Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break Pursuits – Designer Jewellery

Did you have an appointment diary when you were 6 years old? Me neither. But times have changed and how!

Spring break is here and with holidays come play dates, craft dates, movie dates, sleepovers and overnight trips. If all this in just about a week’s time sounds exhausting to you, hold your breath, these are notes from a little girl’s calendar!

Yes, my 6 year old is busier than me this week, squeezing up to 3 events a day to attend. Of course the events she has to go to are IPMW meaning; I PLAY, MOM WORKS. So while their moms have more on their hands planning for and working towards play dates, organizing craft activities and taking them to movies and trips, all the girls have to do is get dressed and show up, unless of course you count having fun as work.

I love to organize stuff to do for my daughter and her friends but am careful not to go overboard with it. I understand that planning an activity is more fun for the kids than actually doing it. So here’s how it works – if kiddo asks “Mom what are we going to do with my friends for spring break”, I ask her “what would you like to do” and give her a couple of choices. She picks up jewellery making this time, so we get in motion shopping for jewellery kits, snacks, paper plates and cups and the plastic cloth to work on. Next she cleans up her room on the day of the planned activity. She also helps with putting snacks and plates on the table.  And then, she just can’t seem to stand the wait. From peeping through the window to hearing imaginary door bells ring, she anxiously waits for her friends to arrive. The first one to ring the bell gets the loudest welcome “yippee”! After which every guest is received by a group of giggling girls, the group size getting bigger with each arrival.

When everybody’s turns up, the materials are all put in the center and the activity commences. Now here’s the tricky part. If you assumed that the girls would make their own stuff with great interest and co-ordination, which they are actually very much capable of doing, you are going to be in for some disappointment. They need help, not because they can’t do it themselves but because they lose interest in like 2 minutes! So then that’s what moms are there for. We sit with them, help them cut the thread, slip in beads occasionally and try very hard not to correct them when they insist on coming up with weird combinations and patterns. I must admit here that for us moms, it is very difficult to just sit there and not make the perfect piece of jewellery with all those beautiful beads. We remind ourselves that it is supposed to be fun and not perfect and as long as the girls are having a good time, it doesn’t matter. The competitive spirit in us has to be curbed down now and then. By the end of it, since we keep it short, simple and sweet, the girls are happy and proudly pose for us adorned with handmade designer jewellery.

And even before we put the remaining beads away, they are gone, back to what they had really gotten together for – playing!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where is the Comb?

So the toddler has now started talking and it is de ja vu all over again for us. Just like her sister, the sentences have imbibed question marks in them.  All of our day and some of the night are spent answering questions posed by her, that too in style. Her unclear pronunciations and the inability to say certain letters only adds to the humor and mystery. 

At times we literally scratch our heads to catch on what she is asking for. She expects full concentration and immediate obedience from us! We have to remain perpetually prepared to decipher her commands or else face the wrath!

Interestingly, her first sentence was “kansko kya chhe?”..Translated as “where is the comb?” Well, what else did I expect from a girl? Since that day we have yet to hear anything from her that does not start with ‘where’. She never says she wants milk or that she wants her doll or that she wants to go out. What she asks is “where is the milk?” or “where is my doll?” and “where are the shoes?” (For going out).

Sometimes it is really hard to understand what we are supposed to look for because she comes up with her own names for things. Like a pen is also a pencil. So she keeps asking for a pen calling it a pencil and we look all over the place and come up with every single pencil in the house only to hear “No, No, No” and even have the pencil thrown back at us. Suddenly she sees a pen propped on a writing pad in a corner of the coffee table and makes a grab for it. “Pencil” she says happy with her discovery and we look at each other as if we had been declared the dumbest people on this earth.

