Choices !

I am planning a trip to Vancouver in the last week of July and thought I will take Yaya with me. It will be a small break for her before her IB exams, besides she could buy her prom dress from there. She was all excited till she found that I am leaving on the same day as the Splendour in the grass festival in Byron Bay.( http://www.splendourinthegrass.com/).

It was a major decision to make for her. A week trip to Vancouver or 3 days of music festival in Byron bay.

“I don’t know what to do Mom, I really want to go to Vancouver, but all my favourite bands will be playing at the music festival” She said.

“It is totally your choice” I explained. She will have to learn to make tough choices.

Yesterday morning before going to school, she told me “Mom, I can always go to Vancouver any other time, but the music festival only happens this time, I won’t be here next year to attend the festival, so I would like to attend the festival, could you please buy the tickets for me?”

1500$ for the air fare vs 365$ for the music festival ! ( Her choice was a good deal for me)

So I sat in front of my computer from 8:30 AM for the ticket sale that started exactly at 9 AM and managed to buy the tickets for her. ( It was sold out in half an hour)

She is very happy !

( And now, me twiddling my fingers being worried about her safety starts.. I bought tickets for a music festival well known for drugs/alcohol/blah blah !)

This was last year’s review

http://www.au.timeout.com/melbourne/music/features/3799/splendour-in-the-grass-2014-review

 

 

Manakkotta!

You got to be a Malayalee to get the full meaning of the word manakkotta.. Literal translation would be castle of dreams, but it doesn’t have the same pizzazz !

A very dear friend and I share the same birthday ( different years). We even have similar eidetic memory, like the same artists, watch the same movie over and over. There is only one difference so far I have found. He is a realist and I am a dreamer. I can dream about anything and everything. Leave me alone for a few minutes ( without books) and I will start weaving my dreams..my manakkottas..

Unfortunately my kids haven’t inherited my manakkotta creating genes. They are true to the bone realists.

When Yaya came home from school after her extra lessons, I was in bed going through the bills/mails. “I am so cold” She said and climbed in to my bed and snuggled next to me.

“Whatcha doing?” She asked, while shoving her semi frozen feet between my legs. Before I used to chase her whenever she tried to shove her cold feet between my warm legs..Not any more.. Who will rub her cold nose on my cheeks to show me how cold she is or push her feet between my legs once she goes to Uni? I moved the bills to one side, so she could lay down comfortably, that is when she saw the envelope.

“What is that?” She asked

“Wedding invitation” I replied.

She looked at the envelope..my name was written by hand.

“Can you believe Mom, in about 10 years, you will be writing the address on my wedding invitations?”

10 years? I quickly calculated, she will be almost 27 !

“Yup” I replied.

“You know mom, I never really thought about my wedding”

“I have” I replied

“What did you think” She asked

“My beautiful princess walking down the aisle wearing a purple wedding gown” ( When Yaya was about 2, my sisters used to hunt all the shopping malls for purple dresses because she only wore purple, even undies had to have purple in them. She still likes purple, though not as obsessed as before)

“Purple? I am not wearing purple, I think I will wear a Vera Wang, But I want the venue to be decorated with purple and yellow flowers, lilacs and daffodils !” She said

“Then you have to have a spring wedding” I replied “Spring Indian wedding, 10 days of dance, Indian music with all the dum dum sounds, live Indian band, the whole 9 yards !” ( Yaya’s idea of Indian wedding is similar to the wedding at Bend it like Beckham, except for my cousin’s wedding that she attended when she was in grade 3, she has never been to an Indian wedding and I convinced her that all Indian weddings are like in the movie !  What is the fun in a typical Jacobite church wedding??)

“Mom, I want to get married, not scare my future family”

Did anyone notice the implications of what she said? She has got it all down pat, that one day she will get married and that will be her family. As her mother, for me that is the hardest thing to accept..but accept I must.

