Sunday, September 28, 2008

Life comes a full circle

"LG looks very much like The Seniol", people often tell me. Most times I take it in my stride, but there are occasions when I do take offense for there's not a single soul that says he resembles me in any way. Just a teeny wish for atleast one person to tell me how his eyes look like mine or the forehead ..just anything will do. Even my dear mom didn't think he had any similarity to my features.

And, then out of the blue dad sent this picture yesterday. The one on the right is that of me taken about 29 years back and the one on the left is ofcourse LG standing in the same place a few weeks back. I couldn't help notice how alike we look in this picture that I don't care if the world has different opinion...blinded by mother's love? Turns out as a child on seeing dad, I would leave my hands to jump from the top of a flight of steps totally assured that dad would take me in his arms. He captured this on film on one occasion. To recreate the same effect with LG, he tried his best but the always careful LG was all too cautious about the steps down and didn't leave his hands for support from the railing even once.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A toddler's word play

Some genetic characteristics do manifest themselves in kids more prominently than others. And, it's difficult not to notice. I've always told The Seniol that he has a way with words that would floor most people. He can talk his way out of any situation, appease the most difficult of people and get the strong-opined on his side without their realising by playing up their ego. Alright, so it's an art!

I can sense Lil' General inheriting this trait from his father. With his limited vocabulary, he is beginning to get on my nerves through his clever mixture of words and gestures. A difficult eater with each feeding session ranging anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour, I use the word "please" liberally during this three-times-a-day exercise. To no effect, of course. The past two days, LG has been using "please" on me while shoving my hand away from him with a pleading face so as not to be fed. It's hard not to draw any similarities with his dad.

Not just this, he's fully aware of actions that would get him reprimanded. So after doing any such act such as poking my eye to point where my eyes are obviously or putting the DVD with back up in the player, he will look at me, pull a long face and point his index finger upright with a nasal "No" that leaves me dumbfounded. Do I have any role at all in his parenting anymore?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Open House

We lived in an independent cosy place in Pune with us on the first floor and the owners on the down floor. This gave little opportunity for LG to go knocking on other's doors. But, every time we went out he would ensure knocking on their atleast once. It required a loud bang to be heard inside, so I would just let him knock once and move on unless I wanted them to open the door.

Here in Bangalore, we live in an apartment giving LG enough chances to see open doors and other people. He perceives the sight of a open door as an invitation to enter. Letting him walk down the stairs and in the open corridor is asking for trouble. I can't keep pace with him as he scuttles to enter any apartment and I follow him embarrassingly to get him outside. I've no idea how to teach him that it's not alright to step in anywhere, anytime. Fact is not all people enjoy the company of kids.

Boys start talking late or so I'm told. Fretting over not meeting every milestone to the day, to the month days are over. I enjoy this phase of motherhood and LG's growing up. He does what every toddler does and every moment is lively and enjoyable; worth giving up a career and staying home to see the child grow up; I can whole-heartedly say today I wouldn't trade this for anything else in the world.

So what if he doesn't talk like a pro as girls his age do? Most girls his age and a few boys talk a whole sentence effortlessly but LG's vocabulary comprises of barely a few words even today. But every word he utters gives me immense pride. I had written about Raising a multilingual child worriedly around the same time last year. With all those rules not strictly adhered to, he is currently exposed to Tamil, Hindi and English simultaneously. Exposure to Marathi has come down totally ever since we moved out of Pune to Bangalore.

As I was talking to The Seniol a few minutes ago narrating to him how LG says everything that starts with "n" nasally, I uttered "Nine". Little did I know that LG would immediately back it up with "Ten". Never has he done that. Ever before. So that's a great step forward. On that note, I present his vocabulary at twenty-one months:

Parts of the body:

1. KNnnnno (nasally for Nose)
2. Eeeeeea ( for Ear)
3. Eyes
4. Tee (Teeth)


1. Bhabhi
2. Baby
3. Ma, Amma, Mummum
4. Pa, pappe, paapi, papa
5. Dadi
6. Thai (his own invention for great-granny)
7. Di, didi
8. Akka

Objects of transport:

1. Caaa (car and bike)
2. Aaaapy (for helicopter, wonder where he got that)


1. Bow bow (for doggy - yes, still after all these months can you believe it?)


1. Three
2. Nine
3. Ten

General things:

1. Tree
2. Ow ow (for phone. OK not a real word!)
3. Yes and yea (when I'm on the phone)
4. No (on being reprimanded)
5. Baalish (for rain)
6. Tea
7. Clap

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two more toys to the stable

Until a month back, in Pune, it was just the drawing room that was littered with toys. Here in Bangalore, all the rooms are a minefield of play objects with one having to watch carefully down before setting the next foot. Unlike Pune, the storage space is ample but then toys are meant to be scattered all over for immediate usage, isn't it? For easy access, I've given him two huge laundry baskets to store all the stuffed toys and the zillions of plastic parts ripped apart but who cares?

