Let me count the ways

Love expresses itself in so many ways. Sometimes it takes the form of a cliche like red roses and hearts. I wouldn’t shoot them down. Sometimes people don’t know how to tell you they care and they use standard measures – doesn’t make the love any less.

At other times, love is expressed in ways that can’t be admitted to in polite company. Like this one. (And I promptly proceed to give lie to that line by discussing it with you well bred folk.)

We’d had a good dinner and were on our way home. The Bean’s eyes were drooping even as we had dessert and she undid her seat belt and lay down with her head in the Brat’s lap on the way home. The OA and I looked at them and smiled at each other. Parenthood was good.

He was half asleep himself but clung on to her to ensure she didn’t fall off the seat as we rattled and rumbled over the Gurgaon death trap roads. His head lolled in his sleep and the car cooled too fast.

I felt them with a mother’s instinct and their bare legs were freezing. We switched off the AC and forgot to turn down the windows. We were almost home anyway.

As we turned into our parking lot, the Brat who is infamously motion sick, threw up in his sleep. Right on her head. She sat up, sleepily and looked at him, not a word of reproach. The OA and I swung into battle stations. I grabbed the two of them and rushed them to the house. She could barely walk. She was half asleep and there was vomit dripping down  her head.

The Brat was wide awake in horror by now. ‘I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it,’ he moaned in apology. I’m so sorry. I was asleep and couldn’t stop myself.

I was too tired, and angry at how a pleasant evening was ruined, to trust myself with words.

I hurried them into the bathroom and shoved them both in the shower. Getting lumps of half digested food out of hair is neither easy nor pleasant.

The OA rolled up his jeans, filled buckets and washed out the entire car.

I put them to bed and helped him.

By the time we were done, it was past midnight and we’d forgotten the pleasant dinner.

Parenthood sucked.

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For all that the two of them fight over inane things, the next day passed without either of them referring to it. I was surprised, but the Bean played fair. No – You puked on my head hence owe me a kidney type of lines.

And then two days later they were back from school and the Bean was brushing out her hair when a clip she’d forgotten to take out got stuck in her brush. And when she yanked, it went flying into the toilet bowl.

They both looked at it in horror. It wasn’t the loss of a pretty bow that was the problem. They knew that anything stuck in the toilet bowl could create a problem.

The Brat looked at her kindly and said I’ll do it.

And then stuck his hand in the bowl and took out the clip, scrubbed the clip and his hand with soap a million times over and gave it back to her.

They told me about it later.

—–

She was back home with yet another allergy – this time her eyes swelling up thanks to the pollen.

It made her tired and cranky and the antihistamine made her sleepy.

I made her lie down in bed as I frantically worked to meet a deadline, sitting by her side.

He came by with his Rubik’s cube to entertain her.

‘She likes me to make the red side so I’ll do that for her.’

A while later I looked up from my work to find her fast asleep in an awkward bundle.

As I tucked a pillow under her head and straightened her out I found the hard, poky cube clutched in her hand and pressed into her stomach. She’d gone to sleep with the red side made up specially for her.

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There’s a lovely series of ICICI advertisements about Jo nibhaate hain, aur jataate nahi. I’ve always looked at it wistfully. Until I realised that my life is full of such moments. I just need to pause to observe them.

They’ll probably kill me for these stories making it to the public domain. But if they keep this up, I’ll die happy.

K.I.S.S.I.N.G

The Brat will be 9 this May. He doesn’t follow the usual curve of boyhood disdain for the female of the species or physical affection. I still hug him, cuddle him, tousle his curls… while his contemporaries pushed their fussy mothers away long ago. Besides many of them are already being paired up with classmates or friends on the bus, singing the age old song – X and Y, sitting on a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Since I try really hard to be a mother who doesn’t push – I periodically check with him  - Can I still kiss you in public? To his credit, his answer was yes, long after I thought he’d say no.

A few months ago he shook his head distinctly – No.

Okay, I said. My heart broke just a little but I consoled myself with the thought that I had got away with it for longer than most. That I could still kiss him at home. His cheeks are still soft. He has some years to go before stubble makes them unkissable.

But then I wouldn’t be the person I am, if I weren’t so idiotic and forgetful. Because a few days ago I forgot all about it and yelled out to him as his friends and he hung around our dining table making some artwork. ‘Give me a kissie, baby.’

His friends sniggered. He glared at me and stomped up to me menacingly. I prepared myself for a set down.

As he came near, I bent down and whispered – I’m so sorry darling. I forgot your friends are here.

He turned his little chubby cheek up to me and said – It’s okay. I’ve come to get a kiss anyway, haven’t I?

I gave him a peck on the cheek and watched him walk back to the table, unconcerned about what the others thought. Interestingly the other kids had gone back to their work and forgotten about us too.

I guess we’re good for a couple of months more.

Here’s an old post about the Brat and his mother and PDAs. 

Of sex and the supernatural

First off, I had the pleasure of reviewing Tarshi’s Yellow Book on their blog. If you are a parent or a teacher, it has all the resources you need to help deal with children and the S word.

In case you haven’t heard of Tarshi before, I quote from their blog -

TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues) believes that all people have the right to sexual well being and to a self-affirming and enjoyable sexuality.

