Letters to my Berry#11

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Happy 11th month birthday, my love! You are growing up so fast, I wish I could just hold onto you tight and the world around us could continue spinning while you and I could escape into a warp zone where time would just stand still. While I miss the littler you, I am so excited to see what’s in store for you next and more than everything else, I love the present you and I always will. I remember showing off to ajji about how I wouldn’t get attached to you as much as she got attached to me, but I might be miserably failing at that because you are that adorable and I am just mostly too scared to admit it.

Ok enough with the mush now, let’s get down to business. I just realised today that you are a master pattern recogniser. You have learnt so well and also conditioned me to provide you with anything you want just by crying. You know I have hardly any time with you outside of my work and I optimise my life to get you to bed at the earliest, and so you will not let anyone else put you to sleep except me. But guess what, I have learnt too. I love spending “quality” time with you to make sure you go to bed as early as possible because (1) that gives me time to finish off all my office work and house work and (2) you wake up less frequently through the night when you sleep early leaving me less tired in the mornings.

The one very interesting thing that happened this month is how you were so conscious of ajji thatha heading back to Bangalore that you were upset the entire day, not making much conversation (babbles of course) with them. It was so evident that you were aware of them leaving. It is strange though. It makes me wonder if you figure out based on the vibe or if you actually understand what we say. If you don’t believe me, look at that face in the picture.

Even today, you have been upset all day and I wonder if you know somehow that I will be going away to Poland for a work trip tomorrow. Seeing this really breaks my heart because I have purposely not been thinking about how you or appa will manage without me and seeing you upset makes me imagine everything that could go wrong. I have never left you overnight and I don’t know what’s going to happen especially because you are still breastfed (it’s mostly just comforted and that’s the worst part)! I tried getting you a babysitter, a Spanish one that too, but you cried your lungs out all evening till the babysitter left. Anna felt so bad for not being able to help but I can promise you she really tried but you were being damn picky. Well, if you don’t want a babysitter, so be it. We’ll just have to find a better way to make your dinner, give you a bath and play with you all at the same time. phew!

You can also stand for quite some time on your own now. You can sit chakkambatla. You can climb up and down, all over the world now. You can even comfortably climb stairs now all on your own. The one thing you still need support with is walking, which you can do just by holding one hand. We have been very conscious of not buying you a walker since I want you to pick it up naturally at your own pace. Similarly with talking, we’re letting you find your own pace. You can now say “atta” for appa and “anda” for amma and thatha for thatha, which is a great start. At least we know you can parrot speech, even if it’s in your own way.

This is not new information, but we have collected more evidence to believe that you love to sing and dance, and so, if at some point we push you to pursue any of this seriously, don’t blame us. You automatically start shaking your bum to any tune that you enjoy. I wonder if ajji thatha taught you this, since you seem to have a ritual with them even over FaceTime now. I continue to use carnatic music to distract you or quieten you down on the tube whenever you decide to make my train ride more enjoyable by screaming all the way.

You have 4 teeth now, one crooked that too. Maybe it’s like Barbie and thatha, who knows. You bite pretty hard, especially when I make you lick coffee every morning. Did I tell you already that you love coffee? Well, you do. Every time you have a little bit of it, you click your tongue in approval. In fact, one day you picked up a tumbler with 2-3 drops of coffee and downed it all by yourself. Apparently you even eat by yourself at the nursery, so you are fairly independent.

While you aren’t too much of a fussy eater, you hadn’t been putting on much weight until ajji thatha took over feeding you. Well, atleast that’s what the people at the nursery deduced. I try my best ok, but sometimes there are days like today, when I have a ton of office work to complete, make dinner for appa and me, make dinner for you, prep for the next day’s breakfast and dinner (while carrying you), give you a bath, feed you, take care of a sick husband, clean up the kitchen after and pack for the Poland trip, that I don’t go overboard trying to force feed you. I let you play with water in the kitchen sink while I fed you but you seemed to not want to eat today (usually this trick works) and then I just gave up, breast fed you and put you to bed. Now does this make me a horrible mum? Maybe. But I think making time to write this for you on time more than makes up for it, doesn’t it? 🙂

Well, I’ll let you be the judge. For now, just enjoy being 11 months old and still having your way around everything at home. Muahh!

 

 

Exclusivity and taking joy out of love

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Woke up this morning to some happy news. A close friend who’s been single for a very long time, sent me a text saying he and this girl he’d been meeting on and off over the last several months decided to be exclusive. While I was overjoyed, I also thought it was a funny way of saying it. Maybe because I fell in love in another era where people would say I love you instead.

