My little rock stars

Memoirs of my mommyhood


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The sibling comebacks

Vibhu’s team had a young bachelor join them recently. In some informal conversations he advocated for having 2 kids. People were surprised.

Hello, don’t you have a strong opinion for a person who is not becoming a parent anytime soon?

The bachelor replied

I am a single child myself and I suck at comebacks. That’s an essential skill. You need siblings to practice it!

He is so right! Ask the parent of 13 year and 10 year olds who are stuck together in the house for 4 months due to covid. Comebacks galore!

Dinner table conversation. I have been trying to shove Indian mythology gyan into my kids. Doing my bit to make them culturally aware. Having grandparents on the same table helps. We are explaining how Hinduism believes in rebirth and there is birth-death-birth cycle. We discuss how becoming a human is a privilege achieved after being born into 8.4 million species. This cycle can only be broken by doing good again and again in every birth.

So, even as humans we have to be born many times? asked Venky.

Yes, we have to better ourselves after every birth. We go through many lifetimes before we gain the maturity to break the cycle of birth & death.

Looking at Tunnu’s maturity I can say it’s her first lifetime.

Another dinner table conversation, we are talking about genes and environmental effects on kids. I tell Tunnu,

Both papa and I are smart, so you are also supposed to be smart.

Yeah, I know. I am smart.

Tunnu, you are supposed to be. You are not.

The older sibling obviously has the edge. But once in a while, the younger one rules.

Tunnu is reading I am Malala. Mid way through the book she declares,

You know I feel really bad for Malala.

Because she got shot?

No, She has TWO brothers. Just imagine!

And the season continues ….


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Covid Creativity – Creep me out

Boredom facilitates creativity! I am now convinced. He-who-hates-writing-Venky walked to us with this story last evening. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Jake was a 21 year old orphan who lived with his friend Jacob in a house near the coast of Norway. He was quite good looking with a pale face, high cheekbones, blonde hair and sea blue eyes. Since the death of his parents he had been closed up and did not show much emotion.ย 

 

The death of his mother had been quite a mystery. Her car had run over one of the iconic cliffs of Norway and fallen into the sea. When the police had recovered the car, they found no body. The mystery of the missing body had not been solved yet. His father had died from the shock of the incident soon after leaving Jake alone in the world.

 

One day, Jake and Jacob decided to clean up their attic having nothing better to do. Going to the attic they decided to clean out the big chest first. It was very old and dusty and opened with a creak. Inside, lay several books and documents but the most interesting object was a doll. There was not one speck of dust on it. The detail on the doll was incredible. It had long eyelashes, high cheekbones and blonde hair like Jake, brown eyes and a small mouth.

 

This doll made Jake feel vaguely uneasy. Though he did not know why. He decided to get rid of it and threw it in the trash. The next day, when Jake went to clean the attic with Jacob, he saw that the doll was sitting on the chest. He figured that he had thought of getting rid of it but had actually not done so. So, he chucked the doll out without giving the matter a second thought. The day after that when Jake and Jacob went to finish off the cleaning, he saw that the doll was back sitting on the chest!

 

Feeling a little apprehensive now, Jake took Jacob with him and threw the doll in a nearby river. The next morning, he rushed into the attic to see the doll back in its place. He noticed a slight change in the doll. Itโ€™s precise features were a little blurred and itโ€™s long eyelashes were gone.ย 

 

Feeling more than a little scared now, Jake first burnt the doll and then threw the ashes into the river. The next day the doll was back again but now itโ€™s striking brown eyes were gone leaving a blank space where they used to be.ย 

 

This process kept repeating until on the 13th day, Jake went up to find a smooth face devoid of any features. Now, there was a crimson stain on its left side that looked a lot like blood. This was the last straw for Jake. Feeling very scared now, he told Jacob to pack up immediately since they would be leaving the next morning. Jacob, feeling equally scared, did not protest.

 

The next morning, at sunrise, Jacob and Jake put the suitcases at the back of the car with the intention of never returning again. They drove all day until by dusk, both had started to relax. Jake was the one driving and now his fear had gone completely. Instead, relief washed over him.

