Monday, July 21, 2014

Conversation with my daughter

Dechen, my three and half year old daughter and I talk so many things – in fact almost everything on earth.

I must have intended to write something a month back. I had begun this first sentence and left there. I’m here today to write about how children’s brain works – fascinated and curious all the time. It is usually at night when we are going to bed that we talk very, very intimately and it is inconvenient for me to write about what we discuss then. Later, the mood to write about it disappears, or something else that takes my attention always comes up.

On Friday, I heard the news that a person I know from my college lost her mother and my husband and I were discussing to go to her house to pay condolences. I had to explain to my daughter that someone had passed away and I needed to go to pay condolences (Abi thur eie awa la dang, mummy de le khe le la nadu?). Her question was, ‘Hang ten eie awa? Ebi gi eie awa? (How did she die? Who ‘killed’ her?). I cannot explain death to her in detail, so I told her that it was Drenakchung (the Dark Demon that takes away people after death if they had not lived righteously). Then she had series of questions of how.
There was another moment we discussed death. We were watching the movie, ‘UP’ and suddenly she realized that the actor there was alone and his wife was no longer with him. She asked, ‘Roka charo abi oya?’ (Where is his grandma friend?) That time, I told her that she went to another place. Then she wanted to know what that another place was like and so many other things. Questions go on…forever. But I am glad that for now, I am there to answer her. Sometimes I have to tell her that I don’t know the answer. And I am glad too that it doesn’t disappoint her.

Yesterday we went to Paro to listen to teaching from one of the Buddhist masters. She put on sandals (tok tok slippers in her words) against my advice and again once we were there, she played in the stream with her slippers on. And just as I warned, her slippers stripped off. She bugged me throughout the journey back home to buy her similar sandals of blue color. I explained that I did not have money. This morning, when I went to the ATM to withdraw money, she remarked, ‘Mummy ma se wa, tiru ma wa yek chowa la. Tiru la mai.’ (Mummy didn’t know that she had money but she does have it). We speak up something and it sparks up her curiosity and from there on, the conversation goes on and on.

Anyway, this is just a small record of what is happening in my life. Mothers will know how exciting it is to have their little one nudge them every now and then and let their head spin equally. I’m blessed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Darling, I am sorry

I just got to my office and I am still feeling a bit restless, a kind of a feeling you get when you have forgotten something important or when you have done something wrong. My three-year-old daughter has been unwell. For two nights she couldn’t sleep well because her body temperature was very high. We monitored it in all possible ways we knew. She got better after two days but she is still not in her best health – a bit of loose motion and lack of appetite. She is fussier than her usual self and that is getting on our nerves, her father and me.

We try our best. We love her, no doubt. Yet, there are times when we do not know how best to calm her down. For example, this morning, she didn’t want to brush her teeth. She didn’t want to take bath either. So, we said, that is okay. We will let her be. She didn’t want to eat anything except Chocos. We said okay to that too, because it is better for her to eat something than nothing at all. I tell you, she doesn’t eat much. May be she eats 5 spoons of it. But she wanted her bowl full. Fine, we yielded to that too, but by then the fuss got way too much that she was crying, and her father spanked her. I do not blame him for this – despite our knowledge that it is not the best way to bring up a child, there is nothing we can do. Can we ignore her till her fuss fades away? It does not happen fast enough and we are all in time constraint (how I wish I had the luxury to resign and be a full time mother). And yet, my mother complains that I am pampering her too much.  She says this for my sake actually; she thinks I am having a hard time because of a cranky child. But honestly, it is not what defines her. She is more beautiful and adorable than that. I think humans have the nature of clinging on the un-important and the bad traits of others. She is soft spoken and loving in nature – just that she throws a fit of temper in between. But who doesn’t?

So here I am just now, writing this down before I catch hold of other works to apologize – more to myself in fact. I must feel that I am forgiven or else, I will not feel better.

