22 March, 2012

Zzzzz? No?

The human body needs sleep. Rest primarily, but sleep aids in the rest better than just being prone and twiddling your thumbs. Sleep refreshes, straightens out the kinks and restores vigor. Or so they say.

Cut to the scene unfolding in my house of late- we have a child who swings between extremes. He will either not sleep (for some reason that he chooses to keep to himself) or will sleep like he's giving Rip Van Winkle a run for his money.
We have a baffled and increasingly irate mother as well, the reasons here are entirely tied up with the main protagonist mentioned above.

I know some kids are big sleepers. Some are able to function relatively well on catnaps or short periods of dozing but for a child to want to stay up because he doesn't want to miss out on things going on around him was a new one even for me.

Barring the 1st day and a half after his birth I found that my child had a thing against sleeping. Which is a pity because I like him most while he's asleep :) but jokes apart, he can push himself to stay awake till the sleepy feeling leaves him entirely. After that sleep only comes due to utter fatigue. It never comes under coercion or bribes. Ever.

Often after Red has put him down for the night and we've heaved silent sighs of immense relief at Operation Beddy bye having gone off without a hitch, we hear a nice, clear, loud voice sound out. He calls out a few times and unless he's absolutely sure about us having conked off, he keeps calling out knowing an irritated father or mother will admonish him leading to communication lines being established again. The most amusing and annoying thing that he says to us at the time however is, "O to shleep (go to sleep)."

On the days when he shares our bed for majority of the nights and is in a rather chatty frame of mind, we get treated to nursery rhymes, endless chants, and our names getting called over and over and over again. This happens on weekends, especially in the mornings when we're having a lie in and he's up& at 'em in toto! He starts to stick fingers up our noses to see if not breathing helps us awaken up faster.
If that doesn't work, he resorts to playing dirty and slobbery kisses land on us. He mimics the tones I use on him to get him up for school. And mimics them very well indeed.

I think the reason that kids resist sleep is because either they have a higher threshold for fatigue or because whatever other activity they're into is stimulating them waay too much for the sleep to hit their radars. By the time they do conk off, they conk off good and wake up absolutely refreshed because they'd have slept through and through. The only problem with that scenario is the timing of it all.

A kid who doesn't nap during the day and plays straight through till the evening usually conks off just before dinner time. Any parent who has a sleepy kid will tell you *how* tough it is to get any food into them at that point. Barring a food tube down their gullet, they seldom open their mouths for even an occasional bottle, they are so deep in sleep. Getting some solid food into them is impossible. Waking them up to do the deed is madness and should be avoided unless you are dressed like Robocop and can repel all the offensives that your kid will surely launch on your body for waking them up.
Surprisingly though, despite they'll be zombies that at point, they land their kicks and blows on all the areas designed to bring you down. Hard.

Now, after you have been battered black and blue, the child might just have rolled over to catch up on the rest of the sleep or even worse, might be awake and whining or so sluggish you feel like you'll have to guide their steps all the way. Given the time of day that this happens, it's best to let them sleep it off because an extensively sleepy child gets into more accidents and can cause your BP to zoom up into the stratosphere as well. And within a few seconds. And without trying much.

What is absolutely essential is the parent(s) getting rest when the child is down for the count. It doesn't have to be sleep. But just rest. You never know if your child has completed his or her quota of sleep by 2 in the morning and wants to recite 'Chubby cheeks' at the top of their lungs while lying in their cot or next to you.
That kind of a scene never ends well.
Neither can you throw them out of the window (they have bars. Usually), you've already checked and the mute button was missing in the model they handed you at the hospital, and you're so sleepy that your child usually is able to lead you straight into Mommy mode on auto-pilot and have you croak along with him all while you snooze away.

So, try your best to induce sleep in your child. Encourage them to like it even. If nothing else works then use the Vulcan nerve pinch and look as innocent as possible :)

18 March, 2012

Theatrical Milestone

Yesterday marked the culmination of MLM's school's Annual Day function, after nearly a month of practising and God only-knows what kind of experiences for the faculty and staff.

