Let’s Catch Up

It has been a while since I wrote. Been a while since I even thought of writing, to be honest. In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and it it holds true even now, decades after he said it.

I turned a year older recently. Had my peeps around for a bite of birthday cake while TO manned or should I say preteened a live sundae counter. Kids were happy, dentists will be made happier still somewhere down the line.

The year started off well enough but came with a few hard knocks rather soon into the first week of January with us losing a loved family member and in March me losing someone very dear to me. My process of grieving is usually to write about my feelings or the person who has gone and pay them a tribute in some way but this time around it’s been rather hard and the words don’t want to come forth.

Apart from giving it time, I suppose there’s not much one can do but not everyone’s life is one we can celebrate in toto once they pass. Some lives you look back at and hope for all the turmoil they were in or caused, they gained a modicum of peace somewhere and didn’t feel agony or fear in their last moments. I find it a crushing thought to even imagine anyone I’ve cared about experiencing pain in their final moments. But one must try to accept what life throws their way, however jarring to the senses and move forward. I read an article sometime back about moving on vs moving forward; found it made sense. Posting it here for those who don’t mind a bit of gyaan but not an avalanche of it.

This morning when I started off with my morning routine of Wordle and a quick crossword, I realized how much TO’s influenced my life. The child isn’t a Ross Geller in the making from what I have understood. He can love dinosaurs and other buried prehistoric creatures without wanting to devote time in academia to truly enjoy it. The reptiles he loves have become integrated into our lives and our minds. One of the clues this morning in the New York Times Quick Crossword was Spitting _________ (a five lettter word) and I automatically filled in cobra. Once the crossword was filled, I found it was a different word entirely. Once upon a time I’d have been able to lead with the other word more easily but now life has a place which is dedicated to animal quizzes on road trips and amorphous plans around the world to see dangerous creatures or the slithering ones.

With summer break on the horizon along with exams, our days are busy and minds busier still. Hopefully the writing bug bites me again and I reenter the blogosphere properly and soon!

Ciao.

The Side Window

For those who are fans of the Hitchcockian thriller, this isn’t an attempt to ride on the coattails of it. But I was hard-pressed for creativity and my brain doesn’t function well without caffeine so an “inspiration” is what I’m working with since there are some similarities between me in my current predicament and Jimmy Stewart’s character from the movie.

I’m in a room from where I’m not in a position to exit too quickly. I’m Covid+ and have a less than desirable viral load. Red and TO are down as well but thankfully theirs seems to be a bit less worrisome. Kids are actually quite a bit like balloons. They feel down in the dumps and they deflate and the moment something perks them up, they’re inflated and soaring in the skies. Which describes my kid down to a T right now. He’s all flushed and cute looking from the fever but is uncomfortable enough to admit it and is lying down of his own free will. The moment the medicine kicks in, he’ll be whooping and hollering like he always is.

This room is the sunniest one of the house and I soak it up everyday for a few hours because on top of all the meds I’m putting in me, it’ll really push me over the edge to have to eat a vitamin D tab as well! Anyhoo, there’s a big clearing outside the window and I’m entertained by seeing big groups of people play cricket, kick around a soccer ball and also see the cranes move in the distance. I have access to the telly…but this is live!

In my daily life, I can be a bit of a lump. Give me a good book and I’ll be practically inert, moving only to flick the screen or turn the page. Since my Covid brain is extremely scattered right now, it seemed right to put this in here.. Spoiler alert- rock song!

Back to the narrative: I’m indoors. In a room. Am allowed to peek out while double-masked and remind my kid to not be a butthead and do his chores to help out his father who’s being a rockstar and a bit of a bossy pants. I think every husband might derive some sense of a pleasure in shutting the door on his wife’s face (all in the name of good health of course) and tell her to stay in and not come out!

I had a bit of anxiety yesterday (which I was unaware was anxiety) and needed to go for a scan to see if my lungs were impacted as well. The doctor pronounced my lungs “flawless” [sic] and gave me a prescription for the anxiety- “Don’t be anxious.”. Hmm..I wonder which strength that tablet’s available in. I did take advantage of the utterance to tell Red that something in me was flawless. All I can say is that when a person is stoic with their expressions, their eyes often pick up the slack. And how!

