6 Jan 2013
Or at least trying to…
I am in my parent’s place in Chennai. The only way I have a signal on my cell phone is to stand at the right hand corner of the hall window and hold my phone towards the sky. Chula observed it and is asking me if my phone is ‘solar’ and if it is powered by the Sun.
As usual it is raining in Chennai. I always manage to drag the rain along with me when I visit Chennai. With the rain comes a overflowing laundry basket and wet clothes. I tied a clothes line inside the house, hung some essentials and switched on the fan. Meija was watching me do this. When it was time for scheduled power cut, the fan stopped and she asked me if she can implement her brain wave to dry the clothes even during power cut. I was curious what she was going to do and ended up ROFL when the child came back with a palm leaf hand fan. I thought it was cute. She thinks I was making fun of her. We have agreed to disagree.
I took a major risk this time, by using wash room without a functional latch, with only Chula standing guard outside the door. MONUMENTAL risk people, so it needs to be recorded here.
Sibling rivalry at its peak: Meija is imitating what ever I do. If I get up she gets up. If I put my hand on my hip, she copies. After observing this for a min, Chula says, ‘Amma, slap yourself R.E.A.L.L.Y hard. Quick amma.’
Getting in to my good books: We are getting ready to go to the beach and I was asking them to change out of their fancy clothes in to something that will be appropriate for beach.
Chula: Meija, I am going to listen to amma. I am not like you. I will wear regular play clothes because I don’t want to get my fancy ones dirty.
Meija: I LISTEN. I know our clothes will get dirty. In fact I was planning on wearing something from the laundry basket, something that is already dirty and needs to be washed anyways. Is it ok amma? Am I right?
Chula: <Thinks a bit how to top this> Amma I am going to wear some ripped clothes. What do you think about this amma?
I was seriously thinking about which wall I must bang my head against.
2 Jan 2013
Dec 2012 was horrible in more than one way.
Yes, I am talking about ‘the girl’. As some one mentioned in their post, ‘not a martyr, not a brave soul, not a rebel, but an ordinary girl who just wanted to get home’.
Many predict that we react and will soon forget the girl and move on. I wish I knew how. Believe me, for the past few days, I have been trying to forget and I am failing miserably. She is there under the surface, no matter what I am doing. Even after the initial shock has subsided, my reaction is still the same. Mostly I am shocked by my own realization that rape is not about sex, not about power but gender violence.
It feels too shallow to think that she is a symbol of me and my generation. For what she has gone through is much more than what I have gone through, E.V.E.R. I see her as more like my daughter, the daughter I have failed to protect.
She is not a culmination of actions past, but is an indication of the future unless we do something about it.
My 2013 word is SPEAK. I will start with my children and hopefully I can grown with it.
23 Jul 2012
Its been a long time since I did back to back posts on the same day. But this is an incident to be recorded here.
We are late bloomers when it comes to teething. I, as a child started speaking and then cut my first at 14 months. For the milk teeth to fall ….. it took for ever.
Chula and Meija took after me. They cut first tooth at after their first birthday. Chula is now 7.5. Ever since she read Gooney Bird Greene and the character Felicia Ann, she has been looking forward to be walking around showing off her missing teeth. Felicia Ann has two missing front teeth and cannot pronounce her S and F. Clearly that is the star attraction.
Slowly all of Chula’s friends lost their milk teeth, but our heroine was desolate, she waited for almost two years. By now, even Meija’s friends started losing the milk teeth. The child was found in front of the mirror violently shaking her teeth at every available moment.
Finally this Feb I found two buds behind the lower front incisors. Her permanents were cutting out. The wait got intense. There was more pushing, prodding, shaking and inspection. But the milk teeth stayed put. Finally the dentist announced that the milk teeth need to be extracted. The child was terrified, but calmed down the instant the dentist mentioned that she can get ice cream. The I-word made her warm up to the extraction so much that she even offered to trade each of her pearls for an ice cream. Some how, the mention of extraction sent shivers down my spine and I was dragging my feet.
While this drama was happening and the lower incisors were getting all the attention, the top two incisors were getting lose. It progressed so much so soon, (well, in a month, but that is quite fast in our standards) that yesterday one finally fell out. We were in a restaurant, there was a bloody mess, but it came out. Now the child is sporting a empty spot and making sentences that are alliterations beginning with S and F.
She slept with the tooth under her blanket, expecting money in exchange for her tooth. But this silly tooth fairy forgot her duties completely. Chula came out with a sullen face, almost ready to cry saying, ‘Amma, the tooth fairy…..’ and couldn’t complete her sentence. I sent her to brush her teeth saying that the tooth fairy is playing treasure hunt game with her and if she looked around the house carefully she will find her money. Before the child finished her morning ablutions, the tooth fairy was whipped in to shape and the money deposited in a secret but easy to guess spot.
