Wednesday, February 18, 2015

For my own good

My Dad is my biggest hero. A lot of what he says gets etched in my brain. I wish I could capture everything he says in a permanent, easily fetchable pocket of my brain. So I could take out a useful nugget from that pocket whenever I need it. My Dad told me this thing recently. About anger. We all know being angry is less than desirable and it causes us to behave in less than desirable ways. But we focus so much on the negativity that comes with the display of anger that we forget to focus on the root of the problem. The very presence of that anger inside you. People see it when it comes out, and condemn it. But nobody sees it when it doesn't come out. When it stays inside us. When it goes from being a tenant to an owner. That is a much bigger problem than the undesirable display of anger. Because the anger that doesn’t get displayed eats you. The very presence of that anger inside you is what you should keep an eye on. Always.

The thing about anger is that it is one of the worst things that can happen to our attitude and body. It is a bad bad thing. The problem is, we all understand it. We all get it. But we still get angry because it is us being human. But my problem quickly goes from me-being-angry to anger-controlling-me. It decides what I say, what I do, how I behave. Everything. And I have a teeny-tiny problem with this phenomena. With this silly anger controlling me.

The point is to prevent the existence of that anger seed to begin with. Find alternates to be feeling, not just being, angry. The point is not necessarily to succeed in this task. Not 100% of the times anyway. The point is to keep trying. That’s it. In my books, trying is way way way more important than succeeding. Not trying makes me sad. Failure does not make me that sad.

So, how do I prevent myself from getting the angry vibe in me to begin with?

I have always struggled with that thought. What can I morph my anger into? An activity maybe? Sketching. Quilting. Writing. Sleeping. Running. Analyzing. Analyzing what is happening, why it is happening, how to get out of it? Or talking maybe. Talking to someone about what’s getting me to the point of no return. There are so many ways to transform anger into something that is far more desirable. There are so many ways to deal with it and with potentially high chances of succeeding as well.

But getting angry is so much more easier. Why not take the easier way out? Why take the more difficult route of transforming it into something else? Why take the road less travelled? The only reason I keep coming back to it is because the person benefiting the most from this activity happens to be me. If it is something that is doing me so much good then it is probably worth looking into. I understand the supreme importance of investing in myself. So gotta give this one a little more love.

So the next time some inconsiderate driver, who happens to be texting while driving, merges in my lane right in front of me almost hitting me, I will simply slow down. And curb my impulse to honk and flip them and yell “what the **** !?!”  Road rage - not nice.

Or next time my toddler-mutant-ninja-turtles give me some of their action, I will just ignore it or pay no attention to it. Wise people say that the best way to combat the tantrums is to ignore them. Ignoring will ensure that I am not unnecessarily angry and losing my temper at my tiny little angels. 

I am hopeful that I will get somewhere with this attitude.

I do have to give it to Siddharth. He very rarely gets angry. He is a very high energy, on caffeine (when in fact not on caffeine) kind of a guy. On a side note, it comes in really handy when trying to keep up with the toddler energy level. Anyway, back to the point, he is a high energy, high drama kind of a person. But he rarely gets worked up. The actual real worked-up. In which he is angry or upset about something. Rarely happens. I think he is able to do it because he tries to find reason in everything. Well, there lies my problem. He tries to understand why someone did something or said something. He has his bar of “things that are acceptable” and “things that are unacceptable.” But he keeps that bar for himself. Especially because he is high on this-is-the-right-thing-to-do. He does not keep this bar for other people. Not in its true sense. Not enough that it comes in between him and accepting other people as they are. I don’t think I fully get it. But I deeply appreciate it. This one time I told him “they just called you selfish and money minded” or other such untrue adjectives to describe Siddharth’s personality “how can you not be mad ?!” His response completely baffled me in the most positive way because it almost always goes like “What people say describes their state of mind more than it describes me. Their words don’t change who I am . If I get angry then I will be more like them than me. What’s the point in that?”  Makes total sense, Sir. But easier said than done. It is one of the many reasons I respect and look up to Siddharth. He doesn't try to change himself based on what other people say about him. He doesn’t try to fit into their mold. He doesn’t respond to people’s angry-words and that is why he doesn’t get worked up. I think it gives him the ability to be himself. True to himself. Uncomplicated. It is a trait I wish I had. It is a trait I hope our kids have. It is a trait I am extremely envious of. I respect it. I draw a lot of inspiration from him. 