Do we now assume that people are in an open relationship by default, that there is a need to explicitly clarify? There have always been people who didn’t subscribe to monogamy but in general, we are less likely to take monogamy for granted today. We live in the world of Tinder where you can go from one person to the next in just a swipe. Before your relationship with one person has ended, another has already begun and so we find ourselves being fairly non-commital to either relationship, just to be safe. There’s no incentive to stick it out and make it work with anyone because choice is infinite.

So, when people explicitly state that they want to be exclusive, it’s a big step. Even if it is for a limited duration, it’s huge because then you become accountable to upholding your word through the life of that relationship – be it physical, emotional, intellectual or social exclusivity. Accountability takes the joy out of love, or atleast love as we know it. Love as we know it (thanks to media) is about uncertainty, that ever fleeting feeling of elusiveness and it’s about being young and irresponsible. Love as we like it isn’t about being accountable – because you know, love makes us do stupid things.

Most people don’t make it past this first step of establishing accountability because it’s hard to stay exclusive. Strangely, we embrace uncertainty in love better than certainty in a stable relationship. We are so used to going from one stage to the next – being single to getting into a relationship to make it exclusive that we don’t know how to cope with the stability exclusivity brings in our lives. The few of us who brave the exclusivity, stay on in the memory of that ever fleeting feeling of elusiveness that preceded this life of accountability because it’s what makes the mature aftertaste worth it.

 

Letters to my Berry#10

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The very fact that I am wring this post 8 days after you turned 10 months old shows how useless a mother I have been this month. Blaming it on my job could be an easy way out, but I want to set a better example than that. I am late, and I am sorry. But, hopefully, my memory will make up for being this late.

You made your first trip to a children’s park this month and enjoyed several rides with Tank. You guys ran around Walpole park and enjoyed ice cream. We should probably take you to a park more often given your obsessions with bubbas. You are ever ready to step out. The moment you hear the keys jingle, you race to the lobby so the person with the keys picks you up to take you out. It’s a game we like to play with you now, we jiggle the keys when we want you to come away from some crazy thing you are up to like putting your hand into a socket (mean I know, but still!).

The highlight of this month has to be the time you have spent with Ajji thatha. They got here on 5th July. You woke up feeling strangely excited that morning even before we went to the airport to pick them up, as if you somehow knew that they were coming to visit you. You so happily went to ajji thatha without an inkling of stranger anxiety, that you normally have with others. Wonder if you made the FaceTime connection? You took to them unexpectedly well since you spent the whole day with them on Day 2 and didn’t cry for us one bit. They also surprisingly handled you quite well (surprising given how many years it had been since they took care of us as babies).

Voice modulation is probably the highlight of this month. Although “ta” is the only sound you can make, you modulate your voice quite effectively to communicate. While “tuh-tuh” is for bye, taataa is for grandpa. The reason you probably started communicating a lot more is because ajji thatha have been around and talking to you constantly. Another benefit of them being around is that you are always well fed and have probably gotten gundu’r. I am a little nervous about not being able to feed you as well once they leave. I’ve never been quite good at these stereotypical motherly things.

You had a health visitor check on you this month and it turns out you are on the same growth trajectory that you were on when you were born, which means we have been doing quite well in terms of maintaining status quo if not having done worse. You are 7.2Kgs and 70cms now (in case you were curious?). Although built quite small, you are fully capable of pushing dustbins or buckets from one room to another, and it’s almost impossible to pull anything out of your grasp.

I know I have said this before, but you clearly have a special relationship with music. It calms you down like nothing else. Whenever you scream endlessly on the tube back home, I keep singing swara of varnas and geetes and you listen to it mesmerised. Thanks to your thatha you have learnt to even sway to music and clearly show your appreciation for it. You enjoy listening to rhymes when thatha sings them for you, you keep bringing him your sheet of rhymes so he can keep singing the same old thing all the time. But it’s incredible how close you’ve gotten to both ajji and thatha. How I wish you could grow up with them around just like Barbie and I did around ours. Sigh.

There’s been a step change in your ability to comprehend what we are saying – you give us things when we ask for it, you come when we call you, etc. You are very adventurous at home, you keep crawling off under everything at home, climbing up and down from everywhere and as appa says, you have figured out edge detection since you now know how to carefully get off a bed/ sofa. You are even training well to becoming a hand-slave as the other day you were picking up clothes from the bucket and giving it to appa and me as we were hanging clothes on the clothes line.