TARSHI addresses all people, especially women and young people through various programmes and is one of the few NGOs in India that works on sexuality, without restricting it to a disease-prevention, violence against women or sexual minorities’ framework, but rather from an affirmative and rights – based approach.

General information:

Call the TARSHI phone info-line for free, accurate & concise Information on Sexuality and Reproductive Health Issues @ +91-11-26472229
9:30 am - 5:30 pm (IST), Monday - Friday

For more, see: http://www.tarshi.net/about/about_tarshi.asp

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And now on to the supernatural part of the title. Some months ago I was talking to another parent about how I came to be a work from home mother. I just didn’t find help I was satisfied with. I mean they were good enough to dust, wash, sweep, swab and make hospital corners on the beds, but they just didn’t seem right enough to leave the kids with for extended periods of time. Mostly, because of the way their beliefs influenced the kids.

There were dozens of maids who would react to the kids’ nudity with a Shame, shame, jao kapde pehno (shame, shame, put on your clothes). This, if the kids shot out of the loo, naked after a bath, because the game of Ludo they’d left on the floor just couldn’t wait. There was the maid who in a bid to ensure they didn’t go to the balcony and fall to their death, kept threatening them that Pigeon kaatega (the pigeons will bite you) and so on.

If you want your child to have some sense of what is a good touch, what constitutes privacy and which adults are trusted, it’s really hard to do it with a new maid every 11 months. It’s also hard to rewire the way a maid thinks and teach her not to say shame shame to a naked child. It’s almost impossible to teach the maids that there is no such thing as a ghost, and to prevent them from telling the kids not to go into dark rooms for fear of them, when the maids themselves are terrified of ghosts.

These pigeons and ghosts are small issues in the larger scheme of things and you can’t go around sacking people unless they’ve stolen the family silver, but I gave the scaring maids their notice and kept up the hunt until I found maids who did their housework and didn’t influence the kids in anyway. We all have our own lines to draw and mine is a dislike of fear. I don’t like my children being scared into bed, into eating, into being good. They are not taught that there is a heaven or a hell. They are taught to eat because their body needs it and to be good because there is no other option.

A few nights ago the siblings were whispering in a corner and the tension was palpable. I don’t interfere unless necessary and love that they have their little secrets and special shared things. So I plumped pillows, shook open quilts and began to herd them to their beds, tucking them in. As I reached to switch off the lights they screamed Noooooo. Don’t switch off the lights.

Why?

Because we want the lights on.

It’s always one thing or the other to squeeze the most out of any day and I knew they were weary, their eyelids drooping. They’d be dead to the world within minutes even with the lights on. So, unwilling to get into a prolonged argument I left the lights on and shut the door. Sure enough, when I checked a few minutes later, they were fast asleep and I switched off the light.

This happened the next night too. The third evening, anticipating it, I asked them why they wanted the lights on when they were not even used to a night light. The Bean answered – You won’t like the answer.

Try me.

Well, S told us, that if you light a candle in the night and say err.. a bad word.

Me: What bad word?

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.

Oh. Go on.

Brat: If you light a candle in the night and say Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, she will come.

She? Who?

Bloody Mary.

Me, tired of this circular argument: Arre, who on earth is Bloody Mary now?

Chorus: Don’t you know? She’s a ghost.

I see.

I called the OA and told him we were going to try an experiment that night. We were going to light candles and invoke Bloody Mary. I had not kept the kids away from ignorant, superstitious maids and blood thirsty pigeons, only to have them terrified by a frickin’ name off a cocktail menu.

The fear of the supernatural, of a vengeful God, these are issues even adults grapple with. Every city has its bhoot bangla and most of us have jumped the school wall to spend time in a cemetery and test a variety of supernatural theories. Clearly this wasn’t something we could erase in a single night, but we had an opportunity to make a start and I didn’t want to bugger it up by teaching them to depend on yet another vague supernatural figure like God or by keeping a knife or a rosary under their beds and so on, shifting their fear from one, to the other. They needed to learn to test theories, to be fearless. To know that courage lies within. Not in the heavens and not in rosaries and knives.

Bedtime came and we settled on their floor with a candle. The Brat shrieked and got under his blanket and stayed huddled there.

The Bean squealed and leapt into the OA’s laps and stayed there.

And we evil, bloody thirsty parents chanted, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary while the kids moaned and groaned and cried and cowered and waited for Bloody Mary to present herself.

Of course she didn’t and in a while we were thirsty and sick of chanting and tired of harassing the kids. :p

The experiment to prove she didn’t exist backfired and far from being at peace, the kids were terrified into wakefulness. #ParentingFail

The Bean was a soggy mess and the Brat was all wide eyed terror.

So yet again we left the light on and went out, sorry that our plan to face fears head on had failed. Of course there’s a lot to be said for the fun we had sitting there in the dark, around a candle, chanting the name of a cocktail we’d rather be drinking than sitting there!

In a few minutes a combination of the excitement and the exhaustion knocked them out. I slipped in quietly and switched off the light.

Come morning I waited for a reference to the night but they didn’t. Of course the true test lay ahead. Would they let us switch the lights off that night or not? (Cue music and spooky sounds)

Night fell and the twosome went to bed without any Bloody Mary talk and no objection to the light being switched off. The OA and I heaved a sigh of relief. They may not have brought it up with us, but they’d probably had their own little conference and come to the conclusion that Bloody Mary did not exist. At least not within their parents’ powers of summoning.

