Posted in Celebration, Parenting, School, Wins

A Date With Elsa

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R is crazy about all things Frozen. It has been her favourite movie since she first watched it. She has watched it so many times, she knows every line in the movie by heart. When she is not watching the movie, she is reading the book. When she is watching the movie, she has the book open in front of her comparing scenes to pages. She dresses up in blue dresses every chance she gets and has me braiding her hair every single day. She pretends to be Elsa and even has everyone at her daycare is used to greeting her with “Good morning, Elsa” each morning.

One Friday morning, she said she wanted to wear the red and cream dress aka her “Anna dress” because she was going to be Anna. I was surprised that she chose this day, of all days, to be Anna. We were going to watch the free screening of Frozen on a big screen, under the stars in the evening. There was going to be a ‘Meet-and-greet with Elsa’ too. The rest of the day, she told everyone she was going to meet Elsa that evening.

Just as I started to pack my bag at work, people came at me from all sides. As it happens. Of course, the one day you have to leave early, your manager must approach you with an issue that is urgent and needs to be resolved without delay. Of course, you’re the only person who can come up with all the important information required to make life and death decisions. I manage to ward off all the issues, in true ninja style, and arrived at the childcare center with just enough time that we would still make it to the showground and meet Elsa.

Her friend A’s parents had decided to come along with us and had just arrived too. Calmly and as if it was just another day, they were picking up A. A was telling me that her mum had a surprise for her. On the other hand, there I was, excited and hurried, hair flying, clothes flaring and arms flailing. I grabbed R and told her we must rush, told A that I had a surprise for her too and we’d see her in an hour. Normally I’d like to pretend that it’s the life of a working mom trying to make the best of work and be supermom, but there was the case of A’s parents. Same gig, but a lot calmer and together. Damn!

By then, I was on too much adrenaline, having left work in a hurried state with my mind running at a 100  miles an hour. Running out of the daycare, R in one hand and dialing with the other, I tried to arrange for R’s dad to pick us up from the train station, to save time. Why was I late while A’s family wasn’t? I couldn’t quite tell. Anyway, we took the train, DH picked us up and we arrived at our destination. R and I jumped out, while he looked for parking. We walked quickly, as I started to dial again, to find A’s family. As usual, multi-tasking. We found Elsa before we found A.

Having waited all day to meet Elsa, I thought R would be excited to see her. I should’ve known better. When has she ever? She was shy. In fact, she was so shy she wanted me to pick her up. I convinced her to stay on the ground. I’d hold her hand. In a while, dad arrived and so did A, with her mum. We joined in the dancing, staying a safe distance from the numerous ‘Elsa’ girls around us. Yeah, there was the DJ who was the pretend Elsa. Then there were the numerous kids, all dressed up in Elsa costumes. Most kids (or their parents) seemed to think the obvious thing to wear to a meet-Elsa event was to dress up in their own Elsa costumes. Mine thought she ought to dress up as Anna, if there was already going to be another claim to the Elsa role. Clever. Different thinking. Interesting, for a kid her age?

So, we danced, got ourselves a candy and then queued up for a photo with the ‘real’ fake Elsa. Kids cuddled her, posed with her and smiled at cameras. R jumped on me and clung to me as if she thought Elsa would bite her. She wanted to go away. She did not want a picture. I knew she would enjoy seeing a picture later but she just wanted to get away from there at the moment. So, we took a picture with Elsa, with R clinging to me for life. Elsa asked for a cuddle but R just wanted to leave as soon as possible. A was quite the poser, cuddling Elsa straightaway and posing with her while her mommy took a couple of photos. I asked R if she was sure she did not want any pictures. She just wanted to leave. I was already looking like the mum who wanted the picture that the kid did not. R was distressed. I decided to let it go, even though I knew she would have loved a picture, in hindsight. I mentioned to A’s mum to never show R the picture of A with Elsa.

Back home, I showed R the photo of her and me with Elsa. She was thrilled! She loved that there was a picture of her with Elsa. Duh!

The girls loved watching the movie on the big screen. We had front row seats too, thanks to both dads who were setting up the picnic rug while us girls were dancing with Elsa. A had only ever watched it on an iPad and her parents had only ever “listened” to the movie from the back seat of the car. R and her dad have watched it numerous times on the big screen TV but nothing like the massive screen, in the open air, lying down next to the grass and chomping on food. Best way to watch a movie, with friends and family. Dreams do come true.

Posted in Celebration, Parenting

Vobyu, Dada

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All she does is cry. What can I do with her?

