Sunday, August 30, 2015

A rant

Do you have days when nothing seems to be coming together? When you wake up each morning with a fresh resolve for a cheerful day and watch the resolve done and dead within a few hours? When the kids just won't stop whining? When every interaction with them is a struggle? When, just as you fix one situation, another one is upon you? 

It's been a bit like that over the last week or two. The twins have been down with a bunch of real and imagined ailments. That I am not able to figure out which is which is driving me crazy.

First H complained of throat pain. Over the evening it escalated, and by night time he was wringing his hands and crying out each time he swallowed. After a panicked phone call to my doctor SIL I rushed out to buy medicine. As I got back I heard him singing, yes singing out loud, loud enough to be heard outside the house. And it has returned each night - the hand wringing and the moaning hasn't stopped despite my threats and pleadings. 

Then it was N's turn. She complained of a headache. Do kids have headaches? Anyway, since she rarely falls ill, I assumed she just wanted a day at home (since H had called in sick a few days back) and I went along with it. She stayed home, read, drew, coloured, crafted and cycled through the day and seemed all fine till evening. And then the 'ache' was back moving to her stomach accompanied with 'nausea' ('every time I eat I feel like puking') and loss of appetite. Back I was to the SIL wondering if the vague symptoms indicated jaundice till I ruled it out.

That's how it's been between the two of them.

Do I sound over-anxious? Yeah, I do, even to myself. But at that point their illnesses seem very real and very worrisome. I wonder if kids have any clue how their vague and casual complaints leave mums stressed.

And then there are mosquitoes....

Many nights in a row H has been waking me up because he hears a 'buzz'. He's mortally scared of mosquitoes - scared, not annoyed like the rest of us. I've tried everything - from repellent gadgets to creams. He has always been a mosquito magnet but I'm beginning to think the buzz is more in his head than anywhere else. Each night he walks into my room at ungodly hours, shutting doors and windows till I suffocate, screaming if he hears a buzz and then falling asleep leaving me waiting for the alarm so I can get on with my day. 

Mornings find me irritable with a body ache that refuses to go. I am unable to go to the gym which means hanging out at home feeling horribly fat and cranky (Ugh!). I resent every phone call, every knock at the door, even the maid - anything that comes between me and my shut eye, which just doesn't happen. It's a bit like I was back to their baby years with the sleep starvation.

I've been wondering if it's that's what making me over-anxious. After all the kids couldn't have changed overnight. I should be used to their myriad illnesses.  I AM used to them. I could always figure out the real from the fake. Now I just cannot seem to.

This is unusual too - this rant. I do not usually rant unless I have a physical person sitting in front of me - when I bug the h*** out of them - someone from my list of 'privileged' few :-). Unfortunately  that hasn't been possible and you have had to bear the brunt of it. 

On a positive note the discovery of the day has been that a good bath seems to wash away a lot of my crabbiness. Highly recommended for bad days when everything seems to be going wrong. That and a change in schedule seems to make me feel better.

As a new week comes up I have my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Of football matches and heartbreaks

Last week, one wet morning I found myself driving down a pathetically potholed road to the twin’s school to watch a foot ball match. All I know about football can pretty much be summed up as follows:
- World Cup matches happen at ungodly hours
- Players wear knee-length socks
- Said players are violent and often get hurt
- It is dangerous to referee a football match

The only players I know of are:
- Messi (not Messy, I just discovered)
- Ronaldo
- Maradona
- And Black Pearl, Pele (that one I learnt that from an Amol Palekar film)

However, with the son all over me to come watch 'his' match I had little choice. I wasn't even sure he was on the team - he was a substitute. Does that count? I had no idea. For him it certainly did. It was a big enough deal for him to strut about for days bragging about how 'cool' his team was.

On D-day there I was - on the off chance that he would get to play AND manage to strike a goal AND win the game for his team! Yet I was there because since the twins came along I’ve learnt to believe in miracles.

It wasn’t too bad. The light drizzle was pleasant and I got to see first-hand how H managed to come home each day with mud-caked shoes and grubby clothes. The match turned out to be a draw with none of the sides scoring. The teams then took on penalty shootouts. Wonder of wonders H was called upon to play and to take a turn at the penalty kick (the last final deciding one at that) as the teams stood equally matched. He put all his might into that one kick. 

The ball sailed across, hit the goal post and bounced right away - far far from where it was supposed to go. Even as the claps sounded for the winning team I watched his face crumple. I watched him walk away dejected, shoulders down. I saw the tears he was trying hard to hold (This son of mine cries only too easily). I felt what he felt – that he’d let his team down. I wanted to run to him, to give him a hug. But I stayed put.

Finally the teams shook hands and it was all over and I could go to him. “We lost, mama,” he said in a small voice. I didn’t say ‘It’s okay,” because clearly it wasn’t. So I said the next thing I could think of, “You’ll do it next time.” And with that I had to be satisfied.

