Experiences, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Intentions, Kids

Growing pains

Hari was eating his paruppu sadam with beans with delight as I was about to move out of the dining room. “Amma, can you just sit with me for few minutes,” he asked. “Of course, love” I told him and silently watched him for few seconds as my head was reeling from a tsunami of thoughts.

I needed him as much as he needed me in that moment. Earlier this morning there was a post by a local mom on FaceBook about how she had encountered her child using JUULS. Last week, the school principal had sent a note about Vaping and E-cigarettes. That was my first time hearing about it. Google will give you plenty of information about these addictions. In short, these are the latest in the drug world and is directly marketed to young adults as alternatives to cigarettes. Worse still, they look like USB drives, and smell like cheap perfumes. They wreak the same havoc that drugs do. Apparently, it is more pervasive than we would imagine in middle school and high school. The post was disturbing and made me really sad. Peer pressure is so real. One day you hear about suicide, another day you hear about depression, and yet another day drugs. The list only seems to be growing.

Hari and I were generally chatting and catching up when he mentioned, as if reading my mind, “Mom, today they pulled us out of our classroom to question us about drugs. They do it to all kids. They ask us a few questions. Do you use drugs? Why do you not use drugs?” He then proceeded to explain that “I don’t do drugs because the determinants far outweigh the benefits. I also told them that I have a younger brother who looks up to me and I want to be a good role model to him.”

I tried very hard to suppress the lump in my throat. He told me how they explained that their brains are still developing and the part of the brain that makes decisions is the last to develop. “So we have to make safe choices,” he concluded. Then I asked him what would he do if he saw his friends doing drugs. “First, I will protect myself and then I will stay away from their influence.” I told him how important it is to report to an adult, you are not getting your friend in trouble, you are helping him, ok? On that note, we wrapped up our heavy but reassuring conversation.

As I was clearing the kitchen counter, I sent a prayer upwards. I reminded myself to be more engaged, and more cognizant of what’s going on in my children’s lives. It’s so easy to get lost in the everyday busyness and competing priorities. To sweat the small stuff and lose sight of the big picture. Let me not take them for granted. Let me be fully present. Let me verify even when I trust them.

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Humor, Kids, Little Moments, Ram Leela
  • I am reprimanding Ram for taking half an hour to eat half a dosai. “Amma, what can I do, my brain wanders when I sit down to eat dosai. It is thinking of other things and I forget that I am eating dosai.” Without using the word mindfulness, I tell him, “Maybe when you realize your brain wanders, you can start paying attention to how the dosai is tasting – does it have salt? Is it hot? How does the cheese taste?” To which he responds, “It’s ok amma. That’s boring. I think I will just let my brain wander.” Looks like there is no end in sight for my morning nagging routine. 
  • “Amma, I don’t like it when you don’t do things that you ask me to do.” “What do you mean?” I ask. “You do not cover your mouth with your elbow when you are coughing. Your hand gets all the germs and then when you hold my hand the germs stick to my hand.”   A little empathy for my incessant coughing would have been nice. But hey, we all have to look out for ourselves. Besides, isn’t it what I say to him (not the part about holding hands) when he is coughing? Now I know how it feels like to be at the receiving end of that statement. 
  • “Amma when you met appa, did you do a mating dance?” I nearly fell off my chair when I heard it. “What does mating dance mean Ram,” I asked him expecting to get an answer about bird calls or mating rituals in the animal kingdom that he may have learnt at school. “Calvin talks about it amma, that’s how I learnt ” You know trouble is brewing when your child’s heroes are Calvin and Garfield.
  • “Amma, if I were a food that would die if I get eaten, do you know what I would be?” “What Ram?” I ask him. “I would be the tiniest bread crumb that will fall out when a person takes a bite of the bread. I will get thrown in the trash and I will live in the dumpster forever without being eaten.” Some imagination, huh?
  • “Ram, would you like to consider participating in Variety Show? It could be lot of fun.” “No, thanks mom. I don’t want to share my talents with the world”
  • Valentine’s Day gift voucher for amma has a promise of “I will get up early”. Valentine’s Day gift voucher for appa has a promise of “I will not wake you up early”. The child is spot on when it comes to knowing what his mom and dad want from him.
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Detox, Experiences, Experiments, Family, Food, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Kids, Life, Me, Us

Word of the Year

How did I do? Is it worth continuing with the word of the year? Is it a meaningful exercise?

I did ok with Mindfulness  although I forgot  it was THE word a few times. Setting intentions in the beginning of the year did unintentionally influence my everyday actions. I am able to sense tension, tightness and panic when things don’t go my way. I don’t become zen or calm about the situation right away. But I have learnt that the place to start is relaxing my jaws and facial muscles. Paying attention to that tactical action, settles me a bit even when there is restlessness raging within. I talk myself into getting some alone time and engage in some productive work so I am not being disruptive to the ones around me. It works a few times even if not always. I have also learnt to drift back to sleeping when I wake up in the morning. This is worth a mention because it is part of my effort to not to be a slave to my To Do or routine.

