Saturday Facepalms

My kid rates fairly middling to high on the maintenance scale. As a family am sure we all do. In each others’s eyes if nothing elseImage result for keep calm+family

We rate above average on the drama scale too. And not the kind that rates the good drama and invites curtain calls and huge bouquets of roses. This is the soap opera kind which has varying quantities of MELOdrama, pathos, angst and ire. And that’s all in the first few sentences uttered by TO. I am perpetually the evil witch and boy am I glad! It maybe in the genes but when I see a kid who acts up, my palms itch to connect with their backsides and bring out all the shades in the spectrum of red.

One thing that TO has been pulling on us is threatening to run away each time he gets UBER exasperated with us. The first time he pulled that nonsense I admit, I was taken aback but then knowing his love for peanut butter and the telly; I knew he’d be back. And he was.

Fastforward a couple of years and this morning suddenly the “I’m leaving” bomb gets dropped on our head. Again. Red was no help at all being the good cop.

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Thankfully I was fully caffeinated and had happy things to do for the rest of the weekend so I didn’t sweat it. I asked TO to make out a list of places he thought he could go and stay in and keep the list a bit long in case some people were unavailable to have him crash at their place long-term or use their wi-fi free of cost- whichever is the bigger transgression.

Not surprisingly, he quickly changed his tune. He started negotiating with me and started tell me that for the low, low cost of screen time, I could have the pleasure of his company at home forever. Clearly this mom found that too high a price to pay so I insisted that he keep the list ready since he was going to get the digital media taken away sooner or later and he’d again get upset and want to leave.

I even suggested putting the list up on his door, in big, bold font and colors so it would be easier for him to choose where he wanted to go and live. Weird how soon the threat fizzled out soon after that. If this were a cartoon, TO would be like a balloon, whizzing around the room, rapidly deflating.

Evil Mom-1. Whiny Kid-0

Nuff said!

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Saturday Morning Conversations

I crashed by myself last night…was listening to music, sorting out playlists…everything you need head space for and which can’t always be done effectively with someone staring at you with googly eyes and asking, “what are you doing?” for the millionth time.

I avoided weird bedtime conversations but couldn’t avoid them during the next morning when someone decided to wake up and smell the roses with unbounded enthusiasm before his mother got caffeinated.

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Imagine having slept off to music spanning the decades along with conversations with friends on and off till the middle of the night and then waking up to the most #dafuq question one can imagine first thing in the morning viz, “How old do you think De Villiers is?” And on seeing my glazed, semi-blurry vision starting to go the angry, snorting bull way, TO preemptively turns his face skywards and says, “Why me?!!” Nothing quite like having your angsty moment stolen and impersonated by the person who brought it on in the first place.

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So on we went with the good morning kisses and inane questions till my brain cried out for coffee once more. Red being the coffee guy at home was hollered at and he promptly went and made some for HIMSELF and not me. There’s only a few things a woman can say to her husband at such times and I tell back on Barb#1 aka ‘ I gave you a kid, can’t you even get me a cup of coffee?’

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We are fond of our drama in this household. Be it me trying to bury myself under the covers so I don’t have to hear my kid drone on about some ODI post which Tendulkar decided to retire from cricket

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or trying to bargain for more screen time or me giving the evil eye to the placidly coffee-sipping spouse who’s going to need me to find his stuff for him soon; this is just how we roll.

Slainte!

What The F*** Did You Say F*** For?

Last Sunday TO had some of his friends over for a pizza lunch. It went just fine. All the complaints, tears, sulks, hurt feelings and booboos turned up bang on schedule at the 2 hour mark like they do with x number of kids under the same roof for a given amount of time.

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One of the little ones was happily lazing at the dining table, with his feet up on the opposite chair and drawing out the cheese from his pizza slice and his friend was peppering him with questions, one after another, with nary a break. And then this happened:

Child#1– Hey J…did you see..blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah??? Child#2– munch munch, chomp, chomp, chomp…No. Child#1– But it was blah blah blah blah blah blah. Child#2– chomp chomp, more pizza…munch munch. Ok. Child#1– It was so blah blah blah blah blahx10!! Child#2- Hey M..shut the f*** up! And there was a bit of silence for a bit. Only because the rest had their mouths stuffed with pizza.

