows how he navigates the bed and the pillows I pad up against all vacant edges to keep him on it, in the pitch darkness and get down to the floor.
At other times, he shakes me awake ruthlessly. “Mamma, mamma. Want AC/Water/Wannadosusu/Hungry” Or whatever the immediate pressing need of the moment is. And then having his demand complied with (at 3 am, one doesn’t argue, one just complies meekly, and gets on with sleeping), he does a eeny-meeny-minie-mo to decide whether he wants to sleep up or down, and needs to wake up his father to help him make the decision. Naturally, the father then explodes, and the entire neighbourhood is woken up.
Have now started sleeping with the television remote set to mute. Find myself waking up on the hour and checking for brat’s current location. The topping on the cake came the day I found him sleeping next to his toy basket. His Spiderman in hand.
He sure has superhuman powers this child. Night vision being one of them. Somnambulism being another. Make sure the bedroom door is locked at night. A wandering brat might just about terrorise the grandmother into a panic attack.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why are our kids not reading Amar Chitra Kathas?

My happiest memories of my childhood were those of me sitting by with my entire piles of Amar Chitra Kathas, a pile that if set from floor to ceiling, would rival the height of our ubiquitious Godrej cupboards (another relic from that era, another must have in every home). Nothing made me happier than to escape into the world of myth and history through wonderfully illustrated books, in their comic book format. I can proudly state today that my knowledge of Hindu religion and mythology is one zillion times better than that of my dyed in the wool, RSS member father, kathar Hindu husband, all thanks to these wonderful series. All I see today are kids reading Harry Potter, yes, as much as I adore him, I believe there is more to reading than merely the Harry Potter series. And what better format to introduce kids to mythology than through the comic book genre which is something children can easily identify with. What is helping the series I guess is the recent introduction of Indian mythological and religious characters in animated cartoon films like Hanuman, Krishna and Ganesha, while characters like Spiderman and Harry Potter have megabuck movie series behind them to give them added weightage and therefore validity in the eyes of the current kiddy generation. I dont know about you, but I am going to tie the brat down to a chair and get him to go through all my Amar Chitra Kathas. How can I let him go through childhood without giving him the chance to explore such a wondrous world? Am damned if I dont.
PS: Humbling moment. Found out that one of the favouritest titles in the Amar Chitra Katha series I had ever read had been illustrated by a sober looking elderly gentleman in the illustration department of the advertising agency I had worked with for a while. I almost bowed before him in gratitude for the marvellous job he had done, which brought such wonderful characters to life for me.

A Playdate or a first date

The brat had a playdate yesterday at a classmate's home. And what a playdate it was. He had to be dragged home kicking, spitting and clawing valiantly. I had to enlist my driver for support, being a frail female and unable to hold hellion rapscallion. Half the charm, I suspect was the cute little pink and blue dress with rose ribboned bows the classmate was wearing.
If this be the case now, what will be the situation once he starts actually dating. Will have to call out the army.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This the weekend of surprises

Surprise No 1:
For years I have been pulling out the tub of lego blocks, sitting excitedly in front of the brat, building wondrous towers, vehicles and the like, only to have him demolish them in swipes that would do justice to an earthmover. I worried and worried, and worried, because I was told that he should be able to play constructively with lego blocks, and be able to construct and demolish, and this one track way of thinking was one of the signs of things not being all okay with him. I kept trying to get him to build, but it would never work. All he would do was wait for me to build up, and then ruthlessly destruct. So the Lego went into hibernation.
This weekend was cleaning out the bedroom window grilles, which sees a lot of disused and neglected toys (still held onto because mamma dearest hopes they might come into use sometime), so the Lego tub came out. The brat took it by the handle and trotted into the drawing room. Sat on the carpet and emptied out the tub, and began making towers. Long mismatched towers, shaky towers. Cars. Trucks and other yet to be named vehicles. I went down on my knees and thanked the Lord.


Surprise No 2:
The brat sat himself down at his desk at lunch time. "I will eat. I will eat." He insisted drumming up a little storm on the table. (A future career as a percussionist is a distinct possibility.)With great trepidation I handed him the spoon. Now this is a child who has only hitherto flung food at every available surface whenever have tried to excite him in the process of feeding self, and have needed to run around him all over the house to get three spoons down the hatch, before the hatch clams up for good.
He sat in all seriousness, and without a bye your leave, shovelled down all the contents of his plate. Without dropping a grain. And asked for more. For lunch and dinner. Someone up there really liked me yesterday. Touchwood. Moral of the story, starve your child and he will eat.

PS: For all ye with picky eaters, just following my homeopath's advice. Dont ask the child if he is hungry or dont run after him with food, he said. Let the child ask you for food. Let him get so hungry that he wants to feed himself. It worked. Yesterday at least. This man is very wise. Or maybe, this was just commonsense that needed to be elucidated by a person in authority to panicky mom, agonising over the everyday food wars with brat.

