5 Days Into 2016

On the 4th day of 2016 my kid went back to schoooool…and a partridge in a pear tree! Not!

I couldn’t help myself…am still in holiday mode and the 12 days of Christmas is one of my favorite holiday songs along with the Carol of the Bells. But this version of the latter is one of my favorite. Metal with classic songs is a combination that usually works out well IMHO.

Anyhoo, Red is back to work as well and I have the house to myself. Am about to go and see my first movie of the year. Am sure a review will be posted soon enough.

Getting kids ready for school post a long holiday is truly a task mothers prefer not to have to tackle. Like spring cleaning. It’s an intensive undertaking. It does get done but you wish it really was a once a year kinda thing.

So we have all the tugging at the sheets, legs and arms till the child tumbles out of bed in a heap and eventually zombie walks to the loo. There the child acts totally FOTB about the concept of brushing his teeth and the brushing implements and just looks around himself with dazed wonder. Then comes the time to sit on the pot and contemplate S-L-O-W-L-YYY on the meaning of life and the mysteries of the universe.

By the time you get to the bus stop and wave the child off, you wonder why did I fret so much? It got done. But hell if it won’t happen all over again tomorrow.

And so 2016 begins to look a bit like 2015…only the fluffs and bits. The rest is still spanking new!

Me Being Me…

I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t indulge in gripes about my pet peeves. So what if it’s at the start of the year? This way am getting some rants and grumbles out of my system so there’s less to spew and gnash my teeth about!

I have made a couple of decisions. Won’t call them resolutions because then it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that they’ll be deviated from sooner or later.

I am quite bugged with one of my lifelines..Amazon. I buy books from them quite often and they end up being my kid’s toy shop of choice for all the exotic variety of dragons not available in our city, nay…country! But for them to restrict the sale of certain digital media if you choose your country as India is super annoying. You get access to loads of books nonetheless. More than I could finish in this lifetime. But still! And if you do choose USA as your country then the world is your oyster but the Indian government plays spoilsport and tacks on a Swachhh Bharat tax on top of the foreign currency mark-up and what not!

Now the Swachh Bharat tax isn’t something I’m not crazy about. It might have started out with good intentions (as do most things on the road to hell am told) but levying it on all and sundry just seems bloody annoying. And pardon my French but I missed the fine print where it was notified that it would be levied on everything that generates a bill.

The last time I encountered this level of “being anal” is when the bean counters at the T.I.S.S literally tried to brainwash my colleagues and I for all the expenses we could and would encounter during our field work. Even in those small mom&pop stores where they just write down the bill for all amounts big and small. They wanted to make sure we would get the Rs.1 revenue stamp affixed on all relevant bills and then the ancient relic in the accounts office went further and said he wanted a receipt for a revenue stamp also. Yikes! The paper work was staggering…oye ve!

But that lovely little anecdote from the past aside here are some more things I have decided I’m GOING to do.

  1. Finish watching every single movie/t.v show I’ve downloaded and only keep those that I know I’ll watch again. Ergo, no hoarding the sheer “wealth” of torrents.
  2. Public a minimum of 3 blog posts every week- photography or otherwise.
  3. Use up or give away bed linen that’s been languishing in the closet because I only bring out the higher thread count ones or the ones with monkeys on them to keep the brat happy.
  4. Take more pictures and master a bit more of photo editing because that’s what makes or breaks an image.
  5. Try out one new recipe (sweet, savory anything!) a week.
  6. Try and grow taller! Psych…had you going there for a minute, didn’t I?
  7. Try and read more non-fiction because Red thinks I’m growing dumb or murderous with all the crime fiction and mythological stuff I read.
  8. Take at least 3 holidays this year and discover a new place or two. Or ten.
  9. Teach the offspring a few words of my native tongue.
  10. Keep those bleeped out words in my head and not in my mouth. Tiny ears to mouth transmission speed is shockingly good!
  11. Learn to swim with my head above water else I’ll drown if not in a pool or just keep treading water like a doofus.
  12. Publish one book digitally no matter how silly. And this one am really, really serious about.

So, 12 months and 12 non-resolutions. Doable? 2017 will tell.

