Let Go of Time

Sometimes you can’t help but wish that kids came with a Sleep On-Sleep Off button! It always feels like their body does just the opposite of what your mind is wishing them to do.
Every night the girls and I struggled with opposing plans…they wanted five more minutes of the day and I wanted five extra minutes … to myself. We would get into bed and despite knowing I sounded like such a boring nag, I would keep repeated.. Its late, go to sleep, close your eyes. And the more often they heard it, the more awake they seemed to get! My eyes would be glued to the clock at the far end of the room..watching seconds and minutes tick away, knowing it was eating into my precious me-time.
Unexpectedly the clock was my biggest lesson.
One day I decided I needed to break the cycle of forcing sleep, letting anger build and finally having the kids doze off with their last image of you being that of an angry disappointed Mamma.
All I had to do was forget the clock.
Once I stopped looking, time wasn’t an issue anymore. Girls and I would snuggle into bed and just chat as they winded down. we told each other stories, made funny sounds, laughed over dumb jokes and calmed each other down. Sleep came a little slowly but naturally.
So maybe it took fifteen minutes more but it certainly was a more relaxing end to the day. And I don’t think any amount of me-time can feel as good as those fifteen minutes with my best girls!

Link

Is There Life After Work?

She was the CFO of Lehman Brothers. That defined her. Then it was gone. And she got her life back.

I’m not going to get into a post on work-life balance and associated cliches. For one I don’t even know how we don’t realise the irony of calling it work-life and not perhaps work-home balance.

i just want to focus on one sentence which hit me smack in the face and left me with a nose-bleed.

“Like everyone, though, I did have relationships — a spouse, friends and family — and none of them got the best version of me. They got what was left over.”

Guilty as charged. Here I was – the good employee, caring boss, cooperative co-worker. Then I packed my bags and came home to be the grumpy wife, impatient mom and disinterested daughter. How mind-numbingly pointless was my life!!

Now what?

Bad Hair Day

Seems I missed the memo that notified all parents that six years of age is now the new teenage. I was pretty sure I had at least half a dozen years left before the troublesome teens hit my firstborn. Yet the oh-so-lovely phase she is going through right now, clearly is telling me to wake up and smell the tears and whines over an outfit or look gone all wrong!

Six-year-old K’s latest obsession is growing her tresses long … so long that they reach her shoulders one day, touch her back the next and by day three, voila!, there are at her hips. So she will repeatedly check the length as she passes any mirror and also keep comparing her beautiful locks with every style she sees in magazines and on television. I must consider myself lucky that till about age five I managed to keep my maintenance woes low by regularly ensuring she had a ‘cute summer cut’. So whether it was summer or winter, it was also just a quick brush and out the door.

Initially I would just quietly watch as she combed and brushed and measured. The trouble began when she decided on one occasion after another that her hair was a mess and she just couldn’t leave home with us for an outing. It would start with a simple discussion on how she wanted to tie her hair – a pigtail, two pigtails, just a hairband, etc etc.Slowly this would deteriorate into some whining from her side, yelling from my side, tears from her side and finally both sides just giving up and walking away in different directions!

Then one day I came home from work to hear that she bunked her favourite dance class and she confessed that her hair just wasnt good enough. Enough is enough, I thought. I am not ready for this. Why are all those precious years before her teens being stolen from me?! I demand that my innocent six-year-old with no sense of self-identity and self-esteem back! :-)

So I sat her down and gently explained that there will be days once in a while and more often as she grows up where her beautiful face and beautiful tresses will just be at loggerheads with each other. And each time we can’t run away from what we really want to do. So… we just need to declare it a ‘Bad Hair Day’ and move on. Tell people you are having a bad hair day, I suggested. They will understand. She stared at me grimly as tough my peace offering was sounding way too easy. Almost sounded as though Momma hadn’t put any effort into this one. But she politely nodded in agreement.

Couple of days later, as I walking in through the door, she came running to me.

“Momma, today ALSO I had a bad hair day! It just wouldn’t listen to me so I let it be.”

Atta girl! Give it back to that teen inside trying to fast forward life.

Quiet friendships

The best way to make sure you do less of something is to make a simple new year resolution about doing more of it. My well-intentioned resolution was to blog more often. Enough said. It has taken me almost two months to haul myself back over here.

