Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Many many languages

We have decided to bring up DD to be bilingual at home. So I speak to her in Tamil, and DH speaks to her in Malayalam, our respective mother tongues. Since I know Malayalam well, I also try to repeat whatever I tell her in Malayalam. As a result, she has picked up a bit of both, although she speaks mostly in Tamil, with snippets of Malayalam thrown in. I sometimes wonder if she will end up being confused about the 2 languages - but I know quite a few bilingually-raised children who speak both languages fluently by age 4. So I reasoned to myself that she will be fine. Now that DD has started day-care, she is being exposed to English. And is picking up quite a few words and phrases from there. Little did I know how muddled DD's mind was, till this happened:

Me : Enna cartoon pakkare? (Which cartoon are you watching)
DD : "Many many Noddies" (This being the title of the Noddy cartoon she was watching)

The next day, we were watching flowers in our small garden below. And in an attempt to boost DD's mathematical skills, I ask her "Chinnu, evvlavu poo irukku, count pannu" (Can you count the number of flowers? "Poo" meaning flower in Tamil & Mal). Pat came the reply: "Many many poo-s". I was dumbstruck and then almost broke my sides laughing.

Well, if more than one Noddy is termed "Noddies", DD had assumed logically that more than one "poo" is "poo-s". I comforted myself thinking that her languages may be a bit muddled, but her logic and reasoning were working quite fine.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wicked Maniac

Potter-mania has gripped me. Tomorrow is the D-Day. Yes, I have pre-ordered the book. Just dying to lay my hands on it. But my problem begins after that. How am I to find time to read it? DD normally clamors for every minute of attention whenever I am around, and it's going to be very difficult for me to sit and read peacefully for even 30 mts.

And that's what I have been wickedly plotting about. On how I will distract DD to other things and find time to read. Her nanny is off this Sunday and I am thinking of taking her to an enclosed childrens' play area for a few hours - all because I am salivating over that uninterrupted time to read the Deathly Hallows. Another wicked thought that flashed through my mind was to pretend illness on Sunday so that I can get DH to take over DD for the whole day! Of course, I know he is gonna see right thru it and so, this plan doesn't work at all. As a last ditch effort, I have even got DD a new book and a new Barney DVD, and kept them away for the weekend.
And if all these plans fail, I will have to stay up all night to read the book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


There are some signs that you choose to ignore, because you don't want to see them. This was one such. I knew I had them, I saw them every single day and yet chose to ignore them. Well, I couldn't wish them or worry them away, so I didn't bother.

Until the other day, when I walked into the beauty parlour to get my eyebrows done, and the young, enthusiastic girl who was doing it poses the question: "Ma'm, how about coloring your hair?". I might not have looked very receptive, so she adds "Not a lot, you know, we can just do streaks for you, enough to cover the strands of grey". I remember mumbling something inaudibly about trying it the next time around.

So it's official and people have started noticing it! Beyond age 30, most of the world, or at least most of the world on the other side of 30, looks at you as if you are a triceratops that somehow lived too long. Mad Momma had done a post on a list of things to do before 30. Great list, but aahhh,.. it was a brutal reminder of the 30-divide. And now, this incident to add insult to injury.

I only hope i don't grey so fast that when I drop DD at school, her friends ask "Why does your grandma drop you always - where's your mom?"

Friday, July 13, 2007

Working from home

The last couple of weeks, I have started working from home partly. On most days, I get back from office by 3 PM or so, and then continue working from home for the next 2-3 hours. I also try to work from home fully for 1 or 2 days a week. Until this, I never gave a thought to the complexities of working from home. Now as I have started doing it, I realize how tough it is. Some of the key pain-points I had:

- Settling down and Ergonomics: We have a PC and an office chair, but it is not a very comfortable to be in for long periods. The fact that I use my laptop at home (all data related to work being in it) is more of a discomfort, since I have to displace the desktop monitor, arrange my lappie and dock all the stuff in. I know this sounds like I am ultra-lazy, but I really don't fancy doing this everyday.

- Phone: I got into a teleconference with a huge team.. and didn't realize how much noise my fan was making, until someone in the call asked "What is that background noise? Is someone outside?". I sheepishly said it was my fan and switched it off. Even the A/C makes considerable noise, and sometimes the rain that patters down on the a/c unit on our window is such a nuisance. I realized that I certainly need a telephone instrument with a "mute" button. The background noise will still come thru when I have to talk, but at least I can mute it off otherwise.

