Monthly Archives: June 2013

Rules that don’t apply to 4 year olds.

Having a 4 year old in the house is not unlike having a baby; there’s no reasoning with their logic, any demand for attention needs to be met now, not after you’ve taken a breath, you need to be ever alert to the very real dangers a normal house poses (whoever thought of building railings on stairs for support?!). Only now, instead of being able to be distracted with a nipple in their mouth or a noise-making toy, they are capable of subjecting you to hours of screeching wails or long arguments that result in a mental breakdown (yours, theirs is permanent).

One of the most fruitless things you can do is to try to convince a 4yo that nature has rules that most humans live by. Not our rules, mind you, which you have to admit can be arbitrary, but nature‘s. They simply don’t buy it. When I can bend rules made by my parents, who I can touch and see and ignore, what’s this nature thing they keep talking about? Weird, is what they think most likely. In our house, this attitude makes these widely accepted “rules” mere myths.

Breakfast is only one meal.

Says who? When you’re 4, breakfast just opens the floodgates to lunch. 8am: french toast with milk, 8:45: cereal with (self poured) or without milk, 10: blemish-free banana, definitely no strings attached, cut into pieces, 10:15: 5 pretzels, with generous crumbs left over for ants to find their way around, 11: 2 tubs of Dora yogurt with favorite spoon.

Lunchtime is dicey. Not because they have been stuffing themselves since breakfast, but because there is a chance that what’s served isn’t up to expectation, in which case there is a sudden onset of crippling stomach pains. Until the next time.

Both parties may get injured in a fair duel.

If you’re agreeing to fight with one older and probably stronger than you, you also agree to be whacked when you’re not looking, cannot take a shot and run and hide behind mom fearing retaliation, or end the duel as soon as you’ve had your turn at swinging the weapon (pillow or stuffies). It’s not necessarily unfair that your brother is stronger than you and therefore is able to pull you harder than you can pull him. Yelling “it’s not FAIR!” will not get you any sympathy from the adult who warned you against agreeing to the whole thing in the first place.

Age makes a difference.

Contrary to what a 4yo wholeheartedly believes, age is not merely a fantastic concept. At this stage, a couple of years makes a huge difference in what one can physically accomplish and mentally grasp. Unless you are an extraordinarily advanced 4yo you WILL have trouble with fractions no matter how easy your 7yo brother may make them seem. It is no less confusing for me, your mother, to chart a course of action when you cry if I don’t give you 5 stars for your scribbles or if I do give you 5 stars for obviously not solving the word problem.

It’s hard being 4.

Adults sometimes get tired and actually like to nap.

I don’t remember my own experience much but it’s plenty obvious to me now that a low center of gravity combined with the daily pull of the moon gives 4yos an unlimited pool of energy to draw from during daylight hours. This bouncing and rattling and gnashing and chattering is only abated by a sudden attack of narcolepsy at roughly 8pm (thank heavens!), until when the only way to walk is to run, the only way to talk is to yell, and the only way to think is aloud.

Clothing is desirable.

No. Just no.

Cooking frenzy.

We are giddy to be back home. The kids have been couped up inside for almost a week with no intention of ever venturing out into a world where parents encourage their kids to experience the world via vacations, the husband has been back to work with a vengeance, and I, I have been cooking, baking, reading like nobody’s business.

We spend the whole day in our pajamas, take showers as and when we feel like it (or not), basically just relaxing and taking each day as it comes without prior plans. Without deadlines to distract me or a schedule to stick to, I’m listening to their crazy invention ideas, laughing at their loud (omg, is it ever loud) silliness, actually mediating fights rather than ignoring them and taking a step back from all that nagging to finish this or that quickly.

I have to say, I’m beginning to see the allure of a staycation.

So, what’s cooking?

For a gal who doesn’t mind cooking, oh maybe even enjoys it a little, coming back to my own pots and pans and spices has been more than a little satisfying. This week’s Indian grocery run yielded tinda, a kind of small pumpkin-like vegetable not very readily available in Indian stores here in the U.S. so I don’t cook it often. Not that that would dampen the life of my 15-year-old self at all. Growing up, tinda was one of the veggies that didn’t earn mom any accolades for being served. (Sorry, mom, I now know how crushing a child’s whiny “not thaaat” can be at the end of a long day!)

