I have been wanting to resurrect the Little Moments Thursday series. As the name implies, it attempts to celebrate the little moments in one’s life. I like the idea of dedicating a day of the week for this because as they say, anything that can be done at any time, seldom gets done. I have written a Little Moments post every now and then but not with the consistency that I used to at one point of time.
LMT is a concept a dear friend came up with. The idea being we all get carried away with the day to day living or the curve balls that life throws at us that we forget to make note of the little moments that get sprinkled along the way. To me, it’s one more reminder to be grateful for life’s blessings. It is not an attempt to see life through rose tinted glasses as much as it is about not allowing our lives to be defined by its challenges alone. Apart from taking my happiness quotient several notches higher, I like that in the process of writing about my little moments, I tend to journal the details of my life that otherwise tend to fade into the oblivion.
Today, I am counting the little moments I have had this summer.
- Seeing my parents as grandparents. It’s true that they have been grandparents for 13 years but given that our India visits tend to be very brief, that side of them tends to get overshadowed. I have enjoyed seeing my kids hugging and kissing them, Ram playing UNO with amma, Hari calling amma the goddess of dosai, and appa teaching Ram how to apply butter on his bread. I have enjoyed the videos that my sis-in-law Wini sent, of my parents reading and playing with my niece and nephew, during their stay with them.
- After searching far and wide for sari blouses that fit me, turns out my mom’s fit me well. My mom is leaving her kalamkari blouses for me…!! I love love kalamkari, have always loved it, even when it used to be designs on bedsheets and diwan sets.
- Sharing kitchen duties with amma. Most of the time, amma takes over the kitchen making simple delicious food for us to devour. I enjoy cooking for them too. So we split our duties, taking turns so one person is not getting burnt out. Who does not like a break from kitchen duties?
- Taking my dad for shopping. I not only like his choices but admire his keen eye for details. The rest of the boys in the household run a mile a minute should I mention the word shopping or will roll up their sleeves to buy what we call as Ramarajan t-shirts (the polyester ones that sports folks around the world wear – this is a term we coined at home after the tamizh movie actor who tends to wear colorful attire on screen) in our household.
- Watching Da lavish affection on my dad – it’s genuine, spontaneous, and very child like. Pure as white.
- Watching my mom take delight in gardening and our garden getting a facelift.
- Oh speaking of garden, love the three little rose bushes we have planted in the front yard. The yard has graduated from being despicable to being tolerable to the eye, thanks to amma and Da’s toiling.
- Watching Sherlock Holmes with Hari. The first time I watched, it was with Da, and turns out I ended up sleeping for most episodes as we would watch it on ipads in the comfort of our bed. Hari is not hooked (the child does not like mystery) but doesn’t mind because it would mean he gets TV time which he would not otherwise get. And just like that I have started watching R rated shows with my offspring!
- Exchanging food with my dear friend V. When I cook something on insta pot, I share it with her so she gets a kitchen break. When she cooks something delicious (which is often), she spares some for me.
- The kids hopping and skipping to V’s house for milkshake every Wednesday. V’s son S coming to our house to bake cake. I love being part of his growing up.
- Reading Hari’s journal entries during vacation. The child is not a big fan of writing but writing is a fundamental skill, can’t afford to be sloppy in it. So the deal is to write a little paragraph every day. The child always had a ending that had a nugget of wisdom like “If you have hit rock bottom after all, the only way to go is up”, or “My biggest learning for seventh grade is to not judge a book by its cover.” I enjoyed getting a glimpse into his teen brain.
- Sleepovers with Ram. I love love sleeping next to him, squished in the twin mattress, his legs resting on my body and his head laid on my arm. Love cannot get any more primal than this.
- Watching Ram read, read, and read like there is no tomorrow. My greatest fear is the child will run out of books of his liking at the library.
- Speaking of reading, I have been reading quite a bit this summer, and loving every minute of it. I learnt a little trick from my sis-in-law Aaru. She has this amazing ability to stop whatever she is doing, and grab a book to read. She can read when there is a crowd surrounding her, she can read when she has had a tiff with someone, she can ready just about anywhere at anytime. Reading is her sanctuary. Watching her read that compulsively did tickle my instincts to read. The trick that I learnt from her is to not wait for the perfect moment to grab a book because in this phase and stage of life, that is not going to happen. It also makes reading a way of life. So gold star to her…!!!
There were some challenges too this summer but I am deeply grateful for the little moments that made it a memorable one.
They are growing up fast and furious right under our noses. Ram is in 2nd grade, and Hari is in 8th grade. The highlight of this summer for them was spending time with my parents. The kids have basked in the love of their grandparents for the past few months.