Stay safe everyone. Hoping the family sails through this bit of stickiness without too many bumps in the road. And I’m definitely hitting the road after this. I’ll be upto my eyeballs in antibodies and would be a fool to not take advantage of it.

Over and out from me and my flawless lungs!

2021…A Year In Retrospect

I usually end up thinking of a year in a particular manner towards its end. Like 2018 was “The Year Of Road Trips“. 2019 now in hind sight, is “The Year It Was All Fine Before Downhill Became The Norm” 2020 was “The Year The Pandemic Hit” and 2021 had been “A Hodgepodge Year” all the way through!

While I don’t like to dwell on death and anything morbid overly much; I don’t recall any other year where the phone rang so many times with the news of someone’s demise. It got to a point where I’d ask my folks each time they rang up,”Who is it this time?”. Needless to say, a lot of people went before their time and it takes a while to reflect and then try to move past it.

As a family, we had a few more downs than ups but we managed to sneak in some good times nonetheless- a nice road trip full of songs, ‘are we there yets‘, junk food, room service, a beautiful stone sunken bathtub that TO and I were fighting over while another instance had me scrambling to find footing in a 5.5 ft of water while TO frolicked like a little otter and laughed at his mother’s clumsy efforts to not drink up half the pool!

2021 had been so fluid that it was half over before I realized it. It feels like I sleepwalked through parts of it and other parts I wish I had. But the highs thankfully balance out the utter lows.

On a slightly more somber note- mental health has become the need of the hour now. Whether it’s due to a prolonged state of having been indoors or being in a state of flux about the state of the world around us, but mental health now occupies center stage like never before.

People are realizing the immense benefit of talking to someone who is a professional. They help you gain perspective, fight your demons and also help you keep a hold onto your reality and sanity at times. Especially in a society where going to a shrink is still somewhat of a taboo and therapists rarely get their due; mental health professionals have been busier than ever before with parents and children alike lining up to seek help adjusting to the new circumstances they find themselves in.

On the topic of health, traveling( while curtailed for many of us for a long time) has become a renewed stress buster which cannot be denied. Whether it’s on the back of a bike, in a car or just making plans for a sunnier day in the future; traveling has been the solace many of us have been seeking for the past year and a half. And I am profoundly happy and grateful that I got to meet a few of my favorite people multiple times this year although it was a challenge and a half remembering to not drink too much water so I didn’t have to use the loo while flying or the first time when I did travel and I wore gloves, two masks, a shield and had the disinfectant wipes ready to be whipped out at the blink of an eye!

Courtesy the “prevalent situation” (it’s my way of doing a J.K Rowling’s He Who Shall Not Be Named)2021 also became ‘The Year Of The Vaccine’. Whether it was the difficult faced while registering ourselves for it, waiting for it to reach us, the initial jab, the secondary jab and the debate around the booster shot, our lives had been centered around vaccines, their efficacy and all the hopes we’d pinned on them.

I think the message that rang in loud and clear during the past year has been to not necessarily wait for a rainy day and be in a more carpe diem mode. Also, celebrate little things more because waiting for the special occasions could leave you twiddling your thumbs for a good long while. And while I really detest platitudes, I have realised (yet again) how much I and my family have to be grateful for. We are far richer than I realised courtesy the people we have in our lives. Doesn’t matter if you they are a few continents or just a phone call away but seeing a beloved face over a cup of coffee has often meant the world to me in the last year.

I’ve also grown older. Sadly. Mainly in my head. I don’t see value in Roblox. I wish all the piggies would fall down a never-ending hole and never come back. I am also quite the hypocritical parent who has indulged herself thoroughly in a few things (eg: horror movies) but has serious reservations at the thought of her child watching them. Nevermind I was younger than him when I saw Jason and Meyers hacking their way through summer camps and small town America but the thought of my kid seeing blood and gore disturbs me. I am not chill. At all. I also have no patience for Hello Neighbor, Sonic the Hedgehog and cricket talk. Oh god! If I hear one more play being analysed by Red and TO I might cut the cable connection! Happily.

To sum up, I rang out 2021 with a laugh and started 2022 on the same note. Let’s hope it’s a sign of the times to come. Salut!