You can now stand up on your own without much support, although you haven’t mustered enough courage to walk. You are pretty happy crawling on all fours, especially to ajji thatha’s room to go hide behind the door to play Berry Kalla with thatha. You keep trying to bulldoze into the wall behind the door because you think it’s some sort of Platform 9-3/4th and you can escape into some hogwarts level place but the point is, you are really dumb. Haha. Fine, I know twenty years hence you’ll think I’m dumb, but it’s okay, it’s my turn now.

I soooo don’t want you to grow up, my 4 teethed monkey (You keep gritting those pearls, use them effectively to bite into things like your carrot/ cheese sticks and also randomly bite me. You’ve even started brushing your teeth occasionally (whenever we remember to. Lol)). Mwuuah my babbeshwari!

 

Letters to my Berry#9

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If I had observed you too closely this month, I probably wouldn’t have realised this because this change in you is so subtle that it’s easy to miss. No, you haven’t learnt to walk on your own yet. Neither have you learnt to talk. But what you have learnt is to disobey your parents. Yes, apparently, it does start this early. So you see, children disobeying their parents has very little to do with parents and there’s no reason for us to be hard on ourselves for not “discipling” you. You clearly have a mind of your own and I highly doubt I can control it too much, so I’ll remember not to try too hard as you grow up and be more difficult.

Ever since you started crawling, you have been too busy exploring the world on your own terms. You go from one room to another in the house in pursuit of everything dangerous – be it to lick the sockets, eat the ends of chargers, fiddle with the heaters, eat chappals, pull out drawers, hang onto the floor lamp as if you are a pole dancer, drum on the dustbin, try to get into the dishwasher or washing machine or try to open the kitchen cabinets to pull out everything inside. You won’t stop if we asked you to, you won’t stop if we pulled you back and in fact, that only makes you go back to it faster. The only weapon I still have is to attract you with some food. Mwuahah. You love the sound of opening a packet (of food!).

Yet another step change we have seen this month is your ability to communicate. You know how to ask for more food. You scream and signal for us to continue feeding you. You also understand what we tell you, although you conveniently act like you don’t since there is no way for us to verify either way. When we try to show you different animals in your animal book and make noises that animals make, you laugh because the sounds are strange and something we don’t make normally. This is the only way to keep you quiet or sane on the tube everyday. Sometimes I even swing the swara of all the geetes I can remember and when all else fails, I stand up in the corner and pretend like we are getting off at the next station.

You have learnt this really funny fake laugh (very much like your dad’s) that you keep using to act cute so we pick you up. This reminds me of what Ajit had told me about Arhita being a master manipulator even though she didn’t talk yet. Ahem. But I’m not complaining because I love your laugh, even the fake one because it shows how happy a child you are. I remember ajji always telling me that you’ll turn out to be a grumpy baby because I was always so grumpy/ deep in thought through the pregnancy that I might pass off some of that energy to you. I know it’s too early to say, but let’s hope that you keep this happy spirit about you.

You are super friendly, you like to extend your hand to anyone who says hello to you. You like touching their face or maybe even plucking their nose. You like kids who are slightly older than you. You wanted to play with Vasu (Appa’s friend ID’s son) when we visited their house but he was so into his own younger sister, Anika that I felt a bit sad for you. But you have Rehan (Amma’s friend Sam’s son) and he absolutely loves playing with you. You like hugging him and following him everywhere whenever we visit his house. Sometimes I secretly wish I could buy you an older sibling (Yeah, I used to think you can buy them in a shop when I was a little girl). Sigh.

Another big achievement of the month is that you have two teeth (I can attest for it because I have been bitten!!!) and you can eat on your own. In order to make sure we feed you healthy food everyday, we have a fairly standardised non-creative eating routine for you which includes feeding you a small portion of our breakfast, mashed vegetables (carrots, potato, tomato, spinach) with salt, pepper, ghee and cheese for lunch and a portion of our dinner as your mummum. Most days we let you eat your own breakfast and feed you the other meals. Check it out.

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That’s Rehan’s highchair btw. He is probably the first kid I have seen till date who happily shares all his toys with you, in fact, he even lets you take some of them home with you. I am still a bit unsure about if this is a trait I want to actively nurture or not because I think you shouldn’t share if you don’t want to and if you want to, you should absolutely do so. Ok, I am on the fence but I know I don’t want to force you just to seem like I’m doing the right thing as a parent. So, I will allow you to beat me if I shove some random parenting gyaan on you that I don’t truly believe in.

I can’t believe as of this month, you have lived longer outside of me than inside of me. Happy 3/4th Year Berry!!

