Author: obsessivemom

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

N sits on the sofa in front of the television, her plate of food balanced on her knee, the remote in her hand.

‘May I watch TV?’ she asks.

Exams are two weeks away and the children have a Chemistry test the next day – that’s all I can think of as I take in her perfunctory query and her expectant gaze.

It’s hard, but ‘No,’ say I, ‘Eat your food at the dining table then get back to revision.’
Her face sets in a stubborn line and I realise it’s going to be one of ‘those’ days.
‘Why can’t I watch TV till I eat? I can’t study as I eat anyway.’
‘Because we talk while we eat and we catch up with papa,’ say I referring to our nightly Duo chats with the Husband. It’s a bit of a ritual that I’m reluctant to let go.

‘I don’t want to talk’, she replies.

H chips in bringing his best arguments.
‘Only for 15 minutes, till we eat and then we’ll get back, promise,’ he pleads.
‘No’, say I.
‘I won’t eat at the table. I’ll eat on the sofa,’ says N, not willing to give up with at least one small victory.
‘That’s fine by me’, say I picking my battles.

Ten minutes later, I’ve finished dinner. N sits with her plate full, dinner untouched.

I take up my book and walk away to my room.

After a while I hear the twins talking at the dining table as they finish eating.

Then, the door to my room opens slowly.

It’s N.

‘I’m sorry mama’, says she.
‘It’s okay’, I reply.
‘Are you angry’
‘No’
‘Can you smile please?’
I smile at her.
‘I’m sorry’, she reiterates. ‘I’m sorry I was rude and angry. It’s all these teenage hormones you know’.
I have to laugh out at that, at my little wise soon-to-be-teenager.

It’s a battle won – not against the kids, never that, it’s the battle against my temper that I’ve won.

The war is on.

*******

Trying my hand at Slice of Life writing.

Home

Home

Last November I went home on a short trip for my college reunion. It was the first time I was there without the children and it felt strange, too quiet. One morning I took my cup of tea to the swing on our terrace.

It was a cool morning and the sun felt good on my face. The tea was hot, with a hint of ginger, a little sweeter than necessary, just the way I liked it. Multihued bougainvillea bloomed cheerily in large planters at the far end of the terrace. The freshly watered plants gave off a delicious petrichor.

This wasn’t the house I grew up in. My parents shifted from our University home to this, their own bungalow, about a decade ago, when they both retired. And yet how easily I called it home. The children of course had known no other. This was their nani’s house. Each summer when we went to visit, they marked the room on the terrace  as their territory, forbidding anyone to go there in their absence. Such was the sense of belonging. But me? I moved out long ago. I don’t have many memories in this house, there’s no history.

How has this house, where I spend just a few days each year, come to mean ‘home’?

Perhaps it is because of the sounds of the city that seep in uninvited – the North Indian lilt in the call of the vegetable vendor on the road outside or the maids exchanging gossip and greetings in a familiar language before they rushed off to their chores.

Perhaps it is the flowers that bloom in profusion no matter where my parents live. From our first home in the old city where together they sifted mud and gravel, adding just the right amount of sand to coax out the largest roses, to the carpet grass in our second home that they lovingly tended spending long hours with gardeners discussing which seasonals should go where, to these gorgeous Bougainvillea here on the terrace, we’ve always had flowers.

Perhaps it is the odd pieces of furniture that have survived the moves, like this swing that I sit on, each creak familiar, each squeak telling a story, every languid move bringing with it a memory of long hours lounging on it mugging up for a Geology exam or solving Math equations.

Or perhaps it is simply the sense of space that ‘home’ has always had, the sense that I can never quite get in my flat, no matter how large it is. I go around opening doors and windows somedays when I get claustrophobic, in the vain attempt to make it feel larger. I get nowhere, perhaps because the feeling is only in my head.

Or perhaps it is the comforting presence of my parents as they sit talking, bickering vigorously about everything from why he shouldn’t travel so much to why she shouldn’t stay so long on Facebook.

Perhaps it is all of that.

Perhaps home is not a physical place after all but a feeling, a feeling that I belong.

 

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

February is one of those months that are nice in a very understated way. The new year has settled in, there are no great celebrations or festivals, no birthdays or anniversaries also for us, yet it’s short and sweet and just nice.

