Thursday, December 7, 2017

Perhaps this is called settling down

Leeds has not been treating us well. Chiyaa started her first day in school with amazing promise. When I picked her up, she said ‘I had a brilliant day at school. I was not shy at all.’ I was so proud of her! It would all be fine. She was ok the first couple of days after which she started getting reluctant to go to school. This was a far cry from how she was in ipswich where the mention of school used to brighten her up. In fact she used to get annoyed when the weekend came. We were very sad to see this facet of hers. We hoped it would settle down with time. It in fact got worse. She started to cry when we dropped her off. As a change K started dropping her instead of me. He is a fun dad while I tend to get a bit emotional. Though I don’t show it we wondered if the vibes might be rubbing on. She did not cry with daddy around, but she lacked friends. She did not have peers to run a mock with. She did not have classmates to go crazy with. As I used to prod, she said she had her meals alone and played by herself during the lunch breaks. She mentioned playing with an older student sometimes. I felt sorry for my child. I felt sad for my child. But then my mom and sister gave me strength. We had changed a lot of schools as kids since mom and dad had transferrable jobs. We might have felt sad during the changes, but it didn’t scar us. In fact we are more adaptive to changes cos of those experiences. Yeah it does feel sad to see ones offspring go through pain, but this pain would make her stronger. 

Pumpki on the other hand was having troubles of her own. She had been signed up to attend a certain daycare. But I saw another right next to Chiyaa’s school. I declined the place in the previous daycare and went forth for the new one. I thought it would go smoothly from then on. As usual there were a couple of settling in sessions. I knew she would cry. I knew she would be upset. Our experience with Chiyaa had prepared us for the worst. There would be a couple of instances where she would spend time in the nursery to get to know the staff. Then she would have to start off. Like Chiyaa had. She would have trouble getting used, but prior experience made us feel she would cope. The surprise came from the daycare. After a couple of sessions, they said since she was not ‘settled’ and they would continue with settling sessions. Meaning she would come intermittently and try to settle in. Err... I had no choice. But the troublesome part was they were calling me every time she cried a bit uncontrollably. And my dear Pumpki can cry real loudly. Secondly I was paying for the sessions. I never asked for the sessions. Why would I pay for them when it was me who was coming and comforting her every time she got upset? I compared notes and none of my friends had seen such a bizarre set up.  The sessions were also so few and far between that it was going to do no good to anyone. We chose to fail fast. I got in touch with the previous nursery that K had booked. They too had the same long drawn settling in sessions. But.... the good points were:- they took the child away and did not call parents back and I did not pay for them. 

But the visitations were to be over 4 weeks! Managing a toddler with work for 4 weeks is pretty onerous. Anyone who has worked from home can vouch for it. I took a week’s emergency leave.  Amma came as a saving grace in this. She volunteered to come over. It was like manna from heaven, without that support, surviving through the on and off nursery arrangement would have been a night mare. 

I used to feel very distraught initially. I used to feel ill at ease and suffocated by all the changes. Everything made me miss Ipswich. We were so settled there, but one thing after another in Leeds made me crave for that comfort which was Ipswich. It used to make us think that we unnecessarily spoiled the apple cart. I remembered the last days in Ipswich when I was talking to one of Chiyaa’s classmate’s mom. She mentioned that moving houses was the next stressful thing after having a baby ! Wow! That must be true. She also mentioned that it takes around 6 months to settle down. As I was going through the flurry, I thought of her words. And I felt, there was no need for me to rush around. I think I had to let it go and let time take it’s course. Things have a way of evening out don’t they?

Monday, November 20, 2017

The first day is the hardest

It's been a week. Feels like yesterday literally. The same murky weather. The same desolate feeling. 

Mummy started at 0430 last Monday . There were a lot of tears. I tried to sleep after she left. But I used to sleep with her and Pumpki since we moved to Leeds. And the bed seemed weird without her.  It smelled of mummy but she wasn't the. 