I was thoroughly tickled to find out that he was going to play a Gummy bear and that too in costume. Since Gummybears have been watched and devoured by me and my ilk since our school days, it was an amusing notion that the offspring was going to be one for his debut performance.

Till the time we sat in the venue, it never occured to me that he might experience stage fright. My child isn't the brightest bulb in the box nor the most adventureous but I've never really known him to cry because of an unfamiliar experience or substance. Right from his infancy, he's just taken himself away from the situation that didn't catch his fancy or didn't provide the adequate amount of comfort.

And the program was everything a program of such young people is expected to be- funny, cute, bumbling, some errors here and there and not entirely to script all the way through. And that's USP for making it great!

There were 3 categories of children:

1) Those who'd understood, remembered, recalled and performed the skit the way it was taught. They ranged from the slightly older kids to even the play group ones who were just supposed to swing with the beats and twirl.

2) Those who came in and had fun and just did their own thing irrespective of beats and others around them. Happy to report that MLM belongs to this category. He isn't one for too much of structure and systematic functioning.

3) Those who were cast into the limelight a bit prematurely and had to face our glowing eyes and camera flashes in the dark; it wasn't a fun experience for them sadly.

It's a massive undertaking to have a child to begin with. If you're lucky, you can have a balance of a lively kid with one who sleeps and eats in a manner that fits into your existing life patterns. But to plan a skit full of songs, dances, costumes and 110 kids...that's just being a glutton for punishment and hoping and praying that the patience of Job is available 100 times over.
But that's the beauty of people who opt to work with kids. You don't necessarily have to love them to death but you do have to enjoy it to a large extent else you're apt to go bald from tearing your hair out in frustration and get a lumpy head from all the times you'll bang it against the wall.

And trust me, children can be infuriating. Their innocence, lack of comprehension and utter carefree outlook is so at odds with what we know and how we end up living; that it's a life-long task to keep them safe, teach them everything we feel they ought to know about and still make sure they end up being happy individuals.
Patience, above and beyond everything else, helps in this endeavor. Maybe it's a patience borne out of love but at the end of the day I find you can love your child endlessly but not really always like them minute on minute.

Last night's event was a milestone in my life. My child got up on stage in front of a darkened room full of people, with strong lights all around him, loud music and he remained happy, bouncy and enjoyed himself thoroughly.
He got his name in a souvenir (that I plan to stick in a scrapbook as soon as I can find one) and that's going to be a memory for me even if it doesn't end up being significant for him when he grows up.

As your kids grow up (yes, even at the ripe old age of almost 3 years), you grow with them. You see them take in their surroundings, deal with it to the best of their abilities and see facets that you may not always see on the home front. They amaze you with the depth of their expressiveness and also their resilience.
That, cheekiness is a constant factor in all this hardly merits a mention, eh?

Watching my son yesterday I was thinking far ahead and going into the dangerous territory that parents usually wander (and wonder) into- 'the future of their child'. I was actually anticipating more performances from him, more fun and who knows? maybe even a love of theater even if it's restricted to his formative years and not a life-long passion.

Parents can dream, can't they? And usually the child fulfills them. In their own way and in their own measure. For now am reliving a the images of a silky brown kid with whiskers and big ears, jumping around on the stage, dancing to his own tune :)

10 March, 2012

Can't Say No To Comics!

To the funnies that is.
It can't be easy to squeeze out the essence of your funny bone onto a small strip that appears in a fairly smallish size and print in newspapers for people to devour, while they get their daily fix of the printed word.

Whatever else I do go through in the paper, I never miss the comics. It can end up making a difference in a day where otherwise smiles may be hard to come by.

For me, the characters represent a lot of familiarity, fun, memories and of course, the levity's a given. Not that each strip is a rip roaring laugh-inducer. But it does bring with it a host of characters that one can probably associate a lot of other instances in their lives with.

