Tag Archives: toddlers

Uhm… what?

Moms, have you seen this one? If you’re like me, you’ve probably learnt to tune out whatever nonsense your kid insists on watching on YouTube. I usually just ensure she’s watching something kid-friendly and then block out the rest. But recently, the words of this rhyme filtered past my defences while the daughter was having her half-hour of YouTube time on the tablet (i.e. kid nirvana). Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Five strict mommies jumping on the bed? Uhm… what?

YouTube nursery rhymes are, of course, for most part, the absolute dregs. I’ve written on this in depth in the past, and won’t repeat myself. Suffice to say, the channels that advertise most aggressively, and therefore are most likely to be clicked by your YouTube video-surfing toddler, are the absolute worst. It’s like they set aside all their resources for the pimping and keep nothing at all for the actual content.

But, even by those low standards, this one is… uhm… strange. So you have five mommies jumping on the bed. There appears to be no cause to call them strict mommies — if anything, they seem to be all about letting their hair down and par-taying — but, apparently, strict they are. You have a grinning kid who calls the doc each time one of the mommies falls off the bed and bumps her head (you get the feeling she’s enjoying this role-reversal a little too much). At this point, you start to wonder… are these moms drunk and on a bender? ‘Cos lil monkeys falling off and bumping their heads… kinda understandable. Mommies, strict or otherwise, with such poor physical coordination? One too many bottles of wine would seem the most likely explanation for both the jumping and the falling (is that why they don’t seem strict too? Alcohol tends to do that). As an aside, who is this wonderfully available doc in these rhymes who picks up each time the mommy/kid calls with the exact same complaint? I must find me one of those.

But I digress.

Now, this is important — watch closely to see what happens after each mom has bumped her head. That’s right — she goes back to her regularly scheduled housework, like a good, chastened homemaker mommy. Her head hurts like a bitch (bump plus hangover… ouch), and she’s learnt her lesson. No more silly shenanigans for her! She’s going to stick to nice safe, ladylike activities like cooking and ironing and cleaning.

And that’s when it hits you. This video isn’t really strange at all. It might look like a silly, badly-animated nursery rhyme for kids, but it’s really a finger-wagging cautionary tale for mommies not to stray too far from the kitchen. No more mommies jumping on the bed! Except, presumably, with Daddy (oh c’mon, I know you were thinking that too). But only, of course, once she’s served him a nice hot dinner.

There. Aren’t all you good, strict mommies glad I brought this important video to your attention? (There are multiple versions for you to watch, in case you feel the message hasn’t hit home strongly enough with just the one). Now, please excuse me. I do believe there’s some housework I need to go finish.

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Look whose mug is in an ad for Parentcircle.com!

That’s right, mine! 😀 –> January 2016

Also, check out more of my clipbooks up on the site:

Toddler’s Day Out

Job Description: Mom

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Potty training potholes – part 1

Note: This was originally written nearly two years ago for Toddler Talkbut was eventually not used because it was deemed too poop-filled by my editor (and rightly so lol). I’d forgotten about it, but found it recently while clearing out my old laptop and decided to share. Thinking of writing a follow up piece on post-potty training woes too, hence the part 1 🙂 

Yup, they really do sing

Nothing prepares you for how poop-centric (and to a lesser degree, pee-centric) your life becomes when you have young children. There are the jokes about changing stinky diapers and all of that, but nobody ever tells you how much time and energy you will spend thinking about and worrying about and, yes, analysing poop once you have a kid. (If you’re already grossed out at this point, you may want to consider not reading further).

It begins, of course, with that mythical first-poop, the meconium, which all the parenting and birthing books prepare you for in such excruciating detail. Then once the breastfeeding begins, you constantly worry – is my baby peeing enough? Is he pooping enough? Because, since god didn’t see fit to make our breasts transparent and marked neatly in ounces and ml, you never really ever know for sure that baby is getting enough. The only indicators for the anxious breastfeeding mom? Weight gain, poop and pee. And since you can only weigh baby during doctor visits, guess what you have to go on every day? That’s right. Poop and pee.

Then the solid food adventures begin. The first time you see orange poop or black spotted poop or green poop, you have a minor cardiac event. Then you recall – oh yeah, baby had carrot or raisins or spinach the previous day. My daughter made life even more interesting for us. She pooped ridiculous quantities while being breastfed, to the point that I was panicking and taking her to every paediatrician in the city. Then once she was on solids and formula, she decided to swing the other way and not go at all for days. So in our household, every day with a normal motion for baby is a day for celebration. Grandparents anxiously enquire about it over Skype. Daddy calls from office to get an update. It’s big, big news.