When he said that to me about our baby girl, the daughter he’d always wished for, I couldn’t believe my ears! It broke my heart. This was the man who wanted 3 children. Who really wanted children when I didn’t know if I wanted it.

A few weeks after she was born, he said those words. I didn’t know how to react or whether I should even react to it.

Over time, he started to enjoy her. She played with him when they were at home but when we went out, she refused to go to him. She would be terrified when he wore a hat or pulled the hoodie of his jacket over his head. She loved him but was also wary of him.

Weeks later, she started to show signs of adoring him. She would begin her day by hugging him. “Dada!“, she said first thing in the morning. “Dada, night night. Vobyu (love you) dada“, would be her last words before she drifted off to sleep.

In the first year of her life, every day brought something new. It was fascinating to watch her figure out basic things like how to use her arm or grasp something in her palms. All the while, the one person she trusted wholeheartedly was mummy. In the second year, her personality began to start showing but it would change every week. We would just begin to assume she liked something or someone and she would not go anywhere near it the next. She had warmed up to daddy but there was still an attachment to mummy that held stronger than any other. By the end of that year, she was all grown up.

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She turned three and suddenly, there she is, a full blown ‘threenager’. She seems to be figuring herself out and judging us all the time. She tells us how to do things and what not to do. She knows who is family and who are outsiders. She knows immediate family and extended family. She understands mummy’s and daddy’s roles now. She even knows how to play one against the other. Lucky for us, we stand united. For now.

This morning, as I tried to get her to take a sip of warm water to ease her sore throat, she said to me, “Mumma, can you go to the office? I don’t want you. I want daddy to be here taking care of me”.

Why?“, I asked. Her reply, “Because he doesn’t make me do things like this“.

Posted in Celebration, Parenting

MAD – My Adorable Daughter

We used to love calling each other MAD, when we were kids. It was funny to use a ‘rude word’ but actually mean something nice. Today felt like a MAD day. I was mad at my daughter for not giving me the quiet day I wanted but she was just too adorable to stay mad at.


Mama, tea“, pointing at my green mug of warm water with honey and a dash of lemon extract.

Yes, baby

Dada, tea“, pointing at her dad’s big red mug with white polka dots. We have a few of those in different colours.

No, sweetie. This isn’t tea. This is coffee“, he has to correct her, even though she can’t see what’s inside the mug and wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Mama, tea. Dada, co-huee“, she repeats, pronouncing coffee like kaw-ghh-uey, with a complicated ‘h’ sound that’s more like gh with the ‘g’ silent.

Would you like some tea?“, I put my mug to her lips.

She grabbed the mug with both hands and took a sip, pulling back right away, “Thamba bissi” (‘thumba bisi’ meaning ‘too hot’). I didn’t even know she knew the word ‘thumba’! It sometimes freaks me out when she says things I don’t know she’s learning from us. You can never be too careful.


Chikkaan!“, she yelled with joy, when she saw the pulled pork for lunch.

It’s pork, not chicken. Can you say pork?

Pork

Very good. Can you say pulled pork?

My pork!” and then pointing to her dad’s sandwich, “Dada’s pork

Umm.. okay


Hey, curls“, dada called her.

Hey, curls“, back to him.

I’m not curls, you are

Curls“, she smiles at him.

Do you know what curls are, baby?“, I asked

She pulled her leg out from underneath her bum and said, “Kaals” (‘kaal’ meaning ‘leg’)


Mama, booboo“, she pointed to her temple

Aww, sweetie. Shall I kissie the booboo for you?

Dada kissie“, she runs to him to kiss her booboo away

Wait till you come to me for boobie next, my dear!


Gets on the swing and starts swinging.

Dada, photo“, she reminds the photo-obsessed dada, who records every minute of her life.


Posted in Celebration, Parenting

Toddler Two Birthday Preparation Frenzy

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February is a month of birthdays for us. A few days after R was born, we had a home-visit by a registered nurse. She booked me into a February mum’s group meet in my area and I went because I didn’t know how to say no. Two years on, we still catch up. It’s interesting to watch other mums parent toddlers the same age as mine and watch the little ones grow.

It’s interesting how differently each of us celebrates birthdays. We split R’s into 3 parts. Initially, it was just going to be a holiday to a scenic place so that she could experience something wonderful and have beautiful pictures to remember it by.

“We will have parties for her when she’s old enough to ask for it and remember it”, I said to her dad.