So my mankkotta ends the day she walks down the aisle and I hand her over to the man and his family.

You still have plenty of time.

Yaya is writing her SAT in 2 weeks time. I bought the SAT books for her when we visited US last year. She also had 2 weeks  term break last week that she could have used to revise.

Two days ago , she came to me practically in tears telling me ” Mom, I got my SAT dates wrong, I thought my Maths test is in June, but it is in May, what am I going to do?”

I swear, I contemplated wringing her neck. SAT is one of the most important part of her getting admission to her Uni of choice. Beginning of the school holidays I had told her o start working on her SAT preparation. She had the books for almost 15 months now !

There are only two things I could do. One, yell at her and make her even more miserable, two..tell her she still has enough time to study, 2 weeks is 24 hours x 14 days..that is a lot more than what I had when I was a Medical student and burned the midnight oil often the night before the exams.

Yelling at her was not going to give any benefit to either of us, so I went for option 2. Also roped in friends who are brilliant in Maths, who could help her if she needs help.

Today, I am wondering if I should take a bit of the blame. I am not your typical hands on Mom. I felt my job was to buy her the books and pay the fees. She filled the college board application etc and chose when and where she wanted to write. I didn’t check the details.. Had I done that, then perhaps I would have known that Maths exam is in May.

I guess you can’t just get through life without feeling guilty..

Imperfections !

I have no  books to read. That is really not true, I have plenty of text books to read, but that is not really what I want to read. I want my usual dose of romance books. My kids won’t go to the library to get me books because apparently they have a reputation to protect :(

I convinced a friend to go to the library for me and I couldn’t give any hints to her as to what books I have already read or the author I like and she got me the books I have already read. I usually go to the library and pick up the books with a heart sticker on it ( romance) and that is brand new. ( I have read all the old ones! ). I don’t even check the name of the author because it is a pointless exercise…. All stories are practically the same theme..so I prefer to waste the least amount of brain cells.

I hate reading ebooks..it just doesn’t feel the same and if you are like me who will occasionally sleep off while reading..then you know kindle falling on the nose hurts a lot more than a paperback!

So we are back to ” I am bored, I have nothing to do”

Imperfections.. ever since the onthu looky period, I haven’t really stood in the mirror to analyse my body. ( You wouldn’t either if you think you look like a gecko)

Since I have nothing much to do.. I thought I shall inspect my body..

I was never really bothered about stretch marks.. I have plenty. I am a mom and stretch marks are part of me. But what I noticed this time was cellulite on my thighs. Ideally I should say ” I have cellulitis, so what?” Like one of those models/celebrity.. But that is not what I did..

I swore using few colourful words and then I checked Dr. Google for miracle cure, then I felt sorry for me and  tried to convince myself that I am being really vain worrying about something really trivial..

But the truth of the matter is.. I am 44..it is inevitable that I will get cellulite..but I still can’t imagine having to wear skirts that are long enough to hide my cellulite.

I hate having to grow old..there I said it.

 

Cooking !

This Wednesday it will be 4 weeks since I cooked anything at home. My children have been doing all the shopping and cooking.

3 days after I came back from the hospital, Yaya and Toothless took the bus and went to the shop to buy grocery. They bought all that was already in the fridge. ( Mushrooms, tomatoes, beans etc) They learned the lesson that it is better to check the fridge before going to the shop to buy grocery. Apart from that little mishap, they have been doing everything well.

There were two defining moments in my life that influenced the way I treat my children when it comes to food. First was when Yaya was about 3 and I complained to a friend that “Yaya doesn’t like to eat rice and curry” and she replied ” You made her that way. Children should eat what you cook, if they don’t, that is because you allowed them to have that choice” It was such an eye opener for me. Second event happened in Canada. Yaya’s best friend ( grade 2) was cooking a proper dinner every Thursday for her family. She would take the meat out of the freezer before going to school and when she got back home after school, she went straight to the kitchen and cooked dinner. Her mother started making her daughter cook dinner once a week when she was in Kindergarten. ( They also ate uncooked/overcooked/over salted stuff for months without criticising  before the child got a hang of how to cook! She was an incredibly wonderful cook when I knew her in grade 2 )

I expect my children to eat what I cooked. However, I am a  more relaxed now that the kids are all teenagers with that particular rule and do give in if they really wanted to eat something else. But they have to make it themselves)

I also expect my children to know how to cook a decent meal.

