Thursday, August 30, 2007

The verdict is in

Note to the J-monster: Please be assured that this entire post is about a certain little girl who is not Moppet. Any resemblance you may notice is purely coincidental.)

So it's official. Playschool rocks.

Yesterday I arrived early to pick her up, and passed the time watching the kids at lunch through the big glass windows of their dining room. I watched The-Girl-Who-Is-Not-Moppet shovel down her food with an enthusiasm she had hitherto reserved exclusively for jumping and noise-making. Honestly, her teachers probably think I don't feed the child at home! I watched entranced as she returned her plate and glass (helped by a teacher) to the kiddy-sized counter, and bestowed an enormous thank-you grin upon the lunch lady who took the plate and glass.

After being cleaned up - with warm towels, what luxury I tell you! - she then headed to the bookshelf in the corner of the dining area and pulled out a few books to leaf through. Her teacher's requests to put the books back as it was time to go home were studiously ignored. In an attempt to hurry her along, the teacher pointed me out, standing smush-nosed against the glass window.

She looked up at me, put the books back on the shelf, and trotted towards the door where I waited. As I knelt to pick her up, she gave a little 'where have you been?' wail, but I could see that it was a half-hearted effort, more for effect than anything else. (She's a right little drama queen - I know, because she gets that from me.) She then proceeded to sing the I-love-you song - aaee laaa ye - and hug her teacher, before letting me lead her out to find her chooz.

So playschool has been given a great big thumbs up. In celebration, we promptly bunked today and went swimming instead. And then we lazed around for the rest of the morning. No, correction, I lazed around while she worked hard on her thesis. She's apparently doing serious research into new techniques to break her own head. (Do they make crash helmets for babies? Where can I get one?)

The-Girl-Who-Is-Not-Moppet at Playschool Pictures taken by my (lousy) camera phone, over the first couple of days at playschool.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


...the frisson of new love, when it's a secret that belongs only to you and him?

...those stolen kisses in an empty classroom, or on a dark night outside rented rooms hoping your nosy landlady won't catch you?

...the thrill of cuddling behind the flimsy curtains of the lower side berth in a 2-tier AC compartment?

Do you miss that? The danger of getting caught?

Try it with a toddler sleeping just a few feet away from you. Even better if the toddler is a light sleeper :-)

Btw, this was a tag.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moppet goes to playschool: Mama's version

I have felt for some time now that Moppet could do with a different, yet safe and stimulating environment in which to play and explore, other than just our home. Regular play dates with kids around her age would have been enough, but we don't have any friends with kids in her age group. So she gets to play with me and Nanny day in and day out and I thought playschool would be a welcome break from the monotony (for all three of us!).

Of course, the school itself was a big factor in the decision. It's not just the great infrastructure (although that's certainly important), but the overall philosophy of the place that I like. Even the name: Purple Elephant. With a name like that, you can be sure that these folks aren't going to tell kids that mangoes can't be blue!

There is no structured curriculum - it really is just a 'play' school, especially for the kids in Moppet's age group. The teachers let the kids do their own thing, watching for a chance to occasionally explain a concept or show them something new, just as we would do at home. But there are also some activities that the kids are encouraged to do together, like music and water play.

The teachers are well-trained and full of energy, and they obviously love their little charges. I like that they understand that each child is different, and are willing to try different approaches with each child.

The first couple of days, I stayed with Moppet for the whole 3 hours. For Moppet this meant that she felt secure enough to explore the whole school and find her bearings in the new environment. For me, I got to watch how the teachers interacted with the children and how they dealt with children whose parents could not stay and were having a hard time. But most importantly, I got to see what a blast Moppet was having and I realised how much I had underestimated her.

I was shell shocked that she was the first one to volunteer when a teacher brought out a big bouncy ball and asked who wanted to be bounced on it. I did a double take when she went up and asked for water, then drank from the little paper cup all by herself. And I watched with disbelief as she sat at the table with the other kids and polished off her snack like she hadn't eaten for months.

So on day 3, when her teacher suggested that I try leaving for an hour, I was ready to give it a shot. I knew she would cry. Going off to sleep in her own bed with trusted ol' Nanny by her side is one thing, but having me hand her over to a person she barely knew and wave goodbye was too much for her. Although I had told her repeatedly that I would come back to pick her up soon, she just couldn't bear to see me go.

It was heartbreaking, walking away from my baby, hearing her calling out for me. By the time I reached the end of the lane, I was a sniffling, snivelling mess. Moppet's teacher had promised that she would call me if she felt that Moppet was getting too stressed, so I decided to walk around near the school. There was no call, but despite my best efforts to stay away for an hour, I ended up back at the school in under 40 minutes. (Ok, it was more like 25 minutes)

I waited nervously on the verandah until she was brought out, looking terribly woebegone in her teacher's arms . She burst into tears when she saw me and literally jumped onto me.She pointed to the row of kids' shoes arranged on the verandah and said chooz, meaning let's get my shoes and get the hell outta here! But as soon as we found her shoes and put them on she was smiling again, and even stopped to wave bye to her teacher.