I was in India for the first eight years of my life and was in abroad for the next 4 years after that. And many things in the comics (all the foreign ones are syndicated throughout the world) remind me of my first exposure to aspects which were baffling or alien earlier.

In the late eighties in India, in most cities, a different cuisine would by default be Chinese food. I didn't even know there were different provinces in China, which also influenced the taste of their food. Same as in any country, but when you're 8, life's kind of blinkered with a kid's preoccupation. I remember going for a Mexican food festival with a friend of my father's in Delhi long back. The food was unfamiliar, now I can't recollect if it was cooked in a typical Mexican fashion either; but all I could remember was that I was wishing for noodles. They were and still are the ultimate comfort food.

To get back to the comics- I got introduced to Garfield soon after we landed in US. Whether through the newspapers or the cartoons on t.v but his obsession with sleeping, droll manner and teasing Odie sure appealed to a F.O.T.B (fresh off the boat) Indian kid. The only thing I didn't get was the lasagna (a word which isn't pronounced anywhere near what it reads like!). Once I joined school and actually had a lasagna for lunch I could put an image to Garfield's obsession. And over time my mother made enough of homemade lasagnas to make me appreciate it and drool over it much like Garfield. Although I still can't eat an entire panful like he does :-)

Snoopy or rather Woodstock was well known. But their gang wasn't. When I was a tot, a colleague of my father had come home and brought a wind up Woodstock for me. I don't know when I wound it too tight till the spring snapped and Woodstock stopped hopping about, but he remained a fixture in our home for decades and was unfailingly packed despite all the stuff we discarded during all our transfers to various places.
I went to school I found Peanuts books everywhere! Peanuts had their own Halloween and Christmas special on t.v as well and the characters often were used to endorse good habits children should embody, in various scholastic campaigns et al.
So Charlie Brown's good grief, Lucy's counselling for a nickel and Linus' blanket all became a part of my life. So much so, that when I first started taking piano lessons, I thought of Schroeder. He was the only person I knew of who did the same.

Over the years more comics have got added to my list- Hagar the Horrible (who I still associate with the awful root beer that the character used to advertise on tv), Beau Peep (the mad cook Egon who's indefatigable and is a lovable slovenly slob and whose creativity I crave in the kitchen!!), Dennis the Menace (like whom my son gets timeouts where he has to face the wall) and many more.

I remember the boys in my class passing around their Marvel Comics and I asked for one and was given the Wolverine issue. Love it to this day! Hugh Jackman just made him even more flesh and blood over time.

The thing with growing up with a particular thing; in this case a comic strip is far more meaningful than just the familiarity aspect. I can chart out my life and many milestones once I think back on the entry of comics in my life. And now with the entry of Noddy and Oswald I have new memories with MLM and in time I'll introduce him to a food-loving fat cat, a baseball playing gang which never wins, a Viking who hates housework and a school going boy with a fantastic image of himself (which only he's privy too) and have him go down this road too.

But till then, it's the funny papers and a cuppa joe for me.

06 March, 2012

Pimps 'R' Us

Well, not us. But they abound! Have you noticed? Barring the touts who tout the oldest profession, pretty much anyone can pimp. There are booze pimps who trawl the streets after the mandatory curfews are in place. They know just how to find you. Even though you may not know if the chappy is just another guy taking an extra slow night stroll or not. But he knows you. He can spot you a mile away!

The latest kind of pimp I've run into are the gym pimps. They sidle up to you while you're gasping for breath on the treadmill. They creep up close while you're cycling away the cellulite and they also call you to tell you let's take it up close and personal via the personal trainer mode.

