Ki jaana….

A few days ago Poppy asked me how I could be 100% sure that my maids can be trusted. I can’t. I can never be. But at that rate I can never be 100% sure that my husband or my mother can be trusted either then, can I?

After much soul searching and experience I’ve realised that at this stage, what I need for my kids is not someone who can follow orders to the T alone. That would be nice, but it’s not something I’ve had the good fortune of having yet. All I want at this stage is women who are genuinely fond of kids and love their charges. Thats it. The rest is negotiable.

The Brat, as we’ve already established, is a gentle but stubborn child who will at the best of times put up an unbelievable fight. A few days ago we were to about leave for a (what else ?) kiddie birthday party and I told the Brat to hurry up and finish his milk. Now both the kids have always had their milk in china mugs – not plastic mugs – and are very careful with them. The Brat who was in a rare sullen mood lost his temper for some reason and flung his mug across the room. It shattered in a shower of milk and china, drenching the maids and the Bean  – just about missing me.

I was hopping mad of course and told him that he wasn’t going to the party unless he apologised – to me as well as the maids. He looked away airily, assuming I’d never be so hard hearted. Obviously four years of being my son have taught him nothing. I’m a bitch where discipline and manners are concerned.

And so I dressed the Bean, the maids were cleaning up the mess, and we all ignored him. Then the younger maid who is mainly in charge of him, came up to me in concern – ‘Didi, you haven’t taken out any clothes for him..’

Yes, he’s not going until he apologises.

Her eyes welled up. ‘He’s only a child, didi…’ she pleaded.

I was touched by her love for him but I was firm. No apology, no party.

She ran to him and began to beg him to say sorry to mama. He refused.

I left the dressed Bean and went to get dressed. I came back to find that the maid had picked out some clothes and dressed him.

I was all set to give her a dressing down because the Brat was looking smug, assuming that since he’d been dressed, he’d been forgiven. I was also mad at her for raising his hopes.

He is not going, I said firmly, until he apologises.

Bag in hand I was about to leave and the Brat set his lips firmly – I gave him one last chance and then we began our descent.

We were almost at the bottom of the stairs when there was a whirlwind of activity at the top of the stairs. The doors slamming, much whispering and conferring and then the maid appeared around the corner, running down the stairs with the Brat in her arms.

‘Didi, he’s saying sorry, he’s saying sorry… please don’t punish him like this…’

 A sheepish looking Brat looked at over my shoulder.. She whispered in his ear and prompted him… ‘I’m sorry mama. I won’t do naughty things again.’

Say sorry to didi too, I glared…

Sorry didi…

She sagged with relief, unshed tears glinting in her eyes and then with a small hug passed him to me. We left for the party, all sins forgiven.

No, she can’t teach him the alphabet or be his mother. But she can and is, a terrific didi to him. She loves him, aches for him, saves him often from the hand descending on the small butt, and for that, I am duly grateful. Any more than this, I cannot and do not expect. It would just be a bonus.

Of course the OA came home and in traditional OA style had a rude explanation with a wicked twinkle in his eyes… ‘Maybe she was just terrified of being stuck at home with our little terror for an extra two hours, which is why she was crying!’ Yeah right…


40 thoughts on “Ki jaana….

  1. The Brat sounds like my 11 yr old daughter. My wife and I think it is the crazy pre-teen madness (God, give us strength for the actual teen madness).

    Of the two, my wife is the disciplinarian and I am the child spoiler. We make it a point never to correct the other when either she or I are overdoing our act.

    Still, I’ll need to admit, our kids are quite spoilt (I’m the guilty one). What do I do? I know, I know…this is not a column, but I consider you as somewhat of an expert on the matter.


  2. So Bratster didn’t get a thappad for having broken the cup?

    Me: nah. no point. attention craving tactic anyway. he *does* get a whack once in a while, but its usually for a very serious crime

  3. in my book flinging a cup of milk across the room and breaking it would be a serious crime indeed.

    Me: different kids, different parents, different limits, different books, no?

  4. “I left the dressed Bean and went to get dressed. I came back to find she’d pulled out some clothes and dressed him.”
    For a second I thought Beanie dressed the Brat … considering our darling girl, that day may not be far ahead 🙂

    Me: 🙂 she insists on bathing him everyday, mother hen! i’ll bathe her and she’ll shampoo his hair, get soap in his eyes and end up getting him mad!