Routine kicked in once we all woke up. But it was so lifeless. Mummy had left an unfinished cup of tea. What wouldnt I do to have her back. It was all monotonous. I went through the rigors of the day. I got the kids ready and K went to work. I was on leave for 3 days. It would take time to recover after such a supporting pillar was removed. After dropping Chiyaa, I reached home and removed Pumpki 's coat. She thought I was undressing her to give her a bath. And she said 'take bath. Tubi'. Mummy had always given her a bath. So she was looking for mummy. I couldn't control and burst out crying. 

Every single thing reminded me if her. She was an active part of every aspect of my life. When I opened the phone, the screen was on the last book she was reading from my phone.  It was 11 o clock and I missed her admonishing tone asking me ' it's 11 when are you going to eat?'. I took Pumpki to her nursery and I missed her beside me. After I dropped Pumpki I missed our conversations as I shopped for some treats for the kids during pick up. She had  helped me move house, shop and set up the house. She was the bedrock through a very tough part of my life and I missed her immensely. 

When Chiyaa came home from school she screamed something about what happened in school. I asked who was she telling and she casually said ' tubi'. I could not control my tears at the innocence of the child. I told her that tubi had gone back to India. She took it bravely. 

Mummy was half way at Doha by then. She tried video calling us but the reception was not good. In six more hours she would be with her other daughter. I could not help but feel excited on her behalf. 

The next day at 10 when I saw her online after a day, I felt sane again. Mummy's presence, her vibe, her positivity, her peace - what would I do without this great support in my life. Days without her are tough. Not in the physical sense. I miss her calming effect. I miss her unconditional care. As she was departing from my home she said ' I hope your kids grow up soon, becomes independent and don't need anyone.' Such selfless love. I wonder if I have seen it any one. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Whatever s on my mind

There are just so many thoughts swirling in my mind. The first is the dialogue from the movie airlift where Akshay Kumar says which loosely translates to 'one reaches out for mother when hurt'. My mom is a bit of a super mom. She knows when I might have trouble and comes to shield me. Yes just like that. How she happens to be around my most difficult times, I have no clue. 

She was here when we shifted from Leeds to Ipswich and she is here on our return. She takes care of so much that I don't even notice. It is only when she won't be here 11 days later that I will see the difference when I take care of the kitchen, when I feed the Pumpki, when I engage Chiyaa, when I take ownership of so many small small tasks which none the less add up. 

Mummy takes the brunt out of many things. She makes changes bearable. I would have been borderline depressed without her with the movement, the house in total disarray, the shorter days and the overwhelming amount of work. She goes about without a complaint through the messy and disorganised house. She even sleeps with the little one so that I can have a better sleep at night. I just can't start to be thankful to her. 

The farewell to Ipswich with her was amazing too. The last week was half term break for Chiyaa. So we used to walk to and from her karate classes. The weather was perfect, slight dusk with a hint of winter, the company was perfect and the feeling was perfect. We were savouring the last few days with Ipswich. 

Packing was as usual a nightmare. I worked from home most of this year. So most of my clothes were unused. They literally made a trip from Leeds in a box to hang in the wardrobe and go back to Leeds back in a box. If I knew this would be the state I would have never unpacked :) 

In our frenzy with two kids and work and what not, we had grossly over estimated how much stuff we needed for a week of stay in Ipswich. So there was a huge amount of grocery, toys, clothes and knick knacks. Since we were coming to Leeds in the car space was a constraint. We went berserk dumping things, keeping things, and as usual playing the blame game. We had to give away quite a lot of eatables and grocery which would have helped us immensely in Leeds. But at least they got utilised by our friends there. The most precious thing we left behind was the electronic brushes of the whole family :( 

It's been over a week. I am still not settled. I had taken four days off work, but the house is still upside down. We are yet to fine tune the pick ups and drops from schools and daycare, the extra curricular activities for kids and a thousand and one things that make up our routine. Ipswich seems such a quiet peaceful haven from the distance. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Last day in first school

This was one last day I was dreading. Chiyaa 's last day in school. Chiyaa was counting down. While we waited every day for the school gates to open and the kids played around I could see her telling  her friends how many days she had left. I might be the shy one, but she is the open one. Thanks to her, most of her classmates knew she was finishing school. 