I find it appalling that some mothers think it is a badge of honour to say ” My daughter can’t even toast a slice of bread” I think cooking is a life skill every child ought to learn.

There are things that my children do that bother me a lot. I have a set of measuring cups and  they use all of them. My point is, you only need to use 1 cup measure and you can figure out how much half cup is by just looking at the halfway point in the cup. But then I take a deep breath and tell myself, I am not doing the cleaning up and I should just shut up.

They also use all the bowls and pots and pans. I think cooking is a systematic process and if you have a game plan before you start cooking, then you use very few pots and pans. Again I take a deep breath…..

The last in the item of things that bother me..is when they stir vegetables etc in the frying pan..half if it will end up outside  the frying pan. I tell myself, it took me ages to learn to stir things without splashing it around..and breath in and out slowly.

But those are trivial matters.

What matters the most is that my children can cook healthy yummy food.

That dreaded 4 letter word.

Diet, I never thought I would write about dieting.

First of all, I don’t believe in the general idea of dieting, where you aim to be skinny, eat all those food that claims to be magical and can burn fat, for few weeks and then loose your way due to lack of will, over eat then stop eating and back to over eating…

I am a firm believer of eat what you want, but in moderation and walk and walk and walk. I like good food and I can’t imagine consuming unpalatable food for the sake of losing weight. I also don’t believe in the idea that you have to be fat because you  gained weight during pregnancy and must keep that weight as a stamp of your journey to motherhood.

My aunt is a famous Paediatrician and when she met my son last year, she kind of coughed a bit and very hesitantly mentioned “Don’t you think your son is a bit over weight?”

Her observations were correct..but I didn’t think I should really worry about it because my son leads a very active lifestyle and like any teenage boy has a very large appetite. I always cook balanced healthy meals, so I didn’t see the need to be overly concerned.

Now that I am a prisoner in my own house, my friends drop in to cheer me up. One of whom is an emergency medicine resident and he too casually mentioned my son’s weight and suggested I do something about it. ( my bad really because I kept cribbing that I have nothing to do and I am bored)

My son is 169 cm tall and weigh 80 kgs. He is 10 kg overweight. That is the truth. It is not healthy and I really had to do something about it. So I talked to him and his response was

“Mom, it is all your fault, you make really good food and I can’t resist going for seconds”

It is not possible for me to cook really bad food, so he agreed that for the next 12 weeks, he will strictly follow portion control ( absolutely no second serve) and will go on the exercise bike and burn 500 calories every day. ( not one shot..100 calories at one time over 5 times).

Today is day 6 and he weighs 78.5 kg. I am happy with his progress..

Onthu Looky !

This happened when I was in the 7th Std. The one and only interesting aspect of my life at that time were the events happening at the CSI church. I practically spent all of my Saturday evening ( Choir and Piano practice) and most of Sunday ( 9AM service choir followed by practice for next week, rush home for lunch and then return to church for the  afternoon Sunday school and every alternate Sunday take my grandmother for the early morning English service and then stay back for the usual 9 AM service choir ) at the church.