  5. Gosh I deal with this everyday but here she who must not be named does the consoling when I try to do some disciplining…

  6. You are a very patient mother!!! My Son too has done that a couple of times..and what he got was a solid whack!! once it was unintentional and i felt miserable about losing my temper….
    Kudos MM…

    Me: I’m not really you know – this was just one day that I controlled my temper! Cant have brat and me both losing it at the same time

  7. BTW, when i was reading thru the post i had the same thoughts running in my mind as the OA’s..when i saw the last line i couldn’t help but smile!!!!
    Well i can attribute that to the horrible experiences i have had with half a dozen maids who have come and gone..sigh!!!

  8. Oi. That was just a rhetorical question. You know that right?

    WRT affection, I am also of your school of thought. I’ve seen some of my friends when they go through the process of choosing daycares. They get so taken in by the glossiness of the place. They are maha impressed by how the maids wear disposable gloves during diaper changes, about the fancy toys etc.

    While all that is good..Me,if I had to pick someone to take care of my kids, what I would look for is, love and affection. Kids need that the most. ABC and stuff we can anyways teach.

    Am glad you have help that is so in love with their charges. I think that has happened because of the way you treat them! Some of the folks I know rule them with an iron hand, and all their latent frustration gets taken out on the poor kids.

    Me: course I did, babe… but I wanted to blog about this incident anyway. This girl may not be with me many years and I want the brat to know something about a girl who was his friend and saviour many a time.

    And yes, I ensure that they think of the kids as their own because that is how I refer to their respective charges – as ‘your baby’ and ‘your friend’. The kids still cling to mama when I am around and it doesnt bother me in the least bit to make the maids feel like part of the family and ensure that they treat the kids like their own.

  9. loved the way u dealt with the situation. I have to make a mental note to remember that when my lil brat gets to that stage.

    totally agree with u on the maid part. I’m praying and hoping that my maid stays on. But she’s already talking of taking 1 month leave to go to calcutta… i am so dreading that.

    Me: mine usually promise to be back in 15 days and return in 3 months. i’ve realised there is nothing i can do about it. thats just the way they are. they go home and forget about their jobs here until the money runs out. I have decided that if I get someone else, I will hire them, if not,no option but to wait 😦

  10. Really impressed with your patience and tact. I am either too lax or too severe, don’t know the balance, that is, if I were in such a situation.

  11. So true. Give me a loving maid over an efficient one any day. The days that Ayaan was away at my mum’s I would get daily requests from my maids for updates on what he was up to. Instead of enjoying their break from the brat, they were pining for him 🙂

  12. Has she been taking care of brat for a long time? Coz I’ve heard that maids develop a kind of attachment after taking care of a child.
    Happened to be talking with this maid in the playpark the other day. She had brought an elder child to play while she was holding the younger one who is just over an year old. She said she was working there even before this child was born and have been taking care of him ever since birth. Her contract (Singapore is famous for foreign maids. You can see people from various asian countries working here as household help) is expiring in a couple of months and she might have to leave the country. She was teary eyed when she said “This baby is just like my child. I don’t know how I will live without him”.
    Initially when she started talking, she told me “my first is 4 yrs old and 2nd is over an year old”. It took some time for me to confirm that she is a caregiver and they are not her children!
    OA’s explanation is ridiculous !

  13. you are patient.i would have given my son a total time out for at least 2 hours along with a whack if he had shown the same experience.

    Me: LOL! I give a whack only if they are doing something dangerous – otherwise its just a series of whacks taking no effect. So climbing up a wall or a finger in the plugpoint, or sitting on the younger one would be considered life threatening. these kind of things are rare in my house – the brat is really a good i’d rather understand where he is coming from than just whack him. then the whack has no novelty value. also – studies show that time outs for a long period have no effect as the child forgets what his crime was…

  14. I was expecting something on the lines of “You can’t make me go, unless Brat also joins us”, from the Bean. The younger ones can be mean/smart that way. Case in point:me! Heh!

    The OA’s analysis brought back memories of “The Revenge of the Baby-sat – Calvin & Hobbes Series” Poor Rosalyn!!

  15. Hello Hello
    Since when did a childish act of flinging a cup down become such a crime? Going by the comments, it looks like either (a) said kids are angels on planet earth who never lose their temper or (b) said kids are on a tight leash and are mortally afraid to do any wrong, because consequences are serious.

    I think what you did was appropriate. What would be the point of losing the temper when we know that that type of occurrence is rare for brat and that he must already be majorly pissed to have done it.