Surprise No 3:
Saturday evening the husband and I decided to go watch Partner. (Yes, sneer all you want, but I just adore Govinda dancing and am a total sucker for David Dhawan comedies. Or comedies of any sort. Except Mr Bean. I need dialogue to laugh). No babysitter available for the brat. The mother was at her sister's, and the MIL. Well. Therefore the brat came with us. The husband warned him direly to behave himself and be seated throughout.
He wore his new red cargos, red sleeveless tshirt and decal embellished denim jacket. He checked himself out infinite times in the mirror before leaving home, demanding a cap for the final finishing touch. Satisfied that he was dressed to kill, flirted shamelessly with another three something year old in the lobby of the movie theatre and then the movie began. We walked in and sat on our seats. And he was fixated. He then stood up and insisted on watching the movie standing throughout. What also caused the standing was the fact that his seat kept folding in on him. (Note to movie theatres, have a weighing down system to keep seats down when featherweight brats buy tickets). There was fascinatingly good behavior on display. No kicking the seat in front. No wanting to "Go Home Right Now I Said." No throwing the popcorn at unwitting couples trying to mooch in the darkness. No yelling and screaming bloody murder, scratching, bitting, hitting or pulling. Maybe it was the father's presence that was the deterrent. But he enjoyed the movie and how. He watched the entire movie standing, refusing to sit in either parent's laps, laughed where we laughed until the tears rolled down his eyes. And stood in the aisle and danced to the title song, and one or two other songs. Hallelujah. He got up after his afternoon nap on Sunday and grimly went about taking out his clothes from the cupboard. "Where are you going to, Son?" I asked. "Going movie theatre to see Pardner. Wanna dance like Salman Khan."
Himesh Reshammiya, I think you've just been ousted.
PS: Mamma was maha chuffed to see Govinda, her original dance demigod sport the Versace bling bling sunglasses she has too! Ah, just goes to show how bad my taste is getting in my dotage.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Back to work time

Alrighty, I have had enough of sitting pretty on my butt for four years, mooching off the husband’s largesse and have decided it is time to get out of my cosy cocoon and start earning my keep. So will be now scouring the freelance writing market to see if my skills are still in demand. If you see considerably less posts, donot be surprised. Since Google Adsense wont give me any money, will have to find other means to fund my wild shopping sprees.

Okay, that wild braying sound in the background is the husband laughing at all my good resolutions...

PS Edited to add: Thanks for all the emails that have poured in with best wishes. And no, its not a full time job am looking for, cant do that with brat going to therapy almost everyday, and the domestic situation being such that cannot leave brat at home. Actually just sniffing around for freelance work--articles, projects and such like, that I can do on my own time.

Tagged

Looks like I have been well and truly tagged by not just one but three fellow bloggers at last count. So here’s two back to back posts, one on what I’m judgemental about and the second on what I admire (Hey, isn’t admiring something being judgemental about it?) So, Mad Momma, Grail and Cee Kay, here I go….
BTW, what is it about a tag that is so like a second class local train compartment, that you’re convinced you have to clamber on before you’re pushed off…

I am an exceedingly judgemental person:
1] I am judgemental about women (or men) who don’t lift their dainty fingers to get their butts into the kitchen and whip up a wholesome meal for their families. And women who, if the cook doesn’t happen to be around, prefer to order in rather than risk gastric upsets caused by abominable cooking. *sigh* I happen to be one of these.
2] I am judgemental about those who despite being educated enough to read the Encyclopedia Brittanica back to back, refuse to heed signs that read “Don’t litter”.
I have been known to pick up a discarded junk food wrapper and hand it back to the offending party, regardless of the dagger looks received.
3] I am judgemental about people who walk holding their little children on the traffic side of the road. Many a times one has stopped in ones tracks, and given a soap box lecture to bewildered people holding bewildered children in the midst of honking traffic and jams.
4] I am judgemental about those who insist on telling you where they live. As in the posh areas of the city. And when you happen to visit them, you find they live in a hovel. Albeit in the posh areas of the city, but a hovel is a hovel is a hovel…
5] I am judgemental about women who insist on being coordinated from head to toe. And women who agonise when their shoes don’t go with the outfit they’re wearing. And women who have more handbags than money to keep in them. And women who have no storage space for their shoes and clothes and still cant resist a good sale. And worse still, women who insist on colour coordinating themselves with their children. The brat and I have been known to have worn matching tees. *Guilty as charged* Come on, I really need to get a life.
6] I am judgemental about women who flirt shamelessly with married men, in the full presence of their wives. It may be the power to charm, or the thrill of knowing one still has it in one, but you flirt with my husband behind my back girl, or I will stab you with a letter opener.
7] I am judgemental about husbands who flirt right back in the full presence of their wives. My man lives in mortal fear of the letter opener, and does all his flirting behind my back.
8] I am judgemental about unkempt people. I am really sorry, but unless you are terminally ill, the least you can do is be neat and clean and bathed and shaved. Himesh Reshammiya are you listening? Month long stubble and greasy locks are really the pits of rockstar chic if that’s what you’re trying to position yourself as. Never mind if the brat thinks you’re the coolest thing since iced tea.
9] I am judgemental about people who insist on speaking in English or if compelled to speak in Hindi, speak with an Anglicised accent that makes me cringe. How dare we be ashamed of speaking in our national language?
10] I am ruthless with people who criticize the state of the nation when they are doing nothing about it. Which is why I was never a popular dinner party guest, always got into heated arguments and spoiled the food. Don’t think will ever be popular in the future too—not even a glamour puss, and not even interesting conversation, and so very argumentative.
11] I am unforgiving with people who are rude and neglectful towards their parents. Or anyone else’s old parents. That is a cardinal crime in my books. We all will be old and crochety some day. We need to gather all the good karma we can to get us through those days. I like to think I have stuck by own rule, no matter what the provocation. And God forgive me if I have ever lapsed.

