Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When the milk of motherly kindness boils over...and singes

There have simply been too many days this past week that I've hated being a mother.
Honestly, don't tell me you haven't had one of those "moments" when you've plain and simple just hated your child. (Ok hating being mom and hating your child are two different things directed at two different people but so intrinsically linked, I don't think you can separate the hatred, specially when you're upset.)
Of course one is so shocked by the thought that you suddenly bring yourself out of it, admonish yourself, say a little prayer to be forgiven for such unimaginable thoughts, and go give your little one a hug.

But that one moment of hatred is intense.
It's triggered most in me when Sonny Boy has his "I want this, I want it now, I want this only and now only...whaaaaaaa baaaaaah" even before I can minimally respond to it. I call this his ziddi avatar, his stubborn  and unreasonable self that takes over his personality every once in a few days. Or as I look back now every few hours in a day.

First I wanted to blame it on his series of illness, his discomfort, his frustration at being confined to the home.
But sometimes I think it's inexcusable. He just starts off without warning, tugs at me, hits me, hits some furniture inevitably in the process...and just won't listen.

My point is if I said no to something, he could THEN cry and protest. The very asking is done wrong, which is so pissing off. I don't expect a two-year-old to be very reasonable, but watching nursery rhymes on DVD all day when I'm home is quite ridiculous and unacceptable.

He refuses his toys, won't play on his own. Will play only if I join him. I thought kids could manage at this age about 20 minutes of play by themselves, at least that's what I remember Dr. Spock's as saying. I have a huge bin of toys for him, then there are books, colours, lots of paper. I even replace old books/toys with new ones so he won't get bored. But no! He must have rhymes, over and over and over again.

There are times when I feel I want to throw him out of the window, make him invisible, make him vanish for a few moments. I feel so guilty having these thoughts. But then I'm glad I have them, because this overwhelming sense of horribleness takes over that I'm being so mean to a small little creature that didn't exactly choose to be here. I brought him here so I better just learn to calm him down.

Then again, I have a problem with all parenting sites that tell you to calm a child using various methods -- distract them with something else (he's crying so loud and clinging to my feet so hard I can't move and he can't hear), be calm, count to 10 or sing (hmmppph if i could be calm i would be world's best mum and hah! sing???!!! i want to scream too). And when you are frustrated and tired after a day's work, a sudden slap delivered on his bottom gets things out of your system and shocks the hell out of the kiddo -- i mean he gives me this "What?you actually it me?!" look and i think he stops crying half out of shock/surprise.

I always think this process is like this huge pot of milk kept on boil. As the milk heats up, it rises and for some time it forms a puffed up creamy cloud on top of the pot (if you're on sim!) but if you're on full flame, it just boils over the top, falls on the flame, singes and smells and sets alarms off in your mind.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to entertain a sick child


Ok, I'm beginning to think I'm an expert on this subject now, considering how easily my Sonny Boy falls ill. And this past one week has been quite a lesson for me and I hope i can put it down so even others find some solace in it, god forbid, if they find themselves in such corners. I guess most of my suggestions would apply to toddlers rather than older children. And more so if you are in a confined space and need some activity to keep your kids going.

1. The beginning of the day is when a sick child perhaps has the most energy, so save any kind of physical activity for then.
2. When i say physical activity, I mean within the constraints of the illness and depending on how willing the child is to play.
3. A little bit of cricket in the hall with a plastic ball (so your TV wont get hit!) or playing catch is not too bad an idea (if you are not to take him/her outdoors/ bad weather/ fever). It's a bit of running around and working up of appetite for lunch. Otherwise they are too inactive to feel any hunger. A bad thing when they also need to stomach medicine.
4. A spot of TV or nursery rhymes mid morning will keep them entertained without you necessarily involved, so you can get some work done around the place.It also offers them rest after some playing about.
5. Save story-telling, showing pictures in a book or reading from it for the sleepy afternoon. Or if you like, make it some favourite song. Something soothing after some harsh medicine and just before snooze time to keep illness-induced nightmares at bay during an afternoon nap.
6. Post-sleep they may feel a bit "up to it". But may still have some sleep hangover. Colouring should wake them up, and yet not tire them out. It's a good time to bring out the toy bin too.
7. If your toddler or child fancies them, simple jigsaw puzzles they themselves can put together is another great way to keep them entertained during illness.
8. Buy a small new toy or book to take away boredom and monotony. It will create enough curiosity to kill a few more hours.
9. Clay/playdough, a bit of gummy atta...maybe even scissors and paper (for older kids) -- something to keep their itching-to-do-something hands busy.
10. Favourite toys/dolls should be around during illness -- they can be great comforters.
11. When children are sick, I believe they like to be kissed and cuddled. And we all know of the healing power of touch. So just cuddle up, take them in your lap and maybe sing an old song grandma or mom sang for you. Or tell them a story they don't have in their books.
12. Any sort of sorting game may also keep them occupied. Just a few coins and two tumblers or bowls to put them in as they count, or pour from one to another -- they also love the noise it makes!
13. If they are not tired from a fever, you could just blow up a few balloons for him/her to monkey around with -- the colour is good on the eyes, and a bit of noise will hopefully not make them cranky.
 14. Peek a boo played in nooks of the house I think also cheers them up.
15. For a change you can be the TV. Act out rhymes and see their joy when mom/dad begin goofing around trying to imitate "Goosey gander" or "Teddy bear".
16. And if they are not feeling up to sound/noise, movement. just sit them in bed and do the eternal fav -- blow bubbles.

