22 December, 2007

Pets, Pets and More Pets !!!

Our home is fast turning into an animal farm !!!!

The saga originally began with a single goldfish in a fishbowl. And this was way back in 1996. And then we had this notion that the single little fish was feeling rather bored. So then, along came many little goldfishes. Since then, there have been many many batches of little goldfishes who have grown big in the aquarium at home.

Many months back, we brought home a little turtle from the pet shop. And this little turtle was so tiny that the kids aptly christened it Tiny Timmy. Months have flown past and since then, Timmy too has grown. Grown enough for us to shed the “Tiny” which was attached to the name Timmy. Now, it’s just Timmy.

A few weeks back, we’d been to the pet shop to get some more goldfishes for the aquarium since the existing fishes are not “little” fishes anymore. While at the pet shop, we happened to glance at the turtle pen (have I mentioned before that Vic and me have this natural penchant for attracting trouble) and found one little baby turtle prancing around merrily up and over the shells of all the other turtles there.

What can I say ??

It was love at first sight :-D And when we got back home that day, much to the delight of Appu and Abhay, a little turtle too had come home with us. This little one has been christened Tammy. I simply don’t know what it is with the siblings and their weakness for rhyming names. They seem to find rhyming names irresistible. So now we have two turtles too, for good measure.




Well, the story does not end there. The siblings seem to be hell bent on turning our home into a farmhouse of sorts !!! A week after Tammy came home, the siblings were found arguing furiously over something. I did not dare ask what it was. But then, as they normally do, both came over cribbing and complaining.

Appu : Mum – I’m just trying to explain to Abhay that it would be nice to have a cat at home.

Abhay : No !! A doggy. I want a doggy.

Appu : Abhay. Cats are soooo nice. They are so warm, so cuddly and they meow. They don’t bark.

Abhay : I like bark. I don’t like meow.

Appu : If you like bark, why don’t you sit and bark. Why do we need a dog ?

Abhay : No. I cannot bark. Only doggies bark. I don’t like meow.

In the midst of all this, no one actually noticed the horror stricken mommy who was perched on the sofa. Mommy, who was so totally unable to comprehend where this talk about getting a cat or a dog originated. Mommy, who, for once, was totally frightened into shock or shocked into fright, whichever way one looked at it.

Imagine a house with two boisterous kids and a barking dog and the meowing cat. Thank the Lord that fishes and turtles do not make noise.

If there was a spaceship planning a take off to Mars (or any other godforsaken planet, for that matter) and looking for volunteers from Earth, Mommy would certainly have jumped onto it without a second thought.

Cats and Dogs !!!! Hmmmpppffff !!!!

But despite all the heated protests and the furore and ruckus that ensued, eventually, the kids got what they wanted.

Simple as that !!!

And Mommy and Daddy managed to stay sane through it all. In fact, we still are – sane, that is !!!

How did that happen ?

Simple answer – Serendipity !!!!

We were out shopping the other day (without the siblings) and Vic happened to glance at some totally cosy looking blankets and decided to buy two blankets for the siblings. I happened to be in another section and was blissfully unaware of the blanket shopping that was going on.

And when I finally did see the blankets at the checkout counter, nestled in their individual bags, I could not help but smile – no – make that a beam :-D

Like Lawrence Block once said

Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.”



If this was not serendipitous, I honestly don’t know what else to call it !!!

All those barks and meows do indeed sound like a very very distant dream right now.

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10 December, 2007

Another Mommy Blogger Airs Her Views

There’s been a lot going on in the blogosphere over the past few days. A lot of raving and ranting about mommy bloggers and how the mommies are violating their kids’ privacy by blogging about them and posting their pictures and what not. Someone even spoke of legislating against mommies writing publicly about their children and posting their own kids’ pictures on their own blogs.

Why ?

Because someone is apparently under the impression that parent bloggers are not aware of the dangers that exist or lurk – in the form of child offenders or perverts. Or better still, that such parents are aware of the dangers in the form of child offenders and yet, by their own will and volition, choose to expose their children to such dangers.

Here are my two cents .....

Everybody, just about everybody out there is aware – very much so – of the fact that the world is indeed full of perverts. And that these exist at almost every turn of life. Be it parks, be it supermarkets, be it public washrooms, be it public transportation – can one say with one hundred percent certainty that offenders or perverts don’t stalk these places ? And if the answer is in the negative, then what is a parent to do ? Stop sending children out to play in the park, stop taking children out for walks, categorically advise children not to use public washrooms, refuse to take children out to the beach in the summer, refuse to let them wear swimwear while on the beach ...... the list is endless.

My question is, where’s all this going to lead.

On the issue of kids’ privacy, where exactly does one draw the line ?

For example, when my children were babies, there have been many a times when I’ve used a diaper changing room at the airport or a diaper changing table in one of the public restrooms in a mall. Now when the need does arise – and we are talking of a baby or a toddler here – what does one do if you are not the only one in that diaper changing room or that public washroom ?