Darling, I am sorry. I am sure you dad is too. We love you. You must know that it is especially when we are getting late for our work and you make a fuss of getting ready for school that we lose our cool. I know you will have grown up before we have known how time passed. And by then, we would look back and wish you were still a baby. But we will love you the same. Sweetheart, you must know that we are doing our best and we lose patience sometimes and that it is natural. You must grow up to be a sensible girl and you can’t brag for every small thing. Darling, you gotta know that the world does not shape every little thing the way you want. This will dishearten you, but that is the way it is.

I am sorry anyway for losing patience knowing that you are not well. Next time you are fussy, we will try our best to calm you down in a better way. For today, I am sorry and I will say sorry a thousand times, if I have to.

Happy daughter's week. As long as we are together, we will always be smiling. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kadrinchey Ama

This is a very spontaneous post. I don’t bother much about the different international days, but Passu shared a post on Bhutan not being included on google’s doodle – which then led me to watch doodle on International Mother’s Day. Watching it made me emotional, engulfed more by the gratitude for my mother – taking me back to the days when I was a little girl to now. Just like the video, a panoramic view took place in my brain, each moment taking hold of my emotions more strongly. There was never a moment I was ungrateful to my mother but because we are together now, there are frictions sometimes; we do not misunderstand each other, except that she is a bit too stubborn. She is a woman of steel. I understand that she lived her life doing all the planning and organizing of works: when summer neared, it was she who planned when the seeds should be sowed, when the field will be ploughed and how many and who will be the labourers. She did that not only for her own household, but for her son and daughter’s households. Though it meant walking two hours to reach their village, her neighbours were the workers, all the time. Despite this understanding, I often end up asking her not to do certain things. I feel that there is no need for her to worry about even cleaning the house and dumping the garbage.

I get overwhelmed to even think of describing her. I know I will not do justice to her by doing that. But in short, she is gentle, compassionate, and yet, competitive and strong. Her determination is what I wish I had inherited. She has never known laziness and she has not known procrastination in her life. She gets shocked that today’s children can sleep soundly and pile works all for tomorrow. How I wish I were like her in all this.

But I envy her more in how great a mother she is. She has loved all her children and yet, she has not pampered a single one of them. I get surprised that while she had to work so hard in the field, tend to the household chores, and organize every small thing at home, she had time for her children and she was always tireless to hear their needs.

I appreciate her better today because I am a mother. I am not even half as busy as she was and yet, I easily lose my patience when there is an unending demand from my daughter. By writing this, I know, I am not even describing 1/1000th of what she is to me, but this is to ease my own emotion at the moment. My dear mother, I love you. No matter how old, or how young, how frail or how strong we both are, I love you. Thank you for bringing me into this world and teaching me the bounty of love

Here is Google's doodle celebrating the International Mother's Day 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A mother has to be creative

The thought that a mother has to be creative ran through my mind one morning as I was requesting my daughter to get ready for school. No ordinary words and expressions can get her attention. She is extraordinarily fussy about her dressing. I heard from my sister-in-law that boys are not very particular about what their mothers choose for them to wear. I like the exercise of matching colours – which leggings and dress would go together and so on. But sometimes, it gets so tiring, especially when you know that there isn’t much time. For example, this morning, she ran into fury just because I made her wear a full-sleeved shirt. While we are cold and wrap ourselves into winter jackets and socks, she does not even want to wear a full-sleeved cotton shirt. However, this morning, I was determined to hold my authority and despite her tantrum and tears, I made her put it on.

Another thing is her choice with shoes. She will go for any high-heeled sandals that make the ‘tok tok’ sound on the floor.  My husband accuses me that I have given in to her demand and bought this kind of slipper. I am now contemplating on hiding them. Do children really have reasons in doing what they do? What is going on in their mind? From the things they pick up and from their capability of detailed observation, it seems true that their brain is blank and ready to be filled up with anything they see. I am particularly intrigued by their degree of curiosity and energy (I also think that the story that a man challenging to keep up with a child in being active the whole day finally declared defeat is true).