When a day gets windy or complicated and wants to make me throw a fit - not giving in and not getting mad will really help me get closer to the real me. I will try to remember it. Constantly. 

It is for my own good.

Family Time to Rescue...Always

My Positivity

As it turned out, Sammy can use the school bus after all. One way. From school back to home. I have never gone through that drill myself in this country. Or even in India. We never took the school bus because we lived really close to the school growing up. Anyway, so I have never experienced the school bus myself. I believe you build memories in a school bus. Good. Bad. All kinds. Anyway, I digress. On Sammy’s first day of taking the school bus, I was extremely curious. Nervous. Excited. I reached the bus stop 10 minutes early. I took my camera with me. I was thinking that I will capture that moment when Sammy is about to climb down the bus stairs. When the bus stopped, the driver indicated that Sammy is at the back and I should go pick her up. I walked in on a sleeping-Sammy. I unbuckled her from her seat and took her out of the bus. Of course. None of it went as I had planned. She didn’t walk out saying “I’m back!” But it was perfect. The Yellow Bus. Yay!! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I’m back!

This is what Sammy says when she leaves the room and comes back. With her hand on her chest. Full determination. Anytime of the day. Anyplace in the world. And it stuck. Of all her shenanigans that she effortlessly performed at my parents’ home in India, this is the one that has become a lasting memory for my parents. Now every evening when my dad comes home from work, he says ‘I’m back,’ with his hand on his chest. Like it is a proud moment. And one of extreme importance. Clearly, it is. It replays every single day at my parents’ these days.

Well, so when I held a pen after almost one month and started to scribble on paper, secretly very proud that I haven’t forgotten to write, the first thing I could see flow on paper was ‘I’m back!’. Yes. I can still scribble and form somewhat meaningful sentences with pen and paper. It is a massive relief for me. It is about time.

I have had so much fun this past month. Spending time with the family is one of the biggest luxuries for me. Especially when my family lives so far far away from me. The luxury becomes sweeter with all the fond memories, good food, endless gossip, never ending conversations, and occasional bickering. I miss it so much now and am lamenting under the false pretense of extreme jet lag. I think my jet lag is much worse than Samaira’s, who by the way, is handling this whole thing much better than I am.

So, I’ back. Jet lagged. Wistful. Nostalgic.

Siddharth and Rehan did fly back to Seattle ten days before Sammy and I did. That somehow shocked everyone. ‘Rehan is so young. How will he stay without you?’  Well, these were my questions too. Me flying back with both the kids was not an option, in Siddharth’s mind at least. I think he was secretly worried that a 20+ hour journey with two toddlers all by myself would make me want to run back to my parents and I will never make it back to Seattle. So, well. We decided to do this social experiment, in which Siddharth would team with Rehan and fly back 10 days early. And Sammy and I would spend a few more days in India before flying back. One of the many perks of getting laid off. I was worried because Rehan is somewhat of a mumma’s boy. I am definitely hopeful that it will change. Because I don’t want him to be a mumma’s boy. I want him to be his own boy. But that’s besides the point. The point is, he tends to get really attached to me and does a wee bit of yelling and shouting if he doesn’t see me. Well, little did I know that all my speculations about ‘How will my Rehan do?’ were going to go down th drain. Within a day of reaching back to Seattle, Siddharth told me that Rehan is doing just fine. He is happy. He is eating. He is playing. He is running around. He is excited. He is cranky. He is throwing tantrums. Just as expected. Perfect. I was relieved to know that. But a tiny part of me went ‘Whaat !?! When and how on earth did that happen ?! What happened to all his love and craziness for me ? Already over!!’ I thought I had 5-6 more years before that would happen. But for the most part I was relieved. In fact, very happy. Daddy and Rehan formed a great team. They had a blast. I was so proud. Of Rehan. And of Daddy.

Daddy and Rehan ?!

You know you have been married for a long long long time when you start referring to your spouse as Mom or Dad. Even when not in front of the kids. I have known my parents to do that ever since I can remember. I just saw myself refer to Siddharth as Daddy in a complete sentence. In the absence of my kids. When did I start referring to Siddharth as Daddy? Oh dear! We have clearly been married for a long time. Feels kind of unbelievably unrealistic. But very tangible nonetheless. 

