Aftermath of a Movie

We watch one movie as a family every week. We usually do it on Friday nights since it’s a good way to bring in the weekend for TO. And since it’s usually a family movie, we all end up being either parts of “awwww” or “siggghhhs” or just have lots of laugh-out-loud moments.

With TO growing up the focus is moving onto movies which aren’t always in the kiddy genre although this topics are usually not too varying. Just the presentation of it changes from time to time. Last night he chanced upon Pacific Rim after I had nixed all the horror movies as being unsuitable. I had done in thinking about all the what-ifs he gets into when he sees the paranormal stuff apart from the fear which lingers when he sees scary stuff. With Pacific Rim I thought we’re on safe and familiar territory with Kaijus, sea creatures, aliens and people protecting the Earth.

I was W-R-O-N-G. So so so W-R-O-N-G.

He LOVED the movie. He was entertained. Mission accomplished. And then came bedtime. It kind of went like this:

TO– “Ayu, the last one that came out of the Breach…it was that 5 thing right? Me– Yeah, a Category 5 Kaiju (yawns widely). TO: Is there a Category 6 one also (more than a hint of hopefulness in his voice). Me: Baby why don’t YOU draw a Category 6 Kaiju the way you think it should look like TOMORROW. Good night!

TO (even more excitedly): What if that happens…IN REAL LIFE??!! Me: Not going to happen. It was a movie. Got to sleep (does air kisses and none of the kisses connect due to an extremely sleepy mother’s bad hand-eye co-ordination). TO: (wide awake) You don’t know that! It was an INTER-DIMENSIONAL portal Ayu. It could exist!

Me: Look, no portal exists under the Pacific Ocean that will let alien beings from other dimensions come back and attack us. And even if it did, the movie showed us how to defeat them so don’t worry about it. We’re good. TO: I’m not worried! We’re gonna NUKE the suckas! Me: (in my head) DAYUM! That movie choice backfired, didn’t it?”

And the chattering went on till I slept off. I could still hear him going on and going as his voice faded into the distance

(Excerpt taken from one of the seemingly endless conversations between a boy and his mother)

Note to self: NEVER underestimate the power ugly, sea-aliens who spit neon blue acid will have on your child. We’re back to Ninja Turtles.

PS: I also blame the distributors of Deep Blue Sea 2. If your movie was available to stream or rent and not just buy online we’d never back gone to this movie.

Ye Gods…

Duodecim

TO turned 12 recently and barring the beginnings of a slight sprinkling of hair on his upper lip, am seeing very few signs of him growing up per se. There are plusses and minuses to this as can be expected. Let’s tackle the minuses first so I can get them out of my system; for now.

  1. He’s SUCH a kid even now! I can’t fathom one conversation that happens without him “but-but-but-ing” all through and interrupting us in his hurry to speak up.
  2. He’s still quite self-indulgent. ‘I’ features predominantly in his speech.
  3. He’s still quite naive about life overall and is fanciful (not entirely a minus in my book).
  4. He’s deeply embraced the tween life and is giving us a look into what teenage angst is- for the parents.

Now the plusses-

  1. He’s become quite independent wrt his needs- has turned on the stove by himself to make a snack; all without burning the house down.
  2. Is gradually learning to make tough choices from time to time- when to choose the high road and when to get down&dirty and spew *#@&E$&^#$ during the bust-ups. In case it wasn’t clear- the former is the plus here and not the latter but if I had to look for a silver lining it would be that his vocabulary’s grown!
  3. Is more understanding of our shortcomings as parents and people overall.
  4. Is a kind person and quick to forgive.

Note: I still had to tell him a little while ago that if it doesn’t look like food, don’t put it in your mouth.

S-I-G-H….