Before the first day of school, we set intentions for the school year. For Ram, the only goal is to build daily habits. The more and more I read about habit forming, the more and more I am convinced that what we do on a daily basis matters. So much more than what we think. That’s the mantra I have been chanting all this summer, especially to the older one. With Ram, setting expectations and getting him on board with the expectations, is the crucial step. Once that is done, with some enforcement from our end, the child is generally good. He is a true Upholder at heart. The big caveat is the“some enforcement” part, which falls on yours truly lap, who is quite the slacker.
For Hari, the child has a lot going on. So the goal is to commit to those things that he is truly interested in. We will also work on basic life survival skills – daily habits, keeping a good attitude, building support system, making choices etc. The child will be in college in five years, and taking responsibility, practicing grit and becoming resilient do not happen one fine day. It has to built, cultivated and nurtured over the years with some tender, love and care.
I too have a goal for the school year. I am not by any stretch of imagination a Helicopter mom, let alone a Tiger mom. Mainly because it’s a lot of hard work and requires you to put your child’s need ahead of yours . For many many moms or all the moms that I know, this comes naturally. Unfortunately, that is not my instinct. I put my own pursuits and needs ahead of my kids. The good news is it works for us. The bad news is I am missing out. So I am setting a goal of being involved and engaged with my children’s learning experience this year.
I open the calculator on my computer and type in 2018 minus 2001 and the answer pops out as 17. Of course, I knew the answer and didn’t need a calculator to do the math that my second grader can do in his sleep. But one feels the need for validation when the brain tells one thing but the heart feels something else. It simply cannot be 17 years, says my good old heart. But of course, it is, refutes my sassy brain. God, 17 years is a long long time, it does not feel that long ago. It absolutely does not! So goes my heart, utterly in denial, that I have been away from my home country for 17 years.
In the initial years, I remember meeting an Indian who was away from the country for a long time and did not know about Sachin Tendulkar when I spoke of him. I fell off my chair. How could you not? He is practically a God for a nation of over billion?
Fast forward 17 years…
I am very much that person today. I know very little about what is happening in India. Having lived most of my adult life outside of India, I feel disconnected to the dynamics of day to day living in India. The excitement of visiting India is overshadowed by the anxiety over logistics and practical difficulties. The India of today feels so alien to me.
I go an extra mile to go to sunday school to be on time for special assembly to sing the Indian national anthem. I tear up every time I sing Jana Gana Mana. Yes, Every. Single. Time. No rhyme or reason, no exaggeration. I hang out with the desi moms from Hari’s cricket group, and can’t help but notice that the conversation feels intuitive and effortless. I swell with pride when Hari quizzes me on Indian states and capitals and knows more than what I do or when Ram sings, oodi vilayadu papa. I go out of the way to stay involved in the local Indian American organization so we can bring exposure to all things Indian to the broader community. When conversations on Whatsapp revolve around how NRIs, and non-citizens, do not have the eligibility to complain or comment about the Indian state of affairs, it stings. All I I want to say is, I still care. Is that not reason enough?
Being an Indian has become that intangible feeling that does not scream out loud but a subtle and comforting presence that I carry with me at all times.
Happy Independence Day India.
Writing a blog post. A visit to the temple. Going on bike path. Doing stretches. Sitting down for meditation. What do all these have in common? Once I indulge in these pursuits, I end up wanting to do more of them. But that first step takes monumental effort.
Summer is coming to an end shortly in this part of the world. The days are already getting shorter, we are thinking about back to school routine, and before we know it we will have to pull our sweaters and Fall jackets out.
Hari has had a pretty laid back summer. He has been in camp just for one week of camp for the entire vacation. We figured the school year tends to get intensive, so why not let the child chill out when he has the chance. That was his preference too. He has enjoyed the freedom of going to the bike path on his own, and camping at the library. He hasn’t hung out much with his friends but has had social time during cricket and baseball practices. He enjoyed setting up his room, he calls it his “man cave,” decorating it with flags of different football teams, built his own basketball hoop, converted the long forgotten Ikea table into a ping pong table, and has made an arcade game on his reading desk. This summer has been a summer without the FOMO for him.
Ram has been in camp every week. He tried his hands on wood carving and Scratch. His dad has set up a wood shop for him in the basement. My heart skipped several beats when I saw first graders hitting nail with a hammer at the camp. This should not have surprised me but it was too real! Scratch is a mix of programming and gaming. I am not thrilled about this experience but foray into video games is inevitable. For a while, it will be out of control but if I don’t feed the obsession now, it will lead to deprivation. In other news, he has been biking a lot this summer. And for a child that refuses to put his head under water, he has recently taken interest in swimming. This summer has been a summer of exploring for this child of mine.
Regarding myself, I did not take any extra commitments as I wanted to keep it free for appa, amma and kids. Last summer was extremely crazy and I did not want to miss out on another summer with the kids. This summer has been a summer of “US” for me because the days are long but the years are short!