Friday, February 6, 2015


A sleepy good morning, a sloppy kiss, a couple of reminders to turn the shower off. Finding a sock, packing a box and coaxing to have one more bite of the toast. The diurnal charades of filling lunches and matching hairbands with the Tees have lost their charm in their eternal continuity. What I really want is a steaming hot cup of tea and a place by the window to soak in the delights. There used to be days when all this was fun, the frantic mornings; not anymore.

The backpack is ready, shoelaces are tied, not a short time has passed since the alarm was turned off, yet the steaming cup of tea, still eludes me. Not that I am particularly fond of all the other chores, what I absolutely detest these days is the dropping off part. Hardly a two minute walk from the home to the school, but I am ready to give it up for a moment to be alone.

“Mommy, it’s time to go” she pulls my hand and leads me to the door. Without a word I fall in step, a rhythm that has been hard to break. Her hand no longer that of a small child, unconsciously looks for and grips mine. A fierce hug and half a goodbye, always a glance back as she rushes through the school doors. She has grown taller, a year older and wiser too. I yearn to catch my breath, before the sibling stands in tow, expecting her to walk on her own, just like a bunch of classmates. Instead I see a little girl, stubbornly refusing to grow up.

One such morning, we walk hand in hand. Half a year has passed and an alteration takes place. She races through the doors without a reverse scan. With a sharp pain I realized she was ready to leave me behind.

Today, as I see it now, is not the same as that day. Mornings are still chaotic but I am glad to hear the shout that tells me it was time to step out. The soft hand that pulls me along, sways side by side, playful and earnest, without a hesitating halt. And every moment is precious because its end is so near.

She takes a stride, a bit too long, making the walk even shorter by long. She hugs me swiftly, an eye already someplace else, and all I see is my little girl, growing up way too fast. I wish I could hold on, just one second more, or re-live those million moments starting the day we brought her home. But call it a miracle or call it a curse, what is done for once, cannot be un-done.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

De-clutter, Simplify and Play More Scrabble

Either declaring your new resolution is becoming a thing of the past just like writing letters is or you have to be Mark Zuckerberg for people to take notice. But I shouldn't complain because it is actually the public admittance of his New Year resolution that led me to think about mine. For those who are not too much into celebrity lives, his resolution for the year was to start a book club and as can be expected from a man of action, it is already online. Wait, why are we even talking about a book club, particularly since I am ahead of him on that one.

Going back to resolutions, I much prefer to call them ‘things I would like to do this year’; sounds casual and definitely less resolute. And when I sat down to think of those things, not much came to mind, don’t know whether it is a good thing or a bad one. But then I looked around me (both literally and philosophically) and bam!, I knew what I needed to do this year. It wasn't anything as life changing as a book club, but came close.


Now, de-clutter may sound like a single word but it actually implies a bi--fold action. One, you get rid of the junk possessed, two, you stop buying stuff. The first part of the solution requires some effort but is doable. The second part is another story. When a woman embarks on a ‘clean up the house and tidy my closet’ mission, don’t be fooled. All the enthusiasm garnered is simply because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Which is, you get rid of old stuff (which may sometimes not be very old) and buy new. The idea behind creating some space is never for it to remain that way. Just like relationships, you create space to fill it up in near future.

So, on top of my list is to de-clutter but what makes it different from the humdrum is that I am going to NOT buy after tidying up. How difficult it is to do that? Extremely. Ok, not all women are fond of shopping but this particular woman is. By deciding not to buy anything but the bare essentials for the next three months, I may as well be signing off on free retail therapy (it’s not free if you think in terms of money spent on things bought, but it is free if you think of it as money not spent on therapy).

Yes, god and a mortal are my witnesses; this year is going to be about making full use of resources that are at disposal. There will of course come a time when the spaces cleared will need to be filled up, but this year is not that year. And if I am starting off with 3 months it is because the first rule of making resolutions is to make them attainable. If all goes as planned, I will have a lot to shop for next year.


This one is for the soul. It hasn't been a deliberate effort to have one for the purse, one for the soul and one for the mind. Trust me, no deeper thought has gone into it, just the way things turned out to be.

