...and then

Monday, 24 January 2011

Oh, brother! Sister concerns

So, call me masochistic but I am ready for a third baby. Bio-rhythmically, that is. In every other way, this is complete insanity. I don’t have enough money right now to make my family a single-income one, I don’t have manpower to look after kids in case I do have a baby and go back to work, and I definitely don’t have the kindness to have another year of sleeplessness or to breastfeed every two hours. But I am totally ready to be pregnant.

Apart from the process of getting there being rather fun, being pregnant is one of the best things I’ve done. I’ve looked great, felt great, and apart from being utterly and totally humiliated during my C-sections by “brothers” seeing every bit of me waist below, the end results were fantastic.

Maybe I’ll have a third child a few years from now. Maybe I’ll have one biologically or maybe I’ll adopt. Or maybe I just know too many people now who are pregnant. All this broodiness got me thinking about many things. You know, it really saddens me to see how many of my friends want just one baby.

Before I launch into a full-fledged lecture, let me give you a little background. I was never crazy about babies. I see 25 years olds, even 30 years olds go gaga over little babies and I keep thinking I must have been odd because I really didn’t do that to every little kid that went by. I looked at cute kids, and said they were cute and I moved on. I even had uncharitable thoughts that some ‘chubby’ babies looked like pigs and once, even as I held a really tiny baby, remember thinking, how easy it would be to snap such delicate bones. What? I didn’t do it! I just thought it.

I love kids a little more now but am still not crazy about them as some women I know are. Don’t get me wrong. I think they’re fantastic. And watching my kids grow and learn and notice every little thing in this world around them has me in awe. I adore their smiles in general, and my kids’ in particular, but I am still not nuts about them. I prefer having conversation with them to coochie cooing with them. I prefer letting them be than to overly make them.

And for someone like that to want baby number three is surprising, even to me. So when I say it saddens me that more and more people are opting for one-child families, I honestly don’t know where it’s coming from. But I do know that the sadness is genuine. Some time ago, when I was in India and thinking about this, I saw with distress that The Hindu had done a piece on it just as I was about to write a post. But having read it, I realised it was just a defensive piece rather than one with any reasoning behind it. (Not that mine is going to have scientific fact or any such evolved things.)

So I decided to do this post anyway. I honestly believe kids with sibling are better kids. Call me a generalising so and so – all though that is not what I am doing -- but that has been my experience. I find kids with siblings are more open to things in general, less eager to please, are more likely to grow up not having a rather large sense of entitlement and overall have a more healthy understanding of love.

I know some fantastic people who were single kids. But we’ve never been friends for long. Something about them, even before I know they don’t have siblings, rubs me up the wrong way. Maybe it’s that they forgot to be children after a point because they hung out a lot with their parents. Maybe it’s just that the parents annoy me with their, “We want to concentrate all our love on our first and only baby.” Maybe it is the fact that invariably I find a little awkwardness, a certain defensiveness, when I speak to a person who grew up a single child. Maybe it’s all in my head. But this is also my blog.

Of course, the above could be said of people with siblings too and we all know having a sibling can do nothing to reduce the irritant quotient of some people but the intrinsic difference is that you may be able to tell a kid with a sibling that he’s a snotty little piece of nothing and get only a punch in return. But telling a single kid that might make you responsible for him turning out to be a psychopath.

But jokes apart, and people who grew up single, excuse me, I love you all equally but you guys just don’t cut like we sister-brother types do – look around you and tell me. The happier, more well-adjusted, less fake ones are almost always those with a sister or a brother they can absolutely not stand but love.

My advice? The population can take a walk*. Go make babies.

*One of the first things I worried about when I knew I was surprise-pregnant with my second kid was the population. “Crap! I am damaging my country by having more kids than it can sustain. I am moving to Australia.”

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Saturday, 22 January 2011

Under Maintenance

I am hunting for a new look for my blog. And in over enthusiasm, I tried to revert to something simple while the design was being pondered upon and done. Hence the complete mess. Excuse it, please. And read instead of looking around, for a while.