Likewise ‘Princess’ covers the whole range of princess products Disney has to offer and available around the house. When she asks for ‘Princess’  it could mean anything from a coloring book to a box of crayons, a princess water bottle or a doll, the tiara or a bedtime story book, a t-shirt or a jacket, a puzzle or a ball. Like detectives on a mission, we try and read her expressions, see where the pointed finger is headed to and perform a quick dissection of her surroundings. Putting two and two together, we then try and come up with the “Princess” that fits the bill. So if she as a box of crayons, we look for the princess coloring book, if her sister’s reading a book, we come up with the baby’s own princess bed time story and if Dad is picking up the car keys, we put on her jacket knowing for sure that the next question is going to be “where are the shoes”.

As cute as her questions sound to us, we are well aware of how irritating they maybe to others. So we try very hard not to go on and on about her expanding vocabulary and restrain ourselves from getting that proud beaming look on our faces every time a new question props up.

A couple of years back when we visited my sister, Baby no. 1 was 3 and a half years old and Baby no. 2 still had 4 more months to come out of her comfort zone (!!). Baby No.1 was on a talking spree and nothing we did could make the chatter stop.  My brother in law had even named her ‘why why wubzy’ for the endless capacity she had for asking questions. This time around, my sister is scheduled to visit us soon and I wonder what title the toddler is going to earn!

p.s. – “We” in this post includes Daddy and Didi who are occasionally smarter than Mommy in figuring out the mystery of “where is ….” 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating Myself

International Women’s day this month has infused a contagious enthusiasm all over the web world. Everybody seems to be talking about celebrating “womanhood”. I had heard of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, baby showers and even break-ups (!!) but celebrating myself? That seemed a little strange to me.

But it did force me to think about myself and about things that are nice and worth applauding. And that’s when I concluded, why not? If I can celebrate days and dates and special occasions, there are ample reasons to celebrate me, the person within and as seen by people around me.

To celebrate is to rejoice and to honor. To me, it also means acknowledgement of who I am without being apologetic. If I have to celebrate myself, I cannot just skip the uncomplimentary part and exult in what shines. I have my quirks and I have my virtues. I try not to succumb to my limitations and often succeed. Far from perfect, that is what describes me and that may just be the reason for celebrating me.

People call me stubborn and adamant and that may well be true
For, I do not give in easily on things even if they are miniscule
I argue, I plead and fight for what is mine
But a “please” from my children can easily sway me
And even a stranger’s disaster causes me a little grief.

Thrills and surprises, little gifts of affection
More than a decade of being in love hasn’t cured me
I like to make special days memorable and work hard to make them so
By now pretty much everybody in the house knows
If it’s a special day, something beholds.

I have little patience for tantrums; I love my beauty sleep
When I pick up a book I do not stop till I finish
These are just a few of the things that no longer hold true about me
My children came along and completely changed me
So now tantrums give me headaches but I still deal with them
Waking up twice in the night to warm up a bottle
Is as close I can get to perfect sleep
Returning unread books to the library no longer breaks my heart.

I am skeptical and cynical and say it as it is
I don’t care if someone’s mad with me as long as I say the truth
Injustice I can’t tolerate and often regret butting in
A miser and a dreamer, I rarely splurge on me
But if I have to go to the mall to buy gifts
I pick out the best from what there is 
I take life too sincerely and I know it for sure 
This particular trait unnerves people around me
After all who would play a game of cards
As if her life depended on it?

I can’t always be nice but I can often be kind
I can’t always be sweet, but I can forever be honest
I can’t always be amusing but I can at all times be reliable. 

There isn’t a thing about me that makes me special
And then there is everything in this world that sets me apart
Like every woman who knows her worth, I say it with ease;
Not even a day goes by when I do not celebrate ME.

This blog post is on its way to Women's Web..

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Embarrassment thy name is foreign to me! Finale

“The Store”

Ask any Mom and she would probably call this place the ultimate humiliator (pardon the incorrect language).  Yes, the same store becomes either heaven or hell depending on who’s tagging along.

