Retroblogging#67

For anyone who’s wondering about the sudden jumps in the numbers on the blog posts, let’s just put it down to outright artist license and move onto the good stuff. Here’s another post which brought a smile to my face because life has interesting ways of teaching us lessons..

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Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.”

Or something to that extent I imagine must have passed by an old chappie’s lips when four loud, boisterous kids from his neighborhood would filch his precious stack of clothes pins and make them disappear day after day..

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The more he complained to his neighbors (the parents of the brats) the more clips kept disappearing. They’d go off the clothes line and end up in the oddest places, like the water tank. Which after a point of time seemed to verily have more clips lying at the bottom than coins in the Trevi Fountain!

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Anyhow, he’d rant and rave and often cuss at them, not that they gave a hoot! It was fun to see the crusty old man finally move his potato sack of a body off the swing and lumber after them. Else it was the swing where he sat, day after day and made it squeak and squeak as if it was his life’s purpose.

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The brats didn’t know that the irritable man who always told on them was actually retired and wanted nothing more to sit on his swing and sip from his stainless steel glass of booze that would remain undetected in that wettest of dry lands. So the sight of children causing a ruckus put a cramp in his guzzling plans indeed! And if he stayed compliant and ignored them, he would have to face the task of answering his not so little woman who would wonder about the regular disappearance of her clothes pins.

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Cut to present day- one of the brats is grown up now. Somewhat. When she finished her laundry today and went to hang up the innumerable little things that her child goes through daily, she found that she was YET AGAIN short of clipsies..!
How she gnashed her teeth and wished that for once her beloved dumpling would throw something else off the balcony or find other things to confiscate instead of the oh-so important clips…

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And while seething and doubling up the clothes (since there weren’t enough clips to go around) she thought of a curmudgeon whose clips she and her fine companions would to love to chuck into the water tank or use as marks to get badams off the tree.

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And then it came home to her…what goes around definitely comes around. And there was plenty more coming her way…!

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Retroblogging#23

Another one that caught my eye from the days of yore…

Right from the time my son was born, I was struck by how delicate he was. I knew babies are vulnerable and helpless but this one seemed to embody those qualities and more. He was a thin baby, weighing just on this side of an acceptable birth weight but he never lacked spunk.

That ‘scrawny’ baby’s learnt to run now and also balance himself on his toes to reach heights hitherto out of his reach.

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One thing that’s absolute about children is that you NEVER know what they’ll do next. If you think there’s a line they haven’t crossed yet, they always manage to cross it and then some! So if you threaten your kid with that ‘last straw that breaks the camel’s back’, you’d better be prepared to have a whole herd of camels waiting out there because your offspring will find plenty more straws and with it plenty of camels’ backs too.

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I used to think of little children (infant to toddler stage) as being fragile but it’s us as parents who’re the fragile ones. The kids are resilient and how! They fall, they bleed, they sprout bumps here, there and everywhere and they still keep going even after the tears have left tracks on their face.

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And speaking of tracks, while you may not need therapy to get over the minor cuts and nicks on your child; it definitely takes some doing to see your child hurt and you not being able to prevent it. And some things do stay with you. Whether it makes you a better parent or a hovering one is anyone’s guess.

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And by the time you’re over the initial trauma and your monkey is again gallivanting off for newer places to fall down from; you tell them what’s sure to become your motto in life- “Don’t cry! You wanna cry? I’ll give you something to cry about if you dare do something like this (fill in blank with your pet peeves about your kid) ever again!!!”

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And you go on. Both of you…sometimes with one chipped tooth, a brief black and blue mark and you with a near-paranoid obsession for stuff your child could hurt yourself on again. But you do go on.

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And before you know it, they’re onto newer things, more things they could make hurtful for themselves and with you still trying to be their life-long safety net and catch them before they fall. But that’s not to be…what is to be their ever-growing curiosity, activity and ability to bounce back each time.