Gaah! A Pre-Teen Lives In My House

The brat is officially a preteen effective yesterday. He’s also officially a slightly bigger brat than he was before. I was telling Red that it’s as if I gave birth to a Valley Girl instead of a kid living in South India. But am told the rolling eyes, the general disdain for any parental advise and touchiness which goes from 0-100 in a nanosecond, is just a teaser of the years that will follow from next year onwards.

Harking back to my own tweens or teens- there wasn’t much of a differentiator there to be honest. It’s not that I was a model child but when I checked with my mom about the stuff that I did or didn’t do, she simply said that I did what was expected because there wasn’t any other option! And that seems heavenly for me now as a parent.

Our kids have OPTIONS! They shouldn’t. Not much anyhow. In a nutshell; I think keeping them alive, getting medical intervention when they’re unwell and basically making sure they don’t look like hobos looking for handouts is what’s needed. So the access to Netflix and every other kind of OTT, the choice of vacation locations amongst other new fangled expectations is the icing on the supremely expensive, uber rich and delicious cake that parenting the Get Zs has become.

Earlier a cake with a cherry on top was considered having arrived. Now there’s frosting (coloured), cherries, sprinkles (also coloured) and no nuts (allergies) on top of a triple layered chocolate layer which has chocolate ganache and chocolate flavoured butter cream frosting!

But seriously, it’s a mixture of difficulty+absolutely dafuqery parenting kids these days. TO’s taken to grumbling and mumbling snark at us more frequently these days. The ‘tude is crossing newer levels as well and I’m quite sure if these kids are not reigned in, we’ll all be facing a world there the adults have been taken hostage (properly this time around) and the small to mid-sized hoomans are ruling the roost and we’re all basically doing room service 24/7!

The plusses, if there are such things, are that you pretty much know what your kids are feeling. Not thinking, because thinking is all about screen time, games and self-indulgent things which make you want to slap them upside their head! The kids these days express A LOT.

Whether its angst, joy, anxiety, vulnerability..they express things at the drop of a pin. Sometimes while the pin is dropping even. Some more than others and as a parent from a generation where this level and extent of expression was relatively rare and therefore not encouraged much; it can take a lot of doing to have to discipline your child and then have a beady-eyed kid look you straight in the eye (yes, I am *that* short) and tell you that he’s very disappointed with the disciplining process and how it played out.

You try to take the moral higher ground only to have that smh-look leveled at you and before you know it the balance of power that was so firmly in your grasp is now slipping out like an eel and you are grasping desperately in front of a kid who’s poopy diaper you changed not so long ago.

So parents to Gen Z’ers…load up! It’s a bumpy road ahead but give thanks for the night when the imps…I mean our beautiful children sleep like they used to as babies and the remote is finally back in our hands. AMEN!

Be Careful What You Wish For…

My parents shared their good experiences with me by making me a part of them. Places they went to as children or travels they’d enjoyed were recreated with me so I could see what the fun was about. Places they hung out in or eateries they frequented in their youth; I’ve been to quite a few of them and have been able to sample (‘cuse the pun) things for myself.

My mother in particular, watched movies with me which were a part of her childhood- The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins etc. She introduced me to Elvis, the Beatles and of course Rabindra Sangeet- the staple food for the Bangali’s poetic soul. Given that this was the foundation laid for me, why wouldn’t I try and carry out the same with TO as well, right? Guess what? BIG MISTAKE!

I am a person who is deeply-rooted to her memories. I have a very retro-laden soul. I usually fall back on books I’ve read and reread when I need a break from the day to day. I watch movies which have proved to be hits and enjoyable no matter when I watch them. To make a long story short- my experiences associated with things are important to me. Nuff said!

The other day TO was complaining that we aren’t doing enough “family time” when it came to hanging out together and having fun. This came on the heels of us putting an end to screen time for the day. He wanted to kill two birds with one stone and have his digital media fun+have his parents around. Now in the past, us having him choose something for us to watch as a family has usually ended up being movies like The Chipmunks (high-pitched annoying gits)or yet another rerun of the same animated movie. With becoming a tween just around the corner, TO has been chomping at the bit for some “grown-up” stuff aka HORROR!

