We are a one-child family. I come from a single-child family while Red has a sibling. My dad has numerous siblings and my mom has two. I’ve gotten pitying looks on and off while I was growing up, about being a “single, only, lonely” child. And I’ve smiled to myself because that’s not all that being an only child’s cracked up to be.
It mainly bites being an only child when you’re in trouble and you can’t get away with blaming it on your dolls. I tried that when I was chubby and cute and got way for with it only because I was chubby, cute and a toddler.
Those things land you in the shrink’s office when it’s done at an age when the whole world, including you, knows that dolls can’t talk back, move or mess with your parents’ record player set. The Annabelles and Chuckys of the world are no help when it comes to convincing parents.
Fast-forward to the decade we’re in now and I’ve been told SO MANY TIMES that I ought to have a second child else my single, only child won’t grow up properly. Or that TO will need someone as a playmate and again the litany of “an only child, is a lonely child” yada yada yada. But over the last few days I got to live out the scenarios of having 2 children and it was illuminating.
For the most part TO is happy to have younger kids, especially girls, over at our place. They’re cute, they follow him around, call him an “older brother” and usually do what he says. They won’t mess with his dinos, aren’t too interested in his books and for the most part, aren’t competition. Till now.
We have, as a part of our extended family, a chubby little bossy pants. She’s utterly cuddlable, is very clear about what she wants and is very expressive. She also bodyslams herself onto prone bodies and not being a lightweight, it can be a startling experience when a little butterball just jumps on you with a move worthy of Wrestlemania. She’s also curious, very talkative and consents to sitting still while you do her hair, sing, play and do slightly more sedentary things. Sitting still with TO wasn’t something I remember doing much once he mastered standing up.
So Saturday night I have two kids who are vying for viewing rights on the telly. One wants a space cartoon and another wants a British piggy and her family. Both are communicating LOUDLY, SIMULTANEOUSLY and at ME. Both want to be heard and catered to. Immediately! Red is NOWHERE in the picture, having locked himself into the only other room that has a t.v. Each one is making frown faces and doesn’t want to compromise. Miss Bossypants comes upto me and gets in my face and says she wants Peppa Pig! Emphatically!
Pre-teen brat sits on the couch and complains that Bossypants always gets what she wants because she’s younger. And BAM! a vision of what my life could’ve been played out in front of my eyes. And while it isn’t unpleasant I don’t like being stared down by a cute albeit grumpy face that promises retribution for not being allowed to watch a goody two-shoes animated pig.
One kid who leaves extinct reptiles all over and who is responsible for sofa cleaners fishing out a series of shark miniatures from under the cushions is enough excitement for me any day! Any and all kids who want to come into mi casa, will be strictly on a timeshare basis!
I’m a mother…ergo I facepalm. Royally!
My child, adorable tailless monkey that he is, is still prone to doing things ass backwards plenty of times. When he was a baby he’d bite off the bottom of his ice cream cone and then rush to suck up the swiftly flowing ice cream that was melting all over him. In the process he’d get a brain freeze from the cold. Another joy of motherhood.
Also, it took him a while to find out why he shouldn’t bite off the bottom of the cone…and each time the same expression of surprise would pop up on his face; seeing the ice cream flow away…sheesh.
As a bigger baby these days, he eats the shawarma roll from both ends and wonders why the mayo and fillings keep dropping all over him. I mean…seriously?!
And then when he gets a dirty or perplexed from moi he gives me the universal look all kids are born with viz
As a parent I find myself doing things which have an echo from my childhood. The things my parents did, decisions they took etc.
Just over the past few days I’ve had a few instances come up which have made me hark back to my (extreme) youth, am still youthful by someone’s yardstick so I won’t say when I was a child.
I don’t remember which grade I was in but it was possibly the same as TO, 6th grade, when we had to study the Roman civilisation and back then computers were mainly used to reference the library catalogues instead of having a whole digital library’s words at our fingertips. At least for the grade school students.
I remember not having enough information to choose from while writing my paper and the books at the library in my school were all checked out by my classmates.
The Encyclopaedia that my father had loving bought for our home had a LOT of information but it was still a bit too much, all crammed into one place for me to pick and choose the right bit that I needed for my paper.