Colorful new designs to welcome you, perfume and makeup corners to lure you and the clearance sections that beckon you, ahhh…the joys of shopping are second to none. Hours felt like minutes when I went on shopping sprees before.  And by the end of it any guilt about spending on things not needed would be rubbed off instantly by counting the number of calories burnt just moving around in the store. Money spent =weight lost, not a bad deal at all, I used to tell myself. Before we all get carried away let me say this, we are talking about an entirely different era here.

Fast forward and cut to the present day. Minutes feel like hours, all because of the sheer mental and physical exercise that one has to undergo persuading a 6 year old shopper who wants to buy all the girlie stuff available in the store and chasing a 2 year old who thinks the space between aisles was created to practice marathon runs.

And you would think strollers and shopping carts could restrain kids from running wild in the store! All is good till they are babies and happy sleeping in their infant seats while you shop to your heart’s content. Things are still manageable when they are a year and a half and enjoy the ride that a shopping cart offers. The trouble starts with two and from thereon it just keeps getting worse.

The “trouble” can also be classified into two parts. The first is when they are too young to understand the notion of shopping and treat the store as a playground and the cloth racks as a hiding place. So if you see an out of breath woman running around the store calling for someone at the highest permissible pitch of voice in the store, do not assume she has gone mad. It could be me looking for baby no. 2 who has a knack for sneaking away right under your nose. The second is when they start picking up things for themselves at the store. While the first one is hard on your body, the second one’s gonna hurt your pocket.

But if I had to choose between the devil and the witch I would say in a store, 6 years is a lot better than troublesome two. The 6 year old you can convince, bribe or even blackmail with a timeout, the toddler is a little tougher to get through. Try and catch them while they run and risk looking like a fool or stop them and knowingly becomes a target of their brutal, physical (kicking, scratching) and ear piercing (howling, screaming) attack. It is what they call a no-win situation.

From leaving a fully loaded shopping cart at the checkout line to forgetting what I had gone to the store for in the first place, I have done it all. But what ultimately made me what I am today (which is “unashamed”) is the “roll over” as I call it. And once you are a victim of the roll over, nothing else can ever shame you.

It has been in existence for as long as people have had kids and the chances of a parent not suffering it in a lifetime are as rare as me landing on the moon. Of course, each child is blessed with his or her unique style but this particular stunt is definitely not a rare skill and therefore there are zero chances that I can get it patented for Baby no. 2.

It all starts with a refusal. One minute she is all happy and walking with me side by side and the next second she stands still, eyeing my reaction. When I don’t give in, the wailing starts. This is when the blunder of trying to reach out for her is committed. I do that to save myself the embarrassment of being stared at by the other shoppers (some of who are genuinely shocked at the screeching noise coming out from a child who doesn’t look capable of even a whimper) only to land in a bigger situation. As soon as I take a step towards pacifying her, she throws herself on the floor like a stunt man and rolls from one side to another. And she is fast, I kid you not. I reach on one side and she moves to the other, I make a grab at the other end and she rolls out of reach. Finally when I manage to stop her and try to lift her by the shoulders, her whole body does a flip flop that would put even a skilled gymnast to shame. Either that or she goes stiff, so stiff that it is impossible to lift her or bring her to a comfortable position in my arms.

At this point I have a couple of options. Leave her on the floor and wait till the end of the day till she gets exhausted and decides she doesn’t mind being picked. I could also ignore her bawling and acrobatics, somehow haul her up and exit the store at the earliest. Or I could talk to her, try and pacify her and hope that she voluntarily decides to save the stunt for some other day. To be honest, after having tried all the options listed above a couple of times, I now avail of the alternative that is effective, gets me quick results and never fails. And what’s more it’s cheap and delicious and fits in my purse. I take out a purple colored (supposed to be grape flavor) sucker and dangle it front of her eyes as she lies on the floor. The twisting and turning stops as suddenly as it started. The half closed eyes brimming with real tears (yes, as fake as their cries are in circumstances like these, the tears are always real, I guess that’s what makes a mother’s heart melt so easily) are now wide open. A cute little hand tries to reach out for the sucker and says “mama give”. Mama, who is by now a seasoned player, scoops up the baby, puts her in the stroller first and then gives her the sucker. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Embarrassment thy name is foreign to me! Part 2