Mindfulness like Discipline and Detox (my Word for the prior years) is a lifelong practice. So this year was just the beginning. I did not move mountains or boil the ocean but I have made incremental progress as a person. So I see value in pursuing this practice.

For this year, I am choosing the word “Us”.  Hari has five to six years with us before he takes full responsibility for himself. There are so many interesting things to do with him. There are so many things that he needs guidance on. I want to be fully present for him in this critical phase of growing up. Ram is still young and he needs me differently. I want to do all the things that I enjoy doing with him – reading, cooking, playing, coloring and what not. And with Da, I will be a little nicer, kinder and compassionate instead of using him as my punching bag. As rudimentary all these aspects sound to you or may come naturally to many of the moms that I know of, they are hard for me. I tend to oversee these finer aspects as there are so many things I want to dip my tips in. 

While the “Us” does not preclude my parents, siblings and families, I am doing pretty ok on that front, which is why I am narrowing the focus to the immediate concentric circle around me. 

This does not mean I will abandon pursuits outside home. Far from it, I want to do my bit, so they are not going away. But I will be deliberate about what I take on and make sure that I balance between what gives me intrinsic and extrinsic joys. I missed out on reading, writing, cooking experiments, and connecting with friends this year and I hope to pick up the slackness there.  I will strive to be more consistent with eating clean and healthy and working out.

These are the intentions I am setting for the year. What are yours?

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Detox, Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Health and fitness, Inspiration, Introspection, Kids, Little Moments, Sunday School

Fitness Diary – Day 7

Eats – bad.  I had a planned lapse (meaning the lapse was not due to temptation or craving but it was something I had budgeted for) so I don’t feel bad about it. What I do feel bad about is the four pieces of dark chocolate I had. Dark chocolate is allowed in the workshop but only one piece. I definitely need to work on my portions, will specifically focus on it this week. Otherwise the regular meals were ok. Raagi dosai with sambar for breakfast, pongal sambar for lunch, dinner sambar rice. Aarachu vitta sambar is a rare treat in our house, so when I make it I don’t miss an opportunity to devour it.  

Workout – 17 mins of jogging with the first born. It was so hard to pull myself out of the house. I had to keep reminding myself that the future me would regret if I let the workout slip by. And I am so glad I pushed myself. It was an absolute treat to get out early in the morning with the fresh cool air caressing my face. Hari thought so too!

Meditation – 9 mins. I did not do any nostril breathing. 

Hydration – so so. I think I nearly made it but did not pay particular attention to it.

Sleep – bad, slept only for six hours. I see the repeat of the story tomorrow. I don’t like that but unfortunately that’s the reality now. 

A day filled with gratitude.

  • Just when I woke up this morning, Ram who was sleeping right next to me, kissed and put his arms around me with such warmth that it melted my heart and rendered it into a pot of mush.  Ironically, what the love bug told me next left me feeling like the most apathatic and horrible mom in the whole wide world – “I am so excited amma. I wonder how much money the Tooth Fairy has left for me. I am tempted to look under my pillow.”  Oh no, how could I? Last night a certain someone had signaled to certain someone else to take care of it and that someone else conveniently forgot it the very next moment it was told to her. Aiyoo.!! After chiding myself and catastrophizing the whole situation in my head,  I woke up my knight in shining armour, who was snoring blissfully, and muttered to the clueless soul in broken hindi “mein dhanth keliyo jho rakna hai, woh bhool gayee”  (as you may have guessed, the child does not know hindi but it did not matter because he was mentally lost in counting his treasury… if I get $1, I will have $32 pocket money, if I get $5, I will have…) The knight in shining armour woke up laughing heartily, went out of the room under the guise of having to use the restroom.. Long story short, five minutes later, the child’s eye lit up as he pulled out a crumpled $5 note. I heaved a sigh of relief and made the best cup of tea to my knight in shining armour who saved the day for this forgetful mommy. Thank you, thank you and thank you.
  • Hari slept undisturbed the whole night last night. The child has had fragmented sleep for the past several weeks due to allergies. We think the trigger is construction related dust. Poor child, poor child, wakes up two to three times with a congested nose, and terrible sneezes. So every night he catches good sleep, I offer my gratitude from the bottom of my heart. 
  • Sunday school started today. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with how thinly I have stretched myself and was convinced that I should think twice before committing next year. It’s too much preparation and too much time commitment. But this morning when I went to school, my heart was full with gratitude. This the place where I get my ix of India every week. Where I get to sing Vande Mataram and Hum Honge Khamiyaap loudly and proudly. Where as much as my kids want to make fun of the accent, in a strange sense feel like they belong. It was such a treat to see kids from last year come up to me and catch up. I am assisting Hari’s class in the first hour, I had taught some kids in this class five years back, my very first batch and there was a certain ease and friendliness in the air. I was also thrilled to see my new kids this year, can’t wait to see where they will take me on this journey this year.
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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Kids, Little Moments, Memories, Now

Kids and summer break

The kids are on the last week of summer vacation. The past 6 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. Another milepost in the passage of time. Barring a couple of weeks, the boys  have been attending summer camps. Between my dance productions and all the construction work, that seemed to be the fair thing to do. 