With my father (and by me, many a times) to think is to act. He saw I was getting stuck and he didn’t remember enough about the Roman Empire form his own school days to be able to help so he did the next best thing- he ran down to the neighbourhood Barnes and Nobles and got me a paperback which are nicely illustrated for kids and it had so much useful information culled out just for kids.
I got to know about aqueducts, Roman city states and the simple language of the book helped me pick and choose the right kind of information for the assignment. And getting access to the right information at the right time helps in forming long term memories with useable information even now.
Fastforward another 30+ (ahem ahem) years and the information is still largely available in my mental database…the city states, the Roman roads which led to the coinage of “all roads lead to Rome” and of course the Roman orgies! Beautifully detailed and portrayed by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny in the timeless Asterix series, everything was another look into Roman civilization; albeit cheekily at times.
So when I heard the familiar words from TO’s Humanities teacher over the speaker, it was a very familiar trip down memory lane…over Roman roads one could say…
Once upon a time, there was a little boy. He was a bit scrawny when he was born but he put on weight and filled out and got himself some plump little cheeks, arms and legs and gurgled all day long.
He was a happy little boy and made his parents very happy too! Except for his mother who used to wish that he would sleep more and gurgle a bit less. Because sleep helps you grow and gurgles just brings out more drool.
This boy went to a school for little kids and had great fun there! They used to have a Naughty Corner for kids who needed to be on Time-Outs and there was a chair kept just for him. But he missed his friends when he was in the Naughty Corner and called them all over to his side. Soon, the teachers found themselves on the magic carpet all by themselves with the little boy having fun with his friends in the newly christened Happy Childrens Corner.
His parents always wondered at how fast his mind worked and everything that filled him with wonder. He soon discovered dinosaurs and other reptiles and there began a love affair that would probably last his whole life.
He loved to swim, swing, make a mess, paint on every part of his body, go on trips with his parents and more than anything, he loved KFC’s popcorn chicken, digital media and warm squishy hugs.
As this boy approaches another set of candles on his cake, his parents keep wondering about his life ahead. Will he play cricket, will be take up palaeontology, will he crash on their couch for the rest of his life? Whatever be the answer, it’s sure to be as interesting as parenting him as been so far.
I first got to know about Mothers’ Day a few months after landing in US. Suffice to say India of the 80s didn’t celebrate moms as a rule. That we do it now is more to do with the influence of various types television shows over the decades. Plus people like their social media timelines blowing up and making a song and dance about stuff so these days fit right in!
Archies galleries started stocking cards to celebrate all sorts of occasions Indians didn’t know about earlier and it became a very lucrative business for them I imagine…till everything went online. There were ecard sites like Bluemountain, 123greetings and my personal favorite which I can’t remember now but it had all sorts of funny and insulting ecards. The day I discovered it, I went crazy sending ecards to everyone who was on my list. Sadly, the list was about 5-6 people only back in ’98, ’99 but it was still pretty funny waiting for them to see something they thought would be out of the Hallmark channel instead it was just a “in-your-face-sucka!” kinda thing.
Back to the days of yore when my class teacher announced we’d be making Mothers’ Day cards and gifts. There was a big tray with wooden shapes cut out, glitter, markers, lots and lots of glue and the best thing ever for FOTB me….GOOGLY EYES!! I just went nuts and created the ugliest thing that I’ve ever made and handed it to my teacher.
American teachers are very diplomatic. They say something is “interesting” when they lack for words to describe an output which is clearly borne out of not having any artistic vein at all or being a very young and trippy stoner.
My teacher added lacquer to the brooch I’d made, added some rubber cement/krazy glue and stuck a pin on the back and voila! Ugliness impersonified was ready to go home and be given as a gift to a very unsuspecting woman.
And true to her nature of being an Indian parent, my mother did not hold back her feedback at the brooch. Her slightly agape mouth and comment of, “Eta ki?” [ a.k.a what is this] followed by “eto gulo chokh keno”? [ why are there so many eyes] is something I’m laughing at now but then I figured she’d go gaga over my thoughtfulness for her. That did she didn’t was a bit of a downer but I was getting into a very American groove so I did the whole shrug and “I don’t care” thing and went my way.
She did make it up to me and wear the hideous monstrosity once over a very beautiful saree. Thankfully my inner aesthete kicked in and I asked her to go with a safety pin instead of walking around with an alien prototype on her shoulder for the whole evening.
