Letters to my Berry#14

IMG_9037You turned 14 months 3 days ago, but given that things have been mental at work this month and will continue to be until the end of this year, I am only getting around to writing to you now. But hey, you are 1.16 now. Woohoo. As you can see from the picture above, you are scaling new heights, quite literally – you managed to climb onto the chair and stand up on it all by yourself. You also wake up, get off the bed quietly and come to the living room like a big girl. I can see that you are discovering a lot of things for yourself and prefer to do everything independently – you prefer to not be carried, because you want to run and explore the world all by yourself. You like to touch and eat everything, that too, all by yourself.

For the last two weeks, you had been making it very difficult for us to feed you dinner and so, one day, I finally plonked you onto your high chair, put your food onto your plate and left. Guess what? You happily started to eat by yourself. Excited by this, I came back to feed you and you got so upset, so I let you finish your dinner on your own. This meant that you threw food all around you and I spent a few minutes cleaning up after you were done, but it was all worth it. Now, you eat your meals all by yourself, thanks to your nursery.

Since last week, you have been going to a new nursery just on Fridays, since it’s impossible for me to work from home with you around. I never felt guilty when I first left you at Smithfield back in March as I was excited to start a new adventure (at work!). But now, whenever I drop you off at your Friday nursery, I feel so guilty for leaving you there since you cry so much, and you don’t even look at me when you do and I think that makes it worse since it feels like you are clearly upset with me for leaving you. If I had to choose between you and work right now, I would choose you any day hands down but I don’t have that choice, atleast not right now.

But as always, you are making peace with how we have been treating you. Thank you. Sometimes I wish we did better as parents, because I have seen mine do better, but it’s okay. For instance, you probably had some viral infection over the last 2-3 weeks and I don’t think we even realised you were unwell because we kept thinking you were hurting from your molars beginning to pop out. I guess we are raising you the British way given that by the time you can get an appointment with the NHS, you would have kissed your sickness goodbye. In a way I don’t mind since it helps build your immunity.

There are a few other British things you seem to have picked up on your own – drinking imaginary tea from your tea cup all the time, and saying  things like “hiya”, “yeah”, etc. with an accent. You love playing with kitchen play things – I don’t blame you given that you see either appa or me in the kitchen most of your waking hours (mornings before work and evenings after work). The one cool thing that has come out of playing with kitchen things is that you have learnt to count from 1 to 10, I mean count, that too from a musical tea pot that Smitha gave you for your birthday. At first, I thought you can only say these numbers, but it’s only when I started saying ABCD and whenever I got to I, you would say 10, that I realised you have actually learnt to keep count. So, you aren’t so bad at Math, huh? Although you only like to say 2,3,5,7,8,9 and 10.

You aren’t that quiet kid who will just sit with her toys and books, you keep coming into the kitchen to pull out all the vessels and cutlery from the shelves, and you like to run away with the empty milk cans screaming “haala (milk)” repeatedly. You also love riding the buggy on wheels which we got you for your birthday and the musical walker that Sam got you for your birthday. You might be learning a few things from the walker also, who knows?! You know how to ask for milk, food and water, which is quite useful since we can use that as a cue to feed you, and be assured that you will finish what is given.

You have started to communicate just a little bit. You keep saying “yeah” at all opportune moments. You can understand what we say to you in both Kannada and English fairly well. You follow instructions like a bot – you bring things we ask you to bring, sit when told, etc. It’s quite cute. Oh, you also have the cutest sad face when we scold you for doing something naughty such as pull my hair, etc. You are appa’s pet, who brings his socks, his shoes and also yours every morning as we get ready to go to work. You also bring your jacket from the room because you love going out and you know the drill. You also wait like the dog at Shibuya station for appa coming back home and as soon as you hear the door downstairs you run to the gate at the head of the stairs to see him. You babble some gibberish as soon as you see him and it’s the cutest sight ever.

