Monthly Archives: February 2013

Our Parents as Parents vs Us as Parents

I recently posted a picture of my old school teachers (from late ’80s – early ’90s) on my Facebook page and during all the commenting activity realised that I’m now older than most of those in-control, omniscient adults – an image I strive every day to portray to my own kids and likely fail to. With an adult consciousness though, I can imagine that they must have been as indecisive and unsure dealing with us as I am with kids around me. Or maybe not; they were teachers after all.

The same sentiment for adults carried over to our own parents when we were kids. When I was 6, I could never imagine that my mom at 28 (!!) wasn’t sure that sending me to my room for not finishing dinner was an appropriate consequence for my action or not. I probably bawled at the injustice of it all but it never occurred to me to question my mother’s motives.

Not so anymore, my friend, not so at all. My kids argue with me until they — or more likely I– dissolve into frustration tears more than occasionally, and I must say many times their arguments make absolute logical sense. And, strangely, I feel the need to defend my POV almost every time! To a 4yo! Am I encouraging my kids’ disrespect for authority? Am I undermining my role as a parent? Should I be saving for a therapist fund for them? I’m not sure, but here’s a few hypothetical examples of how our parents handled parental dilemmas way back when and how we tackle them now.

Parent-Teacher Conference at School

Parents as Parents (PP): Is she studying well enough to be first in class? Discipline in school is your responsibility; do whatever you have to do to keep her in line.
Us as Parents (UP): That’s great that he’s doing well academically but how is he socially, athletically, artistically, musically? He says he’s being bullied at recess; what steps are you taking to resolve it? What can I do to get him ready for the science fair tryouts?

Free Play

PP: Go play outside. Come back in time for supper.
UP: Shall we go to a park so you can ride your bike? How about we play some soccer so you can practice for camp? Don’t go into other people’s yard or out of ours without telling me! I’m sitting right here, honey. That’s a wonderful thingumajig you drew with mere chalk! Oh, a robot? Wonderful, the best picture anyone ever made!

Dinner

PP: Finish everything on your plate. Do you know how many kids don’t have enough to eat? I won’t tolerate any wastage.
UP: I’d like you to try one bite. You don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it. Do you know how many kids blah blah. <Child phases out or a pretend game starts with other child>. Some food ends up in the compost bin every day, one bite untried.

Discipline Technique

Scenario 1

PP: Yelling, spanking, frequent invocation of “Wait till papa comes home!”
UP: Yelling, yes. Spanking, no (unless you count a quick flick on the hand when they won’t stop hanging off your hair or twisting your lip or something). Hell will freeze over before the fabled authority of disciplinary papa is acknowledged. Instead lots and lots of talking *eyeroll*: Do you think that was a good choice to make? Is that the way you would want other people to treat you? If the boy hadn’t cried wolf so many times before, don’t you think the villagers would have been more likely to help him the last time?

Scenario 2

PP: “Don’t you ever talk to me like that, young lady!”
UP: “Honey, it hurts mama’s feelings when you talk to me like that. That’s not very nice. Let’s see how we can rephrase that.”

Sleep/Bedtime

PP: Singing lullabies, sleeping in parental bed until child is old enough to remember the fact later.
UP: Letting baby cry it out at 3 months in his own crib in his own room. (*Note: I could only manage to do this a total of 2 times and I’m scarred for life.)

Funny Family Ecard: The Oscars vs Parenting All the blood, snot and tears end in a winning speech thanking Mom and Dad. (Hopefully.).

ETA: My dad read this and seems to think that I’m disparaging parents from their generation. Actually, I’m just guessing at their parenting motives and/or actions from the cumulative experience of an adult and the faded memories of a child. If at all, I see humor in the way we parent our kids now (helicopter parent, anyone?). Either way, all I can hope is that my kids will turn out as I did, which is to say, fine. So, papa, you did okay. 🙂

Smashed Potatoes, Indian Style

Have you ever wondered about the amount of potato in an Indian diet? I have, on numerous occasions while trying to think up a curry for dinner at the very last possible second. Indian cuisine is as dependent on the ubiquitous potato as a Britain-born person may be to, say, the expression, “Blimey bugger!” Maybe I’m totally off the chart about the British person (because, you know, India was only a colony not the bloody country itself), but by god I’m right about our potato addiction. We make dry and wet curry out of it, we stuff it in our breads, we use it to increase the bulk of our vegetable dishes, in fact, there is no kitchen emergency that ek aloo (one potato) won’t solve.

