Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wading through the floor. Pick me up

This is what Sonny Boy always does.
The floor is so inviting, being bare of any furniture, I guess it's tempting.
He drags his red toy bin, upturns it and empties all the toys in them on the floor in one go.

At grandpa's he'll always put back his toys in their place, because there he has a cupboard and he feels proud "arranging" it. But here, Yeww, he has to dump them in a passe. So most of the times, he won't.

This photo was taken about two nights ago. I suddenly looked around at 11 p.m. Sonny was asleep. In one part of the hall was this sight.  In another, it was pieces of two jigsaw puzzles strewn. As i walked into Hubby's room, more of Sonny's story books, sketch pens, and sheets of paper lay scattered. After a good look, I just gave up and went to sleep.

But I have to get up and put it all in place first thing in the morning, before maid decides to sweep and mop it all up in disgust!!!!

I shouldn't be complaining because it's the best exercise I get first thing in the morning. Bend and stretch and pick and toss. Now, bend again,...yes, there... and back!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Travelling mom. Baby at home: any tips?

Girls, ladies, friends and mommy bloggers
Lend me your ears, and then your suggestions.

I need to travel next weekend on work. I was jolly excited, thinking a weekend off on the bahana of work was going to be great. Turns out I'll be away three nights and almost four days. Now that's long. And guilt is slowly gnawing into me.

The only time Sonny Boy has been away from me was the last time i travelled on work -- it was 24 hours, one noon to the next. Turned out decent. Grandpa and dad kept him adequately occupied. And I wasn't too far off. Could have driven back if the situation was out-of-control.

While I'm celebrating the business-and-pleasure trip, I can't help but worry about how the little fellow will manage... of course he'll be staying with his grandparents and father. Yet, my ego would like me to believe he can't really be happy without me :-) And I'm getting paranoid (like any mom does) wondering "What if..." This time round, there's no playschool on those days either. I'm worrying for my parents too. They might just get too exhausted. Ugh!

Last time around, I had told him I'm going to be away and that he'll have to sleep with grandpa and all that jazz. He did well, asking for me only in the morning while getting ready for playschool.

So now I'm asking any experienced working mom (or non-working) who's left baby behind for this kind of time when kid is aged two. PLEASE only tell me of positive experiences. And tell me if there are any tactics to keep his mind off me. I should be kind of preparing him, telling him I'll be away and all that right?
Just reassure me that he'll not even think of me coz he'll be busy playing or something.
Pleaaaaaaase, pretty please.

I'm a bit confused. Everyone I speak to asks in shock "You're leaving your baby and going?" I mean, I can't take him to the office overseas conference! And this time I can't rush back in a jiffy. I can speak for some time over the phone every day. Ooooh it's all sounding so bad now, now that I've put it down in print. Feeling like bad chee-chee mamma.

I will really appreciate help. Anyone who writes in gets virtual hugs, kisses and tons of thankful prayers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Morning SCARE: Red nasty rashes

Sonny Boy's mastered it all right. How to scare Mummy. Specially on Monday morning.

Woke up to Sonny scratching himself silly on his neck. And what's that? About 20 red rashes behind his ear. Ugh. Applied calamine. Some soothing. But largely no improvement.

Call. Get appointment with doctor. Not a pleasant or easy thing on a Monday morning - any parent will vouch for that. It's the day all sick kids are clustered around the doctor and you begin to believe all people did over the weekend was fall ill.

After Sonny's chicken pox scare, I didn't want to take any chances. First thought, in fact, was : can one have a relapse of  pox???

Doc coolly said it was an allergic reaction to mosquito bites! LIKE THAT??? I kept asking him.
Like the kind that can scare the hell out of you.

So we're back to antihistamine syrup and a cream. Looks like kids live off medication the first few years of their lives.

SO BE WARNED: Apparently these kinds of allergic reactions to mosquito bites happen among toddlers specially in winter/rainy months.

Been asked to keep Sonny indoors at mosquito parade time: how's that possible?
We use the plug-in repellent, keep windows closed most of the time, and he's mostly in jammies and full-sleeve Tees because he catches a cold easily.

How much more careful can i be? I've been asked to apply mosquito repellent cream if i'm taking him out in the evening! What torture for the child. Is it even safe to use frequently? Doc, of course, says yes. I have my own doubts.