While we do give him a free hand when it comes to choosing his kiddy material, we are quite restrained when it comes to exposing him to material which is even PG-13. His can’t always compute why people do certain things so it’s easier to let him watch his dinosaur or TNMT which is fairly straightforward and doesn’t need a TED talk for clarity.

When I was his, age my mom and I used to cuddle on the big couch in the living room and watch horror movies which were usually Rated R. My mother would make sure the carnal stuff was fast forwarded or would cover my eyes and then let me watch the blood and gore without any qualms. It wasn’t her fault that the undead serial killers would usually start killing people while they were “at it”. Talk about coitus interruptus! But it boiled down this- I could take the blood and gore and wouldn’t start climbing into bed with my parents because I got scared in the middle of the night by seeing shadows on my wall after Freddy, Jason or Michael had gone on a rampage. To find a middle path with TO, we had to look for movies with some blood and gore but with next to no “adult stuff” so creature movies is what we’re usually left to choose from.

Last night we watched Deep Blue Sea– a favorite of mine since I first watched it during college and possibly after bunking a rather boring class. With DBS I discovered there could be shark movies after Jaws, Thomas Jane was a hottie and LL Cool J was funny.

What happened last night was this- an unending running commentary about who was going to die, why they ought to die, why they shouldn’t mess with sharks and a shout every time there was a remotely loud noise from the screen. This kid killed D.B.S for me! He just took it apart, shredded it and scattered those pieces willy nilly all over the place; never to be put back again. There go my plans of introducing him to Die Hard and Under Siege in due time.

I love my kid but he can’t mess with the classics! I guess we have a long road of Jurassic Park and World reruns in our future before he’s all out of his “special inputs” while the movie runs.

And as for horror movies; they’re permanently on the back burner. Can you imagine watching The Exorcist and having a barrage of questions about why the girl’s head turned back 180 degrees or why she barfed up green vomit or why Michael Meyers never talks or why Jason’s mask rarely comes off?

I can totally imagine being interrogated about why Samara Morgan’s hair is all over her face instead of being brushed over like normal undead killers…gimme a break!

Lockdown Day#1

While a lockdown hits hard at every aspect of our lives, today am far more upbeat than I have been in a long time! The reason is simple. My kid’s online classes are coming to an end for 2 months. And Red and I will finally get back to being human parents rather than the human-sheepdog hybrid we’ve been since the start of the entire phase of online learning.

In all honesty it was me who was woofing more than Red. He was busy on calls and would be on perpetual red alert to firefight when mother and son had their standoffs.

Our days would start out nicely enough- hugs and kisses and then the tide would turn to a small human being dragged out of bed on some days and on other days his rapidly-descending-into madness mommy would threaten to pour water on him or worse- discontinue the Netflix subscription!!

And then my erstwhile cherub and the sound of my life would transform into a modern day Gollum, complete with the hissing and glazed eyes while thinking of his precious.

But all snark aside, I have realised, all over again, that it is NOT easy to manage kids. Whether you do it out of love or get remunerated for it. I have a deep reverence for the teachers who have been tasked with teaching during these times. Dealing with different personalities, comprehension levels et al on a regular basis is a task by itself but add sullen faces, innate shyness, wonky internet connections and the sounds of a busy household in the background and teaching becomes something akin to an obstacle course. And landing on your feet isn’t guaranteed at all!

But I am looking forward to more peace. My throat is *eagerly* looking forward to not hitting the high decibels. Red’s ears are extremely eagerly awaiting the time when noise-cancelling headphones won’t be a part of our daily diet. And I guess TO is just waiting for a time when his mother isn’t giving him this look a 100xs a day.