Pictorial Bloglet#2

Pictorial Bloglet#1

When one has a persisting case of this…the words are hard to come by.

Adjusting To Normalcy

Across the world children are heading back to school although what they knew to be a scholastic experience has changed quite a bit. In some places they have kids attending school a few days a week. In others it’s for a few hours whereas in many places in Europe it’s been business as usual for good long while. The word ‘bubble’ has changed the meaning it used to hold and it looks like the connotation is going to be with us for a while longer.

While most Indian states grapple with the notion of reopening the schools and when to do so, the ones which have already started off the process find that the adjustment to campus life isn’t a cakewalk; neither for the school, the parents and of course the children themselves. With schools that are offering the hybrid model of attending classes, it’s a stretch with allocating their teaching resources to cover both in-person and online classes for the same grades and do it without dropping the ball on the quality of education.

For the rest of us the raging debate of should kids go back to school without the benefit of the vaccine to will the third wave actually hit sometime soon; it is an ongoing balancing act to decide about resending the children to an environment which is more fun for them for sure, but is also less protected than the one they have become used to for the past 2 academic years. And while attending classes in pyjamas isn’t an addiction that can’t be dealt with, the entire discipline that surrounds the whole process of schooling is something that kids will still take time reacclimatising to.

From getting up at least an hour earlier than before to riding the bus and standing in the lunch queue to not being able to get up and stretch one’s legs in between classes or have parents pop-in for that quick look-in to check if the child needs anything, it’s a big change to get used to.

I was away from home while TO rejoined in-person school and Red messaged me saying the house seemed really quiet and empty without him there. Although there was a regular amount of strict parenting going throughout the day while he was attending online classes, there was something comforting about seeing him hunched over the laptop while I went about my day.

While I’m not seeing my child struggle with his disenchantment for online lessons any further I am also dealing with a regular worry of either him or his peers coming down with coughs and colds which could potentially turn into something more serious. And while this worry isn’t debilitating, it’s not something am able to shake off either. His environment was so well-regulated for so long and under the supervision of two adults who had no greater goal than to keep him safe; relinquishing his safety to others who are miles away is something I struggle with.

What makes it easier is seeing him head out the door without the heavy zombie steps he used to take towards his laptop at the start of every school day while at home. He comes back happier too and while I shake my head that the kind of stains he inevitably gets on the pristine whites of his school uniform, it’s this kind of normalcy that I had also missed right from the middle of March 2020.

Whether the pandemic is entering into an endemic stage, whether the third wave is nothing more than just a slight blip, whether the vaccine for children is genuinely going to help keep them safe; as a parent our worry never ends. It eases a bit when you check in on them while they’re fast asleep or when you see them eat their fill, play their hearts out with their friends.

And I sincerely hope that’s where the world is slowly heading back to; parenting shoving their kids out the door while they’re still putting their shoes on and the school bus is about to pull away from the curb or the chidings about leaving assignments till the last minute. Am mighty sick of face masks, sanitisers and social distancing. It’s not the kind of parenting any of us want to do. We all want to tell us our kids off for the good ol’ reasons that have been handed down to us over the generations.

Amen!

How To Tell A Pre-Teen Lives In Your House

Here it goes in no particular order:

  1. He calls you Bruh..mom and dad have left the building and Bruh reigns supreme.
  2. Angst is the name of the game.
  3. Being contrary is also the name of the game.
  4. Tantrums are usually lurking around the corner.
  5. Flashes of brilliance (I use the term loosely) can be expected.
  6. Hugs and kisses are still accepted but otherwise you end up embarrassing them by stepping into the room during online classes with your mere presence.
  7. Growth spurt has kicked in and is still kicking butt- usually the parents.
  8. Advice about music is being shared- by the child to the unfashionable parents.
  9. Eyerolls are the accepted form of communicating.
  10. So are sulks.
  11. As-if, what-the, effs are all de facto modes of answering and are often complete sentences by themselves.
  12. Everything is BORINGGG!!
  13. Parents are UNFAIR!!!
  14. Global issues (like the present pandemic) have specifically come into being to make their lives especially hellish.
  15. Bathing is optional. Also, when it’s indulged in, one must have a reservoir at home to accommodate musical talents of child that peak while they’re in the shower.
  16. Bathing without looking clean is a newly cultivated skill set.
  17. Feeling hungry while eating the main meals of the day are another newly cultivated skill set.
  18. The opposite sex is no longer dumb. Cooties don’t exist any longer.
  19. Excuses for not doing homework or household chores assume epic proportions.
  20. Parents have turned into insensitive devils who routinely torture the child…erm pre-teen for their own amusement. Ergo reinforcing point#13.
  21. Screen time is a right more precious than Right to Life since life without screen time is no life at all.
  22. Selective hearing is firmly established.
  23. Very susceptible to sarcasm. It reinforces points #13 and #20 when indulged by the grown-ups of the house.
  24. Being largely unflappable in the face of parental ire and asking them to chill is par for course.
  25. Being a big baby about birthdays and gifts- still status quo.

