Pia wrote this post on gender stereotypes, written with the characteristic beauty and clarity of her posts that I really don’t have any value to add.

So I promptly made the cake. And tried to move on about the post itself.

But the topic refused to leave me. On the one hand there is probably too much being said of it, at least in certain circles that we tend to engage in. If there were such a thing as being too militantly non-conformant I have often been guilty of erring on that side, in choices of toys and clothes for Mia, in gifts that I give and such. And then on the other, Pia and some of the other commenters are right in saying that there isn’t quite enough being said/written/read. And these things do go beyond cloth choices or just how you talk to a small boy/girl. The ripples thus created do last and translate across society age and time.

I have a good start of course, having been raised by parents who raised their two girls as liberally as conceivable. I often say – only half jokingly – that my mom is more of a feminist than I. I grew up with a dad who woke us up, washed us, ironed our clothes got us ready for school while mom was busy making and packing the many meals for the day and getting dressed to leave for work herself. My dad is the one who told us about the period and women stuff and to this day I remember the look on my (older) cousin’s face when I told her I knew all about girl stuff coz my dad had taught me. Things like that..

Mia grows up seeing a similar dance between Vin and I. If she is sick, it is often Vin that stays home coz he has that flexibility. Vin cant cook to save his life, but he does pretty much all the cleaning around the house. When she wakes up in the middle of the night the first person she asks for is Acha not me. (Now does that make me jealous, a tinge probably).yada yada.

That brings me to her. Is the societal, commercial influence strong enough that none of our effort makes a dent? Right now it happily isn’t.

This is the girl who picked out a monster tee shirt at target last month when I bit my lip and slapped myself for almost saying it is a boy shirt (there I’ve said it). She is also the one who was adamant on being a fire-fighter for halloween when the rest of her daycare was a parade of Elsas and Ana. In fact I was soo nervous when I brought her in thinking she might change her mind and want a princess costume after all. Thankfully she didn’t even seem to notice. She is equally bad at soccer and ballet and equally excited about both. Books/toys mostly neutral. Her scooter is pink (coz it was 15$ cheaper than the boy version) but her snowsuit is blue (for similar economic reasons). You get the drift.

So, on last count, we are still winning this war over stereotypes.

Only barely albiet. Coz this is also the girl that pronounced yesterday that she only wants purple things. The monster tee has been relegated to the ignored/wont_wear pile because she ‘doesn’t want to wear boy clothes’. And I’m guilty too, perhaps. I don’t stop myself from telling her she looks pretty or saying a dress is pretty. In the same vein as I tell her she is smart when she does something really cool. It requires deliberate effort to do be that way and I’m frankly not sold on the benefits/necessity there. It does become an issue when that’s all she hears and maybe someday I’ll realize that is indeed most of what she hears / told outside the house so we need to step up efforts within. (Like already it irks me that her teacher keeps pairing her with the only other girl in class. She does it in her good natured way so I dont know if/how I’d interject but I do suspect there is something like that going on).

Meanwhile I leave you with a pic of my very handsome firefighter (see what I did there :))

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Port Rico, before we forget

Folks have been asking me for this – folks that don’t know of the existence of the blog. So, even if just for reference sake, I decided I should chronicle the vacation here.

The post is a meander, I apologize. Someday I might reorg this to be more readable.

The places we stayed were beautiful and perfect. In San Juan we stayed at an airbnb right in the middle of town.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/202818?euid=ed1a6b5b-5620-061e-2ee5-96ddbd4ee227

If ever there was a walking town (in the US, I’m sure there are very many in Europe, having never set foot in the continent I can only imagine) this is it. Walk because everything is close by, and also because you need to have maneuvering skills of the highest impossible order if ever you had to drive/park. My respect to people who do. In any case, in a lot of places it is only so wide that you could stand on a middle street and look either way and see the sea. Imagine that!