A couple of days later I found them playing with a couple of Lego toys, one named Bloody Mary and the other something else. Clearly Bloody Mary was no longer a name to be feared, but one to be tossed around in play.

We spoke about the inappropriateness of a child using the word Bloody and came to a compromise. It would be referred to as BM, not Bloody Mary. At which point it struck me that BM could also be bowel movement. A thought I shared with them and had them in splits. Thereafter they forgot about Bloody Mary. BM was bowel movement and potty jokes appeal to them far more than anything else at this age.

For the moment at least, we have this ghost under control.

Turf wars

She’d be a comical sight if she weren’t breathing fire. Puffed up with rage, marching onto the playground, dressed in a too-small tee over a bulky salwar.

She had three little boys trailing behind her and she marched up to to a boy in his early teens who squared his shoulders, took a deep breath and steeled himself for her assault. As she began to scream my mind wandered back to when I’d first met this little boy, S.

The brat had begun to come home from the park much dirtier, sweatier, happier. ‘I and S wrestled today,’ he’d grin.

‘S and I,’ I’d absently correct him.

S and I played chor police today.

S and I took our cycles over the hill and came racing down.

Why don’t you bring S home, I offered.

The Brat shrugged, wiping his filthy, sweaty little face on his sleeve,’I asked him to, but he prefers playing in the park.’

Mentally thanking my lucky stars that the Brat had made friends with a little boy who preferred the outdoors to TVs and iPads, I got back to work.

A couple of days later I got done with work early and walked out to the park to get some fresh air and hang out with the kids. The Brat was playing with a boy I didn’t recognise. Must be the famous S, I said to myself. Deciding to introduce myself I walked up to him, said Hi, asked him where he went to school, for lack of any other conversation.

He politely responded, giving me the name of the local underprivileged school.

Ah. So that was it. This is why he refused to come home. His parents were househelp in our complex and he had probably been told not to stick to the park and not venture into homes. He was dressed very simply, neatly and cleanly. Far cleaner than my son who was sweating buckets and looked like he’d been mud wrestling with pigs.

I told him to drop in sometime and he politely said that he liked to spend his evenings playing in the park. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable by going overboard with my invites. Now this is where desi class politics enter the picture. Although the area is full of househelp, some fulltime, some part time, none of them are allowed to bring their kids to work, neither are their kids supposed to be playing in the park.

“We paid X crores to buy a house in this area and I will not have my children get less time on the swing because of the househelp,” the mails rush in to the e-group whenever a rare maid’s kid is seen on the swings. I’ve tried to intervene but taking on the wrath of the self righteous, upwardly mobile middle class alone isn’t easy. They have washing machines – but they teach the maid to use it. They have strollers, and they get the help to push it. I give up.

Where do they want the help to leave their kids when they’re working? How is one to make these kids invisible? Most often the help leave their kids with family or neighbours, but some of them have no option but to bring them along and then leave them outside the house they’re working in.

Sometime last year I heard a baby crying piteously while I worked in my living room. No one else (my parents were visiting) in the house could hear it and the OA joined them in laughing at me and calling me baby crazy. I rushed out like a mad woman, looking for the child. I found him finally, under a champa tree. He was barely 7 months old and crying hysterically, snotty, filthy, naked but for a torn vest. I began to check his limbs for an injury or a bite. I found nothing. Helpless tears began to well up in my eyes – why was he crying in such distress? This was not hunger. And then I opened his mouth and found it – he had swallowed a champa flower and it was stuck half way down his throat. I have no idea how I forced my adult fingers down his throat and pulled it out, but I did. He stopped crying and proved my theory that a child never cries for no reason.

I picked him up and looked around, there was no adult in sight. And then a maid came rushing out of one of the homes, looking at me suspiciously. It was her baby. I explained to her how I’d found a flower stuck in his throat and was about to tell her to keep a closer watch on him when I realised there was nothing I could say to her. She wasn’t irresponsible, she was as helpless as the baby. The employers probably didn’t allow her to bring him in. I don’t know what prompted me to, since I’m just done with my own baby-rearing business, but I asked her if she wanted to leave him with me everyday while she worked. She looked shocked and refused point blank. She’d rather leave him out under that tree than trust me with him. I left him to her care and went back to work. I still wake up at night hearing that child shriek, feeling very helpless and disturbed.

Anyhow, this is the state of domestic help in India. And so, for S to be playing with my son, was nothing short of a miracle. He was allowed to do so as long as he followed the unwritten, unspoken rules. He must not use the swings meant for the residents’ children and he must always play second fiddle. The Brat, being the vague, dreamy kid that he is, hadn’t realised that S was the son of a domestic worker and so was playing with him as an equal. That is why they were such great friends. I left them playing and stole away.

Snapping back to the present I realised this lady was by now frothing at the mouth. Her child and two others were playing with S and one of them had got hurt and bled a little from the mouth. She was accusing S of hitting him. I didn’t know if this was true.

At this point my father who happened to be visiting and had been playing football with the boys, walked up and asked her what the problem was. One minute she was yelling at the maid’s son, next minute a clearly well heeled older gentleman, a resident, was intervening. She was a little taken aback. He hurt my son, she muttered.

My father then told her that he’d been present when the incident took place and the three residents’ kids had been wrestling with S. Naturally with three against one, he’d had to fight back harder to defend himself, resulting in an accident.