On the first day of her school, last year I had asked her if she made any friends. And she had said that she made one friend. She thought her name was Kashauna. Her name turned out to be Keshawna, but Chiyaa had got the pronunciation right. Over the days they would greet each other with elaborate hugs. Many a times group hugs which included Keshawna 's brother. If one of the pair was in a bad mood, the other could cheer her up easily.  She did turn out to be Chiyaa 's first school best friend. 

The last day of school, I felt very emotional. It was a dark, stormy day. It was as if the elements of nature did not like what was happening. While we were waiting for the gates to open, one of her classmates came and asked if it was her last day. She did yes. And he in all his naivety asked why was she going away? I told it was because her dad had found another job in another place. And I could feel myself chocking up. The return route was jam packed with traffic. The distance which takes me 5 mins took me 40 minutes that day. As I idled the car, I felt as if again some power wanted me to spend as much time in the place as possible. There would be no chance that I would ever be travelling this road again in my life. I would love it if the chance came. But I doubt it will ever happen. I reminisced the initial days - walking up to pick up Chiyaa with Pumpki in the pram, my good fortune at being on maternity break during the first 4 months of school when I could actively participate in the school affairs, the period of dropping her after the bout of chicken pox which was quite a restart for Chiyaa, the later parts when we started taking the bus to return home, and finally me driving her home after I secured my license. How things have moved on in less than a year. 

When I went to pick Chiyaa up, she who is usually  one of the first to come out was waiting. I had got some chocolates for the students and everyone was taking  time chosing a few. She was waiting for her class mates to take the sweets. The teachers thanked me profusely for getting the chocolates. Most kids came out and the first thing they were told  their parents was that it was Chiyaa 's last day at school. My heart melted. Chiyaa was holding a gift bag. Keshawna left a doll for  her. And she had received quite a few cards from friends. One mom stayed back to wish us  luck. I felt too touched.

I took a picture of Chiyaa next to the school entrance. She gave a vivacious smile. As we sat and buckled up in the car she said 'everyone got a letter but me. Because I won't come to school anymore right?' I said ' yes right. You won't come to this school anymore '. Then I asked her' are you feeling sad?' To which she very confidently replied 'why should I be sad?' I was so glad at her practical, resilient answer. Hope you stay that way girl! 

Evening we video chatted with Keshawna and her mom. Her mom said Keshawna  would be fine over the half term break but once she would come back to school, she would definitely miss Chiyaa. I imagined Keshawna looking for Chiyaa. In my mind, kids are occupied in class. But it's during the time before the gates open, during lunch and the playtime during lunch that they need the friend. They get comfort and security from that  friend. I hope Keshawna is not left alone. I hope my child is not alone in her new place. 

I felt I was leaving school. My heart felt wrenched. As if it wanted to remain here. As if it wanted nothing to change. I remember changing schools, many times. Once in fact when I was the same age as Chiyaa. For that matter when I sent Chiyaa 's picture to Papa, his reply was she reminded me of when I had left Central School. I don't remember exactly how I felt then. I don't think I felt sad. I hope Chiyaa is not sad. I hope she will get used to her new school, new friends, new teachers. I wish a lot of strength to my little fighter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A dull and borderline depressing Diwali

Last year Diwali came and went without a fizz. And this year it seems a bit more lacklustre. 
First things first, our family is not together. K is already in Leeds. So I don't feel the enthusiasm to gear up for anything. Papa is also all by himself in bbsr. My sis has not been able to make the trip home this year and mummy is here. So he will have a lonesome  Diwali. 