It’s not funny how quickly you are growing up – Appa and I were just watching photos and videos from the day you were born and you were sooooo tiny and quiet and now you are one big dada who demands maggi and soft drinks as if it’s your birth right. I can’t wait to take you home next month to see how you’ll react to everyone back home. You are a people lover and love socialising, so I am sure you’ll love it because everyone is waiting to see you.

More exciting stories for next month. Toodles.

 

 

 

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Letters to my Berry#13

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I am a week too late, but I am glad I waited to write this. I was PMSing (something you will experience when you grow up) and so I wasn’t completely in control of my emotions to provide with you a fair report of the last one month. For starters, I yelled at you towards the end of month 13, I gave you “hatta” on your back since you wouldn’t let me work on Fridays and spent the rest of the day crying about being so mean to you. I also realised what it must have felt like for ajji when she once hit me a 7 year old for doing something stupid. Neither of us are right in what we did, but I feel a bit more empathetic towards her than I ever did. That’s the great thing about being a mum – to see what I was like as a child right in front of my eyes, and to feel what ajji felt as my mum first handed.

I saw fear in you this month, for the first time. There are these moments when I watch you and wonder if I have damaged you for good, and the next minute you just start laughing and come give me a hug and rubbish my doubts. You got three vaccines on one day, you didn’t react for the 1st one, you winced and held your pain back for the second and you only cried for 30 seconds for the last one. As I watched you, I wondered if we learn resilience that early in life because you are surely fearless, as your name suggests, my little Abheri.

You show resilience as you learn to run. A few weeks back, we were out near King’s cross in a square with little fountains and as soon as we put you down, you started walking and then running, away from us. You loved being chased by us around the square and went absolutely mental when we tried to pick you back up. You are a runner, you absolutely enjoy running in parks – we took you to Walpole park last sunday and you just kept running and falling, picking yourself up and running again. You even enjoyed playing on the swing, slide, see-saw and the little merry go round type thingie. You refused to leave the park, which means we have to live in an Ealing like neighbourhood even next year when we move. I wonder if you’ll ever get a chance to run around so freely if we went back to Bangalore?

Among the other big milestones this month, you are showing more signs of fulling understanding what we say. You do peekaboo when we ask you to, you sit when we ask you to, dance, sing, kick the ball, throw it and even say 1, 2, 3 when we ask you to, and when you are in the mood. Talking about 1,2,3 – the funniest thing about this month has to be the 5 page report we got from your daycare about your progress, which said you aren’t very strong in math and your carers plan to help you get better. Hahahaha.

You are one!!!!! I don’t care if you aren’t good at math, as long as you are eating and alive. But hey, I may not say this when you are 10, so enjoy this as long as it lasts. 5 pages, I still can’t believe they had so much to say about my little person – this is the nice thing about living in London where you have daycares that are run professionally, albeit being expensive. It makes my job of entertaining you that much harder, but I don’t mind being challenged to do better as a parent.

The one thing I still struggle to keep up with is your obsession with books. You wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is go find appa, since he is busy working away in the kitchen in the mornings, have a babbalogue with him and then come back to me to drink milk and once that’s out of the way, you hit the books. You flip pages, make strange sounds, want us to read out stuff from the same books, over and over again and you keep giggling at the animals sounds we make, over and over again. You never get bored of the repetition, it amazes me and we play along. I will get old someday and might enjoy repetition just like you do right now, but will you have the patience to indulge me?

You love the computer, kindle and phone, just like any other kid your age, thanks to us for overexposing you to gadgets. Although you surprised us by picking up the phone one day and holding it to your ear and pretended to talk to someone, because you’ve only seen us video call people and so, we didn’t know where you had learnt to make voice calls. You’d apparently picked this up at your nursery, I learnt later. It was a revelation to learn that we don’t entirely control what you learn even as a one year old, and that there are so many influences outside of home and outside of our control. It was both re-assuring and unsettling at the same time, because what if people could make you do what ever they wanted and it wasn’t necessarily in your best interest?

