Monthly Archives: May 2008

They Grow Up So Fast!

Remember the car I said we bought the twins last weekend? (I mentioned it here.) Well, after completely ignoring it for a couple of days, they suddenly rediscovered the joys of driving, and since then they have explored the potentialities of the vehicle to the fullest extent. Tara attempted a wheelie (I know you can’t do wheelies on four wheels, but try telling her that) and Mrini found that you could stand up on it, and if you could get your mom or sis to push you around while doing so, so much the better. Then I tied a string around the front of it, so they started pulling each other around with that. This morning, while I was in the kitchen getting breakfast ready, I heard Tara saying “come” “go” “come” “go”… On turning around, I saw she was actually pulling and pushing the car, with Mrini sitting on it. What a smartie.

Then, there was the harmonica. This is a colourful model, made for kids, but it works just the same as a typical, traditional one. It was gifted to them by a friend some weeks ago. At first, Mrini was scared of it (typical – after all, it makes a sound!) and Tara was intrigued. After a while, Mrini got over her fear, but still hadn’t taken much of a fancy to it, while Tara was always under the impression that it could be used like a toothbrush to brush her teeth and deposit a healthy load of drool on. Once duly drenched, she would present it to me, grinning, expecting me to get it to make a sound. Ugh!

They watched me, interested, and tried to ape me, but completely without success: They didn’t yet know how to… errr… suck and blow. So, whatever they did, they couldn’t get it to make a sound, except once or twice by mistake.

Finally, yesterday evening, Tara managed, much to her own surprise, to produce a tiny peep from it, and then managed to do it again. And again. And again. Mrini, for once, somehow picked it up from Tara right away. (I say “for once” because other skills that Tara has achieved ahead of Mrini, it has taken Mrini ages and ages to catch up on.) By the end of the evening, both girls were blowing away quite competently. And today they not only learnt that inhaling also produced sound, but also began to make slightly different sounds by sliding the harmonica around a little. By the end of the day, they were actually producing tiny little tunes on it!

So these are their two significant achievements of the week. There are others, of course, but too many and too tedious to narrate. It’s great to watch though – it’s absolutely wonderful to see them growing in skills, expanding their vocabulary, watching their attempts to communicate with each other and with us, and most of all, seeing their ever increasing confidence and out-going-ness. It’s just amazing.

Playdate, Baby Shower, and Shopping – How the Twins are Keeping Me Busy

The girls’ social life is keeping me on my toes. Well, it’s not all their social life, I suppose. On Thursday, they went for a lunch playdate. I don’t know if it technically qualifies as a playdate, cos it was more like me catching up with a friend, and leaving my kids with her daughter, who is 3, which makes her too old for a playdate with under-twos. All the same, a playdate is what she called it.

It was the first time I ventured to take the girls out on my own. It was not too difficult, though I decided not to walk out looking for an auto, so called a taxi instead, which made the trip expensive but hassle-free. On the whole, it was quite a success. The girls were quiet and well-behaved for the first half hour or so, then they sat themselves at the dining table and fed themselves lunch like little angels. This done, they set about systematically and methodically examining every single one of the other girls toys, and then distributing them evenly throughout the house. The other girl had a LOT of toys, which meant a lot of picking up for me and the other mom to do after an hour or so. Still, at least they only handled the toys – apart from grabbing the TV remote and managing to turn off the TV, they didn’t destroy anything else in the house, which was good enough for me.

Saturday evening we had an invitation to what would be called a baby shower, I suppose, if we had such things here. This was in a party hall at 7.30. I was wondering how we would manage it, because 7.30 is when the kids get their dinner, if they haven’t already had it, and an hour later is their bedtime. But I needn’t have worried. They slept an hour extra in the afternoon, as though they knew what was in store for them that evening. Then, as soon as they entered the hall, they spied the hosts (whom they know well), decided this was a friendly place, and proceeded to make themselves completely at home despite the slowly growing crowd of strangers all around. They went and peered at the baby, romped around the crib without intentionally or unintentionally disturbing the lovely floral decorations, made friends with sundry adults who showed any interest in them and generally behaved like absolute socialites. They even enthusiastically gobbled up their dinner, about 90 minutes later than usual, saying “niiiii” (which means “nice”) as they did so. Then they sat like good girls on two chairs between Amit and me, swinging their legs and grinning like little devils while we hurriedly stuffed our faces and kept a stern eye on them. They remained awake, alert, and most importantly, cheerful right till the end, and were still awake when we finally reached home and put them to bed.

