A Chat With My Niece

I recently spent some time with my niece who lives in the US. We see each other when I video chat with her mom and every now and then she chirps in my ear and tells me what she’s been up to and then skips away to do her think like little girls do.

This time around I had the pleasure of introducing her to slime. Her mother didn’t share my enthusiasm or hers but what’s a childhood without gooey, icky stuff that grosses other people out?

When I spoke to her yesterday after she reached back home she very clearly told me she wanted more slime. I asked her what colors she wanted and she started listing them in her twangy speech, “I want wed (red), blaoo, yellow, green, pink, purple..” I interjected and said, “so you want all the colors, right?” and pat comes the reply, “No! I want red, blaoo, green, yellow, pink, purple!”

That’ll teach me to get between a rainbow-loving girl and her color palette.

Darjeeling Diaries

We’re at Darjeeling with my folks. I’m visiting after more than three decades and it’s tantamount to visiting a brand new place. TO is visiting it for the first time and seems to be managing being in chilly temperatures quite well.

The place is crowded, loud and full of tourists. It’s also full of gorgeous things just like these:

There are little mom and pop stores and other pop-up stores which service the needs and wants of the tourists. There’s haggling, nagging and a steady stream of money exchanging hands all day long.

We rounded the morning off with a walk till the zoo where my monkey went to town with the camera photographing everything in sight.

C’est la vie.

Summer Holidays…Why Moms Crumble

If you’re a mother…chances are that you more than just like your kid. Who could resist them? Imps, scamps and monsters to the core but dammit if they aren’t the cutest ones at that!20180513_075244

 

The reason the charm of the summer holidays wear off so quickly…for moms, is that the child is always looking to you for the answers of “what next”. You like the fact that they can sleep in (meaning you don’t have to get out of bed bleary-eyed either or enjoy the paper and coffee in peace instead of pieces), that they don’t have to hit the sack at a particular time; again meaning you get to enjoy your dinner leisurely and aren’t dependent on their chewing speed for a tablespoon of rice and daal.

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Bedtimes are full of cozy, lazy cuddles and long-drawn out reading sessions that you get to do in different voices instead of speed reading through the entire thing so the child is in bed and lights are OUT! with military precision.

Sleep deficits aren’t an issue and you can pretty much do the chores any old-time since your world as you know it is spinning slower and slower and slower. But there’s a catch too…the time passes slower and slower and S-L-O-W-E-R as well. The child is ALWAYS there. Your clothes folding time that you used to enjoy with reruns or bawdy stand-up comedy is now highly sanitized with animated stuff playing or the ecology-supporting content. Or in my case, reruns of Jurassic World.

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The occasional beer you used to sneak in on those days becomes a rare commodity with a pair of bright eyes staring right at you and often speaking directly into your ear canal, “Are you drinking alcohol?” And you gulp it down quickly and often the wrong way and cough your way into saying, “Yes and I am and NO you can’t have any till you’re 35!”

It’s not about keeping the children busy all the time either…it’s about spending time happily. That goes downhill very quickly. The kids have a routine that works for them. With that gone for 2 MONTHS they look towards the constant authority figure to help them understand what is it that they should be doing. And therein lies the rub. You would prefer that it be productive and fun and the child is thinking only fun.

You do one pillow fight and roughhousing session and limp back to your corner and the child, still rearing to go, wants to be body slammed again or use you as a trampoline again.20180520_092022

While you’re winding up for the day and the kitchen is wiped clean, that’s when the love of your life wants to make a purple cake of all things and looks suitably disheartened when it’s refused. You give in once and by 11 pm you’re the one putting everything away, there’s flour everywhere and imp has licked the mixing bowl and spoon clean and bounded off to bed

Our kids have more distractions these days. We didn’t. Or even if we did, we sorted them out the way our folks told us to. These days, kids want us to tell them exactly what they want to hear. You want them to exercise creativity? They’ll want to design a pot on the pottery app instead. You want them to draw something they like and they turn the topic to what they want for their birthday instead. And that is an unending list or a rather expensive one.