He draws fun from turning the whole thing upside down. As if this wasn't enough, I took him toy hunting last afternoon to get the musical ABC (popularly known as "The Tutor") and a piano. Honestly, I feel there's all the time in the world for him to learn the ABC's and the 123's - as if our education system would spare the kid. But he is so drawn towards this tutor toy at every house he visits, that I thought maybe having one at home will keep him off the switches for a while. I was more keen on the Piano and picked up one. And to my surprise, he liked the piano more than the ABC one and has been hanging onto it since last evening - the longest a game has stayed intact with parts not ripped open or trying to be unscrewed with a driver. It's been a day and the interest hasn't weaned which is a good sign.

It's a challenging task to keep pace with a toddler's curiosity and ensuring there's something stimulating every day. Toys, games, and playing rhymes on TV don't hold his attention for any longer than 5 minutes. He has lately taken to actively participating in daily activities such as brooming, mopping, switching off lights every night when we wish each other good night (yes, no kidding!). I was quite surprised last night when his grand parents waved him good night, he immediately moved towards the sofa in the drawing room, climbed over it and switched off the lights. Then, he moved over to dining and asked to be lifted to reach for the switchboard turning off sequentially the lights in kitchen followed by drawing room before proceeding to the pooja room. Then, ensured the mosquito mat was on in his grand-parents' room before finally moving over to his. Is he growing up too soon for my comfort, I wonder?

A peck of dust on the floor and he is off to the utility to fetch the broom. I've found a meaning in daily activities which were mere mundane chores earlier. At times, it is tough to draw a fine balance between let your kid do something and being a "no" parent. AS much as possible, I try not to use "no" and let him experiment. Don't see no harm in his playing with a broom (ofcourse I ensure it is clean) or his wiping poodles of water with a clean cloth or switching off lights in unoccupied rooms.

Showing a real microwave than pointing to a picture in one of those numerous colorful books meant for kids can be interesting. The move from Pune to Bangalore has turned me into a theoretical mom in some ways. We sat every evening in Pune over a cup of milk in the balcony while the horses and camels rode. And, here in Bangalore the only horses LG gets to see are either on TV or in books. It's back to urban life is all I can say :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lights On : Electrical Affinity

Hands stretched up requesting the first relenting adult in sight to lift him up so that he can reach for the switchboard. This is the latest obsession of Lil' General - to switch on and off the lights, exhaust fan and find happiness in such simple things of life. It has reached a point that after weeks of taking turns during the day engaging him in this activity, we have grown tired of it. Or more so I realised during my trip to my grand parents' last week.

LG's fondness for electrical appliances started a little after he turned a year old. It was the switches at first followed by powering on the microwave and turning on the AquaGuard to fill bottles of water. It was my mistake partly for I introduced him to these appliances and demonstrated the functioning a few times before indulging him when he requested. Soon, it became a habit and he would fulfil his duty of filling up water bottles every morning and rushing to the kitchen to switch off the microwave when it beeped. Did I forget he was a toddler who would extend his curiosity to other appliances as well? Now, he is a pro in DVD players, Cordless Phones, water dispenser, mixie, food processor, electric kettle, juicer, chopper with the latest addition being the dangerous drilling machine plugged onto an extension cord with no power of course. I never leave him unattended and all these objects are kept out of his reach.

The only explanation I have for his electrical affinity is genetics. My dad is so fond of wires and gadgets that he prefers their company to other living beings :) So much so that mom has recently had to earmark a wardrobe for storing his collection of wires - dig deep and you will find anything from a firewire to all types of chargers. On the other hand, LG finds pleasure in playing with pliers and drivers than his basket of toys. So, I guess it just runs in the family. And, no I'm not taking pride in this if it sounded that way!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rolling down the stairs in not pretty

I couldn't think of a better title for this post. As I play back the images mentally from last Wednesday, all that comes to mind is the shock post-event.