Samaira did miss Siddharth a lot toward the end of the trip. Especially when she was upset and didn’t get what she wanted. She would then cry ‘Daddy, Daddy’ in such a tortured voice that I would start to feel guilty. Of nothing specific. Guilty nonetheless. Isn’t that how it goes though? Unnecessary. Unwanted. Stupid. Guilt. Showing up absolutely uninvited and unapologetic. In our face.

But this made our reunion even sweeter. Four of us at the airport. Sammy and I were filthy, stinking and tired. Siddhu and Rehan were refreshed, excited and patiently waiting. Let me tell you one thing. That phrase ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is not a myth. It was so nice to see Rehan and his antics in person and not on Skype. It was so so so nice to see Siddhu! Sammy saw Rehan and Siddhu from a distance and ran toward them. Rehan started running toward me. Full speed. I was almost scared that one of us would get injured. As soon as he came close to me, he did not even pause for a microsecond and ran past me. Like that suitcase next to some random stranger was his destination to begin with. You want filmy? We got filmy right in our household. We can deliver. Very soon all four of us were giving each other a very tight, awkward group hug next to the carousel, waiting for our luggage. So warm. So sweet. Our reunion. 

On a completely unrelated note, I have come to a conclusion. Siddharth and I have somehow managed to produce the most rowdy and tantrum-susceptible kids. Anytime we are out in the open or anywhere in the general society, our kids prove it over and over again.The other day, we were at our local grocery store to get some stuff. Sammy decided that she needed to look up some stuff in the toys section and Rehan decided that he wanted to buy some kitchen supplies. Neither of which, by the way, were on our shopping list. I played a slightly selfish card right then and told Siddharth that I was going to finish the grocery shopping (the real shopping) and he should go get the kids. What was I thinking? He somehow managed to convince both the kids to roam around in the furniture section of the store. At least they were within a common zone. They stayed there for full 22 seconds (which might as well be a lifetime in toddler speak) before they decided to run off in opposite direction. Again. This time two kind strangers came to Siddharth’s rescue and helped consolidate our kids. Thankfully I was done with shopping and we were two for two again. Take that kids. But how is it that I always see other kids behaving at least somewhat decently all the time. Remember that ‘somewhat decently’ has a whole different meaning in the world of a parent. These other well behave kids listen to their parents.They hold their parents’ hands in public. As opposed to try to pull away and run off as if we have held them hostage to our parental love and care. They don’t lie flat in the middle of the road to demonstrate their disproval. They don’t sit down in the elevator, refusing to move or be touched just when we arrive at the right floor. In a full elevator, may I add. Thankfully we have kind strangers helping us out and telling us ‘Oh, my kids do this too.’ God bless you kind strangers. 

Siddharth and I have conversations after conversations about disciplining our kids. We are constantly trying to figure out and evolve our parenting style. There is this world of ‘don’t do this,’ ‘don’t eat that,’ ‘don’t touch this,’ ‘don’t say that,’ ‘don’t endless-verb this.’  We have definitely heard about the positive parenting style. About not using the word ‘no’ and other such negatives. Use the reasoning and logic. Why something is not the right thing to do. Etc. Etc. We happen to fully agree with this style too. In theory. But when your child dips paper towel in a glass full of milk, for the third time, just for fun, then that little voice inside you emerges way more amplified than you ever imagined yelling ‘NO.’  Then there is the world of ‘whatever! I don’t care.’  We have clearly been in both the extreme zones of don’ts and whatever. But Siddhu and I always strive to be somewhere in the middle. That thing about picking your battles - no joke, people. No joke. We try to pick our battles with the kids (and with each other :)). 

At the end of the day, however, my Toddler-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles fill me up with so much mush and sappiness that it has got to overflow. In the middle of a scene that most people might refer to as an out-of-hand-mad-chaos, we find our sappy moments. Siddharth and I steal a glance. We smile. Or giggle. Or just laugh out loud. And there is always that sweet little pumpkin of mine, who can come right in front of my face, tilt his head, and say ‘mumma’ in the sweetest voice possible. And then there is my sweet apple-pie who gives me a hug with both her arms around me. A very meaningful, heart-melting hug. If you know what I mean.

That smile. That hug. From whatever it is that I am going. It brings me back into the moment. I’m definitely back.

Sammy at the airport at 3am. That's how she rolls.
Rehan at the railway station...curious