Moments

Few days ago, I woke my kids up at 2 am to watch the Geminid Meteor shower. Baby had been out with her friends for swimming all day and she was exhausted. She mumbled and told me “I am so tired mom, I want to sleep” and went back to bed.

My son was in the kitchen making hot chocolate for all of us when Baby went back to bed. A few minutes later, I heard my son talk to his little sister and this is what he said

“Baby, these moments with your family, you will not get it back. Surely, you will be able to watch more meteor showers as you grow older, but this moment, this particular meteor shower on this particular night..it only happens right now. So please get up and come and sit with us. I will add extra marshmallows in your hot chocolate for you”

And she did.

As I have written before, I am scared of darkness and my house is pretty isolated and very close to the bush. Watching Criminal minds in the evening also didn’t help to make me feel not scared. Every leaf that moved suggested snakes, every shadow was that of a deranged perpetrator.

My son sat next to me and in him I found my strength.

Together we sipped hot chocolate and watched the meteor shower. It was so beautiful. My children and I made a wish each time they spotted a meteor. I don’t know what they wished for and more than wishes mine were all about Thanks. I am thankful for the joys of being a mother, I am thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my children.

As we come to the end of another beautiful year, I wish all of you more beautiful moments with your loved ones.

I will be away on much needed break until Jan 26th. Children and I are backpacking through S. E Asia. I am not sure if I will be able to blog regularly while I am away. I will try to update whenever I can.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

How can I ?

Yesterday evening Yaya and I went to the mall to do our Christmas shopping.

She is so much fun to be with. Every now and then she would nudge me and whisper, “Did you see that guy? He is so hot ,mom I think I will die of heat stroke”

After her trip to Spain where she met a very hot tour guide whom she assumed wouldn’t know much English and decided to be naughty and proposed “Marry me” and it turned out that the guide was an exchange student from Texas. Since then,she no longer proposes to hot guys..( I am sure there may be some of you who will be offended reading this, but she is a teenager, this is part of her initiation in to an adult :)  )

She told me “I love you mom, you are the best” every now and then.

She still holds my hand as we walk.

She made sure she bought the gifts she knows that her siblings would like. She boughts two gifts for her siblings. One from Santa and one from her. ( Even though all three of them know isn’t real)

After she bought two gifts each for her siblings, she remembered that Baby’s favourite Percy Jackson series has a new book. I am stingy by nature and she already bought two gifts. So I said “Nah” to the book and she said “Fine, I will spend my own money” at the same time pouted her lips like a sad puppy.

I am a sucker for her pouted lips and bought the book. After a Thank you and I love you mom,  she said “but mom”

I knew where we were heading. If Baby gets three gifts, then her brother should also get three. So we went to the Game shop to buy yet another Xbox game for her brother.

Half way through I heard her phone ring. She picked up the phone and said

“Ola” and she listened to whatever the person on the other end was saying and I heard her ask

“Which movie?”

“With whom?”

“What time will you be back home?”

“Ok, have fun.I will let Mom know. Bye”

I had left my phone in the car and my son called his sister’s phone to ask me if he could go for a movie with his friends and Yaya did what I usually do and asked all the right questions. I was really impressed.

I really had a good time with her yesterday. Much as I cherished each of those moments, a part of me kept asking “How will I go on living when my child leaves home?”

 

Report card

End of term report cards of my children arrived in the mail few days ago and that got me thinking. If I could have report card as a mom, how would I grade myself?

D for the messiest house. Ideally I would like to live in one of those picture perfect homes where everything is in the right place. I can no longer enter Yaya’s room because I am not sure what I will be stepping on. Before she left for Mexico, she tidied up her room ( mostly out of fear because I threatened to throw everything in the bin while she is away). But the thing was, I missed her messy room when she wasn’t home. All of a sudden her room looked like a sterile hospital room and I didn’t like it. I realized that I rather have a messy room with my child in it that a sterile room with no child in it. Her room is going to spick and span when she leaves home this time next year. So I made a conscious effort to not to go after her to tidy it up. My relatives too saw the state of her room and made plenty of observations. I am fine with that, because I know in 5 years, my house will be like one of those picture perfect home and I am not going to be excited.

D for not cooking breakfast and lunch during school holidays. I know I am the mom and it is my job to nurture and feed my children. But they are old enough to fix their own meals. Sometimes I see instant noodles covers in the bin and I feel terribly guilty. Often the youngest steps in and cooks for her siblings too. My son makes beef patties etc. Yaya Is difficult to break.. she is hoping to survive on air and water when she is at Uni.