On Sunday, there was yet another activity planned for them – toy shopping. After seeing the entire treasure trove of toys that their Thursday Playdate had, I was really feeling quite guilty about their pitiful collection. Two kids ought to mean double the toys, I thought. Amit tried to assure me that since they had each other, even half the toys were good enough – joys shared being joys doubled and all that – but I wasn’t convinced. So on Sunday, we all four trooped into the nearest toy shop and quickly lightened our pockets by something over a thousand rupees. The largest part of this amount was spent on a big, red car. It’s the type the kids can sit on (not in) and push along with their feet. They loved it – they refused to sleep yesterday afternoon because they were busy pushing each other around on that car, and when they were finally too tired to resist sleep, they took the shortest half-hour nap before getting up and returning promptly to the car again. But, by this morning, the car had lost all interest for them. The bouncing ball and the picture books were – as ever – their favourite toys, while the car remained alone and neglected. Sigh.

Oh, and after the toy shopping, we had lunch at the nearest restaurant we could find. The girls gobbled up my rava idli and sagu, and left me to tackle their veg pullao and dal. And today, despite all the rich and spicy food, their stomachs seem to be in perfect shape. Thankfully.

I suppose I should stop boasting about them now – they’re probably already cooking up some scheme to make me pull my hair out and despair of ever making responsible adults of them.

It’s SO not my day today

It started with the plumber.

Have you noticed how most bad things start with the plumber?

And the plumber saga started a week ago, when I was in Pondicherry. One toilet started leaking like it thought it was a shower. The other was leaking like a sieve. So, when I got back, the first thing I did, almost before I took off my shoes, was to call the plumber. We have this deal with this handyman service provider where they are supposed to provide plumbers and electricians on call. The next day, the plumber came, took a look, said it couldn’t be done right away because he would have to buy a washer (two washers, actually) and he didn’t have time to go out, do that, and come back and finish the work. So, he would put in his report and the next day another guy would come and put the washer. Why not the same guy? Well, it was his day off, of course.

The next day, nobody came. The shower-impersonating toilet, which was leaking worse than ever, had been turned off, so only the sieve-impersonating toilet was functional, which wasn’t very convenient. The rate of leak on this one too had increased and was fast tending towards shower-like.

On Friday, I called again, fired them for not sending anybody the previous day, and requested a plumber to finish the job ASAP. The same day, a plumber came, “fixed” the sieve-like toilet, said that the shower-like toilet needed to be cut open (don’t even ASK) and a major part replaced, which he didn’t have time to do that day and he would come the next day to do it.

So, Friday afternoon, I called AGAIN, reminding them to send the plumber to finish the work on Saturday. You know what they said? “Saturday? No, madam. We’ll send him today itself. He will be there by 5.30-6.00”

Well, that’s the time I take the kids to the park, but I did need my toilet to stop acting like a shower and become a toilet again, so I agreed. Frustrated would be too mild a word to describe my mood by 6.30. when no plumber showed up.

So Saturday I called YET AGAIN and royally screamed at the customer service rep – I think this company has just one, so it was the same person I was talking to every time. Well, they sent the plumber – same guy as Friday, thankfully – but he spent more than two hours here, and when he left, the problem came right back as bad as ever. And on the other toilet, the original problem was fixed, but a new and related problem had been caused by the plumbers’ tinkering.

So today, the plumber was back. Yet another guy, this time. At least this fellow seemed to know what he was doing. He tackled one toilet, then set about working on the other. Meanwhile, I found the one he had tackled was still not quite ok. He started to fix that, and I found that the other one was not quite ok either. Sigh. It took him well over an hour to get both of them done, but since then they seem to both be ok.

Meanwhile, the girls took advantage of my distraction and the fact that the bathroom door was open, to quickly nip inside and get to work on the roll of toilet paper. Yep, they had the whole dang roll of toilet paper strewn all over the bedroom in about 15 seconds! And it was a fresh roll, so it had just about as much toilet paper on that roll as you could possibly get. ALL OVER the bedroom, like birthday streamers being take down. Only, all white, of course. Oh and, in ribbons too. Shredded. Like spaghetti. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry… so I called Amit, who laughed. It’s easy for him – he’s not the one who has to try to salvage what’s left of it.