It’s in parts tough and endearing because they are still growing up and need their parents around. And the parents (read me) don’t know how much active parenting is needed while balancing everything else that needs to be done. It’s easier to turn the telly on. But you pay for that later in spades when the kid can’t envision a minute without digital stimulation.

So summer holidays? Necessary evil that keeps you loving your kids for the first and last weeks. During the rest of the time it’s anyone guess to see who breaks first. Usually it’s the parents dialing up Dominos and booking movie tickets and shoving the kids out to door and towards the park saying, “No rush…come back when you want…TAKE YOUR OWN TIME.”

Mine starts school tomorrow and while I am genuinely happy to be getting back to my usual routine but I will miss him every second he’s gone. For the first hour anyhow.

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Roadtripping: Part Deux

When I was a child, summer holidays were partly spent at my grandmothers’ homes and part of the time was spent in exploring touristy and slightly off-beat destinations in and around wherever my father was posted at the time.

Travelling 6-7 hours in 40 degrees plus temperatures (Celsius mind you) without air conditioning in the car was the norm rather than the exception.

Homemade snacks were packed and once we stopped for loo breaks or tea breaks, a big treat for me would be to have a chilled bottle of a cola. Bliss.

Fast forward to circa 2018 and we’re trying to create some of the same situations for our child. Summer holidays are earmarked for visiting the grandparents or wheedling a visit out of them instead.

Road trips have been started over 400+kms and it’s a huge achievement because this generation of instant-gratification kids can’t always wrap their heads around a trip that doesn’t involve a plane or something over 2 hours or an amusement park.

So despite the chants of “bored-bored-bored” and the whines for junk food and the telly, we have managed to pull off 2 trips to parts of India fairly far away from our home without falling back on the digital media till we reached the hotel rooms. There have been no iPads, laptops, phones to play games on. Just music playing throughout, an occasional creative app for good behavior and loads of outdoor times in the significantly cleaner, fresher air. What more can a parent ask for?

Of course the way the t.v. in the hotel rooms has been greeted by the offspring after we’ve reached our destinations, has been nothing short of an emotional reunion between mother and child! *rolls eyes*

But be as that may, the summer of 2018 will always be a watershed for Red and I. It’s been undiluted family time, all squished up cuddling in the same bed with the brat and having new adventures and making fun memories.

Salut!

Nagpur at night.

Roadtripping

We don’t travel as much as Red or I would like. It’s our fault actually…didn’t get the offspring used to anything but comfort so the mere thought of zipping along for 7 hours or more to get to someplace he can get to in 3, starts the ‘are we there yet’ litany and am not good with litanies. At all!

Although, my ‘put on your seatbelt’ and ‘use a tissue, ‘cover your mouth when you sneeze’ can rival even the most nagging kids on a ‘are-we-there-yet’ loop.

We tried to get him understand the value of such trips by talking to him about it and went nowhere fast. Kids of today don’t get enthused about seeing windmills-moving or otherwise. They’d rather make faces and take selfies with silly filters…thanks for making a entire generation drop a few IQ points Snapchat!

Rivers, lakes and flora are treated with a ‘Meh’ unless it’s truly spectacular and a hotel room counts only if they have a tv with the kiddy channels easy to find.

Last year we decided that there were going to be more trips in our future, more time spent travelling to get to the destination and to do a good mix of travel via railways and roads so the offspring knows more about India overall than which airport has the KFC counter and which doesn’t.

And so the 1st trip of 2018 was to be a road trip. And we were off! With little delays and all the double checks to see if the water and gas had been switched off and the milk and paper cancelled while we were out.

We decided to split a 14 hours journey over 2 days so the driving bit wouldn’t tire any one person out and we could also get to see places we hadn’t hit while we were growing up.

With all the breaks needed when a kid is chugging down juice and water and shovelling down packets of nachos, we managed to make pretty decent time and are now in a place I’ve never really had on my radar-Bijapur.

