Friday, May 27, 2011

Grandparents are Grand

Yesterday an epic battle took place during HRH's Math revision. The second he sat down the whining soundtrack began to play.

"I don't want to do thissssss...."

"I want to take a breakkkkk..."

"I want to playyyy....."

"I am so tireddddd....."

"I am so thirstyyyyy....."


The stretching of the last letter should demonstrate how the whining went on and on and on....

Finally with nerves frazzled due to the endless sounds of misery emitting from HRH, and the final straw being the rolling off of his pencil from the desk for the 67th time, I unleashed a verbal assault.

As I continued my tirade, with each second HRH's face got sulkier and sulkier, which annoyed me more and more, and when I eventually stopped yelling, I realized I had made a grave mistake.

The mistake was to have censured the child in front of his grandparents. My parents who were witnesses to this showdown, thankfully waited silently, till he had left the room then proceeded to give me an earful of my own. It was all about being patient and calm and not yelling at him and how his self-esteem may suffer.

The funny thing is I remember being yelled at on numerous occasions when growing up and I believe my self-esteem wasn't damaged in any way. Nor have I been scarred for life.

Grandparents and their grandchildren generally speaking, share a loving, supportive and wonderful relationship that makes you the common enemy. Children have a survival instinct through which they can sense when they will find support from their nanas, dadas, nanis and dadis, and will exploit this to their own gain. On numerous occasions, when expecting a telling off from me for something wrong he has done, HRH will dash off to shelter behind a grandparent, who will grin sheepishly and signal with a shake of the head "Let him off the hook".

HRH is a lucky kid to enjoy the showering (read monsoon level) of love he receives from all our family members. At the same time I am lucky that (mostly) the grandparents keep their differences of opinion to themselves till HRH is out of earshot. While I may feel irritated by these suggestions at times, I love seeing the happiness HRH's mere presence causes among his grandparents. He seems to be the miracle cure resulting in the disappearance of all their aches and pains, which you would think had never existed at all when he rides on their backs and shoulders yelling 'Giddy up horsie!'

Monday, May 23, 2011

HRH's Taliban Analysis

Day of the PNS Mehran, Karachi attack -

HRH: Bin Laden was the boss of Al-Qaeda right?
Me: Yes.
HRH: Are they in Lahore?
Me: Well they are in Pakistan
HRH: Are they going to make me dead?
Me: No..you'll be okay..
HRH: I guess the Taliban are the most baddest people in the world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Things I Hate About HRH's Exams

1. Implementing lockdown mode i.e. making HRH physically sit down to revise.
This involves the rising of both stress levels and voice volume, since he needs a 'break' after each sum he completes or after a couple of lines he writes, since he gets very 'tired'. Too tired to sit still and finish working, but not too tired to run around madly, jump around on all kinds of furniture, yelling during the work break.

2. Coming up with new threats each day.
These range from 'You will not be allowed to play/watch TV/use the iPad' to 'If you don't finish your work I'm going to cancel your weekend golf/going to Humpty Dumpty Playland (which I would love to do since the music on those rides drives me mad)'. Threats require a certain level of inventiveness. They need to be realistic while at the same time be creative, since issuing the same threat over and over again can become boring for both the child and yourself. After all variety is the spice of life.

3. Getting HRH back to the desk after a break.
This involves letting him know 2 minutes in advance when his 5 or 10 minute break will end. The first warning is ignored. When informed it is time to start working again, there will be an argument about how 5 or 10 minutes have not actually passed yet. There may be some truth to this as I try to cheat on a couple of minutes here and there. For someone who can't tell the time properly yet, HRH seems to know precisely to the second if his break time is being cheated on.

4. Answering unrelated questions during revision time.
HRH's philosophizing on life and the meaning of it, along with other fascinating concepts, all seem to happen in the middle of writing an Urdu essay on 'aam' or 'mera ghar'. What is it about finding out how many more apples John has (56 apples) than Sam (37 apples), that brings forth a sudden interest in my well-being with questions such as 'So Ammi tell me how was your day?' No, I'm not going to fall for that.

5. Discovering the way I am imparting knowledge is incorrect.
Me: So this is how you subtract by borrowing
HRH: No it isn't.
Me: What do you mean? Yes it is.
HRH will then show me another way of borrowing. (Who knew there were multiple ways of doing that?) After having to hear a scornful laugh along with 'You don't know anything Ammi', I am forced to concede defeat and agree that he can stick to subtracting the way his teacher has taught him.

Boo to B.O.

Time to rant. With the daily BBQ we all have to endure in the Lahori summer, the additional flavoring of B.O. can make things really unbearable.

It is understandable that some people suffering from this unfortunate affliction may not be able to do anything about it due to a lack of knowledge or resources. However, people who should know better deserve no sympathy, for there are plenty of products out there for this very purpose. These people can be found everywhere. In schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, on flights (unfortunately sitting right next to you), in supermarkets and more.

We have all come across people who enter the room and make you instantly recoil at the sudden atmospheric assault (as well as at the horror that such an odor can come from an individual who is apparently completely unaware of it). Trying to recover from the shock, holding your breath, writhing in agony internally, can be an exhausting experience (especially if aforementioned person remains in a space around you for more than a few minutes).