We always say, do your best and leave it at that. But it hardly ever happens that way does it. We will do our best and then analyze what went wrong. Or worse, doubt if that was the best we could come up with. We make commitments and agonize over them. We reject proposals and suffer from pangs of guilt. We miss out on opportunities and forever keep thinking what if. This is especially true for people like me who think more and do less. But it is never too late to make the switch and this year I am hoping will be that year. I have promised myself not to mull over things for too long. Over thinking may have its advantages but it’s not working out for me.  The key to happiness they say is to keep it simple.

And to prove that I mean business, this part of the post ends right here.

Play more scrabble

After all that intense physical (de-clutter) and soul searching (simplify) work that I have set myself up for this year, a little bit of fun would be totally justified. To call scrabble a mere game is actually not fair, it should be listed under one of the ‘writers’ tools’, especially if the players are in the habit of consulting the dictionary while playing. I know, defeats the purpose of the game, but definitely helps improve vocabulary and gets you points which you are otherwise not capable of earning on merit. Wait, did I just propagate cheating?

The whole paragraph of looking for ways to have fun may very well be ignored. Here are the hard facts. I was recently made aware of the joys of playing scrabble online. I am now officially addicted and sometimes play with a million random opponents long after everybody in the house is sound asleep. Putting it up as a New Year resolution takes a little bit of the guilt off and validates playing even when there are other important things to do like reaching school at a particular time for pick up. I have been a whole 5 minutes late once because I needed to come with a word without vowels. If it makes you feel any better, yes, I admit, that was a foolish thing to do.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Involved Parent

If you think this is an article applauding eager, assiduous parents who go above and beyond their role of a guide/guardian, you couldn't be more wrong. So buckle up, this one is going to be a bumpy ride for those you can see themselves in the front seats.

We have read all about the tiger mom and the panda dad but there is a type somewhere right in between. This is the type of parent who doesn't push as much as she interferes.

And although I see an increasing number of ‘involved’ parents around these days, I will talk about the one I know the best, me.

It is a school holiday and we are having a couple of my daughter’s friends over to play. You would think eight year olds had a pretty fair idea of what they wanted to do with their time, but apparently I do not think so. Half an hour before the friends are scheduled to arrive, I ‘request’ my daughter to pick a few games and set them aside so she and her friends can choose. My first question was “do you know what you girls want to play today?” to which she replies; “not really”, hence the suggestion. Isn't it just awesome when you have a planner at home who not only sets up play dates but navigates the kids through them too? So what if they are a little old for it, extra attention never hurt anybody.

A few minutes into the play and I hear loud noises arguing about taking turns. I rush upstairs all prepared to avert possible disasters. You see at this age they are not asking for my help like a three year old would but neither are they shutting the door on me like teenagers, so I squeeze right in, playing my part in smoothing out their differences, feeling proud and useful.  Proud that they still listen to me and useful because I left cooking dinner downstairs to rush to their aid. I also hung around in the nearby laundry room folding clothes, just in case…I was needed again.

While things seemed to go as planned for a while, it didn't look like they were sticking to any one game for long. In an hour, I counted that they switched between four different games and though they didn't need my interruption every time, I did manage to intervene twice. By the third time it looked like they were just about ready to hand me over the games to play by myself. Well, atleast it all ended well with the girls just chatting and doing nothing in particular.

And let me assure you, it doesn't stop at play. The involvement extends to all areas in vicinity and visibility. Sports, craft projects, birthday parties, classroom squabbles, wardrobe choices and anything that comes up on the spot. I am can handle spontaneous too! In about a hundred years I will be micro managing her dates and boyfriend troubles too.

Talking about relationships, I must point out that my daughter isn't the one to care for protocols or netiquettes. When we walk to school every morning, she smiles and says hello to most kids known to her and who reach the door at the same time. What she does not seem to be discouraged by are the ones who don’t smile back or even acknowledge her greeting. But when I see her saying hello to the same person third day in a row without as much as a smile back, I know I must do something. So the next day while we walk towards the school, I put it across gently that if friends are in a hurry to get to their classrooms it is ok not to call them out in the mornings (the ones who aren't interested in answering back, I say to myself). She looks at me like she doesn't know what I am talking about. It is so annoying; your kids being oblivious to what is so obvious to us.

