Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Do you feel a karmic connection with your child?

The result of having been brought up in an inter religious state of affairs, in a household which was very liberal about religion was that I have always been drawn towards the question of who are we and what are we doing out here? And then the mind boggles when one thinks of the sheer mathematical possibility, (just proved by astronomers this morning) about probable Earth climates on other planets in other solar systems, in one of the gadzillion galaxies in this infinite time space bubble. Anyway, the mind boggles, and I still dont have the answers to any of my questions, despite all my reading on the paranormal and the journey of the souls. But two very personal things that have happened to me, have convinced me of the rebirth of the soul.
I lost my father when I was just nine, I barely have any memory of him left in my head. I see his face when I look in the mirror, I am a carbon copy of his features. I donot have his vibrant personality or his charm, or his ability to make friends with anyone and everyone. I take after my mother in this aspect. For eight years while I tried to conceive a baby, I rushed around from one infertility specialist to another being told I was a classic case of unexplained infertility--one where all the factors required to conceive are perfect, but somehow ova and sperm refuse to meet. Then someone told me about how women who dont have kids, conceive right after they adopt, maybe an atonement for some karmic crime they might have committed against a child in a past life. I read up about it, and wondered if that might be the case, had my womb been blocked for a soul to enter for whatever reason. I prayed for forgiveness with every fibre of my being.
How does my father figure in all this? The month, nay the very night, I conceived brat, I had a startling and vivid dream of my father giving me a warm hug, asking me how I was, and how he was going to be there for me. Before this dream, the only dreams I had ever had of my father were angry dreams where I yelled at him for deserting me and my mother, and that too, he would vanish before I could finish the conversation, leaving me all teary and upset when I would awake. But this was such a warm, comforting feeling, that I awoke the next morning truly feeling I had been visited by my father. Fifteen days later, two pink lines on a home pregnancy test confirmed my pregnancy.
My son has my face. By extension, he has my father's face. My son is the same charmer my father was, he can get you so mad you will be ready to lock him up in the bathroom, but he will charm himself out of the situation without you realising it. When I went through my postpartum depression, my son would look into my eyes in a wise old way, like he knew what I was going through and sometimes I would feel I could hear him talking to me, telling me he was there with me, and I pulled through. Of course, at times, I thought I was totally losing it and would have to be confined into a loony bin for hearing voices in my head.
This next incident confirmed my suspicions. When brat was in hospital for a seizure, he was put under general anaesthesia for an MRI. He was barely one and a half, he was not speaking too well. In his woozy coming out of it state, he said, "Chacha Mummy" as clear as a bell. This is a term I used for my paternal grandmother, and have not used it for over three decades now, since she expired. I heard it. My mother heard it and we looked at each other, then he repeated it, as clearly as he had done before, and opened his eyes wide and looked at me. We were both shaken. My mother still gets goosebumps when we talk about that moment.
What has this post been inspired by? Just reading a book called the Journey of the Souls over the past couple of days. Making me piece together many bits and pieces of my life. The fact that husband and I looked at each other across a crowded college passageway and fell in instant love. We just knew we had to be with each other. The third day of meeting each other had him telling me he wanted to marry me. And I knew it would happen. It did six years down the line. But there was never any doubt in either of our minds. It was like a lightbulb moment, the stuff romance novels are made of, and the knowledge clear and pure that this was who it was meant to be.
I know that I have some connection with these two individuals in my life, they are people I have known before and the feeling is like meeting an old friend in new clothes. The soul recognises. Have you such people in your life that your soul recognises?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tis the season to be unwell...

There is a viral fever nipping around in the air, and brat was down with it yesterday. At therapy, while the rest of the kids were whizzing around doing their tasks he was being cranky and surly, and one put it down to his being woken up at the ungodly hour of seven (for him) in order to make it to the 9.30 am therapy session (been preponed on account of the holidays), when the therapist said, nonchalantly, "He's a little warm, I think he's running a fever." My heart skipped many beats. Nothing scares me as much as a simple fever. It is a simple fever that gets him into the hospital every single time of the five he's been in. He gets a convulsion on a temperature of 100. I rushed and touched forehead. Sure enough, warm and clammy. Called the chemist outside for a Crocin syrup and a Frisium strip, and then realised that its been a while since I gave him Frisium, and didnt know what the revised dose should be. Panicked some more and dragged brat to the pediatrician, who operates out of a basement clinic in the morning, and as luck would have it, the clinic was crawling with kids of various shapes and sizes and illnesses, sniffling and snorting their way through colds and coughs. A lot of the mothers were telling the older kids about how "YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME, WANT TO DRINK P*&%I all day. Look at you now." Dont blame them, I am guilty of downing the carbonated stuff by the bucket myself while making ughh faces if the brat happens to be watching me. So far, he seems convinced that its really distasteful and shows no inclination of wanting to taste it.
The kids cribbed about how hot it was (It was really hot, we were pouring off buckets of sweat in the dark dingy basementy space, packed to the gills with parents and kids), the smaller ones kept bawling scared witness with the darkness, while my brat went around searching for errant candles to blow out and sing the Happy Birthday song. The doctor kept his sense of humour, asking the kids to pretend they were at a birthday party for the younger ones, and a camping trip for the older guys. And dealt with all the wailing, weeping and wrung out kids and parents. Dosage ascertained, wanted to hightail it out of the by now rancid waiting area only to have brat pull me back. "No mamma. I want to play good night." The little genius invented a new game which includes marching around telling all the kids to close their eyes and go to sleep now that the lights are off. And "Sayyourpayers." I prayed too, for all the ill babies, especially, the little one, who has in her five days on this planet had 25 seizures. I dread to think what has happened to her brain.
PS: He is better today, thus the post. Yesterday was glued to him for every second.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pray for this baby