And for the admire list
1] I admire women who cook. Nigella Lawson is my goddess. I can just about boil a cup of tea to perfection.
2] I admire women who run perfect homes. On a good day my house looks like the bomb squad just went through it with magnifying glasses and sniffer dogs.
3] I admire women who can run in stilettos or high heels of any sort. I wear four inch heels on a regular basis, god have mercy on my arches and my back (vanity vanity, and the mistaken belief that a little extra to the height reduces the visual perception of the width) and have never been successful at beyond a fast trot in them.
4] I admire people who have the constant desire to learn something new, and actually take the effort to join classes and take training in new skills. I have a long list of must master skills: Learn a foreign language, Learn to Dance the tango, Learn to swim, Learn to drive (have a licence, with zilch driving skills), learn to cook a decent meal, Learn to do some work of art (I was once pretty good with the oil paints, but somehow stopped painting once I started working), and have done jack shit about anything.
5] I admire my husband, for his never say die attitude and his absolute belief in himself.
It’s something I wish I had.
6] I admire people who go on diets and stick to them. Seen any recent picture of self? Admiration is self explanatory.
7] I admire women who can wear sarees and handle kids at the same time. Haven’t worn a saree since the brat was born, too terrified of tripping and falling flat on my face. And worse still dropping the brat. God knows, he’s suffered enough from falls.
8] I admire people who give up their lives to a cause. For others who need help. For those shunned by society. I am too selfish and self centred to do so, and they make me feel less than a centimeter tall.
9] I admire people with physical disabilities who go about their lives matter of factly, learning to work around what God chose not to give them with dignity and grace. I see them, and am humbled every day at my stupid peeves of not being slimmer, taller, beautiful, rich, etc, etc.
10] And last but not the least, I admire my mother. For the way she has lived her life on her terms, facing whatever has come her way with equanimity, without griping or grumbling at all, but being the most happy go lucky person I have ever had the luck to meet. And I got luckier, she’s my mother. The best mother anyone could have possibly had.

Since I must tag more, I tag rbdans, utbtkids, noon, orchid, boo, childwoman and Trishna, have fun, girls...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Holiday today, wantodopotty...

Had just about finished shovelling the milk down the brat's throat spoon by spoon, yesterday morning, with 10 minutes to spare to bathe him, dress him, and bathe myself, dress myself and get moving to school, when the little genius decided he just had to go potty. "Right now". Said in the strained voice that makes mamma throw everything she has in her hand and skid without brakes towards the potty. So the potty was brought out from its permanent post outside our window and we sat on it (Sadly, we have not managed to make the transition yet from potty to toilet, much to mamma's dismay). And we sat and sat, and sat, and made agonised faces to make mamma believe that expellation was imminent. By which time it was a good 20 minutes post leaving for school time.
At which point mamma says, "Its too late now. We cant go to school today."
And we get up, with a sudden lack of the urgency that had thus far compelled us to stay seated. "Okay mamma. Lets go Jonina house and play." The potty was miraculously empty.
Am I being conned here?

Shilpa Shetty gets a doctorate...

Read this about Shilpa Shetty to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Leeds. The immediate thought that comes to mind is that the rest of the graduating class should chuck their caps and go on an immediate indefinite strike for this belittling of their efforts through the past years of burning midnight oil and such like. She will now be addressed as Dr Shilpa Shetty. Can I get a doctorate too, please, please, please? Jade Goody is welcome to call me all the names she likes, if I can get one too....for being too prissy to give back as good as she got.
Moral of the story: Being a bimbette can get you a Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