You are not a big fan of toys really, you prefer books, and music making toys, the piano and your tea cup, from which you keep pretending to drink out of. You even pretend to take food from our hands and pretend it. You even pick your chest and pretend to be feeding yourself milk (Lulz!), but I guess you being able to pretend and imagine things is a sign of you becoming more and more human everyday. Of course, your ability to socialise (thanks to your great grandmum’s genes) always made you more human, from a very young age and I really do hope you will use your ability to make everyone around you smile for years to come.

Ok, happy 13th month for now (you came and disturbed my flow of thoughts, so this is what you get – an abrupt ending!). Can’t wait to experience many more revelations with you. Hugs.

 

My bayesian learnings about parenthood

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Recently, I took the Myer’s Briggs test and learnt that I am an INTJ, and I must confess that I wasn’t really surprised, especially because I’d taken a similar test over 10 years ago and I had the exact same results. I suppose you could look at this two ways – I don’t learn or my core personality is rock solid and nothing can ever change that. The permanence of personality is interestingly reassuring – I’ve had so many new life experiences in the last decade, learnt and internalised so many new things, yet at the very core, I am still the same person.

It was interesting to validate that I am an introvert – often when I tell people I am one, people don’t believe me. Being an introvert does not mean I lack social skills, it just means I prefer being alone to being in a group. I get my energy from being with myself than with a group of friends/ family. I prefer intense/deep meaningful discussions with smaller groups of people, I don’t enjoy small talk about the weather or weekend plans.  Every monday morning, when people at work ask me about how my weekend was, I feel exhausted to engage in that conversation and so, I try to distract by asking people how their weekend was even before they ask me about mine.

Anyway, this post is not about introversion. It is about J for judgement. The way I learn is Bayesian, through priors. I judge as soon as I hear something or see something, and then, over time, I learn as I assimilate new information. This is quite contrary to the most common advice people give you about being open as you embrace new experiences or meet new people, because not all of us react to new environments much the same way. I don’t view judging as a problem, and this could be fundamentally different to a P (for perceiver) and so, if you don’t relate to what I am saying, it’s okay.

For the last several months, ever since I started a full-time job at a big corporation, I have been struggling to strike a balance between me as an employee, a mother, a wife and Berry’s personal CCTV (for family back home) because I am one of those bad women who likes to have it all. It’s mostly because I just didn’t have enough time for each role as the number of roles I managed increased over time. Imagine this to be on a team with missing people, and you having to manage multiple roles. Trying to keep up with the different roles, I felt like I had lost all sense of what my original role was.

As I said earlier, I like to have it all and so, my quest to find my original self began with me wanting to make more time for myself, so I could think and remember. The only way I could make time for myself was to stop playing a few roles on somedays or even for a few hours. On weekends, I don’t play employee/ mum/ wife/ Berry’s CCTV for a couple of hours in the mornings and I spend this time writing, because I think better when I write. Keeping up this routine is an important part of bringing back my original self.

A few months ago, I had written this post about mothers on Instagram where I said

You can’t possibly have full-time jobs AND be running a well orchestrated lobby on Instagram!

This was me judging at the first glance. However, over time now, I have learnt that there is much more to this lobbying. I started to stalk and rummage through the virtual lives of these women and learnt that a lot of these women have given up their full-time careers to support their spouse/ raise children in meaningful environments and doing this is not easy. Most of us adults define ourselves (I am a doctor, I am an architect, I work with Amazon, and so on) based on our full-time jobs and when that doesn’t exist anymore, it becomes hard to identify ourselves.

In the internet generation, our society gives very little credit to roles such as full-time mums or full-time wives and so, the most challenging bit about giving up a full-time job is losing a sense of our core self. Being active on social media is an attempt to reclaim ourselves. Staying active on the Gram imposes a routine and helps us define ourselves through our virtual identities. This may have led to the advent of a lot of mom-run internet businesses.