Be as that may, I love my kid and I wanted to celebrate the last day of school in a manner befitting his happiness. So his favourite aunty is making him luscious chocolate cupcakes which will be snarfed down in a manner befitting a starving child rather than a well-fed one. And while I gaze upon the flesh of my flesh with love and adoration in my eyes, I will take immense joy in knowing the cupcakes are chock full of zucchini!

Take that you fussy eater who tries to convince me of all people that he has food allergies which is why fruits, nuts and many veggies can’t land up on his plate.

A Day In The Life Of A S.A.H.M

Be another/a different kettle of fish | Helendipity

Being a stay at home mom is a different kettle of fish. If kettles full of fish aren’t your thing, feel free to put in a vegetarian or a vegan option if that rings your bell.

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I am, for the most part, a Stay At Home Mom. It was a decision that I made pretty willingly. Things also didn’t align in such a manner that I felt confident or comfortable enough to leave TO with any other caregiver or in a creche or daycare and hie off to work.

When the hieing off did happen, the universe conspired to have me be more grounded (the parents grounding the kids kind and not the being practical-kinds) and ultimately I circled back to home and hearth and kept my activities centered around it. The work too is something I’ve been doing while lounging in my pjs so WFH is not only a familiar concept but it’s been a way of life.

Recently TO headed back to school. It was something he was longing for. Me…not so much. I figured if he gets to ride out one whole school year at home and then starts fresh for the new academic year in school, it might be an easier transition but again, universe and child conspired to do things differently so Red and I opted for in-person schooling for TO with some riders in place wrt his and our continued safety.

Wicked Witch Of The West GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

And believe you me, within 2 days of school starting, the whining started too. Not that it ever ended properly; some of us are born whiners and continue to whine till Doomsday hits and even then, we go whining into the Great Unknown.

Barring the first two days of school where the former lump jumped out of bed, brushed, bathed and tackled his morning routine with alacrity, we were back to the “pleasantness” of an early morning routine where the mother dons on the persona of the Wicked Witch of the West and drags an innocent Dorothy, I mean TO, out from the warm comforts of his covers and into the cold, hard, unforgiving world of sunshine, cold bathroom tiles and mandated personal hygiene. I mean what could be worse?! Plenty as my kid puts it…

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Imagine having to bathe every day, like clockwork, before leaving the house. Because unlike over Google Meets, here people can actually smell you. And the fact that they *can* smell you is a cause for concern.

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Imagine having to comb your hair because again, unlike over Google Meets, they can actually see the birds nest you’re lovingly cultivating in that mess on top of your head!

Sound Of Music Lady - going commando feels great!

And the list goes on. Needing clean underwear because going commando is no longer an option or that grunting as a response will no longer be acceptable while answering the roll call…the world is full of a minefield for a kid heading back to school. And the worst of it is probably the uniforms that are collared, starched and make little hoodlums look presentable and not like they got dressed in the dark while suffering from color blindness in the process.

Today the brat got to take a day off from school to participate in a sporting event. I dropped him and his teammates to a location a bit far from home and was navigating my way back with the help of Google Maps when I realised that Ms.Google Maps Voice has a bit of an attitude. She’ll start with a nice even tone when saying “Take the next right” and if that right isn’t taken within a second of the words leaving her automated voice box, the next time she speaks to you it’s with the subtext of “take the right turn already you moron!”

Never a dull moment- that’s the crux of a S.A.H.M’s day!

A Look At The Way Things Could’ve Been

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!

Oh The Humanity!

Parenting is a delight and a joy depending upon which time of day, which season and generally which parent you catch hold of. On some days the WTF moments are so numerous that you really need to take a step back and say to yourself, “Did I knowingly bring forth that child into this world?”

TO is in middle school this year. That coupled with the pandemic has made for a unique circumstance where the de facto response to pretty much everything is Nyet, No, Nada, Negative, Naaah and Nyaah, nyaah, nyaah. It should be taken into account when so many languages across the globe fall back on a single consonant to convey the same sentiment. Can anyone say conspiracy?