"The Airplane"

Travelling with kids is bad enough but travelling with kids in an airplane is as bad as it gets. No wonder some of the airlines have banned children from their first class seats! Logic says that as a parent it should anger me, this discriminating policy of a certain airline, targeted at parents of little innocent children. But at this point I am beyond logic. Hey, if it’s a pain for me to travel with them; their own mother, can’t blame you for not wanting them around puking next to you just when you are about to settle for a nap in your spacious, fully reclining, comfy first class seat.

So understanding the other people’s point of view is just one part of the story. The other part is my own story, the actual sufferer in the whole air travel business. The person who gets ugly glares from people when her kid wails and screams loud enough to beat everybody’s eardrums at take off. The mom who desperately tries to balance a food tray and a toddler on her thigh in an economy class seat. The monster who looks like she is about to smack (but she dare not !!) her 4 year old who has just overturned a bowl full of peanut snack on herself and finally the loser who has resigned to fate and let the journey take its course.

have been through some really long journeys in a plane with two kids and it hasn’t been as bad as I have made it out to be above. BUT it hasn’t been pleasant either. I am not going to go ahead and say “it was a great 17 hour plane ride with the kids, they had a blast and so did I!!”

And I have learnt a few lessons as well, one of them being turning a deaf ear to accusing tones and a blind eye to those “looks”.  On one such recent journey we landed with not one but both seats such that made the long travel with kids impossible. One of them didn’t have a working television and the other seat’s TV couldn’t be pushed out of the arm rest. A 16 hour flight and two kids with no TV to entertain and all I asked for was that one of the attendants atleast try and pull that stubborn equipment out. What I got was a cold look and a “we won’t stoop low enough (literally) to pull that TV out for you, deal with it” kind of an answer. Fine, I returned the glance which said “don’t blame me if the kids find out an alternative entertainment “.

At the end of that terribly long flight as I was securing my handbag and my children before disembarking, the same attendant came by and made a face looking at the area we had occupied for nearly a day. Surveying the bits of paper and food she commented “Wow, did a hurricane just pass by here?” holding out a huge trash bag, waiting for me to make her job easier. “It probably did since there was no television” I said and started walking towards the door. That was probably the closest I ever came to returning a favor.

p.s. Finally we shall reach “The Store” next…

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Embarrassment thy name is foreign to me!

Any doubts that I had about having an ounce of mortification have today been put to rest and I am in a position to declare officially, confidently that I am beyond it!

Of course it hasn’t happened overnight and of course I ain’t proud of it. But you see the thing is I am kind of feeling a little liberated, buoyant and better-off now that the burden of keeping up with social etiquettes has been lifted off my shoulders, could this condition be diagnosed as “shameless”? Well, I am not going to say it, you decide.

And who do you think is responsible for lifting the burden of my shoulders? My two little devils, who else? Before I sing their praises let me tell you that in my world there are two kinds of extreme humiliations possible. Being caught in the middle of a messy home or a public outburst. Having suffered both the scenarios ample number of times, immunity came faster than medicine.

Like I said before, this hasn’t happened in a day just like Rome as we all know wasn’t built in a day. If I had to retrace my steps and go back to where it all started the chronology of events would be somewhat like this.

“The house”

Charity begins at home and so does disgrace. To give myself a little bit of credit, I had things pretty much in control till well after the arrival of Baby no. 1. Like my mother and her sisters who inherited “the” trait from their mother, I too fell into the same gene pool category. We used to be clean freaks, all us ladies in the family and by “used to be” I mean the rest of them still are. To give you a few examples, clothes worn outside house even for less than an hour went straight into the laundry basket, leftovers had only one destination – garbage can, the kitchen sink had to be clean even if was 2 a.m. by the time the guests left and bedtime routine started with laying a fresh bed sheet over the one that had been in use all day. I could go on and on with such examples but  figured it would be a waste of time since the above sufficiently explained the point to be made.

