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.

37 Stay at home mom problems ideas | mom problems, stay at home mom, mom  humor

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…

Top 30 Smell Armpit GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

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.

Weird and Strange Hairstyles: Oh My!!! | Hair styles, Bird nest hair, Hair  humor

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!

Parenting Chronicles- Part 1,2…Oh Screw It!

I write a LOT about parenting. Usually in states of bewilderment or gripes because while it’s a beautiful thing to experience (NOT) it is REPLETE with pitfalls, second-guessing oneself and for me: a usually irresistible urge to flip someone off.

What the Bell Curve looks like in my life!

I know plenty of people who have kids and extol the experience to the heavens and can’t imagine a time when their little princesses and princes didn’t seamlessly fit into their lives, But the Bell Curve being what it is, there are plenty of us out there who go through various levels of WTF-ing pretty much throughout entire parenting process.

For the most part, once you get over the notion that there is no returning this particular gift, is when you can get down to brass tacks and start the actual process of parenting.

And while amongst the people who are co-parenting together, there will be a fly-off-the-handle person vs a I-won’t-fly-off-the-handle-and-you-can’t-make-me person, the facts remain that until your kid does something that you never expected, you don’t have a response that will either have a) a desired effect of teaching a child a behaviour that is acceptable or b) come back and bite you in the ass at the most inopportune time.

Child-rearing for me has largely been divided into TWO major parts for till now: I. where I was in control and II. where the control has slipped and the slippery slope it’s on is unending.

This is not to say I have an immensely difficult child. I have a HUGELY expressive child who Red and I have encouraged to be curious, expressive and be friendly with us. And therein lies the rub. Because once you open the stable door to the “Be-Friends-With-Your-Kids” stall, the “You’re-My-Friend-And-Not-My-Boss-So-You-Can-Suck-It horse bolts and catching it is TOUGH!!

I have a beautiful child. He’s pretty. Has long lashes, a cute face and was generally considered a damn cute kid even by those who don’t fawn over kids to the extent of inducing nausea in others. And I LOVED every single atom in his body. Even down to the stinky-diaper covered bits.

But then he started growing up. I thought it would be great fun! Mother and son colouring like we were tripping on shrooms, laughing, dancing and generally having those memorable moments you like to look back at and beam proudly at. Instead so many days go by when I think, “Dang, again? Screw it..I’ll just spend the day doing virtual retail therapy and living in the Kindle world because it’s nicer there and no one gives me attitude!”

And that in a nutshell is what life with a pre-teen, teen and often a young adult child shapes up to be. You don’t entirely know where you took a wrong turn in your parenting journey; just that while you still love the kid down to his atoms; you wouldn’t mind throwing a pie in his face and cackling like an evil witch because he is kinda hard to like every, single, damn day!

What is also pretty hard to do after a particular age is the recalibration of one’s self, personality, reactivity to issues because you can’t stay who you were while parenting. Not entirely anyhow. And those who claim that “nothing’s changed at all!” are either getting paid by Pampers and other baby/ kiddy product companies to have loving smiles pasted on their faces but the rest of us know the dark truth- Once you have kids…you go to the dark side. And pretty much end up camping there for good.

Because while the kids are still evolving, you have largely evolved but will need to devolve to some extent to get to a place where toothpaste on top of the shower cubicle isn’t a reason to freak out and don your best gormless look. Where impromptu hair and eyelash cuts aren’t a weird thing, where creepy crawlies are plush toys your kid hugs while sleeping and where every problem is solvable (temporarily) with a healthy dose of Netflix and eating like a human vacuum cleaner.

So you do the same dance every day where you talk, talk and talk and they don’t listen, dance around while they should be paying attention and basically acting like life’s an endless Spring Break! Occasionally you go silent because it seems pointless to be in a S.S.N.D kind of situation but then comes a small hand on your shoulder and they agree to play ball…just for a bit though…and you grab on and hope you can make it last!

2020

The year started on a fun enough note. Had plenty of adored people around. There was music. There was dancing. There were hyper kids. Loads of alcohol flowing as well. And lights flashing…the whole shebang!

And then we crashed, bleary-eyed, into bed only to be woken up at what seemed like an ungodly hour but it was actually well past the crack of dawn. Bang into the new year I realized what a smartass a 10 year old can be.

I have…sigh…had a rather favorite coffee mug that’d been a part of my everyday routine for more than 6 years. It was nothing fancy. Just a bright yellow mug with Homer Simpson’s face on it, full of his usual goofiness. I’d bought it during my first ‘mom’s weekend away’ trip with the bestie and it was intended for Red. I don’t remember how it became mine, but it did. So the mug broke fairly early in the morning although after I’d bonded with it for what turned out to be the last time and I was more than a “bit miffed”. He-who-shall-not-be-named had butterfingers as usual and had broken the mug just near his feet while not having any slippers on (as usual). Shards were everywhere and Homer was irreparably broken.

After having realized there were no more storms to come, TO saw me sweeping up the broken pieces and looking sad while doing so. In expressing solidarity with his “favorite mother” he stood in attention, clicked his heels together, saluted and hummed a mournful tune. I have never been more caught between looking stern and controlling my laughter at the same time. Laughter won out. Kids..whaddya gonna do!

Speaking of…guess what the kid who kept whining during most of the train journey to my hometown say when I asked him to shush for what must have been the n(nth)th time? ” Oh! so uptight!!” I’m fairly sure I goggled at him while he cackled and ran away like the sprite that he is.

