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Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

Eventful few weeks

I’m proud of the many milestones for our family in the last few weeks.

On Jan 23, I drove for the first time on Bangalore roads, all the way from home to my mom’s place (~ 15 kms). Admittedly, it was on a Sunday morning when traffic is minimal (One of my colleagues had this to say – you really have to go look for cars to hit), but still I was pretty much on the edge of the seat and sweating profusely. Was a huge relief when I reached there. Haven’t driven again since. Sometimes I wonder if its worth it. But you can’t a price on independence!

The same morning, a couple of hours later, SK started swimming in the pool, without any floating aids, for the first time.

Then on Thursday, Feb 3, SK started to ride her bicycle without training wheels. I had been coaxing her to do this for 6 months now. We removed the training wheels about 5 months ago and had to put it back on, because she absolutely refused to even sit on the bike. Even now, she need a lot of cajoling, coaxing and bribing. She still needs to build a lot of stamina, but I can see she has improved steadily over the last few days. She could barely go a minute without stopping, now she can do almost 5 minutes.

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Jan 1st 2010 was the scariest day of my life. We were vacationing in Goa that week, and that particular day we were playing in Baga beach. It was sometime around mid-afternoon (around 3.30 pm or so). We were enjoying the warm waters and the thinner crowds (it is all relative, thinner compared to the previous day, but still very populated compared to the beaches abroad). SK (4 yrs old) wanted to take a break from the water and just play in the sand. I sat her down in an empty area which we could see from quite a distance and joined PK and AK back in the water. We were literally checking on her every minute and she seemed content playing. After about 15 minutes, when I looked at that spot (probably for the 15th time), I did not find her there. My heart missed a beat, but I immediately found her about 10 steps to the right where she was collecting more sand. I thought may be she is getting restless and walked back to her and sat down with her to play.

Apparently the sand in her original spot was not enough for her, so she wanted to go around a few steps, collect some and bring it back to her spot. She did this one or two more times and I must have momentarily spaced out. Next thing, AK comes to me and says he needs to use the bath room (and do the big job!). This is very unusual since he, like me, has a mortal fear of public restrooms and rarely ever needs to go when we are out and about (this internal defense mechanism has gotten even stronger after we have moved here). I tell him to go back and ask PK. And then I look around for SK but cannot spot her anywhere. Since it must barely have been two minutes since I last saw her I physically got up and looked front, back, left, right and near the water but could not find her. By then PK was also coming out of the water to help AK with his need. I told him I was not able to locate SK and asked him also to look. Soon the 3 minutes turned to 5 and we couldn’t see signs of her anywhere and we started to get a bit frantic. I went and reported this to the life guard on duty. He said not to worry as it was an almost weekly occurrence there and invariably the children would be found nearby somewhere. He promised to get his tractor and go the length of the beach and announce on the loud speaker. I sat with him inside the vehicle and we must have traveled half the length and I was crying on the mic asking for her to come to the vehicle if she heard me. The loud speaker was not at all powerful, I probably could have screamed louder than that. All this while PK was going around yelling her name at the top of his lungs, he just wanted everyone to be aware that a child was missing. And AK is just trying to go behind one parent or the other crying. I don’t know if he realized the gravity of the situation.

