Tag Archives: kids

Summer And What’s In Store

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Summer is here. The kids are excited – no school, no discipline, unsupervised What’s App messaging, Mine Craft, sleeping late, biking in the park, going to grandma’s house and a potential holiday (I have yet to decide where we are going, and it’s turning out to be another stress point).

Needless to say, I look at it a wee bit differently – life is all about perspective. For me, summer is about power outages (living where we are there’s an electricity crunch in the summer) and long days at work interrupted by phone calls from the children every 15 minutes- where I have to answer urgent questions about which friend is coming over; what are the timelines on swimming; are the violin classes still on (the affirmation of which leads to much talk about life’s unfairness) inquiries about dinner; permissions to eat ice cream, and of course, endless phone calls about who fought with whom and why. No doubt, I will find myself stepping away from my desk to listen sundry requests or sort out the ownership of pens,books, diaries, broken pieces of plastic which acquire sudden, if short-lived, importance – or any such other bone of contention between the girls. So, yes, summer is not quite the same for me, as it is for my kids.

Like I said, life is about perspective.

Is there anything I look forward to, you could ask? Yes, there is – mangoes, which, despite the calories remains the sole bright spark in a long and hot summer. I look forward to the post-dinner indulgence (damn the sugar content) where, after a long day, all I want is to watch mindless TV (Modern Family reruns are my current favourite) and eat my mangoes.  I know, sad, but parenting is about accepting life as it is, and taking pleasures in the basics of life – like being able to watch a film uninterrupted (has not happened in 11 years), or going to the bathroom without someone pounding on your door amid wails of despair (happens more often than I can count) and, eating mangoes without worrying about the inched being added to your waist (till you can’t fit into your jeans and you seriously start to contemplate the no-carb diet).

Anyway, coming  back to the point of summer vacations – I was asked by a friend the other day, on how I intended on keeping the children busy – because, you know, if they are at home and directionless, then that has ripple effects on the parents’ (read moms’) lives. I know that, but somehow I find it hard to pack them off into classes just to keep them busy ( my husband thinks otherwise – he’s more practical, plus if they get me mad, then the ripple reaches him rather quickly, so he’s from the, free-play-is-all-very-well-but-real-life-is-different school of thought)

For me, I know it’s a bit utopian scenario, but I believe that the kids should be allowed the freedom to do anything they want – while getting a bit of work in as well. Like, I still want to believe, that during the summer vacations, the children can divide their days into the work and play without being pushed into a routine (my husband thinks I am dreaming). If they are a little bit organized, they can do both. I know, if wishes were horse..

I’ll probably regret this at some point, but I am going to pass on the classes. I think it’s quite alright if my daughters can’t bake like chefs, act like superstars or write like J.K. Rowling. Besides, these classes cost the moon, so I have ideological objections to throwing bucket fulls of money at the problem.

I am not sure what the summer will bring – I haven’t planned it, so it’s going to be a bit of a wild ride.I know there will be days when I will wonder what I was thinking, but I shall deal with those as they come.

Also, there will always be the mangoes..

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Mother’s Day – How It Turned Out..

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I tend to be cranky (yes, I know, it’s an understatement). I said yesterday that I don’t care much about Mother’s Day – and while that primary ideology remains the same (because I have have ideological issues with it more than anything else) I want to add that getting cards and thoughtful gifts from the kids was, well a bit awww..

They rushed to the mall with the husband – they each knew exactly what they wanted to get me. One of the gifts is shown below (shes’ wearing the other half)

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They made cards, which I always love, because it’s something they do from their heart.
I keep all of them, every little scrap, don’t ask me why, I just do.

Here’s a poem one of my seven-year-old twins wrote:

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As for good behaviour, which was my main ask, well I am not so sure that’s a realistic expectation. Having said that, what I do want is for them to understand that a mother needs peace off and on – and that when she says something eighteen million times, maybe she means it! (eg, go for a bath – without kidding, I say this to each kid six times in a day – multiply that by 3 and all they’ve done is gone for a bath!)

I know, I know, this is not unusual by any means – but it’s tiring nevertheless. I guess motherhood like that -you feel the angst, the frustration and the love, all mixed together and bubbling in the same cauldron. That’s what I feel – a mix of many, many emotions – of love, anger and guilt (usually in that order).

Now it’s Sunday evening and many bumps remain till we reach bedtime – they’ve been making cards all weekend, so any guesses where they are on their homework? Yup, there’ll be gnashing of teeth, apologies and promises. Fun times begin (Mother’s Day is all but over).

