Thursday, May 5, 2016

Keeping it real

Long time no post. I figured I will start with what happened since the last post. So we are 5 now. Two vs Three. Four Hands vs Six Hands. And I have to admit the struggle is real. All of me wanted to debunk the myth around three-under-four. Not that I wanted to prove it is easy. Just prove that we were able to glide this phase with a little bit of dignity. Grace. Or something like that. But boy oh boy! Is it hard or is it hard!?  

I sometimes get transported to the time when I wasn't a mom yet. But being a mom was still on my mind. All the things I said to myself. 

I will never let my kids eat fries, junk food and unhealthy food.

I will never say “no” to my kids. 

I will not shout at my kids. Ever.

I will never punish my kids. I will not give time out to my kids.

I will never let my kids cry, and pick him/her immediately to console.

My kids will be the most disciplined kids out there.

I will always cook fresh meals for my kids.

My kids won’t be those screaming, shouting, yelling kids you see on the streets and restaurants. 

I will never lie to my kids to get them to do stuff. 

I will be the best mom out there. Basically.

Because you know, all this modern parenting and attachment parenting and stuff. I was such a good parent until I actually became a parent. 

Fast forward now. 

My kids eat all the junk food known to mankind. Fries are their absolute favorite. Rehan could survive on sweets alone. Until some time back, Sammy was repulsed by any green and nutritious looking food. So much so that she refused a cake this one time because it had green icing on it. Rehan now refuses to eat anything that’s not sweet. We won’t tell his dentist.

Every other word coming out of my mouth is a synonym of “no.” I try to be creative and look for other words so I can convince myself that at least I am not saying “no.” But who am I kidding? As much as I try to talk about the consequences and tell them “It’s not a good choice,” I resort to the regular negatives. Don’t. Stop. Never. Don't you dare. Don't even. These words are very typical in my vocabulary now. On top of that, these kids have the why mania. I try to be a good mom and respond to all their whys in the most respectful and intelligent way possible. But I have my limits. Depending of their questions, my mood and the time of the day I respond with a “just” or “I don’t know” or a shrug. Although Rehan is quick to reciprocate with “But mumma, I asked you why.” But how do I respond to “Why is this a couch, mumma ?!” 

And do you even want to guess whether or not I shout at my kids. Heck yes, I do.

I do try to punish my kids. While some people believe in “talking it out” with their kids, others believe in straightening them with shouting-screaming-scorching words. I haven't figured out a punishment for my kids yet. What I mean is, I haven't figured out what my kids consider a punishment yet. Most time outs are fun exercises for them and they actually enjoy it. If I stop talking to them for some time then they go to each other for more fun. So as it turns out, what I consider punishment for them is actually way more fun. Its almost like they are showing me the middle finger in their own playful way. 

I remember someone telling me “I can’t imagine putting my kids in day care. What if they are crying and the teacher can’t pick him/her up because she is busy caring for another kid.“ In my mind I was like “How did I not think of this concern before enrolling my first kid in the day care!?” And now that we have three, of course our kids cry. And we let them. In fact when Rehan is crying for what we think is no-reason-whatsoever, we tell him to go to another room to settle down before coming back to the room until he is ready to talk. I had someone visit us recently and witness the spectacle that we are during dinner times. It was one step short of food flying around like it would in a space shuttle or in a gravity defying area. To top it, Kabir was screaming and was almost about to fall off his rocker because I forgot to buckle him. That did not stop me from finishing all the vegetable chopping I had to, because I knew I would be done chopping and be there to pick up Kabir before he could fall. And because secretly I know I am a super mom. But our guest did not know this, clearly. So they are staring at me in disbelief with their eyes saying “Lady, if your hands are full, do you need me to lift your infant so he doesn't injure himself?” My eyes communicated back to them “I got this…kind of.

Don’t even get me started on discipline. Our kids are not disciplined. At least not with us. They are slightly better behaved when we are not around. But ever so slightly. I have some folks give me advice based on their expertise because their kids are so well behaved and sorted. But none of that advice works on my kids. Or maybe it is me. Oh, well! I haven't given up. But my way of disciplining could look a lot different from your way of disciplining, to the point that it may look the opposite of disciplining. But believe me, I am trying to discipline my kids.

I am not a firm believer in fresh meals. I believe in left overs. I could almost call it my religion. I love left overs. Fresh food is over rated anyway. In fact my attitude towards kids’ meals is so unsettling for some folks that I almost suppress my natural instincts around people when it comes to feeding my kids. I try my best to let my kids eat on their own. And on the days they don't eat on their own, I let them be. I don’t wait for them to eat before I eat. I don’t cook any special ultra-nutritious food for them and just feed them whatever we are eating, which, let’s be honest, has questionable nutrition content to begin with. It bothers me to sit around waiting for kids to finish their meals, and spoon feed them if they aren't eating. Does that make me a bad mom? God, I hope not. But maybe it does.