Let's begin from the beginning. My grand-pa and LG's maternal great-grandfather has taken seriously ill. He is in his early 90's; bedridden and barely mobile. With most of the family flying down to be with him, LG and I planned a sudden trip to visit him. Gone are the days when I packed in a jiffy and left on a couple of hour's notice unaccompanied giving little thought about the mode of transport. One of the ways how a child's entry changes your life. With incessant rainfall every night, bus travel was ruled out as my previous experiences have shown the shutters in private don't necessarily sheath the passengers. Booking a train ticket was not so much fun but I'm sure Lalu would disagree. With the brilliantly designed Tatkal quota system, no wonder the railway coffers have been overflowing. To cut a story short, LG and I got on a train one Thursday. How foolish to have assumed that trains these days do run on time. It was not so much of an ordeal to cart a 21-month-old toddler across the railway platform at 9:00 p.m. when the trin finally pulls lazily into the platform at 11:00 p.m. LG was not quite ready to get down on his feet in a strange place so he placed himself comfortably on my shoulders. Mistaking a special coach for 2nd A/c, one ws made to run down the platform with baggage on one hand and a toddler on shoulder. Not a pretty sight. Train travel as it is gives me the jitters. I'm so accident-prone on railway stations that I can't believe I made it unscathed this time. For the record, most visits to the railway station so far meant an injury with falling off the train four times, missing a chappal underneath once, and some more minor ones.

So, we reach the designated destination and all's not well afterward. Toddler tantrums at their peak make me reconsider my date of return. Days go by without having any meal but for milk. Come Wednesday and the mother of all incidents happen.

I'm sitting at the foot of the steps while LG climbs up the stair. Now, I've always lived in the first floor ever since LG was born and stairs are not new to him. But I never take a chance with the grill always pulled not allowing access or I'm close behind keeping a watch. He was not totally unaccompanied this time. However, this time I had this strange intuition it wasn't going to be alright. One thing led to another and before I knew he was rolling down a flight of 6-7 stairs. I was shocked beyond words. With my dad by my side, we were helpless as we saw him tumble down two steps more before we could lift him and rush him inside. He was bleeding profusely and the next thing I see, I'm covered in blood and so is dad. LG's mouth was blood-red. I removed a ice pack quickly as Dad placed him under running water. Within seconds, bleeding stopped. He was crying like mad out of pain. In the process, he had his front teeth chipped, lips cut deeply on the outer lip and inner jaws. The saving grace was he didn't vomit and didn't go unconscious. With bumps on his head, I took him to the Paed a few hours later after he settled down a bit. I called up his Paed at Pune and he prescribed a dose of paracetamol to control fever. The local doc prescribed Ibugesic which is usually given to kids who fall down. As always, it's the mother to be blamed for anything related to a kid. And, this one was no exception. If only someone would come forward to even try handling someone as hyper as LG by themselves for a day. I'm not complaining; I've hardly been away from him for more than an hour and half at a stretch since his birth. And, I can actually count the number of occasions when I've left him and gone to do chores. So. people please cut some slant. I am as much concerned for LG as any mother would be for her child.

Almost a week later, he has recovered but his deitary habits haven't. It hurts to eat.

There was a time when it seemed LG wouldn't talk. Ever. I tried everything and he just wouldn't go beyond the "bow" "bow". On a few occasions, I felt the dog he imitates was capable of uttering a sensible word or two but not my son. And, then I gave up. Because it didn't matter much. Throw in the combination of two three languages and you have a confused setting. We were doing quite okay communicating with LG through his actions that made the absence of words seem insignificant. Having said that, I can't say how elated I was when he uttered his first real word - "akka" nonchalantly in a sari shop like a pro as if he has always been speaking. In a matter of three four days he picked quite a few words and then it all stopped one day. This was when he had just turned a year old.

For the past eight months, it has pretty much been "bow" and variations of "bow" such as baby, bhabhi with the occasional "di","appy" for "apple" and "tree". This past week has been a surprise ride. It all started one night with "baaalish" for "barish" when it was raining cats and dogs. We were having dinner when Lil' General said it the first time. We literally dropped our plates hearing it. And then like a broken record, he stuck on to it through the week. His vocabulary is increasing now.