But nothing is bigger than the Potty Training travails. Beginning roughly from one-and-a-half until whenever your child sees fit to poop in the potty, your life centres around this major (non) event of the day – going (or not) in the potty. There’s a reason why there are a number of books (“Bear goes potty”), videos (“Dora teaches potty training”) and more on the subject in the market. This is a Sisyphean task. The funniest products would have to be the peeing dolls (they don’t have – at least I think they don’t – pooping dolls because, presumably, of the grossness factor). These little dollies usually come with their own potty and all you need to do is, er, supply the water (yes, I studied them in detail at the toy store, and yes, I considered buying one. Don’t judge me). No, actually, scratch that. The funniest product would have to be the singing potty I found in one store. I couldn’t find any button to make said potty sing, and asked the bored-looking salesman why. He perked up as he explained to me that the potty only sang when it was peed or pooped on. He turned it over and showed me the little music box at the bottom, with a sensor. “See? When susu falls on it, music will come,” he said enthusiastically. “We were (indicating the other staff) also confused at first.” I admired the mechanism and thanked him for his help, and tried very hard not to think about how exactly they solved the mystery…

Of course, all these products are merely props. The hard work is done by the parents who sit with the child every day, trying to make using the potty seem like so, so much fun. There are kaka-susu songs. There are sound-effects. There are games and stories. Usually all of this descends first into wheedling (“please kanna, will you just try sitting on the potty?”) and then into frustration. That’s when it’s usually time to put the potty away for the day. There’s always tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that…

(When you’re all out of ideas, you can even try letting your child watch you when you visit the little girl’s or boy’s room. It serves to set an example, say the experts, and let’s face it, privacy in the john is a thing of the past once you have kids anyway. For the record, my daughter enjoyed the experience immensely and provided running commentary the whole time. I’ll spare you the details.)

It took me weeks to get my kid to even sit on her jungle-animal themed potty for more than 10 seconds at a time. Then, unfortunately, it became clear that I’d succeeded too well in making it fun, because she started treating it like a chair to sit and play on (and stand on. And jump on. And throw toys into). Then she’d carefully stand up and move away a few inches before doing her business. It was months before there was actually any, er, contact between potty and said business. Even then, it was mostly accidental. I still celebrated like I’d won the lottery.

The day we have our final breakthrough, we’ll probably throw a party. Watch this space, because you’re all invited.

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I’m a certified blogger!

I’m a certified blogger on the new portal Parentcircle.com 🙂 It’s a great initiative to try and gather the writing of Indian parenting bloggers in one space. Do check it out! Here are a couple of clipbooks of my blog pieces and column articles that they’ve put together on the site:

Clipbook 1: Toddlerisms

Clipbook 2: Stuff toddlers love… and parents love to hate

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Miscellaneous toddlerisms – 3

Super Princess!

D, running around the room with her arms stretched out in front of her: “I’m Super Princess! If any of my toys fall into the water, I’ll save them!”
In her spare time, Super Princess also subverts gender stereotypes 🙂

Baby city

D while watching an episode of Peppa Pig called ‘Babysitting’: “But amma, they haven’t gone to Baby city yet!”

Bubbles

D decides to loudly comment on our (balding but otherwise somewhat hairy) driver’s appearance while in the car today.
D: Amma! This driver uncle has no hair in the front!
Me (darting a nervous look at him): Yes, yes baby. Different people have different hairstyles, right?
D nods and pipes down. I heave a sigh of relief.
(A few minutes later)
D (thoughtfully as she sips from her bottle): Amma! All the hair on his arms…
Me (breaking in desperately): D, drink your water!
D: But Amma! All the hair…
Me (louder): Just drink your water, D.
D (determinedly): But Amma, all the hairs on his arms look like bubbles!

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Farewell to ‘Toddler Talk’

A little over a year ago, when I started doing this column, my daughter was two and a half, and in the throes of full-blown Terrible Twos.

It’s been an eventful year since, a year in which she has transitioned (amidst a whole lot of hand-wringing and soul-searching on my part) from preschool to LKG at her ‘big-girl’ school. Along the way, she got potty-trained (hang in there moms-of-young-toddlers, it does happen… eventually), learned to go to school without amma for a few hours (I think amma was more stressed about it than she was, on the whole) and outgrew a whole bunch of clothes I’d spent way too much on. The toughest part was the constant illnesses (since germs are pretty much all they pick up in preschool). But it was all worth it to watch as she left babyhood behind step by step, and turned, somewhere along the way, into this little chatterbox who talks/asks questions 24/7 and has her own, very colourful take on the world around her.

