Mother's Day for the Father and the Friend

This was the first Mother's Day my daughter could actually do something for me. Her motor skills had developed - finally! No, I don't mean she could cook or go to the shopping mall to get me something fancy (I wish), but this could've been the time she could  actually  make something for me. A drawing, a collection of stones or a bouquet dried and dehydrated flowers or just a box of plain old worms. This could've been my year of - The -Mother's -Day-when-Driti-made-something-just-for-me.

And Ady should've helped her do exactly that. But he had just returned from China and she had learnt about Mother's Day from her mother. I had told her  that Mother's Day is a day you listen to everything your mom says. And she didn't feel it was any different from the rest of the days in her life. 

But I didn't give up. Yeah, the fighter that I am. I was persistent. I got her all these cup cake stickers and sheets of paper. I gave them all to her and asked her to go nuts. And obediently enough, she did. 

"It's beautiful Driti" I chimed eyeing that sheet in her hand and greedily reaching out for it. "It's not for you" she said.
 "What? Why? Today is Mother's Day" I protested.

"I'll make a puzzle for you when we return from dinner with Sidonie and Simon. This is for Sidonie" she said stealing away my thunder and handing it over to her beloved friend in a fancy platter with delicious cup cakes. 

"Driti, Mamma will feel bad" Ady tried. 
"But you're there na Papa?" she said referring to the poster he got for her. 

You see, when we had gone on a vacation recently, I got this wall hanging of Mom's rules for her:

And Ady wanted to get something too, and he got:

So it was Mother's Day alright, but it was the father who got the "Aaww" moment and the friend who got the creative art. 

So Mamma had to make papa splurge to make up for an unplanned Mom's day. It was so stressful  - shoe shopping! 

But the best part - she did remember to make the puzzle for me. Happy Mother's Day?

The Masochist in the Parent

I've walked 10 blocks to my office from her pre-school.  It’s been a long day at work not from a number of hours perspective, but more from the mental strain. After hours of brainstorming, data analysis and proposal creation, my brain was dead on me and the only thing I felt I was left capable of doing was some linear and mechanical job. Like packing my bag and walking back those ten blocks back to pick my daughter and take her to her gymnastics class.

And it’s a shame I can’t kick myself in the back (why don’t I exercise?) ‘cause this is by far the stupidest assumption I could've made after having repeated experiences.

 I tried to separate my baby from her friend. I actually felt jealous that she was clinging on to stay a while in school. See, another stupid reaction.

I should've felt happy, said she can have a ball till the school closes, sat at the parent’s conference room and worked.  But no, I told her about her gymnastics class and she was super enthusiastic. Now I had a very high child in my completely sapped hands. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid . Oh, and I forgot to add… Stupid!

She was excited and she did come with me. We walked 3 blocks together to the bus stop. 3 blocks. That’s all. I walked 10 in 12 mins. We waked 3 in 20 mins. “Mamma, why is the Sun following us?”

“Mamma, why is that man’s teeth black?”
“Mamma, how is Apricot different from Peach?”
“Mamma why can’t I have ice cream?”
I was tired, but I really tried to attentively listen and answer all her questions. But one question always leads to tons more.

So, we reached the bus stop only to realize that we missed the bus. Yay! I can now answer some more questions. But she realized she was hungry and I took her to the closest place to the bus stop, which happened to be McDs.
We stood in the line.
“I want chicken burger and French fries Mamma”
“Ok Driti. But you have to finish the whole thing. The happy meal comes with chocolate milk”
“I love chocolate milk”
“Ok, but I can’t help you finish Chicken. I don’t eat it. You have to finish OK?” Stupid.
“Why won’t you eat chicken Mamma?”
Now, I don’t intend to brag, but Driti hero worships me. If I say I don’t like it or my parents asked me not to eat it, she will stop eating too. And we haven’t tested it yet, but I think if she had her way she’d choose to survive on air and a one sided conversation.
 So the only thing that she likes, I’d rather keep the interest active - the chicken thing.
So I said, “I am allergic to chicken Driti”
And she started crying.
“Why are you crying?” We are next in line; I can’t afford to miss the next bus trying to pacify your siren.
“I don’t have any allergies”
“Ofcourse you do. You are allergic to ice creams. You catch cold when you eat them”
“So do you catch cold when you eat chicken?”
We now have to order. “Chicken burger happy meal and the wrap without chicken and fries please”
Some more crying.
“What is it now?”
“I want chicken nuggets”
“Chicken nuggets happy meal please” I order.
Now we have 5 mins before the next bus arrives.
“Do you get cold Mamma?”
“Hun? Yes” I answer while wondering if the McD’s in US operate in the same 1 minute service like in India.
“But you are more than 5” the voice from below observes.
“I can eat ice cream when I turn 5”
“Oh God Driti, please keep quite. We’ll miss the bus again if we keep talking”
After 3 mins, the lady brings us our stuff. Now I only have 2 mins
So I pick her with one hand, two bags of food in the other and a back pack and sprint to the door.
Crying from under my nose.
“What’s it now?”
“The chocolate milk is cold”
No idea how she sneaked it out of the box.
“So eat your nuggets first. It’ll be fine by then”
Got the bus! Thank all the 330 million Gods!
In the bus, she wants to walk all the way back and sit on the ‘high seat’, the elevated seats. What world view she gains by it, I have no idea. Another string of questions and 5 nuggets down, she says “I don’t like nuggets Mamma”

There’s only one remaining in the box! And I turn to ask the lady behind which would be the closest stop for her gymnastics and by the time I turn around, all the French fries have spilled down and she is fast asleep.

