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I wish I had a son!

Until my teens, the inequity of the genders was a hushed possibility. My parents provided me the same opportunities and resources that they did my brother. I had the freedom to choose the important things in life and make my own opinions. But, the undercurrent simmered, revealed through intermittent, patronizing compliments like “you are sharp for a girl” or more blatant diktats like “don’t sit like a man”.

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I formally read about feminism in my teens and decided that I am going to adopt it as a guiding principle in life. Like all other philosophies, that tend to get elevated to a religion, Feminism is often presented as a caricature of itself. I believe that the gendered nomenclature of the philosophy gets in the way of understanding it well. A ‘Feminist’ need not be a shark in a pant-suit who loathes men and children and rules half the world. She can be, if she so chooses, but she doesn’t have to be, to qualify as a feminist. She shouldn’t be entitled to more because she is a woman – just the same. I am not a feminist who believes in quotas, only in mutual respect. In fact, a feminist can very well be a man, who believes that lives of all kinds matter equally!

Long story short, my husband and I are practicing feminists. We try actively, in every way possible, to provide T with an environment where she grows up having compassion for and feeling equal to other genders, races or communities. And I am proud to say that I know a whole load of couples around me who are exactly the same, trying in every way possible to erase the unfair gap.

And I do wish I had a son. Or have one in the future. I wish this for each one of the Feminists who is out there. I wish that, in time, we are able to replace the likes of Brock Turner and his father with men who have been fostered believing that all lives are equally important.

 

 

 

 

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Parenting hurts.. literally

There are some things about parenting that are left unsaid because the truth might discourage procreation. So, take the ‘red pill’ responsibly, remember no babies = no species and if my blog scares you off parenthood, DO NOT name me on the Day of Judgment.

Parenting is ‘painful’ business and I am discounting my 27 hours of excruciating labor here. You would assume that there is mild to nil danger in co-habiting with a two foot human being. You would be wrong and vulnerable. IMG_20160123_003624

Babies have Toys. Don’t be naive, Toys are weapons. Toy Story is true. Toys come alive when noone’s watching. Only, they are not cute loyalists. They are plotting to KILL you. Plastic dolls, cups, stethoscopes or spanners  might hide under your blanket and break your back when you turn over. Lego blocks are essentially mines and despite being so brightly colored, are surprisingly inconspicuous. And even if you survive all of this, you are bound to want to die of the annoying noises that most toys make.

Also, a gentle reminder that humans are animals who have to be taught to be civilized. Which means, Babies are just wild animals with lesser hair – they bite, pull and punch with amazing force and very little inhibition. They are also adept at the guerilla moves – the worst usually hits when you doze off outside of naptime. Expect to wake up with fingers sticking in your eyeballs and nostrils, once in a while.

There really should be an industry of protective gear for parenting. I am seriously considering it as a line of business. Watch your back, front and sides, parents!

 

 

 

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The many faces of Madame T

This week got me by the throat – literally! I was knocked out cold (hot, actually) by a virus I under-estimated. It slowed down my brain functioning close at the edges of permanent stupidity. But seems like I might have just survived. So, excuse the muddled post.

While we are on the topic of brain function, T is ready to embark on her academic adventure.  Which can only mean one horrifying thing – school interviews.

Baby T seems in control, rattling off poems and songs like a pro. She does struggle with color identification – but we are not aiming at Picasso, given her lineage. She is responsive, playful even, delivering tongue-in-cheek responses that seem outlandish from a two year old. But, and this is a BIG BUT – only to the audience of her liking. She stays masked till she can be absolutely sure of her compatibility with her company. Till she gets comfortable, she could come across as either a snob or a simpleton – neither of which is going to see her through her first interview.

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Please advise on how you prepped your LOs for the first public interview. I am breaking out in cold sweat intermittently – either it is this stress or the fever breaking, I can’t be sure!

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New Moms Alert: This video could save your life!

The first three months of motherhood has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Period. You can of course read about my Year One experience in this light hearted note. But it was actually shit hard – harder than calculus, first time rappling experience and 27 hours of labor put together!

T at month one was a heady mix of baby colic and fabulously strong lungs. I had gotten to a point where I wanted to hang on to daytime with my dear life. But then she would start and so would our never ending attempt to calm her down. If there was any way to go back, I would have wanted to try this swaggy, bum wiggle to test the credibility of this method. But you have a see and give it a little try if you have a cranky, little cuddle monster at home. I seem to agree in principle – a little bum jig does help calm me down when hell breaks loose!

 

 

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’90s Game Classes for T Co.

I was passing by the schoolyard of a local public school for underprivileged children. It seemed like Physical Training hour and the kids were in groups playing varied games. The sight took me back in time before video games were invented and basketball became fashionable. I do not care how archaic it makes me sound, back in the day, we had ourselves and our imagination to play with. And I am absolutely certain that we had more fun.

