Strong now

“Life is best lived with minimum effort” – That seems to be Bugz moto. If she can get away with not doing something, she will do her best not to do it. This includes cleaning up after playing, remembering the simplest of things, trying to read, coloring between the lines. The list is endless.

For the past year Bugz has been taking swimming lessons. Progress you ask? None, nada, zilch, zero. The instructor tells her to put her mouth in the water. Bugz follow. The instructor then tells her to mover her arms and legs. Bugz looks up, gives her a huge smile and does nothing. One year of lessons, just because she loves to play in the water. Who needs to learn to swim?

For two people as parents who love to hike, Bugz starts to crib the minute she hits the trail. One day D and I decided to go for a walk with the kids. Bugz did not stop whining about being too tired, about how she hated to walk, about wanting to turn back. 15 minutes of non-stop Bugz whine, we were ready to turn back. And if anyone were to say that the cribbing was because it was too much distance or she is too young for the distance, Bugz proved them all wrong by running all the way back home.

She is one strong girl! Her punch can knock an adult off their feet. She can carry a gallon or two of milk without really thinking about it. She can walk/hike long distances and that too at an adult’s pace, if provided with the right incentive. It is not that she can’t do something, it is that she chooses not to do it. There are no words to state how frustrating this is as a parent.

In any case, given our love for hiking we keep taking her on hikes and as she cribs, there are talks about how hiking is a form of exercise and exercises are important, they keep us health, they make us stronger.

This past weekend, on a super sunny day, we were on a particularly difficult hike with steep incline right from the beginning of the hike and no shade. The kids were both having a hard time (and so were we). After a break for water, we started again and Bugz found her strength. Off she went running up the trail, leaving most adults behind, including us as we ran panting behind her to keep her in sight. Then suddenly she turned, let me catch up and said – “Mumma ab mein strong ho gayi. Ab chalo waapis.” (“Mumma now I am strong. Let’s turn back.”)

My minimum effort kid wins at all times. And don’t forget stronger!!!

Get Milk

D’s trip to a grocery store follows a general pattern –

Me: Can you head to the grocery store? We really need to and I am stuck with xyz right now.
D: Sure, can you make me a cup of tea before I leave?
Me: !!!!
D: OK OK, what do we need to get?
Me: *rattle out a list of things which are everyday grocery list for me* Onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chilies, eggs, milk..
D: What? I can’t remember all that! Can you write it down for me?
Me: *rather than argue, I quickly find a paper and pen and write it all down*

20 minutes later the phone rings.

D: I lost the list. I kept it in my pocket but can’t find it. Can you tell me what all I need to get?
Me: *goes over things again*
D: Wait, I can’t remember all this. Let me grab things from the veggi section and call you back!
Me: !!!!

Call after 5 mins

D: Do we need Penuts?
Me: No
D: How about juice?
Me: No
D: Oh oh I see yogurt?
Me: No! we make our own. Can you please stick to the list?

2 or 3 calls later, what is required is bought and paid for and I get a message saying, “Done, heading home!”

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All this is of course when he is going to the grocery store from home. Then there are times when I tell him to get something on his way from work.

6:15 P.M.
Me:  Can you get so and so on your way from work?
D: Sure!
Me: What time are you leaving?
D: 15 mins

6:40 P.M.
Me: Have you left yet?
D: Got stuck. Leaving in 5

7:00 P.M.
D: On my way
Me: Don’t forget to get so and so
D: Yeah!

7:30 P.M.
Garage door opens. The kids run down to greet him. There is general cheer everywhere. And it all comes to a stand still as soon as he sees my face.
D: Oh no! I forgot. I will go now and get it.
Me: Never mind! We will make do without it for today.

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I was out for a run when a car caught my eye. It had something written on the driver side windshield. As it came closer, I looked closely. In bold letters, with a red sharpie, it read – GET MILK!

I had to stop to take in the brilliance of it! It was practical and funny and perfect, all at the same time. Try and forget that one, dear husbands!