At nana house today

After a long while, the brat didnt have therapy today and I had to get back to an appointment. Therefore, he was unceremoniously deposited at Nana House. For the record, all the evening yesterday, while we enticed him with options like Mall, Park and even, blasphemy, McDonalds, he kept whining like a stuck record about "Want to go Nana House. Right now. I mean it." I cringed in fear of his "I mean it" and bought him a Happy Meal with "two-two toys" to assuage his wrath. Which of course were promptly wrecked. Before I am confronted with a barrage of angry emails and comments about using food as a bribe, and especially, gasp, gasp, a McDonalds burger, let me confess, I will feed the child anything he consents to eat right now, so desperate I am to get some flesh on those bones. Anyway, there is something about McDonalds that gets a child all buzzed and happy, maybe its the bright cheery atmosphere, the million lightweight chairs that can be shifted around easily by skeleton brat, infinite kids to run around with, and lots of junk food that mamma gets so easily tempted by. *Sigh* Why is it that food that tastes so good is so bad for you.
Coming back to the saga of the Nana House, brat was picked up from school. Small hand tugs at my trousers. Look down to see little fighter, with a hard angry face, staring angrily at me. "Aunty, Krish hits me everyday....if he hits me tomorrow I will hit him back."
I knelt down at the cumulative eye level attempting to be a mediator, while brat attempted hard to give credence to the claim. Holding off a raring to swing punches brat, I asked him to apologise to hard faced angry kid. Brat chortled with glee, said "Sorrrrrry," in his piping cheery tone, hugged the offended party, and then promptly swung him a right hook. Right in front of me. I was shocked into disbelief. I began blabbering apologies, and gathering the fruit of my womb unto me, when the angry kid retorted with one to the left ear. I could have been sitting in a theatre watching re runs of the Rocky series. I promptly lifted brat in the most undignified way ever, hanging over my shoulders so all his little energies go in trying to right himself, and took him to the car. Once deposited in, I held his arms and legs together and told him quietly and sternly, that since he didnt know how to behave himself with friends, no one would want to be friends with him. And since he was kicking and hitting mamma, mamma too was going to office today.
"Sorry, mamma. Don't go office." This said abjectly, a look of absolute woe on his face. "I dont want to go Nana House. I want to go office with you."
"Children can't come to office, son. I have to go to the office, I have work to do. Pappa will get angry with me if I don't go for the meeting."
He opens my bag and takes out my mobile. By some fluke, he presses his fathers number on autodial.
"Pappa, Mamma's not coming to office. Mamma's staying here only with me at Nana House."
I thought he was play-acting, then I heard the sound of his father replying to him. Obviously, his request had been turned down by the highest authority.
"I will be good boy, mamma. I won't do fighting. Please don't go." This climbing up onto my lap and giving me a huge bear hug, with a couple of tears rolling down his face.
I fought back some tears and ruthlessly deposited him at Nana House.
The last I called, I could hear him whooping with laughter and taking pot shots at the curtains. And he hadn't asked for me even once. Who am I kidding? I need him more than he needs me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Because I have been tagged...

The wise Boo tags me, and since I am such a sucker for tags, I must take this up. A tag on my favourite Indian writing, but sadly, have never been proficient in a language other that English to read any writers in Indian languages (something I will always be painfully embarassed of), would have to list out Indian writers in English, and books which have stayed with me. And sadly enough, while I have read almost the entire gamut of recent Indian writing in English, the ones that come first to mind are the ones I have read decades ago.

A Bend in the Ganges by Manohar Mulgaonkar: He is an author I stumbled on quite by chance while leafing through second hand books at the raddi book shop near my college, and while this book wasnt the favourite of the books I eventually went on to read written by him (The Princess, being another favourite) this one seared my brain terribly with its depiction of the violence of the India Pakistan partition (yes, I was a half Catholic, half Muslim girl, in search of my identity, in love with a Hindu Rajput, and that would explain half my fascination), but the sheer musical fluidity and simplicity of his prose was what I absolutely adored. It was easy to read him. I would go on to love Rushdie for the sheer wizardry of his writing, but Mulgaonkar's prose was inimitable in the way it could paint a picture with deceptive simplicity.

Sunlight on a Broken Column By Attia Hosain: which depicts the experiences of the protagonist, Laila, a young woman from a taluqdari family of Oudh, in the years leading up to the partition. Yes, the partition is a recurring theme in my list of favourite books. No prizes for guessing why.

Swami and Friends By R K Narayan: A prolific figure in Indian English writing, his writing also has that wonderful ability to be read without effort, and paint visuals without overloading the reader with similes and metaphors. Most of his work, starting from his first novel Swami and Friends (1935) is set in the fictional town of Malgudi, which captures the Indian ethos in its entirety while having a unique identity of its own. Swami was such a wonderful character, to me he was the wonderfully naughty brother I wished I had.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie: Yes, it is an obvious contender to be in this list and it also does go against the grain of my earlier preferences for simplistic writing, but by now I had become a devotee of Marquez and Kundera and magical realism was something I adored. Therefore... and you cannot ignore his sheer mastery of the genre.

