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Discipline and the Hapless Parents

My personal three word horror story – “Strong Willed Child”. Boy, is T strong willed or what. It really is a euphemistic phrase since calling your own child names may seem demented. Her will must have been left for a whole extra hour in the foundry during manufacturing. Absolute statesman standard hardening!

Long story short, we have never been able to make T do anything that she has not signed up for on her own accord. Add to that, the sanctimonious positive parenting lectures and then fathom our absolute haplessness.

After many episodes of complete meltdown for baby and us, here are a few approaches we are beta testing:

#Choose the battles: The sharp little thing has grave opinions, on important things like clothes and schedules, that often contradict mine. But mere difference from my personal standard of perfection is no reason to start the war. It has really been our journey of learning to let go on issues that would not shake the earth.

#Give her choices: When the horns are locked, one thing that often helps with T is to give her a choice between ‘our way’ and ‘our way’ – if you know what I mean. It gives her the freedom of making a decision and she often signs up peacefully. Every time she takes this bait, I do an inaudible Scooby Doo whoop!

#Time-outs: Yups, good old fashioned deprivation sometimes helps. The hardest thing here is to decide the timeline and stick to it like we mean business. Any softening of stance from any member of the adult brigade (grandparents cave easy), can literally turn the tables on this one.

#Proverbial Carrots: The promise of a gift is not my favorite move. It feels too close to bribing to be morally acceptable. But then, some might argue that the idea is to make the kid ‘goal-oriented’. Wonder whether politicians put it like that to rationalize.

#Spanking: Yes, we do it. There are times when nothing else is strong enough. It’s either the bum or the palm. And it makes us feel like shit.

To my utter relief, the first three are starting to work on most occasions!

 

 

 

 

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‘Sursuri’ and other Idiosyncrasies…

Baby T has seldom been exposed to the upbringing quintessential to her Punjabi-Bengali lineage. The culture she has been inured to is a freewheeling mélange of topographical and contemporary influences. She speaks English (absorbed from media) and her habits are a manifestation of lazy (often exempted as corporate) parenting.

The two-and-a-half-year old is now literally sponging everything around her. So, when she got to spend considerable time among more proficient Bongs than I, this is what she picked up:

Bhaat-ghum: The Kolkata Siesta has found an ardent fan in T. The idea has influenced her so deeply that she doesn’t even need the ‘Bhaat’ to initiate the process. Give her a bit of heat and a soporific environment and she would doze off to the deepest day-time slumber known to the history of mankind. For some weird reason, she sleeps neither so readily nor so peacefully at night.

Kol-balish: Speaking of sleeping habits, T took to the kol-balish like a Bong to fish.  If you are not a Bong, you probably do not know this critical sleep accessory. It is a bolster, custom made to suit an individual’s height and weight. In fact, I suspect that Nolan’s idea of handling a personalized totem before lunging into deep dreams is heavily inspired by the Bengali Kol-balish. T has always struggled with channelizing her limbic energy during sleep – kicking the hell out of us. The kol-balish has come to a wondrous rescue.

Jol-khabar: Bongs are always munching. We owe our voluptuous, callipygian bodies to the extra work we enforce on our teeth. The obsession spills beyond the customary meals of the day to varied meals in between that keep the gastronomic process ceaseless. These undefined and obscure meals are termed jol-khabar. T’s otherwise lukewarm response to food took a backseat in the face of ‘muri-makha’ and ‘beguni’

Sursuri: I was very confused when early in my marriage, I cozied up to my husband and asked him romantically to give ‘sursuri’ and got nothing in response. I was confident all I lacked was an apt word for the action. But to my utter surprise, despite many demonstrations, what I got was a weird scratching that is not acceptable in the elevated altar of ‘Sursuri’. In fact, according to him, there is no word in Hindi to define this soft, lulling stroking of the skin that can put a rhinoceros to sleep. Appalling! Well, T has taken a fancy to it, which means – “welcome daddy to the world of learning how to give great sursuri”.

Three cheers to Bong idiosyncrasies. Can’t wait to explore T’s innate Punjabi side (besides the expressed love for ‘Doodh’ and ‘Palatha’) as we gear up for our trip to the north of India!

 

 

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An ode to my favorite Bibliophile

I am inordinately proud of my love for reading. I would read anything, even product labels, when nothing meaningful is handy. I harbour avarice towards people with huge libraries. It’s my animal instinct, I really can’t help it.

I belong from a family of moderate to ardent readers. My parents read as much as middle class working parents could, over the years drifting to other media. Older siblings and cousins were great influencers, unwittingly opening doors to the forbidden parts of the ‘printed’ world prematurely. I also happened to pick up like minded friends with literary inclinations.

But if I try to think of one person whose obsession with books made me look at them differently – it has to be Mamoni!

