I’m 4 years old, and I’m in prison. I’m a prisoner to my mother’s whims, of which there are many. I could write a whole ‘dessert’ation on it, but that can only be after dinner (bah!) so I’m just going to start now.
Her moods are highly unpredictable. One minute she’s reading me the third bedtime story with voice enactions and everything, and then suddenly she’s barking at me to fall asleep RIGHT NOW. Like it’s under my control that I’m such a mature 4 that I need an adult bedtime. Truth be told, she looks more tired at that point than I ever am so maybe she needs to go to bed early.
She gets to sleep snuggled up to dad every night and all I get is a stuffie. Does that seem fair to you?
She says she likes avocado so much that she can eat one for breakfast every day. When I express the same sentiment for ice-cream, she looks at me with murder in her eyes. I don’t get it.
She has no problem swiping a bite of spaghetti from my plate (without asking) but if I ask for a sip of her soda, all hell breaks loose. Clearly, sharing is an urban myth propagated by preaching not practicing.
At least four times a day, public presence notwithstanding, she asks me if I have to go pee. Last week in the grocery store, when I politely asked her in my indoor voice why she had farted she rather rudely informed me that we don’t talk about people’s bodily functions. You see?
She chooses her own outfit every day. If I, however, choose to wear a T-shirt in winter there is big drama. When she is already carrying my snacks, a bottle of water, my backpack, her own purse, the car keys, the bag of library books, I don’t get the big deal about her carrying my jacket also. It is winter after all and I may get cold later. That doesn’t mean I should have to stifle my desires now, should it?
When I ask her so many “why” questions all day all I get is a “Uhm, yeah” or “Can you just give me a minute?” while she does something boring like prepare dinner. Then, when I’m totally engrossed in my game of marbles, she will randomly start explaining to me the workings of the solar system or something. Is it my fault then to be bored to tears and to show it? She needs to learn about the concept of personal space.
Speaking of space, she likes to kiss me arbitrarily throughout the day, but God forbid if I kiss her the 20th time in 20 seconds. She will swat at me like I’m some kind of maniac who leaves a trail of spit on her face. I can’t even reach her arm at such a time, so obviously I try harder. Then she gets all huffy at me to leave her alone. If only she listened to her own advice.
Those marbles reminded me: I STILL can’t eat hard candy because she says I can choke on them. What about those beans she serves me every so often? If there’s anything I will choke on is cooked beans. And they don’t even taste as good as hard candy so what’s the point?
Today she took me to the toy store with the condition that I won’t ask to buy anything. Of course I promised. But what’s a guy to do when confronted with so much awesomeness? What’s the fun in looking when you can’t have anything? When I made my disappointment clear with sustained whining, she dragged me out of the store with a martyr’s look on her face. If anyone was a martyr in this situation, it’s gotta be me, but I generously diverted my attention to my snack in the car. She, on the other hand, grumbled all the way home. Not the best example to set, in my opinion.
She constantly harps on about the value of creativity and originality. Why, then, when I drew on our black car with my precious “rock chalk” did she throw such a fit?
Her stuff around the house are “collectibles”. My legit collections are merely junk.
The only thing we both agree on: Some days she needs a nap.
Once upon a time (in the ’80s), I was one of the second generation of children growing up in post-Independence India. The immediate rush of adrenaline that comes with independence from a 200-year foreign rule had died down, but the optimism that India was solidly on the road to progress hadn’t. Motivational phrases like “We shall overcome,” “United we stand, Divided we fall” and “Unity in Diversity” were routinely thrown about in school assemblies, Republic day parades etc. As children, we took these on face value and we believed them to be true.
So, why do hesitate to answer our children’s questions at face value and let them decide what they take away from it? Why do we find it so hard to answer our kids’ questions about marriage and sexuality and what it means to be gay in this world they’re growing up in? If anything, this recent zeitgeist of gay pride/lifestyle should just make it easier for us, no? Now when a kid asks, “Mom, what’s marriage?” it’s so simple to say, “Marriage is a relationship between two people who choose to spend their life with each other.” Why does the gender of the people involved even matter in the equation? When love isn’t even a prerequisite for the marital relationship to be forged (arranged marriages are as common as ever in some cultures, Indian included), who says that being a man or a woman should be?
It may help to think about it in this way:
If people were still being traded as slaves;
if women still did not have the right to vote;
if apartheid hadn’t been abolished;
if prisoners of war were still beheaded and their heads spiked on towers to be ridiculed;
if it were still acceptable to send a child with Down’s syndrome to the mental asylum;
if a low-caste person were still prohibited from pursuing a profession he wasn’t born to;
if killing a girl infant were still considered an acceptable act of defending honor, then
Where would we be?
I think it’s about time we teach our kids the value of love, commitment and family rather than focus on the femininity or masculinity of another person. If they know how to choose well, you can bet they will choose the best person for themselves.
In a culture that values praise above all else, it is sometimes hard to distinguish real success from mere politeness. There have been times when someone has complimented a shirt I’m wearing only to be bombarded with irrelevant details about it until their eyes have long glazed over. Once, after waxing eloquent over my new shoes and what a deal I’d gotten on them I realized that the question wasn’t even about them. Awkward.
The point is, since I’ve been making my decorated cookies I’ve only received exceedingly positive reviews about them. My real-life friends have been extremely appreciative, almost reverent, of my “creativity”, and I’m so grateful for that. Their encouragement has kept me going, even when making yet another batch of dough has induced tears of boredom.
The real measure of success is when someone asks for my recipe because they liked the cookie so much. This has happened a few times lately and each time is a source of exhilaration for me. So, for all my friends out there, here is my go-to, self-tweaked sugar cookie recipe. Each batch of dough makes about 2 dozen 3″ round cookies — more smaller shapes, or fewer large cut-outs. My cookies tend to be on the crispier end with minimal spreading, making them ideal for precise decorative shapes.
2 sticks salted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp pure vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
*Note: Substitute brown sugar for granulated and 1/2 cup cocoa powder (2 cups flour plus 1/2 c cocoa) for chocolate cookies.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add egg, followed by vanilla, baking powder and flour until dough comes together in a loose ball. When the dough is soft but no longer sticky is when you know it’s ready.
Let the dough rest for a few minutes before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. No need to refrigerate.
Easy peasy. This recipe has yet to fail me and I hope it works for you too! Enjoy decorating your flawless blank canvases.