Lessons from a toddler on moving countries

BY GAURI DALVI

Flying with a childLast week we flew all the way from a summery Jo’burg straight into a walk-in freezer, Chicago. Everyone had warned us about this Windy City. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous. But the adrenalin rush to see a new city, a new country had already taken over.

Little I, like a parrot would rattle off ‘chiiiiicaaagoo!!’ when somebody asked her, ‘where are you going?’. Even when we were actually heading for a supermarket in Jo’burg.

Her excitement for an unknown land made me smile. And I decided that I will only follow her excitement as my cues on what to do next.

Children have no fear of the unknown. Every thing is exciting for them. The staircase, the puddle, the swing and a new country in our case. They are born risk-takers. Because if they didn’t take that risk of standing on the iron rails of a gate and swing how would they ever know what it felt like? This was a lesson learnt: Don’t fear new experiences, new places, new weather conditions. Because as we get older, we begin to fear the unknown.

It was minus12 degrees outside and tons of excitement inside.

I asked little I if she wanted to go for a walk. And she screamed, ‘Let’s go!’.

We were all born with the belief that the world is a beautiful place and there’s a lot of good in it. But as life happened, we stopped believing in the goodness. We began to see the world with a single lens. We forgot about that wonder in our eyes. But children are highly motivated. Their side is the brightest side of life. Everything is awesome there, even that humble spoon.

As we stepped out on the icy cold street, little I stood numb, she held my hand and was ready to walk. And I was reminded of the next lesson. Life will be sometimes sunshine, sometimes biting cold but we must get up, get out and never stop experiencing those wonderful things that await us just around the corner, a beautiful bakery in our case.

 

About the author:

After working for a decade as a writer in advertising in three different countries, Gauri Dalvi is now going back to the start.  When she is not dancing to her two-year old’s tunes, she writes and doodles about their adventures together on Huffington Post (India) and yowoto.com. She also blogs at www.giddymum.wordpress.com.

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365 days of being raised by my child

365 days is a long time when you are a parent. It’s a long time anyway, but hell, when you are a parent, you can’t have much unaccounted-for time, like time when you pass out in the delirium of youth, time when you sleep through the alarm, or the child’s nocturnal pee break or hear him grinding his teeth, or moaning in the middle of sleep due to a bad dream or sometimes, even hear him talk or laugh and decode what he is saying.

They told me one year is all the sleep I would lose when I became a mother. It is now five going on six, and I haven’t slept straight eight hours on any given night. Except the few nights that I have been away and I am grateful for those. I have now come to accept that parenting is a journey that is as long as you want to be. I also know I have signed an open-ended contract, so I have no use-before date.

This year, I have, for the most part, been practically a single parent, as I decided to move to teach in a school and live on campus with Re. I realised if I didn’t do it, I would always wonder what stopped me and I didn’t want to be in that place. And it is not necessarily this stint that has taught me a few things, but here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Having children does not necessarily make you understand them better. Some really apathetic people have kids and it doesn’t seem to change anything.
  2. Not having children does not necessarily make you less aware of them. Most of the people I would implicitly trust Re with do not have kids.
  3. People are always happier when children fit in, when they “love” going to school or to activity class or playgroup. It just means less work for the parent.
  4. Parents have really short term memory when it comes to children – why they cry, how often they whine, why they have separation anxiety, and so on.
  5. It is always easy to over simplify another’s child. But there always seem to be layers of explanation for the simplest things when it comes to your own.
  6. Everything seems easier when you can speak about it in the past tense.
  7. It is rare for children to only be seen and not heard, unless you are really intimidating or there is something really wrong with what you are doing.
  8. We are all secretly gratified when our children take after us, even if it is something about us that we are trying really hard to fix.
  9. Whenever we see a really happy child, we get more deeply connected to our own void and realise it is our own doing.
  10. If each one of us was more in touch with the child within us, we would probably be happier adults.
  11. We often underestimate tears and overestimate bravery. Not crying is not being brave. If more adults could cry in the free spirit of children, we would be able to untie the knots within, perhaps be a little more happy or a little less bitter.
  12. In our over-emphasis of children saying and doing the right thing, displaying overt signs of politeness that often doesn’t have its roots anywhere, what we are actually doing is rendering our children into clones of ourselves.
  13. We often choose the wrong means to get our children to do the right thing.
  14. Sometimes all you need to do for a child is just be there.
  15. We all need to learn how to truly lose ourselves from children.
  16. Sometimes, it is important to break the rules to just know how meaningless it was to blindly follow them without questioning.
  17. It is important for a child to celebrate every scar, every wound. Every scar is a story, an accomplishment. What growing up does to us is make us hide our wounds and scars, pretend to be brave when we are not.
  18. Every day is a new world. You don’t need to wait for 31st December to bring in newness. The year is filled with pockets of newness every single day.
  19. It’s never too late to start over. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after.
  20. It is important to scream. And shout. And let it all out.

Happy new year all! It has been so lovely connecting with so many lovely people all over the world and I have learnt so much from you and your children.

(This post first appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 29th December, 2014)

 

Diary of a 4.5 yo and his mamma

Mamma, I did a funny fart!
What’s a funny fart?
The fart was singing a song!

 **

Let’s eat.
No I want to play with my toys for some time.
Ok then let’s eat at 8 o’clock.
No, let’s eat at 20 o’clock.
Perfect!

 **

Is it holaday today?
No it’s school day.
But I want it to be holaday.
But it’s school day.
Then I’m going to turn my teacher into an alligator.

 **

Waiting for school bus.
Re: Mamma, lets play dance dance. I will hold you and you must twirl like a pwincess.
Me: But I am not a princess.
Re: It’s okay, you can twirl.