Mamoni

To Mamoni, with Love…

Mamoni is a variant of the word ‘Mother’ in Bengali. As the eldest ‘mother’ to my generation, she earned the title. Mamoni is many things – she is an avid traveller, an elegant lady, a young-at-heart romantic. But if I am asked to close my eyes and think of her, the dominant image is that of a curious mind buried in a book. I can vouch that Mamoni has not spent a day of her learned life without a book in hand. Her infinite curiosity coupled with her surprisingly sharp memory makes her a great substitute for Google. I would not want to face her in a quiz competition!

I have learnt from Mamoni to have a relationship with books – to explore and flirt. To sleep with them! She reads multiple books at the same time, a habit that has gotten engrained in me today. She haunts libraries, book fairs and book stores to mine out the unread. She tears pages from magazines that publish novels in instalments and binds them into a book. I worship all of it!

This is a thank you note to you, Mamoni, for being an aspirational bibliophile. Happy Birthday…

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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 “Have What I Like” plan

I am at home this week caring for my child and largely ‘unhooked’.  I am not working from home or finishing up a presentation while she watches television. At best, I am stealing hours of her naptime to be on my computer. She is unwell and clingy. I am exhausted and terrified of my beefy inbox. But amidst all this, I just discovered that she has started identifying the alphabets. She is singing a couple of rhymes I did not know she knew. She is more fond of Goofy than Donald. And she loves the Airforce planes that fly by my place in the afternoon. Glad to be updated!

We have all heard so many sides of the ‘have it all’ argument – including the one that disses the phrase itself as the problem. When many intelligent and thoughtful people debate on a topic across the globe without agreeing on a way forward, it is vain to try and figure out which side is right. But, I am planning to work on an operative model for self and see if I feel less pressurized. I call it the “Have what you like” model.

A few key elements of the model (Notes to Self):

1. There is no ‘All’. It is like the “Yeti”. Either forget it, or watch a Polar Bear after a few tequilla shots and convince yourself that you saw it. Don’t go too close – they are lethal despite the apparent cuteness.

2. You love your job – keep it. You hate the friggin’ guts of it – dump and run. Whoever told you there was a prize at the end was lying. Nobody has seen the end. Just ensure you will not starve – that could turn out to be the ‘Have nothing’ model, not pretty!

3. Look put together on the days you want to. Wear pajamas to the grocery store when you care two hoots. Nobody is keeping score. Unless you are a Kardashian. Then you will be out of business unless you wear what the producer tells you.

4. No ‘Before-After’ because there are no ‘ever after’s. One second you are not watching and you are ‘Before’ again. How embarassing! Have a threshold instead. An alarm system of sorts – any more/less, correct the situation.

5. Exchange notes all you want. Make a day of it – cozy up with all the notebooks you have picked up and read in solitude. Only, don’t start measuring yourself against each protagonist. There’s a reason someone else’s story is called fiction.

So that’s my ‘smell the roses, slow down, have what you like’ operative plan. A happy Have What you Like to you too!

 

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That Nurse Station Duty..

I bet kids are on a Virus Testing secret service mission of some sort. When I am up at 3am checking baby’s temperature for the five hundredth time, my mind often wanders to possible conversations in Babyverse:Time

This batch here is a total wimp. Maybe a mild cough and snotty mornings. Worth max one sleepless parenting night. This other one, found hidden in my nails, though, is a knock-out, dude. At least a week worth of high temperatures and work from home parenting.”

Regular parenting is no cake walk – there is the feeding and the sleep training. There is potty business and throw up party. But that Nurse Station duty is a straight out killer. It is like the last level in the super-gore video game where all the villains unite forces.

I am not a germaphobe by any stretch of imagination. I feel like I have a live-and-let-live pact with most mildly harmful germs. I am that parent that advises moderate exposure to dirt ‘to strengthen baby’s immunity’. I have mastered the skill of wiping the snot before it is out for public viewing. But, every once in a while, that super batch comes visiting to knock the air out of my smug being.

After three straight sleepless nights, with immediate remediation not in sight, I am at the brink of full stretch OCD approach. I am considering creating a sterile field at home and forbidding entry without a strip search and antibiotic scrub. I am also contemplating home schooling and then a lifetime of counselling to counter the social awkwardness.

While Baby T recovers her health and I, my sanity, do stay safe and germ free!

 

 

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Baby K’s Special Weekend

My daughter Is a person of routine. She religiously follows her day care routine for 5 days of the week. We get feedback from the day care team is that she is friendly, talkative, playful and, in general, an easy child. MY weekend experiences, however, are much more eventful and exciting. Let me generalize a bit and try to jot down a mundane weekend day for all of you!

