Monday, March 28, 2011

On raising the younger one

Not to be mean towards the older kid, but with the younger one - there is a lot of 'first-time' things which makes it interesting. It is too gratifying to see the younger one go through different phases and get exposed to new things. But with the older one, those phases are over and I have to work harder than ever before to come up with such new things.

For example, during this school year, Nithin started in a new school. He cried a lot in the old school, but I thought that is the only choice. Now in this school, may be due to his age or sheer luck, he has found 2 best friends. Every time I go park the car for pick up , seeing him play in the school playground with them happily, I thank God for bringing him where he is now. It looks as though I was forcing him to adjust with his fate in the older school and that he is now truly happy where he is. This friendship will have to come to an end when this school year ends for all practical purposes. We truly owe the confidence boost and sense of feeling at home with this school to the friendships he has built.

Each day is interesting to see the things he speaks now - the new words he learns from school or his big bro'. The first time for many things - new friendships, play dates, first swimming lesson, first Kumon class, first skiing lesson and first Ice Skating lesson. It is a challenge to get him started with anything new and it is truly satisfying to see him get over that initial stumbling block and flow freely with the routine.

I don't know how to put this into words - but isn't this easy to achieve compared to dealing with the older kid where we have already finished all these milestones? Teaching the 5 year old ABCs and getting satisfaction when he is able to read a page in an easy book is the EASY way to get parenting satisfaction I feel. And in every step with your previous experience, you already know what to expect in the next step and you are mentally prepared for it.

Another point is that, with the younger however little they do, we are thrilled and satisfied because it for God's sake - just their first time! Shouldn't we have a celebration that he went into the class without crying? He stayed without us near him for 2 hours! And for his age, this itself is a big deal! The level of expectation from the younger is very less and so is easily achievable for him.

But with the older one - it is not easy anymore. You have to work harder to maintain what you have built and you have to put extra effort to find NEW things for him to do! To challenge him further is not as easy as it is teach the younger one ABCs!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Playdates and more fun

John Lennon said: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

I would like to rephrase it to say: Life is what happens to you while you're taking kids to birthday parties and play dates.

What an eventful week that was!

Tuesday was B and my 11th wedding anniversary. I scheduled our annual physical appointment with our physician that day, so we both can go together to the doctor and B will take off also. I like to flow with the habits enforced by the health care culture here in the U.S. So if anyone of you have been skipping the annual meeting with doctor - here is a reminder from my side. Please go!

We cut a chocolate cheesecake (I love cheesecake and Nikhil loves chocolate, so he picked a chocolate cheesecake from the grocery store!) in the morning. Kids were excited because only on these occasions they get so much sugar as part of breakfast!

It was a week full of play dates for Nithin. Back when Nikhil was small, I should confess I never knew the concept of play dates. I never consciously arranged one for him so that he could develop social skills. I was too busy for them and I was not aware too. Now Nithin is having so many play dates with compatible friends. It is fun time for the kids. It is also chat time for the moms. The weather was so beautiful and we spent some time outside in the park soaking in the sun. Make hay while the sun shines!

Yesterday, we bid farewell to another family who are moving to India for good. The potluck dinner was delicious and too much fun with Antaksari and Dumb Charades. Another set of families where the kids played well and adults had some game time. I am glad to be where I live.

Weekend marked B taking Nikhil to soccer game while I took Nithin to a fun birthday party. It is a relief to see him not shying away from people and taking part in fun activities with other kids. It was again moms' talk time - a different set of girls this time. It was a week filled with a lot social interactions and laughter and fun.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Heritage Night

In Nikhil's school every year, there is a multi-cultural evening called Heritage Night. Since we have been with the school for 4 years now, we knew what to expect. There is a big crowd of Indians who dress up in Indian clothing. But it was more colorful that what I had expected.

For the past one month, volunteers from our development had coached the kids to do a traditional Gujarati dance. That was one more thing to look forward to. It is always exciting for every mom/dad to watch their kid perform and there were many many parents who went through similar feelings that night.

I had volunteered to help man the India booth. There were so many yummy things people cooked and brought for sampling. People walked around from booth to booth sampling foods of different countries. India booth had delicious sevai upma, besan halwa, fryums, banana chips and gulab jamun which we all digged in along with serving the visitors politely :-)

"Do you want your name written in Hindi in a bookmark?"

Right at the booth, I landed the job of writing the names of visitors (mostly only kid visitors) in Hindi, the National language of India in bookmarks. I enjoyed this task since it put my Hindi writing skills to test. Of course, writing Indian names was easy - but I did have a real challenge with writing American names in Hindi. I managed to survive with Andrew and Zoe! But almost every kid and parents were excited when I wrote the kid's name in Hindi and handed over the bookmark to them. Some even got it written for other kids at home!

My initial reaction before going to the event was "Been there, done that!" But over there I met many folks who are attending this for the first time and seeing them I remembered my excitement of the facing the unknown years back- "when is the fashion parade", "what time is our kids dance"! I realized that the Heritage Night this time takes a new meaning for them. It is these newcomers who keep the spirit going every year!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


For the past one week, me and my Appa were laboring to submit a Passport renewal application for him using the new website called Passport Seva Portal. He could not successfully get past the login screen at his end in India, so he officially appointed me his travel agent in US. After getting through the creation of application and uploading the documents, we were shocked to note that the Normal appointment at the passport office is too far away for our needs. We needed to get an express appointment to proceed with our plans. Looks like these appointments open up a 8AM IST and they get filled up in no time and you had to wait the next day or another.

Since then my job was to book a Tatkal (meaning instantaneous) appointment - which was not an easy task. Every time I check for the availability of the Tatkal, all I got was "All Tatkal appointments have been booked, please try again later or another day". I kept trying at different times with despair.

Yesterday night, I tried at exact 8AM IST and I could not believe my eyes. I FINALLY saw the tatkal slots listed. My hands were literally shaking because I KNEW these will get filled up in no time. As I picked a slot and clicked "Book Appointment" keeping my fingers crossed, I saw the words "The slot you selected has been taken by another person. Please try again later". My heart sank! All the efforts went futile, I thought.

I knew LATER I may not even get this far. I could see that all the open slots that I had seen a minute earlier for the location I selected within Bangalore were GONE. I just tried another location in Bangalore and voila, I saw just ONE slot. I pounced on it and prayed to all Gods. My dad was doing the same thing from the one end - except that he can't even get as far as I can within the website. And I got the appointment!

I was never THIS happy in the recent past. Phew..! I called Appa to narrate this success story and now we can go ahead with the plans. Interesting experience - frustrating for the whole time but since I finally succeeded - now I have a smile! Little joys of life! Sense of satisfaction and accomplishment - isn't that all we want to take away from any experience!