And finally, because I am a Bombay girl (I use Bombay, not Mumbai, primarily because I am from the generation which was the last to use the earlier nomenclature to the city and in my mind, the city will forever be Bombay), Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta: This book won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. All very well deserved according to me....

And other books which come up in the honours list:
Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss: Is it a reflection of the melancholiness I feel right now, that I adore this book...

English August by Upamanyu Chatterjee: The film does no justice to the book is all I can say.

Ravan and Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar: I just adore this book. What a brilliant piece of work.

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Divakaruni Bannerjee: Again, the film does no justice to the book. And too much inspiration from Like water for Chocolate, but still a wonderful read.

Trotternama by Allan Sealy: The sheer size of this one is overwhelming, and completing it is an achievement by itself.

The Discovery of India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru: Come on. What a wonderful effort by such an erudite man. It absolutely humbles you to read this.

Everything by Ruskin Bond. Simple stories. Told well.

And yes, The God of Small Things left me cold.



And since I must pass the tag on: Here's to Moppets Mom, Poppins, Rbdans, Little Zed and Trishna, take this one up...

Monday morning comes way too fast...

Monday morning at the Manral household. The morning cuppa has been made and dispensed with, the husband has sashayed off to the gym to bulk up muscles, the MIL is grimly watering her plants, convinced as usual that there is a conspiracy theory out there against her which is why the people in the flat upstairs were doing some insane hammering and drilling right above her bedroom at 11 in the night. And yes, the top echelons of the government are also involved in this theory to deprive her of her sleep. Anyway, milk time again. Tickling and wakey wakey happened. Propped brat against pillows and so the saga of the milk began. I shovelled in a couple of spoons, and the brat turned his face away in disgust. I tried some more to be met with complete and absolute resistance, expressed by the prissy pursing of lips together more appropriate to that of a matronly spinster viewing a pole dancer in action. Not wanting a repeat of the milk-in-the-hair situation, I got up and walked away.
He stared at me puzzled. "Mamma, mamma..."
"Yes, son!"
"Not giving me gu gu?"
"No darling, you dont want gu-gu. You've closed your mouth tightly."
He looked even more puzzled. "But I want to have. I want to fight with you and have."
Now I get it. More than the distate of the milk itself, it was the power struggle between me and him that had all the charm. This morning we had our milk like a charm. Smooth as silk. Maybe the mentioning last night that best friend in the whole wide world, who is also miles taller and broader than my little spiderman has milk four times in a day, also helped a bit.
Must find out how many times a day Spiderman and Power Rangers have milk and convey this to him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is my child happy?

Yes, the title says "Is my child happy?" This post was triggered by a Parentcenter bulletin I received today which immediately set me thinking. Because more that anything in the world, more than him knowing his ABCs, more than him controlling his aggressive impulses, more than him eating all the food off his plate and drinking his two mugs of milk a day, more than him sitting in one place to do his writing practice, I want him to be happy. I want him to be a happy child. The best words of praise I can ever hear from any one watching him is, "What a happy child he is!" That really makes my day and put a smile on my face so broad it practically rivals the size of my butt. We were at a friend's place yesterday while her daughter was at school, and brat was happily playing with her daughter's doll house and dolls and terrified me hovered around ready to spring into preventive action should he decide some doll needed an emergency amputation. Luckily this is one chilled out friend. "Sit, and relax, Kiran," she said. "You worry too much. Look at how happy he is. Just let him be." I sat back and delighted in my son playing with another child's dolls. And I got him a doll to see him that happy again at home.
I do everything I can to make sure he is happy, I play with him as much as I can between things I must do, I sit with him when he needs to do his home assignments, I take him to the malls he loves and to all the rides he loves even though I know he will swat me like an irritant fly when it becomes time to get home and off the rides, I buy him the junk food he loves in miserly rations much against my will just to see his face light up like a million glow bulbs, I buy him irrationally expensive Power Ranger action figures, and Spiderman toys and accessories so he can act out entire episodes on the floor. By now he has decimated a couple of galaxies. I take him insane distances in Mumbai traffic to meet with other kids he adores after an already full day with school and therapy, just because. I sit him on my lap and listen to him whenever he decides he wants to have a chat with me and tell me about his friends at school or at therapy and the great debates or fights they had. I try not to smack him in public, no matter how terrible the scene or the tantrum, and believe you me, they can be earthshattering. I do stupid hippy shake dances that would probably have me prequalify for certifiably mad and ready to be committed just to hear him hoot away with laughter, I make funny belching sounds, and have even stopped (much to my own disgust) bothering about asking Pappa to control body sounds, just because brat finds it so hilarious and rolls around on the floor laughing whenever it happens.
I am sure all of us do all we can in so many little ways we can to make our children happy without realising it, or without even thinking anything of it. Because they are our children, born of us. And if they are happy, we are happy. Our happiness is derived from them.
But is he a happy child? I judge it by his sleep. If he is sleeping well and smiling in his sleep, he's had a good day.
I want him so much to be a happy child. My heart expands so much it would fill up my entire chest when he is delighted with something. When I need to spank him, it hurts me more than it hurts him, and if he is ever sulking over something not given or not allowed, its all I can do to prevent myself rushing over and make it okay for him. I feel a strong grip of vice choking my heart when he is sad, which is rare. On a bad day, I am harder with myself for having shouted at him or smacked him than I am with him. The guilt eats me up, even though I know that if I dont do the disciplining, he will be unmanageable.
I know my child is a happy child, I can see it in his body language, in his fearless three foot confidence that the world is his oyster and his innate belief that everyone around him loves him as much as we do. I see it in his absolute lack of hesitation when going upto strangers and introducing himself with his little handshake, and offering them his name. I see it in his complete belief that no matter where he manages to run off to, mamma will find him and take him home safe and sound. I see it in the way he seeks out other children and demands they play with him, no matter what their age group. I see it in his searching hand in the middle of deep sleep, asking me to hold him tight and keep him safe. My happy baby. May you always be a happy, cheerful and loving child. For as long as mamma can ensure it.
Is your child happy?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What makes a mother?

