Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Impending Arrival

On a recent visit to the hospital, I found this sign posted in the elevator.

"If you are displaying the symptoms of feeling dizzy, nauseous, have a headache, or a fever, please do not visit the hospital. And do not even think about it if you are under 18."

That's not exactly what it said, but it was close. I was lucky to be feeling well enough to visit the hospital. So if I had a fever or a headache and was there to see a doctor, would I have seen the sign in the elevator and turned and walked right out of the hospital? Or would I have whistled nonchalantly until I got to the doctor's office before I started sneezing? Where should I go if I really were sick? To the mall or the movies?

And Summy isn't even allowed to step into those doors. Thanks to H1N1, suddenly children are treated like litte germ-carriers. Which they are. But I'm still disappointed that Summy won't be there to see her baby brother right after he arrives.

She is the one who's waiting to see him, more than anyone else. She never passes by me, even when in a hurry, without a kiss and a hug for my tummy.

Two more weeks to go.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Incredible Hulk

Today I was reading a headline on the computer about what kinds of people are the angriest. The first thing I thought was "People who have kids?"

It's ironic. They're the joys of your lives.

Mine definitely is the joy of mine. I was infinitely patient with her when she was a baby and a toddler. But as she grows up, I am much less so.

She is little, but has big feelings. She is defiant, and does not like to stand down from a confrontation. She is also a sweet, affectionate angel. But that is hard to remember sometimes when this pint-sized stubborn package stands up and defies my orders, and even does the opposite of what I ask sometimes.

It is futile to have a power struggle with this one, and infuriating.

I clicked on the headline about which kind of people are the maddest. Sure enough, the second on the list in the article is people who have children at home. I don't usually believe anything I read, but I believe this one :).

It's not the kind of constant anger that eats you up, but the kind of sudden explosion that comes when you find a child who is supposed to be cleaning up her room, dumping more toys on the floor instead.

I am happier than ever, but I have also done more yelling about trivial things in the past three years than the rest of my life. I know I'll regret it. I regret it already. I know better and I keep trying to be better.

But meanwhile, when I find my veins popping, my color turning green, and in general starting to look and sound like the incredible Hulk, at least I know that I am not the only parent who is doing it. Am I?

What do I know?

I am writing a story for Summy (don't ask, it's a long story). As I finish a chapter, I read it to her.

So I was reading the first chapter, and I came to this line I wrote. A little girl is thinking it: "Mother knows a lot of things, but most of the time she does not know what I am talking about. A lot of grown-ups are like that." I was surprised by how vigorously she nodded and agreed.

I had just written down what I remember thinking when I was a kid. I did not realize that Summy thought it too. History apparently does repeat itself.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Milestone: Riding a Bike

It's been, what, months, a year? But here is a milestone too important not to record. Over the past two weekends, Summy learned to ride a bike without training wheels, with her father as her teacher. She is still a little wobbly when she has to slow down or go uphill, but she'll be there soon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Life Lessons

It's easy enough to teach Math and Reading, frustrating though it might be sometimes.

But the hardest thing is to teach things that I haven't learnt well enough myself.

Like when she gets upset, and I ask her what she wants in the end - and whether she thinks the best way to get it is to be upset. Or sometimes, even question whether what she wants in the end is really the right thing to want.

Like when she feels like being selfish sometimes, and I ask her if that is the nice thing to do. She knows it isn't, but she doesn't like to say it. Then I remind her that the right thing to do is hard to do sometimes, but that in the end, doing that right thing is what makes you feel good inside.

Like when she wants to achieve greatness instantly, and I have to assure her that hard work will bring results, but that it will not always be quick and she will have to be very patient to see them.

The surprising thing is that at six, she is mature enough to understand most of what I say, and put it to practical use sometimes. The astonishing thing is that at thirthy three, I still am not always doing these things myself.

But it's all good. Every time I tell her something, I teach it to myself too. She grows up, and I grow up with her.

Outstanding Week

It is rare that things come together neatly one after another with satisfying clicks - but that's what happened last week, and I don't want to forget it.

After a very hectic three weeks, this is what we had:

On Wednesday, we put up our science project (which, at the last minute, ended up being a completely different one than the other three we had started last week) in the science fair.

After the dance recital last week, ballet classes ended - but not before her teacher told me that she had done an outstanding job, and told Summy to keep at it and not to stop dancing (even though to my laywoman's eyes, Summy's outstanding skill was not very apparent).

She got her progress report for this trimester on Friday, and in almost every social and academic area she got graded very well. She is even doing good in the area of not talking to her neighbors while doing class work, which is the most difficult part for her.