Its been a good start to the year. Touch wood. An interesting move up at work. Kids back to school and the daily rush. Hubby enjoying his travels in and out of small towns dotting the countryside. And as I sit back and relax, there has been quiet change in the way my six-year-old K and twenty month old V interact with each other. Amidst all the shouting, jostling, pulling and pushing, there are these lovely moments of friendship. Sharing a chocolate earned after a hard day of good behavior. Running around the furniture and playing catch with little V loving to pretend she’s a puppy with a mean bite. Sitting cross-legged on the floor and syncing hand movements to rhythmic songs. Leaning back in the big lazy chair, snuggled together and giggling over their favourite cartoon shows. Flipping pages of a big picture book – K thrilled that she can read the words and V excited by the pictures she can identify and sounds she can mimic.

One day I overhear this conversation.

‘V, can you give me back my crayons?’, pleads big sister K.

‘No!’

‘V, do you want a new Barbie?’

‘Yesh!’

‘Then give me my crayons and I’ll get you a new Barbie.’

‘Yesh.’ And there’s a polite return of crayons.

The very next day there is a repeat performance. But…

‘V, give me my notebook back and I’ll give you a new Barbie.’

‘No! No Barbie.’

Wiser already. :-)

Moving On

Decided I should squeeze in one final post for the year. And why not? The year deserves it! :-) It has been quite good to me… settling into a new home, new schools for the girls, new workplace and managed to be new to blogging also.

It’s been a year in which many near and dear ones have gone through crazy downs, thankfully to come up on top. Each instance I tell myself to count my blessings and not let the daily irritations grow into bigger irritations. It should be pretty easy to implement but it never is somehow. All it takes is a wet towel left lying on the bed or the maid walking in twenty minutes late or the child spilling something to let loose a tirade. In fairness to me, many times I do count to ten and move on. Many times I don’t also.

So this coming year, I want to do just one thing… take it a day at a time and enjoy my time with my friends and family. And by enjoy I don’t mean go bunjee-jumping or drive down to Goa on a whim but just enjoy the blessing that they are around me and would stand by me no matter what. Unconditional love. Need to give and so receive.

Wish you all a joyous and safe celebration into 2012!

‘Tis the Season …

… to be jolly! Fa la lala laa la la la la. Christmas really gets me all festive. I find myself humming carols through the day and generally feeling very upbeat. And now with kids at home, it’s all the more fun coz Santa’s coming to town!

Two December’s ago, when K was 4 years old, Santa got her a pair of lovely Barbie roller skates. Since then she has been convinced that he can read her mind and will get her exactly what she’s hoping for! Makes my job tougher as I have to keep asking subtle questions about the secret Santa gift and then try to fulfill the request. Sometimes I fumble and say something like, “go get those skates I got for your last year” and she will immediately correct me. “Santa gave me those!”. Sigh. But what’s childhood without these little white lies and a kid full of excitement and joy, right Virginia?

So this year too, two weeks to Christmas and our little tree is up in a corner of the living room. K has hung the tiny decorations and V watches curiously as the lights go on and off. This is her second Christmas so a little too early to worry about whether she’s been naughty or nice. Santa wont skip her for the world. :-) Though K does have a different view -” V’s been quite naughty this year. I wonder if Santa will get her something. Don’t worry Mamma, I’ll share my gift.” Moments that make motherhood so worth the while!

Evenings carols resonate through the house, either K & I singing full blast or the CD player or both. And thankfully our apartment complex gets as pepped us as me about Christmas. So we had a bunch of kids singing carols on each floor. And V made me carry her and follow them from floor to floor. She just couldnt figure out what they were upto. One dude with a guitar and all these kids singing. There must be some chocolate at the end of this, she must have thought.

And tomorrow is the Christmas Carnival – a full day affair with stalls and rides and games. The grand finale is a skit where K plays an angel. An angel that has been religiously attending practice every evening, no matter how tired she is. (There’s that love for the stage again!)

So wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and hope Santa fills your stockings with all sorts of goodies. And now this Santa will run off to buy some goodies for home.

Leaving you with a pic of the lovely tree at my workplace, which is on a floor above a popular mall.

Left Right Left

I was so caught up in the logistics of the entire event that I kind of forgot about the event itself. Till a tidal wave of nostalgia hit me.

It was my six-year-old K’s annual Sports Day at school. The athlete in her has not yet surfaced (yes, I am hoping it does one day) so she was participating only in the mass drill set for all junior kids. My mind was completely pre-occupied in planning to reach the school on time, arrange a car drop and pickup for little V to her playschool, managing a classmate’s mom tagging along, coordinating the early pick-up after half-day sports etc. As things fell into place and I walked onto their athletics field, it hit me.