 

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So, About This Mother’s Day..

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My kids are busy making mother’s day cards. There’s a surreptitious air to their transparent activities (yes,mommy knows everything – besides they’ve been bent over quilling strips trying to make paper flowers and asking me random questions about my preference in colour of ear rings!) I know, awww..

So, it’s nice, to see them excited. And I am playing my part – looking deliberately obtuse as they make cards under my nose, hiding them with books and sundry things while getting taken in by my apparent aloofness (no doubt I will have to express amazement tomorrow on how I had absolutely no idea they were up to this).
But, that’s really about it. I don’t much believe in mother’s day. I think it’s being thrust upon us – it’s a bit like what De Beers did with diamonds – made it synonymous with love and weddings. I don’t buy it.

So, a few days ago, I told my kids that I didn’t want any gifts, I wanted good behaviour and obedience. They seemed crestfallen – much easier to make cards and go to the mall with dad (and way more fun too). Now I had gone and ruined it, and asked for what clearly could not be bought and was no fun, to put it mildly. Plus, my demand seemed unfair – because for that we’d need a Mother’s Year, since it would extend beyond Sunday. For them, mother’s day is about gifts and cards which tell mommy how much she is loved and appreciated. It’s not, however, about a behavioral change, which falls clearly in the, now-that’s-asking-for-a-bit-much domain.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt about the fact that my kids love me. My objection is about telling the kids world over that’s here’s a day you must make special for your mom and tell her you love her. What’s wrong with that, you could ask? Read on..

First, why a day? Who decided this? Why not a week, a month, a year? Also, to me the whole idea is a bit skewed – because a mom does not need a day, even if we were to assume that’s really going to make her feel loved – she needs to be understood and helped along the way – everyday! Lovely as it is, she does not need special treatment one day and return to being monster mom the next. She has her birthday for that.

Second, it leads to pressure on children – to find ways of expressing love on a particular preset day – it’s clinical if you ask me. And forced. Like this weekend, there’s a lot of homework and this is adding to it. So guess what’s going to happen on Sunday night, when the reality of Monday morning will be looming large on the household? Mommy will have to step in to firefight! (counterproductive Mother’s day if you ask me!)

So, here’s what I really want.

I want cards from my kids (I save all of them – even scraps they write sorry on). But I want them on days when I least expect them – when I am feeling the strains of life, when I am feeling overwhelmed with all that I need to do, when I am missing my dad I lost recently, when I am feeling premenstrual, when I want to sit and cry – for reasons I cannot fathom, when I want to turn back time and take that job I refused, when I wake up and want to go back to sleep again..those are the times when a card will cheer me up and make me feel loved.

Tomorrow I expect the cards and the show of love – but I need those for rainy days.

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Be Careful What You Tell Little Kids Through Toys

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I don’t much believe in women’s day – don’t ask, it’s a long argument – but suffice it is to say that for me, the fact that we need a woman’s day is unfortunate – will rant about this on another post soon.

However, there is one thing I do like about all this hullabaloo around Women’s day – the fact that there are these great stories that come out of every corner of the internet, and I make my girls read them – to drive home the point that they are no different from boys (they know that, but I feel the need to reinforce it in the face of so much inequality that women face today)

One such example of a story I read was about Lego – the toy company – making female NASA pioneers as Lego figures. I think it’s a brilliant idea and, refreshingly, moved away from the gender stereotyping the company has done in the past (Lego girls is pink with beach and salon stuff the boys one is blue with all the “boy stuff” to make – you know the typical). In my opinion, the company has redeemed itself a little bit.

This is what toy companies need to do – to make gender neutral toys (hear that Kinder?). Children have impressionable minds, and the toys they play with – or the ones people gift them – tell them something about who they are supposed to be. Sure, that’s not how it should be, but that’s exactly how it is – when you give a girl a kitchen set to play with, you’re telling her that this is what she’ll enjoy, because that’s really what should come naturally to her. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with girls playing with these. The problem happens when that is all they play with – the “girlie stuff” – that’s giving them a message, even if unintended. Anyway, I think I’ve made my point (and I’ve said it before – you can read more about it if you like)

So, back to Lego’s NASA women – it’s a great idea. And, I cannot believe I am saying this. Why? Because I have hated Lego Friends – it’s all that women stand against today and I look at it as exploitation for mercenary gain. But, this is more of  give-the-devil-the-due kin fog thing. Like I said, they’ve redeemed themselves a little – even if it is an overt way to compensate for their other follies.