Our driver had a baby. A baby he was all pumped up and excited about as he could express with his few words, and he is a man of few words. Occasionally when he could gather courage he would ask me advice as to what his pregnant wife should be eating and ask me to go through the test results with him and explain them to him, and how he was planning on moving to another 'kholi' because there was no place to play for a baby in this 'kholi' and it overlooked a sewer. So much like me pestering husband for another home with an additional room and some play area....
Anyway, the baby was born on Friday. And has been getting convulsions since Saturday morning. She is in the ICU. And for the first time I have seen this taciturn man break down and cry like a little baby. We've moved the baby to the same hospital the brat was in when he was admitted for infantile jaundice, under the brat's pediatrician and neonatologist. But somehow, the heart is uneasy. She is still convulsing. And her responses, says the neonatologist are not that of a newborn. Pray for her.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Who are these kids in our ads?

Given the fact that the summer vacations are upon us, and necessity dictates that one becomes slave to the idiot box for getting mandatory things like downing milk, food and doing potty. Basically stuff that requires us to be seated in a single place…therefore there we are, mother and son, looking at Mickey Mouse clicking his heels smartly in the Mickey Mouse Play House, which sadly comes to us in the Hindi voiceover version, which somehow seems to miss all the nuances which comes from listening to the mouse and the duck in the original voices, when suddenly the ad comes on. This is an ad from a company selling fairness creams, one which I have been guilty of using through my growing years to become “Fair”, and one which hasn’t worked a smidgeon to make olive fair, and here it tells the story of a young girl, using the cream to lighten her complexion, become a film actress and fulfil her dreams. I felt like someone had stuck a knife into my gut and twisted it. Was this what I wanted my son to be watching? Did I want him to grow up thinking that only fair girls were worth achieving something, and those who were on the wheatish scale of the complexion graph were worth nothing? And what about the lovely dark skinned little girls watching this commercial on a channel that was meant to sell them cartoons, and children’s programming, and junk food, and fizzy drinks and such like. As an advertising person, I do know that the planning has been bang on, many mothers like me would be sitting with their brats and watching the shows (I donot allow the brat to watch television with me not in the room) and yes, we, the duskier ones would definitely drop our brats into their cribs and rush out screaming to the stores to buy a cream that would make us box office glamazons, and help us ditch our dishwater drab lives for perpetua rock star living with eightwheel limos and the like. Or so I am sure that’s what the advertiser hopes. Besides that, I have a serious issue with the advertising on that is targeted at adults and shown on a kid’s channel.
Add to this, needlessly aggressive brats selling us detergent, brats making mooing sounds to a cow hide designed icecream. Brats getting one up on salesmen and surly neighbourhood uncles. If you looked at the advertising on children’s television, and focused on the 5 to 7 year olds targeted, you would think we have a generation of mannerless louts coming to the fore. Of course, I donot take my own brat as a representative. He is in a class of his own, when it comes to being a complete example of how manners can be used to one’s purpose. Charming when it suits him, and completely mannerless and uncouth when it does. Such cunning at such a young age. Anyway, I digress from the issue under discussion. That of the kids in these ads. Can anyone tell me if these extra smart kids are theirs? Has anyone seen any of these around? Are these ads trying to build these bigger than their shoes brats into must emulate super brats for the rest of the kids out there? In which case, a big boo to those who sit down and conceptualise these kinds of characters where the good kid is a loser and the bad boy is the idol. Yes, women love bad boys, but that’s a different kind of love. This kind of archetypal brat kid came in with the Problem Child series, and now seems to have become the ‘cool’ kid to be. Look at the most fervent fans of the WWF? Children. My son does a great death neck grip on me when he doesn’t want to down his milk. God forgive me, he has watched WWF just once to get addicted.
Anyway, the second point I take umbrage to and am sure many moms will be with me on this one, are the pointless worthless collectibles that come in every pack of preservative, chemical gunk laden junk food crisps and such like. As will any mom who has been dragged to the golden arches time and again for a Happy Meal of which nothing is ingested, with the only object of interest being the toy which accompanies the thing, and of which we already have a gadzillion back home. We don’t need yet another thingie in our homes which should rightfully be confined to the bins, apart from dosing our kids with chemical cocktails we don’t even want to think about.
Interestingly in India, almost every ad contains a kid. We speak of commercial exploitation of women as a sex symbol to sell products which are not relevant to them in advertising, but what about the use of children to sell products which are of no immediate relevance to them, but which only work on the pester power factor. Catch them young and make them consumers for life. And what about these poor kids who are forced by pushy parents to act in these baby commercials for the ‘oh-so-cute’ factor, isn’t that another form of exploitation of children—child labour of sorts? The kids are becoming omnipresent, in ads for products ranging from two wheelers and cars to home paints, to gadgets to computers to DTH products, everywhere you look there is a kid in an ad, and its no longer confined to junk food and colas and beverages. Kids barely to your knee are selling us ‘Attitude’ and I don’t like it one bit. Can we have advertising that treats kids like kids not like smart alecky know it alls I don’t want my son to look at. Or be like?
Maybe I am oldfashioned, but maybe I am also a worried mom. I know that kids who grow up believing they need to thumb their nose at authority figures to be cool are the same kids who drive drunk in the middle of the night and mow down innocent pavement dwellers. Break the rules, says an ad. And create anarchy. If we start with exhorting our kids to start breaking the rules, it is sure to be a confused and irreverent gen next that we’re bringing up. Do I want to be mom to such a generation? Definitely not. Would you?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No summer vacation...

