Tag Archives: toddlers

Of Wolves, Witches and Stepmothers..

My daughter loves books, wants me to read to her every night before she goes to bed. It’s something I started doing when she was very young because I wanted her to love reading, which, to my utter joy, she’s showing signs of.

She wants me to begin every story with “one day” or “once upon a time” and they all must end with “happily ever after”. Only then am I allowed to switch off the light, after which she flops on her tummy and closes her eyes, almost as if she’s trying to picture it all again in her mind’s eye.

But, the trouble is that most fairy tales I tell her are fraught with all sorts of evil and dark elements. And this is something I have wondered about often, why, for one, must stories for little children be full of stepmothers? How terrible it is to tell a two year old that when a little child’s mommy dies, the evil step mom tries to kill her or makes her work in the house. But, one might argue, that there’s always a happy ending. Really? What is that? Oh! the handsome prince. So, all these terrible things happen to Cinderella, but in the end a prince charming, who’s floored by her beauty, marries her and that’s a happy ending. Now, there’s nothing wrong with stories and I do not want to over react for the sake of it, but it amuses me how so many of them end this way!

Or , then there are those where even if the parents are alive, but poor, like Hansel and Gretel’s parents, they lead them into the dark woods and leave them there. Imagine what a little kids thinks when you tell him or her that.

A few days ago, my daughter asked me to tell her the story of Snow white, but when I started reading it to her, I was not sure I wanted to tell her that Snow white’s mommy dies, so I sugar coated it somehow. She asked me what a step mom was and I tried telling her in the best way I thought possible for a two year old to understand (I don’t lie to her, mostly, when she asks me something, I may give her an abridged version but I try not to lie). She didn’t quite understand, but didn’t inquire further, so I let it pass.

But then yesterday she found Hansel and Gretel and told me to read it to her – the cover had little children and a house made of candies on it, so it appealed to her. When I started reading it, (I told her that the kids got lost in the woods, not that the parents left them there) and got to the part about the witch, she looked at me in fright and told me to shut the book. Then she cried and cried and said that she never wanted to see that book in the house, that I should give it to some “other baby” as I tell her when I want her to look after her things!  And I know that there is a moral there in the story about not going into strangers’ houses and so on, but I think I can teach her that anyway, without such tales!

I’ve decided to put these fairy tales away, and since I have other books for her too – I’d also bought the Panchtantra stories some time ago – I now read those to her, and she loves them. But every now and then she’ll ask me things like why the wolf wanted to eat Red Riding Hood, or where Cinderella’s mommy was…

Each child is different and I think before reading these stories to them one must think whether they’ll be affected by them or not. And frankly, a lot of kids would be, I mean who likes to be told about witches, wolves and evil mothers? Not kids for sure. I wonder what they were thinking when they wrote such stories for kids.

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Now She Ok, Now She’s Not..

Before I say anything else, I must admit that I am not a strong person, not strong when it comes to people I love. I have a lot of angst about, well, about many things in life, but also about mommy issues, as is apparant in this blog, but, the big but, let’s just say, I ain’t got nerves of steel, to put it mildly.

So, last week when my daughter sat inside her classroom with total strangers, I was happy. She has a lot of stranger anxiety and one of the reasons I wanted to put her into playschool was to try and cure her of some of it, so that she does not recoil each time someone waves a hello. She never liked school (its only been a week and a half) but, once there, she would go in and after a while I’d leave the room and she’d be fine.

Day before yeaterday she just didn’t want me to leave, but the teacher made me, so I had to. I felt terrible as they took her screaming from my arms. I skulked around corners for a while till I was scolded and then I left the hall and sat outside with the rest of the mothers and soon I was swapping salad recipes, though my mind was inside the classroom.

I told myself that she’d be ok, that this is something she had to learn to do and I had to be strong. But I could not get that image of her out of my mind, her sweet face and large teary eyes looking at me. I gulped a few times to stifle the lump that was, once again, beginning to form in my throat. Then I started wondering if I was doing the right thing, because though in my mind I was doing this for her betterment, just like everyone around me, I was very upset about the fact that she cried the way she did.

The thing about her is that, though it may appear to be the opposite, she actually loves kids her age and once she is familiar with a place, she tends to love it. So I had hoped that she’d start liking the place soon. And while I know that such moods are cyclical, I am dreading going to school tomorrow and leaving her in the classroom. The last time she told the teacher to bring all the mommies inside, she had pleaded for me and when I was finally called in, I found her eyes red with crying. She ran to me and clung and cried, then laughed, then asked me not to leave. I could not say anything but I held her hard and after a while told her that I was right outside and had not gone home.

I know all kids go through this and they settle down after a while, but, like I said, I am not strong enough. I hate it when I have to leave and she is crying, I hate it but I still do it because I think it’s good for her, because the whole world does it, my parents did it too, and all the rest of it, I know all that, but it’s still not good enough for me because I simply hate seeing her sitting at a table crying for her mommy.

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I wish I had the guts to swim against the current..

In the good old days, children went to school at, what? say 4 or 5? maybe a tad earlier. But not at 2, that’s for sure. So when I told my father that I was putting my two year old into play school (she’ll be almost 2.5 when she goes) he thought I’d lost it, which it does not take much for him to think, he’s old school and I am, well, mostly, not.

He’s nuts about my daughter so he was upset. And I’ve been sitting on the fence about it anyway, so I kept (read keep) swinging between whether to send her or not. Looking around me didn’t help, since everyone sends their kids at some bizarre age or the other. And that’s not what I want to do anyway, to send her just because the whole world is doing it. But, I have enrolled her for July for the Toddler session, she goes everyday for three hours.

