Spelling Bee

Twin One:  I asked Patchy (our cat) two questions and she got them both right!

Me:  Wow she must be a smart cat.

Twin One:  She is. I am smart too.

Me:  Yes I think you are pretty smart.

Twin One:  I can spell Birthday. I learnt it myself b-i-r-t-h and then d-a-y!

Me: (In the most impressed tone possible) Wow. That is great!

Twin One:  You know what else I can spell?

Me:  Tell me.

Twin One:  I can also spell  dog pooh. D-o-g  p-o-o-h!

75dcb-photos-0058

(Bee sticker photo courtesy of Twin One)

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Where the Wild Things Are

Today is Maurice Sendak’s birthday. I have five wild things. I live where the wild things are. Wild Cauliflower has some Palestinian friends, they’ve been enlightening her on some of their customs. They ululate when they are really happy. I had no idea what that was, so Cauliflower demonstrated in the car while we were parked outside FoodBasics surrounded by other people sitting in their cars listening. Wild things can often be very embarrassing, but I like being where the wild things are.

Reading to Children

sarah gives thanks

I love reading to my children. Uhh..I loved it with kid 1 and 2. By kid 3 it was more the guilt and with 4 and 5 my life depends on it. They tie my hands and threaten to ingest large amounts of sugar and coffee if I don’t tell them a bedtime story.

We have a great collection of books and the kids love trips to the library for new ones. We got a new book in December. I sort of won a contest on a blog, not really won sort of won. So Mike Allegra, heylookawriterfellow, sent me  this beautiful book he wrote. Sarah Gives Thanks is a great book. The story is touching, informative and it teaches kids to never give up. It is inspiring and it is true. My kids loved it and I think every parent should add it to their kids’ collection.

Another tear jerker book I love is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. If you don’t have it or haven’t read it, get it and read it to your kids immediately. Besides these I adore the wacky ones, anything by Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss are must haves for your children’s book shelves. They are just so much fun to read.

Reading to young children helps turn them into readers for life and you can find many studies that link reading to success, so get bedtime stories into your schedule!

What do you enjoy reading to your kids? Which book do they love to hear over and over?

Lost in Translation: Part One

  Did you ever play that game Chinese whispers? I don’t ever remember playing it. To compensate this childhood deprivation God has blessed me with a husband and kids who live Chinese Whispers. You don’t get it? Let me demonstrate. Introducing the cast:

Slovenly Teen: 15

Only Son: 13

Middle Child: 8 (I also refer to her as ‘sweet child o mine’- she is the only one I want to admit is my actual offspring)

Twin 1: 5

Twin 2: coincidentally also 5

Husband: Peter Pan

Me: 18 till I Die (Bryan Adams rocks..eh)

Random Situation 1:

Slovenly Teen, the reigning champion of sleeping in, is still in bed on Saturday evening..no night..of course I am not exaggerating! Whatever gave you the idea I exaggerate?

Me: “Wake up goddammit! It’s almost Sunday, look at the filthy mess in this room, I am not cleaning up after you, you over grown gargantuan sloth. You get up right now and wash those dishes, I wash them all week. The least you can do is help out on the weekend, you good for nothing massive waste of carbohydrates. What kind of example are you setting for your younger sisters? All right that is it, I am throwing our all your junk….here it goes…did you hear me?”

What Slovenly Teen actually hears:

“My poor exhausted precious pearl! You have worked hard looking swag all week. Baby you need a rest! Now don’t you dare try to get up and put things away, no no no! Mama will do that for you, my darling angel! Just right after I get your good for nothing sisters to wash the dishes and clean up your room I am going to cook your favorite …now what do you feel like? Lasagna or chicken cacciatore? You are so beautiful it is unbelievable and just for being that good-looking I think I’m gonna bake my baby a cake! Here honey let me put your beats on your ears for you…you just relax and continue snoozing the day away sugar-plum.”

