Of Middle Fingers And Snakes

I recently changed my ride from a hatchback to an MUV. When I say recent I mean just a few hours ago.

I was picking up the offspring from school and he was happily frolicking in the backseat, bouncing with joy and making crinkly sounds in the plastic covers that I’d not had a chance to take out as yet. All in all he was a happy camper. And as the case is while he’s camping happily, he asks me a series of ‘Do you know’ questions. Today was no different.

We started with a question trap that I’d inadvertently fallen into when I told him I’d seen a monitor lizard cross the street very close to his school. After interrogating me about the size and the gaping maws and the venom of the said reptile, he gave me a disdainful look when I told him I’d only paused briefly while trying hard not to squish the lizard when it scurried off into the bushes. It, unfortunately, hadn’t stopped long enough to give me its life history and venom potency details.

Then began the story of reptiles and their offspring. We spoke of ovi and viviparous snakes; something I’d rather not have spoken of at all. All while I was enjoying the smell of a new car, listening to songs on brand new speakers…which apparently is the most apt time to speak of baby cobras.

Anyhoo, on special request he agreed to stop talking about king cobra babies hatching and killing grown people and then he threw me for a toss! Here’s how he did it-” Hey Ayu…do you know a boy in the 2nd grade showed someone the middle finger in school and then he got into trouble?!! Have you shown (he said showed but my grammar mode refuses to let me be ungrammarly) the middle finger to anyone?

And this is where you cross the realm from being a good, honest parent into one who lies to their kid because isn’t 8 too young to be flippin’ the bird?! Or talking about it?

I told him piously that NO I hadn’t and what did showing the middle finger mean anyhow? I was told very solemnly that it’s a very bad thing and kids can go to jail for saying it. And that’s when I had to know more about this oh-so taboo word that sent kids to jail. So I did a dramatic,” Oh no…really??!!” And pat came the reply-YES!! It’s worse than saying F***!! I never say F*** because you told me that saying F*** is a bad thing so I never say F***. Ever!!”

I think some days the universe has a smartass mode it activates just to give parents their comeuppance and to prevent them from being smug-knowitalls!

Parenting: The Stuff They Never Tell You

I am a semi-helicopter mother and not proud of it. Here are some things I’ve gleaned in the past few years of parenting. I’m not sure how helpful this is but for those contemplating marriage and eventually kids, do read this once. It may give you a different perspective (read abstinence or hardcore contraception) or it may reinforce what you see and hear in front of you everyday anyhow.

So..here we go!

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#1 Having a conversation with anyone else barring your child is like being in a boxing match. It goes like this- you speak 1,2,3 and someone jabs you. You try to regain your balance and speak again 1,2,3 and this time it’s an uppercut.

There are rare conversations that you can have without being interrupted; till you decide to give it up and just focus on the kid. And guess what precious nugget comes your way when you do? It’s quite possibly something along the lines of – (imagine it being spoken in all caps) “You know what? My poop is all orange from all the nachos I ate yesterday!!” And you nod helplessly because you hung up on an overseas call with your BFF to hear about your kid’s bodily function.

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#2 Farts are important. If they stink, how loud they are. If you’ve noticed the abovementioned smell and noise. If you haven’t they’ll probably poop their pants trying to squeeze one out that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.

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#3 You have to watch everything you say. Literally. Imagine becoming a psychotic with visual hallucinations where the words you think materialize in front of your face. You reject a few and allow the rest of them to be uttered. If you don’t, the next time you may be subjected to a bout of , ” Gimme a break or a ” Oh for crying out loud!” from a 1st grader because you cut off digital media or pool access at pre-agreed upon times.

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#4 Pool times are deadly. The child *never* remembers that staying for too long in the water causes their skin to prune up. When you tell them their time’s up, they mimic dolphins and scoot away from you.

Wading into the pool and dragging them out leads to yells and screams tantamount to child abduction with people looking at you and your offspring in distaste for causing ripples in their recreation or serenity.

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#5 Some part of the body always hurts during homework or DEEEEP sleep to rival Rip Van Winkle’s comes on in droves and it goes away only when the threat of homework does. And then, the recovery is more miraculous than the walking on water phenomenon! Faster too!

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#6 Waking the child up in the mornings is a drama par excellence. The hands flung over the eyes a la Scarlett O’Hara, the burrowing into the covers like a mole and coiling up smaller and smaller like a worm or a snake makes you gobsmacked! One child going through all these changes in a matter of seconds is nothing short of amazing.