First, I was so worried about her whole interaction that I was ignoring, rather stifling, this little voice in my head that kept asking me if that’s what I really wanted. She has to go to school for a long time to come, did I really want to start it now? Did I not want her to be at home with me, playing the morning games we do, watering the lawn, playing with water, reading, and all the rest of it. Did I want to force her into a routine just because it was the right thing to do? She’s two for Christ’s sake.

But, till her interaction was over I managed to silence that voice. But now it’s back and I want to face these questions.

I know the answers and it makes me sad. The truth is that, if I was ensured admission into a decent (and that’s a whole different story, but for another day) school, I’d probably not send her now. I do think she’s too young and needs me more that she needs a routine. But, I don’t have the balls. I know that by the time she is three and over, I’ll have driven myself insane thinking about her admissions. At least this way I know that she will continue in this school, which, hopefully, will be right for her.

Its going to be five days a week, and this is the other thing that bothers me. Why make a toddler go five days? Three seems right to me. That way, they’d go and play three times a week, and yet, not lose out on time at home.

My husband thinks it’s too early but he’s left the decision to me, and from time to time, he, like me, laments the fact that we don’t have the guts to let her be for now and cross the admission bridge when we come to it.

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Her Birthday Party

I’d planned and planned my daughter’s second birthday party, and my efforts did pay off, because it went off really well, but, I got the flu, and was too sick to even stand on the day of the party.

It hit me hard on the morning of the party – the headache, the nausea, the works – could just about manage to put something on and get into the car. I felt and looked terrible. I’d wanted to get my hair done or at least wash it nicely, but it was not to be. Instead, I looked like something out of Adam’s Family Values!

But, the party was great – wonderful sunny day, nice music, kids happy. And luckily my mother was there, thank God for her; she took charge and organized all the games etc while I sat and watched it all from a corner..

I’d done an animal farm theme with yellow and green balloons and lots of hay. The kids loved it, esp the treasure hunt, which was in the hay.

As for me, I planted myself next to the return gift’s table and sipped sweet lime like it was vintage wine, and waited for the party to get over. Then I went home and crashed out.

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I’ve driven myself crazy with her birthday party..

Maybe because I am new to this birthday stuff, having done it only once before since she’s now two, I am going a little over the top.

First there’s the thing about calling everyone who’s called you – and that’s a long list. Then there are others who you want to invite anyway, so you do. Before I knew it, I had a list of some hundred people – forty-five of them children of varying ages – from 0 to 15!

So there’s the cake, the decorations, the catering, the music, the return gifts (each individually packed for the kids since the ages are so varied I could not just get one thing for everyone)

Then there’s the dress for her to wear. It’s amazing how difficult it is to find something simple you like. If you go for the party dresses, you are confronted with dresses that remind you of layered puddings, and the regular ones are too simple.

Anyway, I was out the whole day yesterday and got most of the work done, also found something nice for her to wear – now she has to wear it, because of late she’s been picky!! It’s a toddler thing I hear..

I returned home in the evening with a throbbing headache and fever. Ugh.

Hopefully, I’ll be better by Sunday.

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That blessed pms

I don’t know which sitcom it was I watched once when I was living in New York, but the woman in it said something that I can never forget: she said, that in a month she was either pre-menstrual, menstrual or post-menstrual and had just about one normal day in a month! I could say the same right now.

See, I was getting very good with the spot-jogging and all that, till, yes, till I got the blues and blues in the winter are bluer than blue, so I went from I-am-going-to-be Cindy-Crawford kind of feeling to I-want-to-eat-all-the-chocolate-in-the-world-who-am-I-kidding-with-the-Cindy-
Crawford-stuff feeling!

I crave sweets when I get my period, no wait, I crave sweets, before and after too. And the spot-jogging kind of stops too. So, you’re back to ignoring the weighing scale like it’s some monster in your bathroom, daring you to stand on it. Sigh.

You know what else I read the other day? that in some women, the pre-menopause stress starts twenty years in advance! Ok, so that was good to know. In short, if you’re looking forward to menopause, you may well be insane by the time you get there.

So, my bone to pick with God would be this (when I meet him/her): Surely there was another way to do all this baby stuff?? I mean look at it: you brood, you bleed, you ache, you feel unexplained depression, then you have a baby and it tears your vagina apart, (I didn’t take an epidural by the way, don’t ask me why) then you finally, after years of turmoil, get to menopause, but, wait, it ain’t over, because now start the hot flashes and God knows what else. By the time it’s all over, you’re sixty.

Again, surely there was another way!

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Birthdays and the waste of it..someone stop it!

Sundays are not what they used to be – lazy days in pajamas with the kids; pouring over the papers over endless cups of tea; radio playing merry songs – no, not even close. Sundays are now hurried days when you get up, get dressed, dress the kid/s, and head off for a birthday party, wondering on the way weather the gift you decided to buy was appropriate enough, because some people give return gifts that are more expensive than the one you took them!

At one level, I want to say “lump it”, I’ll do what I can and not worry about how elaborate people want to make their kids’ parties. And I do do that. I usually don’t worry too much about it. But then you get to the party and you see the effort that’s been put in (not to mention the money) – electric trains, cars, big bouncies, catered food, tattoo artists..etc etc..and your daughter looks at you and says, “mama I want a big train at my birthday too”. Then you wonder why you came? Or, rather, you wish someone would stop this madness.

I want to go back to the days when a birthday meant some chocolate cake and playing treasure hunt at home.

Where are all the sane people? Someone stop this. Maybe I should.

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