One of the most beautiful quotes I have ever read on motherhood is the one by Osho Rajneesh (Yes, I confess, I read a lot of his writings..), while the exact words fail my doddering memory right now (remind me to do a post on how motherhood affects our memory, I've become positively senile), the gist was that the mother is born when the child is born, she too is brand new, she never was before. It is the child who makes the mother. I believe that completely. None of us come trained to be mothers, we learn it all hands on. The overwhelming urge to nurture our child to the best of our ability can never be taught, it is innate, it springs from deep within us, our need to protect and nourish a miracle that we have created. And imagine if we are so loving and protective of our single miracles, how protective God must be of all of us, all his children. But then, this post is sounding like a philosophical post, which is not what I set out to write.
An incident at the mall the other day disturbed me so much that I felt I must put it down. A woman walking away from her howling barely two year old child without a backward glance. This far I could condone with her, having done that myself but thats where the similarity ends. I hide behind pillars and see if brat comes forth to search for me. This woman kept walking down a long and steep flight of stairs leaving her child, bawling her lungs out, standing precariously at the upper edge of the stairs. I yelled at her to take the child. She asked me to mind my own business and walked out of the stairs into the basement parking. I was grappling with brat who wanted to run through swivelling grates for the umpteenth time and was terrified that the toddler was fall down any moment. In the weekend rush at the moment, no one seemed to notice the toddler. I screamed to a passing security guard to lift the child up. He did and asked me where the mother was, I answered she had gone down the stairs into the parking area and described the salwar kameez she was wearing. He spoke into the walky talky and she returned, accompanied by another security guard, throwing me dagger glances. Did this woman really want to abandon her child? I know it was her child, because the child was screaming "Mummy, mummy..." as she walked away. Was she even human? I cannot walk away from any child who is crying so terribly without trying to console her, and she walked away from her own child, leaving her at a precipice which she would have most likely toppled over from, and had serious injuries. I die a million deaths when the brat cuts himself or hurts himself in regular play. How could a woman leave her child open to such harm? I dont know the situation, nor what the issues in place were, nor do I want to know. All I know is that I hope the child is not abandoned again. I am still in shock.

Edited to add: Here's the quote by Osho Rajneesh, thanks Gauri: "The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The best behaved kid at the mall.

The father kindly consented to take the brat to the mall yesterday. Now, let me elaborate. This was the third consecutive day that the brat had been to the same mall. With yours truly as the escort in charge. As it stands, he is already on first name terms with all the security guards manning the entrances and exits of every mall in the vicinity and he is on hi-5 terms with the staff manning the rides he sits on. The favouritest being the chug chug gadi. Now at the Inorbit mall in Malad, the beloved chug chug gadi of yore has now been replaced by a bigger, better and spanking new model which can seat more kids and runs round a longer area. Therefore it now stands at our current hot favourite. If we happen to reach the playzone at a point when the chug chug gadi is already in motion, flailing tantrums will ensue to stop the damn thing and clamber on. The first time round, friendly attendant complied with the request since abject mamma pleaded, more in order to be able to stand in peace rather than endure her spectacles be flung off one more time and smash to smithereens in a public place. Yesterday, the father was the taker to the chug chug gadi. Mamma used this wonderful opportunity to wander around all the shops which were on sale (FYI—Gini & Jony, Scram, Ruff Kids, Charles & Keith, Regal, Sia and infinite others are all on sale. With the magic words, 50 per cent. Go get them. I got some great brat pants and jackets yesterday.), and left the brat in the strong capable hands of the father. Given his past track record, (infinite rounds on chug chug gadi, refusal to get off until sternly asked to by police uncle, and then random berserkness with all the other rides until mother dearest has exhausted the contents of her wallet on card recharges) I happily thought I had at least a couple of hours for leisurely window shopping.
Surprise surprise. Half an hour later, the brat and the father are walking together through the passage near Lifestyle searching me out. The father with his I-own-the-world walk, and the brat with his ghetto-king-meets-rapper-king gait, both hands in pant pockets. I am told flailing tantrum ensued and a sharp bark from the father resulted in good behaviour. He sat peacefully on the ride with the joy that comes from believing that he is actually the power behind the motion of the engine. He did five rounds at a stretch. And then he meekly got up and followed his dad back down. WTF? “He is so well behaved. I don’t know why you make such a big issue about taking him to the malls on your own.” Silent fuming happened. Remind me to hire a videocamera person to record us the next time we are in the mall. Without the father.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My little superstar