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On the first day of her birthday week, as we lay in bed going through our morning routine of breastfeeding and chatting, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She stared back at me for so long that I was sure she didn’t understand. I told her it was her “Happy Birthday”. What did she want?

“Cake. Dose. Happy Birthday to you”, she said, after thinking for a few seconds.

She wanted a cake and a birthday song. She was old enough to ask for a birthday party? Oh no! What was I going to do, with 2 days to go? And doseDose is a South Indian breakfast item that is very much like a crepe. I’ve tried to maker her dose a couple of times, since our last India visit, as she kept asking for it. She never liked it because it just wasn’t like ammamma’s (grandma’s) dose. I’d given up trying and she’d not mentioned it in weeks. Then all of a sudden, she drops this one me! How was I going to arrange for dose at such short notice? There isn’t one Indian restaurant that does justice to the South Indian dose.

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The next couple of days flew by in a frenzy. Her dad and I were desperately trying to source some dose batter. We managed to get rice flour and urad dal (black gram) flour. I made the batter on Monday night and left it to ferment over the next 24 – 36 hours. I couldn’t possibly pull off a party with friends, at two days notice, so we decided to split the birthday party into 2 parts. On the actual day, we would make a special cake and do a 3-people party, involving mum, dad and her. On the next day, when she goes to daycare, she could have another mini-party with her friends. Win-win. I didn’t know if we could pull it off but I was ready to give it my all.

I used my lunch breaks at work to go shopping for dark yellow and black things to go with the digger theme I’d planned for the party. I found a cake recipe on Pinterest to make an excavator cake that seemed doable. I managed to find a toy digger during one of these excursions that would serve as a stand-by if my digger cake failed. Ultimately it could be her birthday ‘theme present’. Things seemed to be falling in place but I knew the previous night would be a long night for her dad and me. We had to bake the cake and put up the decorations so we could surprise her when she woke up in the morning.

We decided to do it in the same style as her first birthday. We’d do her shower and dress her up in her new clothes before she stepped out of the room, in the morning. We’d set up cameras in the living room and wait for her to make an entry. Last year, it was the most amazing thing watching her expression as she walked in and saw the decorations and balloons, for the first time. Her presents were strewn on the floor and she ran to one of them, screaming,

“Doggy!”

I wasn’t sure if we could outdo that this year but we put in some serious efforts to do just that.

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As I walked back to work one afternoon, after a disappointed attempt to find the kind of construction/excavator themed buntings I had in mind, I decided that I would make some. All I needed was the right coloured paper. If I could somehow get hold of a dark shade yellow post-its, I could use black to slick it up. The post-its I had were all light yellow and I’d never seen dark coloured ones. Fortunately, the Universe was with me on this one. When I went to get coffee in the office kitchen later that day, what do I find? An abandoned stack of orangish, dark yellow post-its by the microwave. The exact shade of yellow post-its that I wanted, lying there begging me to claim them. I was besides myself with joy. I took it. How could I not? Sometimes parents do silly things for their children. I know she is too young to appreciate the exact shade of yellow or the creativity I put into it but maybe when she grows older, she will. Even if she doesn’t, I know it had to be just right… for me.

That night, as the cake was baking in the oven, her dad and I got to work on the decorations. We had one area of the living room marked off for the birthday party. I had yellow wrapping paper and another grey one with black stripes. We cut it up into triangles and voila, we had the easiest DIY buntings ever made! The post-its converted into a set of alphabets wishing her a happy birthday. A few white balloons and we were set. On a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, her dad invited her dolls to join the party. They crowded around the table, perched on her couch and ‘swing’/bouncer. Some marshmallows on sticks and a candle indicating ‘2’ adorned the table, along with the digger present, while the Digger cake (I had to settle for a white colour) sat at the centre.

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The cake was originally meant to look like this but mine didn’t. Of the two cakes that were required to make the digger, one of them turned out soft. It was very yummy but too soft to be cut up and form part of a digger. In fact, it broke in two places as I lifted it out of the baking tin and transferred it to the cake board. I was having a creative spell at the time and decided that it looked like a construction site, cracks and all. I’m not an expert at making cakes and found to my dismay that the yellow food colour did nothing to the cake. It was brown once it was cooked. Fortunately, when the cake became the construction site on which the digger would sit, brown was just the colour I needed. As fate would have it, the second cake turned out to be a bit hard. It had more of a shortening kind of consistency than a cake once I removed it from the freezer, where it had sat for a day with the other cake. However, that made it easy to cut it up without cracking. Hurray! I used that one to make the digger. As I mentioned earlier, I’m no expert. My digger, while it sort of looked like one, turned out to be slightly big and took up the entire area of the bottom cake. Also, it was white. Thank God we weren’t having guests over!

