Parenting: The Stuff They Never Tell You

I am a semi-helicopter mother and not proud of it. Here are some things I’ve gleaned in the past few years of parenting. I’m not sure how helpful this is but for those contemplating marriage and eventually kids, do read this once. It may give you a different perspective (read abstinence or hardcore contraception) or it may reinforce what you see and hear in front of you everyday anyhow.

So..here we go!

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#1 Having a conversation with anyone else barring your child is like being in a boxing match. It goes like this- you speak 1,2,3 and someone jabs you. You try to regain your balance and speak again 1,2,3 and this time it’s an uppercut.

There are rare conversations that you can have without being interrupted; till you decide to give it up and just focus on the kid. And guess what precious nugget comes your way when you do? It’s quite possibly something along the lines of – (imagine it being spoken in all caps) “You know what? My poop is all orange from all the nachos I ate yesterday!!” And you nod helplessly because you hung up on an overseas call with your BFF to hear about your kid’s bodily function.

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#2 Farts are important. If they stink, how loud they are. If you’ve noticed the abovementioned smell and noise. If you haven’t they’ll probably poop their pants trying to squeeze one out that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.

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#3 You have to watch everything you say. Literally. Imagine becoming a psychotic with visual hallucinations where the words you think materialize in front of your face. You reject a few and allow the rest of them to be uttered. If you don’t, the next time you may be subjected to a bout of , ” Gimme a break or a ” Oh for crying out loud!” from a 1st grader because you cut off digital media or pool access at pre-agreed upon times.

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#4 Pool times are deadly. The child *never* remembers that staying for too long in the water causes their skin to prune up. When you tell them their time’s up, they mimic dolphins and scoot away from you.

Wading into the pool and dragging them out leads to yells and screams tantamount to child abduction with people looking at you and your offspring in distaste for causing ripples in their recreation or serenity.

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#5 Some part of the body always hurts during homework or DEEEEP sleep to rival Rip Van Winkle’s comes on in droves and it goes away only when the threat of homework does. And then, the recovery is more miraculous than the walking on water phenomenon! Faster too!

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#6 Waking the child up in the mornings is a drama par excellence. The hands flung over the eyes a la Scarlett O’Hara, the burrowing into the covers like a mole and coiling up smaller and smaller like a worm or a snake makes you gobsmacked! One child going through all these changes in a matter of seconds is nothing short of amazing.

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#7 Say goodbye to your stereo and tv and tablets. The kid rules all and owns all. You don’t come in second. You don’t come in. Period.

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#8 Holiday destinations are decided by where the wild things are. Literally. The continent with the most venomous snakes, biggest crocs makes the cut. Relaxing at a beach? Sure…but can you also see the Inland Taipan or the Tasmanian Devil? No? Then it’s a no-go.

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#9&#10– these two are probably the most annoying IMHO. Your bedroom and your bathroom time are no longer your own. And that’s mystifying because why on earth would someone want to spend so much time talking to you through the bathroom door, wanting to know what you’re doing, when you’re coming out and even going to the extent of shoving their ever-growing drawings of dragons under the door for you to peruse while you’re focused on something entirely different and faar more important.

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They creep you out by looming over you in the weekends; the one time you don’t have to run and bundle them into clothes and catch the school bus. They whisper slowly into your ears, distorting dreams with reality; often shoving tiny fingers up your nose to wake you thoroughly and even body flop on your sleeping, unsuspecting self just to tell you they LOVE YOU. And you feel compelled to reply in kind while you blindly kick out, hoping to connect with that tiny butt and get them the hell out of your sacred sleeping space.

Ah parenting…what a ride!

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Gummy Flashback

8 years ago, someone stepped on the stage for the 1st time. They wore a gummy bear costume for the 1st time too, along with shoes that had laces….something that sadly hasn’t been mastered till date. They had whiskers painted on their tiny, chubby, kissable face and didn’t complain a bit for the long wait before everyone was seated and they got to do their thaang for the parents present in the auditorium.
This gummy bear has come a long way now. No longer chubby, but still cute (when he sleeps though), saying extremely interesting things and mangling up song lyrics with hilarious results.
The home is a louder, funner and definitely more laughter-filled place because someone learnt to shake their booty 6 years ago. Here’s a look through my trip down memory lane…
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Tech-Pottery

I love technology. It has no boundaries. The scope of it ranges from the little to the humongous. And that’s really saying something.

I have a sick kid at home who’s been using his “I’m sick” status as a Get Out Of Jail card. I’ve been annoyed, short tempered and most desperately in need of a diversion. Enter Play Store.

I was thinking to myself how I’d like to throw clay around to get rid of my ire and also try out some pottery in the process. Lo and Behold! there was a pottery app (Free&Paid) that I tried out. And it was just what I needed. Well…I actually needed a wheel, kiln and tons of clay but the virtual one wasn’t too bad either.