Yes, but my son is bleeding, she repeated.

My dad then mentioned that he’d taken the Brat’s bottle of water and washed the little boy’s mouth out and checked to see if he was badly hurt. Then pointed out that they’re little boys – if they want to play rough and wrestle, they must learn to get hurt. That it was unfair of three of them to get on top of S and beat him up. In a minute, it went from innocent game to upper class bullying lower class. He also pointed out that they’d been playing some ball game and each time the ball went too far, they ordered S to get it, basically treating him like a servant, their own personal servant. He wasn’t being paid to entertain them in the park like a lot of other underage minders, my dad pointed out. He was just a little boy playing in the park too, and if they chose to play with him, it must be as equals.

She blanched, realised my dad had a point and decided to ignore him and resumed yelling at S. I’d been on the sidelines until then and now that I’d heard the story I called out to S. Come here, beta, I said. Play with the Brat who wants to play with you. Don’t play with kids who don’t play fair.

He stood there uncertainly. Should he take a side? Would I be there to protect him everyday? What if she came back?

My dad walked up, put his arms around him and gave him a big hug and said, “Arre yaar, you’re a great guy. Come play with us.”

The lady looked deflated. The Brat who had as usual been lost to the world looked up and said ‘Dost, aa jao!’ and kicked the football to S.

S wiped his eyes, grinned at my father and shot off.

S is good for my gentle little son. He is toughening him up and playing all the physical games most of us played out on the streets when we were kids. All of this with no malice and plenty of sportsman spirit.

I’ve had my son play with a lot of aggressive, vicious upper class kids. I’ve seen them sit on him and even the Bean, hold their hands down and punch them in the face. And when you bring it up with the parents, the response is a standard – oh well, it’s just a little rough play. Boys will be boys. The world out there is rough. You’ll turn your boy into a sissy.

Yes, the world out there is rough but an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. I won’t even get into the argument that we seem to think a sissy is an insult – because you know, being a woman/girl is for losers. I’ll simply move my son away from anyone who seeks to teach him that being male means being aggressive because I doubt they’re capable of wrapping their head around a new concept.

On the other hand, I have all the time on earth for a bunch of little kids rough housing when there’s no malice involved. When the intention is to have a good time, not to bully or hurt the other. When they play as equals, not master and servant. Not aggressor and victim.

My dad and I stood there watching them play. In a while they were too engrossed in their game to remember that we were still there. Yes, boys will be boys. But ‘boy’ doesn’t have to mean aggressive.

Conversations from the mad house

And because you’re missing the Brat and the Bean, I offer you some of the FB statuses I put up in the last year.

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I was travelling and the OA was getting the kids dressed for school. A disapproving Brat looked at the OA’s ratty night shorts and said ‘Dada, you can’t go out dressed like that to drop us to the bus stop.’

The Bean piped up – ‘Yeah, they will say, Pitaji ki patloon, ek bilang chhoti ho gayi.’

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Me, teaching the Brat multiplication and trying to put it in a context he’ll enjoy: Okay baby, at what speed does a cheetah run?
Brat: 105 kms an hour.
Me: Cool. So how many kms will it run in 3 hours?
Brat: It can run at that speed only for 30 minutes!

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Bean: Dada, I love you soooo much.
Me: Oi! Only I am allowed to love both of you. No one else is allowed to love another.
Bean: Mama, we all have our own place in this world.
Yes, maate.

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Reason # 1, not to assume your husband is not on speaker phone: You start singing Pritam mat pardes padharo the moment he answers your call, and entertain a car full of his colleagues.

#FacePalm

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An oversmart Bean leaves her lunch, comes stumbling towards me holding her belly and says, “I think I’m having a heart attack. I can’t eat any more.”

A scornful Brat responds, “You’re not having a heart attack. Only people who watch too much TV get heart attacks. We barely get to watch TV at all. We’ll never get heart attacks!”

Great. I didn’t need to step in.

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Bean, while watching the Lenskart advt on TV – If that girl doesn’t want to go and have coffee with him, why doesn’t he leave her alone? If someone says no, you should let them be.

Me: Right. And if they don’t listen, what do you do?

Bean: I tell my mother and she will give them a jhaanp.

Err.. Well, she’s getting there. At least she has the basics clear!

——————

Bean, listening to her father have an endlessly long and loud phonecall, working from home: Mama, I think Dada should go to office so that we can have some peace and quiet around here.
I agree.

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When your mother is a feminist, you say -

“Why do people say ‘Early man did blah blah’. They should say early man AND woman, or early people.” – Brat.

Excellent. My work here is done.

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The OA is on the phone talking to endless credit card companies and what-nots. I’m listening to him and thinking – Ours might be the last generation where the secret question by default is,’What was your mother’s maiden name?’

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Bean to another little girl in the park: If I do that, my mother will scream, and jhaanp me up and put me in the corner and give me no food for a full day.

Me (shocked): When have I ever done that, baby?

Bean (annoyed at being overheard): Well, you said no screen time yesterday, didn’t you?

Yes. And that is entirely the same thing.

(Later it was explained to me, that unless she claims dire consequences, she cannot wriggle out of peer pressure issues. I see. )

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Sorting out my cupboard and making piles of clothes to give to orphanage, some to repurpose and some for my cousin and mother. Bean looks at the growing pile and says – Oh, so the ones you feel hot in and are all rubbish you’re giving to Nana?