Some things, of course, haven’t changed. We still negotiate (toddler style) on everything from bath time to the clothes to be worn after bath time, the food she (barely) eats to the number of cartoons she’s allowed to watch (far too many, but clearly she doesn’t think so), all day long. Barney and Dora have been phased out, but Peppa Pig still reigns supreme. The tantrums and melt-downs are fewer, but no less spectacularly dramatic when they do occur. We’re still co-sleeping, and I still wake up in the mornings to find a toddler elbow or knee wedged into the region of my right kidney (so much for her much celebrated transition from crib to ‘big-girl bed’). And, of course, my life is still filled to the brim with too many toys, and too many loud and badly-sung nursery rhymes (‘Finger Family’ in bhangra style, anyone?), courtesy Youtube.

Through it all, I’ve remained the epitome of the over-anxious first time mom, reading too many parenting articles online and generally making myself crazy over every parenting decision, from vaccines to hair-cuts to schools. Writing this column was the best possible therapy I could have asked for. It helped me laugh about that things that might have had me in tears otherwise, and more importantly, it gave me a way to reach out and talk about the general craziness involved in raising this generation of toddlers with others who’re in the same boat. Thanks to ‘Toddler Talk’, I’ve spoken to and heard from so many moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have similar stories to share regarding the toddlers in their lives. It’s been a wonderfully cathartic experience – nothing is better than realising you’re not alone in your imperfections, especially as a stay-at-home-mom who spends too much time over-thinking everything child-related.

Now as my daughter gets ready to outgrow toddlerhood, it’s time for me to bid goodbye to ‘Toddler Talk’. It’s been a fun ride sharing my parenting experiences with you all in the past year. To those of you still battling on in the toddler-parenting trenches, dealing with the terrible twos or threenager battles of will, hang in there. It does get better (or so I’ve heard). And then we get a breather of a whole decade until the teenage years.

In between the battles, don’t forget to enjoy your little munchkin. Because as much as we complain, the truth is that life would be very boring indeed without these frustrating yet adorable little people in it, with their big personalities and bigger hearts, their endless enthusiasms and energy.

And to toddlers at large – I know you sometimes got a bad rap in this column. But I hope we can let bygones be bygones. You know I love you guys!

This article originally appeared in The Hindu MetroPlus.

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Toddler Talk: I’m the parent of a pint-sized drama queen

That moment when you realise you’re living with a threenager…

A friend recently introduced me to the term ‘threenager’. It was a bit of an ‘Aha!’ moment for me. You see, no one had prepared me for the sheer drama that enters the household once your toddler turns three. Terrible twos and tantrums, sure. But this was a whole other ballgame. My kid, more often than not, was acting like she was three going on thirteen. What was going on? Well, now I had my answer: I was living with a threenager.

My first inkling of the fact came one night when the two of us had a showdown over something relatively minor (I wanted her to drink her milk. She didn’t want to.) What began as a typical toddler “Nononono!” type argument mutated and I was suddenly faced with a pouting threenager who informed me that she “didn’t like it here” and that she was going to “go away” all by herself to her grandma’s house. She even set off determinedly, clutching her dolly, and was only deterred by the fact that she couldn’t reach or unlock the front door by herself. Nevertheless, she folded her arms, averted her face and refused to talk to me for the rest of the night.

Since then, there have been declarations of, “I don’t like you, amma!”, and outbursts of “Everyone’s cheating me!” in over-the-top mega serial style (I don’t even watch that stuff… where’s she picking it up from?). We’ve even had that teenage staple cry of “It’s not FAIR!” with me shooting something back like, “Life’s not fair, kid, deal with it,” before remembering that I’m talking to a three-year-old. A three-year-old. I didn’t think I’d be hearing this stuff or dealing with it for another decade or so.But then I started thinking about it, and I realised that three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds actually have a lot in common. One’s on the cusp of childhood, outgrowing babyhood rapidly. The other’s on the cusp of adulthood, outgrowing childhood. They want to do everything all by themselves, their way (clothes, food, you name it). Except, when they don’t. They’re dealing with this whole new world of big feelings. They feel deeply wronged against because they can’t do all the stuff adults do yet (stay up late, drink coffee, drive cars, wear make-up) and they have the vocabulary to express it. Strongly. The thing that makes teens tougher to handle, of course, are all those hormones coursing through their brains, wreaking havoc with their emotions. But I’m starting to suspect that if you studied three-year-olds closely, you’d find pip-squeak versions of those hormones swimming about in their little noggins too.