God, why is it so difficult to get by a few days with no complications related to your child's health?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend wake up call: rewired bio-clock

I know kids do the wierdest of things. But Sonny Boy stumps me. Or may be I'm just an impossible, hopeless optimist.

Today being a Saturday morning, I thought I would take it a little easy. Hubby doesn't work, Sonny doesn't have playschool and I can get into work late. A little OT on the sleep front would have been good.

But Sonny just KNOWS he has no playschool. His body alarm was set last night when he realised it's a weekend, i guess. (How did he know? Maybe I should cheat next Friday and tell him he has to go to playschool tomotrrow). Anyway, today, he was up a good 40 minutes before the usual wakey time! Waah. And immediately wanted to do potty.

If there's anything I hate more, it's to open my eyes and go fetch his potty. And surprisingly, nothing is more delightful than to have him done with his pooping first thing in the morning, specially before playschool. I think it's a good habit. "Going" first thing in the morning.

Just that it's frustrating because it doesn't happen regularly. Very often he's ready to "go" only after he's all dressed and ready to step out for playschool, shoes, socks n all. AND frustrating because he's the kind of toddler that poops several times a day.

I had been warned that boys are very different with their poop routines and frequencies than girls, but I had brushed it all aside as gender-biased talk. But damn! The grandmothers are always right. Boys do poop very often -- at least Sonny is out to prove that theory.

Or it was the other extreme for a few months where he would not go for many days.

Both situations can be equally frustrating. And to beat it all, I have my grandmother constantly admonishing me for cribbing so much about Sonny's Poop Policy. "He's just a kid. Kids do a lot of kakka, it's good," she'll shake her head and say.

And so it was that Saturday morning shone bright and early. On pre-school going days, I've to shake him up and wake him, cuddle him, mollify him, listen to him answer bleary eyed that "sleep's not over yet". Ya he says that!

Soon after poop time, it was puzzle time! Yay yay yipeee! He wouldn't let me sleep after cleaning up. His logic: "I'm done with sleep!" Hah!

Oh to be a child again, and on the other side of the fence.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Strategies to avoid sleep: A two-year-old's tactics

1. Pull out a set of puzzles and scatter them quickly on the floor. Then look distraught that all the pieces are...oh-my-god mixed up! Whaaaaa "Mummy let's seperate them!"
2. Oh my God it's time for bed? Lemme think...ummm "Mummy, kakka!" Mummy runs, gets potty. Sonny Boy spends at least 20 minutes saying "It's coming it's still coming..." and while we wait for the poop to arrive, we sing rhymes. In teh bathroom, it's the perfect time to play with water. Get clothes wet. It take mummy more minutes to change clothes then.
3. "Mummy keep the milk coupon." Then run away to the kitchen and run into the apartment foyer as soon as door is opened to keep milk bag with coupon.
4. "Daddy let's play dash-dash". Daddy is of course pleased son's asking him to play with him. He will play.
5. "I want to listen to music...."
6. "Let's read a story"
7. If the room lights are switched off, "We'll go out...daddy's watching TV!"
8. Once we get past all this and the lights are finally out, and he's in bed, "Mummy I want water." Better still, "Mummy I want warm water...I'll come with you to the kitchen."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Festival = food, festival = nostalgia

I swear I wait for festivals to come around mostly for the food it brings with it.

I'm so outright lazy I'll never really cook any of it on my own. But honestly, I don't see the need to, because there are so many generous people around me, piling on the gorgeous fried and sweet food, while I pile on the kilos.

And the first generous person who'll pamper me is mom. Who always invites us over for every festival in her own bastion. Again, I'm not complaining, because I get to enjoy so much food. And don't have to slog in the kitchen for it.

What i do miss, though, sometimes, is the nostagia attached to the process of making it. I still remember learning from my grandmother how to "seal" a kadubu or a modaka for Ganesha. Roll out the little ball of wheat-flour dough, pat on a bit of hoorna somewhat towards offcentre, carefully lift up one edge and pull one half of the dough over to the other edge. Seal the edge with a few dabs of water and then the tricky bit -- what my grandma called "murige haakodu" or literally pleating the edges. The dough had to be gently pinched and twists, and patted down and the whole process repeated all over the moon-shaped kadubu, each pleat folding into the next. It's quite crucial because if it's not sealed right, it breaks open and the hoorna remains uncooked. Over the years, i dare say i became an expert of this process. Provided my mom made the hoorna!! (Ya, ya laugh in my face.)

