Candid, not Candied

Thursday, 28 March 2013


It starts with innocent childhood milestones. Does your kid sit up? Does s/he crawl? How many teeth does s/he have? Oh, mine is a fast learner. My baby has 16 teeth. Mine walks unsupported at 8 months, what does your kid do?

Don't they sound familiar? That is because at some point each parent has compared their kid to another of the same age.  Are they slow? Are they lacking skills? Is this how it is supposed to be? Probably, the parents fear if or not their kids are developing the way they should.

Even long after they are convinced that everything is fine with the kids, they do not stop comparing. Even if the parent doesn't do it, someone else is always ready to strike up a match. Yesterday, a friend pinged me for a heart to heart, where comparison was discussed.

Every child, every individual is different. I have realised that over and over again in the past year. A lot of my friends had babies almost the same time that I had mine with some weeks here and there. And no two of them had the same developmental path. To say, Aarnavi has been a classic example of baby center emails. Her milestones were bang on. Every week I used to be surprised to read emails that looked like they were custom-made for Aarnavi. Yes, in a certain manner, life was easy for me. I did not have to obsess over if this was normal or that was not normal. In no way does it mean that my child is perfect or even that the others are below par. The faster parents learn to embrace their child's every aspect, whether good or bad, the better for the child.

The reason why I start with infancy milestones is because everything starts right there. The need to compare children with one another just keeps growing and stems well into their formative years. Comparing is unfair. Comparing can hurt. And comparing can result in low self esteem / bloated ego in kids, depending on which side the kid falls. No one deserves to be compared.

I know it because  I have grown up with my share of being compared to others with my part of the balance always on the sad side. I know how it feels to be constantly measured by a yardstick and not living up to the standards. I have lived at the receiving end of not being perfect compared to others. Trying to be like someone else when you cannot be is an insurmountable task. Hence, the frustration of not being able to, despite trying hard is unimaginable.

From physical attributes like height and weight, to grades in school/ college, to finer skills like cooking. I have been, and even today am, compared. Today, it doesn't matter much to me. I do what pleases me and such comments pass by without affecting me. But it was not so earlier. Every comment was a stab. Every put down felt like being stomped upon. Relatives are meant to do it. One of my aunts has never passed an opportunity to look down upon me in some way or the other. Her child has always been superior. I hated having to visit them or having them over. I always wished we could avoid them, but never could as they are close relatives. Sadly, my parents didn't react much to it. They have also at times compared me with V, which of course I hated and made me sad. I never thought of complaining for the fear of others thinking I was all sour grapes.

Comparing makes one angry and rebellious or vain and egotistic, again depending on where s/he stands.  That anger and rebellion can go in two extreme ways. One it can give you the will and strength to prove everyone wrong and overcome all obstacles. For others, like me, will learn to give up, sometimes too easily. It is a major bog to ones self esteem. Imagine being reminded repeatedly of others' achievements and lack of yours. Unfortunately, this tendency to give up early and easily stays well into your life. (To give up giving up requires a lot lot more hard work). Till date I haven't been able to get rid of my habit. I won't even give it a try.

I can explain why it feels better to abandon the battle. Basically, it is a battle. You may have heard of the saying "Try but don't cry" or even "You shouldn't stop trying until you get there." There is also "Barking up the wrong tree." and "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." I believe in the latter. It is so much easier to say "No I cannot do it." than try and fail and be reminded about it, humiliated and written off forever. There is no appreciation for having tried hard despite not wanting to/ inability to do so. Making someone understand about your abilities and inabilities is not worth your time. It is best to avoid such comments and shut them out.

Each one has a different design. If one can do something well, other might just not be able to wrap it around his head. It doesn't mean one is superior and other is useless. Again, I say that comparing is unfair. It is wrong to pit one individual against another. For a child growing up constantly being compared, it causes immense stress and harsh mental effects. (I have not researched on any, but it is my experience). It stumps free and healthy growth.

Why as parents do we want to be a cause of mental abuse to kids. Why does looking down at someone else so inviting? What kind of thrill we derive out of it? I have friends who compare their kids with Aarnavi, saying she is this tall, my kid isn't, or when did she start eating solids, mine is this older than yours and still refuses to. I take the opportunity to tell them that their kid might not be ready for it, or maybe they haven't yet experienced the growth spurt and they should wait for it. I have problems with my kid too, and I discuss them when I feel the need to/ when I feel something might not be right. But instead of turning a discussion into a raving comparing debate, I try to make it more into how to deal with it session.

Comparisons creep in mind. Call it maternal instinct or basic human nature. It is there. It is important to nip it in the bud and make conscious effort not to do it. If someone else does it, telling them right in the beginning should avoid further attacks.

I do not know how what skills my child has. Whether she'll be good in studies, or she'll prefer sports over fashion. I do not know. But one thing I know for sure is I will not be comparing her with peers. I will not stunt her mental growth by telling her she is too stupid to do something. I do not think it is the way to get the best out of someone. It certainly did not work for me.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rough Around the Edges

When my husband made Aloo baingan (stir-fried eggplants with potatoes, if you must) for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I was all praises. I just couldn't stop raving about how wonderful it tasted and how lucky was I to have him in my life, every time I went in for a helping.