P.S – Here’s a list of all the random names I call you (some are super mental, sorry!) – Berry mumma, tinamma gundu, gundamma, halka laudi (you are super light!), gundamma bitheth, missklaudi, Berima, mumma, billi, tinamms, chinnamma, smileypaaps, smellypaaps, baeripaapa. Ok the list goes on..

 

 

 

 

 

Is age just a number?

Ever heard someone say “Age is just a number?” Don’t believe them. Age is a number, yes but not “just” a number. A few hundred years ago, when people asked you “ASL?”, you couldn’t just say “14/F/Bang” because 14 was never a good enough age on the internet. You had to be “18/F/Bang” for anyone to remotely continue a conversation with you. Sure, it would usually be with a guy who’d eventually creep you out with a dick pic but atleast that made you feel like you belong. Early teens is an awkward phase to be in because you are battling all these adult like feelings in a kid’s body and it always feels like no one gets you. Fast forward a decade, and you start feeling the exact opposite – battling kid like feelings in a fully grown adult’s body and again, it feels like no one gets you.

For the first time in several years, I wasn’t nervous about my birthday. I didn’t pull out my notebook and make crazy lists of people who wished me. I didn’t mind that I wasn’t woken up by any midnight calls. I didn’t expect anything  from the husband, who is forever nervous in the days leading up to 10th June every year. So, it was pleasantly surprising to see that he’d spent whole of 9th sitting and writing 13 blogposts for me (I keep bugging him to do that, in case you thought he was being creative!). All I wanted to do was have a quiet day with no grand agenda or unnecessary drama because I wanted nothing to remind me of raging.

Within the last one year, I have grown by several years. Gaining new relationship status does that to you. Your age doubles when you have a child or atleast, it feels like. You could go to an ex lover and he’ll probably mistake you for your grandmother. Sometimes when a stranger walks upto me and tells me that I’m just being cynical, I go back and ask my old pair of jeans. They are stretch and so I don’t entirely trust them. Then, I go and ask my husband if he’ll buy me Olay anti ageing cream and he promptly says yes (because his instincts are trained to say yes for anything over the last 7 years), but quickly comes back to check if it was a trick question. So, thank god, maybe I am indeed just being cynical.

Every time I begin a new decade, it feels like I have started a new descent. This starts with a phase of denial followed by bitter acceptance. At 10, I said good bye to frocks. At 20, I said goodbye to innocence. At 30, I am saying good bye to a 26” waistline (just kidding, I am sure i’ll be 26” again, soon!). But hey, I am saying hello to unwanted wisdom and knee pain. What more could I ask for?

P.S – This ageing thing clearly doesn’t suit me.

 

 

Letters to my Berry#8

IMG_8460 3I can’t believe how fast you are growing up, I almost had to think twice before I wrote #8 above. You’ll grow up in a jiffy and before I know it, you’ll be a teenager, you’ll hate me and argue with me and what not. Boy am I not looking forward to that. For now, I am glad you are this cute little dumb thing. Look at you munching on an oreo in the pictures above. Eating happens to be one of your favourite things to do at the moment.

We play this game with you when we try to call you and get your attention, but you don’t respond at all. If we hold up a packet of snacks, you immediately make a dash towards us. We absolutely adore that you enjoy eating and don’t fuss about it as it makes our lives easy in raising you. You eat the same stuff that we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner minus the spice. You also love nibbling on chakli and you don’t mind the spice at all. You’ve even enjoyed a nice plate of idli at Saravana Bhavan. Ok, I just sound like a terrible parent now. But basically, we are glad you tag along in everything we do and make it easier for us to show you new experiences.

You don’t speak any language yet except babbles. You are more interested in moving around. You crawl super fast from one end of the house to another. You love the tiled floor in the kitchen because it makes more noise when you bang your toys on it unlike the carpeted floors in the rest of the house. You love to follow me around in our little kitchen until I am too afraid to step on you and decide to pick you up. I feel like you trick me into picking you this way. You are sooo curious to know everything in the kitchen from opening all the cupboards on the floor to picking up random bits of food particles on the floor and licking them.

You usually spot a tiny speck from miles away and come crawling super fast to pick it up. This way I am guessing you’ve taken after me in terms of vision (hopefully!). Your ears are pretty sharp too. You always know when I come home and make sure you are crying juts in time so that I feed you as soon as I get home. You follow me around like a crazy person all over the house till you are well fed. Even as I leave home in the mornings, you keep trying to jump out of Appa’s arms on days I leave you with him. I know I am just the cow of your life.