So I pick everything, put it in a bag, smile sheepishly at fellow travelers and get down carrying her, the bags and the back pack. She has to do gymnastics and she is sleeping.
I walk two blocks and wake her up. She’s excited about gymnastics but she wants to first drink her chocolate milk that she loves. She has a sip and returns it to me. “I don’t like it”

Thankfully after gym she’s tired.

The Gods have been easy, and the bus was almost immediate.
“Mamma, why is she the way she is?” she asks pointing at a lady with tattoos and pierced lips, nose and belly button.
“Driti, how many times have I told you to ask me all these questions in Tamil?” I reprimand her.
And that’s the last question of the day. We reach home and I send her right to bed.
Phew! Tomorrow's another big day, and I hope I've learnt something from all the pain I feel in my arms, and feet.

Silence - The Scariest Sound in our Home

Every parent wishes for some peace and quiet. I do too. So every minute of the day that DD’s gone – to her school or for a play date, I savor the time. I relish it. That’s my time. I can go to the spa, read a book, catch up on a sitcom episode I missed or take a long bath washing the filth on me from her spilled food and splashed paint. And I also end up straightening the house – knowing fully well that when the tornado comes back, it’s all just going to be one huge mess again.  But even so, the moments before she arrives, I take pictures of the house to longingly look at when it’s in a complete clutter later. Our house does have the potential to look splendid. Sigh!

So anyway, the moments that she isn’t there are indeed peaceful moments. But I think there’s something about parenthood that’s just not humanly possible to explain. It’s a masochistic concept. The first hour, first two hours and may be even the first two  and a half hours without the kids feel like perfect bliss, but from the third hour – we miss the reason we are always on our feet. We miss having to nag some short person to straighten things up, even cleaning after them. We miss the constant chatter, the constant questioning, and the constant whining. Why would any parent want all the insanity? As I said, we’re on auto pilot on the masochistic approach to life.

But the silence because of the absence of the kid is not all that scary, it’s just nostalgic; we know where they are, we know they’re safe. We just miss the sound of dynamites bursting inside the house. But the silence that terrorizes the living hell out of us is the absence of any sound, when the kid is in the house. You never know which wall is completely painted, (We had concrete walls in India, before we moved here, so there’s no paper to just peel off) or which colored permanent marker is now adorning her cute face or  which drawer’s been completely emptied and is now serving as Her Majesty’s new throne. It’s the uncertainty and the myriad possibilities that cause the panic attack.

Today, I was in the kitchen completely immersed in sautéing the onions to the right color when I suddenly became aware of the silence in the house when I dropped my spoon down. It resounded. I had chills running down my spine. I ran like a maniac through the house searching for DD. Where on Earth was she? I couldn’t scream for her; I knew I’d spook her and she may just drop whatever mess making equipment she has in her hands and increase my efforts in the cleaning process.  Oh God, please let there be noise; some noise; any noise, I prayed. And that’s when I heard the bar stools being dragged. The sound was coming from the basement! How did she manage to drag the bar stools from the kitchen to the basement? The stools have cast iron legs and a wooden seat – so they’re really very heavy. And this four year old girl was dragging it through the basement. I ran to see if she was ok.

Luckily, nothing had happened. In her defense, she said she wanted to reach the tap near the washer to wash the stains she’d collected in her hands from using Papa’s paints. She knows the paints are beyond reach – we kept them that way. But here she was, independently doing what’s prohibited. We purposely did not buy a stepping stool here, learning from our experiences in India. There, everywhere she went, the stool went with her. Everything she tried reaching out to, fell on her. So that’s flour, cookies, flowers, and one time, she narrowly missed the vase. So we decided, even if we have to get up every second of every day trying to bring things down to her, it was worth it. It would reduce our chances of running to ER. One small thing we missed -necessity is the mother of invention. Or in her case necessity is the mother of mischief. She did find a work around.

So I’ve decided –becoming a ‘Master Chef’ can wait till she’s actually tall and strong enough to fend for herself without being hurt. Like ‘Survivor’ we can learn to live on burnt onion and bland curry. It is important that I tune in to the sound of calm. I think I really need to get her all the bangles there are and follow the sound to be aware of her whereabouts in future. So much for silence!