The other major difference is size and cuteness. You can physically pick up your pint-sized drama queen and prevent her from running out the front gate in a fit of pique (and I’ve had to do it too) but you can’t do that with an angry 13-year-old. Well, you could, but it would require significantly more upper-body strength. And – I mean no offence whatsoever to teenagers the world over here – I have to say that three-year-olds get away with a whole lot more just by virtue of still being cute little munchkins. A threenager throwing a hissy fit and declaring that “no one likes me!” – is kind of adorable, and more likely to get cuddled and reassured. A teenager doing the same – is more likely to get sent to her room. Unfair, but then, you 13-year- olds already knew that, right?

So, upon further consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that the threenager phase is nature’s way of preparing parents for what lies ahead. Like giving you a tiny, toy-version of a gizmo to practise on before taking on the scarier, full-sized version in the future. And helping you to enjoy and treasure the (relatively) drama-free childhood years all the more. This way, when your kid hits the teen years, you’re not completely untried. You’ve had the trial run, a significant cooling off period, and now you’re good to go.

That’s my theory, anyway. I guess it’ll be verified in, oh, a decade or so.

‘Toddler Talk’ is a weekly column that appears in The Hindu Metroplus,

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It really bothers me that…

Oh look. The penguin needs a life jacket too. *facepalm*

Oswald the Octopus can’t swim and needs a floatie in the water. Because, hello! He’s an octopus. Granted he’s blue and wears a little black hat and sounds like Fred Savage and has a dog that’s literally a hot dog with a tail. And, yes, I get that he’s teaching little kids about water safety yada yada. But, y’know, even a three year old can grasp the concept that an octopus is different from a person, and doesn’t need help swimming in the water since that’s where octopuses live. Also, must he look both directions five times before he crosses the road, every single time? And so s-l-o-w-l-y too? Again, I get it. Teaching safety, etc. But talk about disrupting the dramatic momentum of the narrative. Yeesh.

… Max and Ruby is apparently a cartoon about two little orphaned rabbits. Seriously, where are the fricking parents? They’re not referenced once, not even in passing. At least in Charlie and Lola and Stella and Sam, the kids talk about their parents even if they never appear on screen. That’s fine. I get it. Parents are boring. These shows are all about siblings relationships. But Max and Ruby is just freaky — two small kids apparently living alone in a large, over-furnished, hideously upholstered house. No wonder Ruby’s an over-controlling, OCD mess and Max speaks in monosyllables. Not to mention that monumentally useless grandma of theirs who drops in for tea and ice-cream and then vamooses, leaving Ruby to cope all alone. And as if all her duties of feeding, bathing and cleaning up after Max weren’t enough, Ruby also takes on babysitting jobs, watching other little rabbits whose parents, ironically enough, are very much  present and accounted for. I tell you, that Ruby is heading for a nervous breakdown.

every building in the Peppa Pig universe is perched precariously on top of a ridiculously steep hill. I mean, why? What purpose could that possibly serve? Imagine the strain on the brakes on all the vehicles, since they need to park constantly on the almost vertical slopes of said hills. Not to mention the hazards of having little kids like George running down these slopes. And don’t even get me started on the stupid sloping gardens on the sides of the hills. They should just switch to terraced gardening or something.

Look ma! Flying pups and fancy mission towers!

… a ten-year-old boy in Paw Patrol apparently has endless income, access to fancy vehicles (including hovercrafts, helicopters and ATVs), and high-end electronic  systems, not to mention a ridiculously ostentatious tower with a glass-enclosed elevator and giant computer screens, used solely for discussing his ‘rescue missions’ with his pups. Why doesn’t anyone find it creepy that this kid, who apparently has no family, lives with a bunch of pups? What’s his source of income? How is it legal for him to be driving any vehicle on the roads (let alone his hi-funda All Terrain Vehical)? And why does Adventure Bay have absolutely no policemen or firemen or rescue personnel apart from the weird millionaire boy and his talking pups?

… cartoons such as The Hive  and Ben and Holly turn fleas and ladybirds into ‘dogs’, complete with the panting and barking and stick-fetching behaviours. Repeat after me, cartoon makers: fleas and ladybirds are NOT dogs. They’re bugs. As such, they behave like bugs. They don’t bark. They don’t play fetch. Not every pet needs to be canine-esque. Get over it, seriously.

