Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new year!! And goodbye for a while!

Wishing you all a very happy new year! I hope the coming year is filled with many happy moments, lots of laughter, cozy times with family and good health most of all!

I have been wanting to take a blogging break partly because of time issues. But I never could get myself to do it - because what started as a whim became so much a part of my life - I got so involved in the lives of the people I read about. I think about them often and if I did't read any posts from them, I wondered about what was happening at their end. Blogging felt like a life line on some days when the mundane things in life piled on so much that you felt weighed down by it all. Reading about a child's achievement, a travel escapade, a school play, a funny incident, a monthly update all served to cheer me up on those days. And on days I did post, it was exciting to look to see if any one had read it and commented on it. It all became an addiction. I have gotten to know some wonderful people through these blogs and felt a sense of community despite having very little time to meet people and socialize in a group locally. I will miss it all terribly which is why I want to safely call this a blogging break - because I would like to come back to it some day when I feel like it. And hopefully have a few people still visit my site and leave comments and make some connection. I thank very sincerely the people who have read my posts and left me comments and also established a more personal connection through email. I will of course still be accessible on email. I don't want to make this too dramatic for I don't know really if any one will even notice - but for the few who do, I wanted to say a proper good bye before taking a break! Hope the year 2009 is a wonderful one for you and your family!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Shweta walked passed the vanity sink to get her red sequined Sari from the walk-in closet. She started draping it around her and threw the pallu over her shoulder. For a second she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She wondered for a second if it was really her. She had taken a month off from her graduate studies for her wedding in Delhi. Just six months back she had been toiling in her computer laboratory working late hours and having no thoughts of a wedding. Rajesh walked into her life and changed all of that. She had plenty of talent, had excellent education and sharp features too. Yet she had never felt comfortable in social settings and would retreat to a corner. She never felt that she had the smoothness of conversation that her friend Vidya did. She had envied Vidya for her cool demeanor around her male friends. So many of them had fallen for Vidya while Shweta had always been the friend, the confidante to the men who sought out her friend. They would befriend her to gain access to Vidya.

When Rajesh approached her and asked her out for dinner, she was sure this was about playing messenger to Vidya. She never felt animosity towards her for that but could not help feeling disappointed at the thought when it came to Rajesh. He was the mate she had in her mind. The intelligent look in his eyes, the accessible demeanor, passion for music, being able to converse well in Tamil, he even wore thin rimmed glasses just like the image she had in mind. And to see this guy falling for her friend. Why couldn't this one person have liked her and not Vidya? She cursed herself for her bad luck and bit her lip and tried to conceal her emotions as they sat down to eat.

The rest of the evening and the months that followed still felt like a dream. Rajesh had very simply told her that he liked her and would like to marry her. Straight. No dating, no mind games. To the extent she wondered if there was a catch. If there was something she was missing here. Things fell in place so smoothly that she lost track of time and of herself. For someone who had never dated anyone, to be accepted and desired so sincerely by the man of her dreams made it hard for her keep her feet on the ground. She felt like she really understood what cloud nine meant during those months.

She put the sindoor on her forehead and admired herself. She had started wearing eye liner and lip gloss ever since she got engaged. She had suddenly felt a desire to look beautiful, not just pleasing. She started wearing bright clothes and bold earrings. She stood in front of the vanity mirror and thought of her good luck. She now had a wonderful husband and not just that. She had a mother-in-law who was beyond belief. She treated Shweta like a queen. She gave them space and let them have their time together. She never expected her to cook and praised her singing when Rajesh asked her to sing at family gatherings.

Rajesh and Shweta got into the car and left for Bangalore. Mrs.Govind as she was known to many of her students put her feet up and let herself absorb the vacant feeling in the house. The house guests had finally left that morning and after three weeks of frenzied activity, she had two days to herself. Even her husband had gone out of town on work. She thought of her daughter-in-law. The focus of her son's attention now. Mrs.Govind had raised him well and given him all that she could as a mother. And now her job was done. She felt good but it was bitter sweet. She had been a school principal and had an air of sophistication about her that her daughter-in-law did not. They were wealthy in comparison and had more refined tastes in her opinion. As a daughter-in-law, she felt Shweta was no match for her. She did not speak English with a crisp accent. She looked good but dressed simply. She never wore high heels or sleeveless blouses. They lived in a large bungalow in Delhi but Shweta grew up in a two bedroom flat in Madurai. She does have brains though, Mrs.Govind thought to herself. And she seems to be more at peace with herself than I am at this point, she muttered silently.

She went upstairs to rest up and sort out her muddled thoughts. What is it she wanted out of her daughter-in-law? She was lucky to have Shweta in her life. She knew that. But she felt a feeling of hatred wash over her when she was alone at home. Yes, she was alone. In more than one sense of the word. She had prepared for this mentally and yet she found herself unprepared. As she walked up to her room, she passed by Rajesh's room. Not his room anymore, their room she thought to herself. She walked past the room and suddenly turned back and gave into impulse. She opened the door and walked in to catch a glimpse of Shweta's personal life. Curiosity took over the best of her. The crisp accented, power wielding, bold, wealthy, well dressed Mrs.Govind found herself peering into her new daughter-in-laws suitcase. She felt sick even as she walked in. She opened it gingerly and found jeans and sweaters, couple of books, salwars and Saris tossed in carelessly. Nothing interesting she thought to herself. She got up to leave before she puked at her own behavior completely lacking in culture. Her eyes fell on the little music box on the side pouch. Feeling disgusted with herself, she still pulled it out and opened it. "To my only love" the personal inscription read. She hurriedly put it back unable to stand any of it. She quickly put it back in place and rushed out of her room. She put her head back on the pillow and felt tears rushing down. She turned on her favorite ghazals on the CD player by her bedside and turned around and closed her eyes.

P.S. Fictional, based on hearsay and imagined characters!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

KB's preschool update II

I wrote this post on Sep.29.08 - nearly three months back. Funny how you worry your brains out about something and then three months later (well much sooner in this case but I am writing about it only now) you have forgotten about the tension you went through then. At that time, I had been wondering what to do about KB's preschool situation. I had chosen that school thinking it was a good fit for KB and I liked the play atmosphere in the school. But then KB cried so much that after a month of trying, the director told me to take a month off and bring him back. I had been quite upset that they called me each time he cried thus not giving him a chance to just cry it out for a few days and eventually get used to school. Well, things just work out in the way they are meant to work out.

I had written about this preschool program that I started taking KB to since early October. For the first three weeks, I used to drop him in the classroom, but I would be walking in the park outside the classroom. KB knew I was in the vicinity. In the beginning of November, when my cousin and her family visited me, she dropped him in school and the whole gang went later to pick him up. My cousin, her husband and two children, my mami - all of them! That was the first day he was dropped off and I was not there in the vicinity. From that point on, either me and B drop him off at school and then I go to pick him up. He looks really happy there. He does some craft every day and he proudly shows it to me. The kids who come there are all between ages three and five - so he gets to interact with younger and older kids and he seems quite comfortable with it.

It reamains to be seen how well he will adjust when he goes to a proper school with longer hours. But for now I am most happy that this is exactly what I wanted out of preschool for KB at age three - one that will make him happy and one where he will do some stuff and have fun doing it. He plays different games each day - duck and goose game or kids soccer etc. They trace one page of some alphabet each day. Just simple tracing games like match the letter to the picture and then trace the letter type stuff. And they read two or three books to them each day while the kids are eating snack. Even after I go to pick him up, he continues playing there for another fifteen minutes! Knock on wood.

Last year, I searched all over the place for a preschool for KB. I might never have picked this place because it wasn't what I was looking for. But the way things turned out, KB made his choice and somehow it seems like the best thing that could have happened for now. Am hoping the next school he goes to for age four (he turns four in Aug 09), the transition goes smoothly. I decided not to move him to another school in Jan itself but to wait till July of 09. I don't know if he is missing out on serious learning but I don't feel like rocking the boat now. KB is enjoying himself, so I just want to let it be! Well, the little man seems to make his own choices anyway!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to more bloggers who must choose more and include this text into the body of their award.

Thanks to CA and to Mammamia for this award. They truly deserve this award. I would have passed it on to them had not received this award already!

I pass it on to these people who also are truly deserving of this award. They are warm, down to earth and always make you feel like you can drop them a line even if you don't know them and you have this feeling that they will respond with warmth. Even if you don't actually write to them, you get that kind of feeling from their writing.



Kodi's mom

Collection of stars (who has stopped blogging for a while!)

Bangalore mom




Saturday, December 20, 2008

Once a parent, always a parent...

