21 Oct 2009
Contd from part I.
She is at home because her school is closed for Gandhi Jayanthi. She washed her hair, children stayed off from clawing each other, her best friend was going to stop by and the husband was on his way home…. a good day…an over all sense of elation is prevailing.
She opens the door to check mail and she sees a package.
Her mind races at the speed of light. Books from Amazon? Nope. She didn’t order any. Besides why would Amazon gift-wrap it like this? Gift from India? Yeah right! Dream on greedy person……
She picks the package and looks at the ‘from address’ Wait a min….. Tharini from Winkiesways? Package from T? She has a rough idea as to the ‘why’, but the ‘what’ is still throbbing in her head.
OMG, she loves surprises. She loves presents. She loves opening presents. In fact she loves it sooooo much that as of a year back, she was opening all her kids’ birthday presents. This is like….this is like….pure joy. She feels like a small child. She is shaking and sniffing the package trying to guess what is inside.
Ok, she gives up. Inside her head a voice is screaming ‘OPEN AND OPEN IT ALREADY.’ She runs the tip of her car key at the corners of the box, opens the package and wrapped in a newspaper is ……..
A throw cushion with hand made embroidery
showing a mother and her two children, all three,
full of glee,
under a tree,
not any tree,
but a Banyan tree,
with the Sun all shiny
and the grass dewy,
for it is the blog banner of yours truly
With the package is a hand written letter taped to a thank you card. The sight of the neat script, that is so precise and beautiful, some how completes the experience. She is thinking ‘Aren’t hand written notes the best?’. She is scanning the notes from top to bottom, savoring the feeling, making the sense of completion last a bit longer.
All this kindness for what? Because she advised T to take it easy and relax?! Apparently yes. T says in her note, “I wanted my ‘Thank You Loads’ gift to be a gesture of the permission for the relaxed time you enabled me to sanction myself and here is the fruitful endeavor.”
All that is running through her mind is, ‘I must be truly blessed. Not just for all the love and kindness that is bestowed on me. But also to be able to recognize, be aware and appreciate the kindness that comes my way.’
20 Aug 2009
You mention one word to ‘The Very Particular Girl’ and she constructs such vivid mental images that if put in words would fill a book.
The mother says ‘ice cream’ and ‘The Very Particular Girl’ imagines one scoop chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and M&Ms with a cherry on top, in a kids sized waffle cone. This to be had in the Cold Stone Creamery close to her house, sitting at the square table against the wall with three chairs around the table. She visualizes that her mother would be sitting next to her with a white plastic spoon on her hand. She visualizes that she is allowing her mother to swipe her ice cream from time to time and swatting her hands away at other times. She visualizes her younger sister sitting across from her eating vanilla ice cream with sprinkles and M&Ms in a kid sized sugar cone. She had already visualized what clothes the trio would be wearing.
If the mother had said ‘ice cream’ during an outing in which the little sister had not accompanied them…. no problem, she automatically assumes that they would go home, pick up the little one, change clothes and then go to the ice cream shop.
See the way the four-year-old mind works? She constructs an image, actually a movie clip, by gathering snippets from her past experiences. If the reality changes, the movie projection in her mind does not change. Her four-year-old brain is not that agile cognitively, so she changes reality in order to achieve her mental representation.
Of course reality being pretty real, there usually is a mismatch in the end result and the mental projection. Thus resulting in hands-flailing-legs-kicking-rolling-on-the-floor-tantrums. At times the mother has been afraid of ‘The Very Particular Girl’. There is no telling what ‘The Very Particular Girl’ is thinking and after the hoops the mother had jumped to do something that she thought would make ‘The Very Particular Girl’ happy, she had to face-ear-splitting-brain-melting-tantrums. Most disheartening of all, ‘The Very Particular Girl’ would come back home and pronounce the verdict that would descend on the mother like thunder “You made me very unhappy amma.”
