Two is company, three is a mutiny

On most days, I have absolutely no idea how to be a parent. I barely know how to do marriage. But then, work on that can wait, because husbands take a long time to grow up. Children, on the other hand, grow up before you can manage to finish reading that book about how to talk so kids will listen. Or what to expect in month 31, week two, which is where I am at with Re currently.

As you can see, I didn’t really do my research on the baby thing. I do know a thing or two about how to write good resumes or how to make a mean banana and chocolate chip muffin or hummus you’d want to pay me for. Or how to find the best outdoorsy things to do with my child or how to make friends with mommies I would normally never speak to if I weren’t a mother.

What then, am I doing writing this parenting column? I have to reason it out in my head; Help came in the form of a line Kareena Kapoor throws at Imran Khan in the recent Ek Main Aur Ek  Tu. I am the ‘perfectly average’. I don’t do too much or too little of anything. I make mistakes, I sound foolish, I am never afraid to say “I don’t know”, and I will try anything. I am constantly amazed at parents (and it doesn’t matter if they are ahead or behind you in the baby hierarchy) who have the answer to everything, from visual stimulation to building motor skills to diffusing a tantrum. Okay, I should have read those books, but Re never let me. Also, a random page of one of them said something to the effect that you must maintain a Zen state of calm whatever the child may do. That made me swear off the said books completely.

The funny thing is, the more time I spend as a parent, the more flummoxed I get. Children have that knack of messing with your head just when you think you’ve figured them out. I decided I will simplify parenting into a neat little rule that I pin up in my little head, and it is this: For every Kodak moment, there is an equal and opposite What The @#$% Moment.

So, if the child gives a sterling performance at the table, it might turn into a demon during a bath. Or, if it sits pretty in the car seat, wearing its seat-belt without a whine, it might want you to stop abruptly in peak traffic as it wants to count the windows in a house it fancied or say hello to a “red tree”. Or, if it planted a wake-up kiss on your cheek in the morning, it might suddenly announce it wants to wear its pajama suit to school. Or, if it eats real food with a flourish, it might have a problem with the dal premixed with the rice. Or the chapati touching the sabzi. Or, if it is one of those children who can play for hours on its own, it might turn into a screeching banshee on a perfectly planned play-date with your best friend’s daughter.

There are days when I can laugh at it. There are days I can only cry. There are also days when my irrational self wants to outdo the child in the tantrum. Okay, I am not as mean as I sound. Children are mostly cute. A good camera, great lighting or interesting props make them cuter. The point is, WTF moments are rarely photographed. People are inundated with smiley, happy, picture-perfect baby moments and they think this is the way it is. And they are convinced, “Oh, yes, we want one of those!” And a baby continues to be born every four minutes.

Recently, we had a potential WTF morning. It was a Monday, and the husband and I had woken up early for Oscar watch. Nervously, I made our beverages (coffee, him, tea, me) and sat myself down. Half hour into it, Re walked in, beaming, noticed the parental units riveted and announced it’s Madagascar (favourite breakfast cartoon movie) time. The husband and I tried to pretend we didn’t know what he was talking about. We got him breakfast, settled him at his table and continued watching the Oscars. A few shrieks and fist poundings on the table later, the tension in the room was palpable. We decided to try something new. We held our own. It was no longer about Jean Dujardin vs George Clooney. Or Meryl Streep vs Glenn Close. It was us against what we made. Surprisingly, we won.


(This article first appeared as a column in the Sunday Eye of the Indian Express on 11th March 2012)


15 thoughts on “Two is company, three is a mutiny

  1. Hi Lalita,

    I read your above write-up yesterday in the Sunday Eye magazine of the Indian Express. I loved it. I could completely identify myself in your situation beacuse I’m also a mother of a toddler myself. He is a darling who is very curious. But he can aslo be naughty, stubborn, sensitive, cranky and extremelly demanding. Handling him and satisfying all his needs is not easy and I’m constantly trying to find new ways to do.

    And Lalita, my son doesn’t let me write! Can you believe, it has taken me half an hour to just write the above lines? In between typing I have also been playing car-car, drawing circles, looking for an orange coloured car that dosn’t even exist!

    Anyways, well-written post and a lovely blog. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading and sharing my experiences.
    Best wishes,
    Sowparnika Pavan

  2. Hah! dats pretty close to my mom & I choosing to watch our favourite Hindi serial over the 345th re-run of ‘Ooh Ooh La’ song on TV, which is my 20-month old daughter’s favourite.

    PS: What’s my dog doing in your photograph 😛

  3. I want to catch you and give you the biggest hug ever!! ..and I’m not even the hugging kind! Yes! I’m not perfect! Perfectly human yes! The song that helps me through most days is “Some days are diamonds…by John Denver” I don’t have a particularly difficult son, but yea there are those times where you just want to tear your hair out! I think that what makes me a decent mum is the knowledge that I will never ever be the “Number 1 mum”…I’m just doing the best I can…and at the end of the day he still loves his mama!

  4. Hi Lalita,

    I am a mother to a two-year-old. I stumbled upon your blog recently. I must say it’s wonderful and you just put down all the right things. I am always at loss of words and when I am reading the blog I am most often thinking ‘oh this is how I want to say it’. So great job!

    I had seen you briefly at Hindustan Times where I also worked before quitting to be a full time mother. I now multitask as a Mommy and a content writer.

    Keep up the good work.


  5. Hi Lalita,

    Are you going to write on a daily basis for the Indian Express? If yes, I’m gonna subscribe to it. Please lemme kno. 🙂

  6. I am going to print and frame this sentence: For every Kodak moment, there is an equal and opposite What The @#$% Moment. And hang it in my toddler’s room!
    It pretty much sums up my life nowadays 🙂

  7. Brilliant… Loved the concept of WTF moment for every Kodak moment. These days I wonder when the bomb will drop… especially when she has been an paragon of virtue the whole day… 🙂 And when it does, at least I am prepared.. Thank you for naming this moment. Stumbled across your blogpost and have been reading the posts the last couple of days. They are so much fun. Thank you for these…

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