I think back to the days when I was a student. I had this image of finishing school, getting a job, getting married, having kids etc. I have older siblings so I saw them go through it all even as I was a young girl in middle school. I had spent good amount of time playing with and cuddling and enjoying my nieces and nephews. I remember how my first nephew used to cry his guts out on some days when he was left alone with us (when his parents went out) and we would pray that his then nanny should be still in the neighborhood so we could go get her to calm him down. Which she could really do like magic. Or how my sister used to sound out words to my niece when she was a preschooler - like "sss ah t" (for sat) etc while giving her dinner. And how my other sister told her husband they would just have to cancel their trip to India because they forgot to put my nephew's "Nebulizer" in the van (he was asthmatic) on the way to the airport stopping at my brother's place on the way. My brother made calls to local pharmacies and managed to find one that would sell them one right away. I remember my second brother concealing his anxiety and praying to God standing in his pooja room while my nephew went through a temporary but severe phase of alopecia. And I think back on those little and big moments now and see it more clearly - what it means to be a parent. How you can't help but celebrate your children's every acheivement and how their every little pain is yours to bear as well.

I read this post by Mad Momma and I could feel her joy. And really felt pride at the little boy's accomplishment on getting potty trained and being able to carry on this basic function independently. I read this post by Tharini just now (and these somewhat prompted me to write this post) and I felt like physically reaching out and patting Winkie on his back for such a commendable job. On what? On being able to go through the tedious process of wearing the whole set of winter gear patiently and correctly. And to actually not take up his mom on the offer of getting dropped off in school. What more reward does a parent want than knowing the child is learning to fly on his own? These posts might have seemed like posts on trivial every day things from a giddy mom before I became a mom myself. I don't know - just wondering if I would have appreciated as much what each of these things mean to a parent before I became one myself. It is indeed a giddy feeling when your child is able to do the simplest of things on his own. From latching on perfectly as an infant to nurse, being able to look at your eyes and smile, to roll over, to roll a ball, to saying mamma, to look at the birds in awe, to point to the moon on a summer night...every moment, a celebration. Deep within. That is only shared in equal magnitude by the other parent. In the look they give each other and knowing that the other person too feels like jumping in delight. And in that feeling deep within when you feel like you are blessed infinitely - that your child is able to do every simple thing that we take for granted. But as a parent, you do feel pride when you read about children who you get to know through blogs - in some sense you watch them grow - in a different way - through the written word. You imagine their personalities and you marvel at the little things they do. I still remember some of Winkie's art work, Ayaan's arrangement of flowers, Beanie talking clear words at a very early age, Sooraj's lovely gift for his many little things like that. These are children I have not met but only read about them through the mommy blogs. I relate to the pride the mother's feel when they write about them because that is what being a parent does to you. And it makes you realize what an important task you have at hand. That of raising children. Precious little ones that are moulded to a large extent by how much nurturing the parents are able to provide them.

I read this recently and agreed with No 1 on the list. To be able to provide your child with abundant love and to make the child feel secure in his/her early childhood years is an important task at hand. You know you love the child, but to make the child know that and to make him feel secure as a person is much harder than teaching academic concepts in my opinion. It sometimes fills me with anxiety when B remarks jokingly to me as to how much KB is influenced by my every action. While I sometimes loose my temper and yell at B in the middle of an argument, I see KB absorbing all my tones and inflections. And it later shows up in his own actions in some other instance. It is hard to become a saint as a parent. I console myself that KB has to know me as me and not as some saint that I am not in reality. Anger is as much as part of me as love is. I have to try to be good as much as I tell KB to be good. It is the trying that is even more important than winning or losing. I have to first convince myself of it before I teach KB that. But in all of the trials I go through in raising my children to the best of my ability, I realize how much I am growing in the spirit of the word as a person. They have enriched my life like nothing else has in the past and I pray that I have the courage and will to accept them as they are when they grow up and not set rigid expectations as to who they should become. I feel a sense of gratitude towards destiny for allowing me the privilege of being a parent. It takes being one to know what it means in the truest sense of the word.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The jet lands on...


That's our new continents game. I got a "Do it yourself kit" for KB where they have pre cut pieces to assemble a jet plane, race car, bird house etc. It is a lot of fun because he gets to smooth out the wood with sand paper and then paint it and then glue the pieces together to make a jet or race car.

We made the jet yesterday - he had a lot of fun painting it and was quite amused when he mixed (they only had five colors in the kit) blue and yellow and found that it turned green. He woke up this morning and told me about it with the tone of "Did you know, Mamma?".

After KG went to bed, KB and I were playing around with his newly created jet plane. I pretended like it took off and was high up in the air and I turned around and asked him which continent it was going to land on. He said, "North America"! I pretended that the couch was North America and I landed his jet plane on it. But I remembered his continents table mat he had and brought it out. KB really got into the game once I brought this out and then he took over the jet plane. I would say, "Oh, the jet plane is landing in Australia" and he would land the plane there. Then he took a piece of paper and pretended that it was the key to open the jet plane and he then let the people out. He proceeded to say that the people were all tired and needed some coffee. So he turned to the couch and made some coffee after heating some water and adding some coffee powder. (Looks like he only makes black coffee!). I then told him how awesome his coffee was and he said, "People Saptutaa maa coffee'aa" (People finished the coffee). He then went to the pretend sink and dumped their mugs in there. Then the "people" rang the door bell and I welcomed them to Australia and they all apparently had a great time there.

The jet plane took off again and I would say "Antartica" and he would land it in Antartica (on the mat). And he decided it was too cold there and so made them hot chocolate. Juice for those who landed in Africa. A bowl of soup for those who landed in Europe. And a loud welcome to the people who landed in each of these places and great hospitality with all these drinks served as soon as they set foot on the continent!

It was great fun being a part of this make believe world where every thing was so simple and straight forward and there were no lines in between to be read or rifles to be feared. It was a blissful half an hour for me. B returned home from work and KB enacted the whole scene for him with great excitement.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Feeling of home...

It is the Thanksgiving weekend. While Mumbai is dealing with endless hours of terror, we (especially those of us who do not have CNN) are flooded with advertisements for local Black Friday offers. My cousin, her husband and her adorable young daughter were visiting us after many months of failed attempts - random events coming in the way of their plans each time. India's 9/11 on 26/11. We talked about it to each other on the phone. Emailed friends who had relatives in Mumbai. I read news reports and blogs and watched NDTV's coverage late at night while the rest of the family slept. You read and read and read...yet that reality is so far away. You can feel the terror in your bones when you are physically there. But it feels almost farcical to think that I actually feel the terror that the people there in Mumbai felt. Life here goes on as usual. What do you do? Do you not entertain your guests? Do you not let your children enjoy a holiday break? You feel and yet you go on. And that makes you feel like you don't really care. Very unsettling feeling.

Prices slashed big time for plasma screen TVs. It is all over the news. Advertisements bombard us on TV. In all the years that I have lived in America, I had never stepped out on Black Friday for shopping deals. I am not much of a shopper but I had been curious about the Black Friday frenzy always. I was amused by tales of how an Indian neighbor of one of our relatives stormed into some department store to grab the rice cooker that was selling for $5.00 or some such insanely low price but had to contend with another hand placed on the only piece left, a Chinese person who loved rice just as much I suppose. They battled it out and the Indian person had the satisfaction of emerging the winner after experiencing the thrill of the chase when in fact he could have afforded to buy a very expensive rice cooker at full price.

I watched NDTV late into the night. I could not believe my eyes when they were showing this one commando on Nariman house shooting away - I was confused if this was the norm - to show such strategic operations on live TV?! I read blog posts and newspaper articles and went to bed very late at night. I had wanted to get some thing in particular for my cousin's daughter and I knew that I would not have much time during the day to go get it for her without her insisting on coming with me (in which case my cousin would have insisted I not get her one more gift). I knew Kohls was opening it's doors at 4.00 a.m. for Black Friday specials and I thought it would be a good time to go and get it over with before the kids woke up. I woke up at 5.30 a.m. and got ready and drove to Kohls at 6.00 a.m.

My first time going to shop at such an unearthly hour. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the parking lot completely full and I had to go around and around and finally found a spot in the far end of the lot. I walked in and saw that there were no shopping carts or bags available. I didn't need one since I was only going to get some trinkets for my niece. I paused and looked at some, didn't find what I had in mind and decided to walk to the children's section. I got there and saw that people were all standing in line and shopping. Wait, no - they were not shopping. They had finished shopping and were waiting in line to pay. That was the line snaking through three long sides of the store leading to the cash registers. I had never seen anything like this before. And honestly I didn't even think these were any great deals. I instantly decided to return home since it was just not worth standing in such a long line to get a couple of tee shirts or trinkets.

It was early dawn when I was driving back home. It was Shobha De on NPR talking about the Mumbai situation. About how she used to stand outside the Taj hotel when she was a little girl and wonder if she would ever be able to afford even going into that place let alone be married there. And that her daughter was to get married there 10 days from now and that she "absolutely" would go ahead with those plans if the hotel were to be back in business etc. Mumbai on my mind all along. Even as I blankly drove to Kohls and back. But in a strange way so removed from it all. Like there are times when you know someone you love is no more but the reality does not sink in at all because you are so far away from it and just cannot feel it physically. I had that feeling when my cousin passed away from sudden complication from her cancer, a month after my father passed away. My father's demise was very real to me because I saw him physically that way. But my cousin, I still cannot come to grips with that reality. That when I go back home, she will not be there at her lovely home.