I was told that she had cried for pretty much the entire time that I had been gone, stopping for five minutes to look at a picture or listen to a song before starting off again. But they did find that she preferred to stay in the music room, and that if one of the teachers sang to her, she would quiet down and listen.

I had thought that she might not want to go back to playschool the next day (today) but she was raring to go, hefting her precious kaakpa (her backpack containing a change of clothes and a spare diaper), and singing rhymes with me in the cab on the way over. Today, for the hour that I left her, she cried hard for a while, but when the music started, her teacher said that she actually clapped along and smiled. Phew!

As I write this, she has just come looking for me in the study, dragging her kaakpa behind her and demanding her chooz. I tell her that school's over for today, that we'll go again tomorrow, but she wants to go now.

Oh no, tantrum alert! Gotta go!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Moppet goes to playschool

Hello folks! The big news around here is that I've started playschool!

Mama keeps saying she'll post about it, but I think this whole playschool thing has been harder on her than on me. She just collapses on the sofa when we get home and whines about being in no mood to do anything.

Really, I don't know how she managed anything before I came along...

Anyway, coming back to playschool. I wasn't too sure about it at first - there were a lot of strange big people around who kept coming up to me and acting overly friendly. A couple of demonstrations of my superior lung power, and they backed off pretty quickly. No more trouble from them. It's always important to establish early on who the boss is :-)

The place itself seems rather nice. For one, there is the most fabulous sandpit - huge, and with tons of toys. I dived right in and spent some fun time making mud pies with the other kids and stealing their flags to stick in mine.

I didn't particularly want to go in at 'inside time' and complained a bit to Mama, but she told me there was more fun stuff inside that I wouldn't want to miss. And boy, was she right! There was a toy fort right in the middle of the room, more toys than I had ever seen before, a big fish tank with fish and turtles, playdough and paints and chalk, and baskets of books everywhere. I was so excited I kept running round and round the room trying to decide what I should play with first, before finally grabbing a book and a car and climbing into the toy fort to play.

I played for some time, but I had to keep an eye on Mama who kept wandering off. Every so often, I'd go look for her, find her chatting with some big person in another room and drag her back by the hand to where I was playing. I think I need to get a leash for her.

Then we had a music session, where Teacher J played the guitar for us, and all the kids joined in with their own instruments that they chose from a big box. It was very loud and a bit scary, so I cried and held on tightly to Mama. But when Teacher J started singing some of my favourite songs, like The Wheels On The Bus, and Row Your Boat, I felt much better. In fact, by the end, I felt good enough to join in myself with a drum I picked out of the big box.

Snack time was nice. We got milk and fruits and crackers and I sat at the table with the other kids and polished it all off. Mama was very surprised that I ate everything by myself and told me that she was really proud of me for being such a big girl.

Then outside for some more fun and games. I spotted a black pickup truck that I really liked, so I got in and said bye to Mama and drove off. Ok, I didn't really drive off, just sat there and spun the steering wheel. Mama went and sulked sat on the verandah while I played.

Back for some more 'inside time' - and this time I didn't mind going back in at all. I also like washing my hands - the washbasins are at just the right height for me, and they squirt some nice coloured soap into my hands which makes lots of bubbles.

We finished off with some lunch - soup and pasta - which was ok, but I think I had eaten too much at snack time, so I didn't eat much lunch. I was also rather tired - it had been a very exciting day but I was happy to go home. I said bye to everyone and blew kisses all around.

Mama said we can come back tomorrow. I think I'd like that.


Coming soon: Mama's version of events, and days 2 & 3

Thursday, August 16, 2007

This freedom I don't want. Yet.

I was nervous. This was the first time I was leaving Moppet alone with her nanny in the evening. It was just for a few hours, and I was only going to a neighbour's house, but I was still worried. Moppet's Papa was travelling, so I was going by myself.

Nanny has been with us for over 6 months, and knows Moppet's routine inside out, but that didn't stop me from repeating my instructions to her a dozen times over. I left all phone numbers - mine, the neighbour's landline, cell, and intercom - written on a postit and stuck on the phone.

Let her watch Barney if she wants, I said. If she doesn't sleep by 9, call me. If she cries for me, call me. If she doesn't drink her milk, call me. I'm in the next building. I can be back in 2 minutes.

At the party, I made my apologies in advance almost as soon as I walked in the door. It's the first time I've left Moppet with her nanny at night, I explained. She doesn't sleep without me, so I'll probably get called back around 9.00 pm. I hope that's ok.

