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2013 in review…and some plans for 2014!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s the last day of the year and a new page is waiting to be turned. I am a total loser when it comes to new year resolutions and drawing big plans for fresh beginnings. In all these years I have never really cared to put together a list of goals that I really want to achieve in the new year. Life’s goals and dreams linger on my mind. I work towards them too. But I seldom make them my life’s mission. You see, I am a lazy, lazy person and I can really get complacent!

But this time it is different. Perhaps it is about growing old. I realise that I need to reassess my life’s goals and set things in order. While parenting is a very important aspect of my life there is a lot more that I want to achieve in my life. And one of them is to achieve a few goals through my writing and this blog in particular.

WordPress this morning sent me pretty report card of how the blog fared in 2013. It isn’t close to anything spectacular but well…it made me feel like a mini-rockstar! 🙂 And though I know it is all in good faith, here is the first resolution of the new year…

Blog Goals

Thank you dear readers for coming back to my blog. I hope to make it more fulfilling for you in the new year. Without spilling the beans over, all I say is that I resolve to write more, share more and involve more. 

Here’s to new beginnings and more warmth in the 2014.

Happy New Year

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Gifts For Life

Oh we submit easily now! Yes, we avoid those obvious pressure spots (read toy stores). We have buried the iPad indefinitely inside our cupboard. We don’t leave home in front of you (yes, we have to devise new ways to dupe you every day). We have learnt to read your tastes in clothes, notice how we give in to your fashion policing every day. And we play along with your midnight antics, no matter how urgent is Baba’s meeting in the morning the next day, or how pressing is Mum-um’s need to read or write after you sleep.

We have learnt to give in. In each of your little demands. In each of your timely-untimely meltdowns. In each of your ‘I want you attention’ moments. We have learnt to adapt. We have learnt to humour you and be a child like you are, no matter how silly we look.

But between your little demands and our giving in, we hope you will learn to pick the good lessons that we tuck in. Like those little moments that make me sleep better. And for a child who grows up to be a parent, I will always try to make your growing up special, with little nuggets of learning and pretty memories that will be your companion all your life.

While you cradle your swanky new Spiderman toy, we want you to believe that Baba and I are all your superheroes rolled into one…but really…we are just like you, kids who have grown up with life’s beautiful gifts.
image

It’s Okay To Not Have It All

We didn’t have an iPad or all the pretty contraptions that you have today. Let’s not even get started about your grandparents’ growing up! But we found happiness in whatever we had. It’s okay to not have it all, my boy. Just because we have an iPad doesn’t mean you will get to use it. Just because we can afford it, you needn’t take a flight every time we go on a holiday. Just because we can, its okay to not have that big remote-operated car. It’s okay to prefer Mum-um’s small Nano over Baba’s big SUV. It’s okay to look silly. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to try again. It’s okay if you don’t reach your dream. It’s okay to take a new route. It’s okay to fail again. Yes, it’s perfectly okay to not have it all!

Tolerance & A World For All

Religion, race, nationality. Gender, class, prejudice. There will be enough reasons for you to grow intolerant. You may see the world throw up images and examples very different from what we tell you. Don’t believe them all. God made us all different and for a better world, you have to learn to embrace every one. So don’t make your religion a war cry. Don’t assume you are a superior sex because you are a man. Stand up to another’s prejudice and never bend and bow for what you are against.

For The Love of A Good Story

I imagine you growing up into a reader. While my insistence on reading may be juvenile, but you know I don’t want to be pushy. What I would like you to do is always look for a good story. Look for inspiration around you. Discover new places. Travel and make new friends. Gather experiences and add a world view which is different from what we would have given you. Find your own inspiration. Your own leader. An icon, who makes you believe that you can achieve it by yourself. Above all…write your own story, like no one else can.

H for Health, Honesty & Humour

Health, not just for you but us too. I know the price for having old parents whose health worries you to death. For you my boy, I promise to take care of my health. So that I can live long to see you grow up into a beautiful human being. I promise to swim the seas with you. Race up the mountains. Walk the length of life, right behind you as long as I last.

There are many lies that we tell you. Like when I say that Baba has gone to buy chicken when he has really gone to work. Or that the green lizard with pink eyes is waiting for you in the balcony. Oh yes, we are dishonest with you at times. I hope you grow to forgive us. Never pick these leaves of dishonesty. There will come a day when you will know that a lie can take you nowhere. Like the day when you will see through the stories that we tell you.