 

 

Matter of heart

Buzz came back from school with an envelope, 3 pages of instructions and talked about heart, jump, donation, puppies. With a lot of things on my mind and emotionally not open to taking in everything she was talking about, I told her we would talk about it in a few days. With a long face, she walked away.

A couple of days later she came back and talked again. The school was hosting an event to support American Heart Institute and the kids were all to jump rope based on the money they collected, to educate about the importance of exercising and keeping the heart healthy. Could I donate some money, so that she could participate? Also there were different stuffed toy puppies that the kids earned based on the amount of money they collected, and she really wanted a couple of those.

I sat her down and explained that the idea behind the money raising drive was not asking parents to give the money. It was about talking to people, raising awareness about heart health and asking them for donate for the cause. Hard hearted mom that I was, I could not make things easy for her and give her money just so that she could get some stuffed toys and participate in the jumping rope activity in school. If she really wanted to do it, she had to do it all. Go talk to people and ask for money. We would donate some as well, but only if she did some work first.

She sat on the idea for a couple of days. Asked questions on how she could raise money. The grocery store, knocking door to door, the mall – ideas we came up with.

We were heading to the grocery store yesterday and she carried her envelope. She said her ‘excuse mes’ as she walked up to someone. Explained what she was doing and asked her question. ‘Could you contribute may be $5?’ She thought it would be easy. With $100 her goal, she did her math and figured all she needed to do was ask 20 people and she would be done. The script of course did not work as planned. A handful of people gave her a dollar or two but mostly all she heard was ‘All the best, but sorry!” After about 30 or so tries, there were tears in her eyes, here voice heavy. I told her I was proud of her for putting herself out there and knew it was not easy to hear ‘no’, but collecting money was not easy either. I asked her to stop and we could try again later. Demoralized we came back home.

Back home as she counted her money, $11.50, D encouraged her and told her that we would match everything she collected. $23 already she finally laughed.

Today after school we went to the mall. ‘There are more people there’, she told me. As I sat with my book, she walked around and made her case. After yesterday’s experience she took nos with a lot more grace. She smiled and thanked people. She talked and made a better case. At one point she spend 10 or so minutes talking to a mom and returned with a huge smile and 65cents in her hand. She jumped with excitement with every amount that she raised. And then when she was tired, she came and said ‘Lets go home Mumma!’

Current count is $54.34. She has also made a deal with D to convert her $4.34 to $5. $55 and matched by us she comes to $110. She couldn’t be more excited. We couldn’t be more proud. She did it on her own. She learned and can say she raised the money. I learned as well and can say, always be kind to kids trying to do something like this, even when you say no for whatever your reasons might be. Kindness goes a long way and the kids remember those more that even the amount of money they get. Buzz definitely talked more about those people than anyone else.

As she takes the money in to school tomorrow, she has to deal with a new challenge. Jump rope 220 times. Wish her luck!

 

Question and its answer

Buzz has this fascination with family relationships. There are always questions around Bua, Mama, Tau Ji, Nana, Dada – the list goes on. But more importantly there are always questions around how do people come together to get married. Or I should say there were.

The other set of questions she has are – Do I have to *insert question* when I grow up?

Do I have to become famous when I grow up?
Do I have to cook when I grow up?
Do I have to give up milk when I grow up?

Most times my answer is, “you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” (based on the questions of course. “Do I have to eat my fruits when I grow up?” has only one answer, a resounding yes.) This answer, I almost always follow up with a “Why?” Mostly because I want to understand her thought process and where the question in coming from.

That the two set of questions collided came as no surprise to me. One evening on our drive back from school, she asked “Do I have to marry when I grow up?”

“No you don’t. That is your choice,” I told her, “but why do you ask?”

“Because then you have to kiss and that is just ewww!” she replied.

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Her class was learning about the life of Martin Luther King recently. The kids were really impressed and spoke about it constantly. Ask me, I had impromptu quiz every day and disgusted looks were given because I did not know the year Martin Luther King was born.

