Thursday, January 31, 2019

Toilet Traning - enough said :)

Today I was a bit bored. So I started reading my own blogs! (How pathetic right? ) But, then hey, I can read anything. Whether I like it or not is a different question :D

As I was reading through my own posts, I realised that I have covered Chiyaa’s life and antics in a lot of detail ( its not just while reading, I had this nagging thought for quite some time). Pumpki has always had some one with her, so the lime light is shared for sure. But she has had her share of ups and down as well. This will be a start to some exclusive Pumpki tales. They will not be bereft of references to Chiyaa, because truth be told, Chiyaa will always be a background thread even if Pumpki is the main.

This was the post I read, so it got me thinking about Pumpki’s journey with respect to toilet training. Having prior experience with the first born, we were a bit more relaxed when it came to Pumpki. We did not kick start the training until she was a year old. The main reason for it was that our house in Ipswich was entirely carpeted. We could not risk not having diapers on for we were renting the house. Any damages to the carpet would leave us penalised. Once she was a year old, and Amma was around to help with her care, the training started in the right earnest. The poos were mastered in no time and she started having a schedule. We were surprised at how quickly she got the hang of it. It went real well till she joined day care at around 2 years old. As expected, since she was on a diaper at the nursery, the schedule took a bit of a hit. She used to be on and off. We knew the only way was to be patient and hang around.

It was all manageable till a couple of months into daycare, she started being very funny with using the toilet. She started with being reluctant. On other days she would ask for a particular person to take her to the loo -  a person who would be winning the popularity contest with her that day. It could be me or K or Amma. Then she started avoiding the toilet as much as possible. She would try to not use the toilet be it for a wee or a poo. We were a bit concerned at this point. But then we had heard stories of children disliking to use the toilet at home if they were used to a nappy in daycare. Maybe she was more used to eliminating in a diaper when she was playing or doing her own stuff rather than sitting in the toilet and getting bored. We also wondered if the toilet was a colder place which made her reluctant to go. Again it was something which could be left to time to be eventually sorted out. The situation would be bad on some days when she would be in literal pain but would abstain from using the loo. She would be in general physical discomfort, be unwilling to eat or drink much and be cranky and annoyed.

When Amma went back and papa, mummy came to Leeds, they were quite distressed by the poor girl’s state. They too hoped and prayed that she would feel better. But things went to worse. She had a bout of constipation. She became even more averse to using the toilet. We also noticed that there would be some blood when she emptied her bowels. All this must have been causing her so much pain! We were very worried. We got in touch with the doctor. He said that constipation and a bit of bleeding (given their very soft skin) was quite common in kids and he recommended a dosage of laxatives.

Making her consume the laxatives was a challenge in its own right. It would be a miracle if she managed to consume even one-fourth of the recommended dosage. But the difference was substantial. She would pass the stool very easily. We thought forcing her to have the medicine was way less painful than having her miserable because she was unable to go to the toilet. But we could not be indefinitely on the laxatives. As the situation improved a bit, we started skipping the dose some days. Her stool was fine though she was quite irritated at the idea of it. It was just that she had a mental block against using the toilet. She associated it with pain. She went to the extent of crying and shouting if she needed the toilet and we took her to it. Somedays would be awful when Pumpki would wail and cry bitterly. We just hoped and prayed that she would be ok soon, because there was nothing else we could do.

One day, she managed to use the toilet without any fuss. Just like that. With no precursor or no change of any form. She came to mummy and said “ Tubi, I did a happy poo”. Mummy nearly had tears in her eyes (yes melodramatic – I know :D ). From then on, we used to urge her to do a happy poo. It was standard to ask her “ Do you need a happy poo?” and we would take her to the toilet only if she said yes. The agony of the past 6-7 months was immense. We had worried she would not be toilet trained(again not possible, which 13 year old still uses diaper) , she would regress, she would always feel averse to the idea of using the toilet. But from that day on, it has been positive changes only. She has gradually reduced the usage of nappies at daycare. In due course we were confident to let her go to daycare without nappies and now she very promptly uses the toilet even at the daycare.