For me this has been a happy month full of books and reading, some successful kitchen experiments and lots of love from family, both real and virtual.

A celebration

Oops did I just say there are no celebrations? Well that wasn’t quite true. In fact we began the month with one because February 1st was World Read Aloud Day. I rounded up a handful of children from our apartment complex and organised a read-aloud session. We sat around a table, eating biscuits, reading out portions from favourite books and reciting poems. We followed it up with word games and the children went a little crazy, happy crazy, that is. The best kind of crazy, right?We had so much fun that I’ve promised myself that I’ll do it better next year with a little more planning.

Happiness between the pages

While on books and reading, this year I resolved to buy fewer books so I could make my way through my burgeoning unread collection at home. As the resolution fervour wore off and I was beginning to feel sorry for myself (even though I had no right to) the Universe stepped in and two brand new books arrived at my doorstep. They were from my dear blogger friend Soumya. She wrote me the sweetest message that absolutely made my day. A just-like-that gift really is the best kind of gift. And if it’s books it’s even better.

Then Shantala from Shanaya Tales hosted a giveaway and I won it and Becoming by Michelle Obama came home. This was one book I was really looking forward to reading. I’m half way through it and I’m loving it.

The other happiness was the discovery of a book cafe close home. It’s the most delightful little place with stacks of books that one can read over a cup of elaichi chai or a bowl of maggi. I’m looking forward to spending some happy hours there.

In the kitchen

I did a fair bit of cooking thanks to Rachna’s blog. It has become my go-to place for recipes. I tried Gajar ka halwa and it turned out so well that I made it again and then again. I have now locked it up safely in my list of ‘Fool proof recipes I can successfully replicate’ along with a small handful of others. Then I tried stir-fry broccoli which also turned out to be a no-brainer.

Happy kids

The children have been in a happier space this month. H’s allergies, which he has been struggling with for over a year, seemed to have taken a break. He has been sleeping better after ages. He hasn’t ever been too sound a sleeper but it reached crazy proportions over the last year. Nothing seemed to work. He has no access to gadgets during weekdays, not even television. On the odd day that we do watch TV, it’s not much. And yet he has difficulty falling asleep and wakes up a number of times at night. We tried to get him to read before he sleeps, tried massaging his feet, tried warm milk and jaiphal – everything that anyone suggested – but it wasn’t much use. I’ve been toying with the idea of consulting a homeopath. Maybe after the exams I’ll do that.

Yup, exams are round the corner and we’re gearing up for them. The maid has announced a week’s leave, N has a new idea for a novel and plans for the after exam-party are underway. Yeah, that’s how we gear up.

Come on along March.

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

The magic of four bamboo sticks and a blue plastic sheet #ProjectWhy

The magic of four bamboo sticks and a blue plastic sheet #ProjectWhy

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers 

As a parent I often worry that I’m raising a generation of entitled children who assume the best things are all theirs by right. That’s rather strange for a country like India, considering almost every day we see children who don’t get even a single square meal.

And yet we don’t really ‘see’ them, do we?

To be fair, we do empathise and most of us are lending a hand in various ways. Often, however, one has the will to help yet is at a loss to figure out how. How do we identify a genuine charity? How do we ensure we are supporting the right people? How do we know the aid we’re giving is going to the right people?

Pressures of the daily grind coupled with those doubts push away thoughts of helping out. We go about our daily chores with mental masks blocking out those innocent, dirt-streaked faces craving the basic necessities of life. Unknowingly, we pass on the same indifference to our children.

Then, every once in a while we stumble upon a piece, a conversation, a story that brings it all into focus. Reading Damyanti’s piece here did just that.

This is the story of how a miracle was wrought by four bamboo sticks, a blue plastic sheet and a bagful of good intentions. A garbage dump was converted into a school for children living in slums around the Okhla Industrial Area. Two women Sophiya and Pushpa took up the task of educating them.

This was 2004.

More children came in every day and now the school has 12 teachers, catering to 300 children in classes up to XII. The school also boasts a computer centre.

If that isn’t a miracle what is?