The next time you want to gift a Lego, go for the NASA one – for both girls and boys. It’s equally important for boys to grow up believing that women are equal to men – in every possible way. They too need to question the inequality and help break it. So, if you have a son – go ahead and gift him a Lego female NASA pioneer set.

 

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The Appalling Attitude Towards Male and Female Birth Control

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So let me see if I understand this right. A male contraceptive trial was conducted on some 350 men as part of a study that would’ve paved the way (could’ve, would’ve who knows?) for men to share the responsibility for birth control. And even though the results looked promising – the combination of hormones was found to be nearly 96% effective – the study was brought to a screeching halt. Hmm. What on earth am I missing?

Turns out, not much. Except, of course, that this is men we’re talking about.

There were side effects – particularly depression and other mood disorders – in some men. That can be hard, sure, but was that rare or reported in too many men? Not to both.

So now let’s see what the side effects of the pill, or other forms of birth control which women have been taking for years, are. Let’s see..headaches, nausea, weight gain, menstrual cramps, yeast infections, acne, mood swings, vaginal-tissue irritation, vomiting, migraines and decreased libido, to name a few. And oh – ovarian cysts, depression and heavy menstrual bleeding.

And women have been going through this for years. A bit of history. In the 1950s a trial was carried out for the female hormonal contraceptive (the predecessor of the one used today) in Puerto Rico The doctor in charge of the trial recommended against its use. But, guess what? a U.S. pharmaceutical company released the same formulation anyway.

Wait there’s more.

As this article tells us – the same group of doctors that studied the female pill also considered one for men, but decided against it. Why? Because of the supposed side effects (testicle shrinkage being one) . Also, they believed women would be able to take the side effects better than men!

Not much seems to have changed in the past sixty odd years. The male contraceptive study has, once again, been abandoned as women, the uhm, weaker-sex, are stronger to tolerate the side effects.

And now, after years of women complaining, a recent Danish study found a correlation between the use of hormonal birth control and being diagnosed with clinical depression. Not that this is news to women.

So, to state the obvious here, it’s unfortunate, yet again to know what an unequal world it still is –  men must have an equal responsibility towards birth control, but they don’t. Far, far from it.

And the one chance we had of getting there just got snuffed out.

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A Day In The Life Of A Working Mom

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6:00 am: Wake up, wash face, wear running clothes, take a deep breath. Start getting the kids ready, with the help of the maid (may the lord bless her).

6:30 am: Twins have finished their milk. General ablutions are in due process. But older one needs to be woken up – didn’t sleep on time at night (don’t ask). Gently goad her out of bed, while remembering the resolution to be more calm and patient. She stirs and falls back to sleep. Count to ten, while holding back on the lecture on the merits of sleeping on time.

6:40 am: Try not to burst a nerve as two of the three remain ensconced on the pot with books.

6:41 am: Husband enters after Yoga.  Asks me to chant “serenity now”. I give him the look. He smiles, gives me the what-else-can-you-do look in return. He’s charming even at this hour. I don’t tell him that, of course – there are three kids to get out the house by 7:10.

6:43 am: One twin bathed – comb her hair, as she protests, while husband feeds her fried egg (mama can’t feed, it’s a fine art only dad knows best. Mama only too happy not to learn the art. Is willing to give up others, for the record). Other twin out. Repeat combing and feeding process. She too has strong objections to the manner in which the combing is carried out. She curls up her nose and declares that it hurts. Refuses to eat more till the problem is resolved.

6:44 am: Give her the hair brush and exit the room. Dad can deal with this on his own. Check on the older one. She’s still on the pot. Needs two more minutes. We don’t have two more minutes, I tell her. She sighs, rolls her eyes. I give her one more minute by the clock and leave with my signature, don’t-make-me-come-in-there look.

6:46 am: Twins ready, but there’s been a fight over the ownership of a pen. Dad is smack in the middle of it, trying to reason with two seven- year olds.

6:58 am: Last one out of the bathroom. Countdown to departure begins.

7:08 am: Everyone ready. Breakfast halfway. But now have to feed them almonds, and the tonic. It’ll have to be had in the car. Pick up spoon and tonic. And oh, the immunity sachet – older one’s been falling ill a lot, so needs this in the mornings, along with figs, raisins and dates. Doctors really need to go more ground-level studies before scribbling out undo-able prescriptions.

7:10 am: Breakfast over. We’re almost at the door, with tonics, almonds et all. Twin two declares she needs a winter flower for show and tell. Starts to cry, it has to be taken today. I give her the you’re-kidding look. She cries more. Husband intervenes, asks me to calm down. I tell him to get the winter flower. He tries to reason with her, she cries even louder.