Of course, my gracious hosts assured me. But don't worry about it, she'll be fine.

All through the evening, I waited for the call, sneaking looks at my phone, checking to make sure it was working, the network signal strong, and the ringer volume on max.

8.30...9.00...9.15...9.25... No call.

Finally at around 9.30, I cracked. I withdrew to the balcony and called home expecting to hear chaos in the background, only to be cheerfully informed by Nanny that Moppet had watched Barney, drunk her milk and gone to sleep by 9 without even asking for me.


I returned to the living room, telling myself that I could finally relax and enjoy the party, but despite the excellent company and delicious food, my heart just wasn't in it.

At around 11 pm, as I was leaving, my host asked about Moppet - was she doing ok? More than ok, I said, a touch ruefully. She didn't ask for me at all.

A father of 2 strapping teens himself, he nodded in understanding. None of us is as indispensable as we think we are, he said. And then, seeing the expression on my face, he added kindly- that's not such a bad thing, you know.

Probably not. But when I got back home, I sat by my baby's bed for a long time watching her sleep, bathed in the pale blue light of the night. Watching this little being, so long a part of me, now her own person, separate, unique. Watching, my head trying to comprehend how my heart could feel so fiercely proud and intensely sad at the same time.

This freedom I don't want. Yet.

I got in and lay down next to her, pulling her warm little body close. She stirred and murmered something I couldn't quite catch, then turned and snuggled into me.

Sshh sshh, I whispered. Mama's here, baby.

Mama's here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Moppet's Bookshelf - 1

On account of owning two parents who lose all sense of proportion when in the vicinity of a bookstore, Moppet's book collection has been expanding prodigiously. We've been buying her a wide variety of books, and she seems to be quite happy to try them all out.

Like the music charts, her favourites move up and down from week to week. Some books that have had a fair amount of staying power in the charts so far are:

Look! There's Elmer
This is a really cool book, with peepholes on each page through which you can see a multi-coloured patch that might be Elmer. When you turn the page, you find that it's not him, but a parasol, a ball, a tent, etc. Moppet has great fun poking her finger through the peepholes and finding what's on the other side. We've even got a silly dance we do when we get to the last page and finally find Elmer. "We found Elmer, we found Elmer," we chant, waving our arms and wiggling our bums. The only problem is that this is not a board book, so the peepholes are getting a little ragged, what with all the excited little fingers poking through them so often. If this book stays in the charts, we may need to get another copy.

The Eye Book
Another classic Dr Seuss (writing as Theo LeSieg, since it's been illustrated by Joe Mathieu). With this one, I think it's the illustrations rather than the text that have caught her fancy. There's not much to the text, but she really enjoys pointing out the huge liquid eyes of the little protagonist (and nose and mouth while she's at it) and also naming all the things he sees.

The other Seuss book that remains a firm favourite is The Shape of Me and Other Stuff that I've mentioned before. This one has been read so much that it has literally disintegrated. Emergency surgery involving glue and weights has given it a fresh lease of life, but the strain is clearly showing.

Barney's Colour Train
I picked this up on our India trip for just 50 rupees (one more reason to miss home - you don't get inexpensive children's books here) and Moppet took to it immediately although she hadn't even seen Barney at the time. The text is in rather clunky rhyme and is not easy to read aloud, but the concept is nice. Each compartment of Barney's colour train is a different colour with matching and unusual cargo. We don't read this book as much as go through every page pointing out the various things of colour on it.

There are lots more books I could mention (I'm hard to shut up on the subject of books) but shamelessly stealing Kodi's Mom's wonderful idea, I'm making On Moppet's Bookshelf a series that I will update as and when we have new entries in our charts (or when I am out of ideas for a new post!)

Apart from Kodi's list, do also check out Chip's list of his favourite books. For more great reviews on children's books for all ages, hop on over to Saffron Tree.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

It's Sweeperbaby!

Sweeperbaby to the rescue... this place is filthy!These corners can be tricky.
And don't forget to take out the trash when you're done.

After a job well done, Sweeperbaby prepares to fly off,
pausing only to give the paparazzi a gracious smile.

Happy weekending everyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A fetish for what?

Tagged by my good friend Just Like That.
But because...
  • This blog is G-rated.

  • My parents read it.

  • I have a wholesome image to maintain.

  • I suspect this might be a ploy by evil syndicates trying to derail my campaign to be recognised as as the sizzling hot mama that I am. (Btw, if you haven't voted for me yet, please do. Did I mention that I'm shameless as well as sizzling hot?)

  • If I said 'butts' you'd want to know more, and if I told you, I can guarantee that it would be TMI.

  • Remember I said 'IF' in the point above.

  • Umm...maybe I meant 'mutts' in point 5. It would still be TMI, though.