 

He glanced at the rear view mirror and was paralyzed with shock. Clearly visible in the mirror was a doll. He instinctively knew it was the doll from the attic. Gone was its smooth featureless face and instead there was a devilish grin and two evil eyes that stared back at him alive with malice.

 

Jake was so petrified that he never saw the turn of the cliff. In his last few moments, Jake pictured his mother. A beautiful woman with blonde hair, high cheekbones, a small mouth and brown eyes with long eyelashes. Instead of feeling peaceful and calm, he felt the same uneasiness he had felt when he first saw the doll.

 

Ten years later, Alice, a small girl living in Norway, was hiding from her mother in the attic. She noticed a boy doll with blonde hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones and a pale face.

 


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Unbreak My Heart

It’s 10 p.m. I am shouting at the kids to get into their beds. Well, they have to make their beds first. Kids are ignoring me. They feel when there is no school the next day, there is no reason to sleep and wake up early.

After some yelling, they get around brushing and making their beds. They are finally ready to retire. We finally get our “me” time. And how do we make the best of it? Well of-course, by turning on our favorite streaming show Grey’s Anatomy.

The moment it starts, Tunmun peeks in.

“Papu, please tuck in my mosquito net.”

The pampering parent agrees.

“OK, you get into the bed. I will come in sometime.”

We get engrossed in the show. Venky walks in 20 minutes later with a half smile on his face.

“What are you doing here?” Both of us shout.

He picks up the bottle on the table and drinks the water in slow motion and then speaks with his smile intact.

“Did you promise Tunmun that you will tuck in her mosquito net?”

“Arrrrgh! She really exploits me.” Vibhu puts his head in his hands. “Let me get done with it.”

“Oooh! Wait! There is more..”, says Venky with his grin widening.

“You know, she forgot that you were going to tuck her in and she tucked herself in. After a while, she suddenly remembered that you had promised her. So guess what?”

“What?”

“She undid the whole thing. She said, Papu will feel bad!”

Both Venky and I double up with laughter while Vibhu tucks in our daughter’s mosquito net and feels loved! ๐Ÿ˜€


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Covid19 – The lockdown.

Extraordinary times.

Times that can make perspectives and relationships change.

It’s hard to imagine that just a month back our house was like a revolving door. All members following their own schedule and coming and going as per their school and job requirements.

Now, we have three generations stuck at home for weeks together! Kids going about their online classes. The middle generation aka us,ย  getting used to work-from-home. Ramayana and Mahabharata playing in the background. This is our new normal.

4 meals together in the day, day after day, is also a new normal. So are the hugs that my daughter gives me during my online meetings. Almost teenager – Venky taking a walk with us.

Yes WFH is tough. So is getting groceries and lack of domestic help. But not everything is bad about this lockdown after all. I took the opportunity to delegate chores to the kids. I announced during lunch time,

“Tunmun and Venky, both of you will have to do the chores now. Venky, it’s time you learnt cooking.”

“What! This is child labor!” says Mr. smarty pants Venky.

“How is that child labor? I am not paying you anything!” says Mrs. even more smarty pants Mommy.

“Well, then it is slavery!!!”

Huh! Welcome to the world of lockdown kids! Venky was made to cut a basket full of bhindi for dinner.

“I am tired. This is so much work!” Venky exclaimed.

“Oh yeah baby! At least you will appreciate the food on the table now and eat without a fuss.” I think like an evil parent.

Before I can say it out loud, Tunmun calls out

“Mamma! You’ve given me the most boring job in the world!!”

All of us laugh out loud. She was given the job to wash the rice, dal and veggies ๐Ÿ™‚

I am worried I might actually start liking being locked down!

 

 

 


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The shape of thoughts

Tunmun was preparing for the MUN in her school. She was the USA delegate and the topic was “Women in Middle East“. As she did her research, she found out that women did not have some basic rights like driving, going out of house alone, education in the region. She was shocked.

80% of suicides in Afghanistan are from women? Is this true mommy?

So it seems…

OMG! I am glad I am born in India. There is no difference between boys and girls.

That’s not true! Women are socially suppressed in India too.

I wonder which bubble my daughter is living in!

Of course not! I have never felt any difference!

Now I am silently patting my self on my back. I must be doing some real kick-ass job as a parent!

