Category: Parenting

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!

 

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Fairies

Dear Buzz,

For over a year now you have waited for this day. You have asked endless questions, you have watched your friends closely, you have read books about it and you have been impatient for your turn to come. Kids in your class started out with the phenomena more than a year back and that is when your questions started. Last year just before PD mama’s wedding, I joked and told you to hold on till after the wedding and you took my word for it, but the wedding happened and days and months ticked on after and nothing. You counted out your friends in class and the numbers kept dwindling till you were the only one left and that is when you started pushing.

Pushing hard on your teeth – if you could, you would get those teeth moving by sheer dint of your will. Your friends lost two, four – some even as high as twelve teeth, but the school year came to an end and you did not even have a wiggly tooth. You were so very disappointed.

Adding to it was all the visits Tooth Fairies were making to your friends’ place and your constant struggle with the question, “Are Tooth Fairies real?” You argued – all the doors and windows are locked at night; magic is not real; only birds have wings and even they can’t come in through closed windows. “How can Tooth Fairies be real?” you kept asking. But you wanted them to be real so bad, and that is where you were stuck. With your logic, you came up with simplest of solutions, “if I have a present under my pillow when my tooth falls, then they are real otherwise they are not.” How your Paa and I smiled at it all.

After quite a few complains of pain in your lower front tooth, for over a month, they finally did start to wiggle noticeably last week. The excitement level went up multiple folds in our household. The only time you talked tentatively about your teeth falling was when it came to the Tooth Fairy. Oh yes the present, I remember sweetheart, so on a recent trip to a store when I came across books, I bought two and told you I needed to hand them over to someone special. Not one more question you asked. You smiled and walked away.

Today when I came to pick you up in the evening, you smiled to show me what was missing, and then ran off to show me your precious tooth. Apparently eating cherries did the trick (along with freaking out your teachers, since they could not tell whether it was blood or cherry juice).  Then the chatter moved on to the gift. Bugz, super excited at sleep time peeped, “Tooth Fairy will come today, Didi!” You smiled big and whispered in my ears, “You are the Tooth Fairy Mumma, but Bugz is so little that she does not know.”

Yes sweetheart, Bugz is little but you are growing to be so big and sometimes I miss my little girl. But but I love the big girl you are becoming. Your next big milestone is here and we are super excited for you. We also know the second tooth is going to fall any day now, so enjoy your special time which has come after such a long wait. As always, stay healthy, stay happy, stay you!

Love,
-Maa

Little Dreams – India

The wedding date was set a year in advance and Buzz started making plans right then and there. For a child her age, a year is a long time coming which meant I kept telling her it would be a while. She waited and waited very patently at that but come September every day seemed never to pass. Anyone she met, it was all about the trip to India. Everyone in her school (students, teachers, parents, director of the school – everyone) knew the date we were leaving, the food she planned to eat, the clothes she hoped to wear.

“I can’t watch TV, right Mumma?” she looked at me with sad eyes as we sat down in our seats. I smiled and told her we would talk once the plane took off. So sure she was of the no TV rule that she kept saying “you will say no.” Seatbelts on, no kicking the seat in front, please don’t jump around, count to 100, listen to what the pilot is saying – I said it all to keep the two little bundles of energy in their place till we took off and then much to their delight I switched on the little TV screens in front of their seats. As I navigated, “Dora!” they screamed. Dora it was. Just before the show started, she looked at me with bright eyes and thanked me. I told her, we would take breaks, read a little, draw a little, sleep a little but she could watch shows and movies and those decisions were hers for the duration of the trip. —Delight at getting the freedom to pick her own screen time, never happened before!

“How will we go home? Do you know the way, Mumma?” she asked with concern. “Tau ji will come get us baby,” I told her. She was so uncertain, some faded memories, voices on the phone, hazy images over Skype. Would he really come? Would she like it if he came? But there he was and so was SP Didi. They opened their arms wide and she ran right in to them. The trip home was spent talking a mile a minute and endless kisses for SP Didi. Once home she walked in, looked around and remembered. With a smile, off she was to the room that was ours. Her excitement at familiar faces, familiar surroundings had us all in splits. —Joy of being engulfed in love, joy of being surrounded with family!