Mou kUhu

The wake-up call: So my husband and I run around in different directions throughout the week. Sometimes we even meet, for example, when there is an urgent milk scarcity or burnt dinner. So we try to act more like a couple over the weekend. Well, weekend mornings are our “cozy” times. At least used to be till a year back. After waking up a “little” later than usual, well you know, we used to “talk and hold hands”. But these days my tod acts as our alarm. I am very sure she was born with a proximity sensor. She sleeps peacefully through my husband’s snores and our bathroom breaks throughout the night. But if he comes within say one arm distance of me, she wakes up in alarm!

The breakfast: This is a really tricky part. These days she is maintaining a diet, that basically does not comprise of food. She chews on leftovers from the floor, newspapers, toys, and sometimes even her shoes. She bites us whenever she gets a chance, but making her gulp down 5 scoops of cornflakes or a piece of toast takes few hours. so much so, it borders into lunch time!

The time between breakfast and lunch: This is when we make most out of our weekend,: We try to cook our food while she opens my kitchen wardrobe and one by one gets all my utensils. Sometimes she uses them like a stool and sits or stands on them. At other times, she rolls them on the floor. Her favorite being the one where I store my potatoes. Somehow the dusty muddy potatoes are way cuter than colorful balls and she throws them around the house. Of course, I let her, as I need this time to cook our food, load the dishwasher and do a hundred other things.

Oh yes, if time permits I also give her a bath occasionally!

The lunch hour: Actually I generalized here. It is either hours or minutes. I should be honest, there are days she gobbles up food like a garden gnome. Other days you can count how many grains of rice she ate. This is also the time we watch our weekly soaps while she watches her youtube. Well, she watches at most of other times too but this one we can rationalize.

The matinee show: These days since its pretty cold outside we try to finish our outdoor activities by 5 pm. We go out. Either to a park or groceries. Either case she enjoys this part a lot. She loves going out.. so much so she screams at the top of her voice to run around within the bus. Being confined in the stroller is so not-cool for her while helpless passengers remark “ how cute” or “looks like someone is tired” or “is she hungry?”Her father usually tries to maintain the balance by dozing off.

The evenings and nights: These are easier and fun times. After a whole day of household work and helping me… Baby K actually gets tired, eats her food and plays with her toys! She loves house parties and plays the graceful host by playing with whoever comes. However, you may get fooled by her demeanor and construe her to be rude at times specially when she snatches another kid’s chocolate and shrieks at the top of her voice. However, she is generally sad when people leave.

Thus ends our weekend. Generally, the other day is either more household activities or more parties, but the overall routine is same. But after five days of staying away from this shrieking kitten, I enjoy playing mom over the weekends. And secretly it motivates me for my Mondays too. 

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Easter Bunny teaches Grinch a thing or two..

On Easter of 2015, five of my besties from middle school and I pulled off the impossible trip of a lifetime to Goa. It was so phenomenal that Zoya Akhtar could direct a blockbuster movie on us. I am totally available to play me, just saying.

What is even more saccharine sweet is that four of us are moms now to the next gen of high maintenance women folk, aged between one and four years. And some of them met for the first time on this trip.

Kuhu, who had turned one days before the trip, was a bundle of sheer joy. She was almost always smiling, had stranger affinity – if there is such a thing and kept mumbling sweet nothings to anybody who would so much as glance at her.

Kuhu 2

The Easter Bunny: Happiness in Human Form

Baby T, unfortunately, was experiencing the onset of the crazy, Terrible Twos. No matter how many times Toohoo tried to break the proverbial ice, Madam T deflected the warmth and froze a tiny bit more. In T’s defense, it was fiercely hot and T didn’t handle empty stomach as well as our Ninja Baby Wonder did. But, Kuhu was relentless in her effort to keep communicating in Babyland gibberish with the Grinch.

Guards Yo

The Grinch: Guards Up!

Prima facie, Kuhu’s efforts did not have a positive result. T continued to resemble Master Shifu for most part of our trip and barked at anyone who tried to be remotely cute around her.

But when we wrapped up and returned to base, we were amazed at how quickly T gt over her grumpiness. She became amicable, picked up a couple of friends in the play area and started talking almost immediately post that trip.

Many years from now, I would be telling T’s children how the Easter Bunny taught their mommy a few lessons on love and warmth!

 

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Have you met… Kuhu!

There is way too much cuteness out there in Babyverse and we are out to scout. You should not be deprived of all the cuteness that surrounds T and I – so “Have you met Kuhu?”

Kuhu is yet to be two and already rocked two continents. She is strictly against quiet and solitude. Shyness is not her best suite and her smile is her secret weapon.

I think Kuhu is the Dragon Warrior (ref. Kungfu Panda) – she sure can survive on “the dew of a single ginko leaf and the energy of the universe”. She has a hate-hate relationship with food which her hapless mother has now submitted to.

Get to know her guys, this week on Parentrics – we get up close and personal with Toohoo Baby (That’s what T calls her)

Kuhu 1 updated