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hopscotch

Hopscotch was the mother of all time-whilers. Whether you were stuck alone at the spinster aunt’s or had a gang and nowhere to go, kitkit/stapu could see you through. All that was needed was a piece of stone that could etch lines on the floor. For the more entitled millenial, you can buy the hopscotch board here.

With my superior arm strength (yups, there’s a post about it), I wasn’t exactly the house champion in Kho Kho or Kabaddi, but played nonetheless.

Then there were the lesser cousins: Color Man, Kumir Danga (Crocodile Chase), Kana Macchi (Blindfold Hide-n-Seek), Tag, Dog and the Bone, Posham Pa among others. And if you were a no-good, goofball like yours truly, you were tagged the ‘Doodh Bhaat’ (weaklink with the priviledge of infinite game-life benefits). I found this great exhaustive list – be prepared for a nostalgia attack.

I often wonder whether I would have to gatecrash my toddler’s evening soiree and take classes on these games. And whosoever mentions Angry Birds goes straight to my little black book!

What games do you encourage your bubs to play that doesn’t involve spending anything more than your precious time?

 

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Baby to the Movies: Yay or Nay

I feel like I carry the burden of preaching theater etiquettes to the ignorant masses. I always find myself shushing and tut-tutting the delinquents – the mobile freak, the late-coming shadow maker, the ultra-loud popcorn churner and the script narrating know-it all. Once I sneered openly at the ‘Man in Front’ for a full minute before realizing that the sound of the mobile was coming from the movie itself! (I sunk very low in my chair for the rest of the movie)

And now the moment of truth is here. Till date, Baby T hasn’t seen the insides of a movie theater. But, Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ is in town and the dino geek kids have found their voice. Dino’s are so in – they are in the underwear closet as well. I am lusting for no. 4 on this Dino Fashion list for my Dino dose of Winter Fashion. If you know where to get this in India, please let me know.

Anyhow, I digress. The point is the meteor hasn’t hit, the Dinosaurs are still walking the earth, Man-Boy is Dino’s doggy dearest and Baby T is drooling all over this trailer:

The moral dilemma is so intense that I am getting Dino nightmares worse than the ones Jurassic Park gave me when I was ten. The following could happen if I take T:

Scenario 1: She loves Dino, shrieks mildly at the right moments, giggles heartily for the rest of the movie, keeps still on her seat the entire time and comes out cleaning her skirt of the one truant popcorn that had managed to slip.

Ok – I am hallucinating.

The More Likely Scenario 2: She loves Dino, wants to run to the screen and hug him, showers popcorn on the head of the ‘Man in Front’, cowers at the sight and sound of the ‘not so good’ dinos, starts screaming because the sound is loud, unearths chewing gum from under the seat and wants to pee during the climax. It could be much worse, I am trying to be optimistic.

But this is Dino we are talking about – the movie theater is likely to look like a detention class for embarassed parents anyhow. So, should I take a leap of faith and take T to her first movie ever? What do you say? Yay or Nay?

 

 

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Rules of Toddler Club

The first rule of Toddler Club is that you absolutely must talk about it. Recite it, rehearse it, socialize it until all of you know exactly how to engage with toddlers. In fact, there should be schools around the globe about Toddler Rules, ‘cuz the average parent really needs help.

In the absence of those, atleast watch this video for your Toddler 101:

I have added 3 more to the repository to make it the Golden 10.

#8: If something can be broken, IT MUST BE

#9: Whatever is forbidden, MUST BE HAD (ok, that’s universal)

#10: Whatever you are using right now, that MUST BE HANDED OVER

What would you add to the list?

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Bye Bye Baby TV: The Screen Time Dilemma

Recently, I came across Dahl’s 1964 classic ‘Oompa Loompa’ poetry, Television, on a friend’s facebook wall. In quintessential Dahl style, he mixes gore and fairytale to warn us about the idiot box:

“They loll and slop and lounge about, And stare until their eyes pop out. (Last week in someone’s place we saw A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)”

It is uncanny how close to today’s reality his foreboding was. Only that he was basing it all on one screen. At any point in time today, we have at least 3-5 functional screens doing the rounds, in all urban households.

T recognized Baby TV at 3 months, turning her unsteady head towards the screen everytime the familiar concontion of sound and colors came up on the screen. And guess what, it calmed her down bang in the middle of a colic mega-episode. I guess that was the point I said ‘to hell’ with wisdom from the last millenium – I had no way of raising T without screens. It’s my friggin’ babysitter! Go ahead – judge me.