The mother is off to Goa with her gang of girls. I am sitting with a grump face here because I am baking in the cement concrete jungle of Mumbai, minding hyperactive brat with mother downing beer on the Goa beaches no less, and MIL enjoying the lovely cool breeze of Bangalore. Excuse me while I powder my sulks…
This being the summer vacation, the entire world is off on vacation, but I will be stuck in hot, clammy, smelly Mumbai thanks to various factors which one will not get into here. When life was young, the waistline could be measured in two handspans and the brat had not happened, we took a break whenever we felt like it. Long weekend looming up ahead—lets drive down to Goa. Lets drive down to Pondy. Lets drive down to Kerala. We have driven the length of the country with just a duffel bag as backup. We have done Goa like Goa-aholics, trawled through every corner, passed out on every beach from Colva to Calangute to Anjuna to Cavelossim. This year we did Goa again, but with brat, it didn’t have quite the same charm. But there was a different joy, the joy of being there with brat who saw the beach not as a place to eat infinite prawns peri peri and pass out on vodka, but as a place meant for sand throwing and dipping toes in water and running around like a dog chasing his tail. It was fun. Of course, wild horses couldn’t get me to put on a bikini in a public place now for fear of causing an epidemic of conjunctivitis amongst the populace…
My summer vacation will be spent taking brat to therapy and hammering the alphabets and numbers into his unwilling little brain. It will also be spent getting him to do writing practice and taking him to the parks, to the museums, to birthday parties and to visit friends and organize playdates. I will also get the chance to spend more time doing absolutely nothing with him. Just time to enjoy him without the rush of having to make it to school on time, and reaching places on time. Seems like something I had been wishing for all through the academic year. Do I regret not going on vacation? Not for a moment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

She's quiet, she stands back and listens

I could have died. This is esteemed MIL to be Jaya Bachchan talking about her DIL to be Aishwarya Rai. A Miss World. A world renowned beauty and brand ambassadress. A woman who has acted in Bollywood and Hollywood movies, and done some good work (Come on girls lets credit her with some good work...even though we are all extremely critical of her perfect looks, like we dont ever wish the mirror could be kinder to us). She is the perfect daughter in law because she is quiet, stands back and listens. Gosh. By those standards I am the absolute imperfect daughter in law. Am sure there would be many more points to put me in imperfection, but my MIL has accepted me as I am warts, vocal voice, opinionated and all. And hugs to her for that.
Looks like the power equation in Jalsa has been spelt out on Koffee with Karan and hope Aishwarya's listening hard.