Buzz’s teacher wrote the anecdote in one of her class emails – When I spoke about his marriage, a collective ewww went out in the class. They all looked disgusted that such a great man could make a blunder like this.

Buzz came home with another set of questions”

“Do you know who Martin Luther King’s idol was?”
Ahh finally a question I knew. “Mahatma Gandhi” I replied.
“Was Mahatma Gandhi married?”
“Yes he was.”

Before I could show off my knowledge and rattle details about Gandhi, she had walked away shaking her head. Two great men had made the same mistake!

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“I don’t like S. I am not going to talk to her again!” she told me in her angry voice.
“What happened? What did S say?” I asked.
“She said A and I will get married when we grow up.”
“errr”
“I am not getting married to him or anyone else. I don’t want to get married, EVER!”
“Ever?”
“Ever!”
“OK then.”

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Bugz was cribbing about being the younger sibling (story for another day), so we got talking about how Papa was the youngest sibling and how Mumma was also the youngest sibling and how much fun it was to be the youngest in the family.

“Mumma do I have to get married when I grow up?” Buzz asked again.
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to.” came to standard response.
“Because kissing is ewww, right Didi?” asked the youngest one, remembering the conversation in the car.
“Well Bugz, at some point in your life you will have to kiss someone!” She shrugged.

And she has grown and how, that to in less than a month, mom laughs holding her stomach.

Taller..Bigger..Stronger

Dear Buzz,

You are our happy, kind, friendly little girl and that is why it sort of came as a shock to us when we saw the shy, uncommunicative side of yours. The first time we really noticed it was during our trip to London, where you would not talk to any of the friends we were meeting. Your Paa and I have been watching closely since. You are your regular friendly self – laughing, talking, running around – around other kids, but around adults, even those you know well, you become shy. You don’t even make eye contact, when directly spoken to. And this includes all your friends’ parents, all the teachers in your school.

But before we can worry, you turn around and are super active at in your class. You compete to answer any question asked. Ms. M says your hand is always up, that she can always count on your participation. Sometimes you are so active that you have to be reminded to give others a chance.

Then again the minute you start to perform, this confident side of yours comes forward. Be it dance, plays, gymnastics, singing – you love it all. Your class was singing a song for your Year End Performance, last school year. You practiced your song constantly while at home. One day you came home, all excited. “I get to stand in the middle!” you told us. You did stand in the middle and you smiled as you sang. We couldn’t have been prouder.

When asked what you like to the do the most, you can never pick. And that is the truth. There is so much you love to do, but even though you don’t realize it, I think your favorite thing to do is read. Every morning, while it is still dark outside, you sneak in to our room to check the time. You pointedly tell me that our LED watch is easy to see the time in. You quickly calculate how much time you have before the rest of us wake up and then run downstairs to start reading for the day. Magic Tree House, A to Z Mysteries, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, Ready Freddy, Capital Mysteries and so many more. You read and make sure you tell me the parts that you found really funny.

The other thing you absolutely love doing is art. Currently drawing airplanes is your passion, which of course takes me back to your fascination with them as a baby. But other than that, you are constantly trying your hand at drawing things you see around you. Be it the dinosaur on the table mat, the bird outside, the bear Bugz refuses to let go of, our family, our house. I can always count on you to make a birthday card for any of your friends’ birthday and they are not scribbles. They are well  thought out, detailed cards.

Non activity wise the one thing that makes you crack up the most is measuring your height against me. Everyday you quietly come, give me a hug and then measure yourself, laugh and run off. I tell you, your height does not chance everyday and still you do it. Still you find it funny and I realize in complete shock that you indeed grew over an inch in the past few months. For someone who is on the tall side (me I mean), you come up to my chest now and I can only look on in surprise. Most people think you are at least a couple of years older than you actually are. You feel very proud when you correct them and they seem so surprised.

