Category Archives: Motherhood

First-borns – Guinea Pigs?


Yesterday my first-born turned ten. And we (claim to have) successfully completed ten years of parenthood.

Has she been lucky or unlucky? In my opinion, for her it has been a combination of both.

How is she lucky? Usually the elder ones are the centres of attraction; they get all (or too much?) the attention from the parents and from the relatives too, if they are the first ones in a generation. They enjoy a lot of privileges – too many toys, dresses and other accessories. In fact it was we who were celebrating our new designations as papa and mama! Every achievement or turning point in the eldest ones’ lives is exaggerated and celebrated with all the pomp and vigour.

When it comes to the second one, the excitement would be slightly less. The parents have already been there and for them it is merely a repetition of the first episode. But sadly they are too busy to remember it’s the very first time for each of the younger ones. Being the second-born I have been through it all. (Eldest ones out there, I can read your thoughts.)

And there are a lot of health benefits too. They will be made of healthier and better components of life. The later ones are born to older and more tired parents.

[The given link will enlighten you more on the topic of birth order.]

But here I am more bothered about the seamy side of the first-borns’ lives. For the naive parents it is a time to experiment upon a hundred new things, certainly out of their love and eagerness. I must admit that bringing up my big girl I have committed a lot of parenting errors, mainly in the two crucial areas – health and education.

As tyros in that new phase of life we were naturally over-concerned about each and every aspect, especially her health. We surmised that every sneeze, cough or runny nose would end up in pneumonia, and rushed to the doctor who was only too eager to administer heavy doses of antibiotics. The recurrence of the ailments taught us some valuable lessons equipping us better for the second one. It made me bold and taught me how to resist temptation to grab the medicines each time.

And the second most fatal mistake I committed was the over-enthusiasm about her studies. When she got confused with P, b, d and 9, or when she flipped over certain letters, (at the age of three!) we often freaked out as if she was going to be doomed. When she could not discern the basic differences between numbers and letters, faltering at the questions like “Which is bigger – 2 or 7?” we seemed to be anxious about the Board after ‘12’ years!!  While we were passionately carrying out our duties, for her it must have been hell!

After her last PT meet (grade 5) as I was proudly looking at the 100% score in her Maths paper, I once again realized the benefits of intruding less and leaving everything to her. It was the fruit of her own hard work.

At times my younger one has to be satisfied with the used toys and dresses. However she enjoys a happier and more carefree childhood – only because her parents’ attention is divided and she has an elder sister who was already ‘guinea pig’ged!

Happy birthday dear! Thank you for all the great lessons you taught me in a decade’s time…

They don’t love me…


The misery of a century reflected
On her pale, scared face
When she said, “They don’t love me.”

And thus goes her story:
“I wash my clothes,
I make my food,
I help my mother
I am big enough
And know my duties.
I try to study well,
I am not naughty,
I never tell lies,
I obey my parents,
But they don’t love me,
I don’t know why!”

No dear, they love you.
(She had no evidence to believe so.)

I am not their child
Even yesterday my mother told me
“You were bought from the market
For five bucks.”
She repeatedly tells me,
“Go get yourself run over by some vehicle
You bitch, you wretched creature.
You were not born to me!”

She used to fry fish for me
Nowadays she does that only for my brother.
She flogs me with a hanger,
Burns my skin,
Curses me daylong,
Sometimes makes me sleep in the kitchen.”

But why? WHY?

I sometimes get poor marks.

So study well.

But last day I got 10 on 10
Then she said, ‘You cheated.’

What about your father, dear?

When he returns from work
Mother reports my performance
And he ‘whips’ his share
Using his belt!

I don’t want the school to be over
I can’t think of going home
I prefer week days to weekends!

She was just nine.
She was the only daughter.
They were her biological parents.

Then why……?
I have no answer,
Neither did they.

Interventions helped.
Realizations,
Remorse,
Penance,
Reconciliation.

Happy ending.
Hope it lasts.

Dear teachers,

If any one of your students is often found unusually gloomy or naughty, take him/her aside for a little heart-to-heart talk. She may be a victim of child abuse. And you can be of some help.

(100% true story from the city where I live. She is just as old as my girl, whom you see in the picture.)

