Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What is God?

Vish and I are not religious people - however we are not atheists ether. We believe in God, in the miracle of life, in the superpower that holds everything together. With religion, come murky waters - while we enjoy the traditions that our religious roots bring,  the festivities, the feasting, the celebrations - I am wary of preaching of religious exclusivity and deriving your personal identity from the religion you are born into.

If you have begun to wonder why this post features in my mommy blog and not my personal blog - no, I have not forgotten my much neglected blog. This post is here because God has started appearing in our conversations with the daughter more often now, and while every aspect of parenting unfolds a better (or a more confused) understanding of your own stance and beliefs, I though it would be interesting to pen down here how we are educating our 3 year old in this context.

How God features in our everyday lives: We have hindu God idols in our house. (What is that, mommy?) Manya has seen her nana offer morning and evening prayers in the puja room to the gods. (Why does nana pray?) We talk about going to a temple. (Does God stay only in temples?). We cross a fancy church during our drives (What is a church?). Oh my god, Manya, what are you doing? (Why did you say my god mommy?) For god's sake, Manya stop screaming. (What will God do if I don't stop?)

And this is what mommy explains...
... God is the positive energy, the joy, the happiness, the love that you feel all around you. 
So, is Ganesha not god, she asks me. No, I say. These are idols of god, images of god that different people create. She nods her head in understanding. He is just like a drawing, she says.
Encouraged, I continue, it is easier to pray to something that you can see, focus on rather than something you can only feel. Her attention begins to waiver - but she tries. Like I pray for play dough, she quips.
Never mind, some other day, I sigh.

Before she loses interest completely, we talk about temples and churches and how people can choose where to go worship based on the idols they believe in. She understands. She wants to go visit both. We say okay. I make a conscious effort to leave out the vocabulary of religion, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam from our discussion. I don't see the need for that. 
Religion has not been the defining aspect of my personality or who I am as an individual - I don't think it does for her, nor should it for anyone. Religion is a matter of personal faith; it should not be up for display or debate. Whether I am a hindu, or a muslim, or a christian, should not dictate how I conduct myself or interact with people or judge situations.

As the years go by, I want my daughter to know about the religions that exist, the massive literary works (all those mythological stories are so fascinating) that come from them, the rich cultural traditions that find their roots in the various religions - As she lights diyas and makes rangoli on Diwali, she knows that it is in a way to ask God to visit us and bless us (She asked me the next morning, if I am feeling happy because god is happiness and god should have visited yesterday :D.). She celebrated Holi earlier this year, and Easter and Halloween too. She is waiting for Thanksgiving to get over so that we can put up the Christmas tree and write letters to Santa - I can't imagine telling her that on diwali, happiness comes to only hindus or that Santa is a christian. 

I am not against religion - I am against teaching small children that they belong to a certain a religion and owe allegiance to it. Teach them slokas, and carols, and verses from the Quran, and gurbani too. Teach them how to love, help and differentiate good from evil but don't teach them to divide themselves - teach them the joy of togetherness.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The third year milestone!

Manya is three, and here are some highlights:
  • She talks, and she talks, and she talks :D. You get the drift. With quite an extensive vocabulary, M manages to impress most people with her conversation skills (not sure where that comes from? umm, think again...:p)
  • Manya loves drawing, painting - her weekly art classes help her channel that enthusiasm. Almost every day, you can see her engaged with her crayons, markers and even pencils. I have been particular about encouraging free hand - I don't give her drawing books to draw within lines or trace patterns or connect dots. And am glad with this approach, she draws and paints a lot of abstract - dark stormy nights, spooky voices, sunsets. She draws monster faces, dinosaurs (stegosaurus is her favorite), and all by herself she has started drawing rectangles, circles, ovals and triangles and the letters - A, m, N, Z, b, O, P, Q, q, T, I, U, V, X, and the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 7.  She loves doing little projects like wrapping boxes, making cards, cutting (which she has still not mastered) and gluing stuff etc.
  • Eating is a dicey topic still - she loves her standard breakfast of milk, egg, and fruit on most days. Red sauce pasta, spaghetti, peas and rice, tofu, bread butter, yogurt smoothies, blue berries, apples, bananas, strawberries, spinach and yellow daal are her favorites. White lindt chocolate truffles and gold wrapped chocolate coins along with orange ice bars are her favorite junk!
  • Manya loves books, and we are a regular feature at the library - she likes all kinds - stories, non fiction - especially if they are about animals, reptiles, sea creatures etc.
  • She has eclectic (;)) taste in clothes (we are thankfully still not in the princess phase - and am so not looking forward to it!) and toys - she loves her stuffed toys, dollies, legos, puzzles, fire engine etc all equally.
  • She loves the swing, slide, monkey climber at the park. She also mastered cycling her tricycle towards the latter half of this year.
  • We are fully potty trained (finger crossed) and are hoping no relapses happen.
  • We still have only 16 pearly whites - 4 more baby teeth are eagerly awaited (but show no sign of arrival). That's exactly where we were on her second birthday, by the way!
  • Tall and thin seems to be the mantra still - Mommy is just learning to fret less about the thin aspect.
  • Emerging personality traits: Cheerful, social, happy to be around people, smart enough to manipulate people and their reactions (;)); can and will use emotions to alter situations in her favor, total drama queen (I love you, M); tantrums are usually because of lack of sleep or hunger or too much boring stuff going around - they don't last long if attended to efficiently; chirpy with almost everyone, displays love and affection openly and very often; can hold her own in an argument/discussion, very very observant and inquisitive.
So, we herald the tiring threes :D.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Oh goodness gracious, SHE is THREE!