Finally, on Saturday, I watched with my heart in my mouth, as she went through her Tae Kwon Do belt test with unusual focus. We skipped the last belt test in December because she had been sick, and thus, not ready. I am sure that it was hard for her after that as others who were at her level, went to the next one. But she kept at it, and finally, today, she passed to the next belt level. And as a bonus, she won a "Best Form" award for doing it very well!

Forgive me for gushing, but I am so proud of her for having worked hard at everything that she is involved in, even when she was tired.

Now all that's left is to celebrate - and start putting on the party hats for her Birthday this week.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Disappearing Friend

I sit outside Summy's Ballet class with several other moms.

One of them was a quiet Korean woman who always brought a book to read. After a couple of classes, we started to talk.

It is unusual for these kind of conversations to be anything but superficial. But we talked about all sorts of things (cabbages and kings, and whether pigs have wings). Every Wednesday, it was nice to look forward to.

Last week, at the Ballet recital, we sat together and watched our daughters' performances. When the performance ended, I picked up Sameera from backstage. It was late, and I was changing her shoes in a hurry. This friend tapped me on the shoulder with a smile, but I quickly said bye.

Then, yesterday was the last class of the session for Ballet. A lot of people didn't show up since the performance was already done, and that included the Korean woman and her daughter.

And suddenly, just like that, with not even a proper goodbye, no exchange of phone numbers or email addresses, my new friend is gone. I don't remember her name, and I'm betting that she doesn't remember mine. It is sad.

I do know that she is trying to get into a Doctorate program for Music in various schools around the country, and I wish her all the luck and success in the world.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The other day a friend commented on a post of mine, in which I wrote about Summy's activities - that I make everything sound nice. That's because I usually only blog when I feel good about something.

But there is another side to it. It is not entirely a good thing to have a mother whose job it is to take care of you and do activities with you, all the time.

Because this is what you could end up with: A mom who watches over your homework and makes you erase and redo the letter 'a' until you do it the way she thinks is right (even though your handwriting is actually better than hers); A mom who winces and flinches and makes other weird faces while she watches you make mistakes in Tae Kwon Do or Ballet or Math or anything else; A mom who goes overboard with your science project, completely taking over it; A mom who, instead of helping you see that the next test, game, or performance is but a dot in the large scheme of things, instead wraps her own life around your next test, game or performance.

That is not a mom, that is a momster. It is a fine line between the two, and I have to be real careful walking it. I slip often.

This is why I think that it is nice for every one in a family to have a piece of life that is completely detached from the others. It could be school, it could be a job, it could be volunteering, or a hobby, or learning something new. For a mom, this could help her remember that there is more to her life than taking care of her family - and to step away from the tiny details and see her child's life in wider perspective.

Leftovers are Berry Good

For four years now, I have been living (and growing) on leftovers. And I think most other moms are the same.

This morning I ate a blackberry leftover from Summy's breakfast, and it tasted strange and new.

Then I realized it was because it was strange and new. Though I've been buying them for my berry monster for years, there usually aren't any that Summy leaves behind. I think that this is the first time I tasted a blackberry.

Some other usual culprits: crust cut off from a grilled cheese sandwich, half of a cold hard waffle, congealed pasta from a lunch box, a slice of two of apple that's turned dark, and so on.

I don't know exactly what it is that makes them so, but Summy's leftovers, even when cold and old, are always so yummy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's New With Summy

I was always sure as a non-parent (and as parent of a baby and parent of toddler and parent of pre-schooler) that I would not have an over-scheduled kid, that my child would have lots of free unstructured time to play.

Ofcourse, now I'm the parent of an over-scheduled kid. But hey, I'm also a million other things that I said I'd never be.

And the over-scheduled kid is handling it well so far, and likes being busy. It is much better than the days when she would just sit at home in the afternoons and watch TV or play on the computer.

We started out with Tae Kwon Do. It started out all fun and games, but now I occasionally see a more serious, focused, and disciplined side of Summy. Still, Summy is Summy. She can't help giggling at something absurd in the middle of the class sometimes, and I vote for her as the little warrior most likely to smile at somebody or something.

Then we added Chess Club in school, at her request. Ever since she started that, she keeps begging me to play chess with her. The game's too complicated for me - it actually makes my head hurt. I try to convince her to play something like Chinese Checkers or Parcheesi instead, but Kiran obliges her every time. And sometimes, when Kiran is multi-tasking and distracted, she even beats him at chess.

Then we added Ballet, again her choice. She loves this, ofcourse, pretty outfits, pretty music, pretty moves and all.

Then came Drawing class at school, at her insistence. After the last session ended, I persuaded her to do her drawing at home for now, to lessen her load a little. Besides, she is so much more creative at home. She is not the color-neatly-within-the-lines kind of artist.

And then there was T-Ball. This was Kiran's choice, and a good one, because this is the only outdoor activity and she loves it. The grass, the dirt, the uniform, the glove, the all-girl team, playing with Daddy on weekends, everything.