And the irony is, I was so not raised in this manner. Except for the number of toys and too much of the parents’ attention, I had more of everything than her. More freedom of choice, more privacy, more independence, more chores and more space from the grown-ups. My folks did not hover around me all the time and they certainly didn't tell me what to wear, but then, they didn't take me shopping for my clothes either so that kind of solved half the problems right there!

So getting to what I want to actually say to myself and those out there like me is; yes, the world today entails more supervision and more awareness but sometimes I wonder if we are trying to pass off interference in the name of involvement? By figuring out things for them we are taking away their chance of learning some important life skills.

It is hard not to be protective and it is even harder not to get ‘involved’. Letting your kids make mistakes or do things that you can do for them much better is like watching your life’s experiences go down the drain. But if you do it once, you will have the courage to do it again. After all, they need you to be around, they also need your direction, just not too much of it.

From a perfectly executed class project to an amicable play date, teaching reciprocal behavior to pairing those pair of blue jeans with the nicest t-shirt, I want to make everything as good as can be for my little girl. But I am missing a point here isn't it? There is a beauty in imperfection, a joy in doing your own thing and a lesson to be learnt from every mistake made.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Of Candid Conversations

Who thought kids could be deeply philosophical without even realizing that they are being so?

It was a nice calm evening, neither too warm not too cold, the kind that warrants sitting out in the patio and reading a book.

My younger child is clingy, has always been. She would rather follow me all around the house than sit and play with her dolls. There have been occasions when people wondered if she had developmental issues with walking since she was always seen attached to her mother’s hip, literally. Experts in the field believe that once a child learns to walk, there is no stopping her. She is like the bird who suddenly discovered the use of her wings and can’t stop flying. Mine defied the experts by refusing to explore. All the steps she took would lead her back to me. And so, I do not find it strange at all that it was with my 4 year old that I had this conversation and not the 8 year old who probably never gave it a second thought, once her prayers were answered!

Going back to that evening, we sat facing each other, me in a comfortable green arm chair and my baby in her pink Dora chair, while I read to her. Her big sister was reading too but chose to remain indoors.

“Where is Didi?” the younger one interrupts.

“She is upstairs, inside the house.”

“What is she doing?”

“She is reading a book.”

“Why isn’t she reading outside with us?"

“She wants to be by herself.”

“Is she alone upstairs?”


“Does she like to be lonely?” (She automatically made the connection alone = lonely).


“Only sometimes? Not all the time?”

“Yea, only sometimes, not all the time.”

“Does she want someone after sometime?”

“I guess so!”

“Was she lonely before I was here” (‘here’ as in on this earth).

“Yes, she was.”

“Did she miss me? Did she want me to come because she did not want to be alone?”

“Yes sweetie, she really really wanted you to be with her. She missed you and prayed every day for a little sister.”

“She missed me!!! (A bright smile on her little face as she repeats after me).”

“Maybe I should not leave her alone right now, she might be missing me”. She ran off inside leaving me to finish her book. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why can’t we have a puppy or a kitty or a baby in this house?

I lied to her, made false promises and went back on my own word. Yes, I am guilty as charged. 

This matter goes back to the 11th of April, 2011 when my daughter turned 5 years old. I was lame enough to ask her what she wanted as a birthday present. “A dog”, came the unexpected reply. Of course I saw her play with every dog we met on our way to school, but I was under the impression that kids of parents who were not pet lovers kind of got the hint or a whiff to be more appropriate. I tried to laugh it off, like moms usually do when faced with questions they don’t want to answer, but it didn't work. “Yes, I want a pet, a puppy!” she said it out louder.

Now this was a situation that needed a quick temporary fix, something that could defer the inevitable indefinitely. I was faced with this impossible and horrendous task of saying NO to the birthday girl without spelling it out. Wait, wasn't there a figure of speech to describe something like this; saying yes when you actually mean no?

“Sweetie you are too young to take care of a pet right now”.

“You could help me!”

Hmm, that’s what mommies did, didn't they. Help their babies out.