One, the sheer size of the field. Two, and more importantly, images of my those years of school sports days flooded my mind. And I was not just remembering moments, I was clearly visualising each one of them as though in a parallel world I was transported back to my school ground. Incidentally it is only a twenty-minute ride away and I cross it daily on my way back from work.

The images felt so real. Walking down the long path leading to the field, happy to be missing a few classes in the name of sports practice. Hours of striving for perfection in the march past. My teacher was an army colonel in disguise I was convinced. Standing perfectly still, waiting for the march past to begin and desperately wanting to scratch the itch on my calf thanks to hovering mosquitos. Pulling up our socks, stretching them till they gave up so that less skin was available for above mentioned mosquito. Being in the Red House that always came last on Sports Day and was hence condemned to be the fourth and last group in the march past. The ignominy meant more time in the mosquito corner. The freshly laid out  tracks with pure white chalk powder. Punishing hours in the hot sun, mastering the drill routine. Watching those who could really run, run. The big day and the all important ‘Eyes Right!’ that allowed us to scour the stands for a glimpse of our parents. The games declared open and balloons, just a few, released into the sky. Back to the pavilion to cheer your house towards greater glory. Never worked for mine. ‘East or West’ my house is the best! Repeated again and again and again.

It all came back to me. And it all played out again in front of me. The same oath. The same chants. The same drill. The only addition was a mind-blowing display of yoga. We have moved forward in time to realise the value of ancient art forms.

Will her kids also do the same things I wondered. It suddenly felt as though this was a routine cast in stone. How could anyone dare to change it. How could they think they could better it.

Finally it came down to the basics. Kids running. As fast as they could. As best they could. Hoping and praying they crossed the finish line and brought glory to their House.

I wish more parents stopped looking down into their phones and looked up at their past. As it played itself out right in front of their eyes. Eyes Right.

Standing Tall

I’ve been meaning to write for a while now about K’s love for the stage. It’s one of those traits that reminds me that some things are just in the genes. Her father loves an audience and clearly that love has been generously passed on to the offspring.

It comes quite naturally to her and so she is regularly one of the chosen few at school for stage competitions. There was her Cat in the Hat, then a kiddie version of extempo speaking, a group song for a festival celebration, a group dance for an academic fest and today a debate. Phew, didn’t realise it was already such a long list.

K was quite excited about being selected for the debate. I could see the confidence in her growing. It was no longer just about remembering her lines and reciting it on stage. She wanted to learn about hand movements, facial expression, eye contact. She clearly wanted to better herself.

Despite my earlier rants, I still can’t get all Tiger Mom about such events. I like to help her and guide her but I really do like to leave it up to her. After every such event at the school I come back wondering if I should have got her to practice more, push till it’s perfect like some parents seem to have done. But just can’t do it. Just can’t enforce my thoughts and views on her so rigidly. Maybe also because she will have none of it! Sure she hears me out and nods politely but finally she does what she thinks suits the situation. And I am fine with that. Let her learn through her own efforts and her own mistakes.

But somehow while this strategy was always sounding right in my mind, there was always the tinge of disappoint that she hadn’t really won in one of these events yet. Today something in the air told me it would be different. And she didn’t let me down. Third best speaker.

K was patiently waiting for the results to be announced. As the first and second prize winners walked up onto the stage, I held my breath. And then I heard her name being called out. The image of her running onto the stage, pride in every step, is still right before my eyes. She flashed me a brilliant smile and I just wanted to hold her in that moment and hug her forever. She did it, on her own and she knew it. Standing tall, so proud of herself, having taken baby steps forward with each shot at the stage, she had wanted it so bad and it was hers!

K, I am so happy for you and my heart swells with pride. And I am so glad the victory is 100% yours. Self-made. All yours.

Little Bit of Me

Recently I was engaged in two different conversations that finally had me thinking about the same thing. The first conversation was with a very close friend, newly married and contemplating whether or not to have child in the near future. The second conversation was triggered by Aamir Khan’s baby news and the discussion revolved around surrogacy versus adoption. While I dwelled on both later in the silence of the night, it seemed to come around to the same question – why do we have children?

To most of us it is a natural progression – single to spouse to parent. The need to procreate is part of the human DNA some say. Survival of the race. Continuation of the family genes. Because we can.

It seems this day and age is many a times questioning this philosophy. I am sure it is not the first generation to raise questions but certainly the questions are being raised in a time where is no dearth of medium. You can reach out to anyone in any corner of the world and learn their view and share your own. So much so that as is the norm, someone somewhere has funded another curious soul to do a ‘study’ on such a question. A friend and college professor shared the results of one such study with his friends (and by share I mean he posted it on his Wall). Reactions were mostly unpleasant. He was still single but his friends had progressed to parent. And they were offended that even this one emotional bond between parent and child is not spared and is put under the microscope for convenient interpretations. Parents don’t find joy in parenting it said. It is too much of a chore and does not make economic sense it seems. I debunked it angrily too.