Cheers!

 

 

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.

Bengali Parents: A Glimpse Into The Paaglaami

‘Paaglaami’ is a favorite word of the Bengali people. It means madness. The word paaglaami is derived from one of the uber favorite words of theirs as well…”paagol”. This word is never said in a droll, flat manner. Oh no..the word paagol is uttered in a manner which reeks of food being relished and tasted thoroughly before it goes down the gullet.

Why did I start the post with these particulars words? Well today at lunch at a restaurant we frequent, well…frequently…I eavesdropped on a youngish Bong couple who had a cute little daughter who was being a typical toddler. The father was incessantly trying to get her to behave…a losing battle if there ever was one. But the specific verbiage that he was using made me realize that Bongs really are a very peculiar kind of parents on the whole.

Right from the birth of the baby, the obsession with the kid catching a cold is apparent. Ergo the crazy knitting of booties, mittens and horror of horrors…the blasted monkey cap aka a balaclava. Each family will have legions of old women who have foisted these elements of torture on their own offspring (and will swear by it till their dying breath) and who voluntarily knit these caps for the newborns and toddlers and insist on pulling the itchy and scratchy wool onto their heads and don’t let go till the kicking and screaming kid (who looks like a banker robber in the making) is thoroughly uncomfortable!

As a Bong parent myself, I have to admit that the urge to discipline and have your kid heed your words is nearly an overpowering one. It’s almost as if it’s a motto- Am Bong. Must Scold. Loudly.

Take today’s couple for example. What the heck is a toddler to do at a restaurant but play with the cutlery and the place mats and basically turn things topsy-turvy?

The father, who clearly envisioned himself in the role of the Lord and Master, kept telling his wife rather pompously “ekta thaapod lagao toh”. Translation- smack her one! Now this wasn’t seriously meant. This was just for the kid’s ears. And that’s the oddity that makes the Bong parents who they are.

The child must be made aware of all the potential spanking that lurks in its present and future. This is parenting 101. Then come the non-verbals. The non-verbals are rather short-lived because Bengali parents can’t go too long without being verbal. It’s a disease. But they can’t be silent. Call it a gene mutation if you will.

Even if one of the parents resorts to silent treatments, the other circles the child like a hyena closing in for the kill and starts muttering what the immediate future will hold viz spanks, red cheeks, and threats of all shapes and sizes and in ever increasing theatricality.

The father I saw today was hilarious! He kept trying to give his daughter the “eye of shame” but clearly he hadn’t cottoned onto the fact that pre-preschoolers won’t really maintain eye contact especially in a public place where there’s so much going on all around them. Seeing that his daughter wasn’t responding well to the unspoken rebukes, he repeatedly told his wife how ‘dushtu’ (naughty) their daughter was and” uff bhishon badabadi” (another favorite word meaning something is being taken to its limits!) was taking place! His entire speech was highlighted in bold and he had clearly got a good deal on exclamation marks as well!

The mother placidly mentioned that their less than hyper daughter (Hey I know hyper…I have a boy) must be sleepy ‘eyijonye..,nahole eto paaglaami kothay korey’? Meaning…she must be sleepy else why would she be acting up this way.

The response from the daughter? Banging the fork and spoon together. Yeah…that’s lunacy for you! Someone get the Adderall!

So during the meal that was punctuated with “aar paarchhina re baba eyi meyeta ke niye” (can’t manage with this girl anymore!) I noted that more and more Bong parents tended to express dissatisfaction even if the situation wasn’t quite so dire.

Rationale? Maybe if things are envisioned as being tougher and more difficult but they fall short of the mark, the result is a happier situation for the parents. Who knows?

But Bongs will scold. And happily so.

Even if it’s a kid who acts like a mini-hurricane or a rather placid little girl who is behaving true to type, the paaglaami we see and express is truly of a ‘orey baba’ extent!

That’s how it’s been for generations and so it shall remain. For that’s who we are. Proudly so.

Eeesh!

Note: the author is a Bengali. Descended from Bengali parents and basically an affectionate observer of all things Bengali. Never a critique..oh no! Lokey ki bolbe?! (what will people say?)

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!