The centre is full of stories of courage where people have gone beyond themselves to help usher in this  change. For instance there’s Mithu who lost both his legs to Polio but hasn’t let that get in his way. Do spare a minute to watch this video.

You can read more about the project here. 

In March 2019, the centre’s funding comes to an end and it is in danger of closing down. If you, like me, are moved by this story, if you feel strongly that each child deserves education, if you want to do your bit to keep this miracle alive, do lend a hand. Drop by the Project Why page on Facebook and consider making a donation.

Also, talk to your children. Tell them about Project Why, about children who’d give the world to be in their shoes. If possible identify a similar school in your vicinity and plan a visit. Help them look beyond themselves. They will benefit almost as much as the children they’re trying to help, perhaps more.

The Magic of New Beginnings #GratitudeCircle

The Magic of New Beginnings #GratitudeCircle

A week into February and the New Year hasn’t quite lost its sheen yet. That essentially means I’m going strong with my exercise routine, even though the weighing machine doesn’t seem to have noticed!

Anyhow, I am grateful my spirits are still up, and that’s the most important thing.

We began the year with..

…the almost-teens staying up till midnight for the very first time. The Husband was home and four of us stayed in watching a film award show (my guilty pleasure!), eating chips, pizza and cake and washing it all down with coke and wine (no guilt for those, after all it was New Year’s Eve. However this could give you some idea why the weighing machine doesn’t move :-)).

Other than the food we also indulged in serious celebrity spotting exclaiming at how cute Ranveer and Deepika looked while N rued that Zero didn’t make an appearance anywhere at all. H pretended to be annoyed at all the excitement and continued trying to roll his eyes (he still can’t). The Husband sat calling up people wishing them a happy new year in an attempt to ‘beat the rush after midnight’. And no he wouldn’t move to another room, he sits right there trying to speak above the sound of the telly, gesturing to us to turn down the volume, completely oblivious to our dagger-looks. It’s called a ‘mobile’ phone for a reason, I would have tried to tell him in the old times. Not any longer. Over two decades of marriage one learns to manage and so I simply turned up the volume while H and N wrestled the phone out of his hands. Once done, all was peaceful.

Just as the clock struck twelve

..we headed towards our beds but someone started off a fantastic display of fireworks. N ran to the balcony and called out to the rest of us. And so we sat out watching the display with the children oohing and aahing happily. That’s really the best thing about being a parent, looking at things through the children’s eyes makes them  new and exciting.

The Husband slept off soon after but I could hear the children chatting away above his snores. That was the most reassuring sound ever – the sound of them bonding – allaying my fears that I was bringing up Kane and Abel.

School started

…and much as I like having the children home, it’s a relief to have the house to myself. I love that their school always begins midweek to get us all in the rhythm of things and also that their uniforms are the most hassle free ever, no hooks or pleats or belts or ties.

More excitement..

..came this month with Republic Day celebrations in our apartment complex. I love N’s enthusiasm that never flags despite everything being against her. No matter what happens she manages to get together a band of children and put up a performance each year. There’s much discord during the process. She comes home each evening with a bagful of complaints (everyone wants the lead role, no one is listening to me, no one is coming for practice, they aren’t serious at all…) and yet she sticks it out. I have to admit that many  times, fed up with the arguments, I’ve told her to let it go (Yup, not supportive at all) but each evening she goes down with renewed enthusiasm. This year was special because H actually lent her a hand where once he used to be as bad as the rest of them. He helped her by restoring order and goofing around only when things got too serious. One more kick in the pants to my Kane and Abel theory.

I went to check a few final practices and I have to admit they’d done quite well, given the constraints.

Work wise too January has been a productive month

… with collaboration offers coming in. I read and blogged better than I’ve done in some time. It must be the New Year effect that makes me optimistic and happy. If only January 1st could come around more often than just once a year, it would do me  world of good.

Till that happens I’m hoping to carry my upbeat spirit as long as I can through the year.

How did 2019 begin for you?

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Do you care for what people think? #BookBytes – 4

Early this month on Women’s Day I shared a quote from Becoming by Michelle Obama. Here it is. What a fantastic read this book is proving to be, full of immense wisdom yet in no way preachy and so very relatable. Today I share another one from the same book. Take a read. “This may […]