*gulp* I swear that’s not true, Ma!

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Brat busy entertaining a bunch of young adults in the park, by reciting animal facts like a machine. I go up to rescue the adults and relieve them of my son, but they say they’re enjoying his company. So I introduce myself. And one of them says his name is Brahm.
To which Bean says, Rum? Oh, of course, we know Rum. We have lots of that at home!
Youngsters fall over laughing and look at me as though I’m one of those lushed up aunties. Sigh.

#SwallowMeNowEarth moment right there.

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We’re so quick to criticise and so slow to praise. The Haryanvi man is possibly the most abused in the country. And we all know *everything* about those rude drivers and guards who have sold crores of farmland in Gurgaon and now only work to pass time. Here’s my contribution to the good.Guard in the new complex who has seen me obsess over my garden, folded his hands today and asked me if he could please bring me some pudina to plant in my garden, and wheat and bajra for our personal consumption. Only because ‘Didi, aapse pyaar ho gaya, aap log sab izzat se baat karte hain.’ After getting over the shock of being told he is in love with us, I also folded my hands and thanked him and said I’d take some pudina, how much would he charge? He looked injured and said he’d never have offered it for money, only out of love. And then we both folded hands and nodded at each other for five minutes, grinning like idiots.

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Bean- Yes, I’ll have a fried egg for lunch.
Me: Eh? Who asked you if you wanted one?
Bean: You just asked me ten minutes ago.
Me (to self): I must be losing my mind.
Bean: Yes, yes, you are! So stay with your mind lost and let me have an egg.

Bean: 1, Me: 0

———————–

But then I have the proper little gentleman to make it up to me.
Me: Brat, did you get any homework today?
Brat: I did, indeed.

Indeed? Err. Okay.

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Brat: Mama, today is Thank you- vaar.
Me: ???
Brat: Friday, Ma, Shukra-vaar. Thank you- vaar.

Ugh. Nerd.

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A little boy knocks on the kitchen screen door – Aunty, do you have a son? My big brother and some other boys said a very nice boy lives here, so I’ve come to play with him.

Six years of being a victim of bullying and the tide has turned over the last two years. We’ve moved thrice in three years and within a week of each move he has friends trooping in and out of the house. Who’d have thought this quiet, dreamy, vague little boy would be popular in spite of, or maybe even because of those characteristics?

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You know you live in a condo in India when you get this sort of an email.

“You are right,the langoor was on the regular pay roll of RWA earlier,but his services were discontinued because employing a langoor to scare away monkeys became forbidden under the Animal protection Act,the same act for stray dogs.”

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Things that must go on social media even if we can never show our faces in public again #751 -

The Brat walks in on the OA crouched above a prone me, massaging my back and shoulders to ‘break the fever’ as suggested by many people. Frowns, looks interested and poses an academic question – ‘Are you mating with mama like a male leopard mates with a female leopard?’

He has no idea why the two of us fell over in a pile and laughed till the tears flowed.

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Calling the kids back from play as we go to run errands, the OA explains to them “… blah blah and the didi will be alone and a thief might comr blah blah…”
Brat – …and if a thief DOES get in, you expect US to take care of it?
Good point.

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It’s amazing to hear kids express their love. The Brat got back from a visit with his grandparents while we moved house, crawled into my lap as I dripped sweat and unpacked cartons – I missed you so much, mama. Your sweat also feels good.
And Bean said- I missed you like, like, like I’ve never had a mama EVER!!

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Me: What flavour ice cream do you want? Chocolate? blackberry?
Bean: Blackberry? That’s not an ice cream, that’s a phone!

Sigh. She was right of course. ——————-

On context and keeping it simple.
Bean: Mama, I have to lose loads and loads and loads of weight.
Me, dumbstruck, mentally preparing a speech on body image issues and individuality.
Brat: Why?
Bean: So that I’m as light as this butterfly I found, and I can fly with it.
Brat: Don’t be silly. You’d need hollow bones for that.Me: Oh good, I’m not needed here. I can get back to wasting time online.

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Bean, playing with my phone and examining sections, reaches Favorites: Oh, so Dada is your favorite husband?

Umm yes. Only until Farhan accepts what destiny has in store for us.

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Burned some rubber on the highway with the Scorpio aka Uddham Singh, while the OA took a nap. Took the kids through mental maths games while at it without screaming SHUT UP OR WE’LL ALL DIE!! Kids encouragingly said, ‘Good job Mama – you’re not jerking us or saying any bad words.’

Oh – well that is progress!

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Reason # 36 to have a son.
Me, dressed for party: Brat, am I looking nice?
Brat, earnestly: you always look nice. In fact you only ever look nice. And sometimes you look better than nice.
Me: Bean?
Bean: Your nail polish doesn’t match.

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The Bean has just asked for some ‘watermelanin’ to eat. Let me treasure the last bit of baby talk.

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Took the monsters to see Iron Man 3. One went in a mask. Lost interest after 15 minutes. That’s not the bad part. The truly horrible part is that the father put the mask on and walked about the mall as I tried to pick up some essentials, freaking out adults and kids alike. Never mind that he was accompanied by two brats and one salwar kameez clad amma. No, shopkeepers stopped serving me and stared at him, kids hid behind their parents, adults watched open mouthed and teenagers were thrilled. Me? I’m not going out with him anywhere, ever again.