So with the household schedule running one hour late and minus a roll of toilet paper, why I decided to clean out the drinking water tank I don’t quite know, except that it was long overdue. We have that Reverse Osmosis system, which wastes three times the volume of potable water it generates. Since we hate to waste water, we have a complicated system for retrieving it and storing it for washing dishes and cleaning the house and so on. This complicated system naturally involves a hose pipe and the hose pipe naturally manages to displace itself from its moorings every once in a way and floods the entire kitchen. And of course, this had to happen today.

Meanwhile the girls have been up to their usual quota of mischief – playing with water in the bathroom, trying to bring down the full-length mirror in the bedroom, getting their hands into the trashcan in the kitchen, throwing around the cushions and pushing around the furniture in the living and dining rooms, and all that sort of stuff. The usual.

There wasn’t enough food for my lunch, so I’m still hungry.

It looks like it’s going to rain again, so the girls and I are going to be stuck indoors this evening as well.

And Amit just called to say he’s going out for dinner!

Twinkle, twinkle

In all 35 (almost) years of my life, nobody ever told me I had a nice singing voice (except a guy who was flirting with me, which doesn’t count). I suppose this is primarily because I don’t have a nice singing voice. Which is a pity, because I love to sing. Once I even considered taking classes, but dropped the idea because I felt that in addition to voice, I also lacked the ear to sing properly.

Now I’m forced to the conclusion that my kids must be tone deaf – they love to hear me sing. This is very flattering of course and it is most gratifying as well, I must admit, to have an appreciative audience; but I wish this particular audience (and they are very particular) would expand its range of musical preferences.

See, they have this book of nursery rhymes (gifted by S&S, thank you very much) that they absolutely adore. One of the rhymes it has is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. One day, I decided to introduce them to the concept of stars (never too early, seeing one of them is called Tara, which means star in Hindi) and showed them the typical star-twinkling hand movement. I also sang the so well-known first verse to them. In fact, I have to add that that first verse is so well-known that I didn’t even know there were other verses in that poem/song.

Now I know why it is so well-known – these girls loved it! They couldn’t get enough of it. Every half an hour or so, when they tire of whatever they’ve been keeping themselves busy with, they come up to me doing the twinkle-twinkle hand movement. If one girl remembers, the other catches on right away. They both sit there looking at me expectantly, twinkling away with their hands, waiting for me to sing them the song. And, they want that very verse of that very song – it’s the only way to get them to stop twinkling at me. I’ve tried, for the sake of variety and completeness, to sing them the other five verses, and even, for the sake of variety alone, to sing an entirely different song, but it won’t do. They get a pained, slightly puzzled expression, as though trying to understand why I’m trying this cheap con job on them, and they keep twinkling.

So twinkle twinkle is the flavour of the month – or the week at least. Since I have – for once – got a captive audience for my singing, I suppose I better give them what they want. Now here we go again… “Twinkle, twinkle little star…”

Tennis: Keep Your Eyes on the Ball, Girls

We took the twins for tennis on Sunday. Oh, we weren’t trying to get them to play (yet) – they were supposed to be audience or at best ball-girls, while Amit and I played. That was the plan.

It wasn’t the first time we had taken them to the courts – it was the second. The first time was Sunday a week earlier, when they had allowed us to play for precisely 25 minutes before Mrini began wailing and would not be consoled and had to be taken home post haste – wailing all the way.

In the following days, I realized that perhaps her shoes were too tight, so this time we had her in a larger pair of shoes. Also, I was more conscious about keeping them well fed and hydrated. Of course, I would imagine that no child wants to be awakened at 6 a.m. and hauled off to a strange place where they are expected to sit quietly in a corner, while their parents are off having a good time whacking a ball around. Nor did these kids appreciate it. It wasn’t that they minded being woken at six and taken off to the courts… it was just that they wanted to be out there on the court as well, bumbling around, picking up balls, leaves, sand, insects, and whatever else came their way.

The first half an hour or so was pretty good. I hadn’t been playing too well last week, but with just Amit and me on the courts, and the girls sitting quietly in the shade keeping themselves busy with God-knows-what, I was able to really focus and find my rhythm. Amit was impressed, which is saying a lot. Actually, Amit was already impressed last weekend, when he confessed to being amazed at the improvement in my game since we last played together, way back before we got the twins. But last weekend, with all of 25 minutes of play, I was only just warming up before the game was abruptly terminated by Mrini. This time, I really was able to get into my stride and I knew I was playing well, by my standards.

Then Tennis Sir dropped by to meet the twins. He is a really lovely person, and it says a lot about him that he didn’t make any stupid comments about the kids, the adoption, or about how lucky they are etc etc… just spoke to them a bit and told us how cute they are.