 Child#1 comes over to me and says (sadly and loudly),”You know J said shut the f*** to me!!” Before I can decide whether I should have my outraged, sad, stern or even my controlling-my-laugh face, Child#3 goes, “You should NEVER say F*** because it’s a BAD WORD!!” Child#4 chimes in-” I NEVER say F*** because it’s not a nice thing to say F*** and I’m not supposed to say it! Child#1– “But J said F*** to me RIGHT NOW (and pouts)!!” And my very own Bratosaurus leisurely finishes the pizza in his mouth, burps and says “Parton me (he says ‘parton’ instead of ‘pardon’) and adds, “We should all stop saying F*** because my mother is right here!”

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The lesson here ladies and gents is this- always get the pan pizza with the thick crusts. Opt for the crusts filled with cheese if need be. It takes a while for these little yappers to get their tireless jaws around the whole thing. They can effectively talk AND curse with the thin crust pizza and spew half-masticated pieces of food all around in the process.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

Oh My Angst Hurts

The Offspring (TO) has been introduced to the world of peer pressure. He has met the “popular” kids, met the jocks, met the goody two-shoes and is trying to fit into the whole ecosystem as we speak…erm type.

Being of a slightly more touchy disposition, TO is at times inclined to want to change schools if he doesn’t have a good day or have a bad experience. Of course the very next moment he can be on top of the world as well. Am told such is the world of children.

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This morning his reason for not wanting to get up and go to school was due to the kids he had a falling out with. He gave us more details while having his milk. The conversation went something like this- TO: ” So I’m not friends with X anymore. Me: Why? TO: She doesn’t want to be friends with ME. Me: (making sympathetic face) Whhhhyyy? What happened? TO: She says stop following me around. Me: Well…do you follow her around? TO: (looking sheepish)..only a little bit. Me: Well then, don’t follow her. TO: (huffily) ok fine!

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The rest of the conversation consisted of words irritating, annoying, irritated and annoyed and why the middle finger is *not* to be shown and at least a 1000 reminders to finish his milk and go for his bath.

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Turbulent Thursdays anyone? And to think that we have yet to navigate through the choppy waters of puberty. God help us.

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Getting My Goat!

These aren’t those bleating goats. No Siree! They are those invisible metaphorical goats whose horns keep poking at you something fierce about stuff that irks you at the very least and makes you want to take a sledgehammer to stuff at times.

So back to all my irks…and there are quite a few…dirty nails, people who think from between their legs all the time, those who can’t hold their liquor and make crude passes, bitchy people…you name it and it irks! But an irk especially close to my heart is one about moms and their kids.

Let’s get something clear at the onset- NO ONE IS EVER READY TO BE A PARENT! Not in the truest sense. You buy into the idea but you never can imagine the gamut of the doodoo that comes your way; in and out of the nappy.

I have always had an extremely capable and proactive husband by my side while I make my way through the maze that parenthood is. I’ve never had a maid for my kid. Somehow it just didn’t click. Not for lack of trying either. It was one of those things. And for the most part I think the kid’s turning out ok. He wants to be a dragon when he grows up but no one’s perfect and life’s weird.

If life were normal, I’d be in Bora Bora with Hugh Jackman right about now! Anyhoo…*reluctantly puts fantasies in the box labelled “night-time fun”*

Today while my flesh and blood was frolicking in a kiddy play area in our complex after getting back from school, a nanny suddenly told me to watch her charge and vamoosed. Before I could blink she was making long-legged strides down the landscaped yard and going out of sight.

She had vaguely pointed towards the playground equipment and told me to watch the kid who till then I’d neither seen hide nor hair of. I took a peak around the corner to see a little boy, not even 3 years old, happily exploring the place and clueless about the fact that his caretaker was gone.

I called his name and said hi and apparently that was spooky enough for him because he jetted too; looking for his nanny and acting like I was the proverbial stranger that moms warn kids off from.

I chased the kid all the way to the place where the buses drop off our children and managed to grab his hand before he hurtled himself near an oncoming bus. Phew. My angry eyes did nothing for the tot or his nanny who didn’t even think to apologize.