“We are going to see Nana,” “We love Nana,” “AK Mama is coming to get us, Yay!” “He calls me Makhhi, why?” “I can’t wait to ride the train!” Little voices kept repeating in a loop, till we got to railway station and they spotted AK Mama. She jumped in to Mama’s arms the minute the door of the car opened. Bugz, of course, had to copy which meant poor Mama had his hands full with two mini hurricanes. A week before we had left, he had send a message to me asking what I was getting for him. I had replied “2 jantu!” “You were not kidding,” he laughed at me, with the two of them hanging off of him. As we took our seats in the train, he got out two candies from his backpack and handed one to her. She looked at me, at my nod, took it, give him a hug, sat on his lap as she ate on. —Getting spoilt and how!

I was in the kitchen, trying to figure out what to make for breakfast when Mami ji rushed in. “Buzz kept looking at me as if she wanted to say something. I asked her what she wanted but she kept quite. I asked again and she very softly said ‘Parantha, paneer paranth.’ So move out of the kitchen, I have some paranthas to make.” Saying I would make them made no difference. “She asked Choti Nani so Choti Nani will make,” came the response. Mama ji who was forever busy on the phone making last minute arrangements for the wedding kept saying no when we asked him to make halwa for us. “Please Chote Nana,” she said softly. Chote Nana dropped everything was standing in the kitchen less than a minute later. “Nana, will you wake me up when you get up in the morning so that I can play with you?” and there he was every morning picking her up and playing with her. “Can we go to the park?” they would ask and there were at least 4 people ready to take them. —Everyone dancing to every demand big or small!

Shopping for wedding clothes was the hardest thing SIL and I did. The sheer amount of bling that was in the stores almost blinded us. The shift in fashion and how different it was from what we were looking for – for the kids, for ourselves made us despair. The idea of going shop to shop with four kids in tow had us worried but the kids figured out a game in no time. All the bling on the sarees, suits, lehngas are glued on and not stitched on which meant they fell off really easy and there was loads on the floor. ‘Jewels’ they called them and started collecting them. Four kids, 15 to 30 mins in a store meant the store floors were wiped clean by the time we left. —Games they come up with!

“Nana, I want a beautiful dress for the wedding, just like that dholi taro song. Will you ask Mumma to buy something like that for me?” Nana promised that she would have something similar, which meant everything we bought for them had to be approved by Nana. Added to it was the fact that there was nothing I was liking. Which meant I gave up and decided I would rather she wore cotton than the bling and took her to Fab India. She wanted a lehnga and there were a couple in her size. She liked one, I liked it too, paid and bought. All excited I came home but the lehnga failed Choti Nani’s and Nana’s sniff test. Too simple for a wedding, it was deemed. “I can’t find anything else,” I wailed. Paa made a few calls and figured out that there was one store that might have something for the kids. Not exactly to my taste but much better than anything else we had seem so under all the eyes watching me I said yes. She loved it. It twirled and swirled, what was not to love. —Gold and blue lehnga!

“Mehndi mehndi,” she had been dreaming for a year. “Can you draw a design on my hand?” ever so often she would come holding a pen. The day of mehndi came and she was giddy. We had a lot of little things to take care so we left early morning with the promise to come back in time for the mehndi in the evening. Between blouse fittings, bangle shopping, shoe shopping for the kids, shirt for AK Mama, jutti for PD Mama aka the groom, the day got away from us. As we were about to head back home, two evenings to the wedding, PD Mama remembered he had to get a pagdi and the kalgi that goes with it. What? Everything came to halt. We ran like crazy to find the shops. It was already dark and she knew the mehndi people were already home. Her little heart broke, convinced that they would leave before we got home. Promises and assurances made no difference. Even bribe of an ice-cream worked only for 10 or so minutes. Longest hour and half for her, for sure. We came home and she ran in crying, “Choti Nani did they leave?” and halted as she saw all the people singing and the mehndi wala sitting there. A quick change of clothes and she sat as she waited for her turn, all while other kids ran and played. Me telling her that I would call her when it was her turn made no difference. —The only child who did not wash her hands before going to bed that night!

“Papa is not going to come. I am sure he is not going to come.” Everyone was home, someone came by every hour but Papa was not there. It was the day of the sangeet, it was time for the late nap, after which we would get dressed and leave for sangeet and Papa was not there. “Papa will be here when you get up from your nap,” was met with “Are you sure? For real?” Well guess who woke her from her nap? And guess what she did when she saw his face? Held on tight and did not let go. Dressed in her Fab India lehnga and the bindi and chuddi that she had asked for but had thought I had forgotten, she bounced off the walls till the rest of us got dressed. Beautiful dress, music, dancing, food, ice-cream, Papa. —Life is good!