“Tell you what, you can have a pet when you are 8.” I said after a long conversation which cannot be replicated here since I have forgotten most of it.

“Ohhh thank you Mom, thank you thank you thank you! I love you! You’re the best”!!!
And that settled it for then.

As cliche as it may sound, time does fly and soon we were making plans for a grand 8th birthday celebration. Only, a small little voice got added to the mix. And this one wanted ‘a kitty’,

So now, I was dealing with an eight year old who had the memory of an elephant and a four year old who loved cats enough to want to have one home. The older one started reminding me more than a month back every waking hour about the promise made years ago and the younger one kept repeating all that the older one said substituting the word puppy for a kitty.

And this time around, the lies were not going be sufficient. I tried stalling it one more time but she wouldn't hear of any more false promises. Being left with no other choice, I decided to come clean. I told her that having a pet at home was a lot of work and I didn't have that kind of time right now.

“But you don’t have a job” was what I got in response and only the innate knowledge of her desperateness for a pet dog gave me the strength to bear that insult. I was offended, big time.

Then I told her that her sister was finally out of diapers and into preschool, I didn't have the inclination to take on extra responsibility for now.

“But Mom, you just have to look after the puppy while I am at school, I am going to be responsible for it rest of the time”

“You come back from school at 3 p.m., that’s more than half the day gone.”

“Well, don’t you think you could help out just a little bit, it would be kind of mean not to!”

OK, so I was without a job and a mean person too just because I didn't want a pet in the house. She sure did make my day.

We went to and fro the entire birthday month, she practicing on her perseverance skills and me using the veto power, saved up for demands like these. I somehow managed to put the point across that getting a dog was something she had to consider after being completely capable of its care and protection. She continued to throw tantrums of varying degrees every time we ran into a dog, which was atleast once during the day considering that many of our neighbors have pets but  we got over the “but WHY can’t I have a puppy” stage. Now we know why, but are still mad about it!

So what would a wise person learn from this whole birthday present debacle that lasted more than 4 years? Apparently, not much.

Her little sister has her birthday a month after. We start planning another birthday party even before we finish off with the first one. And it wasn't exactly a surprise when I popped ‘the’ question, to which she replied, “I want a pet. I want a kitty cat.” If this wasn't de ja vu, it was something close.

With my second daughter though, the disadvantage was even greater. Her older sister stood right behind her, protecting their interests, fully equipped to save her from falling into my trap of adjournment. What didn't work in my favor was that unlike the older one who was more into animals than humans, the younger sibling couldn't be happier with either.

Her best friend in preschool has a younger brother and that makes her feel smaller because at home she is the younger one, not that it makes her any less bossy or stops her from beating up her older sister if need be. Many of the days when I pick her up from school she sulks in the car “why don’t I have a baby brother?” And since she is too young to understand the phrase ‘we are done! (OMG we are soooo done!”), I try and steer the conversation away to something else or tell her that some people have brothers and some have sisters and that she has a sister who loves her very much.

We have been arguing about getting a pet all over again with only a month gone by in between, only this time with a different individual in the house and the conversation gets pretty interesting. She puts us in this catch 22 situation.

“Get me a kitty.” And before I can even respond, “You have to get me a puppy if you get HER a cat” chips in the big sister.

“Sorry baby, we are not getting a kitty in this house.”

“Then, get me a small baby brother, just like my friend.”  As if she was doing us a favor by offering alternatives.

“All we are getting this year is a birthday cake and new bikes for you girls”. I know I can’t win this one with words, but I try.

“Why can’t we have a puppy or a kitty or a small baby in this house? It’s our house too, you know.” I bet the word dictator hasn't dawned upon them yet.

You can tell the younger one is still trying to figure out what kind of person doesn't pick even one out of all the three options available and the older one is just afraid to say it aloud; that thought that crosses her mind every time a cute little puppy comes in front of her, moms can be mean and they lie and they break their promises too, mine did.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Good Bargain

Two mothers, different worlds, decades apart. And yet, I think to myself, at the core, didn’t she want the same things for her children then, as I do today for my own?


There is this one side of the world where woman empowerment is for real and there is this other side where a woman is still completely unaware of her right to choose. But the other side does exist, there is no denying more here..