After that, the girls just could not be kept off the court. Despite the blazing sun (around 8 a.m.) they insisted on walking on to the court and standing right in the way of our game. We fed them, changed diapers, gave them water, showed them their toys, and told them to go sit in the shade, but nothing doing – back they came, walking on to the court and trying to get hit by the ball.

Luckily Amit was not playing his usual ferocious game of tennis, or it would not have been only the kids who would have had to leave the court in a hurry… All the same, I wouldn’t have wanted them getting bowled over even with one of my balls. I mean, they’re not even two years old yet! But Amit wouldn’t hear of calling it quits, so despite the two girls and sundry toys straying on to court, we continued to play.

I have to say that it probably did my game a great deal of good. When there are two moving targets that you’re desperately trying to avoid, and a partner who – under doctor’s orders – is supposed to avoid running at all costs (due to Patellar Tendinitis), you really have to direct your balls very, very carefully. Just to keep me on my toes (literally), Amit would periodically indicate that I should hit the ball to this side or that side of the court, and then we would shift the game to the indicated side, leaving the girls to slowly toddle over from their side to our side. I’m sure it was a most entertaining game of tennis.

We had reached the courts around 7, and it was a little past 9 when we finally packed up and drove away. The girls were still in good spirits, and by then, so was I. A few more sessions like this, and we’d at least have a decent pair of ball-girls on our hand, hopefully adept at dodging bullets, and maybe even turning into tennis players at some point.

Child Labor? Works for Me

First you spend all your time doing things for your kids – serving them meals and tidying up after them; perpetually changing, washing and bathing them; and the amount of time you spend picking up the toys that they’ve deposited in every nook and cranny of the house (only to have them gleefully upturn the basket and scatter the whole dang lot the next minute) doesn’t bear thinking about.

But that was then. Earlier. Way back when they were just a year old and not yet able to walk let alone talk. Now is different. Now they can run and jump and understand a whole lot of what is said to them. Now, in short, is payback time.

The twins are learning very quickly to handle most of the tasks required to get them through the day. At milk time, they enthusiastically help me to take out the packet of milk and proceed to play pass the parcel with it before I can recover it from them and pour it into their glasses. At mealtimes, they quickly climb into their high chairs and belt themselves in. They lend a helping hand in changing their own clothes (and diapers!), taking off their shoes and clips, brushing their teeth, and bathing themselves and each other.

But it doesn’t stop there. They are already trained at several household chores as well – and picking up new skills every day. As soon as I enter the house after a tiring session of tennis, they immediately take my water bottle from me. Jostling, pushing, biting, screaming, they run all over the house with it. It eventually ends up in the kitchen where it belongs, but I can’t really say how it gets there.

As soon as they spy a goodly pile in the laundry basket, they drag it to the washing machine, stuff everything in, and do their utmost to start the machine. When the laundry is done, there they are, waiting to unload the machine and hang the clothes out on the line. (So what if a few of the freshly-laundered clothes are dragged on the floor or flung over the balcony railing in the process?)

If I’ve just finished eating, they’re happy to carry away my (unbreakable)plate and deposit it in the kitchen (though I don’t trust them with my favorite all-too-breakable coffee cup yet). If I’ve just returned with a big bag of groceries, which I’ve deposited near the front door, each item will be carefully extracted, inspected, tasted, and then ferried to the kitchen, usually into the waiting hands of Amit or the cook. Grapes take a while to reach, and suffer a bit, being transported individually after having been brutally plucked off the stem.

The best sight is when Amit comes home from office and they wait for him to take off his boat-sized shoes so they can take them and put them away in the shoe cabinet. Some days they even drag his 25-kg computer case around to put away in the study.

Even the girl who comes to clean the house benefits from their activities as they delight in taking charge of the broom and brandishing it about six inches off the ground, which is pretty much what she does anyway.

But all of these are nothing compared to the great Put-It-Back Bonanza. About twice per waking hour – or more, if required – I get to stand and crack the whip (figuratively speaking) while the girls round up every last one of their toys and put them back in the designated boxes. Then they replace cushions and pillows, table mats and bibs, and sundry other bits of furniture and furnishing that have been misplaced and wound up quite far from their proper places. At the end of a comprehensive round of put-it-back, they get either a meal or a nap.

Another week or two, and I’ll have them making the coffee and perhaps frying sausages and popping the bread into the toaster while they’re at it. Child labor is great, I tell you.