Chickoo kahan hai

Two am: The Manral house. "Mamma, chickoo kahan hai." Huh. Who is this chickoo? Perhaps a fellow kiddo at Nana house where we are being deposited during the day these days. Decide to play it by ear. "Chickoo apne ghar pe hain beta. Go to sleep."
But am damned if the issue resolves so easily. Two seconds later. In an agonised voice trembling at the point of tears, "Mamma, mamma, Chickoo kahan hai?" I spring bolt upright in bed at that voice. And gather a trembling with fear brat into my arms. "Chickoo apne ghar pe so raha hai beta, tum bhi so jaoo."
I patted him and put him back to sleep.
Nine am the next morning: Brat stretches lazily and rolls out of bed. "Mamma, Chickoo kahan hai."
Ugggghhhhh. Damn this Chickoo.
"Mamma, Chickoo khana hai."

And here was I thinking all the while that the brat was pining for a playmate nicknamed Chickoo.

Monday, April 16, 2007

About birthday parties and early morning rising stars...

The brat had an early session of therapy today thanks to the fact that holidays have begun, but didn’t need to be woken up till eight. MIL too not at home, which meant, I too could snooze till 7.30. What is that they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Brat has been gifted with an inborn alarm clock which wakes him up bright and sparky at an ungodly 5 am the day he doesn’t have to go to school or woken early.
Scene 1
Two groggy parents, snoring in unison. Darkness without. No sunrays breaking through the mantle of the night yet.
Suddenly, female snorer feels a tug at her blanket. Pipes up cherubic voice. “Mamma get up. Why are you sleeping?”
She shrugs it off thinking it to be a bad dream, but the voice and the tugging persist. “Mamma get up, mamma get up. Its morning now. Mamma get up. Finish sleeping.”
If she could have strangled the intruder, she would have, but since it was beloved brat, she merely said, “Go wake your father.”
Sweet revenge for all those sleepless nights during nursing.
Scene 2
Father drags himself out of bed.
“Kiran, make me a cup of tea please. I’m going to the gym.”
Hmmmphhh. Somehow things never go my way.

We had a birthday party on Saturday, where we spent the entire evening rearranging the chairs in the hall rather than be part of the games conducted by the host. And the rest of the time we spent ganging up and throwing soft drinks at other brats. Looking at all the brats at the venue, most of whom were from brat’s school and class have come to the conclusion that brat is only marginally more aggressive than the lot.

The main task of most of the parents during the entire evening was pulling apart warring factions and preventing all the balloons in the hall from being demolished by ingenious use of matchsticks. Wish these kids would put their brains to the learning of the alphabet or the numbers, but looks like all brain power is spent on the pursuit of such activities that necessitate loud noises, dishoom dishooms and then the tormenting of little girls who cry easily, making mamma whirl around in a daze looking for the next parent to apologise to. Some whacks happened in public and balloon fights were intervened in and sorted out. With bigger boys around as well, the brat had not much chance at bullying, but this time round was being bullied, and it felt great to be on the other side of the fence as an almost ten year old pulled away every balloon the brat ferreted out for himself. Or insisted on bursting any one he had managed to salvage. Though, I must be honest, brat was marginally better behaved this time round. Or was it that the levels of comparisons had been eroded since all the boys were behaving in the same cave man fashion this time round, that brought him within norms of acceptability?

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and by the time the cake was cut, we were exhausted and ready to call it a night. In the car on the way back home began snoring gently, with the complete sweet exhaustion that comes after being hell on wheels. Gets up the next morning. "Mamma, come, lets go birthday party." That, in the true sense, is the measure of a great birthday party.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Day of the Report Card

I entered the bright, cheerful room with the knees awobble. My heart doing a nice little rhumba beat of its own. I had never faced such killing anxiety at any exam or job interview in my life. Thinking of which have had only one interview, the rest of the jobs were offered for the taking…consequently have always had the arrogance of thinking jobs were mine for the picking and choosing, thereby choosing to live off the fat of the land, and be full time mom. Assuming the working world will be waiting with welcoming arms for me once I decide that my little motherhood break is over…but that’s another post.
The three faces within, smiled warmly and reassuringly. I held onto the little hand in mine with an iron grip, still wary of what was to come. The little hand wriggled interminably and freed itself, with the owner running into the lap of one of the three faces, and giving a huggie and kichu. The other two handed over a thick file, and an ominous red covered report card. Within, red, yellow, green and brown dots told me what to expect. But as I turned the pages with shaky hands, I still couldn’t figure out what the decision was.
I turned hesitantly and asked one of the smiling faces…. “I cant figure this out. Does this mean he goes to Jr KG.” “Of course he does.” My heart skipped a beat.
Drumrolls all…. The brat, despite all my misgivings to the contrary, has not been detained, but will move on to the next year. I had thought he would be the first in the family to have to repeat nursery, with the rest of the clan topping state and national level examinations. But his getting to the next class is prize enough for me, as is the fact that his performance from the first term to the second term has been significantly better. Have my hard work and prayers paid dividends or is it just a natural evolution with time, I wonder? Now, need to roll up my sleeves and get him to recognize his alphabets and numbers before they decide to send him back from Jr KG.
As his special educator at school tells me. “Don’t give him a break. Keep at him, even if it is just ten minutes a day with his numbers and alphabets…or he’s going to forget the little he knows…” Ah the pressure to keep pace for my easygoing brat. I’m so grateful he’s not staying back will teach him the alphabet the entire day if that helps any….