When Chula found the money, this is how the conversation went:
Chula: Gasp! Amma, the tooth fairy IS real. When I found nothing under the pillow I thought either there is no tooth fairy or the tooth fairy didn’t want my tooth. But it is real. See, see I have the proof. She left me money AND let me keep my tooth!!!
Mieja: (Half awake and from the bed) Nope. It is like A says. There is no tooth fairy. It is the parents who put the money under the pillow and fool the children. Ask amma if she forgot and is making up something last minute.
This from the genius who thinks she can make diamonds at home. As I often say, this child will be the death of me.
2 May 2012
I was telling her how hermit crabs do not have a shell of their own, but pick an empty shell to live in.
Meija: Where does the hermit crab come from?
Me: From an egg.
Meija: Where does the egg come from?
Me: From another hermit crab.
Meija: Amma, (with hand action) I understand that this hermit crab came from that egg, that egg came from thaaatt hermit crab and so on. But that very first hermit crab in the world, where did that come from? Which was first the crab or the egg?
Morning rush. The situation was getting explosive between Chula and I. She is sitting in front of her breakfast plate and I have given her the 20th ultimatum, but nothing is working.
Me: Chula, if I were you, I would take this more seriously and at least ask for help. I don’t know what you are planning to do.
Meija: Amma, if you were her, you would do the same thing that she is doing. She is doing this because these are the things Chula does. That is what makes her, her. So if you are her, you will do her things and not your things.
I am giving the child a bath.
Meija: Amma, you are putting soap so softly.
Meija: Yesterday when you put tiger balm for my back and chest, you put it so fast-fast-ly.
Meija: How do you know that soap has to be put softly and slowly and tiger balm fast fast?
Me: (Mockingly) Um, they teach all this in mommy school.
Meija: Mommy school? Can I go?
Me: Nope. One must have finished college, then go to another college, get a job, get married and only then they take you in to mommy school.
Meija: Do they teach you to make jokes like you do in mommy school?
Meija: Do they teach how to laugh like you do in mommy school?
Meija: Do they teach how to give hugs and love like you do in mommy school?
Meija: Hmmm, looks like you knew nothing before you went to mommy school.
27 Jan 2012
Mieja lurves diamonds. Now, according to her, diamond is anything that is smooth, shiny and the size of a lemon. At this point of time I would like to clarify that I am not feeding her with unrealistic expectations. Many a pebbles were picked up from the park, washed, spat on and shined till hands ached and disappointment levels soared. But the child being the tireless kind, decided to change the process. As a result of which multiple diamond experiments were carried on at home.
I nodded approvingly and decided to keep a photographic record of the experiments, because (a)once her heart is set, no matter I reason, she will refuse to listen and (b)if at all by blind luck she did manage to make a diamond?! I mean, the child was talking about rocks the size of lemons. It surely wouldn’t hurt to have a few, wouldn’t it?!
So here it goes, the process, pictures and the product.
Ingredients: Leaves from your garden, a bucket, water, scissors, plenty of sunlight.
Process: Watch out for the time sunlight falls on your kitchen faucet. Now open the faucet and check if the water sparkles in sunlight. Only sparkling water results in sparkling diamonds. Now fill half your bucket with sparkling water. Cut the leaves in to strips about an inch thick. Fashion these leaves in to little cups. Pour about half a teaspoon of sparkling water in to each leaf cup. Place the leaf cups in to the bucket. Leave the bucket in direct sunlight for a week. Check for readiness and leave them for an additional week if required.
was formulated after said child’s mother complained to every one under the Sun about the stink emanating from the bucket and scientists needing to clean up their own mess(“Marie Curie’s mother did not run behind her with a mop and scrubber” my exact words). The goal of this experiment was to (a)keep the initial experiment to small scale and if successful scale up as required (b)compress the process to a couple of days, so that said diamonds are ready before the leaves start decaying (c)avoid contamination from air borne pollutants.
Ingredients: One tbsp of chopped onions, leaves from your garden, one tbsp sparkling water, fridge in working condition.
Process: Clean a big broad leaf. Mix chopped onions with sparkling water. Fashion the mixture in to a diamond shape. Place the mixture on the leaf and place the whole thing in the fridge. You can place it in the freezer, will cut down the process time in to 1/3, the trade off being the three footer’s dependency on her parents(read mother) to check the diamond formation every millisecond.
