2015: A Retrospective

2015 is about to come to a close and yet there were times it seemed to drag itself out unendingly!

Biggest news from our side is that the brat is now in a big kids’ school. He’s only in first grade but he seems to be changing perceptibly in front of our eyes. He’s learning loads, expressing himself more and socializing way more. He’s a year older, more specific in his tastes, choices and behavior as well. He is also acting up a little more; not something we are thrilled about. Of late, during some particularly stern parenting moments, he has packed his bag and threatened to walk out of the house.

While the temptation to laugh out loud at his antics is difficult to tamp down; the fact that his little face gets solemn and he scuttles around dragging his trolley bag full of his favorite things is also something we mull over. Seeing the way our child thinks and expresses himself is always a learning experience for me and Red. Even the parts we aren’t crazy about. He’s still quite naive and childlike compared to other kids I see his age but no complains there. Last thing a parent wants is for their babies to grow up before their time.

We took our first holiday abroad as a family this June and loved it! In fact Singapore has become the de facto destination in the offspring’s mind; that’s how much fun it was!

There have been solemn moments too. The incidents that have happened and continue to happen around the world and in my country have given a lot of us pause and certainly given me a lot of food for thought. Whether atrocities and hardship happen on our doorstep or not; it’s a sign of the times we live in. And no one is insulated beyond a point. When my best friend and her family were stuck during the Chennai floods and storms I remember standing on my balcony and thinking that a couple of hundred miles away there were people who literally didn’t know where the next drink of fresh water was going to come from or the next meal. And how unfair it was that they were caught unprepared and terrified beyond comprehension. Really gives you perspective. Not that you should feel guilty for what you have but how you should enjoy and appreciate the stuff you have good, down to the last atom! God knows when the tide turns. But moving on…

The year has been interesting too. Good songs,good food, movies (good and bad), memorable times spent with family and friends, less than good times have also cropped up but what’re you gonna do? Shit happens. You learn to skirt around the shit in the future. Read this to for more funny shit (‘cuuuse the pun)

While we wait for December to end on a funky note, we are geared up for another family holiday with my folks and plans for more getaways are already being made for 2016. God knows if they’ll materialize ultimately but the fun part is in the planning.

Knowing me, I might not blog till the new year or just have a blogging burst suddenly..so on that wonky note…happy holidays everyone.

Here’s hoping you wake up in 2016 without a heavy head!

 

 

Co-Sleeping…A Parent Reflects

One of the first things I bought when I got pregnant, was a cot for my baby. It was nice, smooth with rounded edges and had teething shields on both the rails. It worked well when the brat was a teeny-tiny infant and it also worked as a mini-prison of sorts during time outs when he started getting his bad-monkey groove on.

And one day he and I both slept off on my bed and after that there was no looking back. He wanted that big bed! He wanted that big bed to turn cartwheels in, to go up and down and round and round in and somewhere along the way he also slept there.

We’ve got him his own big boy bed in his own room and he has slept there on and off but it just took one bout of cold, cough or fever for him to end up in my bed and NEVER LEAVE!

But last night while we were having our usual story-time tussle (another blog post for later) before he slept off, I realized that each night when I reach out I can usually connect with one or the other of his limbs and unless it’s his butt which ending up near my face; it’s comforting to have him close by and I actually like it.

Right from the time he was born, he smelled ‘nice’. That smell that’s particular to babies which is a mixture of sweet, soft, baby powder, drool and cuteness. Add to that whatever lotion or powder you now smother your child in and you have a unique aroma that you associate with your child forever.

And while my night-time sleep is often punctuated by a bop on the head, sheets being tugged away entirely, hot breath right on my face and a knee to my sternum in the first hour of hitting the sack; it’s also quite lovely to have a soft, squishy bundle to well…softly squish.

Plenty of parenting manuals, how-to books advise against co-sleeping, I for one am beginning to think that our kids grow up too quickly as it is. One day they fit in your lap and then they don’t. They have the rest of their lives to sleep in different beds, holding onto different people. A few more nights of cuddles and elbows to ribs won’t hurt anyone.

And while I write this I know fully well I’ll be grumbling while I get the offspring into a “normal” sleeping posture from his usual one of the Vitruvian Man so I can make some space for myself at the near-edge of the bed.

Here’s wishing you all adequate space to sleep.

Good night.

After School Huffiness

The brat got off the school bus with two holes in the school uniform that hadn’t been there when he’d got on the bus in the morning.

When I asked him (with a slight frost in my voice) he told me that a “Screaming Death” had made the holes.