When we went to bed, I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep right away. I hoped that she would be excited. That was my last thought as I drifted off, some time into the early hours of the next day.

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Posted in Celebration, Parenting

Bubble-wrapping the children

I saw a post in one of the mother’s group forums I’m a member of. It was appalling. A mom had visited her friend and overheard the friend’s maid narrate this story.

My husband teased my 8 month old today. He told her he would ‘drink all her milk’ as he pointed at my chest. When I told him off, he said she doesn’t understand anyway so it was no big deal.

This mom decided to post this on a forum of 20000+ strangers and get their feedback. What horrified me was that every mom but one, including this one, thought the dad was a pedophile or dangerous! Really? He was a pedophile because he teased his daughter that he would drink up all her milk? How many adults have not teased children about taking away their things? Is that cool? Probably not. Does that make them a child molester? Certainly not! He was pointing to his wife’s chest. So, the maid felt uncomfortable and brought it up with him. Then she ranted on to her mistress. To take this out to a public forum and shame the man? To say the daughter ought to be taken away from him, for saying such a thing? Is that right?

I couldn’t believe the reaction of these women. Do they understand what taking someone’s child away from them means? Do they realise what it means to that man, the mother and the child? When did the world become a place where we mistrust everyone but the child’s mother, including the father of the baby? I thought it was sad enough that a lot of people felt the need to keep their children ‘safe’ from relatives but I can understand that there is, unfortunately, a basis for that fear. I’m sure that is true for fathers and even mothers. I read about parents who mistreat their children – some even kill them – and it makes me feel suffocated. But are we living in a world where we need to question a simple joke that a father makes and shame him in front of the village? It takes a village to bring up a child but if this is the way the village reacts, what is the child learning?

R’s dad once asked her if he could drink her milk and pointed at my chest. She smiled at him and said ‘yes’. I thought it was cute. It never occurred to me to protect my daughter from her father for that interaction. He is an amazing dad. I loved that she said yes, she was happy to share. Her dad and I hold hands, we hug each other in front of her. We feel that we don’t do it often enough. She needs to learn that it is alright to express love and that mum and dad love each other, not just her. We don’t need to hide from her, to show a little affection or share a joke.

I asked him what he thought of this outrage over the man’s comment. He agreed that it was an over-reaction. Are these people parents who never make a mistake? Would they give away their children or separate them from their spouse at the first sign of an ‘inappropriate’ action? What is actually inappropriate? Are we getting too carried away by the drama in the news that we are unable to comprehend what is truly okay and what is not? Are parents trying too hard to protect their children from life? Are we forgetting to loosen up and take a joke, in our quest to keep our babies safe?

Just as I was getting over that, there was the news of child activists in Australia demanding a ban on children sitting on Santa’s lap. This was followed by an outburst from parents ranging from Santa being a potential pedophile to Santa being a miracle they want their children to continue to enjoy. Most parents feel that they should let the children decide. If they are comfortable and want to sit on Santa’s knees for a photo, so be it. If not, they can stand next to Santa or not pose for a photo at all. I see that point. As most pointed out, the man being Santa needs to be a blue-card holder. While that is no attestation of his character, surely we can safely say the chances of him abusing your child in public, with video and still cameras and heaps of parents around, are reasonably low.

With this kind of fear-mongering, how do parents leave children at daycare and go to work peacefully? Can we all afford to stay at home and keep our children in a bubble as long as possible? What about the stifling from all the bubble-wrapping? How does all this affect the children’s development? Do we think of anything else at all when we defend our overprotective behaviour? Like what the child wants to do or whether the child would like a say. Like what is going on in the child’s mind and what the child is learning from our actions. Like what the mental and emotional growth of the child is like in this airtight environment that we’re creating for them.

I send my daughter to daycare 4 days a week. I worry about her health and whether she is able to express any anguish to her teachers. Every evening I ask them how she has done and gauge their response. The rest of the day, I let myself get busy with my life while she learns things in hers. Off late, she has grown an attachment to one of her teachers and will only let me leave her at the daycare if Miss T is around. While it’s a pain to have to wait around and get late to work on days that Miss T hasn’t checked in yet, I’m glad to know that she loves someone so much. It means that someone is taking good care of her. She is in safe hands while her dad and I do what we need to. We try not to worry about imaginary problems or doubt every person who smiles at her. We smile back at all strangers who give her attention. If she is uncomfortable, she will let us know and we will respect that. We will do what needs to be done. Otherwise, we assume that the stranger is a kind person trying to socialize with a beautiful toddler.