As you may have well guessed, these are mostly things I've been doing with Sonny Boy this last week.And as I put it down, I've realised there are some more things I can still do.
Finally, as much as we may plan and decide, when they are ill, kids will want and have their way. So if they want to watch TV when you are free to do puzzles with them, god save us moms!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Doffing my hat to stay-at-home mums

Honestly, how do you do it? It's a plain simple question. Please don't read any meanness into it.

I'm quite a workaholic and in my 10-year career I must have taken a max of 10 days off every year for some sort of "enjoyment". Most of my leave gets gobbled up by sickness.

Sonny Boy's bout of chicken pox has grounded me, and poor him of course, for almost a week now. Not easy for me. Not easy for him either. Specially so, since I haven't stepped out of the less than 1,000 sq apartment in all these days, except one. And that has a disastrous effect on me. I'm feeling like a caged animal, puffing and huffing and walking up and down my cage in rage. My wings have been clipped. My feet tied. It's just that I'm so used to being away from home for at least seven hours a day for the last 10 years of my life! Of course I can at least vent all this here.

Poor Sonny is taking it out in tantrums. Understandable. I mean what kid would want to be in a confined space? But for his sake and for other's, we must be isolated :-(.

Which brings me to admire stay at home mums or SAHM. Wow! It must be crazy, to be doing so much work (that goes unappreciated mostly I think), and to be taken for granted. Hubby now comes from office and expects me to make tea, because I've been home all day anyway. Else, we would both get back from work after having stopped for a quick chai somewhere on the way.

I find it difficult not to have people to talk to. Yes, the phone is there, the Internet is there. But I crave humans like vampires crave blood. Face to face interaction. I crave to write. I crave to speak and be heard.
I don't think I'll get back to work another two days and the thought is making me morbid with fear. I've realised I have a fear of staying home.

I'm making extra food, because I'm home and it's like I feel obliged that because I'm home, I must pitch in with that little extra effort in the kitchen. Uff...I'm sounding all messed up.

I'm also getting worried because I'm worrying so much about me, and so little about Sonny, who, in fact, is in far more a mess. He can't meet grandpa, he cant walk in grandpa's garden -- two things he most loves.  feel terrible for him.

I found my mother selfish when, once, soon after i forced her to retire after having worked well over 30 years, she turned around one day and told me i had robbed her of as life. Now i understand what she means. I was a student then, and hadn't a clue about the like of a working woman.

There's so much to do at home, so much to constantly keep doing. When I'm at work, I switch off the home button. But at home you can never do that. I've hardly got to see any TV or read books I've been longing to read. I have no time to myself.If that's the life of a SAHM, god, I don't want it. (Again no offence meant to such mothers. My respect for you has gone up several thousand notches this past week.)

I'm bored, almost depressed, dying to go out, shop, eat at a restaurant, just chat with ol friends...even colleagues will do ......is anyone out there?????

Friday, August 20, 2010

What 'been there done that' really means

It's not really until you actually go through an experience that you get to know what really it entails.

Like, for example, unless someone real close to you has died, you never get to actually know what that sorrow is like. You can empathise with a friend who has lost a dear one, but there is still a barrier.You feel so lame once you really know what it is, compared to what you were thinking it was.

That's the same, I'm beginning to believe, with other life experiences as well.

Only when you've landed thud in a terrible sort of way, splitting your legs in the long jump pit at school, twisting your waist in an odd angle, do you know what thigh pain is all about.

Not until you've hurled abuses at your boss, who first hurled abuses at you across an open office space where everyone froze do you know what humiliation is all about.