I was glad I went.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Happy birthday to The Book Club

It’s been some time since I posted news from The Book Club. This week it needs to be written about since we turned ONE! Isn't that wonderful? I had forgotten about it till facebook memories sent me a reminder. I do love the idea of revisiting memories.

This last weekend the meeting was pretty special what with birthday celebrations as well as Friendship Day on Sunday.

After much sifting through stories on friendship from Harry Potter to Kabuliwala to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn I settled on a relatively obscure one about a young Irani girl who finds friendship in London even while retaining her uniqueness. With pre-teens staring us in the face that's an important aspect of friendship - this idea of loving and retaining your difference even while being best friends. 

The Friendship drawing

The funnest part was the 'friendship drawing activity'. (I modified the idea from a book of the 'My Weird School' series. Review coming up soon on my other blog, do watch out). Each of the kids were asked to think up something they'd like to draw - it could be anything. They came up with a flower, a bird, a train, a boat, a scene from the Irani girls life, a robot, a scenery etc. 

I then paired them up making sure the bete noires were put together. You should have heard the protests!! 'Aunty I can go with ANYONE but her!' (Oh they can be rude and blunt) 'Aunty may we PLEASE exchange our partners'. But I stuck to the plan telling them none of them was so intolerable/intolerant that they couldn't be with each other for 15-20 minutes. And then I asked them to  put together their two ideas and make up one drawing. It was amazing how quickly they settled down and got to work with absolute concentration. Even H and N who are always at loggerheads and who I'd paired together worked like a team.

We ended up with a bird-shaped boat, a robotic flower, a girl playing with a toy train while hiding under the bed during a bombing (That was from the story of the day) and bombs destroying a pretty scenery.

These kids are seriously brilliant.

If you work with kids anywhere this is an exercise I completely recommend. Not just does it teach children to work with people they don't much like, it also prompts them to align their thoughts and ideas with completely divergent ones and work towards a common goal,towards a common win. Those are skills they'll need to hone in life. 

I was pretty pleased with myself. The problem is I made it out to be a contest and now I have to pick the best drawing and I'm stumped.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bollywood and kids

I love Bollywood and there was a time I could watch pretty much anything. I don't remember ever walking out of a film and I've gone for some pretty lousy ones. I sat through one of SRK's absolute pits of a film (I’m telling myself it’s age-related maturity which makes me admit this even while the heart feels a twinge of guilt at stabbing SRK in the back). Anyway, all I remember of the said film is that he exaggerated his worst mannerisms and wore a jacket without a shirt ugh!!! But then he IS SRK and I WAS young ....... and I am so digressing, but you do get the picture, right?

When the kids came along I discovered to my utter surprise that I'd turned into a Bollywood prude. I found I had this unexplained desire to keep them away from all things filmi for ever and ever. I never did have a fascination for toddlers mouthing film dialogues or aping the Dabangg dance.

I quailed at the thought of H and N watching crassly choreographed item numbers to even more crass lyrics, painfully long drawn out 'come-hither' looks and counter looks, the even more painful camera shots lingering on various parts of the female anatomy as much as the gore and violence. Sometimes they'd come to me with a string of lyrics they'd picked up from a friend and ask me what it meant and I'd explain the best I could. I got by pretty well but then those were early days.

The first time N gave me grief for a film, it was Karan Johar’s Student of the Year. She was all of 6 and I was sure it wasn’t for her while she was equally sure it just was, since ALL her friends had seen it. To my dismay the society kids took to enacting out portions of it and I found N staking claim to a certain role without ever having seen the characters! She knew each of them through her friends. Still, I consoled myself, it wasn’t the same as actually seeing the film. Even today the non-animated films the twins have seen can be counted on their fingers.

However, I have come to realise that trying to keep them away from Bollywood while living in India is silly not to say completely impossible. The trick is to filter them and that I hope I can continue to do for a long time yet. What I remain firm on, is NOT getting swayed by the ‘All my friends have seen it’ line. I have friends and cousins who have taken the children along right from the time when the kids were babies. And I have to admit the children do not seem any worse (or better!) for it. I put this down to just another parenting quirk the children have to bear with.

I’m learning to let go little by little. The twins have graduated from KungFu Panda to Chennai Express and we have begun to watch some really good Bollywood films together but more of that in another post. I still do get the occasional twinge when H and N pick up some bizarre action move or a weird piece of vocabulary from a film or when I watch N singing Manwa Lage with a look of immense earnestness and I wonder how much of that emotion she can actually comprehend. I AM over-thinking this I know. The sane part of me tells me kids hardly internalise songs and dialogues like adults; but what to do – that’s just how I feel.

And the prude in me cannot but celebrate when given a choice the kids recently picked Minions instead of a popular Bollywood flick. Maybe it was alright after all, alright to hold them back just that much. Parenting is about individual instinct, right? And then about hoping and praying fervently that it all turns out right.

What do you think? Is it okay to let the kids be? Do we end up pushing them towards something by trying to block it out?


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