Most days when I take you on the tube to the nursery, you sleep off but occasionally you act mental and those are times when I pretend its my stop and get off at the next station just to calm you down and hop back on. This is only after standing for quite some time and you are not happy swinging in the carrier. Sometimes I use a trick to calm you down – either play lullaby in your ears or sing classical music. Both work great but the effect doesn’t last very long. That reminds me, you love it when people single or dance. I get the same feedback from your nursery as well. So, who knows, you might become a musician someday.

We are trying our best to expose you to music. We have a keyboard placed on the floor in the living room which we allow you to play freestyle. You love pressing all the keys but you are yet to identify patterns in sounds (although you should be able to do this at the present age but there’s no way for us to know that). You love showing this off to Ajji thatha when they call you on FaceTime. FaceTime has been fairly instrumental in your development. Can you believe thatha taught you how to do Ramramsitaram on FaceTime?!

You love the sound of thatha’s rhymes so much that the moment you hear the phone ring, you get into position and start clapping. This sometimes upsets Ajji and Barbie chikki because you don’t associate any sounds with them or look at them with awe unlike you do with thatha. He surely has a way with kids. He behaves just like them when he is with kids. Ajji on the other hand has a new lovey dove name overtime she speaks to you. She loves you lots, maybe a little more than she loves me.

Overall, you have become suddenly much more intelligent, quite mobile (really hard to keep up with you) and very demanding (you randomly cry sometimes). As you hold me, pinch my cheeks and smile at me, I wish time would stay still and I could hold you forever as this little baby. Sigh.

Don’t grow up so fast no Berry!!!

 

Emotional dependence and why we remain unmarried

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Marriage is a (wo)man-made institution to legalise two people choosing to live together as romantic partners, engaging in procreation and so on. But at a very carnal level, there is no need for it and we can very well do away with it. So, if any one of you believes that you “have” to get married for your parents’ sake, we have a problem because you’ve probably surrendered to the society much more than you should have (Okay, that’s a judgement alright).

While we know our parents would love to see us married and “settled” (an unattainable state of stability that parents dream of for their children), it’s okay if we don’t settle. A lot of parents’ hopes/ dreams for us, get shattered at various points in their lives and so one more won’t make so much of a difference unless they are convinced we don’t have much else going on in our lives. So trying to get us married is their desperate attempt to find us a “purpose (read distraction)” in life, so we don’t die of loneliness/depression as we age. So, if your parents are breathing down your neck constantly, either you need to convince them that you have a bigger purpose in life or go find that purpose asap before their concerns can break you to pieces.

Some one or two generations ago, parents bulldozed their choices on children in terms of when, whom and how they must marry, but that was usually quite premature and you couldn’t quite blame the kids for not having picked their own partners by then because the kids were usually busy focussing on their careers (mid-late 20s). Off late, I’ve been meeting more and more fully grown adults (in 30s) with mostly sorted professional lives still waiting for their parents to find them partners or play the primary role in deciding who they should marry, which makes me wonder if our parents were too focussed on keeping the family close-knit and in the process missed raising independent decision makers.

Now, I don’t blame our parents because their generation was fighting the transition from joint families to nuclear families and hence, resorted to emotional blackmail (not consciously of course) to retain family bonding. Naturally our generation values emotional independence having got very little of it growing up and so, we might be headed towards raising more nuclear lives. And as we raise more independent thinkers, our children might get very little of the warmth and closeness of a huge close knit family resulting in them making up for it in their own ways as they raise their following generation and so on. But that’s not for me to worry about.

As far as my generation is concerned, we might probably focus on raising strong independent decision makers because it is scary to see the number of people who remain unmarried because they haven’t found a partner, their parents approve of. It scares me to see that lack of parental concurrence is an acceptable excuse for someone even in their 30s. If you had found your life’s greatest passion, would you let someone else (even if its your own parents) tell you what to do with it?

Karthik often said he wanted to marry someone who has lived in a hostel (I’d spent 22years of my life living with my parents at the point when I met him), but I never really understood what he meant until recently. Living in a hostel away from home allows us to “grow up” in so many ways that staying home with parents doesn’t. We learn to take control of our day-to-day lives, make independent decisions and uproot a few roots that have grown deep into our families over the years.

While this might recalibrate our bond with our families, it is an especially important trait for us to be truly marriage-ready since the recalibration facilitates welcoming a new bond in our lives. Some of us get confused by this recalibration as having to choose between the family and a partner. It is not one or the other, instead it is making way for both in the long-term while giving the partner short-term benefit of being new in our lives. And there is no way you can strike this balance gracefully if you haven’t learnt to make your own choices.

P.S – Don’t be like Wilbur Saragunaraj and go in an auto with your mummy!