I was practicing the piano one Saturday before the choir practice and a friend walked in accompanied by a stranger. He was wearing a sunglasses.. Phew !! You must understand only handful of the Gulf returned Appachans wore sunglasses at that time and not a single youngester, so it really was a big deal. My friend was acting all hoity toity all of a sudden and she announced that her cousin bro ( the sunglass wala) was an actor. He was one of the background dancers for some song in some mallu movie. My first film star!  Phew. I looked at him all doe eyed and this resulted in him telling something to those around him and they all laughed. Before the choir practice began, I learned that he named me “onthu looky” I apparently look like an onthu . ( Garden gecko/Chameleon)
One word could describe my feelings.”Devastated”. Until then, I never ever considered how I looked. I was 12 years old and my physical appearance was only becoming apparent to me slowly. So this was a massive put down. When I got back home, I stood in front of the mirror and all I could see was an onthu and there was nothing I could do. I believed I was ugly as hell !
Years later, I was with Beautiful Eyes on his bike in Bangalore ( signal before St. Mark’s church, ? Cubbon road )and we were waiting for the light to turn green and when the light turned, the bike rider next to us revved his engine and waved at me and pushed off. I had no idea who it was and thought perhaps it was a friend of Beautiful Eyes, before I could ask, he too was speeding trying to catch up with the other rider while swearing. Traffic was heavy and he couldn’t. I was completely lost by now trying to figure what the hell was happening, so when he finally parked the bike at our destination ( Mac Fast food ), I asked him “What was all that about?” He was still seething when he replied ” Bastard, he gets excited when he sees a beautiful woman, can’t he see that you are with me and  already taken?”
I was often told by the same guy that I have zero common sense and to prove it further I asked again “Beautiful? Who?”
Let us just say that the outing that day didn’t turn out the way either of us envisaged. He was angry with the bike rider and I was clueless as to what was going on. Beautiful? Me? I didn’t think so. I looked like an Onthu!, It took a while for me to believe that I really really was beautiful ! No one ever bothered to tell me that I am beautiful until that day.
I tell my girls that they are drop dead gorgeous/beautiful and my son that he is drop dead handsome!  In my eyes, they will always be beautiful and handsome. I don’t want my children to stand in front of the mirror and be tormented by the view of another person. I want them to see their own beauty..
Btw, just in case you think that children will become vain when you tell them  they are beautiful.. Yaya told me this when she was 13 and I told her she looks gorgeous ” You are my mother, you are supposed to say that”
 

Modesty !

Now that it is school holidays a lot of my children’s friends have been coming over to my house. Yaya and her friends had some filming project to do and she wore her usual attire, shorts and a small tee shirt. “How do I look Mom?” She asked.

“beautiful” I replied. ( I must write about telling your children that they are beautiful..that will be tomorrow’s post :)  )

As they were leaving, her friend told me ” Sarah, I wish my mom was like you”

I didn’t know why she said that, so when Yaya got back home, I asked her.

Apparently, her friend ( Indian) is not allowed to wear shorts and must wear either skirts that reach below the knee or loose fitting jeans (her mom is  very clear on that rule..no skinnies)

Last year, in my youngest’s school there was a mallu girl who wore leggings under her school uniform. You could always spot her in the crowd because she was the only one who wore black leggings in a school of 600 students who wore the normal uniform..which is a knee length dress. ( you have the option to wear the dress or shorts and school t-shirt. My kids opted for shorts and t-shirts)

There are many issues here that bothers me

1. Weather. Summer months are really hot. I wear outfits made of the lightest fabric at work because of the heat.  When it is cold, you can layer up and keep yourself warm..when it is hot, the reverse is true. It is the same reason kids choose to wear shorts..it is not a fashion statement.

2. Fake modesty. This is one thing that bothers the most. Indian way of thinking..that you are a wonderful, well bred girl if you cover up your body. There is so much wrong in that belief..first and foremost, it is sexualizing a girl by judging her with what she wears. She wears a revealing outfit, she is promiscuous. which is often followed by the rhetoric that  the women wearing revealing clothes are asking to be raped. ( And an elderly nun was raped recently )

3. Rights of an individual. Your children have rights. I know it is easier to say, I gave you life, therefor I choose what you can wear. Shouldn’t that be considered bullying? Def of a bully is someone who use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something. Your belief system is your own. Surely, you grew up in India, wore ‘proper’ outfits that covered you from head to toe and your entire community gave you the award that you are a good girl. But now you don’t live in India and are raising an Aussie citizen, why must you force your values on your children and make them follow dictates that are irrelevant to them culturally?