Really? You think so?

Yup! I think there are stereotypes. Like people say don’t cry like a girl…But no difference in the opportunities.

Wow! My 10 year old daughter can differentiate between stereotypes and real unfairness. What makes her do that?

A couple of weeks back I received an advanced leadership training in my workplace. One of the key concepts in that training was that the language shapes our thoughts. So, if you want to change yourself, change your vocabulary. Watch this TED Talk on the same topic.

Tunmun’s statement was like a deja vu for me. She could differentiate between stereotypes and suppression because she knew the word stereotype. That is why kids (and adults) should read more. It increases our vocabulary and opens our minds.

That day, Tunmun learnt something about the unfairness life deals to women at large and I learnt something about the power of the language.


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Conversations with God

Like any other 10 year old girl, Tunmun likes to dress up. Earrings and clothes and shoes and bags catch her fancy. But she is also the girl who likes to climb trees, skate fast and do her Taekwando. So, when she watched Commando 2, she finally found her role model.

Before you jump to conclusions, it was not the well sculpted Vidyut Jamwal. It was Adah Sharma in the character ofย  an IPS Officer called Bhavna Reddy. She chases the goons, shoots them and when she returns to the police jeep she applies perfume and lipstick.

Since then, Tunmun’s ambition in life is to become an IPS Officer. Sometime back, I was trying to push her to do some studies.

Tunmun how will you become an IPS Officer if you run away from studies?

Huh! Why do I need to study for that? All I need to do is to shoot well!!

Tunmun reacted with a shocked expression.

I answered with an evil grin,

Heh Heh. You need to crack UPSC to become an IPS. And to do that you need to study super hard!

I am super proud that even after this news, Tunmun has still not changed her ambition!

Last week, we visited Tirupati. The 1.5 hours that we moved in the queue we told the kids about stories related to the temple and Lord Venkatesh. We discussed how the temple carries a reputation of fulfilling the wishes of devotees. The devotees then come back and offer their hair, money or gold to the Lord.

After the darshan, on our way back we checked with the kids about what they asked for in the temple. Tunmun said that she asked the Lord to fulfill her wish to become an IPS officer. The Tiger mom in me tried to use this opportunity to reinforce the value of academics.

Tunmun, just wishing for becoming an IPS Officer will not make you one…

Tunmun cut in,

Yes, yes. I know. I will also donate my hair!!

Balaji, are you listening? ๐Ÿ™‚


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The blog revival – Coming of age

One of my new year resolutions is to revive this blog. Since I am the kinds who continues to be stressed till the item is ticked off, I thought I might as well start.

Kids are becoming self sufficient fast. This gives me more time and I fuel it into my career. The career rewards back but demands more and more time. As I try to balance between profession and kids, writing takes a beating. But when I read the posts from this blog, it already makes me warm, nostalgic and gooey. It’s a treasure of memories. So, I must keep writing the conversations and the growing up tid-bits ๐Ÿ™‚

While this blog was silent, Venky became as tall as me (well, almost. 2 inches short) and a teenager (well, almost. 2 months short). So, we are learning to be the parents of a teenager. Wasn’t he a toddler just yesterday?

Venky has an instagram account which he uses to chat with his friends. Before you judge me, handle a teenager whose whole class is on instagram. I negotiated for a 20 mins hard stop and zero privacy. Yeah, I am the (paranoid) mother who gets to read all his chats and routinely cleans up the followers and following. My hope is that this will keep him within the boundaries. I say, my hope because even after reading the messages I cannot make out a thing. The whole chat is using acronyms that I am not aware of. What I CAN make out is that some guy likes some gal who likes some other guy who likes some other gal and so on. The messages sound like this,

I liked him till yesterday but I like you today.

Basically, a dynamic graph.

Like a typical teenager parents, we are having a lot of heated arguments.

Vibhu announces at the dinner table,

You are not allowed to have a girlfriend till you are 23!

TWENTY THREEE!!!

(Venky is Shocked!)

Venky recovers and asks,

Why not?

It’s distracting. You should focus on studies.

My friend (who is the topper) has a girlfriend. He is still topping. So, how is it distracting?