Do you go ahead and do what’s best for your baby – as in changing his/her diaper

or

Do you ask everyone else in the washroom to please leave because by them being around and by you changing your baby’s diaper there – you are violating your kid’s privacy

or

Better still – do you reason with your year old baby that he/she is going to have to stay in a poopy diaper till you get home or get to the confines of a place where you would be alone with your baby – so that the baby gets the privacy that he/she is entitled to when his/her diaper is being changed ?

Yet again, with regard to putting up the kids’ pictures on blogs – going by the above contention – a child’s picture should not, I categorically repeat, should not appear anyplace. Simply because it is dangerous. We should probably not let our kids’ pictures be taken even at social occasions because such pictures have a tendency to go into social circulation.

Looking at the other side of the same coin – how many parents would allow their - say 7 or 8 year old child and his/her friends to play for long lengths of time with the doors completely closed and for added measure, locked from the inside ?

When children are around 7 – 8 years, they are at an age when they are quite aware of themselves, of people around them. They are also capable of minor independent decisions.

Yet, how many parents would allow their 7-8 year old child and his/her friends to play behind closed doors ? If the answer to this question is in the negative, going by the above contention, does this not construe a “violation” of the very same privacy that the children are supposed to be “entitled” to ?

The seemingly obvious conclusion that can be arrived at is that parents do take decisions on “behalf” of their children. Parents often take decisions “for” their children, bearing in mind the best interests of the child.

For instance, even now, while travelling on escalators Abhay knows that he is expected to hold an adult’s hand. We do not allow him to just hop on or hop off or jump around on the escalator. Same policy applies while getting into the MTR or getting out of the MTR. Because there is a gap between the train and the platform which is dangerous where children are concerned.

Now just because we follow these simple rules and draw the line where we do with our kids, we do not expect the rest of the world to follow suit. There may be a lot many parents who are a lot stricter than we are and a lot many other parents who might label us “overprotective”. But fact remains that we follow these simple rules, because, as of today, they work for us. Likewise, other parents too, be they a lot more lenient or a lot more strict, follow their own will because it works for them and their kids.

And while stepping into the blogging world, or even after having stepped into the blogging world as a mommy blogger or a daddy blogger, I am quite certain that each and every parent blogger has given the issue of “what to and what not to”, due consideration. I’m sure they’ve worked out the factors for and against a particular issue in deciding their “comfort levels”.

Each and every parent who blogs about their child have different levels of comfort w.r.t the privacy issue. While some parents are comfortable with putting up pictures and using real names, some parents are not. Each one to one’s own – is what I would say. Everybody is aware of the changing nature of today’s world. Everyone knows that dangers do lurk at just about every corner. Yet, one lives by one’s decisions. “Live and Let Live” is something I’ve always said. So why should it not apply to the blog world ?

Through all this, there is one thing that strikes me the most. The erosion of that subtle element called “trust”. While it is a given fact that in the world of today, values such as morals and scruples are indeed taking a backseat to the more material values, the element of trust seems to be next on the list. Very sad, but also very true.

Another issue that has been raised is how boring mommy blogs are. Are parents forcing anyone out there to come read their blogs ? Are blogging parents going out there as a brigade saying “You’d better come read my blog, or else ....” Sounds remarkably immature to me.

So then, where does the question of complaining arise ? Why whine about how there are home remedies flying about and how one is sick to the core of reading up on such remedies and how one is sick of hearing about parents exclaiming and gushing about the cuteness of their children and so on and so forth ? End of the day, fact remains that nothing is being pushed down anyone’s throat here. So if one does not like what one is reading, stop doing so. There are choices to be made – so go ahead and make yours. And once you make your choice, go in peace. Don’t moan, bleat and gripe and try and make someone else a scapegoat.

When one goes out with one’s children and an acquaintance comes up and says “Awww – your kid looks so cute” – what does one do ? Brush them off brusquely and tell them to mind their own business ?? If the answer to this question is no – then my question is – why target mommy bloggers by saying that they blog because of their incessant need to hear how cute their kids are ?

Another point that has been making the rounds is about a dilution of identity – when it comes to be called “so and so’s mommy” and not by your own name. I’d say that as long as one is confident of one’s identity and of the niche that it has carved in one’s life and as long as one is sure of what one is doing – there is absolutely no question of a dilution of identity. Your identity is what it is, is what it has always been, is what it will be. You are “you” and nothing can take that away. So linking our children’s identity to our own is by no means saying that our identity has been “taken over”. Quite the contrary. If someone were to refer to me as “Appu’s mom or Abhay’s mom” (and this does happen, for the most part), I would tend to see this as an addition to my persona rather than a dilution of my identity.

And last but not the least – Tiny Tidbits is most definitely a mommy blog.

So why then have I chosen to put up this post here ?

When my children grow up and are capable of reading this and understanding the sentiments behind this post, I’ll leave it to them to decide whether I’ve been violating their privacy all along – by writing about them, by maintaining an online journal about them and their anecdotes and by posting their pictures on this online journal.

Something tells me that they wouldn’t care less !!!

And that is what I call - Trust.


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05 December, 2007

Oh !!! The Nutty Nutty Siblings !!!

