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Milestone day

Today seems to be the girl’s milestone day. She

  • Completed Junior year high school grade with satisfaction. Final grades in all subjects and GPA rounded up to be perfect, just what she wanted and I am living proof who have witnessed all her hard work this year.
  • Accepted a Summer job offer at a local store. First job offer. I am busy calculating what she can buy with first salary after tax for Mumma
  • Started her driving lessons
  • Opened a bank account

It seems she feels like an adult suddenly and doesn’t like it a bit 🙂 🙂 Adulthood is no fun!!

All of these were not planned. Today just happened to be her milestone day when things fell into place!

Here is to a new beginning!!!

Special plate

We had friends to stay over on Sunday and as it is the new normal, I marinaded chicken, veggies and M grilled them for dinner.

M started grilling and items were disappearing in lightning speed as everyone was hungry and hot fresh grilled food always tastes better. I was busy in the kitchen preparing tomato thokku for the one day trip planned for next day.

Adi observed the whole scene for a while, then came near me and whispered that I should take a break and have some food as I will not get any if I wait till the last. I nodded my head but continued with kitchen work. Few minutes later, she handed over this plate to me and asked to save for myself to eat later.

That divine feeling of someone caring for you and thinking about you took over me instantly and I wanted to just preserve that plate of food for eternity.

I grew an inch taller that day because of abundant happiness. This is my the favorite phrase from a tamil song.

Quarantine time has brought us closer than before and I count my blessings.

Happy 15th

Dear Daaru,

15 it is my dear. Darling + Daughter makes it Daaru, a pet name Amma came up with to call you during this quarantine time. This birthday will be unique and remembered for a longer time for the nature of life we are living now.

You are someone who can just stay put at home all through the year. Your needs are very simple. FOOD and TV. That’s it. Oh, and Amma’s phone. Mind you not your phone. You check my phone more than yours as you like to catch up on all my messages!! It seems you can follow me in Instagram, but I cannot follow you!! Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around my dear?

You are self-managed except for few habits like remind to wash your hair, remind to not use my towel if your towel is misplaced, remind to not hunt my closet for fancy shirts when you have a presentation (learn to move on and build your closet lady)

We haven’t succeeded in making you do chores for money or free pass as you have no clue what to do with either money or free pass.

Money is not needed as your needs are very simple. You can live with 2 free t-shirts and 2 pants. You don’t need any makeup items. You are not a gadgets person. You don’t go out with friends or you don’t shop on your own. Are you for real? What else can I use to bribe my Daaru?

I am still wondering what will you do if I give you a free pass? Is it because we respect your choices and fulfill them, or you act responsible on your own?

You have the power to make Appa do a store run in middle of his work just because there is no snack aka junk at home whereas I have to wait till the weekend to make him buy essential groceries.

You are everything for your little brother. I mean everything. He wants to marry you and get settled so you will stay with him forever! Every single sentence he utters ends with a “right Akka?” and you validate dutifully. It is a sight to watch your sibling love and random conversations. You help him with homework and correct/teach him if you find out your little brother is lagging on something. You call him “Avi”. You are very concerned about his quarantine bedtime routine and the amount of sleep he gets. A first grader is not supposed to be awake past 10:30pm, So you request Appa to allow him to sleep more in the morning.

Your often-spoken words in this year are “Amma, you look quite delicious today, I am going to eat you”, “I am going to eat somebody today”, the word “butt” has somehow caught your fancy attention lately. You do not understand what grounded means, so we make you do some physical activity like jumping jacks, squats, burpees whenever you use “b” word.

Appa and you have come up with a form of “Chicken dance”. The deal is one who seeks help has to watch the chicken dance before getting the help! You make coffee for him and he has to watch your chicken dance before he takes that first sip!

You are taking online music theory class for kids as a service during this unprecedented time. I am super proud of the way you engage and teach little kids in that weekly call. You sound like a born teacher and I brim with pride hearing you handling the class! One of my friends texted me later that her 5th grade daughter has so much to talk about “Akka” even after the class. Take a bow dear!