Vibhu stutters to beat this logic. I try to salvage the situation.

C’mon Venky. I had a boyfriend after I was 24!

Without missing a beat, Venky says ,

Wow! That’s so sad!!

Phew! You get the flavor. If there’s a book called Parenting a teenager for dummies, I need it.

While we argue with Venky trying to set boundaries, Vibhu and I are arguing between us as to what the boundaries should be.ย As of now, we are clueless! And as we continue our struggle with making and breaking rules as generations progress, another year comes to an end.

Looking forward to what 2020 has in store for the parents in us! It’s one hell of a ride for sure!! ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. – Tunmun deserves a full post to herself. So, saving it for the next time! ๐Ÿ™‚


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Matter of pride

7th grader. When my son became one last year, he was hit by exams the first time. Typical Indian old school type. Secretly, I was a happy parent. The boy had been having it super easy. Not fair. NOT FAIR. I suffered exams 3 times an year since I was minus nine months old!

Anyways, coming back to Venky. Venky went hyper. He started studying way in advance. Multiple revisions. Gave up play time. So much, that even tiger parents like ours got worried. I sat him down.

Dude, it’s OK. Don’t take so much pressure. You have worked hard. We will not say anything if you don’t top the class or get all As. RELAX. There’ll be many more exams.

Venky looked me in the eye and said,

Meri class mein koyi izzat hai ki nahi?

Battle for respect and pride. I’d rather watch from the sidelines.

 


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Finally, Cinderella is out of the box!

Hello there, I know, I know its been a long time! My blog posts became intermittent and finally stopped. The kids have all grown up. Venky, especially. His conversations are more adult like – curious and argumentative. Tunmun thankfully, still has some kiddie brain but that is fast changing. They often say stuff that is “bloggable”. I make a mental note to club such conversations together and do a post but then, I forget them.

So, the point of the post – About 3 years back, I did a post on Cinderella and what a useless role model she was! I had written an alternate form of the story that I told Tunmun at that point of time. Recently, I also wrote a blogpost on myCity4kids on the gender bias that exists in kids story books. Well, finally I took the plunge and got it published. It is now available on Amazon.in and even got some rave reviews! There’s a lot of activity happening on it’s facebook page too! Check it out and help me spread the word!

Cinderella


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Life in little conversations # 2

Dadu was teasing Tunnu one afternoon after she came back from a swim.

“Tunnu, where did you go?”

“Swimming.”

“No, I think you went to the beauty parlor. You look so fair!”

Tunnu did not quite like the compliment clubbed with parlor accusation. She insisted that she went for swimming. She also checked with me if she was indeed looking “fairer”. I assured her that she was still the “same old color”.

But Dadu continued his banter. Tunnu got increasingly irritated. It came again on the dining table.

“Tunnu. I am sure you went to the parlor. Else how are you looking so good today?”

Tunnu looked him straight in the eye and asked, “Was I ever bad looking?”

Dadu was rendered speechless and Tunnu got a standing ovation.


Vibhu and I were discussion the title of a kiddie book that we are planning to produce. I made suggestion to which Vibhu replied, ” This word is too heavy. The kids won’t understand it.”

Venky chimed in, “But moms will. They are the ones who will buy the book!”

“Wow, you can already identify the decision maker. That is something that I learnt in my M.B.A.” Vibhu remarked. He was pleasantly surprised.

“Well… yeah.. I have lived with a mom for 10 years, you know!”


Venky has been wanting permission to go and play with his friends in another apartment complex opposite to ours. We have been refusing so far as we do not consider it safe. A number of times all his friends go to play in that complex and he is left behind. A few days back Vibhu and I discussed it and decided to relax the rules. We felt he could play in that apartment complex as long as he was visible from its gate and we (parents) were at home. So, we decided that we could lay down some rules for Venky and lift the ban. I broke the news to him.

“Venky, we think we can let you go to play at Jayadarshini apartments!”

I waited for Venky’s reaction. I was expecting him to start dancing with joy. Instead, he just continued to stare at me expressionless while I kept looking at him expectantly. Finally he said,

“Okeyyy… So, what are the terms and conditions?”

My son knows us too well now! ๐Ÿ™‚