From tinda to masala

Now that I’m the one doing the serving and the eating, I have to say tinda is quite not so bad at all. Cooked with some onion, ginger, cumin and basic spices, tinda masala is a tasty veggie dish to go along with a hot roti.

After a couple of weeks of deprivation, the kids wanted some of their comfort foods. If you’re thinking that’s something normal like mac n cheese or dal-chawal, you’re SO not their mom.

Slam dunk.

Well, they demanded chocolate chip cookies that did not have the crunch of those packaged boxes or the chewiness of the Starbucks one. In short, cookies they know and love. So we baked a batch of those. 23 cookies gone in 2 days.

Then came a brownie request that was fulfilled today. Filled with milk chocolatey goodness and the crunch of pecans in every bite, these brownies are hard to resist even for me. I couldn’t take an after photo because of the mad rush to devour the scorched pan.

Before the oven.
I managed to grab a couple to go with my coffee.

In an effort to pare down on the excesses of vacation eating, I’ve been trying to prepare light, healthy lunches for myself. The heat outside hasn’t hurt this quest either. ImageA quick bowl of Chinese style brown (not so) fried rice is filling and delicious. Bonus: R tried a bite and didn’t spit it out. I count that as a success.

So, it’s been fun. V doesn’t have full-day camp until the week after, and I’m glad I didn’t sign them up for too many. It’s summer vacation, after all.

Reasons NOT to take vacations with kids.

Since I’m writing this post, it’s obvious we’re back from our apparently glamorous vacation to Europe, Spain and Portugal to be exact. Europe is fascinating no matter how many times you visit or which country it happens to be; there’s just too much history and the general un-suburbia type feel that pulls you in again and again. Which is exactly why it is the worst kind of vacation to take with two little born-and-bred North American suburban kids. Here’s why:

  • The first thing to come out of their mouths after the initial “Yay, we’re going on a plane tomorrow!” is, “How much loooonger are we gonna be in the plannne??” Especially when the airliner doesn’t have personal TVs. Oh, the inconvenience of it.
  • The space vacated in the baggage by diapers is now occupied by “favorite” toys that absolutely cannot be done without for 12 days. No matter that some of them had been lying behind the sofa in the basement ignored for the past 6 months. The fight seems too petty to be fought while packing (parent guilt: they’re going to be uprooted for so many days it seems cruel to not even bring the few things they’re asking for), but man, how we rue those extra pounds while having to lug suitcases alongwith a sleeping child on public transport.
  • Someone throws a massive tantrum over a used, plastic Batman figurine while trolling an antique market for precious one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
  • How do you cover an area meant to be discovered on foot when your otherwise overwired kids claim they’re “too super tired” to walk before even reaching the metro station? Which, by the way, is so close you can see it from your hotel balcony. Also, it’s 9 a.m. and they’ve just woken up after a refreshing night’s sleep. You can practically guarantee chants of “Can we go back to the hotel now??” or “I’m tired and SO hungry” before noon.
  • At a plaza surrounded by stunning medieval architecture, they zero in on a rusty playground that absolutely needs to be played in before advancing any further.
  • You have to pack 2000 snacks along with non-perishable food items that can be cooked in a single pan for the picky eater or risk him surviving on bananas for the whole length of the trip (yeah, BTDT).
  • Dressing up for dinner is pointless because a) you’re bringing tired kids with no interest in food along, and b) your semi-fancy clothes (read: dress with flat sandals) are accessorized with a large backpack stuffed with paper, markers, snacks, electronics, etc.
  • You’re half distracted trying to prevent losing your kids in the tourist crush to pay much attention to the cathedral murals that you just spent 30euro per person to see. Maybe Spanish kids are enthralled by such magnificence, our kids are most decidedly not.
  • The excitement your kids show on the plane ride home is much more than the whole rest of the trip combined.

And that, mi amigos, is all we remember while recovering in the first few days after returning. Thank goodness short term memory will quickly fade and smiling photos will be all that remains.