It is no mean feat to keep up a daily Instagram feed or a weekly vlog. Being an aspiring writer struggling to write more regularly, I can vouch for the amount of dedication it takes to run a regular column. So, having learnt more about these social media mums has broadened my perspective on parenthood, even though I may not be fully aligned on the content of these posts. All our journeys as parents are so similar, yet so unique and so even though every story you read, might seem like glorifying the obvious, we are contributing to the richness of our history.

 

Letters to my Berry#12

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Berry boo! Happy Birthday, big girl! At first, I thought this would be a 12 part series to capture the 1st one year of your life and then it would be an annual feature, except I recently learnt that babies have several milestones over the first 2 years of their lives which means I have now decided to extend it to a 24 part series. Now, does that mean I am going to be telling people your age in months despite you being over a year? No, I find that weird, although I get why people do that. So I will round down your age to the previous quarter and I hope that’s okay with you.

This has been a month of several milestones, yet again. You started walking beginning of September, all of a sudden. Appa and I were watching TV and you were standing right next to us and then suddenly you took two steps forward. I didn’t even realise but Appa was quick to notice and we were so excited for you. For a long time, people had been asking us to buy you a walker to help you start walking but we wanted you to be able to do it on your own at your own pace and so, we never bought you one (although you eventually ended up getting a walker as a birthday present from Rehaan). Your carers at the nursery also played a big role in encouraging you to continue walking every time you fell, so you wouldn’t resort to crawling as that’s obviously easier for you. Now, you love to walk and as you come closer to something you can hold on to, you try to run. It’s damn cute to watch you try to finish.

Talking about finishing, may be you are not a big fan of finishing. While feeding you dinner, you always find a way to not eat the last spoon and we want to do all sorts of drama to get you to finish. Maybe we are not instinctively designed to be finishers and probably it only comes out of practice, but this is a hard decision as a parent – should we make you a finisher or not, because being able to finish is a painfully acquired skill. While you may value this trait in the future, there is no way to know this for sure looking forward.

Personally for me, the biggest milestone of this month has to be the fact that you are able to sleep on your own. In the first half of August, you were going through a growth spurt and in the process, had ended up becoming damn clingy, would wake up several times through the night and feed constantly. I’d given into your needs 100% despite being told by a health inspector just a month before that it’s not a good idea to be feeding you through the night since your digestive system needs a break. Of course, I had my selfish reasons to do this since giving into your needs meant that you would cry less and I could lay in bed with my eyes closed through the night while you sucked endlessly.

I happened to read an article last week about how it is important for kids between 12-18 months to learn how to soothe themselves through the night and sleep well, failing which you might end up not learning this till quite late. So, last weekend, I decided to put you in your crib after dinner and let you sleep on your own. I dimmed the lights, tucked you into your blanket, left your favourite monkey with you and closed the door and left. You screamed and howled for about 5 minutes and soon after, you’d managed to fall asleep probably because you were tired and had figured you had no choice.

I felt bad as I heard you cry but I knew it was a small price I had to pay to make you learn to sleep on your own. I did this the next day as well and by the day after, you had learnt. When we put you in the crib now, you just wail a bit but hold on to your monkey and just fall asleep. Even through the night, you don’t wake up more than once or twice, but even when you do, you soothe yourself on your own and sleep back. Most of the time, we don’t try to pick you up except if you are trying to jump out of the crib and are really really upset. This has also meant that I have finally been able to rest better through the night after almost a year and a half now.

You still don’t talk much, apart from saying “amma”, “appa” or “mum-mum” but that’s not really in relation to anything specific. But you have now learnt to associate words/ sounds with their actual meaning. When I say mum-mum or ji-ji, you know I am about to feed you or give you water. When I say haala, you instinctively pull my shirt up or down (which has been a bit embarrassing on the train sometimes). You also say tuh-tuh and give a flying kiss when either you are leaving or someone else is, and you learnt this from Barbie chikki. You also know how to pick up the phone on talk on it, and apparently you learnt how to do this at the nursery, which is damn cute. While it’s interesting to see you are learning so quickly, sometimes its scary to know that we don’t have full control  of what you learn. I sound like a typical parent now, don’t it?