With the arrival of our first child, it became a little tough to live up to the high standards set by my own self but I was younger and not really current with the ways of other worlds.  So I worked around the house when the baby slept and then marveled at the mess she managed to create in about quarter of the time it took for me to clean up.  Still, the zeal to maintain appearances was very much alive and I took pride that if anybody showed up unannounced, they would find a clean carpet, a mess free kitchen and a well fed baby, at almost any time of the day! As the baby grew into a toddler, the “unannounced “changed to “a 10 minute notice” and then to “sufficient notice”.

And here I must say that nobody can really blame me for not trying. When the second baby came along and started crawling a couple of months later, I made a valiant effort to pass the quality control test. I tried to keep the toys in their bins, food off the carpet and pillows on the bed. I tried to fold laundry on time, load the dishwasher after meals and retain books on the shelves. I tried to be a Super Mom. Most of it I tried to do for the benefit of that “unannounced” visitor. But, there is only so much that a mind and body can take.  It took many wasted hours to realize that if I was going to utilize every minute of my free time in setting things right around the house, the only thing that wouldn’t be right after a while would be my brain.

So these days I am no longer a captive of my own code of belief. I cash in on any free time that I get and do things that are high on my list of priorities like reading a book, calling up a friend, taking a walk, writing mommy posts or watching a movie; the dishes in the sink can wait!

p.s. “The Airplane” follows….

Monday, March 5, 2012

A little step in the world of fiction

Heya everybody..
finally took a tiny bit of a step towards writing fiction and here's the story published in SPARK:


I promise you a laugh or two if you have the patience to finish the whole piece!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Fear means more to me these days than it used to. From being a risk taker to leading a cosseted life, from “I don’t give a damn” attitude to diplomatic dealings and from driving a two wheeler with a total of three on board on the highway to checking the speedometer of the car too often, it has been a gradual deterioration.

Travel planning used to be fun and exciting, even more than the actual travel. These days though there is also a certain level of anxiety which just doesn’t go till I reach my destination. Couple of years back, we were planning a trip to India and with all the thrill of shopping for gifts and packing there was a gnawing apprehension about something I found hard to share with anyone. A friend who was travelling 2 days before me to the same place came over one day to exchange notes and we got talking about the unbearably long travel and things like that. Suddenly she said “I am so scared of something bad happening in the flight, like a hijack situation or something.” And it was exactly what was going on in my mind and I had felt like saying those very words. Thank God, I thought, there are people who have the same kind of fears and it means I am not insane!

And the thing is I don’t even know when these kind of tiny qualms started creeping in. Because as long as I remember, when packing to go anywhere, all I used to think about was the scenic route or the book to take on the journey or the new people I might meet and get to know on the way. Disaster never crossed my mind.

Same goes with the news that I read. News around the world used to generate a little bit of curiosity and concern earlier. Now when I read or hear about school shootings, child kidnappings and abuse, terror attacks or people dying of man-made disasters, it stays on me longer. At times I say a silent prayer and the other times I wish I could do something to prevent it (not very practical I suppose).

So why do I fear things that have never happened to me?

Is it aging? Is it a natural progression of the mind which goes from being carefree to being more aware of its surroundings and thereby the dangers present in it too? Or maybe it is the world that we live in today where something better gets invented everyday and so does something terrible.

Is it because of witnessing sad things happen to people you love and the realization of vulnerability that comes with it? Or maybe it is the unpredictability and brutality of life itself these days where the young are taken away before the old.  

I think it is bits and pieces of everything put together. A sizable portion of it is growing up and becoming aware of the perils of the world, the bad with the good. It is also the easy accessibility to all kinds of information from every corner of this earth thanks to the media and its far-reaching connections. If I didn’t know half the things I would be happier!  

But mostly I think it is because I have so much more to lose now.