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Amen to that! The rest will keep I suppose 🙂

P.S: At the time of this blog being posted MLM’s graduated to TO and has had 3 surgical interventions (nothing critical) which includes one broken hand being reset. And we’re still chugging along! Phew…

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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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Money-Grubbing Altruism

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It is a theory of mine that depending upon the kind of ride TO is in, his thought process changes accordingly.

I had a flat tire today and had to take an auto rickshaw to get around. I think the abundance of the fresh-polluted air got to him and he came up with such gems that I had to get them out to the unsuspecting world at large.

My child has questions about life and death. Mainly death. He knows it happens but not always why and if there are aspects which predicate it; if I can call it such. So this darling boy asked about certain key family members who are no longer with us and asked how it impacted those left behind and came up with a solution: he would learn magic and bring them back to life so everyone who was left sad by their passing would be happy again. Primarily his father, whose mother had passed away while he was still in his teens.

He then went up the generation ladder and said he would revive his great-grandmother as well because she’d been 97 when she passed and should live to be at least a 100. All noble endeavors. In theory.

Soon after caame the kicker! In this process of reanimating all the dearly departed he’d make a ton of money and then be rich! rich! RICH!!! and buy up all the dueling dinos that we (Red and I) have deemed unnecessarily expensive toys.

And in that instant I went from doing this-

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to this-

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Thankfully the ride ended soon after and apple of my myopic eyes raced home to tell his father about the love he has for his fellow-man and how he wants to bring joy in our lives.

Never a dull day with this one that’s for sure. They *never* tell you these things in those damn parenting books which is why I’m writing my own!

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9

Red and I completed 9 years in our parenting journey. They have been a lot of things but never dull. 

We were handed a longish and skinny baby who filled out quickly enough and we couldn’t stop nom-noming on his cheeks, his nose and all his little limbs.

You have never been digustingly mushy and annoyingly gagworthy till you have a kid. The most absurd nonsense erupts from your lips. Goo-goo gaga seems normal. You string together the weirdest rhymes and play horsey and never think of your dignity at all.

Your offspring could be a bald, drooly, raspberry-blowing run-of-the-mill infant and you beam the instant you lay eyes upon him and think…isn’t that the most beautiful baby the world ever saw?! And the annoying baby talk starts all over again while the baby in question gazes at you in mild exasperation.

Time passes…baby gets weaned off, learns to poop at the right time, the right place and thankfully in the right way. He goes off to school and you keep watching for tears and separation anxiety; never realizing you’re the one going through it. The child will bounce back sooner than you.

Kindergarten gives way to grade school and then a laptop-toting 9 year old tells you exactly what they want for their birthday right down to the guest list, food menu and how they want to celebrate.

The next day you’re dragging their butt out of bed so they can get back on the school grind and the child is suffering from a post-party hangover. They are stuck to the floor doing a 500-piece dino puzzle and you’re giving them a minute-by-minute update of how late you’re getting and how the bus won’t wait and you see the same tot who looked at you with fuzzy eyes and no idea of how the world works. He’s not really 9..he’s still your baby.

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A Bloody Mary To End The Day

It’s been a while since I had a drink. A good one. A nicely made one. When I needed it. When I wanted it. When I longed for it. Wait…are we still talking about the same thing?

Some days are long. Some days are LOOOOONG. Everything seems upside down. Or downside up. And not many highs present themselves. The lows seem to abound and crowd the highs or rather the mezzos out of the picture.

On those days a well-made Bloody Mary hits the spot. It might be a pick-me up especially the tomato juice bit, for a hangover but sometimes, at the end of the day…it is just perfection!

I called the Significant Other home early today and it’s one of those rare occasions when he was able to oblige. Handed over the responsibility of the fruit-of-his-loins to him and made myself a cold one in the kitchen and for once had celery on hand to make it JUST RIGHT!

A splash of vodka goes a decent distance when you’re tired. Whiskey takes things into another realm altogether. But the beauty of vodka is that it keeps things light and yet allows you to just float away if you so choose to.