Oh, I forgot. Let me introduce you to my kids. Their middle names are screaming, shouting and yelling. Respectively. Or in no particular order. Who cares? But wait. Those are their first names. Because I don't believe in middle names. Point is, they shout. They shout when they want something, they shout when they don't want something, they shout when they get what they want, they shout when they don't get what they want. You get the idea. They shout. Especially, Rehan. He is an angry shouter. Sammy is an experimental shouter. And then I shout back “Stop shouting!!!” You are probably wondering if it works. And the answer is - no. It absolutely does not. Being patient works sometimes. But I don't always have time for patience, you see.

Lying is a touchy topic with me. I can tolerate almost anything in my life but for lies. I have been honest to the point of being stupid. I used to either not speak, or speak my mind. But not lie. The worst thing for me in a relationship was lying. I have always hated being lied to. If I did not like you, chances are you would have known it. I am now getting better at this whole lying thing, because, well, life. But in this context, I lie to my kids. All the time. I tell Rehan, “Wear your shoes otherwise bugs will take it away.” When I am all out of patience, and time, and motivation, and energy, and he still has plenty of all of the above, I use his pretend-fear of bugs to get s**t done. He doesn't like bugs. So if he needs to eat his dinner but he wants to eat an apple instead, I tell him it has bugs so he can eat his dinner. I don't think it will last long though. Because off late he has started picking on what I am doing here. And he insist on eating the buggy-apple because he thinks he will like it more than dinner. 

So. Do I get mom of the year award? I am so bummed I don’t. But I think it is more important to live. So I will do without the award and the accolades for now. As much as I wanted to pretend to be modest, yet boast about my perfect family of five, all the struggles are so very real. I don’t need other people to judge me because I am constantly judging myself as a mom. Am I breaking my kids? Are they going to be ok? I could be doing so much more with them! I am in awe of and am surprised by parents who can’t stop talking about how awesome their kids are and what a great job of parenting they have done! That kind of confidence in themselves as parents is mind blowing. 

In fact, I often wonder how Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton deal with their toddler Prince George. I think he is roughly the same age as Rehan. When I saw Prince George greet President Obama, I wondered what Rehan would have done if he were to meet the President. First, I wouldn't let that happen. Because, toddler tantrums. Doesn't Prince George throw any fits? Doesn't he cry and yell when he meets strangers? Or when he doesn't get that one candy he probably needs for survival? How can a toddler be graceful when he is a threenager! Doesn't he embarrass his parents? Doesn't he make the Duke and the Duchess hide their faces behind the curtains and pretend like he is not their son. How do they do it? That will always be a mystery to me. A mystery I probably don’t want to solve anyway. 

While there are days when unicorns don't feel real anymore. Wait, did you just say they aren't real anyway?! While there are also days when I am trying to remind myself of the rainbows and the baby feet and the chubby cheeks to get by. While I oscillate somewhere between trying really really hard to be patient, and wanting to kill the next person who wants to give me advice on how to feed, or raise, or treat, or discipline my child. I do get some very real rewards. 

It is rewarding to see Kabir being a panacea for Sammy and Rehan. Kabir is their life line. They are majorly obsessed with him. It is almost scary because ever since Kabir was a month or two old, Sammy wanted to lift him and run with him in case she saw us coming in her direction. She still wants to hold him. She has understood that running with him is not a good choice. <Wink>. Rehan comes to Kabir and talks all about his sorrows because he didn't get the ice cream he so badly wanted. Tough life. The point is that it is heart melting to see them laugh and cry together. It is lovely to see Kabir being so loved by his (barely) older siblings. 

It is rewarding to see Sammy and Rehan be excited for each other. To see them play with each other for the 10 minutes in the 24 hours that they are not fighting (of course there is just a pinch of exaggeration) is my absolute favorite. I take Rehan to pick up Sammy at the bus stop every day and that’s one of the happiest times for Rehan. As soon as he sees Sammy’s bus in the horizon, he starts jumping until the bus stops in front of us. It involves about 20-25 seconds of continuous jumping. But he is beyond excited to see Sammy. In fact he can’t stop talking to her as soon as he sees her. “Sammy, I got hurt here. See. That’s right, Sammy. I got hurt here. I fell down over there. I was running and I got hurt. Do you want to play with me Sammy?” He goes on and on and on.

These rewards manage to bring all the mushy gooey feelings in my liver. Because my heart is too full. 

Her Expressions: "I will play nice for the next 2 seconds". His Expressions: "Get me out of here". My Expressions: "Hurry! You have the next 2 secs before they run in opposite direction".
His Expressions: "Lady, do you even know what you are doing?"


Trapti said...

Truly and Honestly ... My comments .. Hahahahahahahahaha ... miss you guys like crazy ... I am afterall an integral part of the family ... and my middle name is "Crazy" !!!

Tarang Shah said...

It runs in our family 😀

shortindiangirl said...

Haven't read it all because my screen-time for the day is running out, but I'm loving connecting with you. Where do you live ? Can we meet ? Hugs.

shortindiangirl said...

And oh, the lying. We try to streamline our parenting lies into plausible logical sequences. Kalyan, do you want to get a shot ? No ? Then eat your food - because if you don't eat your food properly, then you have nutrition issues and then we'll have to tell the doctor and then you'll need to have a shot to be fed directly through your stomach...

Tarang Shah said...

I just saw your comment! I would love to meet you. Are you in India already?