Random Situation 2:

Xbox addicted Only Son had been playing since 4 pm and it is now 7 pm  The twins are fainting from severe lack of Tree House. Yes I insist on keeping one and only one TV!

Me: “You need to turn that game off now! You have been playing for five hours now. Other people in this house need the TV you know! If you don’t turn that goddamn thing off right now, you won’t play for a week. I don’t care if you have ten friends online, if their mothers are ok with their sons turning into a bunch of zombie gamers, fine with me. Are you listening to me? ”

What Only Son hears: “Most precious only male child and carrier of the family name. Continue on your quest of becoming the greatest gamer in the history of mankind and bring me pride. You have only been playing for half an hour and I know it will take hours of hard work to perfect your great skill at killing underage players online violently and mercilessly. I take great delight in every kill you make. It makes my heart sing while you comment loudly, with strange verbal embellishments,  into that expensive mouth piece earphone thing set that I most happily agreed upon buying. Play on noble son, play on.”

Random Situation 3:

Twin 2 greatly frustrated while I am busy in the kitchen, comes to me with the complaint that her Xbox addicted brother has still not turned off the game.

Me: “Okay, just let me finish up what I am doing and I’ll come and have a talk with your brother.”

Twin 2 to Only Son: “Mom said you better get off that goddammit game right now or she is going to break it into gazillions of pieces and throw them off the roof. And then you are going to get a spanking. DO IT NOW!”

Random Situation 4:

Peter Pan  husband is on the internet. I have issues that I need to discuss.

Me: “The groceries are almost finished you need to go shopping, and I was wondering what to cook for dinner. Do you want to have traditional stuff tonight or something non-desi? Did you know Only Son’s dentist appointment is next week? There is a sale on at the mall, I think we should go. You have got to talk to that daughter of yours! Her room is a mess, you need to get more involved with the kids, I can’t do everything you know! There is something wrong with the vacuum cleaner and the cat, they are both throwing up hairballs. Do you think I have started looking..old? You need to get some exercise, you sit too long at that damn computer, the twins have vaccinations due.  Middle child brought home an open house circular from school and…”

What husband actually hears: “Blah blah blah blabbidy bloo blah blah blabber blabber blabber blah blah blabbidy bleep blah blah blah…”

Husband: “Okay”

So what does your family hear when you are trying to communicate?

(All pics from Google Images)

It’s Always a Good Time

I yelled at the kids to go to sleep early one Saturday night in the summer vacation so we could get up early and be out of the house by eleven at the most. I woke up at 11:21. Everyone was up before me. No one realized that they could not actually leave the house if I was still snoring away. So I had to start yelling again as soon as I woke up. They just wanted to let me sleep in, isn’t that sweet? The day I need to wake up early, they finally let me sleep in. My kids make sure my vocal cords get plenty of exercise every day. The thing is I don’t really dream of being an opera singer.
After ranting about the height of negligence that my kids and their father have been endowed with, I started making brunch and packing picnic food. I had marinated the chicken the night before. Good thing I have an obsessive compulsive disorder with organization. Unfortunately this does not go good with my absent-mindedness. But that is life. Isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think?
Picnics are loads of fun with five kids. I pack enough stuff to make you believe I was going away for a month. 5-year-old twins mean you need lots of extra clothes and towels. You never know who is going to decide to get carsick. They’ve been trained to give a 5 second warning so I can catch it in a plastic bag.
So I make an Olympic record for the best time in the ‘make breakfast, feed kids, pack picnic, yell at kids to get ready, close all lids on toilet seats, feed cat, and push everyone out the door’ event. We get in the car and as soon as we are in the kids start fighting over seats. No one wants to sit at the back with the twins. I can’t blame them. Who the hell enjoys catching vomit in a plastic bag?
We had to stop to buy buns and drinks. And coal. And lighter fluid. Because husband does not have any sort of obsessive compulsive disorder and efficiently tunes out when I start listing off ‘things to do’. So I sit in the car while he buys stuff, and try to ignore the kids who are arguing about who will sit where on the way back. I receive a phone call from husband, “I can’t find the buns”.
By 1:45 we were sitting outside the second grocery store because husband could not find coal at the first. After 25 minutes he comes out smiling. Success. It took two people 25 minutes to find lighter fluid. We finally move on. On the road husband realizes someone’s door is not closed right. At the first red light we all open and slam the doors really fast, green light we drive on but one door is still not closed right.  Change radio station because no one likes the song. Yell at kids to stop yelling at each other. Next stop light, door open, door slam, door still not closed thank you ma’am. Kids still yelling at each other about whose door is not shut properly. Teenage daughter only has enough strength to hit her brother in the back of the head and that is all. For anything else her hands seem to have no life. Have to change radio station every two minutes. Husband wants to know why all the songs sound exactly the same. We pull into someone’s driveway and husband gets out to close the door shut.
Teenagers are now commenting on all the ‘swoggy’ people they see on the way. As if they are full of swag themselves. Change radio station.
At the lake finally, more bickering among offspring. Who will pick up what and why they get to pick up that particular object. Deciding on the perfect spot takes about 20 minutes, but by now I have started to tune everyone out. It is such a beautiful day. Warm and sunny. We are finally settled, I just want to get in that water. I walk in and my longed for peace is replaced with horror. The water is freezing. God dammit!
“We don’t even have to try it’s always a good time..O o o ..”
(All images are from Google Images)