After going through painfully small improvisations, one at a time, finally the mother and the ‘The Very Particular Girl’ have settled in to a routine. For anything activity they do, no matter how small it is, they draw up ‘A Plan’. A plan is nothing but a set of expectations, both the mother’s and ‘The Very Particular Girl’s’. Then they analyze what they can do if something unexpected happens and the plan goes haywire. The mother tells/warns at least 1000 times that one can only plan and life can throw surprises. The ‘The Very Particular Girl’ nods her head understandingly. Thanks to the plan, if something upsets ‘The Very Particular Girl’, she says, “But amma, that is not my plan.” The concept of ‘A Plan’ helps put things in perspective not only for the ‘The Very Particular Girl’, but at times also for her mother, because when you are a mother, you tend to just do things. In your heart, you are doing whatever you are doing in the best interest of your family. At times like that the little voice, filled with reproach helps the mother find her balance.
CAST AND CREDITS(Like you guys didn’t know all along!)
‘The Very Particular Girl’ – Chula
Mother – Yours Truly
[tags]Toddler tantrum, preschooler tantrums, how a child thinks, why do children throw tantrums[/tags]
12 Jul 2007
It was midnight. She went around the house checking and rechecking every window and door, making sure that they were all bolted down. She switched the security system on and turned off all the lights. She put her cell phone and her hand set under the pillow(in case she needs to call 911 in the middle of the night) on her husband’s side of the bed, the one that will not be used for a week to come. She sat on her bed seriously considering if she must put the big kitchen knife also under the pillow – just incase some intruder entered the house. She seriously questioned herself if she was the stabbing type. She equated the two innocent children, sleeping peacefully in their cribs, in to the scenario and reconsidered the knife. She shook her head and forced herself to think about something else.
Why did her husband have to go away? She had known about this trip for three months now, but still the minor details scared her. How on earth can she get up in the morning, make breakfast, make the baby’s daal rice for lunch, wake up the kids, feed them, wash them, drop them at day care and make the 8.00AM class? She was used to doing as much as she could and dumping the rest on the husband and runnig out of the house at 7.45AM. It was not just the work. She just felt kind of insecure without her husband, especially in the night when the thoughts of all the psychos she had read about clouded her mind from thinking straight.
She had always been like this. Even when she was young, she felt antsy when her father went off on one of his very are work related trips. She truly believed that these two important men in her life could protect her and her precious children from harm. Its funny because both her father and her husband are small built – they were hardly 5 feet 6 inches tall, not even 130 pounds and didn’t know any kind of defense arts what so ever! Yet, the thought that there was some one to fall back gave her the security.
She never told her husband about the insecure feeling. She was too proud to admit to that kind of thing. She was not the type. Every day of the eight days was a mad rush. The days were long and the nights were longer. To make it worse the toddler fell sick. The child was running 105, throwing up, shivering and shaking – all this at 1.00AM. She had managed by calling her dear friends for help.
Finally eight days passed, her husband arrived. She went and picked him up from the airport. There was a bear hug, no I love you-s or I missed you-s. Her husband is not good at expressing how he feels and she had a big fat ego. They started talking, one thing lead to another and they had a fight over nothing. That’s just how they are – two quirky peas in a pod!
15 Jun 2007
She was waiting for her younger daughter to turn one. Now she can legally switch her baby from the infant car seat (stage one car seat) to the front facing car seat (stage two car seat). She was so looking forward to this day. From now on, when she is driving, if she tilt the rear view mirror ever so slightly, she can see the beautiful faces of both her darling daughters. No more wondering if the child is awake or asleep or worrying if the child had spit up. Also once when she was negotiating a tricky curve to enter the highway, the infant car seat, for some reason, had tipped. The baby was still secure, but the shock from the movement had set the baby in to a frantic wail. That gave her quite a scare. Ever since she had been very conservative in driving and was looking forward to this day where she can move her baby to a new car seat.