I came back home and went upstairs to see what the kids were upto. KB had woken up to go the bathroom and had asked for me and had cried when he saw I was not home. But he calmed down in a minute and was in bed just when I walked in to the room. I did not even wait to change back into my night pants again. I just got into bed and asked KB to come from his little toddler bed and sleep in our bed. KG was asleep in her crib. The room was dark. It was nice and cool. I pulled the comforter over myself and KB and snuggled close to him. He has had a cough for a week now. He coughs mainly as soon as he wakes up or is in the lying down position. I made him sleep in an inclined position on two pillows and rubbed his back. I thought of the little child and her mother who were rescued. I really did feel for them. That kind of terror when you don't know if your child is going to be safe the next minute must be gruesome. I honestly felt a feeling of thanks - to the powers that be - to have the pleasure and privilege of being able to snuggle next to my child and provide him the comfort for a minor cough and feel a sense of home in that moment. I wonder if the terrorists know of such feelings - is it that they were not loved? Why would they do this to innocent people? To innocent children? The world is too complex, the questions too many, answers too few. But that moment felt full and happy and I clutched at it thinking once again about how vulnerable we all are and how people must have been enjoying such moments when terror struck them in Mumbai. I can never comprehend the mind of such terrorists who would be willing to destroy families mercilessly. With such conflicting emotions, I pulled KB closer and prayed for their safety in this cruel world and fell asleep for another half an hour.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life - stories and games - that's all it is.

I have been out of the blog loop for a while. Partly because after a long time, I have started sitting downstairs either reading the newspaper or magazines or watching TV which I had not done in a very very long time. B and I used to be "Law and Order" junkies but it has been a very long time (probably a year) since we sat down to watch an episode. He falls asleep when he takes KB upstairs to sleep and I don't enjoy watching it alone . I started staying downstairs to watch election related news and some nice PBS specials they had around then. And somehow that again got me started on a little TV watching after every one went upstairs to sleep.

Back to the main story - since this post is all about stories. KB's obsession with "sthories" (as he says it) is something I wanted to write about. Everything to him is either a game or a story. He goes to bed every night listening to a story - title suggested either by him or by me. And wakes up and tells me the story he heard the previous night. (This morning he told me "The Deicer" story). And during the day he makes me tell so many stories that I am beginning to forget where reality begins or ends. For ex, I was driving back with KB after doing some grocery shopping. On the way, we saw a young teenager being given a ticket by the cop. I told KB casually that that "Anna" was being given a ticket because he drove past a red light. (I just checked the recording and remembered what I told him!). KB pauses to think and immediately says, "Sollu maa, Andha Anna story sollu maa". And then the prompting (from KB) starts.

Me: Andha Anna drive panninde irundhan. (That "Anna" was driving). Suddenly he drove past a red light, traffic vandhundrukkarcheye (he beat the red light even when there was so much traffic). Police officer andha corner'lendhu pathundhar (police officer was looking from the corner). He turned on his car lights and came behind Anna's car.

KB: Appram Anna?

Me: Appram Anna ange poi car'aa niruthitu police officer'ku wait pannan (he waited for the police officer)

KB: Police officer sonnar Anna kitte?

Me: Police officer sonnar Anna kitte," WHY did you drive like that? You know you can ram into the other cars if you do that. You know you are not supposed to do that", appdintu kochindar. (PO got mad at Anna).

KB: Udne Anna sonnan police officer kitte?

Me: Anna Sonnan, "Sorry police officer, naa inme indha maari panna maatein (won't do it again), I will be careful. I didn't realize I was driving so fast"

KB: Police officer sonnar...

Me: Police officer sonnar, I am going to give you a ticket. I will let you go this one time. But if you do it again, I will be very upset".

KB: Appram, Anna?

Me: Anna OK sollitu, car'le yerindu chamatha careful'aa drive pannindu ponan! That's it. That's the end of the police officer and Anna story. (Anna got into the car and like a good boy he drove away carefully).

You can imagine many many such incidents that happen every day. Each one is a story. My cousin and her family and my mami were visiting us for a week. We went to a farm where the four kids were playing on a hay stack. One of them scraped his leg while jumping from a tall one. And there it was - the story of that evening. And that night KB's bed time story was "The litte boy and the hay stack". We go to the beach and on the way to the parking lot, KB sees a man changing the tire in his pick up truck. All along the drive back, KB asked me to tell him the story of "The repair truck". I went to visit a friend today and her son cried saying his finger hurt and she looked at it and said that some thing might have poked him. So on the drive back it was the story of why the kutti boy cried.

If KB is sitting at his little table and painting he says, "Mamma, naa painting game vladinkein maa" (am playing painting game). If he is doing some tracing of letters he says, "Mamma I am playing tracing game ma". He sings some random tune and I sing along with him he says "Singing game vladlam maa" (Let's play singing game). If he and KG pass something like a juice carton to each other when they are sitting in their car seats, he says "Passing game vladrom maa".

I wish I could keep life this simple. What ever happens around me, it's a story that I am witnessing. What ever work I do, it's a game I am playing!

There is so much I think of writing about the things they do, but I just don't get to it. I thought I should at least write down about this "story" phase that KB is going through so I don't entirely forget this a year from now. This was a kid I used to worry as to why he only liked lift the flap type books and not story books. Now every picture he sees in either the magazine or the newspaper is a story, every random thing he sees as we drive by is a story and this is apart from the stories he actually reads in books and stories we make up for him at bed time. I managed to record a mini session with him reciting some stories. Including "Malia and Sasha get a puppy dog" where "Obama Uncle" goes to the animal shelter and gets them a Black dog with white spots and they all take a plane and go to the White house!.

He dreams of stories too I think. He stirred in his sleep (the restless sleeper that he is) and when I patted him, he said, "Fire story sollu maa" because he saw an Olympic torch like thing on the roof of a restaurant that evening before he went to bed. When I mentioned the word flame in that story, he said, "Yen throat'la kooda flame irukku". And I thought to myself, "Wow, he has a sore throat and he says his throat is in flames?". I was totally puzzled. Until I talked to B and discovered that B had told him the story of how B has a sore throat too and how the phlegm (which KB thought was the same as flame) made his throat ache.

If any of you want story ideas, feel free to email me, I will come up with random gibberish stories for you since I have stories coming out of my ears!

Good night!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And thus we decide who will lead the nation!

The much anticipated Election day is here. In an hour or so (by the time you read this for sure), it will be close to "prediction" time. And then the exact numbers. The winner at hand. Who will make the first announcement? Will they bungle it up like they did in 2000? No, I guess not.

I went to vote this morning - I had considered early voting or vote by mail but decided to just go to the polling booth. I had actually wanted to take KB along - but practical issues made me decide against it. I had to be there before the place opened to make sure I was back home before B left for work. KB was asleep then. And despite going before the polling place opened, there was a long line - but thankfully it moved quickly and I was back home in about 45 minutes.

It was exciting to vote especially when the whole nation is so excited about having the power to elect their president. Somehow, this time around you can feel the pulse of the nation as it comes together to choose its leader. Even in my family this time around, my nephew has been writing blogs and working non stop campaigning and making calls to voters. Two of my sisters have been volunteering at the campaign booths and all of us siblings have been having so many email discussions and arguments about all this. In a strange way, after having children who are born citizens of this country, I feel a greater sense of belonging here and a greater eagerness to be part of the voting process. I am hoping that by the time the next election comes around, the kids will be more independent and I can actually get involved a lot more and volunteer some time and effort towards all this.

I am sure some of my dear blog pals can guess who I voted for. But in honor of my dad who never used to tell us who he voted for, just for kicks, I too will leave it to guessing.

Waiting for the headlines to strike!

Power to the people!

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Hope all of you had a nice Halloween! We had a great time with both kids thoroughly enjoying trick or treating. We visited a bunch of wonderfully decorated haunted houses...humongous spiders on the drive way, fog and smoke coming out of the lawn area, skulls strewn we near the door, boom, a man shouts and jumps out from the side wearing a scary mask. I was leading the pack with two other friends and their three girls behind me, KB and KG.

KB and KG are probably too young to be scared - they looked unruffled by it all. KG's first time trick or treating though she wore a costume last year too. KG dressed up as "Piglet" this year and KB as "Spiderman". Speaking of spooky stuff greeting us at the door, we had KB's "skeleton" art work put up on our front window to greet the trick or treaters.