D for calling names. Ok, I have to rephrase that. As I was called deaf and dumb and bling while growing up, I promised myself I wouldn’t call my children names. Last year, the local TV station had a program where the viewers had to call and tell them the one thing that someone in their life said to them that annoyed them the most and my son wanted to call in and report what I say  when I am really annoyed with them.

I am known to say ” there is a movie called dumb and dumber, did you by any chance act in it?” Over the years, I just say “there is a movie” for which my children will fill in “Smart and the smarter or Prince and princess” etc. I have tried my level best to stop saying it, but there are times I just have to say it, like the time my son removed an important part from his school computer ( he was trying to create something with that), knowing very well that I, the mother will have to pay for the damages. I am not a perfect mom. I know I have my share of failings and this would top my list of failings.

A for hugs and I love you’s. I still give them a hug every day. I still them I love you every chance I get.

A for surprises in their school lunch bag. I often pack a treat, love notes, riddles or jokes in their lunch bag. And they do write the answer for the riddles and place it back in their lunch bag.

B for family games. Most evenings, I am exhausted. So sometimes I try to weasel out of family games nights.. I bought two new games this year. Australian version of trivial pursuit and Balderdash. Of all the games we own I like Balderdash the best. I like the way my children write. their descriptions are hilarious. For eg, the word was soushumber and my youngest wrote it is a genetically crossbred of sushi and cucumber that eventually takes over the world and make it in to cucumber city with sushi capital. ( Soushumber is a weed :)  )

C for getting annoyed with small things. Sometimes I tend to miss the bigger picture and get annoyed with really trivial things.

B for allowing my children independence. I am ok with them going out with their friends for dinner or movies etc. But sometimes, I get annoyed when they spend every weekend with their friends.. It is not like I have infinite time with them..and it is only fair that they spend some of their time with me. They on the other hand do not agree with my views. They think they have spend enough time with me and now it is their turn to live their life.

All in all.. it is an OK report card..I guess I managed to pass to take the next year of mothering.

 

Hypocrisy

As I wrote many times before, I am usually at the receiving end of various direct and indirect innuendos about my children’s lack of cultural ( read Indian) awareness by various relatives.

It really doesn’t matter to anyone that I have three happy, hardworking, well behaved children. What matters the most is that they are not acting like Malayalees.

Comments by various family members went like this.

1.”When my children were little, I taught them, they  are Malayalees, they have 5000 years of rich cultural heritage behind them. It doesn’t matter where you were born or the passport you hold. Being a Malayalee is the most important thing and I made sure we spoke Malayalam at home and visited our family and relatives in India every year”

2. Yaya made the mistake of telling them that she is hoping to study in US. “Are you crazy? Why would you want to spend so much money to study in US, when Unis like Indias IIT are the top Unis in the world. ( they are not even in the first 100 top uni) Indian education is the best, the teachers know how to explain  US education is crap. It is a waste of money.

3. My son had friends over. “Doesn’t he have any Indian friends? He is going to learn all the bad habits, take drugs and drink alcohol if he has only white friends. Indian children are all raised with the same standard. It is better that you ( as in me the mother) prevent him from mixing with the wrong crowds.

4. After dinner, my children excused themselves and went to Yaya’s room to watch a movie on her computer. She has a huge collection of movies that she buys from the shop where she works.

“Do you know what movie they are watching?” They asked me.

I didn’t know. ( My children knew from the time they were old enough to understand to follow the code restrictions. If it is MA, they won’t let Baby watch it. I don’t have to ask them each time they watch a movie what movie are they watching. I trust them.)

“How can you be so irresponsible? You should take better control of your children. There are so many bad movies, you can’t raise them like this. For heaven’s sake, you are the mother”

To recap, the person who told me all of the above, his oldest child studied in an Ivy league uni, married her Jewish classmate. I would have liked to ask, how come he didn’t send his children to India to study if the education in India is the best and how come he allowed his child to marry a non Malayalee. But the thing with mallus is..their advice is free and flowing but it doesn’t mean that they themselves follow it. They are send to earth to make sure everyone else follows the mallu dictates..but they themselves are exempt. Hypocrites.

 

Exams

A week before Yaya had her grade 11 final exams, she came home and told me “Mom, I can’t breath”

I knew right away that she was getting nervous and showing signs of exam anxiety.

Exam anxiety is normal and if you don’t learn to cope with it, you will end up not doing your tests well.