Can’t imagine that age 13 will bring our way!

The Pandemic: A Timeline of Delayed Gratification

Most people I know have dealt with the fallout of the pandemic to the best of their ability. Some have been lucky to not contract the virus at all or recover quickly if they have and thankfully not too many have faced any irreplaceable losses. But we’ve ALL been touched by the effects of it fairly deeply in our psyche.

My erstwhile largely happy and manageable child gets down in the dumps at the slightest hint of any change. It might not even be a significant event but just the prospect of having to do without something gets him reacting like never before.

The concept of delayed gratification whether it’s being able to step outside the house, socialise, go to the grocery store, run an errand at the mall, attend in-person school, travel on a whim or not be able to play because it’s raining outside; leads to so much mental preparation needed to adjust and adapt these days just to weather the disappointment of yet another compromise being made.

When I think of how this phase has impacted me, I can honestly say I’ve become more withdrawn. Ask Red and he mayn’t agree since he thinks I’m still the loudest person in the house but given an option I’d rather not do anything but just read a book and possibly stay bundled up somewhere cozy. Call it a start of a myopic personality trait or just a reaction to the times we live it.

I do my daily calls to the bestie, often twice a day- no mean feat given that we factor in time differences of 12+ hours and the interruptions that come in when you have kids hovering around. I speak to both my folks often, separately, their schedules and the frequency of our need to communicate with each other being dictated by daily occurrences as well as things happening in the family.

However, till the end of last year I was all about embracing being around people, having someone to hang out with, talk, have a meal with or just interface with; for the most part of 2021, I’ve been craving the quiet.

I haven’t become unsocial per se but a strong thread of being asocial has come in. It may be a coping mechanism or even a sign of something a bit more worrying but am not looking at it under a microscope because despite everything I’m feeling, I haven’t become dysfunctional due to these new tendencies. I do find myself leaning more towards solitary activities and wanting to linger there more than ever before though.

Lest this become a solely whinge-post let me say this: I have a lot to be grateful for. Coming from a country that has well over a billion people, I still got my opportunity to be vaccinated relatively quickly once the vaccines were available on the market. The people closest to me are as safe as I can hope they are from the disease and otherwise of fairly good health given their ages. We as a family are still able to make and utilise many opportunities to laugh, enjoy ourselves in each other’s company and not constantly have to worry about tomorrow.

The biggest change that’s crept in is that I’m unable to plan. And I used to plan things out to the hilt! Not necessarily down to every single brass tack, but planning and the anticipation of something coming about was part of the high.

When I was in college, the university or living away from my folks; going home used to be a cause for a celebration. I’d have my bags packed a month in advance. Any trip that we planned on as a family (Red&I) would have me looking forward to the minute we’d lock the door and step out; weeks in advance! The last international trip I took had an epic amount of planning and preparing going into it and that’s always been part of the overall experience for me in the past. Not so much now.

And while I do miss that overly-enthusiastic part of me who used to want to and couldn’t help but plan for things; it’s been a very solid learning to focus on the here and now and leave the future to unfold as it may happen.

I still can’t entirely let go of the tendency to plan to be honest. For instance, a part of me wants to bookmark this post and look back at it a year from now to see how things are. They may not be much better, it could even be worse than before; but for now the unfailing warmth and comfort from a cup of coffee+a few pages of a British mystery will have to suffice. 2022 will be upon us soon enough.