Product: This time the mother raised hell that the fridge stinks of onions and the child gave up after a week.
Ingredients: Grape seeds, white acrylic paint.
Process: First eat the grapes, one needs the strength from the grapes to convince one’s mother about yet another diamond experiment, then collect the seeds. Wash the seeds in sparkling water. Pat dry. Paint every seed with white acrylic paint. Place in cup. Place the cup in fridge.
Amma had nothing to complain about. No decay, no stink. This experiment stayed for the longest in the fridge and was discarded after the unsuspecting spouse, looking for a late night snack, consumed about half of it.
Ingredients: Glass, preferably in a sphere shape. One tbsp sparkling water. Hard surface. Pointy, sharp tools.
Process: Take the glass sphere and drill a small hole. Pour the tbsp water through this hole. Place right side up and place in the fridge to set. When set, tap the water filled sphere on a hard surface to chip the sides to make a shiny diamond.
Product: Promptly nipped in the bud by Amma. So no pictures or products to complain about.
She is taking a break right now and I am shuddering that she will come back invigorated after the break.
28 Oct 2011
On Diwali day, I did something I thought I would NEVER do! As a result of which child1 declared before she went to sleep, ‘Amma this is truly the worst diwali ever. I hope I make enough happy memories to forget this sad, sad day. It is the saddest and baddest day in my life. What is the use of celebrating if I can’t read amma?’
Yes! I told her she cannot touch or even look at a book for one more week. She needs to show and act like a six year old otherwise she will lose her reading privileges.
The reading, as much as I am proud of it, is reaching an extreme. Three volumes of Chronicles of Narnia in one day, forgetting the time entity and then whining that I didn’t take her to the park, I am not letting her meet her friends, not showing even 10% interest in making friends, always living in a dream world….. This is not just one or two days, has been going on for three months now and I have had enough of this.
Now that she has no fall back, she is making an effort to make friends. Otherwise the first sign of something that does not go her way, she would turn and walk to her book.
As for child2 she hopes she can irritate me as much, so that her reading privileges will also be revoked!
Two very different peas in a pod!
26 Oct 2011
* KOTUDHU – is a Tamil word that translates to ‘IS POURING’
Yes, a new series….
“Why did you move back to India? Because you have two girls and you want them to get the Indian culture?” is a question I get asked many times.
So here is my observation of the Indian culture that the girls are getting, from the side lines.
Scribed by child1, dictated by child2.
8 Jul 2011
Mieja: “Amma just get me a Barbie and a carrot. No, no, many, many carrots. Okay?”
Amma, at some point of time: Carrots are good for you. They make you healthy and intelligent.
Amma, at all points of time: Barbies tell little girls that ONLY beauty is important.
A frustrated Amma, at some point of time: Playing with Barbies will make you stupid.
For more truly original thoughts visit here.
9 Jun 2011
When we first told Chula’s class teacher(also the school founder) that we are planning to move to India, R’s first question was, ‘Of course only after she finishes her graduation ceremony with us right? Because you know how much she is looking forward to graduating’. When R found out that it was not the case, she was more upset than us. She said, ‘Its only a month, so leave her with me, she can graduate and then join you guys in India’, we both laughed it off and pretended that it was not a serious offer. Two days later she asked me again if we are serious about moving before the graduation. We were, with school starting in India on June 13th, I wanted a month in between to settle down. ‘Well, in that case’ said R, ‘Chula will have a graduation. A special one, a proper one, with all bells and whistles. Even if she is the only child who is graduating in this ceremony, we will not cut any corners. The child deserves it.’
So the school sent a letter to all parents that Chula will have a special graduation. From time to time they discussed in circle time about what would be a fitting farewell for Chula and Mieja. Ideas were pooled, teachers made a special graduation hat and the children practiced their songs. Chula wore the school’s traditional graduation attire, sang songs, recited a poem, did a special Indian folk dance and made a ‘WHO AM I?’ poster. It was a touching ceremony. Almost all the adults present cried. Who wouldn’t when you hear a bunch of children singing this?
PS1: This is 1/5 songs the children sang.
PS2: Mieja wasn’t left out. G Is For Gold(And Silver) follows soon.
17 Mar 2011
Since this is a mommy blog, I have to write about the kids, even if it is once in four months.
Chula, all of a sudden looks so grown up. She is all of her 6.5 years and a little more, if you ask me. The danger in this is, I start thinking of her as an adult and start developing adult level expectations and she has to grow up, even more than she is currently, in order to catch up! Constantly reevaluating every scenario and breaking this cycle has been my prominent job for the past one year.