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#7 Say goodbye to your stereo and tv and tablets. The kid rules all and owns all. You don’t come in second. You don’t come in. Period.

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#8 Holiday destinations are decided by where the wild things are. Literally. The continent with the most venomous snakes, biggest crocs makes the cut. Relaxing at a beach? Sure…but can you also see the Inland Taipan or the Tasmanian Devil? No? Then it’s a no-go.

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#9&#10– these two are probably the most annoying IMHO. Your bedroom and your bathroom time are no longer your own. And that’s mystifying because why on earth would someone want to spend so much time talking to you through the bathroom door, wanting to know what you’re doing, when you’re coming out and even going to the extent of shoving their ever-growing drawings of dragons under the door for you to peruse while you’re focused on something entirely different and faar more important.

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They creep you out by looming over you in the weekends; the one time you don’t have to run and bundle them into clothes and catch the school bus. They whisper slowly into your ears, distorting dreams with reality; often shoving tiny fingers up your nose to wake you thoroughly and even body flop on your sleeping, unsuspecting self just to tell you they LOVE YOU. And you feel compelled to reply in kind while you blindly kick out, hoping to connect with that tiny butt and get them the hell out of your sacred sleeping space.

Ah parenting…what a ride!

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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!

The Joys of Being Childfree

Now that’s not a word that means your kids are at summer camp or has Grandma babysitting while you take off on a holiday. No indeed. Childfree is a proper concept thank you very much and one that’s catching more momentum as well.

Today there are more people who consciously take the decision to not become parents, biological or adoptive, than there were a few decades ago. It’s not merely with an eye on the exponential rise in population and dwindling natural resources the world over, but also with a good look inside oneself that tells them that this is one area where they could take a pass. And happily so.

Having been a parent for a few years now and still a child for god knows how many more, I can honestly say that I applaud this decision. Not because kids are little monsters we have to groom into becoming humans but because the decision to give life is not one that should be taken lightly. Ever.

It is the highest level of responsibility an individual can ever expect to undertake and try to fulfill. Over millennia it has sadly become something that people do because it seems to be expected of them. Proliferation of the species aside, shaping and nurturing a child is something that ends only when the parent passes on. Even separated by continents, a parent can reach out and influence their child’s nature, emotions and ultimately behavior as well. That’s a heady thought to start with and when it occurs it’s a headier thing altogether.

This next bit is taken from Wikipedia verbatim “According to economist David Foot of the University of Toronto, the level of a woman’s education is the most important factor in determining whether she will reproduce: the higher her level of education, the less likely she is to bear children. (Or if she does, the fewer children she is likely to have.)
Overall, researchers have observed childfree couples to be more educated, and it is perhaps because of this that they are more likely to be employed in professional and management occupations, more likely for both spouses to earn relatively high incomes, and to live in urban areas. They are also less likely to be religious, subscribe to traditional gender roles, or subscribe to conventional roles.”

And it makes a lot of sense. There’s a shortage of resources, there’s a shortage of time to parent and see to it that a child doesn’t have to grow up too hurriedly, rise in crime and even with any dystopian constructs, there’s often a more pressing reason for not having a child. Simply, not wanting to.

A few monthly ago, the Holy See released a statement saying it was selfish opting out of having kids. And am sure quite a few religious and spiritual heads will concur. Proliferation of life can be and is joyous. But one can still proliferate joys and a quality life without bringing forth new life.

It is assumed that women yearn for motherhood. Some do. Some don’t. Some can be very nurturing towards others’ children and yet sleep peacefully every night despite not having a child of their own to tuck into bed.

These women come from a variety of backgrounds but by and large are enlightened enough to know where their fortes lie, where they can maximize on their potentials the most and have multiple avenues of not only keeping busy, but being productive and also being contented and downright happy.

So if kids aren’t *that* big a deal then why does the whole world and their Aunt Samantha go around having so many? Well…it’s like this. Seeing an extension of yourself (mind and body) have a corporeal form is akin to a miracle for most people. Myself included. No matter how many babies have come forth in this world and no matter how many would have come by the time the blog is posted, each one is special. They are the blank canvas that  reflect the glories of the world and not the vagaries and debaucheries.

But for me, I guess I just wanted another person to love. And now looking at my child there’s very few little I would do differently where he is concerned. But had I the benefit of hindsight before it became hindsight, I would properly think it through before opting to become a parent. Because I have also realized this while parenting -I would have been a good non-parent as well.