When the Home Sleeps


 “Don’t touch that!”

“Stop fighting!”

“Will you keep quiet for a minute?”

The parents with hyperactive kids cannot help asking such questions repeatedly. As long as the kids are awake they will be always after something – usually something that pesters or increases the work load of the mothers.

They start some kind of a game for which they scatter a whole sack of ‘what-they-call’ toys. After two minutes they lose interest in the game and switch over to a new one, with new ‘toys’, in another part of the house, orphaning the first set of toys.

It will be hardly ten minutes before you see them engaged in drawing or craft, preparing for a new collection of mess.

The games (most of them without any prescribed set of rules) always go beyond the expected levels. The game with building blocks may need a bucket of water – for an innovative game which they only know (may be they are building an underwater colony). The tent game will often end up in pulling down a whole shelf of books.

The culmination of the drawing game can be a whole wall of graffiti and the craft work can spread over to the bed spreads and sometimes even to the school books of the elder one.

Anyway, you cannot relax as long as your kids are at play because you could never predict what sort of transformation a game might undergo the next minute.

We worry and whine incessantly over these little issues. But will we be happy otherwise – if the house is shrouded in pin-drop silence and if things always stay in their place as if in a museum? No. I have that realization each time when one of the kids falls ill.

By the grace of God it happened very rarely all these years. When one kid is inactive the other too naturally withdraws. The sight of the toy-bags stowed away is traumatic. I feel the toys long for the kids’ touch – let it be loving or fatal. I long to see my little ones explore the cupboards for cookies. I ache to hear them shout and scream playfully. When they are away or silent, I feel deprived; I don’t have anything to do or anyone to shout at. This peace, this tranquillity is heart-rending.

My home sleeps.

Well, these are the moments we discover the real meaning of life and the futility of perfection. A house becomes a home only when there are kids to wake it up from sleep!

Week’night’ Worries


 Floors, wash basins, tub, sink, stove, sofas, tables etc. – clean
 Gas, lights, fans, a/c – turned off
 Windows and doors – shut
 Everything for tomorrow – ready
(Are you a career woman with kids? To apprehend this write-up fully, you need to be one.)
Some people fall asleep as easy as closing a book or turning off the switches. Blessed are those souls! Unfortunately I am not in their pack. There would be a lot many files to close before I shut my system down. If it is forced shut down my system is going to be in trouble.
I must go by the above checklist one by one.
My girls are so generous that they leave a feast in every nook and corner for the little nasty, nocturnal invaders. I cannot think of waking up in to a morning to I find my house overrun – here on the ground floor the risk is pretty high. Once again for the third (or fourth?) time that day I clean up the floors. The toilet floor is a dirt magnet which helped me make up my mind against going for a new slimming machine.
At the end of the day when I recline on the bed, it is the turn of uncertainties to horn in on me.
Did I lock the doors, especially the main one? It takes me one or two tries to convince myself that it is safely locked. Some say that is a psychological disorder. If that is so, I am in utter ‘disorder’ because I do the same about the gas stove too.
The alarm is set? Imagine the bus driver waking me up with his missed call and my hard-earned image of a punctual teacher getting shattered in front of all the teachers and students in the bus! NO! Let me check on that once again. My conscience tells me it is done but I proffer myself a reason for seizing the mobile a second time – the doubt: ‘Am I thinking about setting it today or yesterday?’ Every other day is a replica of the previous one. How to be sure whether ‘today’ is today or yesterday? It’s all in our head or sometimes above our head – in the ‘Matrix’ way.
I have to tell my school girl a hundred times (clichéd – I know, still mothers and teachers have a liking for that exaggeration) to get the books for the next day ready. Always she waits for the umpteenth reminder. She knows I will either carp at her or do the work for her in the fear of receiving a complaint note from the teacher. I can guess what the teacher would think –‘How can her mother, herself a teacher, could be so negligent?’ Well, I decide to wait till morning to ensure that.
As I try to close my eyes, they continue to seep in: morning assembly… preparation of diary… new time table… arts fest… books awaiting correction… assessments… class observation… zzzzzzz…
As I gradually triumph over them…
‘Amma, I’m thirsty…’
I can’t hear you dear… I am far away from you, in the land of Nod!