We don’t know if we are striking the balance right but we know we won’t live in fear and mistrust. We will let her sit on Santa’s knees if she would like a photo, or stand next to him. If she doesn’t care for Santa, she won’t be doing photos with him. If Santa tries to act funny with her, we will punch him in the face. Until then, we will believe that Santa is there to amuse the children and pose for photos only.

Posted in Celebration, Reverse-parenting

Her First Rain Storm

She has never seen rain before. She was too young to know when it rained last summer.

So, this year was her first and it came on big. A thunderstorm that caused flash flooding and commuter problems, making me grateful to be at home when it happened. Big drops of rain fell heavily on the floor balcony, making splashes of little puddles and bringing in leaves and twigs from the nearby trees. Occasionally, the wind blew the water on to the glass doors and she jerked back as it washed down.

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MaLe (rain)! Mama, maLe (rain)!“, she yelled with joy.

She’d just learnt that word and was super-excited to use it. Within minutes, she decided that the splashing water was too much fun to merely watch through the glass.

Mama, open!“, she said as she tried to slide the door to the balcony. “Outside“, she clarified, pointing to the water. “Me, water!

No baby, you can’t go outside. You can watch it from here

Mama, open! Outside. Water. Play. Mama, open, mama! Open, mama“, she continued incessantly.

It broke my heart to refuse but she was still recovering from a cold. Anyway, there was no way I’d let a toddler go out in that thunderstorm, even if she weren’t sick. The winds were strong enough to blow away a petite child like her.

As she chucked a tantrum, I was struggling with myself. I wanted to say yes but I couldn’t. I remembered how much I loved playing in the rain as a child. She was thrilled and I knew she would have loved getting wet in the rain. I know that I will take her out in the rain someday and play with her. Just not now. How do I explain that to a toddler?

After some cuddling, explaining and distraction, she relented. She watched the rain settle, from the living room. I watched her look longingly out of the window and promised myself that she would experience it one day. When she is older and physically more resilient. I had forgotten how much fun that is.

Somewhere during adulthood, my reaction to the rains changed. Rain now usually means leaving the office early, picking her up from daycare and getting indoors before the clouds burst. Thunderstorms means catching that last train home before the tracks flood and train stations lose power. When at home, I hope the windows don’t shatter and electricity isn’t cut off. If it’s a steady rain, I drink a cup of tea and watch the rains, thinking about people on the roads and glad to be indoors. On windy days, I hope the neighbour’s trees won’t come crashing down on us. I pray that hail manages to stay in the balcony and spare my windows.

Today, she brought back memories of days when I’d fling open the balcony doors and run into the wet weather. I’d be in my clothes, swirling around and looking at the skies as water fell fast and furious on my face. Growing up, thunder and lightning were faraway things to be enjoyed. Hail meant collecting ‘ice’ in steel tumblers and buckets. When much younger, we ‘ate’ the ‘ice’. As we grew older, we decided that the water might be too polluted for consumption. It didn’t stop us from collecting it. As adulthood caught up with me, enjoying the rain became an indoor thing. I have a feeling that this summer things may be different.

Posted in Celebration, Parenting, Reverse-parenting

Five Things I Want To Thank Her For

I am grateful to my daughter for loving me the way I am – an imperfect person and a clumsy parent. I thank her for sharing her food with me, giving me a kiss or cuddling me for no apparent reason. This one is for those times that I appreciate for who she is becoming… a thanks that she may not understand today but means a lot to me.

1) Thank you for being such a cheerful lass and making my party with the girls a success. It was the best afternoon I’ve had in ages and possibly a precursor to many such hostess events for me.

2) Thank you for understanding that I needed to take extra time to browse the web for details of our dog’s illness when I should’ve been trying to make you sleep.

3) Thank you for being patient when I explained that you should wait till we get home, for a breastfeed.

4) Thank you for stopping to say ‘night-night’ and addressing each grandparent in your byes tonight, even though you wanted to just crash for the night. It made them happy.

5) Thank you for who you are. I love you just this way. Cleaning things, putting stuff in the right place, then making a mess, taking your medicines and trying to imitate us in everything we do. Mature when I need you to be and adorable child the rest of the time.

xoxo Continue reading “Five Things I Want To Thank Her For”