KB wore the costume to his preschool too (I am just going to call this school M preschool here on). They had a little Halloween parade and the kids went walking through the large field in their costumes. They had cup cakes decorated with green and yellow whipped cream and "bone" candy as toppings. They filled up popcorn into transparent gloves and gave those to the kids as well. Over all, the kids had a great time that day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When all you have are memories...

It was Saturday evening. We drove the kids to Lowe's to get new energy saver bulbs for our living room - we had bought the wrong size and finally got down to returning those and buying the right ones. This sort of thing is cause for high excitement for KB. He talks incessantly of the "burst" bulbs and how we need to go to Home D or Lowes to buy new ones. The two kids run around the mammoth store in utter delight and I shamelessly go around screaming like an uncouth villager, "KB, KB, NO NO, not so fast...stop!". And then lose track of him for a second and scream even louder with some threats added in. "Come now or I will leave you and go back home". And the little brat says with complete satisfaction, "Here Amma" and shows his face. Agonizing as it is at times to not be able to shop for a simple thing in peace, I still always take both kids to these places esp late evening when there aren't too many people, because I know how much they enjoy these kind of large stores. Especially when they are in the garden center there, they look so happy amongst all the plants and the little water fall structures.

While driving back home, we stopped at a red light. I turned to see an older man (an Indian) wearing white sneakers and neatly ironed pants and white full sleeved shirt. He had grey hair and was partly bald. It was around 7.30 pm, nearly dark then. That point in the day as it is makes me somewhat melancholic. Somehow the sight of this man reminded me of my father. He would go for long walks dressed the same way. Looking neat in ironed clothes. Many times, I would drop him at a shopping center a little distance away from my place, because it was too long to walk both ways. He would then walk around the open mall area and then walk back home. And sometimes make friends with fellow Indians or with some non-Indians who are either giving out pamphlets for their organization or have some kind of sales pitch. He would listen to them intently and even have questions for them. He would come back home and tell me the details of who said what or which "gentleman" he spoke to at the mall. I saw this man standing at the traffic light and I could bring back the picture of my father too doing the same. Waiting at the light and people watching in the meanwhile. I am still not able to get it out of my mind. It made me feel incredibly sad that all I had now was this very blurry image in my head of my father - you wish you could adjust the lens and get a clear glimpse of him in flesh and blood - that feeling when you see the image clearly and all feels right for the moment. I wish he had come with us to Lowes which he was sure to have if he had been alive. I imagine KB and KG constantly playing with him, wanting him to sit next to them and doting on him all the time.

I wish I could cry now but the tears don't come. The pain now is not raw but one that comes in flashes and leaves me feeling sad and nostalgic. He is not there to see my children now. It will be two years this coming January since he passed away. I was going to write a post about my MIL yesterday because it was her second year "Shraddh" ceremony. But seeing this man somehow made me write this post instead. I see so much of my father in KB - almost as if he is there in front of me - when KB does certain things. It is hard to explain but it is the kind of stuff that only the children know about their parents. The mannerisms, the slight lift of the feet while standing by the kitchen counter chatting, the playful smile while telling a joke when the punch line is about to hit you when you least expect it...things like that. Even at this tender age of three, one can see similarities. I am thankful for those moments when I see my father in KB. But I can't help but wish he was there with us...for my children especially. They just don't know what an amazing grand father he would have been for them. I just hope somehow somewhere they will know in just the way they turn out to be as adults.

Friday, October 24, 2008

When the cruel mother over works the little boy!

I sometimes dish out dramatic dialogues to KB just for the fun of it - partly meaning what I say and partly just to get him going into his "deep thought" mode. One day, B came home late and was exhausted. After a long day of taking care of both kids, especially when both kids had somehow been quite demanding, I had just sat down in the couch after dinner to just catch my breath. B had finished his meal and was loading the remaining dishes in the dishwasher. KB saw a bowl of cheerios that I had kept for KG and just on a whim turned it upside down and spilled it all over that area. Both of us got mighty annoyed at KB for his baby type mischeif and chided him. B grabbed a broom and gathered the spilled stuff and trashed it. As he was doing this I told KB, "Pavam Daddy, ivvlo tired'aa irukarche, you are making him do so much work. Pavam illaya Daddy...edukkaga nee indha maari panre? (Poor Daddy, when he is so tired, you are making him do so much work...why do you do this?).

Two days back:

Soon after the kids had their lunch (after KB returned from his preschool program), I took KG upstairs to change her diaper and take her to her crib for her afternoon nap. Just as I was changing her diaper, I asked KB to get me a facial tissue (which is use to dab a little bit of oil that I sometimes put on her skin) from the drawer.

KB says to me "Pavam KB, tired'aa irukache, he has to go get tissue for you!".

Kids these days!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New art on our wall!

Our foyer area now has this new painting by an artist that B and I just adore. Yes, of course, it is obvious - it is KB's art. It is special to us for couple of reasons. He is so particular about certain things, especially when it comes to getting his hands dirty, that if he touched paint while painting with a brush, he would ask me to wipe it off right away. It would really bother him.
So it is really amazing for me that he managed to actually dip his hands into paint and create some art with it.

This piece is special also because he did this in the new drop off program for preschoolers - when I was not with him in the classroom. This is the fourth time he has gone to this class. The first time I stayed in the classroom. But KG was distracting the other kids, so they told me I had to stay outside the classroom. It is a large classroom with bay windows that opens into a huge lawn of green in the park outside which has really nice play structures. This program runs on T,W,Th,F from 9 to 11.00 a.m. The second time I took KB there, I had no choice but to leave him in the classroom and wait outside in the park area where he could not see me. He cried a couple of times but because that day's activity included playing outside in the park, he calmed down after some time. He saw me in the park and went back into the classroom and stayed there the rest of the time without crying. The third class itself, he went in looking like he was about to cry but stopped crying and had a nice time. On last Friday, the teacher told me that he participated fully and had a really nice time answering their questions and dancing along during the "song and dance" time. They have a craft time every class - he made a jelly fish the first class, a rainbow fish with sparkles (using a paper plate) the next class and this painting the last class.

At this drop off program, they do pretty much all the activities that the school he was in does on a regular day. Story time, snack time, play time, song time and in fact they have a dedicated craft time where they have a particular activity planned for the day. The difference is that this is not called a preschool only because it is a drop off program for which you can pay for each day. So it may not be the same set of kids each day. I am now actually considering sticking to this program for the rest of the year rather than going back to his old school. I really liked his old school but I guess there is that fear that he may cry again there and partly a mild resentment towards them for not having tried hard enough (to give KB the chance to get used to the school rather ask me to take a break for a month and then bring him back).

At some level I feel the point of going to a preschool at age three is to get exposed to other kids, socialize a little and be away from the secure feeling of a home environment for sometime. This program provides all of that. The only thing it doesn't provide is a steady set of school friends - kids who come every day to this class. KB anyway meets a few of his friends couple of times a week. And he has KG at home to play with, fight with and learn survival skills with too! (On a side note, he nearly gave us a heart attack when all of a sudden he just pushed KG's rocket rider to the muddy area in our yard and she fell and hit her head on the wooden fence. Thank heavens she didn't hit the edge too hard or she would have been in the hospital now bleeding away! Surely they are both learning some serious playground survival skills here!).

I have not decided fully on staying on in this program but this is what I am inclined to do. He is having a great time here. The teachers are all recent college graduates working for the city who conduct this program. They are young and energetic and all of them are licensed and have some early childhood education. I feel a little nervous when I talk to hyper-super moms who will only send their kids to Montessori where they could potentially learn a lot more academic stuff. I don't know if KB will lag behind in that respect when he turns four but for now this seems more than enough to me. And bottom line to me, he looked really happy at this place the last two classes. The teachers address him by his first name and give him high-fives and seat him on their lap and what not. I wanted a place that will nurture him and make him happy. If it continues this way and he looks happy, I am inclined to forgo my (hard won) admission into the other school and stick with this for age three.

And that is the story of the new art work adorning our foyer wall!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Laughing game, story time...

KB loves to be silly and loves to laugh. He gets into laugh mode and just cannot stop sometimes. Much like how I used to be as a child. One day when I was giving him his cereal, just when we were close to being done, I suddenly broke into laughter (fake) - buahhh....ahhh....ahhh...and pretended like it was uncontrollable laughter and then I stopped. He was so taken aback by this sudden outburst but he clearly loved it because he just started laughing loudly - but his laughter was real. KG saw us both laughing (when he really laughed, I found it funny was laughing too) and even though she had no clue what this was about - she came to the high chair and started chortling and laughing herself. It was overall so much fun. KB of course got addicted to this laughing game. When I took KG upstairs and changed her diaper and then put her on the bed to just run around, KB said to me, "Mamma, buaahh pannu" (laugh like that). And all over again we went through it and we were all laughing like looney bins! :)
Story time:

B used to either whistle tunes or just sing children's songs for KB when he pats him to sleep for the night. We dont' read to them during bed time. All reading happens downstairs before he gets into bed. One day I suggested to B that he should tell KB stories for bedtime. KB used to enjoy stories I told him at random times during the day. So for a few days B used to look up children's stories on the internet and then tell KB modified versions of these stories. It usually revolved around some animal stories. Tortoise and the hare type stories. One day, I asked KB what story he wanted B to tell him that night. And KB suggested some random title like "The crab and the whale" or some such title. And that night B just made up a story about the crab and the whale. It so happened that the next day I came up with a title for the story for that night. Since then it has become a routine for us. KB and I take turns in suggesting a story for B to tell him at night. And each time we come up with a title KB says "I don't know Daddy if can handle it (he puts the "If" after daddy)". And I have to say, "I don't know !". And then KB says, "Daddy can handle it"! KB enjoys these random little stories we make up (mostly B, some days it is me) during his bed time. Every morning, he tells me the story. He cuts out all the frills and just gets to the meat of the story. Some days, he gets into it and tells me the story with his own frills attached.