I’m not setting too many goals this year barring one- minimalism. Wherever possible. Wherever…and of course targets will be set to travel more, read more, do new things and make more good memories.

May 2020 find you all in more states of contentment and as little tumult as possible.

Cheers!

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image courtesy: gadgetfreeks.com

Bloglet: Boomerang Bantering

Every now and then I use slangs with TO and often it comes back to me in a very amusing way. He was using selective audition with me today when I was asking him to do a couple of things around the house. I rolled my eyes at him and told him not to be a doofus. And bang comes back the reply, “You’re a doofus!”

I walk off and mentally tell myself to wait for it and sure enough comes the query,”Ayu, what’s a doofus?” I tell him it’s a silly person and he mulls it over and says, “Ok..you’re a doofus Ayu”.

Ah..summer holidays..such a joy!

Blissful Calamity: November 2010

The Stare

I have an almost-10 year old. He’s lazy like his father and me. We aren’t the gung ho types who jump to it and proactively clean and get shit done. We get to it when we can’t find things and usually at the last minute. Sort of defeats the purpose of being a housewife I guess but my parents’ cleaning gene escaped me but I wasn’t about to let it escape my kid. Not entirely.

We’ve made a deal; once he gets up in the morning he has to make the bed. Properly. Of course that’s when hands start to hurt and the bedspread seems to be made of cement rather than cotton but I’ve decided to be firm. What am also being firm about is the extent of halfheartedness I’ll allow in the task.

Today he went around the bed like a puppy chasing its tail in trying to get the bedspread to stay on the bed evenly. To say it looked like one of those asymmetrical dresses that seem to be the rage, would be downplaying it. Half the bedspread was covering the floor and the throw pillows were thrown on the floor and living up to their name and there was a little man brushing his hands with accomplishment saying, “Done!”

But I have learnt one thing from my father if nothing else…’The Stare’. My father is the master of ‘The Stare’. His stare is so potent that I could feel it burning through a crowded room, aimed right at me like a smack on the head. Btw, the beauty of this is that you don’t have to actually smack or even raise your hands…you frown and let your face settle in its most disapproving pattern and let it rest. The victim…erm the target is drawn by the vibes given off said face and is browbeaten into doing your bidding. It’s magic at its best. It’s a thing of beauty that I hadn’t appreciated while it was being leveled at me.

Over the years the stare as been leveled at others found to be lacking, an errant boyfriend here and there, friends who’ve been dressed inappropriately or when he thought I was dressed like a hobo (aka too casually for college and the sobriety of Chaucer and Matthew Arnold). And the stare burns into you…it’s like a Dark Mark that hovers till you’ve ceded to its commands.

Today, after TO kept playing tag with the bedspread I leveled my stare at him and after a few studied shrugs of nonchalance and innocence, he said, “OK FINE!!!” and made the bed. It could still do with a few tugs here and there but at least the bed’s covered and not the floor.

See, they don’t tell you these things in the parenting books. This stuff’s invaluable! Of course the stare’s something every married man is familiar with. They are also more familiar with the menacing tones of the phrase, “We need to talk”…

I think I’ll just dole out the evilness today…mwaaahaaa

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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.

Buzz and Woody (Toy Story) Meme meme

Oh No You Did Not!!

Red and I impose parental controls on TO’s digital media views and mainly their content.

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It’s not so much to keep him away from profanity (he gets a dose of that when I drive) but also to keep him away from concepts that he may not be able to understand and end up getting freaked out about stuff in the process.

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A while back he and 2 of his cute little friends let it slip how they’d sneaked a peek at The Conjuring while playing unsupervised at another friend’s house. I was able to correlate that with a period of being kicked out of my own bed because someone was afraid to sleep alone in their own room. Or even when they did sleep alone, they wrapped themselves up like a mummy and gave me sleepless nights about suffocation and what not!Image result for kids watching horror movies

This morning I was telling Red over coffee that I had weird dreams last night from seeing clips from The Shining and being partly sleep-deprived and suddenly pipes up a voice from behind me, “Oh yeah, that boy with his cycle and those 2 girls who meet him in the hallway and that old guy who gives him icecream and tells him not to go in a room…that movie, right, with all the blood?”

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After internally WTFing with myself liberally I turned around to ask him how he knew about the movie which he did not have the clearance to watch. He told me very casually that he’d watched it at another friend’s house but only a little bit and he wasn’t scared of it at all!

A part of me is happy that he’s choosing good stuff to watch and not getting messed up in his head by watching things like Evil Dead or the Saw movies, but almost 10 may not be the best age to watch someone’s spiral into insanity and attacking their family with an axe. Just saying.

And while my mother let me watch horror movies when I was his age, I can honestly say I was in it for the blood and gore and she was ok with it because she knew it was a phase and I’d outgrow it. She steadily kept her hand over my eyes during the scenes with nudity though. Come to think of it, most Hollywood undead serial killers are such perverts! They wait till a person is “otherwise occupied” and choose that time to cut their heart out. But those days of cozying up with my mom on the couch, hogging on Hershey’s chocolate pudding cups and watching Jason slash through teenage bodies with his chainsaw…oh the nostalgia. Am almost choked up.

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But if this kid thinks he’s going to watch gore before he’s 35 he’s got another thing coming!

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P.S: This blog post and the others like it have been brought to you courtesy of a Macbook Pro that I was given so very thoughtfully for my birthday this year and about which I have not waxed on eloquently enough.

Disclaimer: This is not an Apple sponsored advertisement. More like Red-sponsored.