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The brat and his great taste

Cannot ever fault brat on the impeccable choices his genes have made for him. He has the good sense to take after me in appearance not Richard Gere lookalike father. I, on the other hand, would always have been considered for the part of the heroine's funny fat friend, had I ever had the love for being in the movies. He derives his love of the pool from me, one who hasnt dared dip her little toe in the water, rather than national level swimming champ father. He screams when his father gets into the pool. "Pappa come out...fell down ho jayega." He has the limber coordination of his mother who never made it to the finishing line in any race through her sports days, and often flopped by the side of the track while the medals were being distributed. He derives his love of books and education from his father, who dragged himself kicking and screaming through the minimal required education required to make a living, rather than his bookworm mom. When I got married, I was shocked to find no books in the house, and no shelves to store any books. Blasphemy. I had come to the Dark Ages. So I continue to keep my books in three cupboards at my mothers house, with her threatening to give them away any minute if I dont Take Them Away Now and Stop Cluttering My Drawing Room. Any books I put to him, will be a) promptly shredded. b) converted into intricate origami forms which then means I have no heart to take offence, unless the book shredded is one of those godawful expensive ones one has to buy on 50 per cent sale. In the happy anticipation of my own childhood where I never asked for a chocolate, but always a book on any trip out, I had stocked up the shelves with a slew of baby books and picture books, and illustrated books and pictionaries, to find that the brat has no patience to sit for more than 10 seconds at a stretch, unless he is physically destroying something during those ten seconds. Now what remains to be seen is the eyes and the teeth. I am half blind, the father has modern dentistry to thank for his set. Given his past track record and his current caries situation am sure he will get my eyes and his father's teeth. The standing joke in the family is that the brat gets my husband's intellectual prowess and my sporting skills. Am on toes for his annual report this Saturday. He might just make history as the first child in the family to have to repeat the nursery. Isnt it wonderful, this child gets the worst of both of us, and is still so adorable. Which could also mean that all our imperfections put together can make perfection. Who am I kidding? Only goes to show how blinded by love a mother can be.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On religion…

My son is a Hindu. It was assumed that he would be so, because his father is a Hindu and naturally, we live in a patriarchal world. I did not make any attempts to change the status quo, infact I wholly encourage him to do Jai Jai, do pranam, sing bhajan and do aarti, and sit with panditji and blow the shank during pujas held every full moon at our home. He has had his mundan, his annaprashini, and will also have his thread ceremony. My father in law, god bless his departed soul, was an active member of the RSS. My husband always wonders what would have been the outcome of our beautiful love story had he been alive when we met.
For some history. My mother is a Catholic and my father is a Muslim. They met when they were 16 and married when they were 30. These were days when marrying out of the community was blasphemy (in fact it still is, never mind what people tell you to the contrary), and they waited until they had settled in life to live on their own. My mother ensured that her entire brood of siblings got themselves educated and jobs, before she left her maternal home to marry my father. Her father had died when she was barely 20, and she was the eldest. So she worked and supported nine siblings. My father waited till she was ready and married her in court. He then had to leave the family home. And the family business. The strangest part of the entire equation is that my father was this dashing, handsome, instantly lovable, tall, broadshouldered, fair skinned movie star type (do I see a parallel in hubby? Maybe I was always searching for my dad when I fell for spouse), and my mom is this dark skinned, wren like, quiet, frizzy haired, reclusive lady who one would never turn back and look at twice. No one could understand the magic. But then who can understand love? I was born when my mother was 33. My father died when she was 42 and I was nine. And she rolled up her sleeves, metaphorically and got back into the workforce. And brought me up. To the best of her meager means, with tonnes of love and attention. But with no religion. Throughout her marriage, she had followed her own religion and Dad, his own, and I was left to decide which one I preferred. A choice I kept deferring because it seemed pointless to me. I read philosophy and the holy books of every religion, I tried to find meaning in something over the other which would make me choose one over the other, but failed. Every religion was so beautiful that it would be unfair to make a choice. So I am by choice a believer without a religion. But I am giving my son a religion. Strange, but a decision I have made thanks to the hate I encountered when I had a Muslim surname to my maiden name. Hate that vanished overnight when my surname changed. I changed it to include myself in my new family. And I was included everywhere else. And because still, today, even in so called elite circles, the hatred for the minorities is so rampant and not realizing that I am part Muslim, I have been privy to some of the most educated and respected people being racist. Assuming, I am a Hindu and therefore on their side. Because I was made, at the age of 16, to walk with my hands in the air, when I was stuck out of home during curfew, because of my surname. Because I know what it feels like to have a petrol bomb thrown into my balcony during the 1992 riots, and yes, our neighbours, Maharashtrian Hindus did protect us, but I don’t want that to happen to my son. Am I a coward? Or am I being practical? With the Supreme Court declaring that Uttar Pradesh no longer can call the Muslim community a minority community, I wonder how the religious equations will change in the country?
I also know how it feels to be lumped with people you don’t identify with purely because you have a surname that defines you as a “type”. And I hated always being scared. I never felt like I belonged anywhere, and I want my son desperately to belong and not feel the fear I felt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fight with the doggy