Time sorts out a lot of these developmental challenges when it comes to kids and we are hugely thankful for this one!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

One chocolate

Mummy started back to India on Saturday. To be honest, it was not that nerve rattling this time. Maybe because I am getting used to it. Maybe because she was leaving me in a much better state this time – a bit more settled, with the kids adjusting as well as they can to daily life. Maybe because it is inevitable, parents can only stay so long. I was sad – of course – I was sad. But it was just the sadness of missing her, the sadness of her absence. It was the not the devastating sadness I have felt at other times which makes me feel clueless and lost.

But one thing had not changed, there was too much to do now. Mummy still takes over so many tasks that the feeling of doing them all by ourselves is quite overwhelming. We decided to skip swimming class for kids on Saturday morning since the lunch and dinner preps were daunting me. The kids got busy with K and minded their own stuff. We went on a trip to the city centre.  Going through the places where mom and I used to roam around made me feel the pang of nostalgia. But then… My sis was keeping me constant company and she was like a pillar of support. So concerned! She is seriously so grown up! Saturday passed relatively uneventfully.

I hoped the next day would be better because sleep does cure a lot of things for me J It was a sunny day while Saturday had been cloudy and outright depressing – so one sleep did sort out something there J But there was again the rigours of keeping the house in order – the cleaning, the clothes, the ironing.  Pumpki had a birthday party to attend. We divided and conquered. K went with Pumpki while I convinced Chiyaa to come along with me for a walk. She grudgingly agreed – which 7 year old wants to go on walks *rolls eyes* Since I was pre-occupied with the tasks for the day, I did not manage to get much done for coming week in terms of cooking etc. We decided that we would concentrate on the kids this week and keep cooking for adults to a bare minimum. Seemed like a good plan till we got the rhythm.

So yesterday was the first work day sans mummy. Anything could happen! I had set the alarm for 0540 – one never knows how much buffer time one might need and the more the merrier. Mondays I don’t face much of an issue waking up since I am rested over the weekend. I woke up, got my stuff done, cooked the fish and rice for kids and was ready way ahead of schedule. Chiyaa also woke up on time and was a very peaceful baby. I left them at 0725 with K geared up to handle it all. He has been tremendous. He has been cool. I noticed over the weekend that though he would have loved to watch tv or read up about the tech being used in his latest project, he was trying his best to be with the kids. Come Monday morning, he was quite chilled about handling the kids. Kids are white bodies when it comes to vibes – they will reflect the vibe that is being  projected to them. Fear, optimism, nervousness – you name it, they will push it back to you. K was being positive and chilled out and so were the kids with him.

In a mega role reversal I was being high strung. So. I finished work a bit early ( I had started work a bit early). I picked Pumpki first, then I picked Chiyaa. My route is something like this.

I wanted the kids to have some food on the way. Since mummy was around, she was my backup. If the kids didn’t like the snack, she would prep an alternative in a jiffy. I planned to utilise the distance to get some stuff in their tummies so that they would nt be cranky. And I decided to stuff it with something healthy and something they like – there might be 3-4 food items which would come in this category. Cucumbers are one of them. My girls love cucumbers, also its filling and a good thing to have. So I packed cucumbers. They had a few. I could not keep them on a sugar deficit either (kids can get crazy when blood sugar levels are down!) . So I gave them both a small chocolate once the cucumbers were done.

We reached home. No crying till now! So far so good! There was a mild skirmish when they got on each other’s nerves, but I managed to handle it. K also came in early (ah! Backup!!!!) Soon after the week’s grocery got delivered too. K in a major bout of magnanimity gave Chiyaa a chocolate – one that was meant to be a treat, one that was supposed to be hidden from her, one that was not supposed to be given to her since she was yet to have her dinner.