With any kind of artistic endeavor, the creativity needs to just flow and take shape. Whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpting or pottery…it’s an expression of what you think and feel and what vibes with you.

After vibing with these babies for a while, I am determined to find a teacher and just get down and dirty making pots.

Boredom often leads to an A-Ha experience.

If Thou Beest Sick…Beest Ye Properly

I have no idea why I lapse into the Ye Olde Dayes…I just do. Imagine an imp with a neck ruff a la dear ol’ Will sitting on my shoulder, nudging me to shake things up a bit.

Anyhoo, I’d had a fever for a bit. Nothing critical but it was on the higher side and I felt bloody awful. There were fevers I’ve danced my way through (literally) but barring that I felt quite weak and miserable. I had weird Frankensteinish dreams which are bits and pieces of everything around me and my consciousness, all knitted together into an unholy mess. For e.g: I had visions of cobras being milked (I know they were damn cobras because my kid loves them and because I was stupid enough to read this article on The Better India) and some friend of the family moving into the home of one Red’s tennis partners. *shrugs*

I dreamt of days of more leisure, less responsibility (because that’s what the mind and body was craving). I kept dreaming of dinos because I was camped out on my kid’s bed while I sent him off to sleep with Red in mine. I had weirdass sound tracks running through my dreams as well because my mind was still preoccupied with setting up my customized playlists on Amazon Music for our own dear Alexa!

All the dream dissection apart, I just want to take some time and appreciate my peeps. I married one of them and made the other but both are equally precious to me this weekend at least. The Lord&Master kept me quarantined and took over the running of the house, poured liquids into me at regular intervals and made sure I took meds and basically kept my germs to myself and kept my grumpy face to my part of the house.

The offspring, and this is uber cute, came up to me for multiple hugs and kisses only to be turned away each time with threats of germs migrating onto him and setting up camp. He finally came up with a solution; he would give me a massage and make me feel better and get heaps of praise for his efforts-making him feel oodles better too. As a result of which, there is a bottle of Jergens which will not see the light of day again. Apparently the surface area of my body merits almost an entire 400ml bottle. I almost slipped out of bed by the time the lotion application got done.

But I have to mention that tiny, soft little hands, gently and delicately massaged goops of aloe-scented lotion onto my face, forehead, hair, roots, up my nose, in my ear and it was *quite* relaxing for the most part. What was particularly endearing was,”Aww you poor baby, you look soooo bad. I’ll make you feel better.” Followed by waking me up from my half-stupor to make me relate to everyone how well he’d taken care of me and what a good boy he was.

And he was…they both were. They let me wallow, they let me heal and MOST importantly…they LET ME BE. Weekends are relaxed but I’m usually the one picking up the slack. Red and brat help out but obviously I wish they were more proactive (Nyah!). And here they were, cleaning up wherever they could and BEST of all…not adding (much) to the mess. It was blissy. Verry, verry blissy.

So, moral of the story? If you’re going to be sick, don’t be a half-assed kind of sick. BE SICK! They love you to bits when you are.

Here endeth the lesson.

Cough, sniffle, sneeze!

 

Book Review: Sita’s Ramayana

I haven’t ventured down the path to graphic novels at all. Parted ways with comics after grade school and just the written word was enough to hold my attention without needing the bells and whistles that illustrations provide.

However, the senses must be appeased and of late I’ve wanted to have more visual stimulations while reading. Amazon came to the rescue with their curated list of graphic novels for beginnings, spanning genres (Go Amazon!) and I picked up a book that I’d heard a lot about but avoided reading purely because of my own biases.

I need to mention these biases because they form a part of what leads me towards and away from books with topics such as these.

As a child, many of my Sundays were dominated by watching the dramatized version of Ramayana on the telly. Apart from the slow pace and the excessive posturing or smiling on part of the characters; it always felt like Ram was quite the goody-two shoes and his wife excessively pure and perpetually giving in to his whims and fancies. Added to the mix was my mother’s staunch belief about not just looking at one source as the definitive stance on how things might play out. She advised me to read other books which gave contrary views on Ravan, Sita and Ram instead of taking them as flawed or perfect in entirety.

Growing up in a country that largely espouses one religion, it’s tough to express one’s own contrary thoughts about a historical, mythological figure without ending up on some evangelist’s hit list or having to dodge trolling from all and sundry who seem to have drunk from the same spiked punch bowl of jingoistic fervor; not having one original thought in their heads, ever.

Here endeth the anecdotal part of the book review. Onto the actual book itself. It’s a delight. Visually. It’s a delight in its simplicity. Samhita Arni (the author) and Moyna Chitrakar’s (the illustrator-storyteller) collaboration is a visual delight that doesn’t detract from the story that has been retold many times over. The book is actually two-fold in that the words and pictures both paint a story that’s being told simultaneously; without one tripping up the other. They are in sync beautifully.