“Can we get dressed for the wedding?” “Why is it in the evening?” “Why can’t we dress up early?” “Why do we need to take a nap?” and we finally got dressed in the evening. The mehndi was perfect, the bangles jingled, the bindi matched, the lehnga twirled. As we got nearer to the wedding venue there was a horse drawn cart and all the kids got to sit in it to give PD Mama company. There was something called the band, there was dancing, there was a long wait to get inside the venue as Mama’s friends danced, there was candy cane, there was kulfi, and then the little bundle came to a halt .. there came SK Mami and she was beautiful. Pause and gape. OK there was paneer, there was ice-cream. Eat, dance, get pictures clicked and she fell asleep before the pheras started. But woke up in time to welcome Mami home. —Little dreams she dreamt of for a year, they all came true in one short trip!

Big Sister..Little Sister

Last night Bugz was in her ‘throw-a-tantrum-at-every-turn’ mood. I tried calming her down, holding her, reasoning with her, to no avail. After she threw a glass of water on the floor in her ‘my-way-the-only-way’ fit, I walked her to the timeout corner.

Timeout is when the drama quotient increases exponentially in our house. Bugz cries, then screams (ear splitting screams) and then fake coughs in turns. I understand that these are all attention grabbing techniques and I ignore her for a bit. After a couple of minutes it is easy to calm her down and reason with her.

I’d had a very tough day yesterday and had a mild headache before Bugz started her antiques. Timeout and her screams – I lost it completely. All I wanted was for her to stop the drama, so I warned her to calm down else.. Now this else is where I have the most issue. Else what? Honestly nothing right? Timeouts are my last resort, she has no concept of privileges, she is too little to understand getting something as a reward for good behavior. So else what?

After a couple of warnings, at my wits end, I told her that I will leave her outside if she did not calm down. Bugz loves it outside, so my actual idea was to take her out for a small walk. All this in the hopes that she stop screaming.

As I started walking a screaming Bugz, out came Buzz running and screaming ‘No’. Tears in her eyes, her hand engulfing Bugz in a hug, ‘No, mumma! Don’t leave Bugz outside’.

Over and over she repeated the same thing as Bugz held on to her Didi while Didi made a case for her.

‘Bugz, sorry bollo! Sorry bollo’, she insisted.

Bugz did her part on point. Put her hands on her cheek and said, ‘Mumma soiee!’

My anger long forgotten, I had a smile on my face. It was so difficult to keep a straight face and say, ‘Fine’.

Bugz,
Little one, you have real special someone in your Didi. Hope you realize that as you grow up.

Buzz,
Sweetheart, your care, your love, your warmth flows through our house. You teach us how to be parents when we lose our way.

Dear little kids,
Seeing the two of you together is like an answer to a prayer. Your bond makes everything all right. You laugh and you play. You fight and you make up. You copy each other and you help each other. The two of you together are the best thing any parent can hope for. May this bond only grow stronger as you grow older. Stay healthy, stay happy, stay together. Always!

Love,
-Maa

Family dynamics

When I grow up who will be my family?

she asked. Even though I understood the question, not sure how to answer it, I asked her what she meant.

When I grow up who will my Mumma? Who will be my Papa?
We will, Mumma and Papa will always be your Mumma and Papa.

Back and forth a few times and she dropped the topic.

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When I grow up I will stay in that house.

she said, pointing to the house across the street from us.

Why that house?
Because it has a yard in it.
Where will I stay?
In this house with Papa.

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When I am very very very old, how will I have a family.

Sigh! I get your questions sweetheart, I really do. I just don’t know how to explain the making of a new family to you. The fact that you see yourself as a child in your future and are looking for a Mom and a Dad makes it even more complicated to explain.

Parenting truly teaches one the art of creative thinking and makes one the master of diverting topics. Whatay fun!

Wise words

We as parents often times over do the whole parenting thing; they should learn this, they should be protected from that, they should not eat this, they should not watch that, they are too young for this, they are too old for that; kids do fine and grow up just fine till we get the basics rights. We all did too.

I look all around me – people from different countries, different backgrounds, different economic status growing up – all good humans beings. And I think to myself that yes I am over doing it all, over thinking it all. I need to take a long breath, exhale and trust that I will not mess it up, my kids will grow up fine, just like we all did.