  • I already get visitors who find my blog by googling 'towel streaking', 'changing a 21 year olds nappies' and 'chopped off curly heads'. (Thank you for the visit, but I don't think we should see each other any more. It's not me, it's you.)
...I am not going to tell you about my fetish(es).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

And the answer is no

Whatever the question. If it sounds like a question, her answer is ready: No!

It's her new favourite word.

She says it with care, her mouth making a perfect 'o'. No 'nah', 'nuh', 'nay' for her. No, she says, just as the Queen would say it.

"Moppet, do you like sitting in your bucket?"

"No!" (splashing around happily in bucket)

"Do you want to wear your orange shirt or your green one?"

"No! " (grabbing green t-shirt)

"Where's Papa?

"No!" (jabbing at her Papa's photo in the album)

"Do you want some water?"

"No!" (gulp gulp gulp gulp aaaah!)

"Well, aren't you being nice today?"


"Shall we take a picture?"

No prizes for guessing the answer.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Do I? Don't I?

I spent most of this last weekend in a funk because my job search is going nowhere. This is nothing new. My job hunt has been diligently going nowhere for several months now, and on most days, it doesn't bother me too much.

But every once in a while, my tendency to feel sorry for myself asserts itself and I spend a couple of days being gloomy and unpleasant and thinking dark thoughts about all those happy
people who have it all.

I worry about being financially dependent. I fear that my hard-earned skills and expertise will become obsolete in this fast paced world. I crave the interaction and stimulation of the real world. I know my self-esteem is taking a beating, because shallow as it may sound, it is tied up inextricably with what I do.

And yet, if I'm being completely honest with myself, I must admit that if I wanted to work so badly, I would have tried much harder to find a job. Somewhere deep down, I think I am afraid to go back to work. Afraid that I will emerge, Rip Van Winkle like, into a work world that I am no longer equipped to handle. Afraid to deal with the guilt of stealing time from my daughter to satisfy my ego. Afraid of facing the working mom's dilemma.

I rail against the circumstances that have left me with no choice, but I am afraid of having that choice.

Apologies to those of you who may have expected a point to this post. There isn't one.

Just confusion.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Awards and things...

In what must have been a moment of temporary insanity, the otherwise very smart and super fabulous Kiran of Karmickids has nominated Moppet Tales for a Blogger's Choice Award under 2 categories:

Are you done laughing? No? Another 5 minutes? Take your time.



Ok, that's enough. Now get up off that floor, wipe away those tears and listen.

Back in B-School, we were taught to set S.M.A.R.T. goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. So under the realistic assumption that I have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this thing, this is my goal: to achieve double digit votes in each category.

So will you vote for me? Because you know, I really am very hot and have great parenting skills.

Update: Target achieved peeps! I have double digit scores in both categories! Thank you all so much for taking the time and trouble to vote. It feels wonderful!

PS. This doesn't mean those of you have not yet voted shouldn't! Please! :-)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Moppet @ 16 Months

Hear that buzzing sound? That was another milestone whizzing past.

I'm getting too old for this. Really. In the time I took (the merest blink of an eye, I swear!) to come to terms with the fact that I am in possession of this drop of human life, the said drop turned into a full-fledged toddler at a pace that no parent is designed to handle.

She is now an easier-to-understand little person who asks for 'Duddu', 'Joos', or 'Chiz', depending on what she wants to drink or eat. But also a harder-to-understand little person who suddenly breaks into howls of frustration for no discernable reason.

Already a champion climber, she is now trying her hand at acrobatics, experimenting with standing on her head, turning somersaults, and throwing herself off the bed at varying angles.

As artist and builder, her attention span has risen significantly and she can spend upto 20 minutes at a time playing by herself. The shape sorter, inset board, and doodle board are her current favourites. It's ironic - as she becomes more fun to play with, she doesn't need me to play with her all that much. I suspect this is going to be a recurring theme as she grows. She becomes cooler, and more fun, and I become, well, more mom.

A water sprite who would live in the pool if I'd let her. Her swimming is coming along nicely and I try and take her down to the pool at least twice a week. On days when we can't, she spends an hour in her paddle pool on the balcony. And after her bath, she always likes to soak for a little while in her red bucket.

A tiny tyrant who has made it quite clear that she doesn't belong to me. Oh no. I belong to her. Woe betide anyone - even her Papa - who dares to sit close to me or worse, put an arm around me. At the sight of such atrocities, the happily playing toddler turns into a raging, screaming, hair-pulling monster who will not rest until the offender retreats to an acceptable distance.

And although this means that I am severely deprived of husbandly hugs at the moment, I am not worried. Because I know that in the next blink of an eye, my possessive little water sprite tyrant will have transformed herself into someone new. For me to learn about and fall in love with all over again.