She has certainly departed from the ‘child’ category, but yet to arrive as a ‘girl’. In this journey, she is opening her mind and assimilating the world, thanks to the zillion-gazillion books she is devouring, eyes that are constantly observing and ears that are always listening.
Parents have been aware of the phenomenon of adolescence for ages now. Even terrible twos get noticed by parents, thanks to the child. But the flux children get caught while moving from what Dr.Montessori would call the ‘absorbent mind’ to ‘concrete thinking’ does not get the attention it deserves. From the parents point of view, first comes the monumental process of child birth. You don’t even get time to count all the toes and fingers and feel confident about the health of the offspring, you have to jump head first in to understanding a newborn’s needs and establishing a pattern that works. You take a breather and terrible twos is staring you in your face, which quite frankly is a misnomer, because we all know that terrible twos starts before two and drags on till four! Through out this phase we input values, family and personal, observe the outcome and keep tweaking the limits till we have a self propagating control system. By the time the child is six we start thinking about curriculum, extra-curricular activities, schedules, the poor second born, if any and such. So the transition from child to girl/boy gets least notice, even if the parent notices it, since this transition is mostly inward, they pretend that it does not exist and do not want to deal with it.
I get some clues to what Chula is thinking. Of her most recent fascinations – namely poverty, pain, meanness, good and bad, kindness etc, the top priority goes to jail. Do children even go to jail? Why? Why would some one want to punish children? Are there even children capable of committing punishable offenses? Baby girl, I will tell you the truth and promise to answer your questions, but when you ask me, ‘But….amma…..if I don’t put my seat belt on, YOU are the one going to jail. Right???’, it scares me a little.
By now it is clear to me that she has a very broad sense of time. I think this is it. It is not going to change and I can either deal with it or try and make her perfect. While I understand that she gets it from me, it is annoying to have two such people living under the same roof. Half the battles between me and Chula is because of the clock. She is constantly taking her own sweet time to do things and I am constantly micromanaging her. It is chaos and friends will vouch to that!
Her clarity of thoughts amazes me at times. The other day she told me, ‘Not because I like you amma, because I love you amma.’ One of the drives back home, she requested for Enthiran songs and I replied, ‘The iPod is in shuffle mode and one of these songs will be an Enthiran song. I cannot drive and DJ.’ The reply she gave me for that, ‘Amma, there are 7 songs in Enthiran. There are 273 songs in your iPod. So 7 out of 273 will be from Enthiran’. I did not make a squeak after that.
After Chula was born, I learnt the art of giving choices. If I put my mind to it, I can give a child choices and still get the exact results I want. But now Chula is in a stage where she wants a role in coming up with the choices. She wants to be more involved in me parenting her. My choices are to either try figuring out how a child can parent herself or learn this new art without any manual what so ever. Sigh.
Her sense of humor is developing really well
Her current thing is to yell, ‘Don’t talk about me’, on the occasions I narrate something adorable she did/said. So here I am, writing about her.
She is still asking cyclic questions. Now her cyclic questions are scientific. Need I say that I have completely lost my hair?
We watched The Oscars and the poor child sat patiently asking, ‘Is this Oscar?’ for every human being she set her eyes on.
She likes school and she hates school. When ever she whines to me that she does not like school, I insist that she has to go to school to learn things and she makes it in to another of her famous cyclic conversations. On a particular day she went on a walk with YaadaaYaadaa, picked a dandelion and made a wish, ‘I do not want to go to school. Ever, never, never, ever in my life again. I want to stay home all days. All 8 days of the week.’ See! Case in point for me.
We were going for R’s colleague’s son’s birthday party. YaadaaYaadaa asked her, if she knows the child from school/dance class/tamil class/swim class. The answer was, ‘YY aunty, you don’t come to my school. You are not my teacher. You don’t come to my tamil class or my swim class. But I know you right? That same way, I know this child.’ People, I have to say there are V.E.R.Y few occasions in which YY has been rendered speechless, any one who has know her will vouch for that. This was one such occasion.
Her favorite thing to do while riding in the car is to play games with me. So far name, place, animal thing; find the odd man out are super hits.
This 5 year old is forced to constantly catch up with her 6.5 year old sister. Sometimes I have to physically stop her from doing that.
The MPDs….how can I forget this? She has 3 different personalities. Bawawdi the cat – she licks you, holds your leg, meows and pretends she cannot talk English. Gaggiga the baby elephant – she hits you with her trunk and crawls on the floor. Diggie the dog – she barks and bites. Her big sister is her owner.
Finally a joke from Mieja, of course she got it from a book, but I was surprised she understood it.
WHAT IS A MUMMY’s FAVORITE MUSIC?