Usually my motherly duties leave me gasping for breath and breathers and (mostly figuratively) reaching for that Vodka Chilli Shot. The monster has consistently gotten one over me. Sleeping habits. Colds. Food. Chewing. Teeth. Clothes. Shoes. Hair. TV. We are always in a tussle over everything. Constantly carping. Even before she could utter words and would just sort of drool at me if I said anything she objected to. And then break into plaster-shattering mode.
Of course we agree on a lot of things. Being nice to people. Using our key words. Eating healthy & not pigging out on junk. Books. Obsession of books. Hatred of TV sports and action-adventure AXN type movies that the male in the household watches. We keep at each other (now that she can talk, and boy can she TALK!) and make sure we follow these rules. Keep each other straight. Thats too much chocolate Amma, she will say. And she is of course right.
But the things we are perpendicular (err maybe concentric?) to each other in seem to far outweigh the other stuff. So my brow is routinely scrunched up. Her brow is also starting to scrunch now. I do tons of introspection, read here and there, decide on a few strategies to deal. Simple things like don't sweat the small stuff; give her options; explain the situation in simple words; and so on. Minute I conquer one of her crazy things she comes up with another one. I have not had the foresight to come up with a strategy for that yet! Heck, I don't even know what its going to be. When she was a baby, I sort of knew. Okay folks, the potty thing is going to change in consistency, watch out now. Bingo. She will hate her solid food initially, but we have to keep at it. Bingo. She will get out of her morning nap habit. Bingo. She can use bigger shoes; longer stories; writing/drawing stuff; puzzles; speaking, crawling, walking well I was all over those things. Knew what and when to expect, and most importantly, how I should behave.
But who the hell knew I would have to have a 'discussion' with her on clothes? Naively I thought I would stick to my golden rules (100% cotton, everything in the cupboard washed and ironed, a banian inside every dress, etc.) and all would be fine. But matching shoes and rubber bands and why not to wear shoes and socks when its forty degrees out and mix-and-match (my favourite style mantra) vs. matching (her favourite, pink tee with pink pants; green spagetti 'stripe' monstrosity with green shorts) vs. contrast matching (our usual meeting point and middle ground)? I shudder. 'Boys clothes' is another big one. I used to shop in the Young Boys section (for myself that is) till quite recently. They have groovy sports clothes (which is all I usually care for). She will not even wear this spectacular yellow spider-man tshirt. Her preferences are lacy, flouncy, asymmetric, pink, blingy sets. Much to my horror she has recently taken to looking for the tag that says 'Lilliput' in anything I suggest she wear. My preference (especially in this weather) for her are boys shorts and colourful Tantra t-shirts. Problems galore, as you can see. Yeah I know I should just give in, wear what I want and let her wear what she wants. I do that. But I hate it okay? I absolutely detest fussy clothes and loose noise making jewelry. Its so damn distracting.
Recently though, like say, oh, in the past week or two, we seem to be on real good terms. We eat mangoes, we love it. She wants to take mangoes to school. I refuse saying not unless we buy enough mangoes to feed all the children. I will sit in the kitchen and eat she says (she means the kitchen in her play school). You can sit in our kitchen and eat it I say. But finally I promise that I will check with the teacher and get mangoes for everyone one day. She is happy. I try to push it and say why don't you and I make a big cauldron of fruit salad to give to all the kids (what a fantastic summer idea eh?). She won't have any of this though. Thats okay, she is likely more sensible than I am, it would mean plenty of work on a week-day early in the morning. I am not so energetic these days in my old age.
I explain to her about how her school aunties, our maid, our cook, all wake up early and make food for their own families and then show up to help her through the day, and are working hard but smiling all the time. She likes that. She promises to work hard. She quips that Appa is lazing usually. I ask her when he leaves for work. Early. When he returns. Late. See, I say, he is working really really hard at office so he needs to laze when he is home over the weekend. It makes sense to her. What about you, she says. Now this is where I have the choice of upping my quotient right, 'cause she is so receptive right now. But I don't, thank heavens. I tell her I work a bit at office and bit at home so it adds up to hard work. Again it makes sense. But children are playing and being silly all the time she says. Ah-ha. Well, this one is easy to tackle. I do. The whole conversation is nice, I am not frustrated, I think I know this girl a little now, just got to explain calmly and logically, she understands.
A friend came over yesterday evening. This girl used to be our neighbour and it would drive me nuts that they were all constantly in and out of our houses, disturbing the elder sister who was studying and messing things up and what not. I mostly went with the flow and let them do what they wanted at least in the evenings and on weekend mornings, but it used to drive me absolutely crazy. The past week since they moved away to another flat has been quiet. We both go to the park. Talk about snails. Do some writing. Practice eating by hand. Make a salad for Appa (only for him somehow although I quietly wolf down a large portion :-)). I was sure she was missing her so I put in extra effort to be fully free to hang out and play with the child. Which was really therapeutic at least for me (in my defense, even if I was free she would not give me time of day when the friend was around so I slowly gave up on it). And yesterday, I invited the girl over, she spent an hour or so and somehow it was much much better all around. No fights with each other or me. Both quietly drank some milk shake and ate a biscuit and wrote on parallel white boards for almost the entire hour. Then we adjourned to my computer and they nicely asked for music from Race (!) and I obliged and they danced. After a long time I felt like things were in control, and I don't hate anyone and things are not going to reach boiling point. We ate dinner with my father's version of the Blue Jackal.
I know that most of the problem originates with me. What the hell is my problem with pink? I don't know. What is the big deal if she sleeps a bit late one day (well, she gets real cranky the next day and everything is doubly difficult when she is tired from lack of sleep. At any rate she is not a very sound sleeper and has been known to wake up and yell 'Appa stop torturing me' at 3 am when the husband rolls her in her sheet and tries to overpower her into keeping herself covered). Oh well, maybe it is not a big deal. So what if she eats lunch a bit late (same reason as above). Is it the end of the world if she punches a child who has been annoying her? Am I a bad mother if I turn away when she kicks sand back at that one (she sucks at such things and usually misses anyway)? Is TV SOOOO bad that two minutes in front of it will fry her brains (I sort of do believe this though it does not make scientific sense. :-)). So what if she asks questions like 'If you fainted one day in Cambridge while jogging with Appa how come you are still sitting here?' (Her friend - same one above - told her that if anyone fainted they died and never came back. This was further reinforced in some serial grandparents were watching on TV a long time back). Should I project into future heart-breaks and worry my ass off simply because she cries her lungs out when someone leaves the house? (she stops the absolute next second anyway). Why do I STILL RUN into the room when she cries out for me? She is FOUR and can possibly run faster than little old me considering her long legs and is more than capable of coming over and finding me if she wants me, really.
I guess its up to me, mostly. At least for this month I resolve to chill out and enjoy this whole business. Cut the stress. Make a scrap-book thing about snails. Watch a play (or two). Cut out of work a few days (mental health days we used to call them back in Grad School), just like that. Be productive. Eat healthy cause that is the best way to get her to eat healthy (meaning eat fruit we already consume immense amount of veggies). Enjoy year four (and thirty four).