I humbly request all such nasal ninjas, please, if not for yourself, then for those around you, use some body freshener (for there are plenty out there) to make the environment more conducive to breathing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Too Much To Ask

I want my child to not ask me if a pile of burning rubbish we pass by is the result of a bomb; or pass by a building with broken windows and ask me if the Taliban did that; or issue threats like 'I want to sell you to Al-Qaeda'.

I want to have someone to vote for in the next election who inspires confidence and will not turn out to be an incompetent crook, like most of our 'leaders' seem to be.

I want to know what the results are of the 'investigations' that happen after a top official is assassinated or a suicide bomb goes off. Why doesn't anyone tell us anything? Is it because no one is actually investigating anything? Or is it because we are just supposed to be kept in the dark?

I want our news channels to follow up on these investigations and not just churn out tabloid journalism with screaming talk shows thrown in.

I want to know if our army really is as incompetent as it is being made out to be after the OBL episode or if it's actually playing all kinds of double/triple/quadruple mind games.

I want to not hear 5 different conspiracy theories about any event that happens.

I want to have electricity all day. I don't want to schedule my phone/laptop charging, ironing or microwave usage. I also don't want to have to dread when the power goes off at night whether it will come back on again or not.

I want someone to give me some hope that things will get better.

Since I'm 'wanting', I might as well mention world peace and a cure for cancer.

It's all too much to ask.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bedtime Bother

I hate HRH's bedtime as much as he does.

He doesn't want to sleep and I have to sit around with him until he does.

You would think an almost 6 year old would fall asleep himself. Unfortunately, he refuses to let me leave the bedroom till he's asleep. So while he fidgets around in bed, I have no choice but to sit and fume.

Typical bedtime routine post brushing teeth and lying in bed:

HRH: I'll sleep after reading my book for 5 minutes.

Me: Ok but just 5 minutes.

5 minutes later -

Me: Ok time to sleep now.

HRH: I asked Baba earlier and he said I can watch 10 minutes of TV before going to sleep.

Me: But you just spent 5 minutes reading didn't you?

HRH: Yes but I asked Baba about the TV.

Me: Fine.

10 minutes later -

Me: Ok now I don't want to hear another word. I'm switching off the lights.

HRH: Ok but I'm not sleepy at all.

Me: Just try and sleep.

2 minutes post lights off -

HRH: I'm thirsty.

Me: Your water bottle is lying next to you.

HRH: Ok switch the lights on so I can see.

2 minutes post thirst quenching -

HRH: My nose is blocked. I need Vicks.

Me (swearing under breath): Fine. I'll put some Vicks on your nose.

2 minutes post nose unblocking operation -

HRH: I'm really not sleepy.

Me: (silence)

HRH: Ammi did you hear me?

Me (silent scream of rage): I know. But you still have to try and sleep.

2 minutes post having made me acknowledge he's not sleepy -

*Sounds of rustling*

Me: What are you doing?

HRH: Nothing *sounds of things being hurriedly moved around in the dark*

I switch on the lamp to discover he has sneaked toys under his pillow earlier which he is now playing with.

Me: Will you stop playing and give me those things.

HRH: Ammi...you shouldn't snatch things.

Me: [refuse to be drawn into an argument (especially since he's right) while overcoming urge to throw something at him]

2 minutes after yet again settling him down -

*Sounds of wrestling emerge from his bed*

Me: Now what?!

HRH: This stupid quilt!

I turn on the lights to see him completely tangled up in the duvet.

After rescuing him from the coils of the quilt, I once again reiterate that if I hear another word from him he will be in big trouble.

HRH: Why don't you go, I'll sleep myself.

Me: Really?

HRH: Yes....I'll just read and play till I feel sleepy.

Me: I don't think so. I'll stay...JUST GO TO SLEEP!

After a few more requests ranging from 'I need to go to the bathroom' to 'I'm hungry again' to 'What does 'pitcher' mean?'/'When can I get married?'/'What's the plan for tomorrow?' and so on; eventually, at long last there is silence in the room.

This is due to HRH having fallen asleep....or both of us having fallen asleep.

Love and Live

I got married almost 7 years ago. It was in the most traditional way possible.

I had always thought there was no way I would marry anyone whom I met through a 'trolley scene' (This did not of course involve me pushing a trolley laden with tea-time goodies into a drawing room for a prospective husband, but means just that it was very much the traditional way of doing things). After all, how can you say yes I'll marry someone without knowing anything about them and just meeting them at occasions when they would be on their best behaviour?

The Parade of Prospectives began just before I graduated from university.

"What time will you be back today? So-n-so knows someone who wants to come over..."

Come over to do what? Inspect me to see if I am good enough for their beloved male offspring?

It used to make my blood boil.

I met various people in various settings arranged by various people.

Oh the stories I could tell.

There was the father of the 'boy' ('boy' being used very loosely to describe a 35 year old balding man) who asked me 'So what salary are you getting?'

Then there was the mother of her 'chand ka tukra' who wanted to know if I would stop working after getting married.