The narrative is very simple but not simplistic and manages to convey a lot of emotion without spelling everything out. The injustices of war, the machinations of man come to life in ink- both words and drawn.

I would recommend this book as a coffee table gift for friends and family. It doesn’t mean one is embracing their (Hindu) religious identity. But for better or for worse, Ram, Sita and Ravan are a part of our cultural identities. If not for that, get it for the artwork alone…it’s folksy, bold and timeless.

Music Vs. Melody

Getting MLM up in the mornings was usually a bit of a struggle. I tried all the methods my folks tried on me: stern wake-up calls after a point, taking the blanket away and even shaking him awake when nothing would seem to work. But because he’s made of sterner stuff and mainly because he cares two hoots about displeasing his parents; my flesh and blood would make like a snake and coil up good and proper and it was tough to get him to uncoil.

This child has always liked music. From sudden forays into Sufi-based stuff to Cars to jarring Bollywood beats he likes pretty much most things. They just need to be uptempo. For the past few months we’ve been waking him to music. Thanks to the advent of Alexa in our lives, the songs can be changed even if I’m not nearby and that helps because this kid goes through playlists like the Flash on steroids!

Anyhoo, after weeks and weeks of nothing but Bollywoody stuff my ears were begging for a change and I was determined to give it to them! A search for Indian raagas I hadn’t heard in a while got me to a beautiful arrangement of Raag Jaunpuri played on the Esraj by Pandit Ashesh Banerjee. And my ears felt blissful!

See, there’s a thin line between music and cacophony. One person’s music is another’s headache. Cacofonix has been a poster child for that for years. But not everything has a melody to it. Lots of notes can be strung together to make an arrangement that isn’t jarring but it doesn’t always uplift, soothe or invigorate. Now, I’m up there with most of the Bollywood song junkies here. Most songs I like and dance to at home are the stuff auto rickshaw drivers blare over their cheap, tinny, scratchy speakers. In fact, I heard my go-to song while travelling in an auto a few years ago and it never fails to disappoint or do the trick when I need to get out of a funk.

But a properly arranged and played melody liberates you…the gradually rising tempo, the adding of new, more complex notes and musical arrangements seem to mimic the cadence of your breathing, your exhilaration and finally your sense of joy or contentment. That’s not been happening with the daily dose of Swag Se Swagat and Kaala Chashma blaring on the speakers.

Still, once music enters your life, it never leaves. It may take twists and turns and you may find yourself in musical alleys of folk music, kiddy movie OSTs or even a Brahms lullaby but it never leaves.

Thank goodness.

The Magic That Is Whiskey

This post was inspired over a dining table in a living room a few years ago after a particular good and smooth Kentucky whiskey tasting with some good, good company. Cheers!

As I was goin’ over the Cork and Kerry mountains.

I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was counting.
I first produced my pistol and then produced my ,rapier.
I said: “Stand and deliver or the devil he may take ya”.
Yeah
Musha ring dum-a do dum-a da, Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o, There’s whiskey in the jar-o.”

Sang Metallica or Thin Lizzy if you so prefer but they sang about WHISKEY! and that is what this is all about.

With most people, alcohol is an acquired taste and hard liquor even more so. So when we hear McSteamy or McDreamy say, “Double scotch, single malt” we think it’s an easy thing to have. But it’s not. Whiskey can be a regular run-of-the-mill social drinker’s pleasure or there is the other kind; the kind I’m going to wax on eloquently about for a few paras.

The sight of a whiskey should bring to mind the words “molten“. Its’ honeyed, fluid, amber color needs to inspire appreciation visually. This helps if it’s in a cut glass crystal decanter. The old-fashioned one with the heavyish top. The bottle should be then positioned to have a ray of light hit it in a such a way that the amber changes to golden and then almost molassesy again.

Aforementioned decanter should have matching or nearly-matching fat-bottomed glasses where the whiskey isn’t poured but splashed, in a studied casual manner. It’s studied because you have your eagle-eyes on the flow of the whiskey and seeing it fill up past the cuts and crevices in the glass till it creates a kaleidoscope of amber and gold in your glass while you swirl it around.

When you finally get to the tasting part, because unless it’s moonshine sniffing it won’t always reveal the mysteries behind it; it should roll off your tongue and down your throat in a pirouette that makes you sigh in pleasure and want to savor the next sip. Never GULP but a sip. Dainty if need be or a more healthy one but one where your lips are definitely pursed.

The next sip is liquid sunshine, warm and comforting and eases open your senses and makes you want to step outside yourself while the whiskey courses through your systems and ignites you in a way tequila never can. You will not dance on tables after a sip of a good whiskey or bourbon but you will become, even if for a bit, a connoisseur of everything that is sensual, savory and satisfying.

This is a feeling that truffles, champagne and strawberries cannot give you for that is the magic of a good whiskey.