We usually steam it and not fry (the more popular variety). I used to take great pride in being given the responsibility to make these two dishes for the naivedya for Ganesha. I just don't know why, but this year, we didn't make it. It never struck me till last night and I haven't yet asked my mum "why?"

While I myself don't really cook festive specials, I still feel terrible when I don't get the homemade staples. It's rather rude and demanding of me, yes, but that's what they've made me used to ;-)

Another dish I miss at festivals now is the bhajji. On most festive occasions, we would fry bhajjis -- either potato, or heerekai (ridge gourd). We slowly stopped that saying fried food is not good for health; it's too tedious; there's so much other food anyway. Then slowly, after granny died we started outsourcing other festive food too. We would place orders and have them door delivered to save my mum the trouble.

I still have cousins who'll do the entire retinue of dishes for each festival without fail, and  feel terrible that i never got around to learning them. Still, I'm not exactly motivated to learn either. So i admire all those women/girls/moms who handle all other responsibilities and this too with aplomb.

Ganesha Chaturthi is also when i remember my dear neighbour who used to walk with her head bent the whole evening because then she would surely see the moon. It's a time to stop and wonder why no group of young kids come to "see" the Ganesha in your house, count them, say they are going to see at least 101, take prasada and go. This year, no one came to collect donation for putting up a Ganesha in any neighbouring street either. It's sad. This year, I didn't go to any of my relatives places either to see their Ganesha. I'm as much a part of the changing tide as the others are.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fatherhood V/s Motherhood - The balance always tilts

Warning: This post is long. I'm feeling angsty and I've cried last night.

Just yesterday, I read this article (I've linked to it from Slate magazine - do read the dad's account) that I found on Technorati and was just feeling so good and miserable in turns. Good, that here are dads in Sweden who have the privilege of a year-and-half off on paternity leave (with pay) while my workplace even grudged me six months of maternity leave.

When I was pregnant, I surfed the Net and read of how countries like France, UK have a great cushioning system for women who have babies -- benefits, long paid leave, money, and post-delivery recovery therapy and all that jazz -- I was envious. I was at that time haggling with office and negotiating how long I get to take off. Without getting fired.

And then there was the husband, whose company gave him two weeks of paternity leave. I was overjoyed. From what I knew, most workplaces in India don't have a paternity leave policy. Two weeks it would be, I decided -- good for him to get to know the reality of raising the teeny-weeny baby. Hah! He was back in office after 10 days, saying "I have some important work". And once he went back to work, he couldn't stay nights with me (I was at mom's) because if he couldn't sleep at night, he couldn't work in the morning.

Hah! (Ya one more big hah!) Because even if I was up most of the night feeding the brat and trying to lull his bawling, I had to be up in the morning doing the same. And my mum couldn't particularly help in the matter. And poor groggy eyed dad would take over in the wee hours of the morning, holding the wide awake Sonny Boy. Days went by as if my sole purpose in life was to feed; "cow duty" as my friend tacitly put it.

So there I was, handling the waily Sonny Boy all by myself through the night (he wouldn't sleep more than 1.5 hours at a stretch; and he would BF for 1.5 hours when he would wake up!!!) The few times during the day when he would sleep for more than two hours at a stretch, I would use to bathe, eat, watch a few minutes of TV and just as I would think, "I'll catch a few winks", Sonny was up and bawling again.

So I cursed and cursed and cursed husband dear. And generally anybody (visitors and relatives) who asked me in the morning "Did he sleep well last night? Did he let you sleep?" They seemed most sadistic, these people.

Anyway, I'm digressing.

The point is, after I read this article yesterday, I went to my mom's place last evening. Husband said "Let's wind up here fast and go home early. I have some work." (On the way back from work we pick up Sonny from Mom's). As soon as we arrived, Husband, as usual, settled himself on the sofa, watching TV. Sonny boy welcomed me with a session of potty. I washed him, washed potty, got his clothes on (it's an exercise in futility as he hates wearing his clothes back on after potty).