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For the uninitiated, a Screaming Death is one from the stable of Dreamworks Dragons. It’s an ultimate badass dragon ergo also the love of MLM’s life ever since he laid his dragon-loving eyes on it.

Anyhoo he flat out refused to tell me how his school uniform happened to get ruined in that holey fashion and kept saying it was the dragon who did it. I told him that because of his behavior the tv was off-limits and I wasn’t going to talk to him till he told me the truth. And he threw a tantrum. A typical one with the screeching and minor feet stomping.

And then it got atypical. He sat and watched me ignore him for a bit and got out his trolley bag. Then this is the conversation that took place between us:

MLM-“Ok Ayu. I’m leaving.”

Me- Bye.

MLM- I’m going to count to 3 and you are going to put the tv for me.

Me- snorts in derision. “Yeah…not going to happen kid.”

MLM- ONE. TWO. THREEEEEE! Ok. FINE! I leaving now.

Me- B-Y-E.

MLM- while making a show of pulling his suitcase along and grumbling the entire time, “I’m not going to be your friend,grumble grumble. I’ll go and live in Kolkata (where my parents live) and never come home again!grumble grumble. I’ll watch tv there every day because (mentioning his grandmother’s name) loves me and you are MEAN!!”

Me- So go already. Bye.

MLM- Going till the main door and struggling to open the lock. “Open the door! I can’t leave, it’s locked.”

Me- opening the door for him…”Don’t forget your shoes. Bye”.

MLM- Struggling to get his trolley over the doorway…Ayu help me. I can’t leave…”

Me- Helps him put the bag outside the door and leaves.

MLM- Comes back in a bit and says, “I’m hungry”. I want to be your friend again. Please give me peanut butter and jam sammich?”

Me- So when do you want to leave the house and go stay in Kolkata?

MLM- I’ll go tomorrow. After the birthday party (mentions a friend’s birthday party he’s supposed to attend tomorrow).

Me- rolls eyes heavenward and goes to make PB&J sandwich.

Two minutes later I get a hug and someone plants a kiss in the vicinity of my hip and says you’re my best friend. These sammiches are DE-LI-SHUS!

And life goes on.

Much Ado About Ahmed

At this time, if you Google Ahmed the results that will come flying are only about the teenager who was mistaken for a terrorist by a supposedly over-cautious, over-anxious, overzealous school. But it seems to that there are again, two sides to every story.

Ahmed Mohamed. Who is he? Just a person of color? A teenager? Or an individual from a religion that’s widely misunderstood, reviled and feared? How about we put them all together and add a device to the mix which does look like many bombs I’ve seen in papers or on television and you have a huge faux pas which is trending on social media and making an unlikely celebrity of someone who should be playing ball like other kids his age and not have to shoulder this media circus.

Now this is my personal viewpoint entirely. Was he wronged against. Yes. Undoubtedly. That’s been proven. Was the school too hasty in branding him a terrorist or even thinking of him along those lines? Again. Yes. Were they wrong in thinking what they did? Now that’s the gray area I can’t skate over.

The last few years have seen a devastating rise in school shootings, racial profiling and anti-Islam propaganda in the United States. How do I know this? Well pretty much every source of communication is putting that message out real-time.

Teenage perpetrators of hate crimes, homicides are inexplicably on the rise. So from where I stand, when a child of a religion that some loonies seem to speak for and act as vanguards of; makes a “device” which looks less like what an innocuous clock ought to and more like pictures of bombs left on sidewalks cafes, libraries, parks across the world; it is understandable that his gestures, his actions, and ultimately he and his device will be feared and misunderstood.

I mean didn’t the Commander-in-Chief of the United States attack a country that left thousands dead, on intel that’s yet to be proven accurate, about weapons of mass destruction?! Fear psychosis or just plain old fear of the unknown is a terrible motivating force. Unfortunately, Ahmed became a casualty to it and underwent things he shouldn’t have. But let’s not be in too much of a hurry to condemn those who suspected or misunderstood the boy. They haven’t crossed the point of no-return just yet.

Maybe they should have tried to be the  adults that they are and tried logic, relied on their knowledge and understanding of the kind of person Ahmed is. But the times we live in warp a lot of things even if they are benign and warped they may remain.

When I mentioned my point of view to my husband, he smirked and said I would fit in well in Texas. His minimalistic way of saying that I exhibited trigger-happy, redneck inclinations. See? Stereotypes are alive and kicking every which way we look.

But I still believe that while reparations may not be enough or even possible for Ahmed from the town of Irving or his school, as he grows up he might eventually understand what led them to treat him as public enemy #1. If he doesn’t, he might consider asking his parents to fill him in seeing that they are from Sudan. Even if they might not have lived in the ‘shoot-first-ask-later’ conditions, they will still understand turbulence, in the world and in the human mind.

