Monday, 26 November 2007

Putting a baby-sitter

Did I hear anyone say motherhood was all pink and wonderful and a walk in the park? Hmm. They are clearly not leading my life. Motherhood is all about re-living your own childhood and developing extreme amounts of respect for your own mother, and the institution. Nevertheless, I survive. I enjoy MagicPot and Jigsaws and Bhindi and Paavadais, and even, the colour pink now. The monster is, well, a monster and a geek, but she is my monster and geek, and I am partially (at least) to blame, so we chug along. Of late, she sounds quite adult, and amma-monster days (meaning weekends when the husband has gallivanted off to Bangalore for work) are actually loads of fun (if tiring). We visit the Supermarket; we talk about spellings of everything we see around us; we buy random pieces of clothing from the roadside (and resolve to donate away equal number of our older clothes); we withdraw cash from the ATM (she loves to press that button on our way out); we go to the library.

Mid-day, if the sun is a little high, we get into an argument. You are annoying me. YOU are annoying me. You don't talk that way to me. YOU don't talk that way to me. Want a time out? Ugh, you smell (Of chocolate, apparently, should I feel guilty for the chocolates I devoured last night or should I wonder if mine child has lost it?)
We have a nice loud session of this. She cries. My temper flares. My temper calms. She cries some more. We throw each other off. Then we hug, and cuddle. I advice her. Her replies are at a tangent. She has finished with this conflict, and moved on. I am not done. I get the distinct feeling that she thinks I am her friend. Which is good. And bad.

Now when its the three of us during the weekend, the ups and the downs are much more pronounced. Its great when we eat our dinner together. Or rather, she eats by herself while we are still in the liquid part of our dinner. Its wonderful to take afternoon naps together. I always try very hard and stay awake till they are both asleep and snoring, slip out, and watch songs on MTV. Its awesome to go grocery shopping together. I don't have to drive either the car or the cart. She is a perfect doll sitting up there in the cart with appa pushing her. But when its mid-day and the sun is high! OH! She does something really silly. I lose it first, but gain it back soon. He loses it and loses it some more as she cries. One look at his face and she dissolves into tears (usually starts off sounding quite fake, if you ask me). I have to play middle-man. Which sucks. I want to either just cry loudly or just lose my temper loudly. Middle-man has to be calm. Reach a resolution. Identify the source of the conflict. Ugh.

So we had this guest over on Friday night. Nice guy, friend of ours from a long time ago. Yes, from college, and he and I went to graduate school together as well. He is interesting because generally he knows everything about the life of all the people that went to college with us. I mean, everything, not just a vague recollection of the continent they reside in. A yearly meeting can be used to get up-to-date on all the good gossip. And so it was, I racked my brains and came up with names of a lot of folks, and, as expected, he gave me all the dope on them (or at least the dope that he considered fit for my consumption). Of course I asked him about his own family and kids and we exchanged some parenting tips.

In the typical tamil way, he says to me, "Why don't you put a baby-sitter for your child? Then you can have some free time." AAh Put a baby-sitter, as in find a person who will substitute for you, so you can enjoy yourself. What an interesting thought! It has barely occurred to us! I recall an older lady last year during our trip to Udaipur. She looked me in the eye and said, "Your child is too active, why did you not bring her ayah on the trip? You will tire yourself out this way" She is a nice person so only expressed shock and surprise (and not disgust) when I told her there is no such person back in Mumbai. Its us. And, of course, the weekday creche, which is GREAT LET ME NOT HEAR ANYONE SAY ANYTHING AGAINST IT GODDAMMIT.

I sent off friend with (a)I am a very involved parent (b)We don't think baby-sitters can work (c)Bit mad no, we are?
I am sure he will work these bits into his spiel about us when he next meets other people. But its fine. He is not a malicious gossiper. He is one of those who genuinely wants to have as much connection with his friends as back when we all lived together on the same campus.