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The MM and OA have both, woken up with eye infections. The husband lovingly, tenderly, solicitously and liberally dosed my eyes with ear drops. If he is trying to get rid of me there have got to be more efficient and humane ways. :(

See you on the other side of this darkness, folks.

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What Dr Spock didn’t tell you about getting your kids to eat – Put on some good old bhangra and dance with the other parent, do the balle balle and have them giggling through dinner (Choking alert here) – if the two of you can contrive to fall backwards over the sofa arm as the grand finale, you have a winner. Works like a charm. Everytime.

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You know your kids are dying of boredom and pushing every rule about not disturbing you while you work when they come up on either side and say, ‘Let’s whisper through her ears and see if we can hear on the other side.’

Then one blows a word into your ear and the other presses up their ear against yours, waiting for the word to come through.

Technically, THEY ARE NOT TALKING TO YOU OR FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER, so you can’t say anything to them.

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The Brat looks up from the stack of animal books he got on his birthday to ask me: What is the most dangerous predator in the sea?

I sit up, I’m on high alert. I know this. He’s already told me what each shark weighs, the length of each whale and how starfish and jellyfish and what not protect themselves. I MUST remember what the most dangerous predator is…

He doesn’t wait for a response. Disappointment drips from his voice, ‘It’s the human.’

I’m sorry, son. I’m sorry I was responsible for bringing you in to a world that constantly disappoints you.

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Me: Bean, eat your lunch.
Bean: I don’t feel like it. I might eat one bite.
Me: I might give you one slap.
Bean: hmm.. okay, I might choose the slap. It depends on whether it’s a tight slap or a loose slap.

For the record, she saw murder in my eyes and ate many bites, without the slap.

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Never a dull moment around here. A bee flew into the Brat’s ear and he came in shrieking and screaming. I got scared and screamed even louder – WHAT IS WRONG?!!

Finally figured that something had flown into his ear, began making him stamp and shake his ear, him howling, me terrified, the Bean getting underfoot, patting him and saying, think nice thoughts.

The cook suggested he hold his nose and blow. Lo and behold, it worked, the bee flew out. SO, parents, please keep this trick in mind, should this, God forbid, happen to your child.

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“You are not my choice of mama. Cheerio” says she.

I was too impressed by her choice of words to be worried about her choice of mama.

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Dear OA, Your son is turning into YOU.
He walked out of home without his school bag. I turned into a banshee and started screeching at him to come back and take it.

He turned around, walked back slowly, his little face the picture of calm, walked up to me, pulled me down, kissed me on the forehead gently and walked away. Again, without his bag. MEN!

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Bean: Mama, is my punishment over?
Me: I didn’t punish you.
Bean: Okay then, is the consequence of my action over?

I give up.

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You know they’ve grown up when the 7.5 year old takes the 6 year old to the bathroom when she starts coughing, holds her over the pot, rubs her back and encouragingly checks the puke out and says, ‘That’s a good one, keep going.’

And when you enter the bathroom in concern and say, We’re fine, we’ll manage, you go back to work.

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The joys of being on an RWA mailing list.

You think I can make this stuff up?

Yes what I say that “I am at your disposal” I mean it and elloberate that i am at the disposal for help to the residents to the best of my capabilities and worst within limitations imposed by circumstances and heirarcial proceedures.The meaning which you have derived from my statement is purely your wishful imagination.I do not want to further elloberate on this.

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Dear early morning ill-mannered lout,
The correct response when a child wishes you ‘Good morning Uncle,’ is a smile and a Good morning. Not a roll of eyes and ‘Yeh kya sab karvate ho bachchon se?’ He’s learning manners, not a performing monkey. And in return I’ll refrain from pointing out that you’d do well to teach your child the rudimentary and perfunctory Hi, if nothing more.
sincerely,
a very ruffled mother hen

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I bumped into a familiar looking lady in Fabindia last year, beginning of the school year. I thought she might be mother to one of the new kids. She also looked at me and we both went – “Seen you someplace.”Finally she blinks and says, ‘I know! You’ve seen me in school. I’m the Bean’s mum.’And I’m like, ‘Err, noooo, I am the Bean’s mum.’So she blinks again and says, ‘Oh. Then I’m her teacher.’

As you can imagine, it’s been an entertaining year with her.

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In other news, the Universe continues to torture me by making sure I receive one of these emails everyday. This one to our community egroup.

” a cricket coach who is tipped to be our cricket coach for coaching of cricketing children “

You don’t say.

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Met a woman today who introduced herself saying, ‘I’m married and I live in Gurgaon and I run an xyz store with my husband P.’

She didn’t even think of telling me her name.

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Has spent the evening cooking (the most awesome juicy burgers with bacon, cheese and onion jam blah blah) and then giving her husband a massage (don’t let your imagination run away with you – he’s had a terrible stitch in the side for the last 24 hours and its not going away)…. and then feeding kids and putting them to bed.

Can someone please call up MM of end Feb 1996 and tell her not to freak out over the upcoming board exams? She’s not going to need any of that stuff or the degrees, specially since any old crap will get published these days.

Thanks.