Our spunky bundle of sunshine turns three and we are so overwhelmed! 

Dear Love,

You are three and you are so excited - I think this is your first birthday that you are really conscious and aware of what the day means - you have demanded a party, presents, trips, decorations and what not and you are so happy to tell everyone that you are three. You have told us to look for a school now - Yes Ma'am!

Mommy and daddy wish you a lifetime of happiness and joy - may the sunshine that you bring into our lives bring warmth to yours too - every single day.
I don't recall many days wherein you have not amazed us with your fantastic vocabulary and that toddler-teenage attitude that is not all that cute all the time :D. You are smart and spunky, and we know you are going to go places (Never mind that you didn't think much of Dr. Seuss' book :P on the subject.)

There's lots to look forward int his year - you'll join a preschool, you'll be more independent, you'll have more thought and opinions that are truly yours and will give us an insight into your personality, you'll learn more skills - motor, gross,and what not. Going by most dictionaries on babies, you are not even a toddler anymore but a preschooler - change of status - promotion of sorts!

As you turn three, so does the mommy me. I feel like a pro sometimes and sometimes I feel like I have still not figured out the mommy thing - You know, I am not the most patient mom, and that is the major reason for almost all the unrest that we have between the two of us - you are learning to work around it though - a quick summon in the sweetest of voices reminding mommy that talking nicely helps more in the middle of a shouting match is sure to drown mommy in guilt for the rest of the day atleast - oh aren't you cute (and very very bratty)!

As we celebrate your day and you, we honestly believe that you are really the best thing that happened to us. We love you - to the moon and back. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

I want a baby!

...Says Manya and not mommy!

I will go on record to say this that if we have a second kid, it will be only because of so much pressure from our first born. (P.S. I am not expecting). Manya these days is obsessed with babies - every single doll and soft toy she has (and she has too many of those) are babies, which she delicately wraps in blankets and gently sways them and lovingly tucks them in bed.

She says she wants a baby sister and we have had meltdowns and tantrums because she wanted one "right now". I patiently sit and talk to her, "explain" to her but all I get is "Why don't yo try having a baby - you are not doing anything at all, not even trying. Start looking for hospitals atleast", she says!

Haven't I consistently maintained she is a nutcase. We asked her if she would do with a baby brother - she vehemently vetoed the idea and said, "it has to be a baby sister, the baby brother can go back into mommy;s tummy."

We also have days when she puts a soft toy under her t shirt and then brings out and says - "tadaa we have a baby!"

She wants a baby. I want mommy!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sweet nothings

Some random statements Manya has been making the last couple of months...

"Mommy I have got hurt in the palm of my foot"

"Mommy I want a baby right now"

"I am not adorable. I am Manya" (This when her art teacher told her she was adorable!)

"I am hungry, I must be illuminated."

"I am not cute. Puppies are cute."

"How old is the week today?"

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Gothic phase!

Manya is going through a real interesting phase - I call it the "Gothic" phase. We happened to chance upon a book about monsters a couple of months back and there has been no looking back after that.

She wants monster stories all the time, she wants to watch "scary" ghost stories - it is not that she is not scare d she is scared but thrilled at the same time. She imagines tree shadows into our bedroom to be monster arms and then screams in fear or mock, I don't really know which! She runs from one room to another saying she saw a zombie and then is highly disappointed when she realizes there is no space under the bed for monsters to hide.