Have inflated and installed a new punch doggy in the corner of my bedroom much to the delight of my super duper hyper aggressive brat who now has a passive recipient to all his dishoom dishooms, and will not shout back or administer one hard rap on the butt. Just, I hoped, something for him to work off excess energy before we got down to work. Therefore, much of the morning before getting to school was spent in testing the limits as to how far we could push with this doggy before doggy actually got off his two hind feet and sunk in rubber teeth deep into hand. But having judged this wasn’t going to happen, much delight and joy ensued. “Doggy not angry, mamma. I beat doggy with danda.” “Yes love, this is rubber doggy. He doesn’t get angry like mamma. You can play with him, though don’t beat him, he will feel sad and cry.” The brat, a little below doggy’s eye level, marched off to his essential commodity basket and brought out a little napkin. “Here doggy. Wipe eyes. Don’t cry.” Think will use this tack now, when he decides to go the Dharmendra meets Rambo meets Rocky Balboa way in public. Maybe emotions can be appealed to, over rationale.
Been reading a slew of comments on aggressive kids in public places (Mad Momma’s post, the link to which I will appeal for again) and am very disturbed at the fact that most moms seem to assume that we are okay with our kids going around beating up other kids. It hurts us to see our kids like out of control demons out there terrorizing every kid around to the point that no one wants to play with them. It hurts, because its hurting the other child, (and you are a mother and you do understand the other mother’s pain, after all, every child is precious, except at that moment the demon brat doing the bashing up) but because your child is incapable of expressing himself in an appropriately friendly manner and will probably grow up to be the playground bully and social outcast. In the early days, when I was still a bit of a sensitive soul, I kept brat away from public situations not wanting to risk his behaviour there, but have since realized that this is no solution to the problem. I cannot isolate him from children his age. He has to learn to be a social animal, and get accepted into groups. He has to make friends. He has to learn to behave around other children and keeping him at home will just make him like a lion out of a cage once he gets into a social situation, so he has been thrown into every public situation possible, short of nightclubs and music concerts. At the movies, he creates a ruckus and drags us out if the film bores him, people shush us in disgust, he kicks the seat of the unfortunate soul sitting in front of him interminably, and I and spouse change seats with him relentlessly to get him some peace and quiet. At birthday parties, he is the kid picking up scraps with the other kids over a worthless balloon, which I need to intervene and assign him his own special balloon which he is allowed to play with and not touch anyone else’s balloon on the pain on not getting any cake. In the mall he is the one flailing his limbs and having a right out meltdown because he is not being allowed to ride the chug chug gadi anymore. This after innumerable rounds on the damn thing, so many that my head is spinning from watching him. On the street he is the one straining at my hand, all set to run into traffic. But then, this is my son. Being aggressive with other kids is only one part of him. He is also a friend who will happily give away his most loved toy to another kid if asked to. He will happily share his lunch box with all and sundry. He will insist I give the construction worker’s kids pastries from Birdy’s even though there are just two left and there are three of them. He wants to give everyone he meets a huggie and a kichu to make them happy. He will stroke a baby’s head gently, while I shiver in the background in anticipation of a undesirable action. He will snuggle upto me at bedtime, and say, “Mamma, bahut fighting kiya. Hand is paining.” And I will hold him tight and try to explain to him why he shouldn’t be fighting all the time. “Don’t fight dear, then your hand will not pain.” “Boys fight. Girls play.” Huhhhh? And who told you that?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I will, I will.