Finally the day arrived and she went to the store to get a new car seat. She wanted to get something similar, if possible the same, front facing car seat her elder daughter uses. She knew how children are and she wanted to avoid preference conflicts that might show up in the near future! But much to her disappointment, that particular model, she had picked up one year earlier, was not to be found anywhere, not even in the manufacturer’s website. After analyzing and over analyzing, in the best interests of her daughters, she decide to buy a booster seat (stage three car seat) for her elder daughter and put her younger daughter in her elder daughter’s car seat. So she came home with a new car seat for her elder daughter!
She knew how children are and how they hate surprises. So she prep-ed her elder daughter for a day, showing her the new car seat, speaking to the child in high pitched voice full of enthusiasm and heavily marketed the new car seat. She put the new car seat in her pooja room, asking the good Lord to bless the car seat, and to protect the precious commodity it is going to carry from now on. All the rituals done with, she installed the car seat and was looking forward to start using it from the next day onwards.
The next day she woke her children, telling them that today’s ride to the day care was going to be different because they are going to sit in new car seats. They all left home in a hurry, but happy – a mother and two happy children, all smiling and waving good bye to the father who was also leaving for work.
As soon as the van’s door opened her elder daughter ran to the car and stopped short. The child was puzzled that her car seat was missing. The child was even more puzzled to find the car seat on the other side of the van where her baby sister sits. So the child ran to the other side and tried sitting in HER car seat. But her mother gently stopped her from doing it and put the baby in HER car seat. The child started telling the mother, “Amma, my car seat. This my sit down”. The mother was not yielding, she was smiling and pointing to a different car seat. But THIS was HER car seat. The new one had a different belt system, it was nothing like her usual one. The child had just learnt to wear her seat belt all by herself. The child wanted to get her point across, she started crying, and screaming, “This my sit down”. The child tried telling her baby sister to get down, but babies…bha…they never understand anything. So the child tried moving the baby so that she can sit in her car seat.
Now the mother was starting to get impatient. She had so dilligently explained the change because she wanted to avoid what was going on right now. And it was getting late. So she grabbed the sobbing child and thrust her in the new car seat telling through clenched teeth, in a stern voice that this is to be the child’s new car seat from now on. The child started crying louder. She, as a mother, could almost understand the unspoken words the cry meant. “When you told me about this new car seat did you ever see me acknowledge it? Didn’t you get the message when I turned my head and walked away pretending that I didn’t hear you? You adults expect us, little children to be flexible. But you never practice what you preach. Can your hypocrisy get any bigger? Is it because we are little and helpless that you try to enforce such great control over our lives? For the past one year I have shared so many things with my baby sister. Now my stuff is being snatched from me and given to her. How much more do you guys expect me to put up with?”
A change now would mean pulling out the infant seat from the garage, installing it and reconfiguring the old car seat to accommodate the bigger child. But it was getting late. So she decided to go on as planned. Yes, the child was crying, but she thought playing her child’s favorite nursery rhyme CD would calm the child. The idea was a flop, the child’s wails drowned the nursery rhyme. The child was squirming wildly and attempting to get out of the harness.
Within a matter of 7 minutes, the smiling happy family that left home reached the day care in an angry, distraught, tense and stubborn condition. She tried to kiss the child good bye, but the child just pushed her off and ran in to the day care, hugged a three- year-old who happened to open the door. The child complained to the three-year-old, “M, M, that is my sit down, that is my car seat” and ran and hugged her day care provider and just sobbed uncontrollably. She left the day care a very hurt mother.
Disclaimer: All the characters and incidents depicted in the story are real.
Cast and credits
Self: Hurt mother
Toddler: Upset child
Epilogue:As soon as I dropped her in the day care, I drove to the store, returned the booster and picked up a stage two car seat for infant. Did all the adjustments, readjustments and put everything back in place. The booster used the regular seat belts and though toddler was not able to unbuckle herself, she kept tugging and pulling and had the belt wrapped all around her. It made me uncomfortable. For now, I think a five point harness will be a better choice a squirming toddler.
Toddler refused to smile at me when I went to pick her up in the evening. She came to the car, inspected everything, made sure that what ever was done was duly undone and then ran to me and gave me a hug.
Lesson learnt: You guys tell me.