Yet Another Epiphany

I had another Ah-HA! experience this morning while “attempting” to explain to MLM why something is desirable and why something isn’t. People (parenting experts, those whose kids are no longer a pain-in-the-ass and those who are blissfully childless) usually say that it sets a bad example to communicate with a growing child using largely negatives viz “NO”, “NOT”. “DONT” et al. However, given that the vocabulary of most children who aren’t prodigies or savants of some kind are largely rudimentary till the middle school years, it becomes a tough job navigating the world of communicating what you want with what your child can comprehend.

But I have finally realized the biggest challenge I face day in and day out while trying to bring this boy up- I have to be an adult in the face of his childishness. And therein lies the rub. I no longer know how to be a child and he’s not reached that stage where he knows anything else but how to be a child.

Just a few minutes back, I had another locking-horns session with my offspring. Reason? He’s been using a turtle stencil to draw outlines on an otherwise pristine ivory colored wall. Again.

The first time this was noticed and commented upon, he apologized. In a flash. And went off to do whatever it is he does when one road to mischief has been shut down. Today when I noticed the second drawing I called him to ask why he had drawn on the walls again when he knew it wasn’t appreciated at all. He simply replied that he wanted to. No defiance. No attitude. Just a simple statement of fact.

And that in nutshell is how children usually are. While some are more compliant, for reasons known only to them, others are more willful in the sense that they are guided largely by their whims. A state that many older people fall back into in their advanced years.

But try as I might, I couldn’t explain to MLM why I was upset. He finally came up with a solution of wiping it off with water. But the crux of the problem escaped him and it entirely escaped me how to clue him in.

As adults we live with and in cliches. We stay in the lines. It starts by learning to color in them, writing within in, standing in them and also driving in them. We don’t always turn into lab rats or hamsters in their wheels but we become regulated. And can also see the benefits of such a life for its opposite is chaos in some form or the other.

But a child, especially one right out of early childhood is all about seeing his or her environment as a giant canvas, playground or anything without boundaries. They want to color furiously all over the paper. Never mind that the dam fruit they were to color got buried under the strokes. They want to scribble on walls because that’s the largest unending surface that surrounds them everyday. They want to climb higher, use the bed as a trampoline because everything that gives them a sense of freedom, even briefly, is exhilarating. Never mind that you’ll be replacing the mattress or the bed springs will poke through before long. It’s just so much more fun than just calmly lying down somewhere and sleeping.

And this is why I blogged this. Right here and now. So when I’m about to have an aneurysm tomorrow or day after from whatever my son wasn’t supposed to have done but did so anyhow; I can take a quick peek at this post before my head blows up. Hell! I’ll have to clean up that mess too so I might as well read these pearls of wisdom and count to a 1000 and keep telling myself there’s always school and the next summer holidays are a year away.

Amen!

After A Long Break…From Writing

Been visiting my folks back in my hometown. It’s kind of become an annual trip during the brat’s summer holidays. It’s part torture and part relaxation but the fun comes and goes. I say that because the concept of fun not only changes from person to person but sometimes even from day-to-day.

One day locking yourself up in a room and just reading Asterix comics can be bliss where another day going for a trip on a river despite the icky-sticky humidity can be pretty damn good too!

But be as that may I have some blog posts bursting to get out. Haven’t blogged at in the past month. Barring my renewed love for Instagram, I wasn’t doing anything else at all. A break of sorts.

Anyhow one of the things that did catch my eye and then my head was the essay written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, after her husband passed away.

Apart from the utterly heartfelt words that Sandberg wrote, what really caught my attention were her updates on Facebook throughout the entire  time she was in mourning.

She didn’t do any of the silly and utterly without value kind of updates like check-ins into malls or fashionable places or used emojis to describe how she was feeling but she her work updates, things which probably kept her grounded during that indescribably difficult time.

But I have to wonder if uneasy does rest the head wearing the crown. Do you have time to actually grieve, go where your life is taking you or are you beholden to a greater power- your work?

My father, although not in Sandberg’s league, is a pretty well-established person in his own field. And he seldom switches off. While it isn’t as hectic as it was before he retired (for the first time) he hasn’t entirely cut the cord either. And it must be hard to do…if you have done something for most of your adult life, especially when you distinguish yourself at it.

But while there is something to be said for going up the ladder, there are times when being a foot soldier or a cog in the system might be a blessed thing as well.

Here endeth the first one of the pent-up blog posts. More posts to follow. Some on my photo blog. Check it out here.