Yes. I know. I need to get a life.

I’ll let you know when I do. Until then… stop using a floatie in the water, Oswald!

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Toddler Talk: Those three little words

When your toddler first says she loves you…

Warning: Today’s column is going to get seriously mushy. I mean it. If that’s not your cup of tea, turn and run, run fast!

To those of you still reading, this one is all about feeling the toddler love. Yes, toddlers are a handful – they can be exhausting, infuriating, and naughty as heck. But they have a way of making it all worthwhile. A sticky kiss on the cheek from your little one can make the rainiest day feel all sunshine-y. And a heartfelt toddler-huggie (as opposed to the “okay, let’s get this over with” perfunctory lean-in version) is the world’s number one stress-buster. It may last for all of 0.25 seconds (before the kid squirms out of your grasp and runs off), but it’s the warmest, most wonderful 0.25 seconds ever.

But nothing makes the parental heart melt quite like the first time your toddler says those three little words to you – “I love you”. Sure, it was super special when your high school crush or your significant other said it; your heart beat faster, violins played in the background and Cupids frolicked overhead. But for sheer tear-inducing, heart-breaking sweetness, nothing beats a toddler proclamation of love.

The thing is, you’ve been in love with this little person right from the start. As every mom knows, there’s that one moment when you fall intensely, irrevocably in love with your newborn, that moment which makes you go, “Oh, that’s what they were talking about!” about all the things you’ve ever heard of a mother’s unconditional love. It might happen the moment you first set eyes on your baby at the hospital, or as in my case, a couple of weeks later, at 3 a.m., when I just sitting on the couch, holding her in my arms. I remember looking into her eyes and feeling overwhelmed by the emotion, and, in my sleep-deprived, incoherent state, struggling to express it while crying the whole time. Not my finest moment of communication, but there it is.

Over the next few months, you say it again and again – “love you, baby!” – and all you get in response is a “babababa” or a coo, or if you’re really lucky, a grimace that might be a smile (or more likely, gas). Then, one day, you say it, and you get a proper response. My daughter was around one then, and she said something that sounded like, “Happy amma!” I didn’t even realise that she was trying to say “I love you, amma” until it happened a few more times. And then I just turned into a teary-eyed mess, a big puddle of goo, because, gosh, I really was the happiest amma in the whole world. (To put this in context, she’d only started saying, ‘amma’ a few weeks before. I was last on the list; she’d learnt to even say ‘paati’ and ‘thatha’ before she deigned to say ‘amma’).

When she was one-and-a-half, I had another heart-melting moment when she started saying “Lubee amma!” I missed “happy amma” a bit, but I’d take “lubee” any day. In fact, everyone in the family dispensed with ‘love you’ and went around saying ‘lubee!’ to one another. By the time she was two, she was able to say “love you” (naturally, I turned to goo. Again). In this phase, she’d just say, “love you too, amma” (whether or not I’d said “love you” first) because, obviously, the fact that I loved her was a given (duh).

Fast-forward a year, and the novelty had mostly worn off. I mean, I still felt wonderful every time she said it, but I no longer turned into a weepy puddle of happiness. Then recently one morning, we were playing together, and she stopped, looked up at me, and said solemnly, “I love you, amma.” Just like that. My heart swelled till it felt like it would burst, and I was all choked up as I said to her, “I love you too, baby.” I was no longer the sleep-deprived new mom I’d been that night at 3 a.m., but the intensity of emotion was still the same. Those three little words pack quite a punch.

‘Toddler Talk’ is a weekly column that appears in The Hindu MetroPlus.

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Fun toddler activities for rainy holiday afternoons

 

* Hide under the quilt and actually fool daddy for a minute into thinking you’re missing, make him panic, and then giggle: “I did a good job hiding, daddy!”

* Take the dish washing sponge from the sink and plonk it into the milk pan (which is, naturally, full of milk). Then do a victory lap around the house.

* Take apart a blob of green Play Doh and scatter it like confetti throughout the house, particularly in various empty vessels in the kitchen.

* Drop daddy’s golf ball inside the (thankfully) empty Bisleri can, so that it goes round and round inside but refuses to come out. Cue victory lap.

* Throw around cotton balls and call it a snowball fight (since it did not, after all, snow in Chennai for Christmas). Also, ride the little Christmas tree we bought like a horse and yell, ‘Giddyup!”

* Conduct scientific experiments on the toaster — how far do you need to stuff a piece of uncooked pasta into its side before the lever stops going up and down? (Answer: not very far).

 

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