- Answering the door-bell: People tend to assume that because you are home, and back from work, you are free. So initially I ended up answering the doorbell to this neighbour who came for a friendly chat, the apartment security who came to report on something and the ironing lady who came to collect clothes. DD's nanny would invariably be doing something with her and I found myself answering the door quite often. I have come to realize that this will not work at all. So I tell the nanny to assume that I am not around, lock myself in the room, and have curbed my tendency to poke my head out every time the door bell rings.

- DD's expectations: She is not used to me working from home. Previously, when I was working full day, whenever she saw me walking in from work, she knew it was "Amma time", in which she would monopolize me and shoo away (or scream/yell away) anyone who as much as tried to come near me. MIL bore the brunt of this most of the time - she would typically try to explain some of the day's happenings to me as soon as I came back. DD would scream and yell at her grandmother for stealing her air-time. I would politely pretend to listen to her, since my attention would also be fully on DD. Well, I am digressing - So, now when I come back home, DD still expects it to be "Amma time". And I just don't have the heart to disappoint her. So I give in for 30 mts, then divert her onto some activity, and slither away to work when she is busy. So far she has not protested and has been quite nice about it.

-Perceptions: Somehow, working from home gives people the impression that one doesn't have all that much to do. And I hate this perception. DH is in the same industry and knows very well that it is tough to work from home. Even so, one morning, he says " Hey I need this after-shave, missed buying it last weekend. Can you do me a favor - you get home early anyway, could you buy this for me?". I pounced on him and gave him a huge lecture on how people assume that "work from home" means "no work" - suffice to say that the poor man now thinks twice before he makes a statement about me being "at home".
It is totally a different matter that I found time to stop by Health&Glow on the way home and buy a shampoo for DD and some knick-knacks for myself the next day - hee hee - Point is that DD cannot make assumptions that I am jobless because I bought her a shampoo.

So if any one of you still thinks that work from home is easy, and fun, know that you are horribly wrong. It is definitely advantageous in a situation like mine, where you want to be physically present at home. But if you are a control-freak like me, it is so hard to be physically present in one place and not respond to the stimuli around you. And it takes some practice and patience to be able to function at the same productivity from home.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A game of chess

DD engrossed in a game of chess :-) From our vacation in Munnar

Where has my little baby gone?

I have been going through a surge of emotions these last 2 weeks, often swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to another, so much so that DH thinks that I am finally losing it. And I think I agree with him this time.

The whole turmoil started in early June, when I started sending DD to a play-school. I know that most people consider 1 year 10 months too early to start a kid even on playschool, but considering that my MIL was going back to Kerala, and the fact that I could not digest the idea of leaving DD alone with her nanny all day long, this was the best I could do. So, after agonizing for many days and nights and contemplating leaving my job (for the zillionth time since DD was born), I decided to (a) send her to play school for a few hours every morning and (b) move to a lighter role at work, something that would allow me to get back home by 3-4 PM and continue working from home. This way, I planned that DD would be alone with her nanny for a window of only 4 hrs, of which she would be napping for 2 hrs.

After filtering through half a dozen schools in our neighbourbood, I had narrowed down to 2 schools. One was a play school running out of a house, had a small play area with sand, slide, caged rabbits et al for the kids. But the insides of the school were a bit weary with age, not so bright. But I was okay with the teachers that I met. Now this school's philosophy was that any kid below age 2 should be accompanied by a parent or nanny during the session. Initially this did not sound like a big problem to me, since the nanny could anyway be with DD.
The second place was even closer home - actually on the same street as the first one, both being 5 mts walk from my home, one of my first criteria during the filtering. This one was a full time day-care that provided half-day options. The curriculum was U.S based and the entire place was done up very bright and in cheerful colors. It was centrally air-conditioned and very clean, provided CCTV and promised to make live feeds from school available on the web - a la US style. The only thing I felt it lacked was a bit of open space for the kids. The other thing I viewed with mild inhibition was the fact that this day-care insisted on providing its own snacks and food for the kids.

And so after long debates and discussion,most of which involved me talking animatedly on the pros and cons and DH nodding silently and thoughtfully with his cuppa chai (so much so that I felt the debate and discussion was actually with myself), we decided (he finally opened his mouth and gave his view) that the first school had an edge over the second because of the open play area and because they have been around for a longer time and have the experience. So what if the nanny had to accompany DD for 2 months?