Monday, 17 January 2011

Song of the single mum: Date night.

Of course, you love flirting with me.
I make good conversation, take care of my hair
Fingers, feet and breath. I have a pretty smile

You could parry intelligently with me
About most things, except maybe frogs or chemistry.
I know a little about a lot of things. I fake it well

I will tell you I’ve enjoyed having dinner with you,
And acknowledge privately that the wine is helping my charm.
The night is full of possibility: more talk, more wine

But as we get to your place for that one last drink,
And you kiss me, having shoved me gently against the door,
I have to issue a little warning

I may not look as old as I am, or as if I’ve given birth.
But good genes don’t bless away the grapefruit skin,
Or moonlight scars on my soft stomach

I have a Caesarian gash, which might turn you off;
And breasts that have been functional and on display,
Unintentionally. Effects will show

So if all that matters to you is a fun lay,
A little variety between the sheets,
Turn off the lights, be a man and let’s play

But if there’s going to be more, then leave the lights on;
Let the night go beyond my poise
And shine its drunk light on my imperfections.

Do you prefer less woman, I wonder.
And would I bore you next week? If, that is,
You last beyond my xoxo-note in the morning?


Saturday, 15 January 2011


Thank me for all that I've done for you,
Only if you will forgive me for all that
I've done to you.

You asked me if you will do.
And in what I believed was honesty,
I said you would. It could have just been our kisses.

Maybe I meant your smile was nice 
To wake up in the mornings to,
Or maybe I meant you'd look great with me 
When we go out.

Perhaps I meant I'd earn for both of us
If you were a stay-at-home husband
Or maybe I just said it because 
Dreams only last as long as you’re asleep.

January 2011

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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Star bright, star mite

I was in Kerala few weeks ago, in Cochin, where my daughter and I went out to lunch one day. She’s 30 months old, rather pretty (I say this as statement of fact and not with any conceit) extremely expressive and animated. An hour into our time at the restaurant, another guest who had been watching us for sometime walked over and said he was a ‘director’ and is currently working on ad films; would I be interested in having my daughter be a part of an ad he was making? I am not sure he was just doing it for entertainment – because I did see him go up to other guests and talk as well – but I said no.

He said, “Oh it’s not you we want, it’s your daughter.” I said yes, I perfectly understood that and wasn’t interested. “Don’t you want her expressions and antics to be recorded and for all to see,” he pressed, looking puzzled. I politely declined again but said I’d check with her father and let him know. He left it at that but I left the restaurant amused at the shock on his face. Really, has no mother said no before to him?

But it brought to fore something that troubles me more and more. Children in the media and child actors. With a slew of reality shows that are geared at finding “super” talent in children – dancing and singing, primarily – and a hit film that stars a child meaning instant celebrity a la Darsheel Safary and the like, I find this exactly the kind of hazardous profession that the Child Labour Act in the Indian law talks about. The Act, last touched upon in 1986, lists out, among other things, the categories in which a child (defined as below 14 years) should not be employed. The most widely rejected category is the army but others include eateries, cinder picking, fire and match works, and diving (?) among other things. The categories, however, do not include feature or ad films.

There’re two things that worry me about this issue.
a)      That parents are so struck by the immense potential of fame, the intoxicating idea of their child becoming the next big sensation, that they don’t think twice about pushing their kids towards public performing – whether it’s acting, singing our dancing.
b)      That adults – parents as well as others involved in employment of a child in entertainment – may have very little awareness, or give little credence, to how this whole experience shapes the child’s personality.

As a child, when I happened to watch an interview of child stars of Hollywood, I remember being awed at their poise, what seemed like maturity and their quasi-adult mannerisms. Today, I feel sad for them because I believe they spent their childhood being adults without being allowed to do all the things that adults do.