I had to pack up his stuff for next day's playschool (it all comes to mom's from the school but he leaves home from our apartment in the morn, so logistics, logistics.)

All this while, Husband continued watching TV. Now, if I ask him to do this or that, I'm the nag. If I don't ask him to do this or that he won't do it because he says "You should tell me and I'll do it. I cant know on my own what to do"!!! So when he motioned to the clock in between all this to indicate that we were late, I lost it.

I blew up like a big bad volcano and told him that if he doesn't get off his ass to wash his son's bum, or even pack his son's shoes and bag, how the eff were we going to go on time? Of course he was offended. What is it they say? Offence is the best form of defence.

How come, I have to, despite having almost equally long house of work, come back home and on some sort of remote control mode go about the packing, going home, heating food, feeding business, while it doesn't occur to him he can very well do the same? What reaction would I have got if I had just sat down with a magazine to unwind, instead of doing all that I did?

And I went home and wept like silly. All the while thinking of dads in Sweden who pack lunches, take the kids to park, take them in the stroller play with them -- all on their own and all consistently for months together. This doing things voluntarily and consistently, from the heart for your own child is not my man's thing, I'm beginning to believe. (Moreover I had also read a blog by this Indian dad blogger Naveen Bachwani who seems so clued into his fatherhood mode and has even converted his blog into a book! So it only rubbed in the salt deeper into my wounds.)

I'm not wanting to bracket all men together, but the Indian male psyche is tuned to an approach towards fatherhood, where they think what they should really do is thump their chest and show off their son to all and sundry. Or offer to watch the child a day (when he already has a holiday) so wife can spend some "me" time or girl time with friends, and then go around bragging about it. Or use it in every argument in future about "helping raise the baby", saying "Don't i stay with him on saturdays?" or some such. Again, I'm putting my disclaimer here. Not all Indian men may be like that.

Just my luck that I'm stuck with one. And all the "nice" dads i see happen to be friends' husbands.

Ok after all this rambling and venting all I'm trying to say is look at the difference -- in approach to fatherhood. Look at the kind of different role expectations men seem to have of "us" and "them". At the end, both of us together are supposed to be "parents" isn't it? But why then, this sort of dramatic imbalance in roles?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Just how how the world do kids know

1. When to trouble mummy -- when she's already troubled most
2. When mummy will give in to the most unreasonable of demands easily
3. That all things unhealthy taste wonderful and one must be open to such foods always, even if you know     how to clam your mouth tight when you see vegetables.
4. When you've changed the diwan sheets because the guests are coming, so they should spill something on it to leave a mark
5. What exactly to say after they've behaved badly to make mummy's heart melt into one gooey motherly mess
6. How to promise that they'll never do something again, only to repeat it within minutes, and still get away with it?
7. That they'll get the toy they want in the shop by saying just the right dialogue with the perfect expression.
8. That mummy is not really sleeping but pretending to, so that THEY sleep fast, and we can go and sneak off to do other things?
9. That the "uncle" and "aunty" on TV are doing "something" that requires them to look up from whatever they are doing and change their tone of talk instantly?
10. That the best way to stop mummy from feeding them any food is to either threaten to vomit, or actually vomit some? But never feel that way when just seconds later, they see chips?
11. That when you want some things badly you'll surely get it from daddy or grandpa when mummy won't give in
12. How to switch off the TV or change channels even before they learn to say they're going to pee
13. That when you say "You can't have this", you don't really mean it
14. Where to find the dust and dirt in your house and put their fingers in it when you think everything's clean
15. That certain antics of their, however often repeated, will make you smile, however terrible a mood you are in
16. Bad words from good, and the impact of negative words on you
17. How to be single minded in the pursuit of anything -- be it an ant or a game of cricket they want -- NOW
18. how to say something is "cute" even before they know what the hell it means
19. what intonations an variations in pitch to use when they are saying certain things even when they are struggling to pronounce most of it?
20. That they can delay going to a place they don't want to go to by saying "potty" just as you are all dressed up and ready to step out.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hallelujah and hooray -- a no-howl haircut

I did a little gig today sitting at the neighbourhood beauty parlour. Sonny Boy had his hair cut without much protest. Yipeee! I'm finally there. Now THIS is a milestone in my toddler's development.