And so we started. On the first day, I went with DD and sat with her through the session, which was short and sweet, conducted by the head of the school - a very seasoned, experienced lady who sang and danced with the kids. From Day 2, the other kids were on their own while DD continued to be accompanied by me or her nanny, since she was the only one below 2 years in the group. The days that I went in, I found, much to my disappointment, that the teachers that handled this group were not the ones I had originally met!! I was completely shocked - these teachers had a language/diction problem, could not handle the crying children well and totally lacked the ability to hold the kids' attention. To explain what I mean, whenever I sing a song to DD, I sing it in a loud voice, with a lot of expression and action - and she stares at me, trying to absorb it all. Children love exaggeration and need to see a lot of action/expression to hold their interest. The teachers in DD's class would start singing "Old Mc Donald" in a whisper, with an expression that one has at a funeral - and whatever little attempts they were making at singing, would promptly be drowned in some unsettled kid's tears. DD would sit glued to me or her nanny, and refuse to get off our lap.

At first I thought this would change with time, but as weeks rolled by, and DD started even resenting the word school, I realized that this will not get us anywhere. To add to the complications, MIL had already left. I had taken a month off from work, anticipating that DD would take that much time to settle in school.. and now was soon running out of that time.

3 weeks into the school, I decided one day that this was not working. I had to take a chance and try putting her in the second school cum day-care that I had considered. That was the only option I had, apart from giving up my job and staying home with her. Well, the nanny was great with her and she too loved her nanny, and many friends pointed out to me that I could leave her with the nanny, but to me, that was ruled out - for a few hours, yes, but not for the whole day when I was at work, close to 9 hrs. You could ask me what difference it makes - but I guess it is in the mind, and my mind concocted all kinds of stupid images. And so, the decision was made to shift her to the new school. At least I thought, it looked more bright and cheery inside.

We went on a week's vacation to Munnar in June end. I really needed a vacation, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but well, that is fodder for another post. To come back to this, DD started going to the new place after we came back. The first day, when I left her inside, she cried. And I had to come out, since this place insisted that kids will cry the first few days and that they will take manage the kids. They would call the parent only if the kid got into uncontrollable crying or wheezing. I felt a tear rolling down my cheek as I went out - it was so damn difficult to let go. I felt I was the most wicked parent in the whole world, leaving my baby to cry in a strange place, with strange people. I sat waiting for the clock to tick away and ran back to pick her up after 2 hrs. She came out smiling, but told me she had cried in school (yes, she definitely knows how to make me feel guilty). Day 2 was better than day 1 - I had expected her to protest loudly and cry on day2, since she knew from the Day1 experience that she was going to be left alone. But she only whimpered a bit as she was taken over by her teacher. DD continued to get better each day, and today, when DH dropped her at school, she actually turned back, gave him a sunny smile and walked away into the play-room. He came and reported this to me, and I felt a barrage of conflicting emotions - can you feel happy and sad at the same time? I felt just that.

Happy that she had settled down comfortably- something I had prayed so much for. Sad because in a way, she has grown up. She was not my clingy baby anymore.. I could suddenly visualize her growing up, passing many years and stages and leaving us with a smile, to build a life of her own. I remarked so to to DH, half-expecting him to say that I was mad, but he calmly said " Yes, she will. And why are you feeling sad for that?". It wasn't me wallowing in sadness, but some part of me missed the loss of innocence that came with her growing up. Some really selfish part of me that wanted to enjoy that innocence that is portrayed in her deeds like biting my nose (yes, she does.. and proudly says "amma mookku kadichu"). If growing up is about making her own decisions, then also I think she has taken the first big step - by going to the school of her choice, rather than ours!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm alive..

I haven't posted anything for more than 2 months now. There were so many changes going on in my life and I was trying my best to cope with all of them. It was not that I did not have time, but I just did not have the energy to write.

I am quite sure that the few people who used to visit my blog, would have stopped long before. I almost felt tempted to stop writing for good.. But then something inside me kept nudging me to write.

To list some of the changes in the past 2 months:

- I had a change in my workplace, moving out of one project to another
- My MIL, who has been helping me out with DD the past 9 months, went back to Kerala
- DD started play-school
- I started exploring part-time/flexi-working options to manage work & DD

If anyone happens to read this post, I hope they would understand how stressful the combination of the above changes would have been. In any case, I have managed to survive these changes.. and thrive. Will write more about the details in further posts.

To mention the happier moments, we went on a week's vacation to Munnar. It was the PERFECT getaway. It was also our first vacation as a family - DH, DD and myself. And I came back feeling fresher than I have in the past few months.