I got the mom’s number from one of the other moms and called her and told her what had happened. Her thank yous were distinctly lacking in sincerity and warmth and that’s to be expected. No one likes people critiquing them or their choices; strangers doing it is even less welcome I’d imagine.

But while I don’t relish wearing the hat of the playground police, ever since I’ve become a mother I can’t *not* be anything other than a mother if any child seems to be in potential danger, negligent situation or anything that seems less than ideal.

Despite my gung-ho approach, my own child, close friends’ kids have still managed to get hurt, sometimes narrowly missing a major injury and therein lies the rub.

Maids, nannies end up being surrogates for parents but aren’t parents at all. Not to anyone else’s kids. They are hired help who may be good with our kids but handing them over to the kids without adequate checks and balances isn’t to our advantage and certainly not to our childrens’.

I don’t fault moms who have nannies. It’s a choice they make. And they live with it. I made a choice to go nannyless and it’s something I had to live it. Wasn’t easy by half! But try and have the measure of the person you’re handing your baby over to. They may love your child but be closet kleptos (as a dear friend found out recently), they may not have vices but their personal hygiene might entail a one-way ticket to a pig sty. Anything!

My personal view is this- safety in numbers works for us all. Adults and children alike. And when someone points out that your child wasn’t in the most secure position and was deliberately left vulnerable by the one person who was supposed to keep him safe; for Pete’s sake! keep your snit to yourself. People would rather be cuddling their own kids and sipping hot coffees rather than charging after a toddler barrelling towards an on-coming bus!

Loads of scary shit already going on in this world!

Here endeth the lesson.

 

United We Stand…We Don’t Divide

That’s right! In our home division has little role to play. Not because we’re excessively cohesive as a family but simply because MLM doesn’t like to do division.                                *rolls eyes heavenward*

I’ve recently realized my folly in asking in why certain things find favor with him and why some don’t. The answer is extremely simple for him and terribly baffling for me- he just doesn’t like some stuff.

When they started doing division in school I wasn’t terribly worried about it because barring reading and writing he’s had a rather accepting attitude towards maths and seems to enjoy it by all accounts. So when he started arbitrarily leaving out specific maths problems I was quite surprised and asked him why those weren’t getting done. Pat came the reply, ” I don’t like them.” No rancor just a bald statement of facts.

And so began the process of trying to understand what kind of grave injustice 56/7 had done to merit being left out of the line-up whereas 44/4 happily got answered. I asked, I coaxed, I frowned and finally I gave up. Apparently division is not our thang. And so it shall remain until it regains favor once again.

P.S: kids are *really* weird. I wish those What To Expect series of books had clued me in. Some days it’s like going down the rabbit hole with Alice, the Mad Hatter and the Jabberwocky all at the same time. Truly maddening. If I was tweeting, this post would be hastagged dafuq!

 

Free-Range Vs Helicopter Parenting: Indian Scenario

I am all for being a hands-off parent. I really would like to be able to observe my child, see him grow rather than always be present while he is doing his thing. For someone who has been a SAHM from the first moment, it is quite a treat to be able to see your child interact with their environment, peers and the world at large without literally (and figuratively) pulling at the leash.

However and this is a big however, the concept of Free-Range parenting  isn’t always viable for the Indian mindset or for that matter the pan-Asian mindset.

While I cannot comment knowledgeably on a generic Asian temperament per se, let’s just say that it allows for a lot less permissiveness in the interaction between children, young adults with the adults they encounter. It’s not borne out of a compulsion of seeing the kids become “docile”, “controlled” or even submissive but out of a Father/Mother knows best funda which seeks to leave decision-making in the hands of an adult till the child reaches the sensibilities of an adult and can take independent decisions and their consequences.

And that’s ultimately what any parent worth their salt is concerned about- consequences. Children primarily lack the ability to make judgement calls before a particular age sets in and I personally believe that for quite a few people, that age usually starts in their late teens or early twenties. The reason being that while they reach this age the gamut of experiences that they go through are more definitive and they pay more attention to the learnings that arise out of it, rather than having the moral of the story outlined (if you will) by their parents the way it was done during their early years.