In my lame defense, there ARE restrictions – not more than an hour a day (ok maybe a couple), close supervision of content etc. With Baby TV, I felt safe. Colors, numbers, sounds – it is a cheap playschool really. But one thing led to another and before I knew it, T was rocking 3 different channels on 3 different platforms. And on one of them I discovered a roach character shouting mild profanities at another, in the voice of a popular bollywood star, while beating the hell out of him. Stop, stop, stop – what kind of playschool teaches that?

Now I am wondering when T left Baby TV for the likes of these. While I bid a teary adieu to the safe haven of that channel, please help me with tips to go cold turkey on Baby’s screentime!

Pic Courtesy: Pixabay Free Image Gallery

 

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Kids roaming free in Fine Dines – Yay or Nay

Biggest discovery of the day – Facebook has withdrawn its Poll functionality. Why Mark, why? LOVE Priscilla’s pregger pics, by the way! (What, just in case he reads alright! I don’t want to start on a totally wrong foot). Which meant that I had to use a third party site, http://www.askbypoll.com, for the poll on the subject line topic, which did not serve the purpose all too well.

Anyhow, I will share my personal views with all of you and let you comment with your thoughts.

I have stopped taking Baby T to fine dines. If the place doesn’t coronate all of its patrons or have a takeaway counter, baby stays at home. Which means we are eating out every time Haley’s comet makes an appearance (more money for shoes, so who cares).

But there are those odd days when T is dressed up in fineries and dragged to an elegant sit down. T always makes a coy entrance. She even requests for a baby chair and settles in to check the cushion out. In most cases, her ‘dainty’ is all exhausted even before the steward has said his first hi! The rest of the evening is like a tag team wrestling match. One man is always in the ring and CANNOT leave sight of the goal until he is tagged out of the job by the partner. Conversations revolve around the map of the buffet layout and the quickest way to get the hell out of the place. Obviously, it also involves apologizing to every other diner in the room.

My vote is Nay – it is cruel to ruin the evening for those who worked out devious plans to leave their little monsters at home. Give the guys a break!

I do understand that I am starting to sound like a paedophobe. I would want to reassure you of my undying love for babies. But do you really disagree with my verdict on this? Please do comment on the post with your thoughts.

Update: While the house stands divided, the best comment came from the gorgeous mommy of two princesses, Madhumita Mookherjea. She pointed out that it is not exactly the dream evening for the kiddos as well to be limited to the confinements of a restaurant. I can imagine T going, “Excuse me Sir, can you bring my parents a couple of chairs and straightjacket them on it. Also please serve them a plate of your blandest pasta. I dare them to call this a fine dine after”

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One. Two..Buckle Your Shoe, Fasten your Belt, Bumpy ride ahead…

“That’s my secret, Capt’n.. I am always Angry!”

– Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk)

Ok, so Bruce Banner mouthed the words. I am sure as hell though, that he took inspiration from a two year old in the middle of a meltdown. Euphemisms are moot, so let me say it just the way it is: The Terrible Twos need to be rechristened The Crazy, Mindnumbing, Push you to your Absolute Brink Twos. My doll has always been a strong-willed child. She said decisive “NO”s at 6 months (I have video footage to prove it) and selected her clothes at 18(m). Yet, I hadn’t enrolled for meditation classes for her twos – duh!

 If you are not a parent and are looking for some entertainment, search the web for innumerable examples of toddler tantrums. They seem hilarious if you are not a parent, nowhere near as funny if you are one.

At the moment, Baby T’s resemblence to the Hulk is uncanny! One moment, she is this peaceful, dainty baby girl reciting “Itsy, Bitsy”, not unlike the mild-mannered Dr. Banner. Blink your eyes and she might transform into a hitting, screaming ball of rage – could be because you blinked! Or because she wanted to push an eighty kilo trolley and couldn’t. It could be because the kitten in her book is not pink or because she can’t see her bum. This could happen behind closed doors (when I am very, very lucky), at a party, at a mall, at the swimming pool, the play pen, the airport.. you got the picture. But more often than not, she plays it for an audience, who are either silently judging or openly advising.

I have been advised to chastise her, ignore her, give her more ‘quality’ time. I have cried, begged, screamed back and mirrored my daughter’s mood for a couple of months. And then suddenly one morning last week, I decided to stop the madness.

 This is an ACTUAL developmental phase, no matter how closely it resembles a disorder. There is no parenting hack that is going to make her BEHAVE. So while I continue to guide her calmly on what is out of bounds, I am focusing hard on not losing IT. The hun bun’s growing a big, fat personality – call it the psychological teething phase if you will. She needs space, consideration and a lot of love. So be it…

And the real bonus, I think MY personality is also adding a couple of chapters on patience and maturity. Just what the doc ordered!