The long weekend is now over, and have been promising myself to do a nice long post. But promises being promises, on the lines of elephants flying, am trying to type out something, with the brat hanging onto my leg demanding that I put on his alphabet CD so he can proceed to demolish the computer and cause the maintenance man make another trip, his third this month. At this rate, he will probably ask for a premium for the computer at home.
Ahh, have now given him a grown up pen and some official looking sheets of paper and he has at last consented to sit on the ground and do his standing line sleeping line practice which is actually looking to me like the karmic circle of infinity. A lot of the standing lines have got onto his hands and legs and will have to scrub like a maniac to get it off his skin tomorrow morning before school, which will make us late again and then add one more grey hair to already rabidly thriving lot in my hair.
Discovered a nostril grey hair yesterday and decided mortality was catching up on me, so sat to make a will. Did it quite methodically with as much legalese as I could muster, will now take it to neighbouring advocate and ask for stamp of approval. With material possessions in my own name being next to nil, willed my mother take care of Krish should anything happen to me. And, in the off chance of my mother not being around, brat should be sent off to boarding school. That’s the only chance of any sort of disciplining happening. Mother in law and husband will spoil him rotten and he will grow up a lager laden lout of an adolescent who believes the world owes him a living. Already see signs of it when he orders the entire household around to get a sipper or play fetch. My meager cache of jewellery to be kept safe to be handed down to his wife, whenever he gets married. My FDs to be kept aside for his further education. Enough morbid thinking for today, but it is a very valid thought. My father died when I was nine, and left us homeless and penniless and chucked out of the family home. The wiry mother took up a job at 42 and brought me up to the best of her resilient ability and even managed to buy herself a home in obscenely priced Mumbai realty zone. My supermom. Spent my childhood hating my father for trusting his family too much. Plan out for what should happen to your kid, should you not be around. Even if you think you are hale and hearty and will do the funky chicken on your 100th birthday…strange how your children make you think about unpleasant things like dying and actually plan out for the circumstance.
Okay, now we have written all over my Furniturewalla salmon pink sofa as well as our hands and legs so it is time to get into the happy scene and administer a shout or two. And then probably get back into the “I don’t want mamma” scenario all over again..

Friday, April 06, 2007

Post partum depression....

I went through post partum depression. And how. For one, the first time I saw my post pregnant belly caused me to throw up. How would I ever be normal again? Would my husband ever find me attractive again? Then came the baby and the realisation that this mewing little ball of flesh was my responsibility completely and I had absolutely no clue what to do with it. And I couldnt move, turn, my stitches hurt everytime I had to get up to feed, and the hubby dragged me home from hospital the third day after my caesarian and we have an Indian loo, so you can imagine the trauma everytime I needed to pee. Not to mention Diwali bombs were bursting all around, just when I would feed parcel and get him into noddy land, a huge bomb would burst in the building compound and he would start bawling all over again. And everytime he did that he would be flung at me by mom and mom in law to feed, and I fed on demand. So much that I wished I could just attach a milking machine to my breasts with the other end directly dripping into brat's ever bawling mouth. Then came the jaundice and me having to admit him into the nursing home, NICU which was a good hour's drive from home and me running there twice a day to feed him, because I wanted to get the bonding going and almost rupturing the sutures in the process. And the house was swarming with people come to celebrate the brat but I was a newbie mom with no idea of how to handle brat, and slept alone with him on the fifth day, with no clue how to tie him tight, how to get his butt clean with the constant mixing of warm water and dettol and, the ever increasing pile of dirty nappies in the bucket testament to my growing frustration. At times I wondered why I even bothered going to all that trouble of infertility treatment to have brat, I thought life was better earlier. I moped around the house morosely ruing the great career I thought I had left behind, the figure I had lost forever, the lack of sleep, and the husband's growing impatience with me and the ever increasing chasm between the two of us. I had become a fat, ugly, harried, forever weepy frump and I hated myself. I had no life left. I was a mommy. I hated the feeling.
The turning point came when I left brat for the first time to resume work. I thought getting back to work would make me feel better and help me get back to a semblance of normalcy. He was all of three months old, and he drove my mother in law nuts bawling his tiny lungs out. And I swear, the moment he began bawling back home, my breasts shot milk like a geyser. I ran back home, cursing traffic and slow trains and everything that delayed me getting back to him. And damn the spoon feeding of formula or the bottle. And I knew then that I was responsible for brat because he had come from me, and I had dared give him life, so had better stop feeling sorry for myself and make sure he was well fed, and clean and well looked after. And nothing else mattered beyond him anymore. And once I accepted that, and knew it with all my heart and soul, the universe conspired to give me the patience and strength to handle him. To the best of my ability, which might not be the best most mothers would be able to. The depression still rages, but it is of a different sort. Its the "Oh he didnt have enough veggies today." or "We didnt do enough puzzles today," or "Why did I shout at him so much today," its the constant feeling that I am not doing enough for my son, and even if I rush through the day dropping him to school, taking him to therapy, taking him to the park and trying to fit in the office and my poor neglected husband somewhere in the midst of all this, that I am not doing enough. I am not ironing his shirts out, and he wore a crumpled shirt to school the other day, his nails need to be cut, I took the easy way out and put a jam sandwich in his tiffin box. I haven't, I haven't.....
Which is why I feel terribly for Britney Spears and her descent into post partum depression and more so for her kids who know a mom precariously on the edge. I know how it must feel to wonder why this is happening to you all at once, that you cant cope, you cant hand this kid back to where it came from and will someone give you a break from this madness. And I was but a suburban princess. She is an international pop star. Motherhood has a way of bringing you down to earth and making you feel so hopelessly vulnerable with the immense responsibility that it brings, that you feel you just cant cope. But, luckily for me, I could pull out of that depression. Or rather, my son pulled me out of it. I pray Britney gets through. If only for her kids.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dont want mamma