One night it was my turn (KB never forgets whose turn it is to suggest the story) to come up with a story title. I suggested "Bubbles and the dog" randomly. I thought B would be getting KB into bed but it turned out he had some work so I had to do it. This is the gist of the story.

"There was a little boy named John. He was going to turn three years old. His dad asked him "What do you want for your birthday, little John?". John told him that he wanted bubbles to blow and a water table in the yard. His dad said, "Sure, we will get you bubbles and a water table for your birthday".

John liked to go to Grove park. It had a ladder that he could climb without any help from his dad. (based on the park that KB likes to go to where he climbs a curved ladder).

One day at the park, when he came down the slide he saw two little puppy dogs. John and his little sister loved playing with those puppies. John was sad to leave the puppies behind when he had to leave the park. The lady said that she could not take care of both puppies and would be happy if John wanted one. But his dad told John they had to leave the park.

On the day before his birthday, John's dad asked him why he looked sad. John said to him, "Dad, I don't want bubble or water table, I want that puppy. Please Please Please dad".

"But John, you said you wanted them. You love bubbles and you loved playing with the water table at Adam's house. Are you sure you don't want them?"

John exclaimed, "Daddy, i only want that puppy, I don't want anything else".

On the day of his birthday, after John cut the cake and the kids sang him a birthday song, John's dad said to him ,"John, come to the yard, I have a surprise for you".

John went to the yard and saw the little puppy sitting by the big plant. "Arf, Arf" the puppy said and ran to John. John petted the puppy and said, "Wooooooww, Daddy! I love this puppy".
(At this point KB's eyes open wide with excitement as well).

"Thank you Daddy", John says.

Daddy asks John, "What would you like to name the puppy?".

John jumps up and down in joy and then turns to his daddy and says, " I want to call the dog "Bubbles", daddy.

John and his little sister and "Bubbles" played in the yard for a long time that day.

That's it , the end!
KB loves hearing this story over and over and he just loves the feeling of surprise and celebration. He liked this story so much that he asks me to say it to him even during the day sometimes. In all both myself and KB enjoy this new routine (about two months now) of coming up with random titles and having B tell him those stories and then hearing about it the next morning.

Last night it was "The Lamp and the car". (B made up this story where the little boy goes and meddles in his mom's closet and happens to find an old lamp. He rubs it by mistake and a robot comes out of it. And the robot tells him he can give him three things. And the little boy says he wants a car. And the robot says, "Yes, Master" and so on. KB imitates B and changes his voice to sound robotic and says "Yes, master!". I just look forward to KB's rendition of these stories each morning. Tomorrow morning, I will get to hear the story of "The dog and the ball".

What the eyes don't tell you...

I often wonder when I hear about suicide cases if really no one close to that person could have sensed a break point about to happen. The point where a person cannot cope. A point when he can justify taking his own life and under even more horrifying circumstances also that of others. I hear of murder/suicide cases or read about it in newspapers every now and then and just think about this in passing and move on with every day routine. But when I read this, it just felt so close to home.

Just the name - an Indian name. A south Indian who speaks the same language. Somehow I always thought only complete whackos who grow up in strained families end up doing really horrible acts of violence. To think that someone who grew up in a regular Indian family and had a loving wife and otherwise normal life could do this?! It turned out that this guy was my sister's close friend's cousin. The said friend used to talk to him very often. And she had no idea something so violent was brewing in him. All for the sake of money? Or the perception that one needs a lot of money to even make it worth living?

I happened to read this post earlier today. At that time I didn't think too much about the exercise. But it seems like a good one for kids to go through. And adults too. To clear up the junk in our own heads as to what is really important in life and what is not. What is a need and what is a want. And what needs and wants merit worrying about either having it or not having it.

There is loss of life every second in this world. So in that sense, amongst many many horrible acts of violence you hear about, this is yet another one. But somehow talking about it with my sister who actually knows these people and has talked to the wife of this person many times brings this so close to home. And it makes me wonder how one can look at a person and just never really know what is going on in their head. On the surface this guy's life was going quite well. He was not even bankrupt at that time he decided to end his life. He had had a pretty good life, a wonderful wife and three perfectly healthy happy children. And yet he could not see clearly how privileged he was and could only focus on that point in his life and decided it was not worth continuing on. It is so sad and tragic that I almost wish we could go back in time and save him and his family.

Long ago, I had posted a story of a young newly married woman who committed suicide because she could not cope with the loss of her husband in the Sep 11 crash. Sad and tragic as it is, somehow I am personally even able to understand that. But I just don't get how Karthik Rajaram could do this to himself and to his family all because he lost some money. He was a brilliant person and could have gotten a job with time. And then I realize it has to be a cumulative effect - years of prioritizing winning over playing the game and doing the best. Years of chasing the next goal without pausing to smell the roses. It is not just him, it is the society we live in and the people we associate with too. It is hard to tell another successful Indian neighbor, that you, the success story you are perceived as, has lost a job. They will be sorry for you but you feel right at the end of that sentence, there is pity, the kind of pity you loathe. (I have known people who went through this a few years back. Some of them who took it in stride are now back on track and much more successful than those who did hold on to their jobs then). The kind of look that says,well, I am in a good position myself, but I do feel sorry for you. It is when I hear such stories that I feel disgusted by how we spend so much time inviting people to each other's houses for Navratri or Diwali and exchange gifts and such but how much do we really know people? How much do we really care for each other? Are we really there for each other? Beyond pithy statements and pats on the back. Just my random thoughts in my moment of sadness over this story. When I think of the little seven year old, my heart just bleeds. To have died such a violent death. I hope he killed the mother first so at least she did not have to endure the worst kind of suffering I can imagine - to see her children being killed by their own father.

It scares me to think that being brilliant or being an over achiever or having all the perceived notions of a successful life also doesn't mean that the person is a self assured person. And then I tell myself that I need to remind myself of this when I raise my children. When I feel the peer pressure to put them in more and more classes so they keep up with the next door kids. I need to raise the child as a whole and not a facet of the child that will bring him/her degrees and money. And this is not to say any of this is his parent's fault (from what I heard he lost his mother when he was a little child). It is yet another reminder of how grateful we ought to be for the many blessings we have thus far and a prayer that our children, who in their adult life are likely to bear the burden of a lot of the economic crisis we are in now, will have it in them to face life with grace and courage. Well, a prayer for myself too that I am able to face life's ups and downs with courage.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The little girl in a Lengha...

Living in the US without a real home base in India, I don't often get to buy the latest styles in clothes - for myself or for my kids. A cotton Lengha with beautiful work done on it in just the perfect colors for my daughter - I could have only asked my sister to shop for something like that had one of them resided in India. My mom or my cousins/friends send the south Indian pavadais for KG. But a cotton Lengha for her sensitive skin, that is just right for KG - never thought I would have the pleasure of dressing her up in one of those. This Navratri season, when I went to visit a friend and I put this on her, it was sheer pleasure for me for a couple of reasons. One of course as a mother, I just couldn't help but admire KG in this beautiful outfit. Two, when I see her in those clothes, I think of the generous and sweet friend that sent this and feel that intangible connection in our blog lives. The thoughtfulness with which such a lovely gift was sent to a child she has only known through my blog posts makes it so special. It is strange how human bonds can be formed and a certain kinship established even without trying hard. Just from reading about each others children. In knowing how similar we are in many ways and also knowing how different we are as people in other ways. And yet being connected as just friends. If only the world were as simple.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Apple syndrome...