It has a lot of ruins and ramparts of the forts built during the time of a ruler by the name of Adil Shah.

Seeing the people is like going into a time warp. Middle-aged and old men walking around in Nehru topis and dhotis with signs of the present seemingly in the John Deere, Kubota showrooms and not the jewellery and sporting goods stores that have become a part of the landscape of what were earlier called the tier-two cities in India.

We got turned around in one part of the city at night and had to navigate through market places teeming with people and bullock carts and horse buggies. But the eagle-eyed kid who can never find his slippers could spot a Dominos pizzeria in the crowd. Go figure huh?

I haven’t seen a single Audi, Merc or Beemer yet. I have seen Bajaj Chetaks, Lunas and loads of cycles. A far cry from Hyderabad where I can come across a Triumph Bonneville, a Mustang and too many luxury cars to count just walking across a parking lot.

Not everything is well maintained but it has a charm and that’s what we wanted to capture and give the brat a taste of.

More to follow…next stop: Belgaum!

After A Hiatus…

It has been 22 days since I last blogged or even created a draft.

I wish there was a reason for this kind of a gap but there isn’t anything except for me being unable to gather my thoughts. And now that the thoughts are gathering, it’s akin to a storm brewing.

So I had a long-ish summer holiday with the offspring. We traveled a bit and had new experiences. Defining experiences for me as a parent. Am more confident of being able to chalk out holiday plans for the family without necessarily opting for safe options like a place with access to a pool or a beach. That’ll always be the fallback option but I am happy to say that slightly longer journeys, altitudes are no longer off the table.

On the personal front, I was sluggish to say the least. Didn’t get much done. Took a fraction of pictures that I’d normally have taken on earlier trips and pretty much retreated into the Kindle while still looking for something fun to give me a little impetus.

Speaking of the Kindle, it’s become an extension of my hand and I’m eyeballs deep into authors who primarily write about the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. To say that their books include the wilderness and dense forests and more than average snowfall would be to undersell it. But their tones are quite similar because these geographical areas of United States are very diverse from the sunny parts of the South or the West Coast. They are also quite different in the tone and nature of the people who are depicted in the novels based in the East Coast.

It’s bucolic but the climate, the geography is as much a character in the novels as the actual people themselves. Maybe it’s the weather that calls to me (crazy I know) or my mild yearning for Seattle based on years of binging on Grey’s Anatomy but I’ve had the words Puget Sound and names of small counties of Washington State and Minnesota tumbling through my head.

I’ve also discovered that I need to learn how to scuba dive because taking pictures of the husband and offspring underwater gave me a sense of peace and joy unlike anything in the last few years.

As basic the images were and while nowhere in the neighborhood of work such as this gent, it was still a lovely experience nonetheless and made me want to explore it further. In fact my list of places of hit (eventually) already includes this. Of course if we end up doing this, my main concern will be the offspring wanting to move undersea permanently or not coming back up till he spots all his favorite behemoths.

All said and done, long summer or not, it’s been an experience. Of growth, some backslides and lot of plans for the months ahead. Not a total washout in my book.

 

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The Malady of Summer Holidays

I’ve noticed that there’s a strange and inexplicable condition that happens to kids, especially mine over the summer holidays. They become deaf, louder, motor movements mimic being like marionettes with their strings cut or like mini Boomerang videos. Polar opposites but somehow they seem to be able to switch between them effortlessly enough.

The specific keywords that they don’t seem to comprehend are these:

  1. Get up.
  2. Slow down.
  3. Enough.
  4. No more (pool time, t.v., iPad, laptop, playing with water…till infinity)
  5. Get out of the pool.
  6. It’s late.
  7. Come home.
  8. Go away.
  9. SHUSH.
  10. GO. TO. SLEEP!!

Barring that it’s the same ol’ symptoms of childhood+boredom+curiosity all rolled into one delicious little buck-toothed package of silliness!