So here I am…watching the Big Brat feed the Small Brat his dinner and make funny faces while doing so. Am blogging and playing songs in my head because my shift is kinda over for the day. Or so I like to think. Another drink will make me believe it for sure.

Salut!

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?)

Inconvenient Truths

The toughest thing I find at times is to explain to MLM what something actually is. Since he lacks the experience and often the vocabulary, it’s a bit challenging to think of ways to get him to understand it in a manner that satisfies him or makes sense to him. Some children accept a lot of things their parents tell them but MLM actually mulls things over quite a bit.

Little things like why he can’t be swimming in an unheated pool in the height of winter, how it’ll most likely cause a cold; why his father and I are using chasing him around the house to clean his nose when it’s runny and most importantly why t.v or other visual digital media is curtailed after a point. Usually there’s a villain in the story  viz moi but by and large there are questions coming up which I have to gloss over or fall back on euphemisms for him to stop his line of questioning.

Just today he suddenly asked why Littlefoot’s mother was sleeping and not getting up after the fight with the T-Rex. Till now he’s never watched anything where death has even been remotely implied and since he’s only 4, I haven’t even thought about how to explain those kinds of heavy concepts to him yet. Whatever cartoons he’s watched where the bad guy’s been defeated, he’s understood it as them having “gone away”. Whether that’s a permanent condition or not has not been touched upon. Come to think of it, I don’t know if such small children know and understand the concept of permanence either. Their little minds are usually so crammed with things in their immediate surroundings, their likes and dislikes.

So when he raised the query about Littlefoot’s mother I asked him why do you think she’s not getting up and he promptly replied, ” T-Rex did ouchie! Dinosaur got ouchie there and fall down. Now dinosaur sleep.”  Phew! That’s a good place to start. I wouldn’t know what to do when the “die” issue comes up.

With children what they see is what you get and I guess that’s why he can’t understand how it is when I occasionally put my contact lens on…he keeps trying to get me to put my glasses on…thinking I’m unable to see 🙂

When he was a baby, he’d go and check under the beds, behind the toilets, everywhere possible when he wasn’t able to locate his grandparents after they’d left. He just couldn’t understand how something was *not* there or was different or in an unrecognizable form.

All a part of growing up I guess…I just hope I survive the phase of “whys”.

Nothing Surprises Me…I’m A Mom!

Ermm…that’s a contradiction actually. Nothing does surprise me because a child’s mind is SO elastic that it works in ways I can’t begin to imagine and wish it didn’t.

And yet when the unimaginable (for adults) happens it’s also a surprise because the offspring chose to do (read destroy) yet another thing in his own special way.

This is what we call predictably unpredictable!

My child, who shall be referred to as Mommy’s Little Monster (MLM) hereafter, has always has a fondness for CDs. The round shape, the shiny surface and the fact when it’s put into a drive it emits sounds and images makes it totally magical for him.

He also has a VERY strong procedural memory (again a mixed blessing) and is ALWAYS doing what his father and I do. CD changing in our house is nothing short of a battle. And changing CDs in the car is CHAOS personified with one of us adults having to rescue the CD from being inserted upside down or with too much love (read FORCE)!

A few days back I tried to play one of my CDs, a rare occurrence, and found that the car music system was literally spitting it back out at me. Naturally I suspected that tiny hands of terror had been busy at work.

Today I finally got around to taking it to a repair shop for an estimate of whether the CD player was to be put to rest once and for all or if there was still life left in it. The technician opened the entire bracket to see what was wrong with the unit and out tumbled not ONE, not TWO but FIVE CDs.

Everyone was amazed. MLM was clapping for joy and chanting, “Look Look, so many CDs!”

And me? Well..am unsurprisingly surprised. And waiting for the estimate on the stereo. I have a feeling they’ll go by the DNR (do not resuscitate) instructions I gave them.

I have a feeling the remaining CDs will make  interesting wall decals until I get someone to keep their grubby little hands to themselves!

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