I can understand that people have a job to do but my recent run-ins with a few of the trainers at the gym left me a bit irritated. One thing I absolutely detest is being interrupted for faltoo stuff when I'm reading. I was in the middle of a legal thriller a few days back while on the cross step machine and this unctuous guy comes close and talks to me about how he hasn't seen me around for a while. Now I know that mine and his timings don't coincide so I tell him it's because I don't usually turn up at nights and come in the mornings instead.
Our conversation went something like this after that-
 Me: why what?
Gym Pimp (GP): why don't you come in the evenings?
Me: not convenient
GP: why today?
Me: convenient
GP: when do you normally gym?
Me: mornings
GP: when?
Me: when it's convenient.
GP: where do you work?
Me: I'd like to get back to my reading please. Gasp. Huff. Puff.
GP: That's a book?!!!
Me: Kind of.
GP: Which tablet?
Me: Kindle.
GP: ???Kaun sa?
Me: Huffing. Boss, you can read books on it. Thanks. Got to get back to my cardio. And I walk over the treadmill. After 2 mins.
GP: What are you reading?
Me: Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
GP: after a long pause...you want a personal trainer?
Me: No.
GP: Why? You don't have to come everyday. Only when you want and I'll also come that time and help you lose weight and do tone ups like I did for X,Y,Z...(gets cut off)
Me: Not possible.
GP: Let me know. I do good personal training. That CD that's playing now (Backstreet Boys Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely comes on) I chose it so people can get affected more during gymming.
Me: Yeah..am really affected by that song *roll eyes*
GP: You like it? Thanks! Bin Tere Sanam is next.
Me: Yeah ok. Hey I have to go. Bye.
GP: Ok, I'll be here. Call me. I'll can come in the mornings also. G'nite. Enjoy yourself.
Me: yeah,yeah whatever. *mumble* whack job kya bh****panti shuru kiya hai!

GP: Hi Madam. Wow! you did 20 minutes on the treadmill. I can help you...(to the hapless woman who took up my treadmill).


I am touchy just like anyone else who has a small tornado (read child), hormonal upheavals, not enough sleep and who hasn't been pampered in ages.
And these are the people who make me sharpen my fangs and claws even more-
  • The gas delivery guy who came to deliver a new cylinder at my neighbor's house. He LEANED on my bell ( I have a wireless bell outside the entrance to apartment's corridor and a doorbell). When I opened the door I found a shifty-eyed boy lugging the cylinder in front of my neighbor's door. When I asked him if he rang my bell, he replied as if he had marbles in his mouth and said, "Hindi nahin". So I asked him in Telugu and pointed at my bell. Surely that was clear enough. Nope! He mentioned my neighbor's apartment # and said he thought my bell was theirs instead. Of course he did! everyone has their bell on the opposite wall to their house where the apartment number and name of the occupants of the OTHER house is also written. But the dimwitted glaze in his eyes just did me in! I told him not to do it in the future. He again mumbled with those marbles that live permanently in his mouth.

  • The gas delivery guy who came to give me the cylinder yesterday was clearly in a hurry. He rang the outside bell, rang the doorbell and knocked on the door for good measure and then asked, "Gas hona?" Tell me this- if I've booked it, I surely will want it, won't I? So I said yes indeed I wanted it and he lugged it into the kitchen and contemplated the very difficult answer of how much he had to charge me for it. He scanned the receipt up and down and finally found the magic numbers, thank goodness.

  • The guard who "guards" our building. He gave me my phone bill late (yet again) and with his usual goofy look. On being asked when it had arrived, he said with a big grin, "parso aaya madam". So madam asked him why it was being handed over so late to which he said (again with a smile). "bhool gaya madam." I told him with a bigger smile that if his tardiness and memory malfunction led to delays in my paying my bills and incurred some late fees, I'd take the money from him. Odd how he didn't smile when he said 'Okay madam' this time.
See, I'm not a hard ass. But certain things just keep getting stuck in my craw. Why do I always merit the eyes-glazed over look from delivery people? People who take forever to answer basic and expected questions and who seem to have that drooly, slack-jawed look down pat?
But such is life. Where all living being must learn to co-exist. The drooling with the non-droolies, the DUH'd ones with the ones who actually get what's going on in front of them and the in my case, the perpetually teeth-clenched ones with those who have the gaping maws that prove so favorable to flies everywhere.