 

Parents Just Don’t Understand

Sometimes after I have finished yelling at my kids, I wonder what it would be like to be in their place. Then my imagination goes a little wild and takes on different personalities, like a desi teenage boy. Here is an article I wrote for Dawn when my imagination was him.

Yo! You have crazy parents dude? Man I’m telling you they don’t understand anything. It’s like after 30 their brains stop working. And if your parents are Desi, man you have the worst type of parents ever! Desi parents? They speak desi, they think desi, they act desi, they spend desi. You can’t help but think “Yo old man why are we here? You should have kept us all in Desi Land!” And they tell you they came to give you better opportunities than they had. But man they can only think with desi brains and all those opportunities go out the backdoor. All my white friends, they don’t have it half bad. They’re lucky man. At least their parents speak the same language. Don’t believe me?

I had a pain in my tooth, had it for days man. Kept telling my mom I’ve got to see a dentist, you know what she tells me?

“Aye Allah! Who knows what that man will do to you putr! Here put this in you mouth.” Then she shoved a broken clove into my mouth and shut it so hard I almost bit my tongue off.

“This tastes like ‘bleep’ Ma!” And I tried to spit it out but she grabbed my face in her hands. Dude you won’t believe the hand muscles desi women develop from kneading all that dough!

She made me stuff cloves in my tooth for one month. Then the dentist told me I’d have to get a root canal. My old man wasn’t too happy about that. Not the pain I’d go through. The cost man! Dude, desi parents have desi wallets. Literally. My old man bought 42 wallets from his last visit to Desi Land. He got them off a thela for Rs45 each. That’s less than 45 cents. You can’t imagine his joy when he tells everyone he meets how much he saved on those wallets. You can’t imagine mine either. Anyways he tells the dentist,

“Just pull the tooth out! He doesn’t need that one much, he has plenty of others.”

“Mr Chaudry we need to eliminate the infection otherwise…” says the dentist.

“Otherwise what? No one will be willing to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to him?” says the old man.

That night he tried to pull my tooth out himself with a pair of pliers. Lucky for me I’m the only son and my mom beat him off with her rolling pin. Those desi wallets are like black holes, nothing ever seems to come out of them dude. Asking desi parents for money is like asking the cute white girl in your class to a high school dance with you. The answer is always ‘NO!’ Desi parents wait till Boxing Day to buy you stuff. Yeah they don’t give you the money. They take you shopping dude.

“Oh putr, look at this! 70 per cent off! And in your size too!” says Ma.