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Mother and son walking in the sun. Son holding mother’s hand.
Mother looks at son fondly and says, ‘Even though you’re such a big boy you like holding mama’s hand?’
Brat: Yes.
Then his innate honesty that cannot be repressed, bursts forth – ‘And also if I let go, you’ll start poking in my ear.’

Err.. okay. Sorry I asked.

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Reason # 827 to have a baby:

So that your son can go and heat his face on the heater at the far end of the room and then come back and hold his soft, heat-reddened cheek against yours so that ‘your root canal doesn’t hurt while you’re working’.

Apparently at the grand old age of 7 you need excuses to lay your cheek against your mother’s. Not that we’re complaining.

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Bean deliberately lying with her foot in a sick Brat’s face. He pulls off her socks in annoyance. She whines. I tell her to move. She responds, Salman Khan style (ugh!) – Once I lie down and make myself comfortable, I don’t like to move.

I respond telling her that my foot will make itself comfortable on her backside if I get anymore cheek from her. She shifts grudgingly and tells him in a stage whisper: I don’t know why you’re getting special treatment. You’re only sick, not dead.

Brat responds sensibly: If I were dead, I wouldn’t be pulling your socks and you wouldn’t be so whiny. You’d be missing me.

Dear God, how much longer before they leave for college?

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A frustrated, irate Brat trying to make himself feel better, and convince others that this too shall pass, “She’s just an optical illusion. The Bean isn’t real.”

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If you have imagination it won’t matter that you’re growing up in the middle of a concrete jungle. The Brat looks dreamy-eyed at steel and chrome towers in Gurgaon and says, The Convergys building is The Black Pearl and the DLF one is The Flying Dutchman.

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The day kicks off with drama. The Brat has a pink eye and the OA is chasing him with eyedrops. He is captured and screams, “you’re putting poison in my eyes!” And the Bean decides to give the background score singing “You’re poison…poison running through my veins”, loud enough to drown out the screams.

Apparently you’re never too young to be an Alice Cooper fan.

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Bean: Brat, your tongue is green! Either you ate something weird, or (looks closer and frowns) you’re turning into a mutant.

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Proud of my man who was recently interviewed and said – I am a Gurgaon based husband to a freelance journalist (who is also a pretty famous mommy blogger), father of two delightful children and a worker ant in the financial services sector.
Don’t think I know many others who introduce themselves as Husband to….

The changes are a coming. Slow and steady.

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Beanism of the day – I drank so much water in school, so much, so much… that I was drunk.

Sigh. Soon there will come a day when she *will* be drunk and I will not be putting it up on FB so happily.

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‘Be the bigger person.’ ‘Take the high road’, I’m begging. Such a waste of honourable words when the disagreement has degenerated to the level of ‘Smell my stinky socks’, ‘I’m going to fart in your face’.

Parenting is not for those with refined sensibilities.

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Cousin K after an exhausting couple of hours with the kids, “Yaar, your kids are like kattas (country pistols). Never know whether they’ll hit the target or explode in your hand.”

Sigh. It’s so good to be sick in bed and have someone else man the show.

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Lady at decoration store: Woh jo Krishnaji ka rath hota hai na? Arjun ke liye chalate hain? Woh ha? Arre haan, yeh wala.
Picks a snow covered sled out of the midst of X’mas decorations at the store, pays and walks off.
Oh well, what matters is that the customer was satisfied!

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The Bean patting the blanket covered lump next to me in bed gingerly: Daddy, is that you?

Me? I’m hoping if it’s not Daddy it turns out to be Farhan Akhtar.

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Me: Bean, why don’t you just finish your lunch and make my life a little easier?
Bean shakes her head and says ruefully: But life is never easy, Mama.
#OneTightSlap

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Me: Brat, WHY must you start a new book at bed time.
He gives it some thought and seriously replies: I think I just like to be contrary.

You think?!!

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An irate Brat looking at his lunch plate piled with winter veggies: When I grow up I’m going to create a veg-free zone. Only meat will be allowed, and we’ll have a vegetable embargo.

Sigh. It’s a good thing we’re in positions of power for a few years more.

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OA watching TV and cracking up. Bean asks him why he’s laughing. He can’t explain and says – Long story. After two minutes he cracks up again and she asks him what is so funny. He responds again, ‘Long story’.
Bean: You say that only to shut me up.

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How do you know you’ve lived in Delhi a long, long time? When your daughter gets thoroughly confused and says, Do I have to wear my Pajeros to bed?

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Cousin K is playing fetch with my daughter. He throws a pen, she barks, holds up her paws, pants, wags her ‘tail’, and goes on all fours to pick it up in her mouth. I just want to record this so that someday I can treat his kids like puppies. Vengeance will be mine.

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Jab Tak Hai Jaan might have been a better experience if the OA hadn’t spent the entire four hours sighing and groaning theatrically and punctuating all that with sudden shouts of ‘ab marega saala’.

Because JTHJ wasn’t bad enough, I’m torturing myself further with Rowdy Rathore. To top off the experience I’m going to walk on broken glass and chew on bolts and poke my eyes out.

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So it finally happened.

She shows up with a Barbie wearing an outfit that leaves nothing to the imagination and says – Mama, can you make me a dress like this?
Before I can respond the brother scornfully says, “You want to get dengue? You need to be covered a little more than that if you want to be safe from mosquitoes. That’s a very silly dress.”
Thanks Brat!

