Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Sraikh recently posted about the way her boys have plastered their dresser with stickers and wondered whether this made her an indulgent mom. Had I read something like this before I had kids of my own, my answer would have been an unequivocal yes. I have been to many a house where the kids has been allowed to run riot on the walls with crayons and turned my nose up at the 'out-of-control' kids and vowed that I would never let my kids get away with something like this.

When Ayaan decided to first draw on the wall, I lost it. I shouted at him and absolutely forbid him from peppering my walls with his graffiti. Considering that he was bang in the middle of his terrible twos, this was about as effective as telling a dog to stop barking. He chose to express himself on the walls during his nap times and soon the wallpaper behind his bed was a torn, scribbled-over mess. Thankfully, he grew out of this (after much screaming on my part and much more defiance on his part) and we repainted the house and replaced the wallpaper. I also put up a big rectangle of chart paper in his room and he limited himself to doodling on that.

And then about a year ago he discovered a passion for sticking stuff - stickers, his own artwork, stuff he had cut out from magazines, used Post-it notes... maybe it was the pregnancy or maybe I had just matured as a parent, but I decided that it was only fair that he should be allowed some place to express himself. After all, it was his house too and he should be able to put his stamp on it. So I agreed with him that he was allowed to stick on the wardrobe and the door of his room and nowhere else.

So, at any point in the last year, these two pieces of furniture have always been decorated with something or the other. But last week, he decided to really kick it into high gear, with a little help from the maid. Presenting the door to Ayaan's room... or whatever is visible of it, in any case:
I have to admit, I was a little pissed off when I saw this. It's one thing to have four-odd neat rectangles of artwork and some stickers up on the door and quite another to have every inch of it covered with random bits of paper. But he showed it to me with such pride that I didn't have the heart to take him to task for it. Besides, he hadn't broken any rules technically. Moreover, the more I looked at it, the cuter it seemed.

Here are some of the details from his 'door collage':

The letters spelling out his name are my only contribution, stuck on a few months ago. On the top left corner is a picture he cut out of a magazine of snow on some outdoor furniture. He is fascinated by snow and has been asking me when we can go for a holiday to a snowy place. Some day...
In addition to magazines, a lot of his raw material was sourced from his school activity books. Check out the four clippings - each portraying a different stage in the life cycle of a frog...
All the numbers grouped together...
Some brands make their appearance - the circle from the Gems packet and a cutting from his Indigo airlines baggage tag...
From the Lonely Planet magazine; he says he wants to go to this restaurant and eat this food (It's in Goa, I think)...
Lots more from the school activity book
Pretty neat, huh? In the end, I am glad I went with praise over punishment on this one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ephemeral Empathy

Something somewhat scary happened on Tuesday evening. I had stepped out to pick up some groceries and decided to take the kids along. It was just a short walk away and we all needed some fresh air after being cooped up at home all day thanks to the rain. Ayaan was tripping along next to me and Tarana was in a sling.

Having bought the necessary stuff, I walked out of the store and turned half back toward Ayaan and held out my hand for him to hold, in preparation for crossing the road. The next thing I knew I was pitching forward off the pavement and on to the road. I had an instant of deep terror because I was headed for a face-down fall and that would have meant Tarana hitting the road as well. I somehow managed to pull myself back but I fell on my knees instead. Hard. But it felt worse than it was and in spite of torn jeans, badly scraped knees and a few wobbly moments once I managed to stand up, I was able to hobble home. Anyway, I am not complaining. It could have been much worse. Thankfully, Tarana was totally unhurt (thank goodness for the sling because I am not sure I would have been able to keep my grip on her) and there was no oncoming traffic *shudder*

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about Ayaan's reactions to my fall. This is how they went:

Shocked: Mama!!!!!!! (in a loud screech)

Apologetic: I am very, very sorry. Very sorry. (He thought I fell because he didn't take my hand soon enough, so I had to reassure him it wasn't his fault)

Concerned:  Is it paining? Is there blood? Show me.

Preachy: It's because you are carrying so many heavy things. I told you not to carry too many things. (He so did not) Next time, carry lesser things.

Distracted: Mama, see that aeroplane! Mama, can big aeroplanes fly higher than small aeroplanes? What about medium aeroplanes? (I gritted my teeth and politely informed him that I was not up to discussing the intricacies of the the correlation between aircraft size and flight capabilities)

Impervious: Mama, let's have a race. Let's see who reaches the gate first. (My teeth were starting to hurt from all the gritting now and I informed him, much less politely, that any kind of speed was out of the question given the pain in my knees)

All of this happened in the five minutes we took to reach home from the scene of my fall!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Way

My problem with most parenting theories these days is that they don't take one major factor into consideration - the parent! I think you can be the best parent you can be if the parent in you is aligned with the person you are rather than striving towards some parenting ideal spouted by an expert.