My son broke my heart today and am still sweeping up the shards. They seem to have scattered far and wide all over the house and keep pricking into my feet everytime I take a step. The great event happened when I was goading him into finishing his milk and getting a heave ho into the bathroom, after all it was already 8.15 and school began at 8.40, and we were nowhere near halfway decent. Therefore, the whining and the crying, all bayed by the fact that we didnt want to get into school having inflicted maximum damage on two other small ones, and getting a good talking to from the teacher, and as I deduced from his playacting of the scene later with me being the offender and he being the teacher, a stint in the naughty corner. Therefore, I yelled. Get your ass into the bathroom. His face crumpled like a sheet of unwanted paper and great big fat tears rolled up in his eyes and spilled over down those cheeks I long to see chubby but are just simply hollow. "I dont want to go school. I dont want mamma." Nothing I could do or say after that made any difference. Heavy hand on my heart I sternly put him through his bath, dressed him and dragged him to school. He kept hiccupping sadly through the way, and when we reached school, he ran into his class happily, all tears forgotten. "Gumawnin teacher.I be good boy today." I'm still leaking tears.

Mr Unpopular, thats the brat

The brat is fast becoming a birthday party veteran. In the past week he has attended four birthday parties, three of which were at Pizza Hut. It has reached such disgusting proportions that he wakes up from his afternoon nap and says happily, "Chalo mamma, birthday party jaate hain." And then, much to his disgust, needs to be brought down from his aspirations of cheese pizza and flying waiters to a more sedate option of a trip to the park. Where the maximum damage that can be done is play rough and tumble with some unsuspecting other child, and get momma an earful from the offended kid's mother as to my bad parenting skills. Huh. My bad cooking skills are part of family legend and now my bad parenting skills get added to it. Of course, most of it goes in through one ear and comes out through the other because I know that brat is wound up like a spring dinky car, a little roll to the back and he shoots to the front at Turbo Mach speed. There's too much energy and, as the good doc calls it, hyperkinesis, for him to stay put and still. And he wouldn't be my darling brat if he did so anyway. I know despite everyone telling me otherwise, that I am as good a parent as I can be. That is why the good lord has entrusted me with this brat. So I plod along, barking and yelling, and occasionally administering the ripe spank on the butt to keep spitting, biting and pinching at bay. Yes, we have become a spit meister, and can accurately aim and spit upto a distance of three feet to show our disagreement with whatever mamma is suggesting should be done withv arious things like toys scattered like a minefield debris aftermath on the floor, aka put them back in their basket.
In my usual bluntly, politically incorrect way have alienated one more mother at the park. Her kid was flopped in one corner of the park, as lame as a wrung out sponge with absolutely no interest in exploring anything, climbing anything or generally being active, when the brat,with an extremely sociable conscience approached him with the intention of getting him to play. "Chal pakda pakdi khelte hain," said brat, with the comfort of childhood where one doesn't need formal introductions and handshakes if one feels the need to be friends with anyone. The disinterested other looked elsewhere and shrugged off my brat's hand of friendship. That really stung bad, (why are we mothers such bleeding hearts when it comes to our kids being rejected by peers? But then there's a great post by Mad Momma on that... ) and I attempted in vain to drag brat to another corner of the vast park where he would no doubt find other kids interested in playing with him. But he wanted this lump of corruption idling indolently on the grass as a play partner, and continued to prod him. The extremely hoity mother, , tells me, "Look here, he's not interested in playing with your son." I lost it. And said something pretty nasty in return, which I regretted instantly. Something on the lines of keeping her kid in the showcase if he was too good to play with other kids. But of course, words having been exchanged, physically dragged brat out of the park fuming with rage at this woman, having the temerity to suggest her son was too good to play with mine. And me here, believing all kids are created equal and letting brat get messy with the labourer kids in the construction site next door. Have now to teach brat to figure out that if a kid doesn't want to play with you, let it go. Find someone else who will. Sounds like one's teenage years doesn't it, and moving on from the infinite unreciprocated crushes.

Monday, April 02, 2007

To hoist my own petard...

Ahem ahem, Marie Claire, April issue. Page 124. Yours truly. Reclined indolently on a sofa pretending to type away furiously. And wondering if she needs more concealer under her eyes.