Not until you've shat in Nature's garden on a hillside, surrounded by blood-sucking leeches crawling in upon you, with one mug of water precariously sitting on a stone near you, do you know what the comfort of home is like. Till then, I always thought, "What's the big deal about roughing it out?"

I always would think what the big deal was about becoming mothers. Everyone became a mother at some point in time, I assumed, by default. Motherhood also just happened by default and life would run its default course.

When I got married and a close cousin couldn't really participate in all the fun leading up to the wedding, saying she was busy with her five month old, I refused to believe her. I thought it was a silly excuse. It was only when I got invited out with a five month old in my arms, and was refusing to go most places, that i realised what it meant.

I was once shocked when a colleague said they never cooked at home. They simply ate out or ordered food in. Now I think they are very smart!

Every time i was refused a Sunday off at work because i was still single and dint need to have a family day, I fumed. What was the big deal about being married. Once I got married, I knew why that one day together was precious. But by then they denied me Sunday off saying, i didn't have a kid!! Now I know what that one bloody Sunday can do to your life. The ways of the world.

However much you think you know about some one's life and what they are going through, you are never even close to reality.

When someone says "My kid is ill" in office the next time, I'm going to have a lot more respect for them.

I mean, till i saw the blisters on Sonny Boy this week, i hadn't the foggiest notion what chicken pox looked like! I really hadn't bothered what to do in such a situation. Now I'm surfing the net, calling my aunts and friends, taking tips, making notes to myself.
Till Sonny Boy had torn through me and entered the world I couldn't really figure the big deal about labour and episiotomies. I mean, it was all this natural beautiful process, right?
Until i cleaned Sonny Boy's pee and poop minutes after few minutes in the initial three groggy months (after having decided to go all natural and use only cloth, no diapers), after his birth, motherhood was about pink toes, gurgles and smiles.

My cousin gave birth this morning to a baby girl. I'm overjoyed for her. But i also know what this gregarious beer and seafood loving girl is going to go through in the name of the traditional confinement, with very few foods "acceptable" and beer?? HAHA that would be blasphemy..... Because, I've been there done that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken pox for the brave soul

It's hell time again. Sonny Boy has chicken pox :-(
For a weepy mom like me there seems to be no dearth of reasons to cry and crib over.

But Sonny Boy is being a true Braveheart. TOUCH WOOD.
I can't take the sight, though. He's sleeping now and I'm so unused to being in a quiet house I had to come online.
He's breaking out in blisters in various parts in various stages. I really didn't think it would come like this.
It started like little pimples, or what could be easily be mistaken for heat boils and within 12 hours it had turned into mean looking lumpy boils. Now they look watery and ready to burst in some parts, some have blackened and scabbed.

He's trying his best to co-operate i guess, when i put some soothing calamine on the pimpernels. But today noon, he lost his cool and said he didn't want any more "cream". I'm dreading the itchy phase. Though, the PD has given him an anti-allergen to keep that minimal.

I so do hope that he tides over this one without too much pain or stress, though that's only wishful thinkin i guess. As of now, we are in our little fortress apartment in our attempt to isolate ourselves from others, though how one can prevent something that spreads quick through air is a mystery.

There's just a bit of sunshine right now peeping into the room and I like the reassuring feel of it. Wet cloudy days only have  an association of sickness for me.

I called my aunt who raised me along with grandmum to check if I'd had pox as a kid. Doc says if you've had it once chances of your getting it are lesser. He asked me to keep Sonny away from my ageing parents -- apparently they are more susceptible now and can lead to hospitalisation for them because it can get complicated.And what he craves most in sickness is his grandpa...this is gonna be tough. I know he's going to wake up in the next fifteen minutes ans start asking or rather badgering me to go to Grandpa's. Sigh!!

Apparently three per cent of children get chicken pox despite vaccination. Sonny Boy had to be part of it! Damn!
There's no real medicine to treat it, so all we can do is soothe him whatever way possible, distract him from scratching himself, and get him to eat (his appetite's gone missing). So there...

I'm beginning to think it's such an ordeal to raise one little imp, who's always sick, getting into trouble, wounding himself. I wonder how our grandmoms had so many and never really complain much about them during childhood. But they also had joint families that took care of the kids -- my grandmom says she never fed any of her five kids after they were one! They were made to sit with older siblings in the joint family in a line, and they had no choice but to eat like the others did. Wow.  Sometimes they ate, many times they just played with their food. But they all seem to have turned out fine.

I'm beginning to think motherhood really is about attitude. And like with all other things, each of us have our own highly individual and stylised approach, even if we don't see it that way. Oh there's so much to learn in life...so much to learn with each blooming pox boil and each darkening scab.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peepli Live - REVIEW Don't you dare miss it!