We have moved to a new adobe this year. I know its contradicting, but you are the most impacted and most happy about this move. You LOVE this new home, backyard the most and I am happy to see you happy. It puts my mind to peace about the decision to move.

We have got a lot better with communication, bonding and having many more lighter moments in this new home. I am very busy creating tiny pocket of memory of each of those moments and save them in my brain to cherish later.

I often plead you to take me along with you when you go out for college, I offer to cook/clean for you as I am not positive about handling two extreme boys on my own!

You have randomly started using more “tamil words and tamil sentences” in recent times and let me tell you, it’s an instant mood lifter for me to hear you speak Tamil.

You respond with “enna di” when I call out for you and utter “ennadhuu” when you are in confused state. When I seek help you walk away with your signature style of “po di”. Appa also gets his fair share of “po da” so no complaints!

You have friends but not best friends. You are part of few gang of girlfriends and keep them all the same. At least that is what I know!

You don’t get upset easily except when LHB eats your share of junk or Appa tries to wake you up early on weekends. 10am is early for you and too late for Appa! I give up!

I appreciate you trying to make conversation with Ammachi on video calls. It means the world to her ma!

You have started with eyebrow threading this year. This is the only beauty thing you do other than face wash at the age of 15!!

Your Carnatic vocal music teacher has a soft corner for you and your piano teacher is a gift for you. They both will be your music gurus and you keep in touch with them for rest of your life. Oh, and your former piano teacher from old neighborhood. Make it 3 gurus.

You like baking, cooking Italian dishes and is capable of fixing quick meal for you and LHB.

You want to visit London and Paris.  Our next international trip is only after you secure college admission. You are working hard for your future and I pray for you to get deserving results.

You are a god sent angel to me and sometimes I just pour out my heart expecting you to respond like an adult. I must admit that you are a very good listener and acknowledge my rant! I validate myself with you the same way I do with a friend. You have been very nice and gentle to me in past year and I can’t thank you enough for this!

You are a cry baby when it comes to losing in board games and when LHB gets one extra bite of any junk. Like if you give a share to Appa then he is forced to give a share to me to even out. Sometimes he even gives away his share to you and walks away shrugging his shoulder “It’s okay ma! If I don’t give she will become a cry baby”. Sometimes, I wonder if I am raising a 15-year-old running 7 and a 7-year-old running 15!!

You have been given a generous 10 years to take over the family my dear. The agreement we have or rather I propose is ten years from now, you will take over the home mortgage, get married, stay in this same home, be kind to give 1 room to LHB, give guest room to your parents. I will help you with cooking and babysitting your kids and Appa will help with house/lawn maintenance so you and your partner will have the elder support to raise a family. I know this mommy brain is crazy. On other days I talk about going back to India for my retirement life. Basically, I don’t know how to control my wild thoughts and be loud about this craziness. I hope you don’t get confused with all this craziness of your Amma!! No pressure Daaru!

If there is one word that I want to share with you when you turn 15, it will be “empathy“. Hold on to this word tight as it will help you to grow as a good human and help people around you as well.

You are too good for your age and I wish you good health and happiness all through your life.

Love,
Amma

 

Music class and parenting

Hope all of you are safe and staying indoors. This post is not about how we are adapting to the new way of life that would have been an impossible distant dream until a month ago.

Adi learns carnatic music for few years now. She lost interest sometime last year and have been asking me to stop the class. I promised her that we can stop when we move to new neighborhood citing that as a reason and initiated the conversation with teacher after our move.

The teacher didn’t agree to stop. Her point was Adi is almost close to getting to advanced level and it is not a good idea to take a break now. She advised to continue with online class. So we continued but ever since Adi would take a break every few weeks with some lame excuse. Slowly, she started whining for every class and it was getting worse!