Secondly K was here last weekend. In his enthusiasm to contribute towards the packing get he has packed the lights and the batteries. I do not have the patience to rummage through the boxes and find out which one might contain them. And what is Diwali without the brilliant lights? Last year in fact to have a more vibrant atmosphere I had bought a lot more lights. Alas they all lie packed up in a box. 

Thirdly I am dreading the changes that are on my way. Chiyaa 's change of school. Pumpki's start of day care. Mummy leaving for India within a few days of it will end up in me being in a strange set up with the cold dark months stretching ahead. 

To top it my college friend in Leeds will be ironically coming to Ipswich. We shared a good bond and it feels good to share with someone who has known you previously. But it's as if the Gods don't want us to be together. 

I have nothing to look forward to this year. Nothing that gives any sense of joy this Diwali. My natural optimistic self seems to have taken a beating. 

I am so sad at leaving Ipswich. I feel a tug of pain as I cancel payments for Chiyaa 's classes or slowly tell everyone that we are leaving. I am the shy sorts so rather than broadcasting I tell people of the topic comes up. I wish I could be open and tell everyone and say a good formal goodbye.  Today one of Chiyaa 's class mates joined her karate class and he said to his mum that Chiyaa is going to a different school. His mum wished us luck. But he remarked ' I am going to be so upset'. I felt too bad.  I will miss the long journeys to Leeds which initially seemed daunting but then became fun and an opportunity to devour books. I will miss the playarea just near our apartment which gave so many fun filled hours to the kids. I will miss the riverside, the shrieks of gulls which sound like human cries, the foot over bridge across the river. I will miss every bit of the place which I scoured quite a lot. 

The silver lining in this is a child's mind. Chiyaa and her attitude gives me hope. She is counting days to go to Leeds. She said she would be sad at leaving her friends. She is concerned that she will forget her friends. But she looks forward to going to Leeds, making new friends, and seeing the change. You make me proud kid. You give me hope. Hope that things will settle down. Hope that things don't be so bad. Hope that things will in fact get better. Hope that all will be well.  And hope is a good thing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Back to square one

I don't believe I wrote this. Really? I will always love Leeds!? 

I kept going back to Leeds over the past 10 odd months. And every time I missed Ipswich. Yes Ipswich was home. But there was also something slow, steady and satisfying about the place. I was ready to fall in love with the place. I did fall in love with the place

It proved to be a much better place in terms of engagement of kids. Since it has a more rustic setting, there are lot of open playgrounds and fields. From our current location we have 3 playareas within 5 mins walk. I was able to enroll Chiyaa in brilliant karate and swimming lessons. Though they were expensive, they were effective. She has progressed by leaps and bounds in both areas. Her school has been lovely too. Saying hello to the parents in her class I understand what 'community' feeling is all about.  I feel ready to grow roots.

Chiyaa has definitely grown them too. But she is being very mature and cognizant of the change. She now understands what's moving. She has been telling her friends and teachers. Today her best friend's mom was shocked and said she felt sad for her daughter. Her lil girl and Chiyaa have been friends since day 1. Chiyaa 's sports teacher said, he wished she stayed in Ipswich forever. Chiyaa found it funny and felt good at the importance. But even I wish she stayed in Ipswich forever.

Wishful thinking but. It's time to move on again. We have some way of coming to square one!! We are going back to Leeds!!! Just when everything was going great. When Chiyaa was doing well in class and close enough to get her third gradation which would have gotten her a gold medal( not that they mean anything but they are a major encouragement). Just when she was doing so well in karate that her teachers were going to recommend her for higher grade training. Just when Pumpki was on the verge of starting daycare and her journey to independence. ( We had to delay that since things were in a flux for us and we did not want her to be unsettled with the already occurring changes. We opted to put her in daycare once and for all in Leeds) When I was so so so loving working from home. I am an anti social to the core. I don't enjoy interaction with people. Wfh enables me to concentrate on work without the distractions of human interaction. I am also able to do 50 squats as the application builds. In Leeds  I will  need to go to work more often. I will need to participate in 'team building events', 'charity drives' and 'senior leadership meets'. Things that make me nauseous. 