But for me, time came to a stand still. When we didn’t find her in the first 10 minutes or so, I completely despaired. My main area of interest in searching was between our shack (where we had rented out lazy chair-beds and left our belongings there) and the spot where we were playing. This must have been a 200 or 300 meter stretch. I didn’t see any point in going beyond that in the patrol vehicle since I thought it was a waste of time. Meanwhile people were asking how long it had been since we noticed her missing, exactly when we first noticed her gone etc. It was such a bad time and place for this to happen (not that there is ever a good place or time for children to get lost). Since we expected to be a in a crowded beach and mostly in the water all day, we didn’t have our watches, cell phones, cameras or anything with us. People were asking if she knew our phone numbers, if we had a picture of her etc, and we had nothing. Our hotel was at least a 90 minute ride by taxi from this beach. I was just going crazy with all kinds of scary thoughts – you know, the usual, about kidnapping etc. Some people were suggesting we look in the water but I was confident she would not have gone in, especially if she didn’t see us. I wanted the life guard to register a complaint with the police. They were still saying we would find her but I was just dying every passing minute. Because we started this search with in 2-3 minutes of not seeing her and it was now almost close to 30 minutes or so. Who knows what could have happened. And I was also feeling major guilt since she was on my watch, but in retrospect, such a momentary lapse can happen to anyone, isn’t it? Another concerned parent was having the same terrible thoughts I guess. He was saying that we need to call the police to make sure that an eye is kept near the exits of the beach. But the long line of shacks are also scary, crowded places and who would search those, if we suspected any mishap. Man, I didn’t even want to complete those thoughts. I was pleading with the life guard to please do something and he said he would radio all the towers one last time before involving the police. I don’t know if he had a chance to do that, but the next minute he told me she had been found. I didn’t really believe him, thought it must be a mistake. Because with all of us searching for her and not having found her, how could she turn up so suddenly? Anyway, he made me sit in his patrol vehicle and took me there. Sure enough, she was in PK’s arms and he was crying profusely. The next few moments are a total blur. Obviously, we are ever indebted to the person who found her and brought her back, but I don’t know if we even expressed our sincere gratitude. We had so many questions for him, but a huge crowd had gathered, she looked so dazed and we just couldn’t stop crying. We just took down his number, and walked back to our chair-beds. Along the way, all the onlookers had lots of questions, comments and we tried to answer everyone politely, but mostly we just wanted to be alone and needed some privacy. After sitting in silence for the next ½ hr or so, AK wanted to go back in the water. But we were not in the mood. We promised him that the next day, he could spend the whole day at the pool in the resort. He was an angel and didn’t fuss. We rode back to the resort in silence.

The whole situation left us completely shaken for the next few days. How much ever you think of prevention, what we could have done differently etc, this is not something you can rehearse for. Later the whole evening we were just discussing all this and AK said “Can’t you just be happy we found her? Why do you need to keep on talking about it?” I don’t know if he understood the seriousness of the episode. And I don’t know how I can make him realize it without scaring him. We did talk to both of them again about the importance of sticking together in crowded places, not wandering off etc etc, but still it is never enough. I told SK I was so sad and scared when I couldn’t find her and she goes “But why momma? I wasn’t in any danger.” Her version of how it happened: “I went for a short walk to get more sand but after that I couldn’t find you, so I kept walking looking for you, but couldn’t find you. But on the way back, the short walk became a long walk and I also saw some goats on the way back”.

If this had happened at the beginning of the trip, we would have just headed back home right away, but this happened with only a day to spare, so we just hung out at the resort the next day and came back to Bangalore. We also called the person who had brought her back. Apparently, he found her more than one kilometer away at the next beach – Calangute beach (which is the most popular beach in Goa and hence the most crowded). He had heard that a 4 yr old girl, wearing a brown wet suit, was missing. He saw her and called out her name and she turned and he knew he had found her. We offered to buy him dinner and/or drinks but he was single and vacationing with a bunch of friends and he declined.

The first few days SK used to refer to this incident as “When I went for a short walk which became a long walk”. Now she just says “when I got lost”. I think she has talked about it in school etc, but there are only so many details a 4 yr old will recount. So not sure if they take her seriously. We are so thankful to have found her safe and sound and realize that not all families are so lucky. My heart goes out to them.

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I’m not making this up, honestly. One fine morning last week, while eating breakfast, 3.5 yr old SK had this to say about how we became her parents. In her own words – “When I was born, I was all alone in the hospital, and then I saw you guys. I said to myself, hmmmm, may be they can be my parents and that is how you became my parents and brought me home.” I asked her teachers if any such conversations had happened at school and they just couldn’t stop laughing and assured me no such discussions had taken place. They added that she had a great imagination!