Anyway, you are a big girl now and I have to start embracing that you will learn lots and from everyone and everything you see around you and that’s okay. On the occasion of you turning one, we bought you a lot of presents (a house, a gaadi, a globe and some books) and a cup cake. We kept it all in the living room and so when you came from the room in the morning, you were damn excited to see all this. You slammed the cake and ate all the icing and opened all the presents. We took you to the London zoo (one of the oldest in the world) where you thoroughly enjoyed watching all the animals, especially the Indonesian monkeys and camels. Funnily enough, you got scared by goats, when we tried to make you pet them (haha!). We have recorded all this so we can show you when you grow up and laugh with you.

Talking about showing you videos, you are now able to comprehend videos and you find it so fascinating and exciting to see yourself in a video. We’ve shot videos of you watching a video, and a video of that and a video of that and so on. Yeah, we are a little bit strange like that, but guess what you just have to learn to live with that, like everything else.

Cheers to many more years of learning and discovering yourself. Remember that there are going to be several years in your life where it feels like you might be on a learning plateau but that’s only because you are not acknowledging everything you learn, and not because you aren’t learning.

Too deep for a one year old? Maybe. Haha, okay I’ll stop.

P.S – Here’s a list of presents you got for your birthday – A greeting card from your godparents, A tea party set and intelligence blocks from Avani and Advay, a walker from Rehaan, a house, a lady bug scooter, an inflatable globe and books from appa amma and lots and lots of wishes/ blessings from everyone else.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

When experience doesn’t give rise to empathy

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Some day last month, I was taking the Picadilly line back home when I gave my seat to a pregnant woman who walked into my compartment. She asked me for the seat before I could offer it. So the first two seats on either side are reserved for either old people, pregnant women or people carrying little children. Some people automatically offer them to you even before you ask whereas sometimes people don’t. However, you can always ask people to get up if you want to claim your reservation. I carry Berry on the tube everyday and I usually don’t ask for the seat unless offered. Sometimes I don’t accept even when I am offered a seat.

Maybe it has something to do with my upbringing – having never been eligible for any sort of reservation, I have fundamentally been opposed to the concept of reservation. I think reservation makes us less human. It leaves very little room for character. I appreciate that someone came running to the train before me and was glad to get a seat and it is unfair for them to get up just because I walked into the compartment with a baby. Sometimes I am super hungry and tired and all I long for is someone to offer me a seat but something very innate in me stops me from demanding a seat. Having said this, I immensely appreciate the people who do offer me their seat, especially when they aren’t even sitting on one of these reserved seats as this gives me hope for humanity.

Since I don’t claim my reservation on the tube and a lot of times I am dying from tiredness (is that a word?), I like to distract myself with a little game. I like to watch the people who are seated to see who is noticing me and how they are feeling about being seated while they aren’t offering their seat to someone who could use it more than them. This is classic capitalism in the train right? A lot of people show guilt, I can almost read the conversation they are having with themselves if they should offer me their seat or not, while some pretend to be too busy to notice and some others are blissfully in their own worlds. The best are the ones who won’t themselves offer their seats instead ask others to get up to offer me a seat.

You’d think that people who’re subject to difficult situations themselves would be more empathetic of me carrying a child on the tube, but it’s quite surprising to see the number of people from minority communities that don’t give a damn. You’d imagine that people who are supposedly subject to discrimination (based on their gender, race, community, etc.) or have lesser opportunities would be more sensitive to people in need of support but we probably don’t think about topics like disability, racism, sexism, etc. most of the time unless it personally inconveniences us or our loved ones.

So experience doesn’t necessarily give rise to empathy always. I think people are more likely to be empathetic when they are shown compassion in times of their need and feel indebted to give back. Since I am offered a seat on the tube ever so often and I am met with smiles of compassion by random strangers on the street, I am more conscious of giving back, even if it’s just a smile in acknowledgement of someone’s pain. Strange you think? Sometimes just acknowledging someone is a show of empathy and it can take both of you a long way!