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.