 

She has become quite observant of clothes, accessories etc, it is just amazing where they pick it up. Any one who knows me will attest that I’m not much into fashion. I just keep myself presentable. Few weeks back, she started this new thing – she slides off one of the shoulders of her top and says she wants a “princess dress” just like the one Belle has. (For the uninitiated, Belle is the princess in Beauty and the Beast). And anyone who visits and is dressed well, she showers compliments. Especially, AK’s piano teacher. As soon as she comes, it starts – “I like your hair”, “I like your shirt”, “I like your scarf”, “I like your purse”. So much that I start feeling embarrassed and ask her to stop.

 

After almost eight weeks of not travelling, PK was in Long Island this week. I think she got used to having him home and missed him a lot. She used to ask every day when we came home, where he was and when he would be back, even though she is used to him being out regularly. One very touching incident was on Wednesday evening. There was a showing at home, so after I picked up the kids from their schools, I took them out for pizza. As we were waiting for our order, I heard her say “I am alone” or something to that affect. Since AK and I were there with her, I didn’t know what she was talking about and I asked her to repeat. She clarified, “I feel alone here in Papa Gino’s without Daddy”. Goes without saying, PK was pretty thrilled when he heard about it, especially since she is such a mama’s girl.

 

She can be very affectionate and showers everyone with lots of hugs and kisses. She proudly told me one day, “When I grow up, do you know who I’m going to marry? You”. She couldn’t understand why everyone else was laughing.

 

 

 

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Random thoughts

AK is making good progress on his piano lessons. The other day he was playing some pieces which we really liked. PK, particularly, is very happy since it has been his dream that the kids learn music. I guess something he wished he had the opportunity for when he was younger. He said, “Now I know how the illiterate people feel when their kids learn to read or write”.

When I woke AK up at 6.45 am this morning, he was groggy as usual, but his first question, even before his eyes were fully open was “Did Barack Obama win?”. I know that he was interested in the election and they were discussing it in class, but I didn’t imagine a 7 year old can be this much into it. 

For the Thanksgiving holidays, we are planning to take the kids to DisneyWorld. When I mentioned to the kids that we were going to Florida, SK, who is all of 3 yrs old, said “We need to go buy crocs  before we go to Florida”. For the record, none of us own one, nor anyone in the groups we hang around with, wears one. I wonder what these kids talk about at day care! I thought she probably didn’t know what she was talking about and may be she was just repeating some stuff she had heard. And then, last weekend we were shopping for winter clothes and jackets at The Children’s Place and while I was busy looking for essential stuff, she had wandered to the part of the store where the footwear was, all by herself and was engrossed in trying on the crocs. I was really blown away!

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Halloween is here

The kids, dressed as Grim Reaper and a bear.

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Scenes from Charlestown

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

Last Sunday, the weather was perfect – sunny and 70 (which is rare in late Oct). So we headed to Charlestown. Even though we have lived in the area for eight years, we never had a chance to go there. This seems to be the year when I’m knocking off quite a few things on my list of things to see/do. We climbed up the Bunker Hill monument (294 steps), got great views of Boston, read up on some history of the American struggle for Independence, went to City Square Park where there were beautiful fall colors on the trees and ate an awesome “Coffee lovers” ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Days like these always lift up my spirit!

City Square Park

City Square Park

Boston from the top of Bunker Hill Monument

Boston from the top of Bunker Hill Monument

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It was a beautiful weekend here in the Northeast. Sunny and low 60s. Here in Central Massachusetts, the colors have turned in pockets, and I think the coming weekend will be more colorful than last. We hiked up Mt Wachusett after many months, on the usual Pine Hill trail. This is the shortest but it is pretty rocky and steep. It is about 2 miles round trip. The trail was pretty busy but still quite enjoyable. The highlight though was that SK climbed the entire mile up all by herself. She just turned three last week, so I’m pretty thrilled that she did it easily without any whining. AK did it at that age too, but he needed a lot more goading, encouragement and treats along the way. On the way back, she came on the hiking chair.

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