7:11 am: Cook runs to the neighbour’s house, comes back triumphant with a Hibiscus. She informs him that it can be anything but Hibiscus. I laugh, there’s nothing else to be done.

7:12 am: We get into the car. Twin two has curled up her nose and continues to wail. I step on the gas, then I stop, run out of the car. I have spotted a Petunia. I retrieve it the alacrity of a cat having caught a bird. I hand it to her and get behind the wheel. There’s cheering in the back. Mommy steps on the gas again.

7:17 am: Reach the bus stop. Phew!

7:20: am: Wave to them as the bus pulls away. I can’t believe the day has only just begun. I feel tired already.

7:30 am: Go for a run. Make a note to remember the Vitamin D sachets, as the knee starts to creak again. Will have to reset reminders, because now I don’t know how many have been consumed.

9:45 am: Drive to work with a gazillion thoughts about things to do. Some urgent, some important – not the same thing. In attending to the former, the latter get ignored. Urgent – pipe in the bathroom is on its last legs, is leaking, will give way anytime. Plumber must be summoned. He’s on speed dial. Pull over, call him. He doesn’t pick up. Important – mammogram. No time for it, despite the lumps I can feel. It’s ok I tell myself.

10:15 Get into the office. Pour a glass of water, gulp a headache medicine. Ask office boy for a strong cup of tea.

11 am: Am at work. Cook and general Man Friday calls to remind me about the leaking pipe. Plumber needs to be called. And also, the electrician too needs some determined chasing, the AC is making sputtering noises and is out of gas – the coil has holes in it and needs fixing. These are urgent. I think about the air we are breathing, if metal gets corroded then it’s scary to think about what the pollution does to our lungs. This is important, but I’ll attend to the urgent.

11: 10 am: Step out of the office to speak to the plumber and electrician. Plumber finally picks up. He has fever, but will come. Electrician too promises to attend to the issues promptly. Make a note to call them back in an hour.

12:00p.m. to 3:30 pm: All’s quiet on most fronts. Chip away at that presentation. Boss needs to see it at the end of the day.

12:15 pm: Mom calls. Can’t talk. Will call her back.

4pm: Call from home. Kids are back from school, have many tales to tell. I whisper and tell them I’ll back.

4:10 pm: Call from home. There has been a fight. Mommy’s expert opinion on whodunit is urgently needed. Hang up.

4:40 pm: Call home, remind kids about respective instrument practice. They are watching Master Chef.
Try not to blow my lid. Reiterate will-take-away-benefits rule that kicks in when work is not done.

5pm: Call from Plumber. Pipe is fixed. Needs money. He’ll have to wait, or come back. He mutters and hangs up. Am afraid he won’t take my calls the next time.

6pm: Boss wants the update on the presentation. Send it to him.

6:20 pm: Start wrapping up work. Call from home. Barrage of questions about time of return.The fight is still not resolved. Also, there’s some project work that needs mommy’s superior cognitive skills. Homework is for kids, I say. Not this one, comes the reply. Wonder why schools subject parents to torture. Why do projects involve cut and paste, is it me, or is it not obvious that nothing is learned in the process, except how to cut in a straight line, colour and search Google.

6:30 pm: Call from home. Further inquiries about exact arrival time

6:40 pm: Leave work. Call from home again about update on ETA. Now I can yell, I am in the car. Inform them that I am on my way, have not acquired the ability to fly yet.

7:00 pm: Walk into the house. They run towards mommy. Feel blessed. Kiss them and ask about their day – they talk in unison. I get the gist. They ask me if I need tea. I do. It’s been a long day.

7:10 pm: Check on homework. Check, approve and disapprove and ask for some of it to be redone. Ignore the

7:15 pm: Mom calls. Can’t talk. Will call her back.

7:20: Dinner time for the kids. No they can’t watch Master Chef while eating.

7:45 pm: Dinner over. Time for race-to-bed-time drills.

8:00 pm: Fight over who will change last.

8:05 pm: Older daughter remembers she needs glue. I tell her we have glue. She tells me we have the other one. Glue is Glue I say. Seems not. And oh we need an A3 sheet as well, in cream (not white)

8:10 pm: Tears, apologies, more tears, and then a dash to the market.

9:00pm: Back home after getting the glue and the sheet. Twins have slept. Race against time to bedtime for older one.