 **

Re: Is today Saturday?
Me: No, it’s Thursday.
Re: Then I’m going to call it Saturday!

 **

So I get home after two days at the Hyderabad Lit Fest to find that the boy hasn’t been bathed. I ask him, “So, why haven’t you had a bath?”
“Because you was apsent.”

 **

Fridge had six macaroons.
And then there were two.
Me to Re: Did you eat the macaroons?
Re: No, I didn’t eat them. My mouth eated them.

 **

Can I watch some Floating Palace?
But you have to eat.
I can eat and watch.
Ok.
But when Sofia dances, then I want to dance with her.
Hmm.
Don’t say hmmm, say okay.

 **

Mamma, I want to be a mermaid.
But yesterday you wanted to be a butterfly!
Yes, but today is holaday.
Whatever.

 **

“Look, a full moon,” I point to Re, excitedly.
“That’s not the moon. That’s a moon monster.”

 **

Me to Re: You look worried. What happened?
Re: Pwincess Vivienne has turned into a butterfly!
Me: Oh, don’t worry, she’ll turn back into a princess.
Re: I don’t want her to turn into a pwincess. I also want to be a butterfly.

 **

Missed the bus.
Me dropping Re.
“What are you going to tell the teacher?’
‘You say mamma.’
‘No, you say. It’s your teacher.’
‘We missed the bus because we were watching Jake and the Neverland pirates!’

Satyamev Jayate.

 **

“I can’t go to school because I have turned into a fairy!”

Welcome to my week!

 **

8 am fruit politics:
Re: This is not a watermelon.
Me: There’s only yellow melon today.
Re: I don’t want to eat this. I ony want red watermelon.
Me: Then don’t eat.
Re: Okay. I will eat. But I’m going to call it papaya. I’m telling you now ony.

 **

Re and I walking down the stairs, me in front. I’m wearing a maxi-dress that’s trailing behind.
Re: Mamma, your dwess is doing jhadoo to the steps.
Me: Oh, ok, I will walk properly.
Re: You can also lift your dwess and walk. Like a pwincess.

So I walked like a pwincess and felt really good.

 **

Today is teleshunal day.
What’s that?
We haffto wear dhoti-kutta.
Oh! Traditional day?
Yes, that onwy.

 **

Boy poured some of his Bournvita into my tea. Here mamma, have teavita!

 **

Boy points to poster of ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ and says, “That didi is so happy with that bhaiyya!”
Yes, she is, I say. “I must tell Yashraj.”
Who is Yashraj, he asks. “Is it her dadda?”
“Yashraj is everyone’s dadda!”

We are talking movies! This is the day I’ve been waiting for:)

 **

Boy and I in doughnut shop. Boy gets his regular ‘chocolate with speckles’.
Older boy walks in with his dad, and elaborately chooses five ( and gets a sixth free). Decides to show off.
‘I got six and you only got one, he he he he.’
Boy thinks of appropriate retort. Descends from the bar-stool and stands full length in front of older boy ( who is roughly half a foot taller) and says, ” I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your doughnuts down.”
Thank you, Three Little Pigs!

 **

Why are you sad mamma?
I’m not sad. I’m pensive.
But you are not a pencil. You are a mamma.

Lessons from my three-year old

Write it down, my friends tell me. Re spews new gems every day and most of the time, I can only stare in awe and wonder how little minds work. Every since he acquired a voracious vocabulary, he can’t seem to cease showing it off at any given opportunity. Most of these are during car-rides — to the park, to the beach, to school, to naani’s house, to a play-date, and sometimes, to nowhere in particular. Some are on lazy afternoons, where we are both chilling out, each doing their own thing, and frequently (and sometimes too frequently intersecting). Since I have outgrown the diary phase, some of these made it to Facebook and Twitter updates, but I have promised to make more and more of them into the blog (for now) and a book (for later).

Dec 11, 2012

8 am negotiation:
You also come with me in the school bus, mamma.
Oh, I can’t, because the bus is only for small people. I am big.
Then when you will become small?

***

 

Dec 8, 2012

“Mamma, we can’t go higher and higher into the clouds and their mammas and daddas. Ony birds and helicopters can go.”
“Who said that?”
“I said that. And now please close your laptok!”

***

Dec 8, 2012

Mamma, can I have one laddoo?
No.
Then can I have two, thwee…six laddoos?

***

Dec 6, 2012

So yesterday we put up our Christmas tree, fairy lights and all.
Boy exclaimed, “Look Happy Dilawi came on the Merry Kissmass twee!”

***

Dec 5, 2012: The universe explained by a 3-year old.

“Look, white sun has come. Then yellow sun will come, then clouds will come, then their mammas and daddas will come, then moon will come, then sun will go home to his mamma and dadda, then stars and dark will come.”

Nov 29, 2012
1. Doggies do potty everywhere because they don’t have hands for potty seat.
2. We must ony take flowers from the ground. We must not pluck from the twees because flowers want to be with their mammas and daddas.
3. We must not take piktures of sleeping cats and dogs othewise they will get distubbed.

***

Nov 23, 2012: How being with a child gives you perspective:
Boy and I walking back from the park. We spot an open manhole. I think, “God, an accident waiting to happen!”
Boy says, “Look mamma, potty seat is not there!”

***

Nov 21 2012

The bath saga continues:

Back to Bombay. Back to bath saga. I leave boy alone ( as instructed) in bathroom for half hour with the essentials. I return. Boy is bone dry.
“What have you been doing?” I ask.
“I was just putting water on the soap. It haffto take a bath no?”

***

Nov 16, 2012. Goa.

Conversation with the sun at sundown:
Okay sun, you go home now. The moon has to come and the stars haffto come. See you tomorrow. Take care of yourself, sun

***