I searched online and found this link that explains what is exam anxiety and how to deal with it and printed it out and gave it to Yaya.

http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/Test_Anxiety_Booklet.pdf

( sorry, again the link icon on wp doesn’t work)

The day before her exams, I saw Yaya revising for an hour and then she read story books..On the morning of exams, she was still reading her story books. Her point is, if you have worked all year and are sure that you did give your 100%, then there is nothing more you can study the few hours before your exams. Instead, you should relax, read a book and not get stressed unnecessarily.

I must say, I grew up in India and it is really stressful to see my child not studying, instead reading a novel just before the exams..that was not how I grew up with. I remember walking up and down the corridor and frantically parroting all the points in my text book and reading the text book till I enter the exam hall..you know that one last minute preparation…

Anyway, she didn’t feel breathless again and seemed to have learned how to deal with exam anxiety and I learned a bit too late that I wasted so many hours doing unnecessary revision when I could have read more novels. :)

 

Hmm

Today is Baby’s final assembly at the elementary school. The grade 7 students vacate their places and leave the hall and the grade 6 move in to grade 7 places. One group leave with tears rolling down their eyes and the other group all excited to be the new grade 7 students.

28 years ago, I too went through this. I remember feeling petrified as to where my life will take me. I was living in a two bed room dungeon ( it really was) kind of house with an absent father and present but not really present mother. SSLC exam was my make it or break it exam. No one had faith in me that I would do well and I had big shoes to fill in. My sister was a brilliant student and everyone knew her and her achievements. As I left the assembly hall for the last time, I felt my world and all that I considered as my safety net was crumbling around me and I felt all alone.

From a small place in Kerala to where I am now.. what a beautiful journey it had been..and it was worth every bit.

This morning Baby came to me and said “Mom, I am not ready to leave my school”

And I smiled and told her ” I know it is really hard, but trust me when I tell you this, the journey ahead is worth it,  ‘Oh the places you will go’ ”

Together we read Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the places you will go”

 

Surprises

Yesterday was Baby’s grade 7 graduation.

Yaya helped to pick her dress, did her hair and makeup and my job was the role of the spectator. My child looked gorgeous. I bought her a silver coin from Perth mint as her graduation gift. (http://www.perthmint.com.au/catalogue/forever-love-2014-1-2oz-silver-proof-coin.aspx)

 

All three of my children have completed elementary school education and they no longer depend on me like they used to. Today, I am just so glad that I was able to spend every minute of their childhood with them. It was an honour and I am grateful for the opportunity. I read somewhere that growing old is a privilege denied to many and I honestly think it is staying at home to raise your children is the biggest privilege denied to many.

As I walked in to the hall to attend the ceremony, her class teacher handed me her grade 7 report card and told me “You have an awesome child and it was a delight to have taught her and would you please let me know when she goes to Uni as to what she chose to do?” Currently she writes and publishes novels on Wattpad and her dream is to be a journalist and her teacher thinks she will make a very good journalist.

I don’t like to compare my children as they are different as day and night and it is really not fair on them to be compared as they are unique in their own ways. That being said, I would like to talk about how different they are ! Yaya and Toothless are driven and have always excelled academically and Baby has always been a happy go lucky kind of child. She didn’t give a damn if she got a B, unlike her siblings.

As a mom, the only thing that I am concerned is with the Effort column, I expect them to give 100 % when it comes to effort. I haven’t seen Baby studying for her exams and didn’t really expect anything great in her report card. Besides, I know that Grade 7 marks really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of life.

To say I was shocked to see her report card was probably the biggest understatement of the year.

Without much further ado, here it is.

photophoto (2)photo

As you know by now, I am hopeless when it comes to taking a decent photo. Baby got A for English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, and B for HPE, Arts, Technology, Japanese and Music.

Effort: Excellent for all subjects.

I liked the violin music teacher’s comment the most. XXXX reads music with reasonable accuracy and fluency and demonstrates good technical proficiency on her instrument at this level. XXXX has a very high commitment to lessons and ensemble and is organized in regard to her equipment and attendance.