It gladdens my heart to see Hari rested and relaxed. He has had his fill of cricket, baseball and books for the summer. The poor child has been suffering from allergies this month, must be a combination of pollen and all the dust floating around with the construction work. It must be frustrating to have fragmented sleep but the child has been taking it in stride – “I sneeze and have runny nose, but I end up slowly drifting  off to sleep. So don’t worry about it amma”  

Ram has been fervently working on Perler beads, teaching himself from google images and youtube videos. As I write this post, he is trying his hands on 3D designs. When he is not working on fuse beads, he is lost to the written word. The child sure knows to enjoy his own company. We have read so little together this summer. Our reading during breakfast is currently non-existent. Partly because I have not made the time and partly because there is very little eating going on at breakfast when reading is involved. We just need to find a way to sneak in some reading time together. I am not ready to let go of that yet.

We still have not figured out the extra activities for the school year. For Hari, we have a rough sense. For Ram, some homework is still in order. 

I am not ready for back to school yet. I have neither spent quality nor quantity time with my rambunctious bundles of joy.  No matter what else I may have accomplished, the summer still feels incomplete.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I console myself in an act of self-compassion.  I cannot have it all. But the bigger truth is, even when I may have been clueless about their days, I have been quietly soaking in the finer things that parenting entails. Enjoying the glint of naughtiness in their eyes, swelling with pride when they save treats for each other, loving them all over as they peacefully drift to dreamland, taking in the sight of them deeply engrossed in their books, and watching them devour cookie dough ice cream with anticipation although they have had it a million times. 

This summer has not been a summer of going away, beach trips, bike rides or even play dates. It has been a time of quiet presence, simple living, and glorious nothingness in our household. 

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Experiences, Experiments, Food, Kids, Little Moments, Milestones

Finicky to Foodie

The children’s lunch boxes for the most part are embarrassingly plain and simple for two reasons. Firstly, Hari and Ram prefer it that way. Secondly, like it or not, kids use lunch time more to socialize than to fill their tummies. Food is not a priority at school lunch time, at least not for my kids. So I stopped fretting about planning lunches long back and have learnt to focus on other meals that they eat at home instead.

A week back, the tween expressed interest in introducing variety to his daily lunches. There were a number of caveats thrown in. “Amma, no cheese, as it smells”, “I like the mac n cheese but it makes me feel heavy”, “I don’t want hot meals that go cold.”

If you pictured me rolling my eyes during this conversation, you are spot on. Past the rolling of the eyes, I did smile to myself wondering at how far we have come. What a finicky eater this child was as a toddler and what a foodie he has grown into! The child is still particular about what he eats and has strong likes and dislikes but a good meal makes him feel like he is at the top of the world. We brainstormed and came up with a menu that works for all of us – Hari, Ram and I. 

Monday – Pasta with seasoning

Tuesday – Buy from cafeteria

Wednesday – Aloo or paneer paratha

Thursday – Paniyaram

Friday – Rice and beans or leftovers from Thursday dinner.

And wait, wait, it’s not done yet. For the sides, a fruit and or nuts is acceptable. But on Fridays, the child requested that I  pack something that would surprise him. Again, another rolling-of-my-eyes moment. But again past that, I found the ask endearing and a way to add a little zing, a little something that would set Fridays apart from rest of the week, a little happiness boost. Plus, it seems like a nice way to build on my non-existent ability to surprise someone

Any lunch box ideas that has worked for you?  Any surprises that you would pack for your child? or would like for yourself in your lunch box? 

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Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Humor, Kids, Life, Little Moments, seasons

Baseball Tales

Hari began the baseball season with lofty statements. “I live for baseball”, “Baseball is my life.” I looked at the better half, who takes his role as nurturer of sports passion of his offsprings a tad seriously, and saw stars dancing in his dreamy eyes. And what do you know? Before I could say baseball, the father-son duo had signed up for three teams – school baseball team, town baseball team and the club baseball team that Hari has been part of since Fall. And did I forget to mention that the second child was already signed up in Fall?

For my part, I did what any sensible mom, who has the unenviable task of planning two mini dinners atleast three days during the week and once during the weekend (and let’s not even get into calendar management please), would do. Closed my eyes shut, sent a prayer to Varuna bhagawan – let it rain, let it rain..!

The regular season is drawing to a close and I am happy to report that the household has managed to survive and I might even add that the reluctant baseball mom has become an eager cheerleader.

I am happy for Hari. The season bestowed him with a variety of experiences, from being benched to being glorified as the MVP.  He was flying high one day and heartbroken the other day. He felt like he was treated unfairly one day but was able to take a step back the next day and see the decision in perspective. He worked hard and took responsibility for improving his game. He climbed the batting order and learnt new ways to pitch.

Ram is having a great time swinging his bat and playing ball. As a parent from Hari’s batch put it, at that age you can ask how the game went knowing that you will always receive a confident and happy answer. Besides at this age, there is more excitement over snacks during break time than playing ball during game time. Da coached Ram’s team for the second year in a row. 

Now if you will excuse me, I have a pre-game dinner to pack. My life is going to be dull and empty once the baseball season is over… Not really!

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