All you moms whose kids just sat quiet at the first cut, congrats, you lucky bums!

But I had to wait these live long two years for him to understand that the lady with the smile and scissors wasn't going to cut off his ears or head. I couldn't figure out what his problem was at all. I don't think he could figure out what his problem was with having his hair cut. Except, that he didn't want it cut at all.

As it is, I take him to the parlour so rarely -- i wait till the hair grows into his ears and i can put little pigtails on his sideburns and a million other pigtails on his head. Not that he'll allow a rubberband anywhere near him. That's just how I measure my life -- in rubberbands, and not in coffee spoons.

I dreaded going to the parlour  because I felt like some Sumo wrestler. The sweet aunty at my parlour who consented to do the cut was always cheerful. But I pitied her because she was always so worried she would nick or cut him. And she always felt bad because he looked like a little red tomato, mid-cut, from all his protests and howling, with tears streaming down the face mixed with a sprinkling of hair.

The first time round, when i sat with him on my lap, he so freaked out and kicked and trashed about, five aunties at the parlour had to hold on to him. (I didn't have the guts to cut his hair at home. I tried showing him another kid who was getting his hair cut....but nothing really prepared him for his first.) I always take him at non rush-hour times (on week days) when there's no other customer around who'll be petrified at the sight or will perhaps, chide me for being bad mom, or him for being a bad boy.

With each cut, the strength with which he protested and the extent to which he protested came down gradually.
Even this morning, as I prepared him, he started whining and then quickly did his "I don't want a haircut" bawl. He even made a last-ditch attempt to tide over the situation by promising me he'll have his hair cut with grandpa. (Knowing how soft grandpa feels when he sees him cry, they'll probably run out of the men's salon even before the cut). Which is why he wanted top go with grandpa!!

After he was tucked into the little cape, he cried for a minute and then suddenly said "It doesn't hurt!" in such shock and surprise. Gawwwd it took him so many cuts to realise no one was killing him.

But honestly, was just thinking, how it must appear to the tiny li'l tot -- this whole unnecessary exercise of cutting hair -- with these large people looming over him, smiling and grinning, holding things he's forbidden from touching. Must be instilling some strange fears in them. Poor things.

But we've done it today. Hoooraaaay and yipeeeeee. Hopefully, he'll continue his "good boy" and "big boy" act at the next salon appointment too. Maybe next time, grandpa can take him to the men's salon.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Things fall apart, the centre does not hold

Or should I say the mind falls apart, the body does not hold

I'm in a blur today
Life is a blur today
My head is throbbing like I have a hangover. But I don't.
I've just been randomly swimming through the day, zombie-eyes, zombie-faced and zombie-minded.

All because of one dose of strong antihistamine last night.
My allergic rhinitis was triggered off so bad last night, I'm still aching from the 50 odd sneezes that I did sneeze in a span of three hourst.
As a last resort, took an antihistamine and it kicked in after an hour and oh boy is my head bobbing today. My neck feels like I've been carrying a plough on it for ages. My eyes need matchsticks (Tom N Jerry style) to keep them open and me awake.

I don't know what I'm writing, but I feel like writing, because I want to write it all off my head, and not go back home with more swimming floating thoughts.

I know I'll be ok by tomorrow but it's so horrible to not have your wits around you to tackle simple tasks in a day. I hate it.

Why are we expected to function to full capacity everyday? Day after day? How come it's on bad days like this that you have enough work to last you three days but a deadline that says "now"? I could use lots of cheering up but so could everyone else at work I suppose. We are all so trapped at our terminals and wallowing in our own miserable sorrowful lives.

Eeeks I sound depressed...maybe I am. Maybe I'm not. Maybe just disoriented. Tired. Sleepy. Needing rest. Needing a break.

Uff this kind of writing is triggering off memories of college and a lecturer who taught us writing by "free association". I think that's what I'm doing today, now. Writing reams and reams of whatever is coming to my head....not good, not good when it's all so negative and i-don't-know-what. Does anyone else have such days or am I the only loser?

Ok time to sign off...whatever!