One of Yaya’s friend wears full length dresses from home and come to school very early, so she could change in to shorts/ mini skirts. She doesn’t work and doesn’t have any income of her own.. so ask yourself, where is she getting the money to buy the second sets of clothes?

When we were living in Malaysia, Yaya wore dresses. It was a joy to find cute dresses, matching hair ties and shoes for her. ( My oldest sister used to buy her beautiful dresses as well) Within a month after arriving in Canada, she started to wear jeans in winter and shorts in summer. It was so disappointing to me because I loved to see her in a dress. But I understood why she opted for jeans. She could only hang upside down on the monkey bar if she wore jeans/shorts !!!! She rarely wears dresses even now. To this day, I have never told her what she can/cannot wear. I chose to get out of India. It was my choice and I will not force my cultural roots on my children, when it was I who wanted to escape.

All

I have been nominated for a very prestigious Scholarship in a very prestigious Uni..The chances that I will get it is very remote and that is not the point of today’s post.

Years ago, after I quit work and became a stay at home Mom, there were days I wondered if everything was ok with my mental faculty. This was the time when I, a woman with an IQ of 149 was analysing  systematic way to wash Nappies. ( the best way was to wash off the poop, then soak in strong soap for minimum 6 hours, followed by 6 rinses by hand. Environmentally friendly, one income etc meant I used reusable nappies than diapers!). Meanwhile my medical college classmates were climbing the ladder of success creating their own niche and leaving their kids to be raised by others and my life was like a groundhog day. Taking care of the kids, each day, every day with hardly any rest.

But there was one quote that I believed in

“You can have it all, but not all at the same time”.

When I struggled as an immigrant in Canada with no money, there were days I didn’t believe that I could have anything..

But today I can tell you..” you really can have it all, but remember not all at the same time”

Today, I am glad I took the time off and raised my children. I gave them the best childhood a mother could ever give and they gave me a chest full of good memories that I can carry to the end of my life. I did my job as a mother very well.

Now it is my turn to shine in my career and shine I will.

A and C

My son got his first C in a report card. C for IB (HL) Physics. He was with me when I opened his report card. His first question to me was

“Are you disappointed Mom?”

I laughed hearing him ask me that. Why would I be disappointed when I got more Motta than anyone else I ever knew?

I told him ” Son, an alphabet in your report card doesn’t make me disappointed. Getting a C is not the end of the world, but I am a bit surprised as to what happened? that is all”

“Mom, I didn’t think Physics will be this hard” he replied.

IB itself is really hard and HL (Higher level) is the hardest level in IB and he has to take HL Maths, Physics and Chemistry. ( also known as the suicide trio) So I guess he is in for a lot of hard work.

Meanwhile Yaya got A for English, which she gets every single time. It was a bit surprising this time because she hasn’t read the books she is supposed to write the essay on. Instead she read Spark notes and wrote her essay based on that and still got A.

Initially I thought perhaps I should really tell her what she is doing is wrong.

But then I remembered walking to the bookshop near CMS college the day before my pre-degree exams started. I was looking to buy the Azizi guidebook and the Appachan wearing a soda kannadi climbed on top of the wooden chair, to grab the last copy he had that was on top of the shelf. He dusted the book with his palm and  told me ” Kochey, the syllabus is changing next year, so don’t buy this book now” and I replied ” Appacha, this is for the exam tomorrow” I think it is nothing but miracle that he didn’t fall off the chair. I didn’t read/study the text book and only read the guide before my exam. So how can I tell my daughter to read her text book?

And so we collect A’s and B’s and C’s..some with hard work and some with no work !