The night we got there – after I’d realized I’d overcautiously packed too warm and too many layers for the sultry weather; I wanted to take off even the shift that I was wearing at 11 PM; and this getting there from a pleasant 1F in Boulder – we headed out to the closest bar to drink. Later realized it is the place to be and seen. But didnt know it back then so serendipitous win. Also it was almost closed so we were the only patrons and we could sit at the bar with Igi too and the bartender was the most lovely (bearded + tattooed, check) man who made off menu stuff for our second and third drinks. Great drinks and very nice small plates. Should go. We went back there on our last  night in town too.

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So back to San Juan. At the risk of sounding like a Tourism ad – PR does have something for everyone. And San Juan is for you food and history buffs. Granted it is touristy, but I still enjoyed exploring the whole place on foot, even lil Igg walked everywhere. We didnt even bring her stroller (knowing Chitta and Chittappa where going to be there too, and she’s as happy riding on his/her shoulder as ours).

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The colors, the food, the people everything is a lot like the (Indian) subcontinent, especially coastal Kerala. You might have been to Hawai or elsewhere and thought the same, and that’s only because you’ve never been to the Caribbean. The likeness is unlike anything you’d have felt anywhere in the US. Oh, and so also construction and roads and quality of driving, you won’t miss anything from “back home”.

And the partying! Imagine a place where people have street parties every other night. Music and dancing and food and liquor. A place you can get your drink to-go in a cup! Is that even legal? Im not much for pubs or dancing, but this was more the everyone just doing their own thing and having a good time that I really enjoyed.

We spent the first day seeing one of the forts – and this is why I should write these journals soon as I’m back coz I already don’t remember the name – and doing a little bit of shopping.

The next we went to El Yunque, darkest of green and wet and so enchanting. More so if you havent been to Kerala in the last year and a half. But really, look at that green. Where else in the states can you see that.

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When I moved to CO, I was told by friends both back in India and abroad that I was moving to one of the beautiful parts of the US. I got here the end of September (and hence, of Fall) and I remember looking at the gray mountains and the withered trees and wondering what they meant. I didnt voice that opinion too loud lest I show myself for the unrefined eye for beauty person that I am. And yes, CO and Boulder especially have grown on me. It has taken time, 4 years now. I now love the seasons (the fact that we have them) and home and happy near the rockies.

Anyway, the shade of green. That’s reason enough to go to El yunque. It drizzled all the time during our hike to the waterfall. I stayed and watched while rest everyone else took the dip. I took bad photos.

If you wanted to put a word to me, for being that person that stays back, no interest to jump right in the water, what’d that make me? I say lazy. I wasnt even reluctant, I preferred sitting and watching to the inconvenience of changing, braving the cold (well, water is still cold, not chilly as you can tell from the number of people in there, but cold, even in PR).

The remaining day in San Juan was more walking, the other fort. A lot of food and fried plantain thingies and sea food and paellas.

The next day, now with S and L in the group, we went by ferry to Vieques. That last line is somewhat of a TLDR because Vin lost his wallet and he and I had to miss the ferry and we had to file a complaint and then get the next one in which also meant we missed pretty much our entire first day at Vieques. But in short, don’t lose your wallet in PR but if you do, realize it isnt a big deal except for the cash and the extra hour at TSA. You will still get back into mainland, if all goes well.

This is where we stayed. The house itself wasnt particularly pretty but you could see the sea from the balcony and it was big enough for all of us.

http://www.vrbo.com/125986ha

Here’s the only bit of advice in the entire post, and like all advice this stems from having made the mistake. Spend more time in the smaller islands (Culebra or Vieques) than in San Juan. Our second day we kayakd and snorkeled (and again, when I say we here, I mean the rest, Igi and I and Chakki too stayed back, Igi had fun floating on her back and saying she’s at daycare and taking a nap) and did the bio-lume tour (which was everything it was hyped to be, the part I enjoyed most was picking up pearls of water and dropping them on clothes seeing them glow. Also, yes how fish and oars and everything make designs in the water). We also spend the earlier part of the day lying on the beach and floating in the warm salty water. I just wish I had another day of that.