And she wants to fit swimming in, when time permits.

All in all, I think it's a good life. Do a little bit of this, a little bit of that, throw in some games, a little music, a few steps of dance, maybe even try acting (it is LA after all). Meet new kids, make new friends. And continue with the things she loves.

Why so busy?

There was a time when I updated my blog at least once a week. I was busy then too - I took care of Summy, cooked dinners, and worked full time as a software engineer. But I still had time to write.

Now that I am at home, how long has it been since I updated? I think Summy has grown an inch since I wrote last. That's because I'm working a full time job for my daughter right now.

Walk her here, drive her there, cook for her, teach her, play with her.

As I speak: I got her outfitted, practised and organized for a ballet recital today; am working on three science projects with her (we will pick the least smelly one next week and submit it to the science fair - don't ask); preparing and practising with her every day for a Tae-Kwon-Do belt test; preparing to celebrate her birthday in two weeks; volunteering in her class every Tuesday.

And that is besides the routine making breakfasts, lunches, after-school snacks, dinners, kindergarten homework, extra first-grade workbooks that she does with me in exchange for me playing chess with her (her new favorite game), arts, crafts, and bedtime stories.

And that is on top of the regular household stuff like laundry, vacuuming, dishes, grocery shopping, and so on. And learning new technology on the side to keep myself updated, and occasional spurts of job-hunting.

When I started writing this post about me working for Summy - I was being funny, because I think of myself as lazy. But after reading what I wrote - Holy Guacamole! It is true, I really am swamped.

So there. That's why so busy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Butterflies in my stomach

I recently volunteered at Summy's school for the first time. The day before, I told her I was going to be in her classroom. I asked if she was excited, and she said she was. I was too. I asked what the volunteeers usually did in her classroom. She said they helped out with activities.

Then, after a brief pause: "I know it's your first time, Amma, but be brave!"

Surprised, I say, "Okay."

"There are going to be a lot more kids than you think!"

For a while there, almost six years, I was the invincible super Mom. No more. She realizes that even her mother can be afraid, shy, and not so perfect.

But though I did have a butterfly in my tummy, it had nothing to do with being at Summy's school. It was this "Butterfly Award" that the Litterateuse sent me, which I swallowed up willingly.

This is so unexpected!!! (That is what I would have said if G hadn't already told me days ago).

I don't know what to say! (Gee, Thanks, G!)

In turn, here is my list of coolest blogs:

Litterateuse: Possibly, she's brought you here. She's new on the blogk, and here is a warm welcome to her. The title is very apt, and hers is one of the most entertaining, cool, clever, and punny blogs I've ever read. (and I'm not just scratching her back)

Winkie's Way: Beautiful, poetic, touching, funny, insightful. Way cool.

A Few Seasons Worth: Writes well and is so honest that it has got to be cool.

This Butterfly has already touched the Litterateuse (the idea of which I know makes her shudder). Tharini of Winkie's Way is on vacation. And I was only a lurker on A Few Seasons Worth and I don't know if Anumita will take this up. I do hope that this will get passed on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Entertaining Teacher

I decide to slow down writing on this blog, and the next day I remember a million things that I meant to say but never did.

Ever since Summy started going to school, I've noticed that she knows a lot of little things. "Soaring, " she tells me one day, "is when you don't flap your wings but spread them out and let the air carry you high above". Impressed, I ask, "Did your teacher tell you that?". "No, I saw it on Diego.". On TV.

She keeps telling me little facts like these, and when I ask her whether she learned it at school, she'll say, "No, I learned it on Backyardigans." Or Blue's Clues. Or Dora.

Finally, one day, she says, "See, I do learn some things from TV." (this is a comeback to what I had said weeks ago - that her mind would go blank if she watched too much TV). And I have to admit, it's true. For now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Age Appropriate

Summy always checks the recommended age on a toy before getting it for anybody.

Today, we were shopping for a birthday present for one of Summy's friends. Summy stopped to look at an interesting toy, and then suddenly sighed. She said, "Never mind.".


"You have to be 20+ to play with this."

The box did say "20+", but what they meant was that there were more than 20 pieces to play with inside. When I pointed that out, Summy found it funny too, and laughed at herself.

Talking about age appropriate, this blog has slowed down considerably, and not for lack of material. Summy is just growing up, she is almost six, and I feel funny writing about her in a public blog.

It has been so fun sharing my Summy stories with all who have been reading. Thank you so much for visiting.

Edited to add, and in response to D: I didn't want that last line to be a parting shot, and reading it again, I feel that my post was too curt and cool (but it was just written while I was sleepy). I mean those thanks very warmly - it has been nice writing on this blog, but what made a big difference was to be read and be responded to.

I will still want to keep writing, either on this one or another, new, one, as long as you keep reading, D :)