Anyhoo, Red and I have decided to divide and conquer. I take the subjects he doesn’t want to help out with and he takes the subjects I never did well in school- viz Maths and Science. That isn’t to say that I was a total dumdum…my response latency in those two subjects was slower than was permitted by the school authorities, parents and Indian society overall. Apparently when the genes for STEM were being handed out my mother missed the bus but stayed at the busstop longer for the Humanities and Language doles.

It’s been the same throughout TO’s childhood, I did most of the Art and Music classes with him in Gymboree, did more finger-painting with him while Red did majority of the the kinesthetic activities. Can anyone say physics geek? Back to circa 2020 and homework is supervised by either Red or I based on the subject we consider to be in our wheelhouse.

Last night Red took a break from home, hearth and homework and went off to play with his friends while I took up Math with the surprisingly blunt child. He told me categorically that we should hold off on the homework till his father got back since I wasn’t good at the subject and we’d probably have to redo them anyhow.

To say I was insulted would be to put it mildly. When a 11 year old calls you a dummy without actually saying it out loud, you feel at all once proud and miffed. Sadly both sides are still warring with each other and no clear winner has emerged.

I conceded the point a wee bit but this morning is when the audacious child really took the cake! There was a poetry workshop of sorts hosted by his seniors and I was hearing bits and pieces of words as they floated over the kids talking to each other. Now even a lapsed English Litt major will tell you that when they hear the word Onomatopoeia, something latent in them awakens and they almost dreamily float to the source where such figures of speech are being bandied about by kids. And that’s when life kicks you in the face!

I went up to TO and asked him what was going on and who was talking about Figures of Speech. In turn I was sneered upon and told that I didn’t know what I was talking about since it wasn’t about figures of speech..it was about ononma..onomo..omono…whatever! To add insult to injury…he showed me THE HAND.

Yeah..because that’s why I was instructed up close and personally by mean nuns wielding Wren&Martin textbooks and why I did 3 years of undergrads with ONOWHATEVERS making up my days and nights!

If you thought that delightful anecdote was the only #dafuq moment of my day, then you’d be wrong! So so wrong! During a break between his classes, I asked TO to quickly fill up the water bottles and to keep the glass ones on the dining table. This is what he did-

Apparently unless you specify that said glass bottles also need to be filled with water, they shall remain dry and empty.

So to sum up: be literal AND specify when communicating with your kids. Otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time counting and looking up, or down (depending upon where you draw your inspiration from) just to get through the day.

Nuff said!

Befuddled Parenting Bloglet

So it’s the start of winter and an impending cyclone that’s dumping water on our city, further making the temperatures drop.

But I’ve only managed to get TO to wear his joggers but no long sleeve tees because apparently legs and hands feel cold separately and independently.

Oh mercy…

The Best Laid Plans…

Red and I decided that reducing the amount of time TO spends on digital media is the best thing for him and us…now and long-term. And in order to do that, we need to switch off (literally and figuratively) from the stuff we’re doing and spend time with him; no matter what.

And so we (viz ME) embarked on this new and courageous undertaking (again ME) and decided that post-dinner walks would be a good way to engage him and stop him from turning into Al Bundy. The added benefit of digesting his food properly and getting tired prior to bedtime are also things we considered (still ME!!)

The first walk ended up being a crash course in the Godzilla-verse for me. It was Godzilla this, Godzilla that. King Ghidorah blah blah blah…Rodan blahx10, Mothra blahx100. All of them together blahxinfinity!!!

And it turns out, my kid’s the Rainman when it comes to Godzilla movies..anime and otherwise. He remembers all the dates or rather is creative enough to manufacture dates going back to the 50s when the Godzilla movies were released.

And this is what made me go, “Oh really?”A kid who has to be reminded to “properly” wash his hands post playing outside during a pandemic, remembers dates of the original Godzilla movies.

Never a dull moment with this one. EVER!