A neighbor stopped by this afternoon as I was feeding him lunch. She said, "Hi..LG." He winked at her and in his most casual self responded with a "Hi". The boy just doesn't stop surprising me. More than the word, it was his casual mannerism that had me in splits. Then this afternoon, my father-in-law was arranging the bowling balls counting them simultaneously. When he reached "nine" a second time, LG seconded him with "nine" and "ten". Great. In the evening, came out "one" and "three". Cool, I thought.

But the one word that steals the show is "oh..oh". Dropping all the food served first on to the high chair's tray and then onto the floor creating a huge mess is followed with this regretful "oh..oh" with hand over his mouth that almost says, "Oh now..Who the hell did this? I wasn't even aware..see what a mess mom." with full of empathy in his eyes for seeing his mom don on the role of a maid yet again mopping the floor for the Nth time.

By the time The Seniol is back for his vacation, his son would entertain him with enough words. I'm also forewarned of not using those words that I'd rather not like him to utter. No swearing days to let off steam - too bad.

Today was Ganesh Chaturthi and we did the usual pooja with LG contributing his bit in throwing fruits off the plate or plucking flowers or tripping on the floor a few times by mistake to bump his head.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

LG's demanding social life

A visit to all houses in the apartment building with doors open, running behind every child in his line of sight, playing with an unattended cycle or toy, greeting the gardener and all ladies employed for maintenance, interacting with the maids in his limited vocabulary with the aaay-oooyyy and squeezing a 3 hour nap to re-energise does take a great deal of time and energy; it's something that his aging mom finds difficult to keep up with.

LG's days are so packed with activity that my work has taken a back seat. I've still not accepted more than I can handle. With the limited work I've agreed to do, I stay up late night or wake up early morning to send in my assignments on time never taking a chance to keep it till the last minute. The laptop is still vulnerable and LG is of the opinion that moms are meant to play with kids all day lifting him at his wish to let him turn on the aquaguard or switch on the exhaust fan like a zillion times a day. Seriously, from the time his grand parents have come he has found a new way of getting things done. All he needs to do is go to his grand pa with raised arms and he is rest assured the genie will grant his wish. Without so much as flinching an eyelid or showing a sign of exhaustion, his grand pa lifts him to let him switch on the exhaust or plays to his whims and fancies of fetching a toy or opening a tight lid or let him play with the extension cord that he knows his mom won't let him. It worries me at times that it is not a good sign because he is at an age where he understands how to get things done and from whom. A "no" from me for something and he throws a huge tantrum which wasn't the case earlier. I would let him cry for a while for unreasonable demands and he would be fine. But, it's changing now.

The kids here ride cycles that LG has grown fond of. He doesn't have a similar one but he does have a horse at home that can be ridden. Similarly, there is another car which was gifted to him. I'm not for buying an expensive cycle which I know he would ride for not more than a day. Things that belong to other kids are always appealing to kids than the stuff they own. Grandparents wish everything for their grand kids - natural instincts arising out of not having bought for their own. You know where this is heading..should I or shouldn't I? I know I can find a middle path.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A toddler's itchy bum

For the past fortnight, LG's posterior has been a cause of concern. Itchy, irritating he finds comfort on being rubbed or massaged with oil. We took him to the Ped when it got worse one day last week as he couldn't lie down to sleep comfortably. Finding a satisfactory Pediatrician is akin to going on a treasure hunt. If you find one, you are lucky else it's just a case of hit and trial. Having been very fortunate in finding cool docs at Trichy and Pune (after two trials ofcourse), the Bangalore experience wasn't all that great. We emerged out of the Doc's room and The Seniol and I wore a glum look; not because of what the Doc had diagnosed but the cold attitude that didn't exude any warmth. Post-consultation analysis and we found the missing factor - "not making us feel at home with no effort of making a connection." With the Pune doc, we always came out smiling no matter what the situation and time of day it was. We found comfort in his tell-it-as-is reassuring words with the offer of calling him anytime of the day/night. And, yes, he did take his calls. ALWAYS.

Back to the Bangalore Doc for the bum problem. He diagnosed it could be because of a) worms or so most docs would say he thought. b) insufficient intake of water. c) slow digestion.

He prescribed some tonics - three to be precise - to boost his digestion. The long list of medicines was my first turn off. Unconvinced with the diagnosis, I refrained from using the prescribed syrups or tonics. His digestion seems alright and so does his frequency of urinating. Have you ever encountered such a problem with your toddler? Any suggestions for a good Ped in Bangalore (East)?