What got me started on this was this article on Babble and in particular this video:

The article says: "Fernald and her colleagues found that the children of mothers who spoke more, used different words for the same object, used different types of words, and spoke in longer phrases to their children at eighteen months, not only had larger vocabularies but were faster at processing words at twenty-four months."

Here's the thing. I can't do this. I cannot keep up this kind of constant chatter communication with my kids. That's just not my personality. I can be as talkative as the next person but I need to balance that with periods of solitude and repose to stay sane. So that is how I am with my kids too. If you were to walk into my house randomly, you could find me playing with them and talking to them, but you could just as likely find me sitting next to them while they played independently and reading a book.

The picture above is from when Ayaan was about three but this kind of thing is a pretty common sight even today. This way, he has the reassurance of my physical presence and knows that he just has to speak up when he wants to engage more directly.

With Tarana too, I usually plonk her down next to a basket of toys and let her get on with it. When she needs a cuddle, she crawls over, gets it and then goes back to playing. When she starts fussing out of boredom, I put my book down, talk to her, get her interested in another toy and then get back to my book.

This is what is comfortable for me. If I had to talk to the kids every waking moment, I would be seriously stressed out!

The article above also seems to draw links between the quantum of communication and vocabularies. I am not sure how competitive Ayaan's vocabulary was at twenty four months but both his teachers (from this year and the last) have mentioned to me that he has one of the best vocabularies in the class.

Again this happened because I did what came naturally to me. I am was a voracious reader myself and so I read to him. A LOT. We started reading as soon as he was steady enough to sit in my lap and it continues. We read at least 4 books on a bad day and this can go up to 10 on a really good one. He has a pretty impressive library for a kid his age and a new book causes much excitement.

So, did I have a point? I guess what I want to say, in the immortal words of Frank Sinatra, is this: And more, much more than this; I did it my way

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My Sins Against Gender Stereotype

This tag has been spreading like a virus and the bug has finally bitten me – I have been tagged by CeeKay and Dipali. The tag requires me to list at least ten things that I have wanted or done that my gender is not supposed to do. So without much further ado, here goes:

1. Cooking is not my scene. I grew up with a working mom, who wasn't much of a cook herself and didn't think that cooking was one of the skills that I needed learn just because I was a girl. So, I have never considered cooking to be an important part of being a wife, a mother or a woman. Sure, if there were no other option, I'd cook. But as long as I can afford to delegate it, I will because I simply don't enjoy it. Of course, as luck would have it, my son loves to 'cook with Mama'. So we (the husband's help is also enlisted) either bake a cake or cook something simple like a pasta on the weekend.

2. I love to drive and hate being in the passenger seat of a car. We do employ a driver but he usually ferries Jai around. I drove myself to work and back through most of both my pregnancies and people thought I was mad, especially since we had a driver. I would love to own and drive an SUV but can't justify the environmental impact.

3. I drink alcohol. And I don't just stick to the 'feminine' stuff like cocktails and wine. I enjoy good whiskey and love to quaff the occasional tequila shot. Though I no longer feel the need to prove my 'capacity', I have been known to drink many of my male friends and colleagues under the table.

4. I am not into jewelry. I usually put on a pair of low-maintenance earrings and then don't change them for months. I wear neckpieces only for weddings and special occasions. I still own only two 'sets' of the heavy stuff, the very same ones that I got as a part of my wedding trousseau.

5. A peek into my wardrobe will reveal way more pants, capris and shorts than saris, salwars and skirts. And no more than three handbags at a time.

6. Look at the picture below. Exhibit A shows the correct way for a lady to cross her legs whilst sitting. But if I am wearing pants, I prefer to sit the Exhibit B way because I find it more comfortable. In skirts, of course, I am forced to revert to the ladylike way. Maybe that's why I own more pants than skirts.

7. I can be one of the guys when I want to. I have, on occasion, checked out the hot chicks with my guy friends. I can swear with the best of them. Explicit jokes don't bother me and with the right people, I enjoy them. 

8. My wedding was not the life-defining moment of my life. I did not attempt to lose weight or grow my hair for the occasion. The weddings (we had two, three actually if you count the one in court) were planned almost entirely by our families. I didn't feel any need to input into the venue, the menu, the guest list (other than ensuring that my friends were on it), the decor or the contents of the trousseau. I chose both my wedding outfits from one shop in under an hour. I did not have trial runs for my hair and make-up. Basically, I just went with the flow. 

9. I do not do 'damsel in distress'. I pride myself on being able to take care of myself. I can carry my own bags and open my own doors, thank you very much.

10. I don't own much make-up. I currently have three lipsticks, two lip liners and one eye pencil. I also have a eyeshadow set that I was gifted but have no idea how to use so it is languishing on the dressing table and will soon find its way into the dustbin.

I am also supposed to tag 12 other people but almost everyone I read has either already done the tag or has already been tagged. So I am going to skip that part - blue pants don't sound all that bad :)