Let me be honest. The only reason I went to see Peepli Live today morning was because Aamir Khan produced it. Strange reason to watch a movie, yes. But not for me, because I believe the quirky man has a nose for good things -- he can smell out a good story.

And he's made an effort to market it well, the marketing maverick he's proving to be. (Imagine, my mum who's so not into films recalled the film's title from trailers she'd seen on TV; she doesn't even watch much TV!)

Peepli Live is a story that has to be told, that must be told, so that people don't forget the lives of other fellow people. How you do the telling, makes a big difference. And that is where Anusha Rizvi (a former journalist) and the film's director gets my appreciation. For a first film, it's a very bold and risky one. Because I'm not too sure if satire goes down well with audience. And that's too when it's so dark and deep like in Peepli Live.

If you were told it was a film on farmer's suicides and how the country's farmers are forced out of an agrarian way of life, would you bother watching the film? Which is what is the crux of the movie. But it has been ensconced very finely in a razhai of the mockery called the media/news and the world of netagiri/babudom.

I'm from the media, and watching the film was a sadistically joyous affair, as I spotted all resemblances to news anchors/journalists/channels. But what worried me about the film was, again, the approach. People in the audience (at the theatre) were so busy laughing at the numerous digs taken at the media, I hope in all the humour, they didn't lose out on the layer that dealt with the gory reality of farmers, their living conditions, their concerns, which are all so neatly interwoven into the narrative. It's not the come-look-here-and-weep-at-my-poverty kind of portrayal of rural poverty. Peepli Live is not thumping its chest saying 'I'm dealing with a serious issue here'. And therefore it becomes very entertaining.

But overall, the approach works, and Peepli Live clicks as a black comedy -- it makes you laugh, and it makes you uncomfortable and uneasy -- at the same time. That's good. You don't leave the cinema hall weepy. But at the same time, Anusha Rizvi and her entire cast have jabbed you several times in the heart, rather forcefully. With guilt.

Guilt that you know farmers are dying every day and are unable to really do anything about it yourself. And that we are treating it like an everyday affair. That in a news channel's order of headlines, Shilpa Shetty figures way on top compared to "another farmer suicide today".

Omkar Das and Raghuvir Yadav as the central characters -- the farmer brothers -- anchor the film brilliantly. Omkar Das is so real, you can't believe he's an actor! And Raghuvir Yadav always seems to match his performances with better ones whenever he's given the scope and character. The pain and anguish on his face, the helplessness had my stomach in knots.

The entire cast of the film is, to say repetitively, brilliant. Almost all are fairly newcomers. The small town newspaper reporter Rakesh (actor Nawazuddin) plays conscience-keeper of the film with great import. And together with Omkar Das, I feel, they form the soul-pair of Peepli Live.

The English and Hindi news channel reporters, can be seen as case studies -- they are real, they may be stereotypical, but bloody hell, they are the window to the REAL and NASTY world of the media. They are so believable.

The songs are beautifully stylised and shot with gusto, but for once, they never interfere with your enjoyment of the film.

You must go watch the film to see how all these people come together to make you laugh uproariously and yet, also leave you feeling ashamed that this is how the lives of many of our fellow countrymen unfolds. While we sit and watch them go by, with maybe a Coke and popcorn in our hands.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why was I raised like a daughter-son, only to be expected to behave like a daughter?

It's strange, the way I'm feeling these days.

I am an only child. That in itself says a lot about me to a lot of people.
My parents let me have such a great life -- they let me make all the big decisions in my life, I had my own room on the terrace with an independent entrance when i was in high school (can you imagine?!), i was riding the bicycle to school when i was ready...you know.

I always was the centre of all attention. I lazed on the sofa watching TV or reading and things were brought to me. I was pampered silly. I was taken on lovely vacations, i was bought things. I decided what clothes i got on my birthday and what clothes i got on my parents' birthdays. I WAS BOSS.

I got to choose my career, my husband, ....i mean almost everything i wanted i had it before i could say yes. My dad even bought me a car when i graduated! And i didn't even want one.

And now, I'm expected to naturally be so responsible, running my house smooth as silk, juggling my career, hosting parties, taking leave for poojas, taking ma-in-law shopping, keeping tracks if parents are going for their blood tests. I'm expected to keep tabs if things are there in the fridge, keep a tab on all groceries, stock up when husband comes back into town, keep tab of his vaccinations and doctor's appointments, clean the floor of crayons, lock the windows when hubby goes out of town (i run away to mom's!), know which medicine to give Sonny Boy for what, always cut his nails, tackle his tantrums, ....jeez. These are things i never did.