Yesterday, she started whining an hour in advance and went on and on. I tried explaining how her teacher is not agreeing to stop but she didn’t listen. I felt bad for Adi as this setup is not helpful for both her and the teacher. She is not going to learn anything if she attends class with this mindset. So, I called the teacher few minutes before the class and tried explaining again but she didn’t budge. The teacher said let’s go with today’s class and then she will talk to Adi.

The class got over and then teacher called. I explained to her how its getting hard week by week and then teacher spoke with Adi. She explained to her about how close she is to get to next level and how dropping at this stage is not the right decision. This girl nodded her head to teacher and agreed to all that she said. The call ended on a happy note and I felt so relieved.

Later the evening, while we were working in Kitchen Adi started a conversation with me.

Adi: Amma, I have a random question for you!
Amma: Yes dora daru (that is how I call her these days. I will write about it later)
Adi: Why did you call the teacher before class?
Amma: Because, as a parent I have to address your concerns. I cannot ignore it. I didn’t like you whining and felt it needs to be addressed.
Adi: Do you want to know a fun fact?
Amma: Yes
Adi: You did good parenting today!

That comment from her made me fly high. Nothing has changed, she is going to continue with the class but I am glad that I made a decision to call the teacher and not ignore her whining.

Lesson learned: It is very important to show your child that you are listening to them and taking appropriate action as needed. Ignoring the situation doesn’t help to build relationship with a teenager.

Heaven is

the salad your daughter makes for you when she gets home around 2:30pm and you are starving as you skipped lunch attending back to back calls since morning.

Bonus – she serves it to you 🙂

Now I am craving some masala chai and troubling her to make some but she is not budging!!! It seems her quota of help is done for the day!!!

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Today’s dinner

What happens when you watch too much of Master chef? See below

Adi made this dish for my dinner today and presented it to me as

Enjoy the Cheese ravioli on a bed of sweet kale salad topped with roasted potatoes, dried cranberries and a dash of feta cheese 🙂

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Hackathon day

Today was hackathon day. I heard about a hackathon event exclusively for high school girls and registered Adi right away as this will be a good opportunity to introduce Adi to computer science field that earns bread and butter for our family. 

I have to first thank Adi for not giving up or protesting and keeping her options open to explore different fields. Trust me, it is not an easy task to wake up a high schooler at 5:45am on a weekend and I know kids who have let go of opportunities because they absolutely cannot give up on their morning sleep. So, thank you Adi for waking up at 5:45am, getting ready and catching the 7am bus to New York on a Saturday morning. We were 15 minutes early to the bus stop. 

The venue was right across NY bus terminal and we checked in at the event at 8:30am. There was a long line of high school girls with parents at the check in. As the event was all day long and I didn’t have anything else better to do alone in NY, I signed up myself as a mentor. 

We spent all day in one big room, Adi hacking along with her team on a cool idea and myself helping few teams with technology/programming challenges. I was able to help a specific team get through their idea and they secured 3rd place. The girls found me later and said “Thank you Aunty for all your help, Thank you for sparing your Saturday to help us!”. That was more than enough to make me happy and smile wide 🙂 Another mentor took my phone number because she thought I did awesome in helping the girls and wanted to stay connected with me. I had a good chat with few other volunteers and mentors throughout the day. The organizers (high school kids) and their parents have done an incredible job with the arrangements.  

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We were served bagels, pizza, cookies, brownies, juices, soda, coffee, tea unlimited all day and it was a total cheating day for me. I chose to eat mindlessly as it was the first day of monthly special. I just needed something to suppress the pain. Adi had her fair share of junk as well. 

The event got over by 6:30pm, we checked out, walked around Times square for a bit and then boarded the 7pm bus. Reached home around 8:30pm and here I am typing this post as fast as I can so I can just retire for the day. 

I was very much impressed by all the ideas and solutions presented by young girls.  Some of them were totally into it. Adi said her experience was “meh”. She felt bored and would not go to a hackathon again if she had a choice to skip. However, she won a “gaming headset” in raffle. 