Appu gets back from school before Abhay does. Invariably, when I get Abhay back home, Appu waits for him just outside the elevator doors and the moment they see each other the lobby turns into some kind of Red Indian warfare environment. No – they don’t fight. I’m trying to paint a picture of the amount of noise and sound that is generated by the two of them. There is a lot of screeching and a whole lot of hoopla and jumping and “I’m home” and “Yaay – You’re home” flying around in the air.

Makes me wonder as to how our neighbor puts up with the all the clamor and din that these two create. But sweet lady that she is, she actually gives both the siblings a sweet smile whenever she lays her eyes on them – be it on the road, be it in the lobby – wherever.

Detour
--------
Now this sweet neighbor of ours is totally terrified of spiders. In fact, when we were decorating for Halloween this year, we’d put up a huge paper spider as part of the decorations. I was perched rather precariously on a ladder, decorating the top of the door when a scream almost made me topple off the ladder. A cautious peek confirmed that it was our neighbor. She refused to even unlock her door and had to be escorted by one of her friends. Why ? Because there was a paper spider hanging in the lobby.

End of Detour
----------------


All the clatter and racket that the siblings create led Vic to remark the other day that in her next life our neighbor, in addition to spiders, is going to be mortally terrified of children too.

That should give one an idea about exactly how boisterous the siblings can get.

The other day, Abhay did not find Appu waiting for him near the lift door and he all but barged home screaming “aparna” “apaaaarnnaa” all the way. This is what followed

Abhay : Aparna Apaarnnaa – you know – food is over.

Aparna : (a huge question mark all over her face) Food is over ???

Abhay : Yeah. Food is over.

Aparna : Where is food over ?

Abhay : At school.

Aparna : At school ? Your school ?

Abhay : (the picture of confidence) yeah.

Aparna : Oh My God !! No food today ?

Abhay : No Aparna. No food today.

Aparna : No food in school today ?

Abhay : No. No food in school today.

Aparna : Are you hungry or something ?

Abhay : No. I not hungry.

Aparna : But no food today at school, right ??

Abhay : Yeah no food today.

Aparna : (a picture of concern) You mean you did not have a snack at school ?

Abhay : (puzzled face) I had my snack at school.

Aparna : (indignation stamped on her face) But you just said no food at school ?

Abhay : Yeah – no food. Today we have transportation.

Aparna : Transportation ???????? I know you like your cars and buses but do you eat them too ??????

Abhay : (with a straight face) No Aparna. Food topic is over. Now we do transportation topic.

Aparna : (realization dawns bright and clear) Ohhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Mommy was to be found rolling on the floor with tears of laughter streaming uncontrollably down her face.

The other day found both siblings furiously arguing over something.

Aparna : You want to eat that.

Abhay : Yes. Yes. I want to.

Aparna : You eat one and I eat one OK ?

Abhay : OK Aparna.

Aparna : Abhay move out of the way. Let me get it out of the fridge.

Abhay : No Aparna. First we go to the spaceship.

Aparna : (puzzled) Spaceship ?? Why do we need a spaceship. It is in the fridge – not a spaceship.

Abhay : No Aparna. Lets go. Lets go.

Aparna : (exasperation beginning to show) G.o W.h.e.r.e ????

Abhay : Into the spaceship.

Aparna : Abhay. I am going to eat this right here – on E.A.R.T.H.

Abhay : See Aparna. M.A.R.S – that is Mars. So we go to Mars in a spaceship to eat M.A.R.S.

They were arguing over MARS Bars which were in the fridge.

Aparna : (thoroughly exasperated) So Abhay tell me – if we have to eat icecreams – will we need to go to Antartica ???!!!!

Scenes like these are pretty much common nowadays.

They haggle, they argue, they fight and end of the day, fact remains that they cannot do without each other.

When Aparna had been away camping last month, she was away from home three days and two nights. Abhay was all questions. Where will she stay ? Will she stay in a tent ? Where will she eat ? Does the tent have a toilet ? Where will she brush her teeth ?

She got back from camp before he got back from school. And when he got back from school and found Appu waiting for him near the elevator, the grin on his face said it all. “Aparna ..... you come back ?” was all he could manage with a huge 100 watt grin on his face.

Mommy gave them a half hour tops. Well, we did not have to wait that long.
Ten minutes and they were haggling furiously over something.
A further ten minutes of sulking and being cross with each other.
Half hour later the walls were resounding with yells of delight and gurgles of laughter.

Such scenarios are pretty commonplace nowadays. For what seems like most of the time, they are at each others’ throats like a cat and a mouse. Yet, when either one of them is at the receiving end of something as small as a stern look or something serious as a reprimand from Mommy, the other sibling is seen jumping into the fray with something like “Mum – don’t talk to Aparna like that” or “Mom – don’t get mad at him” or the like.

Having grown up an only child, I’m now getting to experience the vast panorama of the relationship between siblings in all its colours. Right from the fights to the sulks to the tears to the smiles to the laughter to the banter to the din to the clamor to the fun to the arguments to the exasperations to the competitiveness.

And as an added bonus, they are both nutty and batty in their own ways. I came across an anonymous quote recently that applies to Appu and Abhay perfectly.

It goes something like this ....

“Sibling to sibling they will always be,
A couple of nuts off the family tree.”


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