How am i expected to make this transformation so easily, like it's the only natural thing to do. In fact I've my older sisters (cousins) have always preached: "Necessity is the mother of invention...when the pressure falls on your head, you'll do it all." I mean, why do WE have to? We women?

Why can't men also easily make these transitions? It's made out to be like we have no choice but they have. It's ok if my husband still throws wet towels on the bed, but not if I did it. NO SIR. then i would be setting a bad example for the child, and who will pick up after me anyway? It's ok for him to come home straight from work and plonk in front of the TV, but I have to first run to the kitchen, put out the food, get dinner going?

A man can pick up his life at any point and at at any time and just move on. While i have plodded through pregnancy, delivery, post-partum, motherhood and working mom, husband just gets to live the life of a man. Life's unfair. So what's new?

But then, why raise me like a son? Really? Only to be reminded by the people and things around me at the end of the day that I'm after all expected to be just the daughter, and not the daughter-son I was raised to be?

PS: My dad was so busy celebrating his grandson's birthday he even FORGOT to wish me on my birthday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Birthday with great-grandmas, balloons, chaat and a 100 people!

Oooooh and I'm back. I'M BACK I'M BACK.

Haven't blogged in sooo long, I'm itching to say soo much. Aaaaaaaaahaa. I think I had withdrawal symptoms.

Sonny Boy's second year birthday bash finally happened (i never did anything for his first year because i thought he would just bawl his head off). So that's where I was slogging my ass off the whole of last week. First, on his actual birthday, we had both sets of grandparents over for dinner at the apartment and I cooked.

And then we threw a party for all those who were dying for us to throw them a party! After five days. To make matters complicated, we had to host the party on my birthday (yes! my husband lives with two Leos). After Hubby cancelled out the first date (he had to travel on work) after the caterers had been fixed, we had to reschedule, find a new caterer, and get things going all over again. So we couldn't invite people till the food was confirmed! It was going to be a chatpata chaat party. Our guest list numbered 125 (yes, we're bloody ambitious).

That was just the beginning of things going wrong. Asked dad to fix up the shamiana because the party was on my parents' house terrace. He got conned into hiring one that the guys said was water-proof. Hah! The rain gods decided to bless us. It poured at the party. Needless to say, the shamiana leaked.

There they were -- my parents' relatives, hubby's relatives, our common friends, a few colleagues, former classmates, cousins, nieces, nephews, and some of Sonny's friends all standing shoulder to shoulder, huddled up under the sheltered area, clinging on to their food! I spent most of my birthday running up and down the stairs, wiping off wet chairs after it stopped pouring, and passing the cake and sweets around. Phew!

Oh and to put the icing on the cake, the power promptly went off for an hour!! A second batch of guests had to eat in stand-by lighting. Hah! All these days there was no rain and power cuts. But what must be must be. We had to have those two slaps placed propah on our cheeks, together.

If you want to know how NOT to throw a party, ask me. I know now! I mean we settled on a do-it-yourself home thingie after we figured out that hiring a party hall and hosting a dinner was way beyond our budget. BUT, and it's a BIG BUT. There's a point to that pricing. I mean i could have comfortably stood, swathed in silk at the entrance of the hotel hall, lording over the guests, smiling and saying my welcome, and actually chatting with them if I'd gone ahead with Plan A.

But now friends are calling up to say they had fun. That the rain offset the spicy chaat and it was a good excuse for getting into a huddle and gossip. Ok, I'm glad I have nice friends who say that to make me feel better about the fiasco. But I was so miserable that night.

Sonny Boy was the charmer, though. Never once cried, except when his paediatrician turned up to wish him!!! Hahaha that was hilarious. Embarrassing for the doc, though. Sonny just shook hands with everyone, played with balloons, loved his elephant cake, and ate puffed rice straight off the chair (yuck, but i had no time to stop him from doing that). He loved it when everyone sang "Happy Birthday..." . He grabbed up all the gifts with gusto. He even sang for me that morning when I told him it was my birthday too. He was an angel. Touch Wood. For once! He loved the fact that his former nanny came to wish him. He was thrilled with the presence of so many kids. He loved the attention and fussing.

OK, so about 20 people didn't turn up. Not bad considering it was pouring crazy. And we invited everyone pretty late in the day. But it wasn't so bad after all, I thought. Sonny spent the second year's beginning with four great-grandmums (yes, we're a LARGE family), his grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, masks, balloons, buntings, much noise and music, and of course his favourite -- grandpa.

My sanity's now restored, and after a weekend of opening presents (including a gazillion CARS), I'm back, slogging away at the workplace.