This is for you…cheers Ma…missing our post-lunch beers today!
My son and I have no-holds barred conversations. These conversations often leave me with a gormless look on my face and at other times it’s a toss-up between laughter, crying and looking for a place to bang my head against.
Ever since TO and a bunch of little friends sneaked a peek at some horror movies on Amazon Prime and then went and got spooked about anything that went bump in the night, I’ve reinforced the embargo on scary movies till he’s 30. My hope is that he outgrows the wish to watch them way before that deadline passes but keeping it banned till the big 3-0 makes it sufficiently important in his head. If anything’s banned for that long then the repercussions surrounding it are going to be rather elaborate and possibly ouchie-inducing too.
I’m not too worried about him sneaking a peek again. In fact let him see Pennywise biting off a kid’s hand or pulling him into a sewer. Or Bathsheba possessing Carolyn Perron or worst of all, let him take a gander at the head turning scene in The Exorcist. Some lessons are learnt the hard way. Let’s see which way the little man’s headed..’cuse the pun!
But getting back to the freaky conversations we’re prone to having…TO keeps asking me how the doll in Annabelle comes alive. And explaining demonic possession to an almost 10-year old isn’t something I thought I’d have to tackle. I mean the facts of life..yeah sure. But how a doll is a host of a demon or that people use the occult to channel evil spirits and what is exorcism; all this wasn’t in any of the parenting manuals my husband shoved my face into unfortunately.
So after trying to explain the occult to him and failing, I tried to keep up with the rapid fire questions while evading the virtual helicopter shots coming off his cricket bat. I told him I didn’t know how Annabelle got out of the well or why they didn’t show Annabelle as walking and running or killing people or if he’d suddenly find Annabelle if he opened his closet door while he was home alone one day. But I told him not to worry about Annabelle at all…because I…his all-knowing mother was always watching and would ALWAYS know what he was up to. Always. Mwaaaahaaaa
Isn’t tough. It gets switched on almost from the time they are born but liking them every single minute of every day, that takes some doing.
Imagine seeing this gorgeous sunrise and feeling at peace with the world at large…
when suddenly ‘Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Pig gam ba li, de la pig gam ba li ba Bamb bamb bamb di gi di da dam (whoo)‘ blares out from the room behind you and the magic of the moment is gone. Poof!
I listen to all sorts of dumb songs myself but there’s a saying in Hindi about ‘waqt ki nazaqat’ which roughly translates to the delicacy of the time and may seem uppity to some but actually makes a lot of sense. There’s a time and place for things. Some things need a bit of a soft touch rather than going ham-handed on it.
But more about how kids really try your patience…imagine (yet again) you calling out to your selectively hearing-impaired child about brushing his teeth and having his breakfast/milk/meal. Imagine doing it again and again till you may reach decibel levels only a dog could hear. And get no response in return. Child in question is about 20 feet away.
The same child yells out that he wants fried onions, cheese and egg in his ramen but no veggies, from 2 rooms away just because the smell hit his nose. It’s a STRONG internal struggle not to do this at that exact time-
My mornings are usually a rush to:
- get child out of bed
- get child off the couch where he went after getting out of bed
- haul child into bathroom and dump him on the toilet seat and put toothbrush in his hand
- come back in 10 minutes put toothpaste on child’s toothbrush and wake up him for good and tell him to get his butt off the toilet seat
- nudge him till he gets off toilet seat and goes and splashes some water on his face.
- turn on the light at which point he yells “no lights…aarrgh!”
- make him brush his teeth while he mumbles how sleepy he is through a mouth full of foam
- pray for coffee grande to magically appear while I try not to lose my shit
- I could probably go all the way to 100 but that coffee grande is finally calling me…
The first thing I do when the small child leaves the house is take a deep breath and stop hiding the fact that I almost constantly stream stuff while I potter around the house and get my chores done. When the big child leaves, I usually celebrate…erm…play something soothing or something reminiscent of my childhood and just dance around a bit and reclaim my domain.
As The Bard wrote- Make happy and sad times as you fly by, and do whatever you want, swift-footed Time, to the wide world and all its vanishing delights. The vanishing delights take on another form when the school bus pulls up and you prepare for another round of body slamming hugs, clothes scattered all over the floor and shouts of “what’s there to eat” and “ewww I don’t want this” or “oooh! my favorite! I love you…you’re my favorite mother in the WHOLE WORLD!!!”