Yet, we all surely know someone who has decided to set aside a life of diapers and baby bottles for a career advancement or the time and space to travel the world. Whether a child and such choices are mutually exclusive is an entirely different debate all together. But they have made the fundamental decision that procreation is a choice and they are not interested.

I tried to tell my friend that there would never be a perfect time to start a family. A better time maybe but never perfect. And how it would complete them as a couple not isolate them. But my arguments were not very convincing, even to me. Perhaps because I never had to convince myself or my husband. There was no decision. It was decided. Even the second child was a natural progression.

At times when the road from spouse to mother looked like a mirage, I remember bringing up adoption. More as a conversation starter than an actual plan. The spouse was not interested. It would be our child only. Perhaps an early reaction because our situation was not so grim that this needed to be a real option.

But this explains why a 45-year-old man and 38-year-old woman would prefer surrogacy over adoption. My flesh and blood. Fear of the unknown. Fear of invisible medical history. Fear of untraceable genes. But as another friend pointed out, isnt life a vast unknown as is? How much do we really know about our ancestors? Yet there is a feeling of oneness, security and predictability.

I look at K and V. They are a little bit of me and little bit of him. But they are mostly K and V. Two lives that complete ours. Who knows what the future will bring. And what part of the past it will pick and choose from. Que Sera, Sera.

Book Review: Unleashing Genius

Buy Unleashing Genius

Book:  Unleashing Genius

Author:  Dilip Mukerjea

Binding:  Paperback
Publisher:  Westland
Number of Pages:  512

My first attempt at a book review and I was staring at a daunting 500 plus pages, though the vibrant colours of the cover and pages were very appealing. And seeing that it was filled with colour illustrations, jokes and cartoons and a very generous font size, I dived right in.

The footnote on the cover intrigued me – “A book on Learning Miracles for children of all ages.” The note along with the attractive presentation of the book had me wondering who the target audience for this book was – kids, parents, teachers? After going through the entire book I am not sure I can narrow it down to one group. It’s definitely for anyone who has an open mind and is willing to put some effort into exercising their brains and improving their memory and creativity. The author is obviously someone who has spent many years researching the underlying concepts and his mastery over the subject allows him to present to the readers in a simple and effortless way.

The fundamental premise is that if you don’t know what you can’t do, there is no limit to what you can achieve. This is something we see so often in young kids but as we grow up we start to limit ourselves just because we think we can’t achieve something. Trying and failing becomes a less attractive option.

The core aim of the book is dig deep into how the brain works and then apply various techniques and mental exercises to push it to work better and faster. Sometimes the pages full of colours and illustrations make it fun and easy to read but occasionally it gets a bit tiring to the eye also. The author fills the gaps with ample jokes and puzzles to keep the reader entertained.

The first chapter is slightly tedious. It details how the brain functions, what are neural cells and what they do, etc. While the author is building a base for the various techniques, the reader can be tempted to skip a few pages ahead and get to the more fun stuff.

Next is about memory and the numerous exercises and techniques that enhance memory power. In today’s information-overload world I sometimes wonder how we are able to stuff our heads with so many things, with most of the information rendered useless in a matter of minutes as we substitute it with new information. This chapter is designed to let you know that the brain can all hold that and so much more. Some of the activities like the linking and pegs were enjoyable.

Then we move on to reading. This chapter sort of pulls together all previous learning to show that proper reading dynamics is half the battle won. Reading should be easy, quick and also facilitate comprehension. The concepts here are quite useful in today’s world where we are constantly trying to speed-read, scan for relevant information, process quickly and ensure the read was useful. Each one of us daily knowingly and unknowingly scan so many sources of information – newspapers, websites, hoardings, notice boards - trying to speed-read, comprehend and remember simultaneously.

Next the book covers creativity and how it emerges from the union of left and right brain functions. And the last 150 or so pages are filled with jokes and ‘braintertainment’ and finally action points regarding strategies to build the learning momentum.

So overall a very pleasant read and enjoyable book that is very relevant to today’s child and adult. It’s not a book you need to read end to end at one go. Actually it’s difficult to cover more than a few pages and exercises in one go. It’s good to even just open up any section and just work through it. A book worth experiencing but slightly tough on the wallet! Thanks BlogaAdda for giving me the opportunity to experience this book.

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