Messages to my dear friend, Monica, as we share our experiences of being a mother, the things we learn from our little girls, everyday and the lessons we learn from life itself.
A Blog-dialogue across continents, countries and oceans of time and space...
(We last met in 2000 A.D, in India.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

There goes the Sunday....

Dear Monica,
I'm sorry I couldn't write last night... Shivangi was awake until half-past-ten, and Raj said I should probably go to sleep with her to settle her. Next thing I know, its morning- my phone lay on the kids' room floor with the battery out, so there hadn't been a wake-up alarm, and Rani was complaining of tummy ache, heart ache (!!??) and a 'big bug in my tummy, mummy' ; basically all she really wanted was to try and get to stay at home...I reassured her that I'd have a word with her teacher,and if she felt poorly after she went to school, they would ring me at home and I can come get her back. She, being my darling, obedient child that she is, agreed straight away...!! I try to implement a 'reward' system, whereby both of them get a sticker for good-behaviour, obeying Raj, mum and me, and doing things they have been asked. If they get five stickers a day, then we do something special on the weekend- maybe take them to the park, a trip outdoors, a visit to a place of their choice or a special 'kiddie-movie' at home. I am very very impressed with your decision, as a family, not to have a TV...it must give you so much of quality time with the little one!

Raina and you must do some amazing stuff together!! As I grew up within a house with no TV myself, I appreciate what a 'NO TV home' gives the family in terms of free time to talk, listen, read and draw... TV is a good tool, but like all household implements, it should, in my view, be used only when needed, and not as one would use a pacifier for a baby... I think there's a very real danger of it becoming a crutch, and a distraction, or a 'shut-up-and-watch' thing as against something to explore, understand and learn from... Raj is great in that regard that he usually watches discovery or Animal Planet anyway, so the kids, even if they peep-in, learn a bit about things like 'biodiversity', geography or science... When MIL is at home, its the usual Saas-Bahu serials that run (some of which are good I think- like a couple on Star Plus which I record, and watch in my 'me time') and I use the time to get the kids to eat in the kitchen, have a bath, read a story with me etc...I try to limit the time they spend watching TV on weekdays- the kids watch some cartoons/ children's programme for about half an hour in the evening, if at all they do. I sometimes feel they could utilize the time to do some reading with me, play a board game or even a cuddle and a chat... But with my night-shifts, Raj working and going to the Gym (twice a week till 2100) and mum in India , it is a little treat for them and gives me a little while to sit down and watch them....if you know what I mean.

It was a good day yesterday with lots of mild weather and the prospect of a whole day (and night) at home... We started off light and cheery, watching Tom & Jerry together, amid giggles and laughter after their breakfast. I woke up in the morning and the kids came downstairs and agreed to eat some breakfast when I offered to make some french toast for them... (They usually have a bowl of cereal on school mornings, so weekends are the time I cook something up for them). With my MIL in India, I often find my 'management' skills definitely need looking at. I found their uniforms still unwashed yesterday evening and rushed to put them through a cycle in the wash. Then, it was getting to be nearer to eight PM so I hustled them into bed, and we said our prayers, (I wrote about that here), and, having taken care of the kids' bedtime routine, I went downstairs to sit down with Raj for a little while, but then Shivangi was up until late, as I mentioned.... and that was that. Shivangi is a bit like a teenager already- all the attitude, all the back-biting tantrums, etc, etc... I know its because of her Special Needs and all that, but it doesn't make life any more simpler... Raj always knows how to tackle her, but to me, his way sounds too roundabout- I'm always trying to hold it all together, for me, for the kids, for our home... and trying be IN CHARGE and hold their life together and she should respect that. But, enough of that, more on the topic of Shivangi later...!

 Since I started working night-shifts, I feel as if my head has been detached and not screwed back on properly, you know!!?? I feel as if, on the days I'm home, the kids, especially Shivangi, want me to be with them at night, as she feels secure only when she's sleeping with me, Rani or Raj. Raj can accommodate this wish only over weekends, so that his habit of watching 'Bear Grylls: Born Survivor' at bedtime doesn't disturb her sleep. (I would definitely frown upon anyone or anything disturbing their sleep on school days in any way.) Shivangi, it has emerged, functions well when a routine is followed, owing to her special Needs. She feels safe when she knows what is coming up, in the course of the day...If plans change, or things go off-kilter, she loses her security and feels imbalanced, emotionally. This shows in the way she talks to others, the way she cries, shouts and screams... The sad thing is, my own family- Raj, MIL- do not think there's anything 'not-right' with Shivangi's behaviour.

 Recently, Raj has started to see that there is a difficulty she faces, which, medically, is not definable or quantifiable yet... and we are trying to come up with a plan that will help her... But after years of struggling, I still fail to make my MIL understand that my child having a difficulty and me recognising and attempting to identify the extent of it does not mean I am trying to kowtow to the authorities who want to merely 'LABEL' her because she is Indian-British... She harbours so many prejudices in her heart, that even my 'mother's instincts' are doubted and questioned. Immensely frustrating and extremely agonising... Good thing is, I recently visited a school, which Shivangi will attend in the coming school year, (Sept 2012)...It is a brilliant school which has a very low student-teacher ratio, with classes having between 8-9 pupils, and a godsend, for Shivangi. As it is her school work, her learning itself suffers at the moment because she needs an adult TA (Teaching Assistant) to help her stay on the task in class. She is performing at an academic age of 3 + years, which will affect her future, in the long run. Thinking of what will happen to her when she starts high-school, and is struggling to understand things, follow-up with her reading and writing (which she has support with, at the moment) and all that makes me worry for her..

I'm grateful I have the next two weeks off so that I can do a lot of pending jobs within the house. Raj is also off from tomorrow, until next monday; we both have to take our Annual Leave unless we donot mind losing it altogether. Come April, the new (financial) year begins, and our remaining Annual Leave quota is nullified thereafter. My colleagues often work even on Leave days, and I don't blame them; its hard to provide all we'd like to for our family unless both of us work. Having no house-help also means we have to think about making the kids self-sufficient at this age. Yesterday, I got them to help me clear up their room upstairs,  Shivangi was bundling her toys together and Rani helped sort out the clothes while I cleaned the house, their room in particular. They make a royal mess of it on weekends, with biscuit crumbs, crisps, chocolate etc smeared on their bedsheets, strewn on the floor and the room is like a tip. Raj dealt with the dogs, their mess, the garden and all of that... and later I thought, there goes my sunday! Time really flies when there's so much to do, doesn't it!!? Which reminds me, I've got to clean up the house, and start cooking if I am to finish everything in time to pick up the kids from school!

Those pictures and the loving posts you wrote, they made my day, Mon!! Thank you for sharing your breathtakingly beautiful shots with me!! I can see you've got your wonderful coping-mechanism in place, when things get a bit too much! Even I sit and watch the girls as they sleep; nothing is as calming or as contemplative as the sight of our sleeping child to a mother, isn't it!!? At times like that, I wonder how these little angels turn into 'terrific tornadoes' in their waking moments, literally flattening everything in their path!! Where do they repose this energy, this passion which can be so exhausting to live through, for us parents...
How come I'm so terrified of them and yet so much in love with them at the same time!!?? Is this normal, or am I losing my grip on reality...slowly, inexorably slipping into the whirlpool...
More tomorrow, (I'm on a night shift today)
Lots of love and hugs,