This is not leading to the logical conclusion of how much traditional trolley scenes suck (they do 95% of the time by the way).

Surprisingly, I ended up marrying someone who after I met him for all of 25 minutes, I decided was alright to marry.

A huge decision based on what exactly you may ask? During that 25 minute meeting we discussed our respective organizations mutual advertising agency and it's strengths and weaknesses.

As the visitors (not meant at all like the 'V' visitors...mostly not anyway) reversed out of the driveway and my mother cleared away the remains of the tea, I was asked 'So what should I say if they say they want to go ahead?'

I found myself saying very surprisingly and nonchalantly 'Okay.'

Faisal told me later, his mother asked him as they were reversing down the driveway 'So? What do you think?' and he said to his own surprise, just as nonchalantly 'Okay.'

As corny and cliched (and yes pass-the-bucket-worthy it may sound), that's just how it happened.

During the 6 months from our engagement to our wedding, we became the best of friends.

Today I can honestly say he is my best friend and I am lucky to have found him the way I did.

There have been countless stories of 'lowwe' marriages and arranged ones sadly falling apart down the road. There have been childhood sweethearts who after getting married have decided to go their separate ways. There have also been plenty of arranged marriages which fall apart for all sorts of reasons or (perhaps worse) last unhappily forever for a number of incorrect reasons.

The bottom line I suppose is that its all the luck of the draw.

I have been extremely fortunate to have married someone who I clicked with instantly, who I share numerous interests with and who luckily has a sense of humor and a unique maturity (I'm not saying he can't be pretty obtuse...because he can), but who ultimately is truly my soul-mate.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing of course. We have had our share of disagreements, arguments, not talking for days and more....and will continue to do so I'm sure. The happily ever after in the cartoons, movies and books don't take into account the frustrations of daily life, such as, there being no electricity all day, the child being a pain in the backside, your co-workers acting like morons or your just generally being bored and looking to pick a fight.

I sincerely hope everyone is as fortunate to find that special someone who ends up being their best friend/punching bag/therapist/cheerleader/partner in crime.

Since I can visualize the bags and buckets being passed around now I'll stop.

Faisal, this one's for you. (P.S. it's your turn to do the dishes)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Night Terrors

In the evening after a day of watching the news of Osama Bin Laden's death -

HRH: Osama Bin Laden was a bad guy?
Me: Yes
HRH: Those men with guns behind him are his soldiers?
Me: Yes
HRH: Are they also dead?
Me: No not all of them
HRH: Do they live in Pakistan? Will they attack us? Do they kill children?

----

Later at bedtime -

HRH: I can't sleep because I keep thinking of Taliban and those soldiers. Do they live in Pakistan? Can they come here?

----

Next day while driving down Main Boulevard and seeing a building with broken windows - 

HRH: Maybe the Taliban broke this building 

----

A week later -

HRH (fighting with one of his khalas): I want to sell you to Al-Qaeda and get the Taliban to kill you.

----

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Life and death.

You don't really think about the death part unless it hits you in the face. The illness of a loved one. The death of a friend in a freak accident. The tragic loss of a stranger. That's when you would feel that fleeting emotion of sympathy and terror mixed in one.

It could have been me.

That could be me.

What if that happened to me?


Numerous scenarios related to the various what-ifs would cross your mind. You would think of what needs to be done. That insurance policy that needs to be bought. Those details you need to tell your partner in case something happens to you. Those instructions you would want passed on to your child.

You remember all the cheesy quotes and sayings you have read or heard about living each day like it's your last and everything else along those lines, and for a minute or two you will resolve to live by those rules. Living each moment to the fullest.

Then the feeling passes. You move on. Perhaps in a few hours, or a few days or even in a few weeks. Eventually it's only those directly affected by the aftermath of whatever tragedy has befallen them, who are left to deal with it.

You go back to living your daily routine. Sending kids off to school. Going off to work. Paying the bills. Whining about the heat. Complaining about the power cuts. Grumbling about how bored you feel. Bitching about how horrible people are. Moaning about how awful everything is and how nothing will ever change. Basically, getting on with the process of 'living'.

Maybe that is the way humans cope. If we were constantly sitting and fretting about when we're going to die and what would happen after that, perhaps we would cease to function.

I remember when I was a teenager who was 'misunderstood' I would think about what would happen if I died and how it would serve 'them' right and how sorry they would feel then. Kurt Cobain's suicide note apparently said "It's better to burn out than to fade away". At the age of 14, I thought that was poetically brilliant (it was only later I found out it was actually said by Neil Young).

Now having seen some people burn out, cut down in the prime of their lives, leaving in their wake families who will never recover from a loss such us the one they have endured, I can only (vainly) hope that no one has to go through this sort of trauma.

Life and death. If you're alive, then you are guaranteed to experience death. I suppose all you can do is pray for one that will be relatively painless and at a time when you won't be leaving too many loose ends behind.

Though who wants to die ever?

From tomorrow, I will live each day to it's fullest. I will not yell at my son unnecessarily. I will not snap at my husband (without cause). I will be more patient with people in general. I will not complain about work. I will make sure that if I were to die at any second, I would be able to say "I had an awesome life".

I can hope anyway.