So here I am..on a beautiful sunny day..a part of me is very excited to see my children growing up..and a part of me wish for a little bit more time..just a little bit more time

60:40

A very dear friend lost his job last month. Currently he is taking his wife and their two children on a trip  around the world, instead of looking for a job. The truth is, he doesn’t really need to look for a job, he is financially very secure. He started working at the age of 15 and followed the 60:40 rule. Save 60% of the money he earns and spend only the 40%. By the time he finished his Engineering degree, he owned his own 2 bedroom house. He is 42 years old, owns a fully paid home and two investment properties that bring in a good rental income and he can live on the rent for ever without having to work. ( He didn’t take a single dime from his parents ever since he started going to Uni )

My mother’s aunt adviced my mother to save 100Rs/month from her salary the day she started working. If my mother had followed that advice, when she retired she would have been a millionaire.

I don’t have time to work it out, but quick maths shows, if you started with 100$ and invested 100$ every  year and the interest is 10% ( bit high, but easy to work with) at the end of 5 years, you will have $639, 20 years $ 6500, 40 years it will be $ 58,827.

Financial independence is pretty easy if you are very careful  working with the money you have in your hand.

Changes

One thing I am adamant to give my kids is individual time with me. It is not that I have a lot of spare time, but it is not my children’s fault that I have a very busy life.So I squeeze in time for each of them, however busy/tired I am.

Now that it is Summer and the sun is up at 4.30 AM, I no longer can go for my morning walk ( too hot), So After I cook dinner I go for my evening walk, making sure that my son too would have finished his homework by then, so he could join me. It is our time together. For him to tell me about his day and all things that he finds exciting.

In the past few weeks, I have learned which girls are really hot, How they are building a steel dome in Chernobyl to prevent further radiation from escaping the plant, Why I must not vote for LNP in the next election, back to the hottest girl he saw at the bus stop..

He needs that time to talk to an adult..and I am more than willing to lend my ears.

But yesterday’s “guess what mom” moment took me by surprise.

“Guess what Mom?” He asked as we started our walk.

( I have written it often, I really hate the guess what riddles)

“What?” I asked, expecting him to tell me that he got in to trouble at school again.

“We had a Spanish test yesterday and I had to write about my family” He said

“and?” I asked.

“It was the same test I had to write last year” He stopped walking and looked at me to see if I was getting what he was trying to tell me in riddles.. I hadn’t the slightest clue.

“And?” I asked again, a bit impatient this time

“Well, last year I wrote, my mom is tall and skinny and this year I wrote my mom is short and skinny” He was so happy to tell me that.

Yes, he is now taller than me !

The way his eyes sparkled, his sheepish grin and his excitement to reach another physical milestone..they are the joys of being a mother..these are the moments I will never forget..and that is why I make sure they can spend some alone time with me..

Better.

How fast two weeks went by and I missed updating my blog. Two sets of friends and family have come and gone and two more will arrive this weekend.

When I visited my mother the last time I went to India. She asked me ” Do your children still fight with each other?”

I was really puzzled by that question because I didn’t think my children fought with each other. Of course they have their squabbles, but I was very sure that they do not fight like my sisters and I did for my mother to ask me that kind of question. But then again, most of the first five years of my children’s life were a blur to me and I thought perhaps I am living in  denial..

Last week, Yaya gave her external hard drive to her youngest sister, so she could watch teen wolf episodes. But then something went wrong while baby was using the hard drive and it  stopped working. In it were all of Yaya’s school work and music collection. Most importantly, her 2000 words extended essay draft that is part of her IB curriculum which she needed to submit before the end of the week.

I am not sure why she didn’t print a copy of her essay draft, or even sent it by email to someone ( at least to herself..which I told her to do so many times to do)

Baby was distraught.

But what surprised me the most was how Yaya handled it. She came to me and told me “Mom, I lost everything on that hard drive”. I hugged her and offered to make her a cup of tea. ( like Sheldon Cooper, which always make my children smile). We had tea and cookies and she went back to her room to rewrite her essay..Not a single harsh word was said to her youngest sister..She understood that things like this happen and no one was at fault.

I could have made it worst for her by telling her off for not having saved her work. ( technically she did, she saved it on her external hard drive and assumed it would be fine)  I could have told her of for not letting her brother copy her music collection, which if she did, she wouldn’t have lost her entire music collection..all those hours and money spent copying the music..

But I remembered each time I made a mistake, how my mother made it worst for me by going over and over about how I could have avoided the disaster.. as if I wanted something bad to happen to me.

I read somewhere ” your past doesn’t have to dictate your present. It is not your past that defines you, it your reaction and current actions that define you the most”

So, yes, I had a miserable childhood, but it doesn’t mean that my children have to suffer..and no, I wasn’t living in denial,my children don’t fight with each other..they were not raised to hate each other.