Acknowledging it isn’t a bad thing at all. Just honest. So if you are a childfree individual, that’s just who you are. Accept it. Don’t justify it.

You are still who you were supposed to be.

The Low Down On Having Your Kids

Kids are trouble. If our parents had known that then and unless they were full of the love of humankind our existence would be voided.

But this is a more realistic and non-candy floss way of looking at having kids. The making of the kids is probably the best part of the entire deal but then again it only takes about a few tries so you’re jipped in the end anyhow.

The birthing and that carnage aside kids are plain and simple parasites. You love them to bits and wouldn’t stomp on them or spray pesticides at them sure, but till they strike out on their own and sadly often, long after that, kids are parasites. Only this kind of parasitic relationship is one we encourage so in the end it turns out to be a whacked-out symbiotic relationship of sorts since we derive these gurgles of pleasure from them feeding off us.

And when I say feed, I mean the the kind of feeding that bleeds you dry emotionally and physically long after the actual weaning has been done and dusted.

YOUR life, YOUR space, YOUR bubble of YOU that is a kitschy mix of sanity+kookiness+idiosyncrasies is made to go on an undefined time out and it’s like you’re made to face the wall without being able to see your earlier self for an unknown amount of time.Do NOT pass go. Do NOT collect $200 and no hope for parole.

Parenting is exhausting. Rewards not always visible. Discernible, And it’s scary as hell to have a hand in how the course of someone’s life will shape up, how their personalities will blossom or not based on how YOU play YOUR cards. Having kids is the closest you get to playing God and that’s an area that’s fuzzy enough for humans with our heady mix of believers, heretics and agnostics. So, to willfully do that with another human being is nothing short of crazy! And it’s completely selfish. No one really needs kids. We just want to have them.

The saving grace (and there are many) is that you experience intense emotion in a manner that’s akin to a knee-jerk reaction, the love is fairly unconditional and makes you rise above yourself and put someone else’s welfare before your own. We seldom do that for anyone consistently throughout our lives barring our offspring. That does help you grow in some ways but it doesn’t stunt your growth either if you don’t indulge in it. And the crux is that parenthood changes you SO much and none of it is change you wanted or planned for. And it’s the change that the kids bring that we instinctively fight back against all our lives.

Loving your kids is the only safety valve to that bit in life. Or is it?

But you have to admit, if the little humans we pop out are cute lil things, the whole grin&bear-it becomes so much easier! Just saying.

Saying When

I am a daughter of an never-diagnosed, almost-OCD father. And I mean that in semi-jest. Growing up, life was a series of bedspreads which had to be redone because of a semi-wrinkle towards the edge of the bed and the litany of “Perfection is NOT an accident.”

My mother, God Bless HER!, isn’t OCD but neither does she countenance sloppiness beyond a point. The kitchen is her domain and that is kept neat enough to pass a health inspection but not that neat that you can literally eat off the floor. I mean, who does that?

Life as a teenager was one of rebelling against having to put everything in neat piles in my closet against wrinkling my nose at the actual garbage dump I saw in the rooms of some of my friends.

Fast Forward to circa 2005 and I started dating a nice guy. I mean Nice Guy. But an unconcerned slob nonetheless. As long as he can find his shit (figurative one), then he doesn’t see the need to have after-school and school piles of clothes. Neither does he see the need to ball up his socks to make room in the sock drawer so things look and are neat. I never anticipated that while dragging my kid out of bed and out the door in the morning I’d have to locate spectacles, men’s underwear all the while letting the caffeine surge through my veins to insulate me against another day as a mother and wife.

The last 6+ years of my life have gone in maintaining more than basic hygiene and some modicum of order because of a baby. This baby has grown from a toddler to a grade school kid and isn’t much inclined towards tidying up unless his mother gets into her dragon avatar, complete with flashing reptilian eyes and slashing her spiked-tail. He’s more the sweep-it-under-the-rug kind of person, or chuck it under the bed. Breeding tells. Genes will kick you in the balls.

August this year my kid went off to school for 8 hours a day. This opposed to the 2-3 hours he has gone for the past 4 years. And I rejoiced. By doing nothing! Zip. Nada. And it felt goooood.

I let clothes pile up. Folding them but never completely closing the loop by either putting them away in the right closets. The couches became refugee camps for the clothes in our house. The futon in my kid’s room for his stuff and the dining room couches for a myriad of clothes, toys and God only knows what!