I used to joke to B when my MIL was alive about the "Apple syndrome". More like "My son is the apple of my eye, center of my life, center of the universe syndrome". And to be fair to her, she only suffered the mildest version of it from all the other stories I have heard of other MIL's. It showed up mainly during meal preparation. Oh, B likes this, let's make it for him. B likes it in a particular way, so let's make it that way. She was gracious enough to also make things I like if I told her I liked it. But you could see that glint in her eyes when she made things her son liked. No matter who else did or didn't. Fair enough - she loved him to bits - she was welcome to indulge him. Just as long as I was not ignored. I can't remember the details of it, but I did get very upset one evening when both my MIL and FIL were staying with us (pre-baby days) and B's preferances were over indulged. I was not angry at her but was angry with B independent of it and so it really made me more sensitive to it. I didn't want to yell at B in front of them, so I just went out for a walk in the complex just before dinner time. B's mom asked B to go look for me and was worried as to why I went for a walk before dinner time. I recollect some of these incidents randomly now as I think about KB's preschool drama and how I have mixed feelings about the school.

I realize it is most easy to aquire the "Apple syndrome". You just have to give birth! The only difference is in how we let it manifest. You can either choose to make your child's happiness your prority because he/she is the apple of your eyes or you can ruin their happiness by hurting any one who doesn't treat your child the way you expect him/her to be treated. I feel annoyed with the preschool director for not accepting or even mentioning that part of the problem is that they do not have the bandwidth to deal with a child who cries louldy in the initial stages of adjustment. Instead she just says, "he is not ready for school". If it were left up to me, I would have just said, so be it, I will look for another school. But what matters to me is which school KB wants to go to. And each time we tour another school, he has fun but still says he wants to go to school W with Ms.T. And that's all matters. He seems happy to be there, so it is the school I will have to deal with even if I don't agree with what they say. I will mutter to myself my disagreement, but I will not jeopardize his happiness in that school by antagonizing the teacher or the preschool director there. At least unless it really gets to a point where I have to defend him for any other reason. I want to go with the faith that they do have his interest in mind and that it is best for him to deal with the separation issue at home if they are not able to handle it there.

There was another time a local friend of ours did something that I couldn't quite understand why. It was some trivial thing - inviting a bunch of kids to a little party she hosted but telling me about it soon after it was over - and mentioning all the other kids and their moms who had been invited and how it was all planned at the last minute - as if to say that is why she could not invite KB. It is one of those things that people do that hurts and you just cannot understand but you cannot also dig deep into for it will always leave an open strain on the relationship. At least pushed under the rug, it has hopes of getting forgotten. That was another instance when I told myself that I should not show to her that I was upset because if my relationship with her were to get strained then my kids would loose out on the friendship with her kids and vice versa. That was not worth it. I decided to just let it pass at that time even though I knew that she realized how it hurt me that she did that.

As a mother, no matter how young or old the child is, you want your child to be happy even if it means swallowing a bit of your pride or hurt feelings. I wonder how often or lasting this feeling will be. But I sure hope I am able to take these baby steps in my own growth toward a time when I will have to and will let go of KB and let him have his life...and know when to step in and when to stay away and grit and bear even if it hurts me just so he is happy.

I think back to how my MIL might have felt when I went for a walk because I was angry with B. Someone angry at her dear son who in her eyes did nothing wrong at that moment. Yet she asked B to go look for me in the complex and tell me to come and eat dinner...I suppose in caring for me, she was caring for the one she loved so dearly, her son. Once a mother, always a mother!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Preschool update

KB joined preschool on Sep 10 for the MWF morning session. Last Wednesday was the first day he went in totally cheerful and played and was happy throughout. But unfortunately, I had to go to the room at the back of his classroom for some volunteer work. I told the administrator to shut the doors so he would not hear me. But the meeting took much longer than I thought it would and KG was getting upset to be bound to her stroller. I had to let her out and keep running behind her so she wouldn't trip in that place full of things. But when some woman came asking us how to go to the main office, the door was opened and KG tried to escape out. When I held her back, she let out this loud scream and threw herself on the floor crying loudly. And almost immediately, I could hear KB crying in his class room adjacent to the room we were in. That might have been the turning point towards a positive outcome and I botched it up thanks to that meeting.

Last Friday he looked sleepy when he went in. And we went to the store to get flowers for his teacher for her birthday. So somehow there was some change in schedule that morning when he went in. Also he wanted to get bagels when we were at the store - I think he went into school with the thought that he wanted to have bagel and cream cheese. After a promising day on Wednesday, we thought he would do even better on Friday. B waited for a few minutes so KB could sing a birthday song for his teacher and then KB gave her the flowers and then left for work. But KB started his tears just as B was leaving. Again, I called the office to check with them if I need to pick up KB early and they told me to please come and get him as he was crying.

Monday - Sep 29 - B dropped him as usual. Again KB started crying. B called me from work and told me it was pointless since they will anyway be calling me to tell me to pick up KB early and that I should just leave right away and get him. So I just abruptly left w/out taking a diaper bag or milk for KG. When I got there, I asked the admin staff who happened to be outside to check with the teacher if I need to get KB. She came back and told me that he was doing better and that I could just wait in the back building. I was going into the back building when KB's teacher came out of her class just to see me and tell me that he was doing much better and that he still made some noises (crying) but he was playing with puzzles with the assistant teacher etc. I was not prepared to stay on for two hours and it became difficult for me to contain KG since she was sleepy and also I didn't have her milk bottle with me. So I called the teacher after half an hour and she sent word that KB was still crying on and off but that I could come at 11.30 am and get him. I assumed that meant things were going better and I left.

I came back at 11.30 am to get KB. The director told me to wait and meet her in her office. I knew then that they were going to tell me to pull out KB from school for a month or two. I then went into class and the moment KB saw me he stopped his tears - well, not even tears - just loud noises and just went about playing with stuff in the playground. But the teacher Ms.T said to me, "I just think it's better he sort out the seperation issue at home first and then try again a month later or in January. I don't want this to be a traumatic experience for him.". The director later told me, "His crying is beginning to affect the confidence level of couple of other kids who were initially comfortable. Today two other children were crying a lot. I think it would work well for every one if he just took a break, sorted out the seperation issue at home and then came back. He has a very strong sense of self and I just think his crying is just more of an obstinate sort not so much sad crying. He just knows what he wants and he doesn't want to budge on it. It can work well in some things but work in the wrong way as well as in this case. But for now, it is best he tries to sort this out at home - to be away from mom. It' just that his crying is loud. If not, we would just let him cry it out and get used to it". (On a lighter note, when the director and me were seriously discussing this, KB went behind her chair near the window and spotted a little spider. His fascination. He immediately told her, "Ms.C, there is a spider here". She said to him "That's OK. He just likes to live there". KB says, "Can you give me a tissue, I want to get the spider". She hands him a tissue and he spots yet another one. He gets one and then turns to her and says, " I don't know where the spider ran away").

I am not in agreement with this. I feel it is not even a month since school started, they don't have a five day option, so he only goes three days a week. The problem is not so much that he is not ready for school but that the school does not have the bandwidth to engage him and distract him or even just let him cry it out the entire time for a few days until he gets used to being in school without mom around. KB has not had much opportunity to be away from me at home - when he is home with B and I go out. That probably is the root cause of all this trouble. Now we do this deliberately - every morning I go out for a walk leaving KB at home. And almost every other evening, I go out for an hour or so leaving KB with B at home. Each time, KB cries the entire time. B thinks it is all related and that the school is right in saying he needs to sort this out at home. I feel that the two can happen simultaneously and that KB was on the verge of getting used to school. Either way the choice now is not mine. The director has told me to pull him out of school for a month and come back again in Nov. I want to believe that they are sincere in doing the best for him. But I also think they are not giving him a fair chance now.

My concern with this whole thing is that if we were to go back in Jan, he would have been with us all during the holidays and there is no guarantee he won't cry again. If they cannot let him just cry it out for 5 or 6 classes in a row without my having to pick him up early, then how is he going to get used to it? When he knows mom will come if he cries? I like this school, he likes the school but if they again come back and tell me that he is loud and that I need to pick him up early, how will this sort out? It is hard to find good preschools that just feels right when you go tour them. This was one of the few where I felt the children looked really happy - it was noisy, cheerful, happy and lively. Not that the silent/calm atmosphere in a Montessori setting is bad. I in fact always felt KB would fit really well in a Montessori setting. Even now, I wonder if I made the right decision in going with a developmental preschool rather than a Montessori. He loves the Montessori materials - even last week when I went to tour a Montessori, he was like a fish in water - just pulled out the little chair, took a tray of beads and spooned them into other cups and put it back and then went on to some scooping activity, then on to checking out the live rabbit, then on to checking out the planet models they had on display. He sat in on their story time and listened eagerly. So may be a more structured environment in a Montessori would have engaged him better. I am not sure. But at this point in my local area, none of the Montessori schools have an opening. So it is not really an option until he turns four. I am just going with the hope that when he goes back to his current school either in Nov or in Jan, he will mentally make up his mind to not cry and just adapt easily.

I am not worried even if he doesn't go to school until age four. He enjoys his time with his little sister, he meets other kids every now and then and I can take him to other fun classes offered by the city. But I just feel bad that he likes this school and the teacher and he is not being given the time he needs to get used to being away from me at school. But it is what it is and we move on from here! In my old age, I am sure I will wistfully think of these days when KB needed me so badly! :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

KB speak...