And let’s not even open up the can of worms that includes predators et al. The world is a difficult place to navigate even for adults. Children with their innocence/lack of experience aren’t always able to gauge with certainty who they should place their trust in. A child is a child for a reason. Despite being conditioned to be responsible, or inherently of a more compliant nature, a child can lapse into carelessness, callousness and self-indulgent behavior because knowing altruism, benevolence or how to do the right thing isn’t what the doctor ordered for a 7 year-old.

And to expect them to be any different is to expect munchkin-sized adults to be walking around while looking much cuter than the normal-sized ones.

And what does this have to do with being a Helicopter Parent Vs. A Free-Range one? Well as adults we learn about balances and being a parent is the toughest balancing job in the whole world. The tightrope walking kind of pales in significance because there isn’t always a safety net and the worst case scenario is far worse than any of us could begin to fathom. So it comes down to this…is it better to suffocate your kid as a helicopter parent or not know where your kid is or doing what and to what extent because you’ve eased up too much on the free aspect of free-range parenting? Isn’t even a mild case of paranoia a given for a parent? Or do we actually sleep better knowing a 10 year old will definitely look both ways before crossing the street or a 5 year old knows what intuition is and is guided by it?

So while I veer more to the side of helicopter parenting (much to my chagrin) on matters of education, teaching of good behavior and imposing of rules et al; there are times when I can wear the mantle of a free-range parent as well. And I can give a good amount of leeway only because I stayed close, watched every step and made sure the most avoidable dangers could be identified and well…avoided. Some days I hop,skip and jump all over the place being both kinds of parents because the situation and my innate nature demands it.

But know this, no amount of parenting will help if an asteroid hits the earth and wipes away all of humanity. All you can do is know that you are being true to yourself while you bring your child up and despite all the time-outs, angry glares and whatnot if your child is genuinely happy to see you first thing in the morning and runs to tell you about every scrapped knee to every new bug he spotted on the road, then maybe, just maybe you haven’t screwed it up.

Just something to think about.

 

 

Parents Vs. Kids…Tis A Losing Battle

Ever since my kid’s been old enough to blink he’s had me in the palm of his hand. There was no one more fragile, delicate, beautiful than he. Even now, although far from being a baby, he’s still the most beautiful face I’ve beheld; in my humble opinion.

And because he knows his power over his parents, especially moi, it often leads to tres annoying situations where I wish I could spank that bottom cherry tomato red. And then immediately feel guilty for thinking it. Aargh!

Today’s interaction went like this. I was being stern because he’d decorated the inside of his school van with PURPLE CRAYON. Big. Long. Purple. Squiggles. Wiggles. All . Over. The. Inside. Makes my head hurt to think about it.

The driver was understandably miffed and conveyed his miffedness to me with clipped tones and showed me my offspring’s handiwork. The culprit in question bounded from the vehicle with joy and cheer for all mankind and said big, magnanimous goodbyes all around and regally went his way home.

Realizing after a few seconds of silence that his mother wasn’t pestering him with the usual rapidfire questions about school and what he’d eaten, the brat started an interrogation of his own. This is how our conversation went:

MLM: Why you not talking?

Me: I’m upset.

MLM: Why you upset? Wha happan? (not typos, the kid talks like that).

Me: You made a mess all over the van. That was very naughty. Poor School-Van Uncle will have to clean it all up. More work for him. That wasn’t nice at all.

MLM: I made pretty puhple snakes!! See…they go (makes undulating gestures with hands).

Me: You are ONLY supposed to use crayons on paper. NOT the FLOOR and not the VAN.

MLM: You angry? (kind of tentatively asked)

Me: Yes. I’m upset. You never listen to your mother!

MLM: Nooo…I LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!! (protesting his innocence)

Me: (trying to cover up my laughter in snorts..) I mean you don’t listen to ME…I’m your MOTHER, Einstein!

MLM: You want a kiss? (puckers up)

Me: NO I DON’T! I don’t kiss naughty boys.

MLM: You want hug then?

Me: Just go bathe and get that purple color off your face and hands and think about why I’m angry and what you’ve done…(steam coming out of my ears)

And the gurgling laughter of a brat who jumped into the shower greets me while he happily sings, “London Bitch Is Falling Down”.

You. Just. Can’t. Win.