Tiny, even for baby potatoes.

I bought a pack of baby potatoes from the store this week intending to make dum aloo, a creamy dish of fried potatoes in tomato gravy. Then I had a sudden craving for something potatoey today but didn’t have time for the elaborate prep that dum aloo requires (much like cabbage kofta). So these smashed potatoes were born.

Now, neither have I invented the concept of smashed potatoes nor the combination of spices that were used. What I did do for the first time is put them together to create a yummy, crispy, sublime concoction that’s a pleasure to make (fast! easy!) and even better to eat. I don’t eat meat, but I can kind of guess all the excitement associated with crispy pig’s skin; the crackle of skin on these potatoes at first bite is an unparallelled mouth feel. Blimey.

This recipe serves 2, as a side.

You’ll need:

15 baby potatoes, washed and unpeeled
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coriander powder (optional)
salt and lemon juice to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Approx. 1 cup boiling water

  • Immerse the potatoes in boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
  • Heat oil in a wide frying pan to smoking.
  • While the oil is heating, lightly smash each potato with the palm of your hand.
Please excuse the lighting; the other hand was gainfully engaged.
  • To the hot oil, add mustard seeds, cover and let them sputter. Add nigella seeds followed by the smashed potatoes. Reduce heat. Stir and arrange the potatoes in a single layer in the pan.
  • Sprinkle salt, paprika, coriander powder, salt and let potatoes brown, even slightly burn, on each side. Show off your culinary skills by flipping potatoes in the pan without using a spatula.
  • Turn off heat and finish with lemon juice and cilantro.
  • Serve hot. If making earlier, give them another swish in a hot pan before serving to revive crispiness.

Though I served these as a side to a very Indian supper, these can easily be toothpicked and served as a snack with some chutney and ketchup. Versatility, thy name is a potato!

It’s not just about You; it’s not just about Me; it’s about Us.

The hubster and I celebrated (in a loose sense) our 11th anniversary (in a super concrete sense) this last weekend. On the one hand, the years have sort of melded together so that 2013 could easily be 2002 and no one would know. On the other, though, it feels like eons and eons have passed since that fateful day when I said to him, “I’m gonna use the bathroom, and when I’m back I need an answer yes or no.” In trying times he never fails to remind me how he got forced into this thing; in better days, well, he remains silent. Life has happened since those first few years of cozy dinners and romantic, homebound weekends. If you really come down to counting, here’s a few ways things have changed since 2002.

Then: “I bunked an important meeting so I could come home to you!” ❤
Now: Rrrrring. “Yeah.” [Me, In a panic] “Baby, I think I’ve broken my foot!” “Are you sure it’s broken? I’m in a meeting…”

Me, Then: Omg. I have to go #2! SH!T, I don’t want to him to hear all those embarrassing noises!
Now: [Only warning before letting it rip] “I told you we shouldn’t eat beans for dinner. Not my fault.” *shrug*

Then: [Text] I miss you!
Now: [Text] Don’t miss sending in the kids’ fee cheque.

Then: “Here, you can have the last piece of cake. No, really, I’m full. I don’t even really like it that much.”
Now: “Oh, sorry, I finished it all. Did you want any?”

Then: [Romantic scene on TV] ❤ “I love you!” ❤
Now: [Ultra romantic scene] “They are paid a lot of money for this, you know.”

Then: One card for each week we were apart between our engagement and the wedding.
Now: One card after not sure how many years on Valentine’s Day with the message, “A card from me, how’s that?! :)” From him. I sent/gifted nothing.

Him, Then: “Where do we keep the spoons?” I direct.
Now: Him, “Um…” Me, “Yeah, it’s in R’s drawer beside his underwear.” “Hey, how did you know what I was looking for?”

Practice?

So, clearly, all is not lost yet. It’s the little things that count, right? I like to think of us as a pair of well-worn jeans: no glam, but when you’re home nothing else will do.

Right? 🙂