But seriously, I want to put a baby-sitter now. I dreamed of going to a movie, eating dinner calmly without worrying about why on earth the tomato soup is so damn hot every time, visiting restaurant bathrooms secure in the knowledge that no little hands are touching the walls when your back is turned, holding hands, taking a walk, talking about mutual friends in disparaging ways (just to let off steam guys I really do love you, don't worry), swearing a little bit, riding escalators in our usual fashion - me a step higher so I can put my hands on his shoulders without stretching, shopping in dusty second-hand book stalls by myself and not worrying about dust and cough and is it time for dinner, sitting in coffee shops and watching people without having to worry about her falling off the chair she is climbing from the back, an endless list of simple silly things I did without a thought that I should be storing up on them.

But seriously, its all good. We all make our choices. Of course we go to movies and dinner and coffee shops and any bookstore that happens to be there. She comes along. She enjoys it, never cribs. Its more work for us, of course, but its all good. At any rate I don't think I can find a baby-sitter that will let me guiltlessly go forward into the night. Grapes are sour. Hell yeah. Goddam you, Just back off, will you....

10 comments:

Laasya said...

This concept of baby-sitting works anywhere else but India.
I knew this lady who felt extra-ordinarily guilty about leaving her 2 yr old at home with HER MOTHER and had gone out to buy clothes for the kid.
:-D
To each her own.

choxbox said...

you arent alone lady, we dont put baby-sitter either. just troop along together everywhere.

Sloc said...

ah, kbpm, we all want to have that elusive baby sitter dont we.. especially when it is two screaming brats at home instead of one (okay your monster makes enough noise for two, but we have a creepy crawlie monster and a monster that lays on its back and wails all the time :D :P).. life too hectic now.. think i shd blog on fatherhood :D :P..

kbpm said...

laasya-
i think what works or does not work is all in our own head. i am sure baby-sitters would work out perfectly, just not in my head.
That mother of the 2 yr old btw - :-)

choxbox-
yeah i know. its good though, whats life if not challenging?

sloc-
oh no. dont really want that elusive baby-sitter. maybe to write about and all, but not really to read books to mine child. don't think i have it in me to handle such a thing at all. But hey! I am more than happy to baby-sit yours...

JDB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa said...

u touched a sore spot there. Laasya, i am close to the type u described. But i have consciously decided to quit the habit now. i say to myself these days -"the kid is 3 now, she is grown up, she can understand when i explain thing sproperly to her"
kbpm, i am joining the bandwagon of working mothers. Have started my job-search while still waiting for my work-permit. Its going to be a difficult transition for all 3 of us. But i am ready to face it. Will need your tips from time to time....And i trust you to do just that :-)

AirSpy said...

I desparately looked around for a baby sitter, at least for wednesday and friday evenings when I have a two hour con call. But it just didnt work out at all. Buying a phone with a mute button and a few nursery rhymes CDs helped though. Also letting the neighbours kids in during those times....

Btw, who DARE suggest a baby-sitter to you?

kbpm said...

vanessa-
chill girl! sure, write to me, we will discuss. its bound to be more organised a crime (day-care and all that) in the US than here.

airspy-
baays will be baays. they come up with such ideas and dare to say it to me. without recognising the SuperMom label on my forehead. :-) I can NEVER make phone calls for work with this monkey around. its damn annoying.

and meanwhile, one vomit, two OUCCHH my stomach hurts later I am home. Mind is lurching around trying to figure out how to move meetings around to accomodate this unexpected day off. and in the opposite flat, english-speaking-smiling BabySitter is letting the little boy watch TV. of course on the face of it, thats harmless, less prone to injury and vomit than, say, cycling in the corridor or eating MoraSev by the billions, but still, I am thinking 'See baby-sitters let the wards watch TV at random times.'

aah well. at least she is sleeping and getting some rest, which is a good time for me to do some work! oh yes!!

Laasya said...

@vanessa
no offense meant. Sorry!

choxbox said...

tagged.