Yesterday, upon request, he made it again. This time, I gulped my entire portion without a single word. Even a while after dinner, I did not say anything about how it turned out to be. Only when he openly asked me about it, did I realise that I'd given no reaction whatsoever. It was good as it was previously. What was missing this time was my excitement to acknowledge the same. 

I am like that. A lot many times than I want to be. I forget to acknowledge. I forget to speak up even though that is exactly what I am thinking. I do that so many times only to realise a tad too late. Like in this case, I was admiring the meal with every bite, but it never occurred to me that I should speak up. It may not seem such a big issue right here, but there are times when I should say something and I do not. It is preposterous, if you ask me. 

Lately, I started to reflect on why I do this and I did come up with a possible explanation to my dearth of manners to acknowledge something. I think, I am so over stuffed with a certain emotion, that they block out all my words. There is so much to react to that I do not react at all or I react later/ lesser than expected. Rather I forget some essential things; like the formality to do or say something. I am going to quote a few examples.

Whenever any of my friends come home, I (have) never, never offered them a glass of water. Even if they come walking in the hot summer sun, I have never sat them down and offered them a drink of cool water. My friends tease me that I have no manners and do not know how to treat guests. This happens only with my friends. If it is any other person, I'll be the first one to jump up and do the needful. 

I always get an earful from my mother for this. Knowing my lack of "Atithi Devo Bhava" spirit, she makes it her job to look after my friends. In fact, a close friend of mine and my mom exchange looks on how long I take to realise my blunder!

I am actually so happy to see them that I instantly launch into a charade and forget all about carrying out basic formalities. (Also in this case, I think my close friends are welcome to think of my house as theirs and help themselves to the kitchen. Of course, it doesn't always work that way!)

It was a few days before Aa's birthday that another of our close friends offered to help us in the preparations. Although they have a kid of Aa's age, they said they'd love to come over a day before and help. All I could manage to say was, it wasn't required since somebody else had already agreed. I did not thank, nor did I say I was sorry that I couldn't use their help at that time. They are very close friends and I had no intentions of hurting them or even being mean to them. But there I go, without Thanks or Sorry and just firing an explanation. I was very much humbled by their offer and my ignorance to accept that and communicate it to them hurts me even today.

Likewise I forget to congratulate, offer sympathies, be enthusiastic or wish someone. On a few occasions, I do not want to do them consciously, but these are not those. I genuinely feel happy or positive about something and I fail to execute the same in words/ reactions.

I need to work on it! 

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Sushi Bit

Some crazy weeks are behind us. There are a lot of things immigrants like us won't tell. The one thing that keeps hanging on our heads like a sword is the visa thing. Especially when it is nearing its expiry date. All the action begins then. Application for extension, mental preparedness to leave the country in case of rejection, selling out all the gathered stuff, dealing with the leasing issues...

Fortunately, as I write this, I realise that everything is sorted out. Well, at least for the time being. We have moved to another apartment. It was a difficult task considering I have this active toddler who wanted to supervise and screen every item that was to be packed. It's just a matter of time before we start packing again to haul ourselves back to India. :) 

To celebrate a little, which we hadn't in all the time that we were involved in planning and packing, we decided to eat out leisurely. My husband has been going ga-ga over this Sushi place since last year. Knowing that sushi is raw fish, I never had the courage to try it out. However yesterday, I managed to get over my reservation. 

We went to Sushi Ai

I ordered a drink called Saki-Tini, which was vodka and saki, garnished with strips of cucumber

and these were what we ordered

This was Dragon something. Although the snap doesn't look all that impressive, when it came on the table, it was covered in blue flame, looking brilliant.

and the orange one at the back was crispy rice sushi, with Tuna. The yellow one was called Mini Me. It was spicy tuna rolled over Octopus.

I apologise if that killed your appetite. I like to try out new things and octopus was on the list.

Sushi is served with soy sauce and wasabi sauce (the two to be combined). The spotlight was the wasabi sauce. It is highly pungent. There is no other taste or flavour to it. Or rather, the pungency hits so hard that you concentrate hard not to choke on it. Once you bite into a dipped sushi, it's like mini nuclear bombs go off in your mouth, climbing up the nasal cavity. It was super duper pungent.

Having said that, I have no recollection of how the Sushi itself tasted. So whether it was tuna or octopus or crispy rice, all I can gather is the small puffs of steam that left my ears.

I wanted to try some more and enjoy the experience a bit, if not for Aarnavi, who decided to be unusually fussy and irritable. Even after being fed, she was in no mood to let us eat in peace. We managed to gobble up the rest and head home. Sigh!

All in all, it was something I will never forget. Honestly, I don't know if I'll try another  sushi for a long time now. ;)


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