The Lard Bloglet

It’s one of those days when your kid snuggles up to you saying, “No Marshmallow, don’t go…I want to sleep for some more time”. You love this kid but if he calls you Marshmallow one more time…#%$&!£!#*

A Little Bit Of Music…

I am all Covided out!” That’s not my utterance but borrowed from a friend who’s said it with so much sincerity that it came across even on chat. But the reason I wrote it here is because I am all Covided out. While I waited for my reports to show up, while I played devil’s advocate about a CT scan for a mild dry cough and while people who are family getting diagnosed on a regular basis, this disease seems to have got its tentacles into everything and everyone in some form or the other.

I haven’t seen my bestie in YEARS. Actually it’s been a year and a half but you know how it is with besties. You want them to be around all the time; even if they live a continent away. Met my folks after a year despite then being a 2 hour flight away. Those things bite!

TO went back to school very briefly before being hauled back home to fill our days with petulance, sulks and occasionally making me feel like a Shawshank Redemption was going to be enacted in my own home.

The kids have been asked (read banned) from going down and playing together due to a major uptick in the active cases in our community. So poor TO is off his cricket practice and rarely goes down to either cycle or even more rarely- swing in the kiddy area. Yesterday there was a Mexican standoff at the play area downstairs with TO and a couple of little girls who thought he wasn’t supposed to have access to the swings since it was all theirs. He disagreed. Those girls had a dangerous gleam in their eyes. Their frills and flounces didn’t fool me…they’d have taken him out in a heartbeat!

Red’s not going to work at all these days. He was headed to work a few times a week earlier for a few hours at a time and it felt like some semblance of a balance was getting restored. But while we aren’t colliding with each other constantly, the whole miasma of uncertainty sometimes gets to me and all I want to do is watch cat videos on Instagram and see things like this. It makes me feel like there is light and goodness in the world and a sense of warmth will gradually seep into all the nasty cracks that have some up.

I mean how can you not put aside all the vagaries that life seems to be throwing at you and just look at that lil chin that’s so nom-nom-alicious!! I swear babies were created for something other than making zombies out of their parents and that’s just so quasi-jaded people like me can fawn on them and their pictures and of course, give them back to the zombies…I mean parents, once the quota of happiness has been derived.

Anyhow, I was feeling particularly blah last night and I started looking for cat videos and came across a small clip where a bride is throwing the bouquet but it’s a staged “throw” and the bride actually hands it over to a lady who turns around to find out that she’s being proposed to. No..that didn’t make me feel better at all…I think I found it a bit hokey but I’ve never had a proper proposal so what do I know? My ears did perk up at the song in the background…Bruno Mars’ Marry You.

Now I’m not a closet romantic. Sure I cry at watching Love Story and think whoever doesn’t cry when Jenny dies is dead inside! But all the typical crying at seeing an engagement ring and having someone get down on their knees doesn’t do much for me. If you see the video of the song I’ve written about, it is funny and annoying all at once. The lyrics are a bit meh also but it’s a feel-good song and not a feel-intellectual one so it’s not a surprise that it’s the go-to song for flash mob engagements.

Happy Tears GIFs | Tenor

And while it’s a good gesture, exciting even but the woman being proposed do doesn’t show her face since she’s all overwhelmed and there’s an annoying photog getting in her face to see how she looks all tear-streaked and blotchy-faced…ah love.

But cynicism apart, the song is peppy and while I’ve heard it TONS of times earlier in background scores on TikTok etc I always moved past it. But my slightly sad brain needed a bit of cheer last night and the beats of this particular song apparently were where the cheer was to be found. Whoda thunk?!

I feel asleep listening to it and woke up feeling better. Maybe it was the lyrics, maybe it was the melody but I do know this song is going to be looped in my head while I tackle the chores today and I will be smiling and swaying along with it…

Moral of the story: If you’re walking along in a mall and suddenly there seem to be people breaking into a dance all around you and this song comes on…RUN if you don’t want to say yes to whoever it is you’re seeing. Pretty hard to say no when the world’s looking at you and there’s a sweaty person kneeling down with an open ring box and the background dancers are getting their TikTok and Insta-worthy faces on!

Mwaaahaa!