Keep laughing. Keep a thread of humour in your life. Learn to smile through your tears. Find a reason to laugh. Find a reason to make another laugh. Just like your baby babble that throws us into fits of laughter…or your childish antics that makes a child of us everyday. Never lose it in your life.

Money Can’t Buy You Happiness, For Everything Else There Are Your Parents

We don’t promise you the stars. We won’t promise you a ‘Stanford education’. We don’t promise to fulfil your every demand. Because honestly, baby, we don’t want you to know that money can buy you happiness. You have to find happiness. And we will help you find happiness and every thing else, everything else that money cannot buy. Love. Cuddles. Family. Sharing. Warmth. Security. Education. Smiles. Respect. Dignity. Yes, you will know there is a lot more than that.

 

This post is a part of the 1001 Gifts Activity by HDFC Life in association with BlogAdda

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Christmas Stocking & Good Behaviour

How do you enthuse a toddler about Christmas? What stories do you tell him? How do you share your own growing up with him? For a first timer, it is always a challenge (a fun one) to introduce your child to something new. For us, it is Christmas and I am having a great time telling my little one stories about Christmas and how it is such a special festival. I imagine V to grow up to believe in the magic of Santa. I would want him to believe that there is a friendly old man who watches over little kids and brings them surprise goodies on Christmas eve.

Christmas - Santa 1

Much before school begins, and long before I seek a generous help from malls and public places to generate an interest about Christmas, there are small things that I am doing at home. One of them is to get my little tornado settle down for some seasonal magic.

The legend of the Christmas Stocking is an old,old one. And to be honest, one that I had quite forgotten. So a little bit of research to understand what I am getting into, here is a little tale about the origins of Christmas Stockings sourced from this adorable home business website called Cotton Creations.

The custom was founded by the most influential figure in the shaping of today’s Santa Claus, St. Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century bishop who was known for his charity and wisdom. According to legend, a poor Italian father was faced with selling one of his three daughters into slavery in order to afford the dowries needed for others to marry. One night the daughters had washed out their stockings and hung them over the fireplace to dry. Having heard of the family’s misfortune, the good saint decided to pay them a visit. Late that night, in the darkness riding his faithful white steed he stopped by their house and saw the stockings through the window. He secretly tossed three bags filled with gold coins down the chimney. The bags fell into the stockings that were hanging by the fire. His kindhearted gift made it possible for all three maidens to marry. A variation of the story is that he tossed the bags threw the window into the stockings. 

If you have a little computer savy reader, then head over to Hello Kids for some more popular legends.

But here is my version. The version of the legend that I told my 2 year old before we went ahead with our Christmas Craft 2!

The One About The Christmas Stocking 

Once upon a time there was a naughty, little boy just like you. He had a mommy, just like me.  Like your mommy, she went to work everyday. And every morning like Vihaan does, he would cry and throw a little fit.This made mommy very, very sad.

It was Christmas and she told her son, “You know Mumma tells you that you must be a good boy? You must not get angry. That you shouldn’t cry when Mumma goes to work. Doesn’t Mumma say that you must be a smiling, happy baby? Then why do you cry baby?”

“You know Santa Dadu is watching over you. He knows where you live. If you are a good boy and do what Mumma says then he will come over bringing you many toys. Which toy do you want my boy?”

“Mumma Gai” he piped.

“But you have that don’t you? Why don’t you close your eyes and tell Santa Dadu what you want? I know what we will do. Let’s make a Christmas sock and keep it for Santa. He will see you have kept a stocking and bring you your gifts” said mommy.

“Baba Gai,” the little boy’s eyes lit up.

Christmas Stocking Title Final

The Christmas Stocking Craft

We decided to keep this simple. Simple enough so that there was nothing really much to learn. Except a little use of motor skills and imagination. I did much of the work in this one and then left around a few pieces for V to put together.

Here is what you will need: 

1) Red velvet paper or red foam

2) Card stock – I used an old cereal box

3) Stickers – I picked two themes, jungle world foam stickers and Winnie the Pooh glitter-foam stickers. You could pick any sticker really…the trick is to get the child to pull out the stickers from the sheets and place them in his own way.

4) Scissors

5) Glue

What We Did

The little kiddo will need a little help here. An older child can however do this by himself. Draw up a stocking shape on the felt paper and cut it out. Trace it on the cereal box and cover it up with the felt paper. Leave a little opening on the top to pop in small candies. Remember its a paper / foam stocking and it can pop. It is meant for small items so handle it with care.