Oh, and I must talk about creative expressions on these lines - she paints dark, stormy nights in her art class using black, green and purple colors. She paints everything black and brown and dabs some silver strokes here and there and apparently those are spooky voices in the dark forest!

That Halloween is round the corner and all stores are already stocking on decorations and jack-o-lanterns and costumes and what not - hasn't helped our cause. This obsession of hers couldn't be more ill  perfectly timed. The following is her well researched (thank you Library) wish list for Halloween:
- She wants to scare people.
- She wants to go trick or treating (and has already bought her pumpkin basket to carry all that candy).
- She wants to go to a pumpkin field, pick her own one, and carve her own jack-o-lantern.
- She wants to become a bat girl (costume already obtained) - no she is not aware of the comic series or the character but the black cape and the mask excite her! She wanted to become a witch but apparently according to her the costumer was "not black enough".
- She wants to decorate the house with pumpkins, spiders and cobwebs - she also wanted skeletons but has scratched that off her list because then the house "will become too scary".

Here are some hilarious conversation tid-bits in this context...

Me: Manya what do you want to be for Halloween?
Manya: Bat girl
Me: Oh but I thought you wanted to be a witch or something - you didn't like that costume?
Manya: No, for Halloween I want to be a bat girl but when I grow up I want to be a witch.
Me: But you said you'd be an astronaut or a pilot or a firefighter?
Manya: No, I just want to be a witch and cast spell on people.
Me: That maybe a very good career choice (bleh)


Me: Manya you have been extra cranky since morning. Can you please not behave so badly.
Manya: I am not behaving badly. I think a witch has cast a spell.
Me: You'll really have to come up with a better excuse next time.


Manya: I think there's a monster in our room.
Me: There's no monster. Monsters are not even real. They are just in your imagination.
Manya (very disappointed): I wish monsters were real.


Manya: Tell me a scary monster story.
So, I make some rubbish up.
Manya: But that is not scary at all - please make it more scary so that I am scared!


This fall is going to be very interesting. Signing off with a picture of Manya's dining plate these days...

P.S. As I was updating the labels for this post, I kid you not a spider jumped onto my screen from nowhere - BOO. It is getting spooky out here!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One of our many "arguments"...

Manya: Is summer over?
Me: Looks like it. It's quite chilly today.
Manya (looking out of the window): It's so cold, even the trees are shivering.
Me: Umm, they are shaking because of the wind. They can't feel cold to shiver.
Manya: Ofcourse they can feel cold.
Me: they cannot really "feel" anything - they don't have a nervous system or brains to understand feelings.
Manya stares at me as if I was talking Latin.
So, I continue - trees can't feel.
Manya: I think they can.
Me: They can't.
Manya: Let us not argue about everything!
Me: ������
I cannot say anything to her without her punching it back in my face eventually!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Of cops and jails!

My almost 3 year old is running around the house joyously clapping and singing at the top of her voice, "bhujiya monster has broken her phone and now the police will come and take her to jail"...
While I sit quietly in the kitchen munching on aloo bhujiya (translated on the packaging as spicy potato noodles -wtf) and grimacing over my smashed iPhone screen.
It's a cruel, cruel world.
(p.s. my daughter is fascinated by the idea of cops and prison - I regret introducing her to the concept of laws and their enforcement (primarily to get her to stay buckled in her car seat) - now her only motive in life is to know for breaking what laws can I be imprisoned. She does not know of 911 yet. thank god.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wheels on the trike go...

It has been a little more than a year that we got M her trike and even though she had taken an instant liking to it, she had not really been able to pedal on her own all these months. 
Today, she took us by surprise by pedaling all by herself! I was so thrilled - she was too - a new found independence, I think, she feels. She has to lean to steer properly and pedal at the same time - just now the focus is all over the place - also I realized she still does not have the strength to pedal uphill - since almost all roads and streets we take our sloping, she will have to learn to go uphill to do downhill - oh well, all in her own time!

She is quite the cheeky brat thought, as she asked me "how are we celebrating my cycling?'

 Oh, and she also feels that since she "can cycle now, she needs a bike, a skateboard, and a scooter". 

And she also remarked that I should get my own cycle and then we can go on adventures together. 

Like seriously, keep the handle straight lady!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015


An exceptionally entertaining day...

..a very exasperated M struggling with some Lego blocks...finally gave up, and hugged me and said:
"Mommy, life is so tough - I just want to be a baby Manya and go back inside your tummy"

Oh those rare moments when her sentiments echo mine ;P.