Yes, it turns out; the brat has been swatting other kids in class. And doing it so much that he is being kept separately from the rest of the class. He is being, what is termed, ‘a disruptive influence’. I had tears in my eyes at the thought of my child being made to sit apart from his friends. How alienated he must be feeling, how hurt he must be, and what extreme behaviour would have caused them to take such a radical decision. And this is a school which is rather tolerant of children with behavioural problems and has a policy of inclusion. And the teachers are really very sweet and nice.
The lady in charge of the student counseling cell was, contrary to my expectations, not the stern dragon I had envisaged, but rather like the grandmother I wished I’d known and loved. And she was very sweet, and understanding, and spent a good hour with me trying to understand the brat and the issues with him. Also sitting in was the special educator who will be deployed on his case and will sit with him in class, and help him with his tasks. He needs individual attention which will be difficult for the two class teachers to provide, given that they have 24 other students to handle.
The conclusion is that a battery of tests will be deployed to test brat’s cognitive skills, etc, and if needed curriculum concessions be made for him or changes to suit his learning style. And they will reassess him after six months, and see how the changes are affecting him. The unspoken implication being that if he cannot cope, he might need to be shifted to a special school. I sobbed again today.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Be still my beating heart...

Was lying pristine on a couch while soft hands kneaded and pulped my face (not what you're thinking, just getting my blackheads oozed out at the local parlour while a couple of the parlour girls consented to keep brat amused for the half an hour I was there...it pays to tip handsomely), when the phone rang. Scrambled madly, since I have a ring tone which was cute when I set it, but is now immensely annoying. A stern voice at the other end. "Is that Mrs Manral?" Yes, I replied, quaking in my semi clean up state. "Krish's mother?" Yes, what now, I thought. Yes the call was from his school. More specifically, from the special education cell. They've called me in today. "To discuss his case."
Am shaking in my shoes. And going off to discuss right now.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mujhse Shaadi Karogi

Picked up the brat from school yesterday. The teacher indicated she wanted to have a little chat. Here it comes, I thought, he's swatted some kid like a fly and I will be told he needs to be taught impulse and aggression control, and how I need to get him into counselling. And if he cannot control his aggression he might need to be sent into remedial classes or worse, remedial school. So while the brat freewheeled around with best friend in circles on the basketball court, I went over for the little chat.
I trotted over obediently, with my most humble, abject and helpless face while deciding how I would swat the brat later if he had been swatting any kids behind my back.
"Has brat been kissing anyone on the lips at home?"
I fell to the ground, and the earth shook with the tremors. Picked myself out of the puddle and shook my head vigorously to indicate a very very vehement no.
"Well, he's been kissing little girls on their mouth, and singing Mujhse Shaadi Karogi."
Trust the brat to beat all his father's records.
Remind me to ask Pappa what movies he's been watching in the brat's presence.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Terrorist in the house, please duck!

Woke the brat this morning for school with much love and kisses and tickling. He snarled at me like a caged beast and continued snoring. Wet a napkin with the warm water kept ready for his bath and wiped his face affectionately. He spat at me. Put on his favourite music channel and saw him perk up immediately. He sat up against a pillow propped against the headboard of the bed, and I promptly got to the task of feeding him his milk. I say feeding because I need to get through a mug of milk spoon by spoon. He retorted by flinging the entire mug on a freshly bathed me, drenching me from the tips of my overgrown hair roots to the edges of my crackling crisp bathwrap. I administered a spank on the butt and got out another cup of milk. Fed him half the cup to no further incident. Bathed him, dressed him, dropped him to school. And then sobbed in the car. Where am I going wrong with this child?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rained in...