I am writing some of these because this is the only way I will remember the things that KB said which B and I find really cute (of course as parents even "duh" things that kids say are really just so "smart" and "amazing" and "cute"!).

KB loves watching any kind of "Fix it" work being done either by B or by the handyman. Even when he was two he used to pretend like he was unscrewing his toys and putting the batteries in.

And when a bulb fuses, it is a source of excitement for KB. He will remind us non stop that we ought to take him to "Home D" ( he says that for Home Depot) and buy a new bulb. He learned the word "fuse" when we were talking to each other saying that the bulb had fused.

We have recessed lighting in the living room and suddenly yesterday when we had guests over, we turned the lights on and found that a couple of bulbs had fused. KB has been talking about it non stop and before going to be bed he suddenly told me "Mamma, the bulb is confused. We have to go to home D and get new bulbs".

Yes dear, in our house even the bulbs are confused! :)
KB read this book called "Mr.Bell's fix it shop", an old used book that my sister had sent for KB. It is a really nice book about an old man named Mr.Bell who can fix just about anything - his board says - except broken hearts. But the little girl who is his helper is heart broken because her puppy chewed her doll. Mr. Bell fixes her doll and so she asks him to change his board to say "I can fix anything, even broken hearts". Digressed to talk about the book.

KB loves some of the words in the book like "Gingham and Satin" and "musty, dusty corner" type rhyming words. He has a smile when I read those lines to him. He picked up the word "customers" from that book where the barber comes and tells Mr.Bell to fix his radio since his customers are missing the music in his shop.

The other day KB was toying around with KG's puzzle sorter and couldn't find some of the puzzles. He came to me and said, "Mamma, the customers are missing the shapes, Mamma!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Preschool - ready or not?

KB started school last Wed. He is registered for MWF classes.

Wed - 45 min peaceful time in class. Then crying began till finish time.

Friday - Cried the entire time - 9 to 11.30 am. But teacher still felt he was much better since he did not cry loudly and he answered all her questions. And he was in a great mood all day after that and talked often about his teacher.

Weekend in between.

Monday - Was reluctant to go even when he was home. Tried to tell me that he only had school "Nalaki" (tomorrow) and that he doesn't have to go. I convinced him I would come and get him soon after story time (the last thing they do) and that he will have fun. The moment we reached school he started crying a lot. After I left him in class, he cried so much that he threw up three times and the teacher had to change his clothes twice.
She was very sweet about it - didn't complain even once. She said it was not surprising since he had had a weekend in between and Mondays are usually harder.

Today (Wednesday) - I decided I would drop him late around 9.30 am.
Until 8.30 am he kept telling me about school - how if he is good I will get him balloons etc - but suddenly when he realized it was really time to leave - he said - nalaki dhan (tomorrow) school. So we tried all tactics and finally I told him he has to go to school. But I asked him if he wanted to lie down for a bit (he was yawning - KG woke up at 6.00 am and so he woke up an hour earlier than normal) - he said yes and went to his nap bed and lay down - around 9.00 a.m., I changed KGs diaper and got ready to drop him at school. He was calm but not cheerful - he knew I was packing his back pack - he sat in the car seat - talked OK etc - when he got down he started the tears - though it didn't come easily at first. He managed to kick start the crying and then it flowed easily and the volume got louder. I took him to the bathroom and then sat him down in class and gave him a hug, told him to be good and left - the assistant teacher Ms.S whisked him off for some painting.

But he did nothing till 11.30 - he was quiet during story time - but that's it. Rest of the time he had been crying.

What made it really disappointing today was that even Ms.T (she has been teaching at this school for 23 years now - a really sweet person) seemed unsure if this would work out soon or not. She said to me, "He is not sad or upset - just mad that mom is not there with him...he is not having any fun and if there was some improvement then I would say OK. But he cried the entire time. And he is loud so I feel bad for the other kids since I have to think about them as well".

She suggested "mommy and me" classes, but that's not going to do any good. If he is not ready she said we can try again in January. I feared it shouldn't come to this - but it is what it is. I have to go with the flow now - at least thank God it is only age 3 class. Not a big deal. So many kids go straight to KG. Wait and see. As soon as I went he posed for a photo (the photographer said she waited till I came since he was crying) of the class kids...and asked the teacher if he could borrow a book (the second time he is borrowing from her) and brought some book from the shelf...he said bye to both the teachers very sweetly and told Ms.T that he will be good on Friday - she asked him if he will bring a smile - he said "yeah". Ms.T said to him "Leave your tears at home, just bring your smiles - because if you cry so much it hurts my ears and the other kids as well"...and she gave him a high five. He played for some time in the play ground on his own (which he can for even two hrs if I am somewhere in that building) while I talked to another parent and when he got into the car he told me how Ms.C (the director) was not there today and said "Phone panni kekalam (Let's call and ask) - Ms.Cindy please come to the W school". It is not any English language problem since he communicates well with the teachers in English. And he likes both the teachers. He loves the school. The only problem is my absence while he is at school.

I was feeling a little emotionally riled up thinking about what the teacher said - that he may not be ready for school yet. It is hard as a parent to just accept that especially when you see two other kids in class who are coming to school (others have been away from mom before this) for the first time and adjusting in a couple of days. It is hard not to project this on myself as some kind of failure on my part to have given him adequate exposure or time away from me.

KB is otherwise so confident when he talks to the teachers, is observant and aware of what is happening around him in school despite his crying - he tells me which book they read, which kid did what etc. I guess this is the beginning of my own growth in the process of parenting outside the warm confines and comforts of my own home. I can have expectations of things going a certain way but I have to accept things as it is and let him just be and come to terms with things at his own pace. I have to call the shots here - do I want to keep pushing it because it is generally accepted that children have a hard time initially or do I believe the teacher (I don't have a choice really - if she feels he is not ready - but I could at least request her to try for a little longer) when she says he is not ready and just wait a few months. I thought this whole process would be an emotional one for me. But I am glad that I feel a strange sense of calm despite the disappointment of such a difficult start - that if I have to wait a few more months I am OK with it. It is just age three and if he needs a slower transition into being away from me (which is clearly the only problem and not going to school itself), we will just work on it in the coming months. We are to blame too - B comes home past 8.00 pm on most days and on weekends we tend to go out as a family. So KB hardly has time away from me - I am an absolute constant in his life. So I can't expect this to be easy on him - although I guess I didn't expect it to come to this - where they may ask me to pull him out for now. Anyway - he has promised me he will be good on Friday - so there is always hope.

When KB was about 3 or 6m old (I don't remember clearly), his pediatrician wrote in his notes (which I saw a year later) "sensitive and opinionated". KB is very strong willed. While he is soft-natured in the sense of being concerned about other people, there are things he just will not budge on - no reward can make him change his mind. I had told him I would get him a new set of balloons if he was good at school today - but that clearly did not work - he knew he hadn't been good so he didn't even ask for it on our ride back from school. His doctor told me to watch for some of the infant personality traits to show up again in his adulthood - that he believes that some of those show up even later in life. I suppose this is a preview of what life at age 3, 13 or 30 will be like for me with KB!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First day at preschool

It's been five months since I wrote this post about my preschool search. KB turned three in August and it was time for the "big boy" to start school. The big day - KB's first day of preschool - was upon me/us this morning. It was big not just because he was starting preschool but this was probably the first time ever he was going to be away from me ever. The best he has done away from me is when he is home with B and I go out to get something quick and come back home asap. But usually I don't get enough time after B returns home to do that on week days and on weekends, we usually end up going out together. And this was a big day for me to see how I react to being away from KB. I imagined myself breaking down in tears to leave him in school and wipe it off movie style and start my car and drive back home. I imagined KB shrieking and howling holding on to my legs only to be pried apart by the teacher and having to run out of class. That didn't happen really.

What did happen?

I had prepped KB over the last few weeks that we would be going to school W and I would drop him off in the morning and he would do all the fun things at school and when it was time to go home I would come and pick him back up. He would recite all of this like a story back to me. Often. We also read a couple of books about starting school. And even this morning when we left for school he told me he would be a "good boy" and have fun at school W and that he wouldn't cry. Well, our boy is a good story teller I have decided. He would get to the finest details about this whole school story - how he would get into the car when I came to pick him up and how KG will be happy to see him, how she would scream in delight when she saw him etc etc.

B came with us in a separate car and we went to drop off KB in school. He looked happy and cheerful when we went in. I took him to the bathroom and then got back into the classroom. I found a chair available and since we had to leave the classroom in a minute or so (school starts at 9.00 am), I just quickly seated him in a chair, gave him a hug and showed him the rolling pin for the play dough and said goodbye to him and left the classroom. It was really strange for me to drive home alone with KG alone and KB's car seat empty. A sad hindi film song would have been apt for that mood!