9:30 pm: Announce the last and final call for bedtime – after this “it ain’t going to be pretty” (it’s a daily thing)

10:00 pm: All three asleep. Day over – all’s quiet.

10:10 pm: Guilt sets in. Go into kids’ room. Kiss them – they look angelic in their sleep. Apologize for yelling. Make promises about being more patient.

10:20 pm: Day over. Too tired to read. Watch Shark Tank with the husband while drinking Chinese Tea and eating dark chocolate. Feel the fatigue draining from my bones. Laugh, talk, indulge in uplifting conjugal banter. It’s the best part of my day.

11:00 pm: Ready for bed. It’s late. No time to read.

11:45 pm: Lights off. Wonder how it got this late? Really need to sleep on time.

11:50 pm: Think about mom, forgot to call her back. Damn. Too late to call now, she must’ve waited. Will do it tomorrow..

12:00 am: Slip into sleep as a million thoughts flood the mind – mobile bill is due, presentation is due by eod tomorrow, have to call the pest control fellow, the upholstery guy.. and yes, haven’t got sis a birthday present yet. Must call her tomorrow too…

And Ma, must call ma in the morning..

Tomorrow is another day.

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My Daughters Are Not My Sons. They Are Daughters. They Are Not Tomboys, They Are Girls.

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I have three daughters. Yes, three. And no, I wasn’t “trying for a son”, as most people ask me, a question that only reveals their supreme narrow-minded stupidity than anything else. Why else, implies their tone, would anyone willingly have three daughters. I don’t know, but wanting to have them could be one obvious reason. Not sure if the obvious is obvious after all, especially those who walk around the world with “to-let signs in their eyes”, to steal a dear friend’s phrase.

I don’t bother replying to these questions, despite the fact that my silence is taken for consent, even lament. Also, the truth is that even I do answer, in some misguided sense of wanting to educate the world, it would be wasted breath. Such deep-rooted parochial ideas are not about to change with any answer I can give them, no matter now persuasive. So I’ve learned to ignore the questions, the prying, and the commiserative looks I get from people – which I find amusing more than angering.

However, for all my fortitude on the matter, there are days when I my patience wears thin – especially when I am told that my daughters are “going to be like my sons”. That gets my goat. What does that even mean? What can a son do for me, that a daughter cannot? I once asked this to an unsuspecting lady who probably said this to me with the expectation that I would proceed to unburden my worries onto her and express my deep gratitude for her understanding. Instead I asked her what she meant by that remark. She was taken-aback, but recovered quickly and added that they would “do what sons do”, and beamed as if she had shed invaluable light on the matter.

I didn’t press any further, because it was evident that she would be unable to articulate what she meant, and continue to make generic, seeping statements which would irritate me further. Besides, patience is not a virtue, and I didn’t want to be rude, so I let it go.

But the truth is that she’s not alone in thinking this way. I get only two kinds of reactions when people discover I have three girls. Actually, make that three kinds– shock, sympathy and reassurance. I am pretty used to it by now. I know the look. Mostly, though I don’t let it get under my skin, but there are times when I want to shake the people out of their idiocy and tell them to take off their blinkers.

My daughters are my daughters and they will remain so- they will not turn into sons if they do “what sons do”. It’s infuriating how the world wants to put people in boxes.

Think about it – if a girl wears shorts and plays sports, she’s a tomboy. The dictionary meaning of that word is – “a girl who enjoys things that people think are more suited to boys”. That says is all – people think. So we are saying that if you do boy things (someone please define those for me), you’re a tomboy. I reject this outright. My children do “children things” – play in the park, climb monkey ladders, swim, play sports, chase each other around the house. They are kids and this is what kids do – they play. Who decided what activities are “more suited to boys”? Give a kid a ball and he of she will play with it – it has nothing to do with the gender.

As a mother, I see my kids play with girls and boys equally, and they do everything. There are boys who come over and play with kitchen sets, does that make them “girlie”. I don’t think so.

It’s all in the conditioning. We do it from the time they are born. We think a child would be inclined in one way or the other and we make those decisions for them. We hand cars to boys and dolls to girls, and then we hold up statistics to bolster our arguments on gender. As I have said before in a making a case against gender-based toys that Kinder Joy puts in their pink and blue chocolates, that we think we know better. But we don’t. My girls like the “blue-for-boys” Kinder Eggs, because they prefer the toys in them.

And no, they are not tomboys, they are girls, they are children who love to play, to create, to not want to be told what they should do. They are my daughters. If I had had sons, they would have been my sons. It’s as simple as that. Why is this so hard to understand?

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