“Ma it’s got a picture of Justin Bieber on the front, everyone will think I’m ‘bleepin’ gay.”

“Tauba tauba! All that ‘bleep’ was not enough for you? Now this ‘bleepin’ stuff!” She’s least concerned about the Chinese couple who have covered their kids’ ears. “What is wrong with being happy? And he is such a decent boy, look at that innocent smile.”

“Ma! It’s something a kid would wear.” I try to drag her away.

“Are you not my kid?” The old man asks loudly and everyone in the shop turns to look questioningly at Ma.

“Man! Stop being so loud Dad, come on…” I try to drag them both out.

“No, this matter must be settled!” He glares at me then at Ma. “Is he not my kid?” By now there is a crowd wondering at my legitimacy. I pick up the Justin Bieber T-shirt.

“Alright! I love Justin Bieber and I want to buy his ‘bleepin’ T-shirt because I’m happy ok?” I scream and everyone gasps.

The seven dollar shirt hangs in my closet. Justin Bieber smiles at me every time I open the door to get the Rs800 Leisure Club shirt my cousin managed to send me with the old man.

Diary entry of a just hit 40-obsessive compulsive disorder- want to kill myself-mom;

Dear diary I am about to down a handful of sleeping pills and end my misery.

Just as soon as I have washed my hands, they are a little greasy from the eggs I just fried. I am serious, I can’t take it anymore. I am old, eight pounds overweight, no one ever listens to me and my life is a mess. I drag myself out of bed in the early dark hours of the morning, every morning . I make omelets only to remember that it was scrambled egg day. Can you imagine that?

I try to wake up teenagers who stare at me dumbly, sit up, walk to the bathroom and then go back to bed, after giving me a dirty look and informing me that it is only five thirty a.m. Why can’t they understand that they will be late if they don’t get an early start? I mean it could start hailing at the last minute then how will they walk out to the car? We could suddenly be shrouded in an unexpected fog or have a torrential down pour. All the school work that would pile up, or they could maybe even miss a surprise test that was supposed to make up thirty percent of their total grade!

But they roll their eyes and bury their heads under pillows, they do it to scare the hell out of me, they know they could accidentally asphyxiate themselves.  But no one cares about anything, except me. How I struggle with my ill-bred family! It is all my husband’s fault really, he doesn’t set much of an example. On scrambled egg day he will always insist on hard-boiled. It just drives me nuts, what am I supposed to do with his scrambled egg then? I can’t eat it, it’ll overload me with cholesterol. I’ll bet that is what he is aiming for.  The kids never want it, I have a hard time shoving their breakfasts down their throats let alone my husband’s. Their idea of proper breakfast is an egg and toast. That is it. I don’t understand how growing kids can get by without cereal, juice, eggs, toast, milk, fruit, cheese and a bran muffin. They don’t understand the concept of a balanced diet. They’ll be sorry one day when they suffer from anorexia.

Either anorexia or God forbid some disease that can’t even be pronounced, brought on by the unhygienic conditions that seem to prevail in our house. It’s like I speak a different language either that or their brains aren’t working. I knew they needed more protein. I say “Everything has to be put in the proper place after you are done using it.”  Somewhere along the line the message changes to “Everyone use whatever you want and throw it around the house when you are done with it because I am your God damned servant and want to spend the rest of my life cleaning up your shit.” And those are the instructions they follow.

And of course the house is a constant battle ground. My kids fight over everything, the remote, the phone, the last juice box, the first juice box, a place to sit at the table, who uses the washroom first( even though there are three bathrooms, it seems that only one can entice them to poop), everything.

They think I am some fanatical mad dictator, just because I want a little order in the house. Ok yes, in the neighborhood too. It’s not my fault that people can’t tell the difference between recyclables and organic waste. You’d think they would have a little common sense. And if I can make the garbage man’s life just a little easier by making sure the neighbors’ garbage is in the right bin, then I don’t see why my husband has to have such a cow over it.