Which is why I believe this should also be on that list of hazardous professions in the Child Labour Act. Why should a nine-year old or even a 13-year-old have to hang out with adults for extended periods of time? Bad enough that they’re adults, worse that they’re so-called actors. A child may love to act, it may be exciting for her to be chosen to play a certain part, it may be fantastic to not go to school. But are those reasons enough for you to deny your child of all that is bound to give her basic skills she can hone on her journey to adulthood?

Like each one of us realises as we get out of college or school, education is so rarely about what we learn from books. It was in school I learnt that there are as many kinds of people as there are different ways to deal with them. It was in school that I learnt that teachers are not gods but if you found a good one, you definitely should worship him. It was school that taught me that children are unkind; that I too was capable of being unkind if it meant being popular. In school I learnt that if you played a sport, your confidence, your outlook towards the rest of your life would be different from those who didn’t play any. Heck, it was in school that I learnt boys can be complete asses but I would still like them. And that girls have it tough and pick up how to be mean little bitches very, very early, but they’re fun as hell.

Take that environment away from a child and you’re gearing her or him up for near-disaster, I believe. On one hand, home schooling appeals to me greatly because I honestly believe there is a lack of schools that will nurture children’s individuality. The cookie-cutter robots that come out of prestigious schools in most Indian cities are academically sound but largely lacking in softer skills to lead happy, content, holistically successful lives. But on the other hand, like someone long ago – on a blog too – pointed out to me, home schooling severely restricts social interaction, which is beyond essential to a child. Unless you have six kids yourself and a couple of neighbours with as large families, home schooling is a bit of a double-edged sword.

Home schooling a child actor on the sets and taking time for lessons during their “shooting schedules” ensure you might get your child past class 12. But is she going to have the opportunity to be a child? I am not sure. If nothing else, it really isn’t healthy or normal for a child to get exposed to all that grown-up talk. The definition of being a child is vast and so I will not attempt to elaborate on that too much here. But I think what I essentially mean is for the child to have the space and time to find herself and her source of confidence and inspiration from learning to deal with situations that might seem mundane to adults but are entirely new to children.

On another level, all the fawning that a child receives in a situation like that cannot be in any way tempered by any amount of level-headedness you may try to employ at home. Besides if the parents are star struck, I do believe there will be very little level-headedness at work in that home. I am judgemental like that.

And I am not even going to talk about too much coming too early – really, are children equipped to handle the fallout of fame, or just fame even?

Apart from the above, strong lights, make up, and the over-stimulation a set can induce can’t be very good for little children. Which is why I am appalled to see little babies in TV shows. No wonder they’re bawling all the time. I could, of course, be wrong. I have two kids of my own and I see how much they try to reach into an adult world to try and understand the things that go on there. While they may understand the words, I doubt it greatly that they understand context or subtleties of adult interactions.

On another note, I was faced with a slightly confusing situation a few days ago. My brother, who is an avid photographer, decided to start up a photoblog. The first post he had up was beautiful pictures of my daughter. Now, I understand his need to display the best of his work, and it’s very touching that he used pictures of someone he loves to bits. I was really very touched but I was also uncomfortable with pictures of her being put on as public a platform as a blog. I made it clear that I was uncomfortable with it but he refused to take the post down. His logic was if I could put pictures of her on Facebook, then he could put it up on his blog. Call me stupid or call me an alligator in the middle of a bad PMS, but I don’t see his point. Yes, I understand that if someone wanted, they could get right into my FB account and do what they wanted with the pictures, and that privacy settings might be only a false sense of security. But I’d much rather have that sense of security, however ephemeral, than have her pictures up for just about any perv to see.

Anyway, it so happened that I got a bit worked up about it and I am sure he totally misunderstood my reasons for asking him to take them down (which he stoutly refused to do till my mum intervened – yes, we’re grown up like that). Soon, morning came and I wondered if I had overreacted. I tweeted it to my  bunch (honestly, the things we know about each other on my timeline is disturbing if you think about it) and except for two people everyone said I overreacted and that there is no harm in having those pictures there. I am still not convinced although I feel bad and want to tell my brother he can use the pictures for his blog.

What do you think?

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