  16. Affection over efficiency,anyday…especially in these “nuclear”times when there are no uncles,aunts and beloved grandparents to take the edge off our disciplining..though I would imagine you have to be a real stone-heart not to develop any Loouwe for your two:)…I’m fortunate enough to have had the same “helper” ,as maids are called in our part of the world, for 15 years and the mutual affection and support ‘tween her and my kids warms my heart…we’ll have to wait another few months before Beanie takes up Brattie’s causes-she must’ve been so offended at all the milk splashing on her:D

    Me: she did in her own way you know – we’re going down the stairs and she’s saying, ‘where’s baba? wait for baba..’
    and when i was telling him to say sorry, she kept tugging at my pants and saying sorry on his behalf.

  17. That was so sweet! Your maid seems really attached to your children! I think it is also a reflection of how you treat the maids.. I know people who really treat their maids badly.. and I certainly don’t expect them to bond that well with the children..

    OA’s interpretation is hilarious!!

  18. My mom was also very strict on discipline.

    Punishment was always in order when we did anything naughty! And there was no getting out of it with sorries. Lucky brat!

    Me: 🙂 no – lucky me. Its so rare that he misbehaves that i’m rarely pushed to that limit where i have to punish.

  19. This reminds me of our darling maid in India, who has been with our family for 16 years. Not only did she save our hide as teenagers and spoil us, but last year when I was there with a 5 year old (who was having a major reaction to having just had a sibling AND being out of his home environment) she would sorta swoop in almost out of nowhere as soon as she would hear tempers flaring and whisk him away with
    “Gosh! Wonder what that cat’s doing”.

    Not before giving me the mad eye and conveying speechlessly that he is *just* a kid and *I* need to learn to behave.

    I can never win.

  20. I totally agree with your philosophy on dom help. I’m happy trading efficiency and even some small household supplies for genuine love and affection for my kids

  21. In fact, mine usually beg for latest photos of the kids when they go home for vacation, which is so sweet

    Me: mine too 🙂 always take home recent pics.

  22. Did you not think the OA had a point ;-)Depending on the situation that thought might have crossed my head too! I know its evil, but a possibility??

    Me: with my wicked daughter? yes 😀 with my gentle son – its hard not to love him! that and the fact that she gets in the way just when i am about to bring a hard hand down on his butt, risking her own in the bargain!

  23. That is very sweet.
    Together you are doing the good cop, bad cop routine. Brat doesn’t stand a chance 🙂

    Me: LOL! didnt think of it that way at all. now that you mention it!

  24. You are lucky to have someone who loves the kids, I’d say!

    And the Beanie actually said sorry on behalf of her brother? That’s so sweet!

    Me: trust me, i know i am. the first maid ever burnt the brats stomach at 7 months. and the bean is ALWAYS saying sorry on his behalf. i actually have to shoo her away to get some peace.

  25. Is it just me, or is a blog/book full of the OA’s sayings and responses to situations, sounding increasingly interesting?

    I know, I know. You’re siding with the OA? That too by commenting on this blog?? Heresy! Get out of here you!

    Theek hain baba. Jaate hain, jaate hain. No need to do drama.

    Me: gasp. traitor!!!!!!!!!!! pick a side and it better be mine.

  26. It reflects on the kind of person you are. The respect, trust and the love you give the maids reflects on the behavior they have on the kids and you.
    I am glad the maids have you who treats them as family and I am glad you have the maids who are a great support system.

  27. well MM strangely so far he does remember his offense even after a 2 hour time out so i am giving it a for me:)

    Me: of course. you must do what works for you. for me a simple sorry works. they rarely repeat an offence 🙂 yet to see how the bean fares as she grows.

  28. oh i know what u mean… the other day ojas was insisting on something which i couldnt do and didnt want to do and was shouting and wailing for that for a long time, my heart was aching too but I had to let him cry cause he is becoming way too stubborn and i could see a tear of the corner of her eye and oh the pleading looks that she gave me almost gave me away

  29. Win-win for everyone (I think)! 🙂 Eventually, did he tell you why he threw the cup? I’m making notes for if-and-when and I don’t even think there is an ‘if’.. Every kid worth his salt has to have a throw-and-smash tantrum. 🙂

  30. 🙂

    we keep saying this all the time. we live with Amma’s terrible housekeeping skills simply because she adores Cubby of ours! 🙂

    when we go to doc she has more questions post visit that I did. has he gained weight? what did the doc say etc!

    when he didnt get a single tooth by like 9months almost, she said it shows he has brains appraently! hehe!

    always an excuse for anything and everything! 😀

    god bless these women! 🙂


  31. kaahe ko badnam karti ho bacchon ko.. they’re such gems, yaar 😉

    Me: they fooled you too, huh?! Its easy to behave for an hour or two you know! 😉

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