To continue with the rainy day story. Saturday morning. The milkman rings the doorbell on dot at 5.30 am. Opened the door to find him drowning in two raincoats. "Bhabhi, bahut baarish ho rahi hai raat se. Tabela poora bhar gaya." Images of floating buffaloes from 26/7/2005 flashed before my eyes. Yes, the rain was a steady lashing that had begun at around 3 am, and I knew because I had got up and switched the airconditioner off, to much grumblings from a sombulent brat who promptly sat bolt upright in the bed, much in the manner of a student protestor defying army tanks. Having sushed him back to sleep with threats of mall deprivation, had done a recce of all the windows to ensure that one didnt wake up to flooded floors, little knowing what would come the next morning. The second red flag came about when the driver called at seven am saying he wouldnt be able to make it, his room (kholi, the term goes) was flooded. I took a cursory look outside the window to see swirls of angry muddy brown currents racing along what used to be a road. The MIL and I sipped on our nice adrakwali chai and dissed the state of the administration and the roads, and such like, when it suddenly struck me that the electricity would go off any minute if the meter boxes would come under water. Rushed around filling every empty vessel in the house and climbed up into lofts taking out disused drums now filled with assorted junk and threw assorted junk on floor to be sorted out later, and rushed to fill water. Drinking and other wise. Turns out I was right. By 8.30 am, the water from the road had started creeping into the compound. The tyres of the cars were slowly getting submerged. The husband was roused from slumber and he went down without an umbrella ("Umbrella, who me, I am a macho man!") and shifted the three cars onto the road. With all this commotion, the brat got up too sniffing the chance to do forbidden things and get away with it, promptly climbed onto the airconditioner in the hall window to be a one man cheering squad for brave pappa who, by this point was drenched to his solid bones. Needless to say the maid and cook didnt turn up, and one didnt expect them to given the state of the road. Now this road has been done up just through the summer vacations in May, and in their infinite wisdom the authorities have made the height of the road a good foot above the compound of the building we live in (Now you know the reason for my nag nag nag on the issue of new house buying), with the result that all the water accumulated on the road just runs off without even a pretence of getting drained into the choked drains, into our compound. The brat looked down and chortled. "Want to go swimming in the brown swimming pool." Yes, and do you even want to know what is swimming beside you. More amusement was had with earthworms coming out of our bathroom and toilet drains, and funnier was the screaming ensuing from mamma when one such was spotted. By the tenth earthworm I had become a pro at killing them with the stick broom and disposing the remnants back into the hole from which they emerged. The problem with the neighbourhood we live in is that it is a nice middle class residential locality planned in the 1960s when no one had cars. Therefore, the gates are miniscule, the compounds are non existent, and to enter one must bend and go under a low awning much like entering a cave. And yes, the meter boxes are in this cave.
Having dispensed of the most boring tasks of getting breakfast and lunch cooked, we spent the rest of the electricityless day standing by the window and watching the level of the water rise. I was panicking, with no bread and eggs and exactly three potatoes in the house, I wondered how long we would hold out against the forces of nature. (FYI: I am not responsible for the stock in the house.) The husband was forced to make three more trips to shift the cars further and further away till in desperation, he moved all three cars to a friends place a couple of kilometers away. That building has a podium. The cars were kept there overnight and were safe. The final trip saw the husband go through chest deep water, much to my fear and terror, and this is a six footer. I would have been underwater. The ground floor residents knew the drill. They moved their televisions and music systems and important papers and as much stuff as they could physically move to higher floors and watched the mucky water swirl into their homes. By noon we couldnt see the compound wall anymore from our vantage point, and the brat amused himself by chucking anything he could lay his hands onto into the water and waiting for the big splash. He ambitiously tore up newspapers to make boats which he then threw down hoping they would sail away only to have the rain make them pulpy disasters. There was no water and no electricity. The walls had started weeping with the incessant onslaught of rain and we took out bedsheets and towels to lay them on the floors against the weeping walls to keep them dry. By evening, the candles were lit, and I manage to burn two fingers badly in the effort of keeping the brat away from them... he wanted to blow them out and sing happy birthday. Every two minutes. Not a good idea when there is pitch darkness everywhere. Luckily it stopped raining. The high tide went out. And the water drained out leaving an inch thick coating of mud and slime on the floor of the ground floor homes. This time round the water had only reached to the mid of their walls. Last time round the water had touched their ceiling fans. And not abated for two days.
We still dont have electricity and water at home. I moved with the brat to the mothers place. For boiled water and a bath. And hot piping food. But Sunday morning saw us down to go to the market and pick up some veggies. The city was back to as much normalcy as it could. Shopkeepers were washing their shops out and discarding ruined goods, and clicking photographs for insurance claims. Every street corner had piles of discarded and ruined furniture and beddings. We're told 14 people died in the rains on Saturday. Santacruz in Mumbai, which is the suburban guage recorded 430mm of rain. All the railway lines were hit and closed. People had walked down home yet again. We were lucky we were home and dry. We were lucky it was a Saturday. The last time round, the city had recorded 960mm in the span of three hours. It took five days for things to get back to normal. It was like living in a disaster zone, with no rations, no water and no electricity for five days. And the brat was not even two years old. I wonder what more the monsoon has in store for us. I am sick of surviving the monsoon. Once upon a time I used to love this season. My son will never do so. Thank you BMC.