Back to being creative, I have to use words such as a spider is hanging from the ceiling, or a cute puppy wants to use her toilet. Or I must entice her by promising to take her to the park, to her cousin’s house, or to buy her a cup cake (I do make sure that I keep my promise). Last weekend, it was just the two of us at home. We were drying our clothes outside and suddenly a toddler on the first floor verandah in the building we stay spilled potato crackers and she picked up one piece and it was in her mouth in lightning speed. I promised to take her to the shop to buy it if she didn’t eat that. She agreed. But as I went inside the house to get my purse, she latched the door from outside and ate up all the spilled chips. Looking at this, children’s brain certainly can make some judgment.

I must confess that I sometime feel like running away – just so that I will have some quiet moment. But I tell you, as I look at her innocent, peaceful face lying next to me, there is nothing more I want in the world. That is the gift motherhood holds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I confess I have been a selfish human being

The thought that I am a bit more selfish than I would like to admit to myself occurred to me a few times, but each time, I warded it off saying that it is not the case. But last Sunday, I peeled off all layers of ego, and told myself that I am still a bit more selfish than I would like to admit.

I must confess too that I feel I am way too considerate of others and it inconveniences me sometimes.

Last Sunday, my family and I attended a Bhuddhist Ceremony of offering a religious hat to His Holiness Lopen Thegchog in Paro. So many people had gathered and the hall was so packed. My three year old daughter Dechen and I were squeezed in a corner in the last row. Because there was a small space next to me where my daughter sat (but currently left empty as she sat on my lap), people eyed it and took it up. So we were even more squeezed. She got so restless after a few minutes and she had least interest in the ceremony. When my ideas of keeping her engaged got exhausted, I told her that it was okay for her to go out. She went out twice – stepping on people’s laps because there was just no space at all. Both times, she came back shortly (I later noticed that there were people sitting crowded even at the doorstep and stairs). A nun sat in front of me and because Dechen touched her shamthab, a woman sitting next to me made a comment that she is anim nyenzey ( a celibate nun) in Sikkim. After a while, the same woman told me that there is a shed outside where we could sit. She meant to tell me that we should leave the hall. So taking all the hints from frowning faces, we left. But when we got outside, she saw a pair of sandals she liked and she didn’t want to wear her own sandals. She had been forced to stay inside for way beyond her patience and her mood being not well, she sat on the ground, in the dust, telling me that she was not going to wear her slippers. I let her sit there and taking command, I told her that if she was not going to wear them, she was going to walk barefoot! When a young boy helped her up, I told him that he could let her soil.

I must have been both angry and embarrassed because I don’t really remember whether I carried her or she walked barefoot to the meadow where we sat down to eat lunch. She must have been hungry. She finished her lunch (which is not usual). I was already feeling empathetic and wanted to hold her so much, but I told myself that I had to be tough. So I still held command. After a while she came to me saying that she hurt her feet and she was going to put on her slippers (the way children tell you that they were wrong is very gentle and genuine, and cute).

After lunch we did not go back inside the hall. We roamed around, played in the stream nearby and then we met a woman I know who also has a daughter her age. Though both of us seemed to have forgotten the bad afternoon, I was still feeling very uncomfortable inside. The way something is lodged inside your throat and you could neighther swallow, nor cough it out. It didn’t go until the next afternoon.

So all the while, I have been thinking over the incident and I realized that when we lose our temper with children, it is almost always because of ourselves and not because of them. We correct them way too much, we see fault too often – when we are not in our best mood. That day too, I think I was more angry with the way people looked at us in disapproving glances than at her restlessness. It was also because I didn’t want them to think badly about my daughter and the way I took care of her. We also tend to take on them when we want to shout at someone. This realisation makes me feel bad, but honestly, I think we often scold them, or spank them when we want to get off the foul mood we are in. And it is never because we genuinely think correcting them is going to make them grow up to be a good person (though that thought is there too). When we genuinely care about them, we find a gentler alternative to correct them.

This thought that I am taking on her because I know she is helpless and she cannot hurt me back gave me a very awful feeling. I feel it even as I write this article. There could be some of you who disagree, but that is okay. I heard that there was a teacher in Bhutan who fought that there should be no corporal punishments in schools because when teachers beat their students, it is never out of genuine care for the students, but out of their own anger. I am with him.

Next time you want to spank your children, or scream at them because they did something wrong, please hold yourself. When you were their age, you made mistakes too.