I erupted. “Why did you give her the chocolate” I howled. Like a mad person I tried to hide a few as if Chiyaa would not be able to see my futile attempts (seems so laughable now, imagine me hiding chocs from a kid in front of her, and trying to do so quickly but that attempted haste making the process slower. Comical is nt it!)
K responded “ She saw it and she asked for it. “ (this is know as a lie because I saw him offer the choc. We agree to disagree on this point)
“Good now she is not going to eat any dinner. All this while I have been trying to keep her away from junk food so that she has something healthy for dinner”
“Why are you shouting, its just one chocolate. She will have her dinner when she needs to “
At this moment Pumpki walks in and asks for a chocolate. I have to give her *rolls eyes again*
“Now little one has also had a chocolate, she wont eat dinner either, she will be hungry through the night and will keep asking for milk. And I have to keep waking up to fill her bottle”
“Just one chocolate and you have already thought till 1 at night! It was all going so well till now”
“Yes and it all went down once you came”
“Fine I wont come from tomorrow, I will stay at office. That’s what you want isnt it”
“Very good. Just one chocolate “ (It wasn’t a big piece frankly ;) and I know at this point it all seems like my fault but, trust me my intentions were good.)
“Just one chocolate can hugely ruin the appetite of kids. But why would you care”
“Yeah why would I care”
“If you care, I dare you to feed them the dinner they are meant to eat.”
“One day since your mom left and look at how wrecked you are”
“I am not. You are disrupting everything”

The kids went about munching their chocolate. I approached K to ask if he needed his dinner. He replied that he was no mood. I blasted again asking what was the need to be cross for so long. He said my reaction for one chocolate was a bit over the top too. And we go debating about the size, impact, related health concerns and what not of that “one chocolate”. I cried a bit, he shouted a bit and I went off to change in to normal clothes ( I am in workwear till the window of opportunity comes). I took a bit longer to come down. And the vision once I was back was surreal. K has managed to feed the healthy salmon to the kids! (Challenge accomplished!!! ) The kids ate the well intentioned “healthy dinner”. I got a card from Chiyaa.
Pumki asked me “Are you happy now?” And I was very happy indeed. We shared a cheesecake and end of story :D #DaagAcheHain

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Looking forwards and back

A bit of history lesson first. I recently read an article which said that when Julius Ceaser implemented the Julian calendar, there was some debate around which month should be the first month. They chose January after the god Janus who has 2 heads, looking forward and behind. So it seemed an apt choice where January would be the first month which would be one for introspecting about the past and looking ahead into the future. So as I stand on the 3rd of January, let me look back and forward.

I have given the year’s recap so I will not go on that topic again ( I tend to speak about the same thing again and again! L ). I will look back with a narrower vision – at the holiday season in particular J

December hails the advent of Christmas, which drives people into a frenzy. There is something in the air with the shopping, the crowds, the lights. Kids are super excited and the excitement is contagious. The office Christmas parties are a major point of discussion around breakout areas. Traffic starts dwindling as people start taking time off. Some days there are huge jams because everyone is out of the house shopping! One can never predict. But the unpredictability has a certain charm to it. Its all easy and light. From around the middle of December, the Christmas spirit is definitely on. It all feels awesomely festive, vibrant and joyful. It also heralds the office Christmas party.

I had the office Christmas party on the 20th of December. It was my first at the new place. Office Christmas parties can go any way – they can be very boring or they can be fun or they can be something in the middle. The parties at the first place I worked were proper sit down affairs, where people sat around a table, had food, wished each other happy Christmas and went home. In fact one year, the management (which was very snooty) did not even bother keeping a party. They handed some cash to the team leads in January to take the team where ever the hell they wanted! It was quite flippant, but we had a heyday mocking management. The second place was a mix. People started prim and proper, had food. The chats slowly got louder and the booze flowed. By the time the meal was over, decibel levels raised, talk got wonton and I never stayed much longer than that to see the worse ;). I always had the good ol excuse of ‘got to pick the kids’. Not that I ever thought I missed anything. But from the office gossip I gathered that some conversations did go out of hand.

I wasn’t sure what to anticipate here. During the last catch up with my line manager, she let me know that, the next 10 days, she did not expect anyone to work! Ahem, sounded good to me. The day of the Christmas party, there was an hour long round up meeting, general chit chat, followed by secret Santa. No one was in any mood to work. The lunch was slated for 1300, but people started moving at 12! Surely there was no need to get any work done. The food was amazing, the conversation was easy. I followed the gang to the pub post lunch and stuck to the alcohol free drinks ( I don’t drink alcohol. Never got a hang of it, and never had the need for it). around 4, it was ‘got to pick the kids’ time and I made a move. The next day was a Friday and we ha 6 people at work! Well that’s 20% attendance. There was an extended breakfast with people sitting around for 1.5 hours and chatting. But the penultimate day at work for the year and there was an issue in production. The senior guy (good that he was around) and I put in a fix ( I gave in my best, with the mere 2 months work of knowledge that I had ;) ) . Well that made coming in to work worth it.