And with growing taller comes added bonus for me. I can always count on you to help me with my chores. If I would let you, you would not only stand next to me as I cook, but do half the work as well. You fetch, measure, pour ingredient for me and if I tell you not to pick up something because if is heavy, you get offended. To prove me wrong, you carry Bugz who is heavier than anything I have in my kitchen and run around the house. Point noted sweetheart! I am learning to trust you when you say you can do something.

The one thing I am struggling most with is giving you your independence. I have to let go and trust that you will be safe, away from my eyes. I started slow. In the restaurants that we frequent most often, I started letting you go to the restroom on your own, while I stayed back on our table. I used to get jumpy, and watch the door like a hawk, but am getting better at it. Bugz, of course, has to follow. Which means all thanks to you, I am training her and myself at the same time. Letting go of both of you at the same time. Letting you ride in your friend’s car, leaving you for play dates, leaving you in a section of the library while I run behind Bugz – Baby steps and together, you and I, we will make it.

As things change and you grow, more they stay the same. You are the same Buzz that we love like crazy, only taller..bigger..stronger and our wish for you stays the same. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay you.

Loads of love,
-Maa

Leaving with my favorite picture made by you.

London-Blog

 

Chat Chat Chatter

Dear Bugz,

The phone rang today and before I could say “Hello”, you had it in your hands and were talking away. I was only invited to the conversation to help explain, what you were saying, to the other person on the line. Excitedly you talked and I looked on with a smile.

Everyday during pickup there is some new story about your talks from one or the other teacher at school. You stop in the middle of the road to talk to a stranger. You chat up people in the pool, while they are trying to swim. You talk about school, your teachers, your friends, your ladybug backpack, the books you like, how Didi and you landed up in the same swim class, your plans to ski during the winter, your new car seat, gummy bears, ice-cream, letter sounds, songs – the list is endless.

Your Didi is the shy one, who does not even say hello to people she knows, so it has been a slow realization for your Paa and me that you are the exact opposite. We are not used to having to watch what our child says to people and then to have to look horrified and apologize to some stranger at the gym, just because you called out to him, “You silly guy, why are you not wearing a shirt?” is definitely an experience. While we are still learning the pitfalls of a talkative child, we can only be thankful for your still baby voice which makes understanding what you say a little difficult for people who are not used to hearing you talk.

Every time we talk to family, they only want to talk to you. Well because you talk back. Your giggles, your laughs and your non-stop chatter keeps them entertained. You also have your pet phrases for everyone. There is “funny Nana!”, “when will you come here?” for S Mami, “Russo!” for Bua, “We will come for Christmas!” for Mama and Mami and the list goes on.

I look back at the time when as a year old, you hardly spoke a word. Your Paa was so worried for you and I would laugh as say, “Wait till she starts and then she won’t stop.” You have proved me right and how! Even when there are times when I put my hands up and ask you to stop, I wish you a world full of happy conversations. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay you – my dear little chatterbox.

Loads of love,
-Maa

Red Saree

Salwar Kameez was your everyday wear. You wore them while cooking, when you dropped us to school, for festivals, even during weddings. Saree was something you wore very very rarely and hence something that was deemed very special in our minds.

I still remember coming home from school, as a first grader, to see you sitting on the dining table chair. You had your red saree on. My immediate question was, “Where did you go?” You laughed and said, “Nowhere.” “Then where are you going?”, I asked. Again you replied, “Nowhere.” My next question was obvious, at least in my head. “Why are you in a saree if you hadn’t been any place and are not going anywhere?”

I don’t remember what your answer was, even though I remember the house, its orientation, the exact chair you were sitting on. But most of all I remember your saree, red with off-white flowers. As a grown up, I now understand that for someone who wore a saree every day, it would be a regular daily wear type of saree, but in my head it was special. With your height, clear complexion and hazel eyes – you looked beautiful in it.

When you stopped wearing it, when others took its place, I don’t remember. What I will always remember is, my first, most vivid memory of you in a saree. Little details, long forgotten, randomly come to me now, and I gather them close to never forget. Some days are hard, sometimes exceedingly so. As much as I try to distract myself, today is one of those.

Four years in a count that never will end. Miss you so very much!