Christmas Stocking A

Next up, leave the stocking for the child. Let him peel up the stickers and allow him to place them as he fancies. V decided he wanted the jungle animals in one straight row. I tried telling him that he could put them any other way, but he knew how he wanted to arrange them. It was also his idea to add a few heart shapes stickers. Cute, I thought! 🙂

Christmas Stocking B

For the other side, he picked the 100 Acre Wood theme and placed the stickers all right. Once again I left it for him to decide where he wanted to place what. I was amazed to see that his little brain didn’t want to mix the two themes. He saw them as two distinct sides of the stocking.

Christmas Stocking C

So there you go…a small and simple craft to help little fingers practice their motor skills. Let’s hope V takes back the bigger lesson in my version of the story. Whatever be his projected behaviour, Santa has the tough task of bringing him a miniature of his father’s car!

Christmas Stocking D

It’s Christmas Eve, have you put up your Christmas Stocking yet?

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Colours, Shapes & The Christmas Tree

What good is Christmas without a Christmas Tree?

With the  toddler at two, it is the right time to introduce to him the wonderful, wonderful, fuzzy celebration of Christmas. And what better way to celebrate than put together a Christmas Tree? Since this will be V’s first year, I decided to wait around till we put together the real Christmas Tree. The riot that he is, I doubt the tree will survive him until Christmas. So, the real decoration will have to wait till a day before 25th.

But then what stops us from making one of our own! Today, I put together the first of our Christmas Crafts – A Christmas Tree that taught us colours and shapes.

christmas tree craft

I brought the crunchy, glittery, amazing-to-feel-on-the-fingertips shimmer foam sheets. V’s blocks of shapes worked well to make the star, circle, triangle and square…a bit of mix and match here and there, one for every colour and I put together an activity that was fun to do.

Here is what you need:

1) Coloured sheets of paper – You could pick of any kind. I chose the glitter foam sheets, because they add the extra-sensory magic of touch.

2) Different shape blocks – Every toddler will have a shape sorter. It’s a perfect baby toy that can be beautifully adapted as the child grows up to form various activities. This for example is one!

3) Scissors – If you have an older kid, you can use craft scissors. V is just too young for them. 🙂

4) Ice-Cream stick – For the stem of the tree. We could have coloured it…I noticed it only after we finished the activity.

5) Glue – Use with parental guidance

Christmas Tree Collage 2

What Next? 

Here is what I did. I explained to V that a Christmas Tree is a magical tree under which Santa Dadu (Yes, I made him a Grandpa) will bring him lovely toys. But there is a lot that goes into a tree. We must make it look pretty and nice. Let’s put in some of our favourite shapes?

V instantly liked the idea!

So the big green triangle was instantly recognised. Next came the star and the other shapes. V went over the colours, which he identifies very easily now. He mixes up his shapes here and there…but that is perfectly okay! 🙂 He likes to call the diamond barfi, because you know why. 🙂

I let V choose where he wants to put the shapes. All I had to do was put some glue on the reverse, which he for some reason chose to call ‘medicine’. So with a bit of adhesive medicine under the shapes, V’s baby fingers worked on the tree lovingly.

The entire activity held us in place for close to 20 minutes. Which was a win, win situation for both of us.

There is more to Christmas than just a tree…so watch this space as we share with you our countdown to Christmas.

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Sexual Tolerance, Anyone?

Did your parents talk to you about sex? Mine didn’t.

Did they talk to you about sexuality? Mine didn’t.

Where and how did you learn about homosexuality and heterosexuality?

Which did you consider ‘normal’? Which do you consider ‘normal’ now?

We usually hush talk about this. As a nation we brush matters under the carpet. We cite religion. We quote ‘nature’. We hide the truth inside closets. And we wear colourful masks to hide our identity. What I am about today may not be comfortable for some of you…so read with caution.

rainbow flag

As an adult, a parent and a human who believes that everyone should have the right to love, yesterday’s judgment from the Supreme Court criminalizing gay sex is a blow. Homosexuality did not affect me in my growing up. In a girls’ school, being ‘lesbian’ was somewhat a joke. So when a senior and I got friendly, someone really called her a lesbian. At that age, I didn’t realize that I was being called one too. I shared this with the senior and we stopped ‘hanging out’. I was never attracted to women. But I realize that on that day, being described as or called a lesbian was nothing less than an expletive.