I got home and had my cereal, talked to my brother and a good friend - pretty much about this since they wanted to know about his first day. I thought to myself that if he crossed 10.00 am then he would be fine. Nuooooohoooo! Our boy had different plans.

At 10.30 am I got a call from the director of the preschool saying KB was having a hard time and if could may be pick him up earlier. So I just immediately left and went earlier than school ending time to get KB. As I parked the car, I saw KB standing in the play ground looking at the other kids while casually crying away to glory. The teacher Ms.T told me that he played with play dough etc till about 9.35 and then he came and told the teacher, "I am done". So she took him to a bin of cars and asked him to play with it. After which he asked for mom. And the flood gates were thrown open when mom didn't appear out of the play dough or jump out of his toy cars!

I was feeling really bad when I was walking towards his school for early pick up. But thankfully I didn't start crying myself. The teachers seemed quite supportive. Even though he was the only one in his class who cried this much, the teacher said there were other kids in other classes who also cried. As soon as he saw me he calmed down with a few whimpers thrown in for effect to show how much he had been crying. He was of course happy to be brought back home. But what gives me hope is that a) he did not cry for the first 40 min in school b) He loves this school
3) he told me stories about who did what in school and it seemed to me like he enjoyed being there.

Well, let's see what happens on Friday!

If it is possible to write posts while sleeping, you could give it to me. I am totally falling asleep here!

MammaMia - this one's for you : What do Bengali kids learn in preschool?

A for Orange! :) (Need I elaborate why Onondita?!)

Friday, September 05, 2008

KB speak

KB along with his sister is growing in different ways. A lot of personality changes that I feel has come about because of his little sister. He was always very playful and silly but now he has become very mischievous as well. He throws random objects up in the air, hides things in the CD player, sprays water all over the window shades with his sister's feeding bottle etc...It is a lot of fun and it is very interesting for me to see how her presence has changed him. I only wish her eating habits (she is also very difficult to feed these days but she is so willing and eager to try new foods unlike him) would also rub off on him.

KB is also getting better at defending himself because he has learned to fight her for his toys when she comes and grabs them from him. He has always been confident and bold in talking to adults but with physically stronger kids in the playground, he used to shy away. But now he just verbally tells them to move and give way for him if they are blocking the slide or tells them "Go, it's my turn now". I am hoping that preschool will help him with this even more. I don't want him to learn aggressive behavior but I am happy to see him feel physically confident around other children, even if he is smaller than them.

Now for some KB speak.

We got back from the library and as I was getting lunch ready for the kids, I asked KB to play some music. I tried to give him the CD instead of letting him choose one. He raised his voice and said "Eddddukaga indha maari pannre?". (WHY are you doing this?). I told him, "KB, kutti boys are not allowed to yell at their mamma's. Only big people yell if little kids do something wrong". It was sort of a light exchange. I went about my work soon after.

KB was trying to change CDs in the player when, as always, KG came running towards him to grab the CD he was holding. He turned to her and said "Kutti baby, Little girls should not disturb boys...Okay?!" .

OK thatha, I think to myself.
We were reading a book "Best friends" while I was givnig him his lunch. I then casually asked him, "Who is your best friend, KB?" and he replied with the same casual tone "Mamma" and turned the page. I guess I should enjoy this status while it lasts!
KB doesn't like it if his clothes are wet or his hands/feet are wet when he is at home. It's OK if he is in the water at the beach - but the moment he steps out, he has to be changed,cleaned etc.
The other day we were in the yard and his shorts got a little wet when he was playing at the water table. When he asked that his shorts be changed, I told him "It's OK, it's just a little bit of will dry up, KB".

Today while I was having my lunch, he poured some water from KG's water bottle into a cup and poured it on my pants. I told him not to pour water one me. He did it again on the other leg. I told him "KB, no, please don't put water on my pants, I will get wet now". Very sweetly, he tells me, "It's OK Mamma, it's just a little bit of water. It will dry up Mamma!".
Today the four of us were in the yard watering plants. I went back in to do some clean up work in the garage. B told me that KB asked him to give some water to the wind. B asked him why, he said, "Give some water to the wind, Daddy, wind is feeling thirsty". And B threw some water up in the air both kids delighted in it!

Friday, August 29, 2008


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Many many thanks to Dottie and Mammamia for giving me this award. I think of these awards usually as something that just spreads a feeling of cheer and good will - no matter what the different kinds of awards are. So in some sense, I take it lightly - neither get too excited nor too sad if I get/don't get an award that I see going around. I don't particularly feel affected. Although when it comes to passing on awards, I really feel like including a lot of people who I enjoy reading - no matter what the purpose of the award is. It could be a most frequent blogger award - but I would still feel like passing it on to every one I like, no matter how infrequent they are at posting, in the spirit of spreading happiness and joy! :)

In some sense, when I saw this award, I really felt like, "Who me?!". "Brilliant weblog"?! I couldn't believe it because I don't post often enough and assume only a few people read it - so I felt a tiny bit undeserving of such an award. Nevertheless, who can deny feeling good about any praise about something you do?! In particular in this case, it is not even the award that made me feel good but the warmth in the words that came with the award. And especially coming from who I think are awesome writers whose posts I enjoy thoroughly.

Mammamia, I started reading you only recently when I chanced upon your writing while reading your namesake's. I think you write really well and to think you have actually read some of my posts and enjoyed it and think me worthy of an award makes me feel good.

Dottie, I think I have been reading you since your very first post. Dottie, not to gush over with emotions over this - but what you wrote is something that made me feel really happy.

"There is something about noon's posts that is very, very honest. No pretenses here. Always look forward to reading her blog".

Those are the kind of words I would like on my tombstone! Because it is something I strive to be but find difficult at times. Difficult because I feel at a loss when I try to be "normal" and "unpretentious" but still get mistaken, or not appreciated or just taken for a ride. And difficult also because I know people who are fabulously smart yet completely down to earth and some people who are so sincere in what they do even if their work is not glamorous and are so untouched by the flashy world around them. I strive to be like them - I really feel at peace when I am around such people. Now, let me not sound like a victim of this cruel world with that first line! :) This is a happy Oscar speech. But point being made is that, those words struck a deep chord and you may not know it!

I pass this on to - well, I am passing it on in spirit back to you both as well. But aside from that, I pass it on to:

Neera: She writes from the heart. There is such simplicity and warmth in her writing. Her life is an open book - well to the extent a blog can be - she says things without any strings attached. As is. Her recent post about her neighbors is testament to that. Very willing to appreciate people for who they are.

Usha: I love reading her posts. Quite often I read her posts and think - that's such an every day topic but it is so interesting when someone writes about it and that too in such an interesting way. There is a RKN kind of home grown/simple feel to her writing. You relate to it instantly especially if you are an Indian. But even if you aren't, you still relate to it because of the universality of some things that all people go through.

Terri: She has a unique style of writing. Nothing bombastic about her writing. Simple words strung together so elegantly. Her writing is so witty and different. And yet you can see the compassionate person (well, canine let's say) behind the writing.

Krishashok: I tried to not mention people who have already been awarded. But I am making an exception on this one - just so people who know my blog also get to read his blog posts. I don't even expect him to know he has been awarded yet again since I have not even commented on his posts. I don't particularly feel bad when I don't comment for the power bloggers (in my book - they post frequently, are quite dedicated to blogging and have a ton of people reading and commenting on their blog posts). In any case, the purpose of this award is to also promote other blogs. And for this reason, I wanted to put it in this list. I read his blog posts the first time one night and I found myself laughing loudly in the dead silence of the night. He is a brilliant writer and his posts are so incredibly different from any I have read so far.

Deponti: Some one with a zest for life and it shows in her writing. Variety of topics, different emotions, incredible pictures, poems, translations. I really enjoy reading her posts.

Poppins mom: She writes such candid posts - emotions, point of view, what ever it be - she says it as she feels it. And she writes in detail and you feel like you were there for that moment in time witnessing that slice of her life. It often reads like a story and I enjoy reading such posts. And she usually takes the time to respond to a lot of comments on her posts and it makes it all the more enjoyable to read her posts.

Kodi's mom: I love reading her posts about Kodi and Plane papa (recent addition). She writes with a gentle touch of humor and communicates the love she feels for her children in an understated way. I love understated emotions for some reason because I feel in some ways it conveys the strength of the emotion even more than plainly stated words. And the fact that our children are of a similar age group makes it even more enjoyable for me to read her posts.

Oh dear - rules rules rules every where! I am posting the rules at the end of this post - pass on the award and spread the cheer! :)

This award is for blogs whose content and design are brilliant as well as creative.The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.
Here are the rules to follow:
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!"

Phew - I managed to finish writing this post before one of the kids wakes up crying for me in the middle of the night. But I am too sleepy to sit and edit this post. Am posting it as it is - forgive me please!