I didn’t attempt to convince her as I felt it would be biased. My job is only to give her the  exposure and experience. She will figure it out someday on her own as what will best suit her.  

While we were gone, LHB went to star wars party at the local library and performed in a group dance for a pongal theme tamil song at the temple. As I am typing this, he is sitting next to me and showing all the goodies (star wars character cards) he got from the party and educating me with their names. 

It was a day well spent for me. Off to start bedtime routine. Night night peeps!!

Cinema cinema

We had a casual conversation at the table today evening about Darbar and it moved on to quiz Adi on how familiar she is with Tamil cinema industry celebrities.

The first she called out was “Yogi babu”. I was totally surprised and assuming she misunderstood asked her to explain how he looks like. She said that short, stout guy with curly hair. I see him in all the movies these days. I was about to pass out and decided to quiz her more

We had a rapid fire round and she faired pretty well much to my surprise. I am sorry non-Tamil readers.

Ajith – is it the guy from Isha movie (she is referring to Yennai Arindhaal)
Vijay – Oh the guy from Soccer movie (she is referring to Bigil)
Rajinikanth – Petta guy
Kamala hasan – The guy from the song I played (this deserves a post), with beard and stuff. She is referring to punnagai mannan BGM song
Dhanush – Oh the guy from Maari
Anirudh – Super singer guy
Illayaraja – I know you talk about him all the time but don’t remember his face. (blasphemy I thought and showed his picture to her right away)
A.R.Rahman – Oh the famous music director
Jeyam Ravi – Kurumba/Comali guy

And with that M declared she is fit to be called a Tamil girl now. It was a proud/not so proud moment I say!!! I mean I would have been much more happier if she knew the true Tamil legends but I am to be blamed partially too for the exposure I give to her.

I think she picked up all these only very recently. We had a good laugh at the end and that is all matters!

P.S: Heart breaking news for STR fans. She didn’t know him. I told her even STR would get a heart attack if he comes to know that she knew all the above celebrities but not him 😀 😀

Video of the day: (The rapid fire round with Adi reminded me of this scene)

 

Food drive

Adi is participating in a food drive to collect non perishable items from neighborhood and donate it to a local food pantry. The concept of food pantry is new to me. Underprivileged people can register to this food pantry and get food supplies on monthly basis to help feed their family. I don’t know the nuisances involved in this system but isn’t this a great idea to support families in need?

We have to go door to door (think of those census people or the marketing representatives ringing our door bell), explain the cause and request for food donation. I have never done this before, ringing a stranger’s door bell and Adi was not comfortable with it either. Add to that, we don’t live in a community or Asian dominated neighborhood to share common connections. The diversity rate of this neighborhood is very high.

M had his own set of doubts. What if a guy opens the door with a gun pointing at you? Nevertheless, I dared to go ring the bells for a good cause. The kids tagged along and I made Adi do the talk when each home owner answered the door. Some peeked only their head out and said sorry, some went into the kitchen and came back with some donations, some promised to drop something at my doorstep after next grocery shopping and some showed good interest asking for more details about the drive.

I didn’t expect anyone to drop items at my door step as I was very sure they will forget my door number right after we leave. But, this old gentleman came to my home yesterday straight from grocery shopping and dropped in not just 1 or 2 bags but almost 5 to 6 bags full of rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, beans, cereals, jam and many more items. Repeated thank you and God bless you is all I could mutter. I have asked Adi to make a handmade thank you card for him.

This was a unique experience for all of us and I hope the kids will not shy away or hesitate to speak up or ask for help for a good cause in future. It was very difficult for me too but not anymore.

Dont judge

Please dont judge me with this post. Yes we talk a LOT about poop and butt at home. Its unavoidable having around an actual 6 yr old and a 14 yr sometimes acting like a 4 yr old!!

This post is for posterity. Hope it will definitely make me smile when I read it. Somedays our texting conversation goes like this…

The blue text is me and the white one is Adi.