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The Bean lying in bed and waving legs in air and screaming out a song tunelessly about hard days and snot and puppies. Finishes the raucous performance and asks, “Was that annoying?”
Err…
No, she says? Then I’ll try again.

Argh!

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You know the tables have turned when you stare at two mugs hard, and then pick one for your daughter and pour her water and she responds with – ‘Good job. You really read my mind there.’

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Reason # 169 why kids should not watch superhero stuff indiscriminately.
Brat.. and blah blah, Green Lantern blah blah, goes to sleep with his girlfriend.
Bean: How can you sleep next to a girlfriend? She doesn’t live in your house.
Brat: Uffo! they must be having a playdate and a sleepover, na! That must be why.

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Reason # 361 why I’m glad to have a daughter – I come out after a bath and she grabs my towel, sits on the floor and gently dries my feet. I could get used to this

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“Suraj ki galti nahi, chanda ki galti nahi, acche time ki galti nahi, burey time ki galti nahi…” the Bean is singing.
Did you make that poem up, I ask her?
“No, I’m singing a Michael Jackson song in Hindi..” she says.
Which of you have figured out what she is singing?

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Proof that my son is well-trained- he tells his father,”husbands must do what their wives tell them to.”
I think I can ask for dowry for this one. :D

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Dear Jabong,
Bellies are not shoes. A belly is the lower portion of your trunk, your abdomen. Now if you mean ballet pumps or court shoes, we can talk. Please, I beg of you, remove that advertisement banner from HHC.
A well wisher

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So your husband has made it a habit of inviting people over for dinner and informing you at 7.45pm. You scramble around organising a dinner, and then as you’re laying out the hors d’oeuvres your pestilential daughter shows up and grabs a seaweed cracker ruining the pattern you’ve laid them out in. You turn around, ready to bite and she grins cheekily at you and squeaks, “Polly wants a cracker.”
Yes, of course I let her off easy.

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The Brat is writing a poem in Hindi as part of his school homework.
One line goes, Ma ek, kitabein anek.
If all he associates with books is his mother, I can die happy.

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The OA doesn’t know any Megadeth songs and Cousin K has only heard INXS with the Fortune guy. And I have to live with people of this sort. :-/

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You know you should change the way you speak to your kids when you hear an almighty crash in the nursery and your daughter yells out, ‘It’s okay, nobody died.’

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Brat explains to Bean: Boys must only kiss girls if they want to be kissed. You can’t force someone to kiss you back.

Chalo OA, at least we’ve taught them something.

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Insanely cute new physiotherapist tells me he’ll have me running the marathon next year if I keep working on my knee regularly. Adding, ‘Wahi toh jeena hota hai. Nahi to sirf EMI bhar rahe ho.” Word.

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A much-Onam-influenced Brat stuffs his face with a layered paratha and asks, “Can I have another Mahaballi paratha?”

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Bean: Amen means Goodbye. You know, you finish a prayer and then say Bye to God.

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Bean: And blah blah

Me: No, it’s not like that, it’s actually yaada yaada.
Bean: Oh, oops, that was silly of me.
Me: That’s okay… it’s not silly at all.
Bean: Yeah, but I came pretty close to being silly!

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Bean to me after I’d stuck back the nth broken something: Mama, you’re the bestest fixer in the world.
Best compliment a mother can receive if she’s not a sportsperson.

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The OA  looks happiest when he is holding hands with both the kids, walking towards a restaurant.

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The Brat catching sight of a music channel while I surf, “what is the name of that person?”

Me: Which one?

Brat: That one under the actresses’ bum?”

*groan!*

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Should I be seeking help for my daughter if I find her sitting in a corner, yelling into a conch shell “Helloooo? Is there anybody home?”

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Me to cousin K - Oye, go get some biscuits to have with our tea.
Brat: Don’t order him around. You’re treating him like the Britishers treated the Indians.

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Father and son disagree. It’s amusing to see two identical faces, separated by 30 years, bound by blood and the same stubborn nature, lock horns. Someone get me some popcorn.

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Brat: Mama, why don’t you iron your hair and take the fur off your arms and legs before a party like the ladies on TV?
Ah the joys of being a male brought up by a wash and wear mother.
Me: Because I’m doing some girl a favor by not nurturing those unrealistic standards and pointless expectations, darling.

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Me: Stop muttering you two, I can’t understand a word. Can you speak any louder?
Bean: No. Gentlemen and ladies don’t talk loudly. It’s bad manners.
Me: *gulp* Whatever, go play outside. Such lovely weather.
Bean: If it is so pleasant, why aren’t you coming out with us?

Damn. Hoist by my own petard. See you later, FB. I’m out to get some sun.

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Kids’ bathroom reeking of Savlon. They decided to pour it in their bathwater. When I walk in and say “But why?” they give me back my own words mock penitently -
Bean: This is ENTIRELY our own fault. We take the blame.
Brat: Everyone make mistakes, we’re only human.
Dear God, so glad I’m leaving them with the grandparents tonight. Yayyy!!!

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Me to a filthy Bean: You’re going to drive me to an early grave.
Bean, helpfully: Okay, but you’re going to have to wait. Dada said I can only drive after I turn 18.

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TMM is having a midnight feast of ghee-rice, chicken momos and hot chocolate with two mischievous little gigglers, while He Who Must Not Be Disturbed snores on. This is the life.