I don’t know where I have gone wrong, obviously  in too many places. And so I must end this. Here I go. Damn it! First I have to go clean the bathroom. The dishes need to be washed, and so does the laundry. Ok maybe tomorrow I will be able to fit it into my schedule. I just hope it doesn’t take more than fifteen minutes, I hate being late.

(I got all the pictures from Google Images)

Competitive Moms

Competitive Moms (click to read on Dawn)

(This is an article I wrote for Dawn Newspaper’s Sunday Images. It is dedicated to women with competitive friends. )

Have you ever enjoyed lunch with an old college friend who you haven’t seen for a couple of years? Isn’t it great to reminisce about all the great adventures you had together, the long hours of studying and pigging out on junk food, the tension of exams, the anxious waiting for results, and sharing each others’ victories? Then exchanging the latest changes and developments that have occurred over the years… sigh!

This, however, is where the lunch starts to turn sour, when you realise the only thing she now has to talk about is her child. What a bore; you’d much rather talk about yours. So the conversation goes something like this:

Friend: “You know Ali was only 10 months old when he took his first step! It was so incredible! Everybody was shocked, I mean 10 months! Have you ever heard of kids walking at 10 months? Of course I always knew my child was definitely gifted, but…”

You: “Well…you know my daughter was walking at 10 months too, it’s not really…”

Friend: (in a patronising tone) “Oh no! You misunderstood me. I mean running all over the place at 10 months not just stumbling around. He actually started to try to walk when he was only eight months so he was an expert at 10! Of course, it was kind of expected; he was rolling over at only four months and practically crawling everywhere at five. You won’t believe what a hard time he gave me. You are really lucky you had your daughter first, girls don’t get into that much trouble and they aren’t that active. I had to be on my toes 24 hours a day…”

You: “Actually my daughter was quite naughty so I know what you have been through. Sarah was only three months when…”

Friend: “Oh I know you are just trying to make me feel better. Believe me girls are a lot easier to handle than boys. My nieces are little angels, my sister never had a hard time with them. In fact, I’d say all three of them put together on their worst behaviour couldn’t compare to what Ali could do. But of course, it’s a small price to pay when you have such a brilliant child. We were so confused when it came to deciding on the right school for him…”

You: “Yeah, I know what you mean. But I am really satisfied with Sarah’s school; the teachers there are really…”

Friend: “Yes, yes it is after all the fourth best school in this area. But you know my husband is such a perfectionist and when it comes to education, only the best was good enough for Ali. Of course, you do have to consider these things when you have an extraordinary child like Ali. Sometimes you know, I almost envy mothers with average children, they are so much easier to handle. You can’t imagine what it is like to keep up with Ali. Just the other day his teacher was telling me how confidently he recited four nursery rhymes in a row in front of his class without any help at all.”

You (starting to get really bugged and wondering if this is actually the same person you knew in college): “Sarah is more into colouring and drawing, she just loves to…”

Friend: “What a coincidence! So is Ali. His drawings are incredible, they seem to have been made by a much, much older child. And so neat! All the colours are inside the lines, he just never ceases to amaze me.”

You (starting to get up): “Oh my gosh, look at the time! I’ve really got to go Lubna, it was great to see you, but I’ve got to run and pick Sarah up from her piano lessons. Of course, you know how it is with little geniuses. Always on our toes! Let’s do lunch again some time, bye.” (Glad to have got the last word!)

Friend (a little stunned at finally being outdone): “Yeah, sure. Bye.” (She quickly composes herself and takes out her mobile and dials a number.) Hello Nazia! How are you darling! You know how busy I am, it’s not easy looking after such an active little prodigy. Just the other day the maid had finished ironing and folding all the clothes and Ali just couldn’t resist dumping the basket over. Then he got into the kitchen and…… (listening to the speaker for a second).s Oh no, you can’t begin to imagine what I go through! Why your little Zaid is such an innocent little sweetheart. He isn’t half as active as Ali, who, by the way….”