The house wasn’t a total dump but disarray was definitely the name of the game.

See, as a product of two slightly compulsive people who married a totally laid-back guy I’ve battled nature vs. nurture for the last 10 odd years. You can’t make your spouse over into a form that pleases you. You take the good with the bad or undesirable. And you make your peace with it either with post-kid-going-to-sleep whiskey or some rants in a random blog post or some disgruntled sulks aimed at said spouse when he finally gets back home.

And trust me, being inert doesn’t take much doing at all. It’s just a question of mind over matter. You stop minding it so it doesn’t matter!

You choose to not segregate the laundry piles and sit down to watch Modern Family because, hey! Phil, Cam and Jay are definitely more entertaining than putting away tiny t shirts which can (and will) yield to small hands pulling them into an untidy heap in a New York minute!

Watching New Girl is better than grumbling at the absent spouse who doesn’t give a rat’s ass that his well-ironed shirts are placed with care and consideration so the collars don’t get squished. He’ll shed his sweaty track pants on top of them anyhow and leave the closet door open as an additional insult to injury.

And so I let it slide. Disarray begot disarray. Piles moved from one couch to the other but never got unpiled. Till last night. After 2 months of being on a quasi-vacation from the must-dos at home I said WHEN.

I tidied up. Moderately. I mean I didn’t have a religious epiphany. I just looked around and saw that if I kept my overbearing-about-cleanliness parents and butt-scratching-mess-making husband out of the picture; I was actually a person who liked stuff tidy. I like it tidy enough for it to look pretty.

When I switch off the lights for the night I really don’t want to have to go hurt locker across the living room just to get my book, phone or any old thing from 5 feet away.

And looking at things in their own place makes my space look bigger and brighter than it actually is. And armed with that knowledge, I cleaned up. And will continue to clean up some more till the piles stay in their infancy and not get a chance to grow to an adolescent or let alone an adult stage.

It’ll never be the kind of home my folks would and could keep. And it won’t be the semi-bachelor pad my husband makes the house over the weekend but it’ll be space where I prevail and which reflects what I wanted growing up: the room to make the optimum kind of mess.

It’s funny being an adult. Some days you can feel yourself grow into your skin. It’s a surreal but a satisfying incident at the end of the day. At least you aren’t hopping on one foot till you hit your side of the bed because you stepped on the mini-dragon obstacle course your kid effortlessly designed all while getting ready for lights out.

Cleaning up is *not* a chore.

Amen.

Loose Lips…

Yesterday while running an errand I got blocked into a narrow lane by an imbecilic cabbie who had parked bang in the middle of the road with no thought for anyone else. Apparently when you have to take a whizz everything comes a poor second.

So there I was, getting more annoyed by the minute with bystanders trying to help me find my way out of an impossibly narrow space between the badly parked cab and a tractor. To make it worse, some of them mumbled, “lady driver” because a male driver would have pulled off a feat worthy of the Knight Bus and squeezed through the wedge of space available, nevermind if it spelled the death of their car’s paintjob.

As always, adding to the fun was my kid, who from the back seat kept offering me his helpful tips about how not having come out of the house at all would have been “so good” and how stopping for chips on the way back home would somehow miraculously solve all the problems.

Cut to 20 minutes later. Errant cabbie comes back post-pee, unapologetic and does a “talk-to-the-hand” gesture when I start giving him my “I want to squish you under my foot like the worthless slug you are” look. I guess I might have muttered a word that rhymes with duck and luck in a sotto voce manner. And guess who heard it with the windows half down and being a few feet away? The same child who can’t hear me when I’m yelling for him to clean his room, my loud voice booming through the whole house!

And this morning the little monster comes upto me in a moment I’ll always remember…he had a ridiculous toothpaste mushtache around his mouth, crud in his eyes and told me in a fake whisper, “You said the ‘f’ word yesterday”. My knee jerk reaction was to say, “No, I didn’t” followed by “What’s the f-word anyhow?” and he told me, enunciating it clearly enough for me to have a WTF moment.

And being a parent caught doing something wrong, I lied like a trueblue hypocrite and said, ” I said fudge…not the other thing”. And bang comes the question,” What’s fudge?” And I told him in great detail, trying to distract him from pondering on the original f-word. And it seemed to be working as well, till the monkey boy came back to bathroom door, whispered conspiratorially and told me, ” I know you said the F-WORD!!!” and he laughed a mini-villain laugh and scampered away.

Oh FUDGE!!!