It is unthinkable that I am looking for reassurance from others about Leeds. A place I would have proclaimed my love of a year ago. I was calling up the swimming academy to cancel Chiyaa 's session. For sometime the reception was bad over the phone. When it got better  Liam on the other side said ' oh hello!' I said 'the reception goes a bit off'. Then he said ' that's Ipswich for you! The reception in Leeds will be much better. It's a lovely place you will like it.' Thank you Liam for reassuring me. 

I will miss Ipswich. Though it's called all sorts of names like being 'the murder capital of England' or 'a place for witness protection' - I feel it's the locals who under play what this place has to offer. The quaint little place with the river and the swans. This year the swans laid 7 eggs and all of them survived and have become full grown swans! This little gem surrounded by places of natural beauty and families. I will miss the many unknown people with known faces. Over the year we have seen a bout of chicken pox, Amma's trip, mummy 's trip, K's job hunt and the eventual success, Pumpki turning one, and many more little moments that sum life. Over the year we have collected so many memories. Over the year we have grown so much richer in experience. Now it's time to box it all and go. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Some training!

I was to go for a training. In Manchester  that was 4.5 hours from Ipswich :'( I was not even interested in the training. But I had to. My manager recommended that I book a hotel and stay the night. I decided I would reach Leeds which is an hour away from Manchester and attend the training the next day.

I would miss the kids terribly even if it was for a day. Coincidentally the day of the training was a Friday. K was supposed to start work on the Monday in Leeds. I suggested that we all travel to Leeds on the Thursday. I would start for the training the next day while mom and the kids could spend some time at my college mate's house. K could drop them at the station for the return journey. I had timed my return from Manchester around to catch them return to Ipswich. Seemed like a pretty tight plan. 

The onwards travel was brilliant. The kids were very well behaved. We had a change of trains. The next train was a bit crowded. Luckily Pumpki slept off. 

We reached the hotel and the kids were superb excited. The usual bouncing on the beds and exploring the toilet started! We were tired but what can you do to control two hyper kids? We let the battery run out naturally. 

Next morning was an early start for me. I went forth to Manchester with the belief mummy and K will be OK with the kids. I had a very boring training. K and mummy had an eventful day. It was pouring cats and dogs. Going to my friend's house was challenge no 1. Pumpki had a load of stranger anxiety and keeping her calm was challenge no 2. There was a whole  lot of fun and games too which I missed. Getting two super exhausted kids to the station with a biggish luggage  was challenge no 3. Kids seem to generate stuff. Even for an overnight stay we had a big bag full of things we 'might need'. 

My training got over at 1600. My train was at 1635. It was an hour's journey to Leeds. If all went well I would have reached at 1735. The return train to Ipswich was at 1745. Close call. But trust me it seemed enough. And I did run the plan by K and get his approval. 

I was able to get the earlier train at 1620 since I reached Manchester station a bit early. The train was jam packed and was running really slow. Seriously slow. In fact because of the slow running the driver said it would go no further than Leeds though it was supposed to carry on further. Thank God the service did not get terminated before reaching Leeds. 1635 - the train was outside Leeds Station waiting for platform. K was nearly getting a heart attack. Something told me that like Geet from Jab We Met I would make it ;) 1638 touch down at the platform. 

I ran. Luckily I did not have to cross a foot over bridge. I kept crazily typing the message to K that I would some how board the Ipswich train. I got into a compartment and made my way to our designated one. All of a sudden I hear 'f****** great plan' and looked out of the door to see K hyper ventilating and shouting his head off :D
I said though it was a close call I didn't miss the train ;)

Our seats were fantastic. The train wasn't so crowded and the kids had a very nice time. Chummi did miss daddy but she was placated soon enough. Our change of train and return to Ipswich was seamless. I am indeed thankful for such travel friendly kids :) and no more trainings for a long long time. 

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