It’s not easy to like the little monsters all the time. But it’s no hardship either.
To mothers everywhere…Salut.
I recently changed my ride from a hatchback to an MUV. When I say recent I mean just a few hours ago.
I was picking up the offspring from school and he was happily frolicking in the backseat, bouncing with joy and making crinkly sounds in the plastic covers that I’d not had a chance to take out as yet. All in all he was a happy camper. And as the case is while he’s camping happily, he asks me a series of ‘Do you know’ questions. Today was no different.
We started with a question trap that I’d inadvertently fallen into when I told him I’d seen a monitor lizard cross the street very close to his school. After interrogating me about the size and the gaping maws and the venom of the said reptile, he gave me a disdainful look when I told him I’d only paused briefly while trying hard not to squish the lizard when it scurried off into the bushes. It, unfortunately, hadn’t stopped long enough to give me its life history and venom potency details.
Then began the story of reptiles and their offspring. We spoke of ovi and viviparous snakes; something I’d rather not have spoken of at all. All while I was enjoying the smell of a new car, listening to songs on brand new speakers…which apparently is the most apt time to speak of baby cobras.
Anyhoo, on special request he agreed to stop talking about king cobra babies hatching and killing grown people and then he threw me for a toss! Here’s how he did it-” Hey Ayu…do you know a boy in the 2nd grade showed someone the middle finger in school and then he got into trouble?!! Have you shown (he said showed but my grammar mode refuses to let me be ungrammarly) the middle finger to anyone?
And this is where you cross the realm from being a good, honest parent into one who lies to their kid because isn’t 8 too young to be flippin’ the bird?! Or talking about it?
I told him piously that NO I hadn’t and what did showing the middle finger mean anyhow? I was told very solemnly that it’s a very bad thing and kids can go to jail for saying it. And that’s when I had to know more about this oh-so taboo word that sent kids to jail. So I did a dramatic,” Oh no…really??!!” And pat came the reply-YES!! It’s worse than saying F***!! I never say F*** because you told me that saying F*** is a bad thing so I never say F***. Ever!!”
I think some days the universe has a smartass mode it activates just to give parents their comeuppance and to prevent them from being smug-knowitalls!
I have a great memory for useless trivia. I have a pretty good memory for remembering everything my husband didn’t do but should have.
I also have a pretty strong recall for little things with the help of even vague-ish associative cues et al…but getting to the fag end of my 30s, my (declining) memory for numbers is killing me.
And the person causing bats in my belfry is none other than the offspring. As usual. Sighs.
We keep quite a few things under digital lock and key to keep him from giving into temptation and over indulging viz- iPad, t.v, Kindle, laptop etc but I’ll be damned if that isn’t coming back to bite me on the hieney.
With passwords for the phone, the Wi-Fi, the iPad, the Firestick, certain channels, it gets to a point sometimes when I need to unlock things, I sit with a blank look on my face, desperately searching in the memory banks for some kind of a clue to help me find the elusive #s; and no help is forthcoming. Totally a case of GIGO.
Earlier I had passwords, codes, credit card #s everything memorized and it wasn’t tough to recall them when needed and without too much prompting.
Now, my brain plays a Hot&Cold game with while I sift through data. Of course the process would be easier if I didn’t have a kid draped over my shoulder like a boa (imitating reptile and an accessory both), hissing in my ear, “Do you remember it Y-E-T??!!”
What would be best is if I could keep it unlocked and trust that agreements about t.v. time, play time on iPads were stuck to but that’s a bit unfair to expect from a kid when his parents are binge-watching Criminal Minds or Suits even though its ostensibly done without him being in the know.
But the brat knows us so well, when he sees the last played item on the watch list, he gives me a tsk-tsk look and takes the name of the person who’d have been watching the program and says, ” Someone was watching t.v. after I went to bed!”
I can’t begin to explain how amusing and confusing it is to be chastised by your child in a manner which he’s clearly picked up from you and then having to show your contrition even if you don’t feel the slightest bit contrite!
The things we do set an example for our kids. And while I try and set the aforementioned example, there’s a mini-me tapping his feet impatiently and saying,” Ahem….I’m waiting.”