A girls’ school is a curious place. With no one of the opposite gender to interact with, seniors often became role models for juniors. The tomboyish ones played many sports. They were tougher, firmer and boy-like in many things. They stood for school elections. And there were those occasional fan-girl moments. When we were in the 10th, we famously walked into Class 8th and called up one girl who was ‘following’ one of us. She had begun stalking and leaving gifts in her desk. Back then it felt very cool; to threaten a girl, to ask her not to spend her money and to stay away. We didn’t think about sexuality, or what her sexual preferences may have been.

Our conservative Convent education contributed little to our understanding of sexuality. We were taught about periods. About sex. About self-defence. About attraction and love. About boys. But never about girls.

I don’t think tolerance towards homosexuality came to me in a day. Like many other girls, I didn’t consider it seriously enough.  Because I wasn’t attracted to girls and no one was attracted to me, I really didn’t have to deal with it. My last two years in school were spent in a co-educational institution. And so while hormones were raging, and girls were being courted, and crushes were flying in the air, there was also the case of effeminate boys being subjected to taunts and pins.

Boys can be cruel. Yes, in matters of sexuality, they can be really, really cruel. It begins as a casual banter, then it leads to exploitation and oppressive behavior. Notions of gender and sexuality get diluted to an extent that in a boy’s accommodation the most effeminate one is delegated all the ‘womanly’ jobs. Sometimes cleaning, or cooking and maybe even a rendezvous of casual, experimental sex.

Adolescence begins with confusing notions of oneself. And it can be traumatic for a teen who has to deal with uncomfortable notions of sexuality. In such a situation, being told that being attracted to the same sex is not a crime. It is not unnatural. That it is nothing to be shameful of.

You can read the rest of the post on Parentous

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“Maa, I have a headache!”

It’s 10:30 in the night and the toddler suddenly announces, “It’s hurting Maa,” pointing to his head.

Shocked!

A 2 year old complaining of a headache? Too much tv? Lack of sleep? Hunger? I mull over my options in a nanosecond.

I look at the father as he quickly gets up from his position. He pulls the son close and ask, “Where does it hurt you baby, show me…”

The son pinches his temples and says, “here”.

The father panics. “Oh! His head’s paining. Why? Where is it hurting baby…show me again.”

The boy points to his knee this time.

“Arrey!” comes the response from an exasperated father.

The next minute the toddler turns to me and says, “Maa give me a medicine.”

The father and I look at each other
Our jaws drop open.

Flashback 30 minutes. 10 pm. Bedtime.

The father hurries us to bed. He has to wake up at 6.

“I have a headache ya…I want to sleep. Give me a Saridon na,” he says pinching his temples.

I give him one.

The toddler wants to eat a medicine too. The father makes a charade of popping a pill into his mouth and even gets him to gulp it down with a sip of water.

The matter is soon forgotten. Over the next 30 minutes we play our usual bedtime games. Rolling over, reading Old Mc Donald, fake punches and jumping. Yes, we’ve recently learnt to jump on both our legs!

30 minutes of mindless fun and then the boy fakes a headache.

I pop in a small homepathy pill into his mouth. He makes a huge charade of washing it down with water.

“Feeling better?” I ask.

In reply comes a nod and a flash of his dimples.

Five minutes later, “Maa I want more medicine!”

“Lights Out” I holler out.

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Memories That Money Can’t Buy

Someday you will chase money…of yes, we all do. Between your passion and your purse will come clinking the tiny coins that will always remind you that money is important. But before all that, remember the thrill and pride you showed when I handed you coins for your little pocket. I was bargaining in the haat and you were giving me memories that I will remember all my life.

Someday…you will also remember this. Maybe…

The Little Things That Matter...

Maa tells me that when she was a kid petrol was 40 p / litre. Baba earned 800 bucks a month. Their first dish of lobsters in Taj Mahal, Mumbai costed Rs 350. It was an extravagance, but they weren’t paying for it. My parents’ childhood sounds idyllic to me. Gosh, really, how inexpensive was life then!

My own childhood was not extravagant either. Once a week, Maa would be give me 5 bucks so that I could buy dosa for lunch at school. Or pepsicola like we called in those days…iced colas squeezed in plastic pipes.

pepsi cola

Or a round of kala chana salad that I called ‘Vitamin’. The thrill of handling money was of great joy. At once empowering and full of responsibility. With a small amount given to me on certain days, I felt I had to account for every penny spent, or saved.

As I grew up…

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