Christmas eve, the office shut down at mid day. It was a lovely morning with the sun shining and people running helter skelter to get the last minute shopping done.  I finished work and went home with some delicious cakes.  I reached home and saw the kids in the bath screaming the roof off. The holidays had truly begun!!

We do not get many gifts for the kids for Christmas. We are against the culture of big expensive gifts. Chiyaa far from believes in Santa Claus anyways :D which is good and bad. Good cos I like the fact she is being so realistic – I don’t know how , genes? upbringing? I dunno. Bad cos I cannot bargain with her that she behave well else there would be no gifts for her :D   But, they live in a country where gifts are a big thing, so mummy and I had got something for them before hand. We don’t even put a Christmas tree J have not yet, since the kids have not demanded yet. So… Christmas morning madame Chiyaa was a bit upset that there were no gifts under the absent tree. I told her, "you never know, Santa might have hid it!" I asked her to search ( I had not bothered to wrap the gifts or to keep them in a nice place, they were still in the hideout :D ) She rummaged through the house. And she found it! And she was mighty pleased with her gifts. There was a board game for her, a puzzle book for Pumpki and a doll for both. We spent the entire day separating the two kids, because they kept wanting to take what the other was playing it. We had some delicious mummy made puri and chole which gave us the energy to keep acting referee.

The next day was boxing day where people go crazy shopping. I do not see the point of it. Allegedly stuff are half price. But I wouldn’t wake up at 230 am even if stuff was free. I don’t want such stuff. Anyways, the craziness continues through the day and mummy wanted to have a look. The last time she was around this time, I had been expecting Pumpki and was due to be induced the next day, so we never managed to venture out. But this year we did! The places were jam packed, my God people like a good sale indeed!! We too participated in the sale by being onlookers and spending some money on eating. Yeah we got our priorities right.

The next day K went to work while the four girls spent time pottering around the house, going to play area, and generally moving without any routine. I remember waking up late, sipping the morning coffee without the rush, getting the girls ready for moving out and having a good time. Who needs alcohol when the morning start with coffee. On Friday, Pumpki turned 3! We had a nice lunch at a Kerala restaurant. The food was delicious and enjoyed by all. The stroll in the city centre cheered us all up. We would have loved to go on longer, but the gravitational force on the bodies heavied by food was getting too tough to resist. Home was the way to go.

The weekend, the girls spent reading a lot of books and colouring and drawing. We had some called friends over for dinner on 31st and the weekend was the chance to get the shopping done for that. K and I ventured out – and it was our ‘us’ time , yeah grocery shopping :P Mummy jazzed up the weekend by some mind blowing cooking! 31st night Chiyaa was all enthused because her friend was coming. She was very compliant and well behaved during the day. Once our friends and their children came, there was easy conversation while the young ones got busy playing. The food mummy had made went down really well! It was nice to have company till 2300, after which they thought it would be conducive to make a move. We stayed up to watch the fireworks at London Eye on TV and then wished each other a happy new year and drifted off.

1st was a holiday, but it was not a time to waste. We had to get the future planned. Well , not all of it, just the holidays. You see I am a freak when it comes to holidays. I book and plan mine and other's impacted by mine or impacting mine like a maniac. We had been having conversations about the coming year, how to cover for school holidays and who takes what leaves, which grandparent comes in when, etc etc. We had to get the deal finalised. We had to ration and allocate the leaves to cover for school holidays between us. It took 5 iterations. :D The real deal looks much cleaner than this first draft.

Amma has her travel slated from May – September, to be with the kids, beat the heat and provide the much wanted presence of elders at home. If all goes to plan, mummy and papa might travel around the middle of December to be around for the birthdays. We have gone as far as December 2020 to probably pencil in a trip to India! Man proposes, God disposes is a true and famous adage. But as we look ahead, we can hope that God looks at all us kindly and helps us.