Account for a day each of flying time, pretty much anywhere you’re flying from the US. If it takes lesser time for you, you are close enough that you know more about the place than I do.

Port Rico, before we forget

Obligatory new year post

It is the in thing to not make resolutions, I know. But so many parts of my life are currently broken and need fixing that I’m making (and breaking) resolutions every day, not just new year. It wouldn’t be half a bad idea to chronicle those here, much like on the (green colored) black board at home. It shouldn’t be a surprise either that a lot of these are to do with Mia and parenting and spring from mummy guilt. Not because that is all my life, quite the opposite, I’ve been too happy and proud in my easy-going parent guise that these days it easily translates to lazy parent too. So, without much ado, here are some things I’ve been thinking of, some things I want to do etc..

Vague amorphous ones:

Find a good montessori school for Mia and move her there

Spend less time cooking elaborate meals in the kitchen and more with Mia

Wake up at a decent time, before the whole world is out and about (if only I could fix this, that’d fix everything else)

Turn off the phone. Look away. The world won’t end if I don’t check fb or whatsapp every minute.

I almost cringe from putting this here. So! cliched yet true. Get moving, at least make a measly start this year.

Read more (this is prolly the only item on the list where I’ve fared better than average). I did read an average of 2-3 books per month last year. Start reading the New Yorkers instead of keeping the subscription on for fear that canceling it would be equal to completely giving up on yourself.

Switch off the TV too. Less travel cookery shows more reading (this is going to be hard, coz I can almost justify that noise in the background to myself, always harder when you have ernest justifications in your head)

Real actionable ones:

Learn to parallel park. Isn’t it nice to throw in a nice actionable resolution amidst all the vague stuff? Not that the skill might be a ton of use in Boulder. Check back with me on Dec 31st.

Learn to wield a hammer/nail/screwdriver whatever it takes to attach photographs and arts etc to walls. Go crazy putting everything up without Vin’s help.

Obligatory new year post

You, at 3.

You’re 3. Phew. 3 years since we held the crinkly little thing that had threatened to arrive many months earlier but we’d managed to somehow keep within. With magic and spells and some help perhaps from modern medicine.

What a beautiful 3 years it has been. Ive wondered at every stage – after say you turned 18 months – that this is the perfect most wonderful age and come next month you’re going to become less of my baby and more of the adult you threaten to become. I’m happy to say my fears have been misplaced so far. So we get ourselves another year of cuddles and sloppy kisses and wrong grammar, thank God.

Anyway, on 3.

Let’s get the details out of the way first. You’re about 32 pounds, I know this because you are fond of climbing on the bathroom scale and announcing your weight to the world at large. And your face is still all chubby baby, although your limbs and body are of a growing toddler. I love that. It means no matter how serious and miffed you are being with us, your face is hard to take seriously. It is a baby play acting.

You have such long beautiful hair. Straight to start and curled at the ends. Most days it looks like a hair dresser set it while you were sleeping! Oh to have perfect morning hair. You dont realize how much it is admired and envied. If only genes and stuff worked the other way around and I could get that hair!

You continue to be the good eater, the kid that every mom wishes she had. The thing is since we have pretty much never had to feed you or convince you to eat, that’s a skill we sorely lack. So if you decide you don’t want to eat you end up going hungry (unless some major mummy guilt kicks in).

This time round you had a birdie themed party. You’d asked for a monkey but I was able to convince you a bird might be prettier. Somehow monkey seems so first year. You’re not that much of a baby although for most part Id like you to stay that way. With a looot of help from the very able Fasmin we were able to pull if off. I hope you liked it. The highlight of course was that Chitta and Chittappa were here. In fact there’s only one birthday party (of 3, yes) that they’ve missed so far. There was a birdie cake and birdie topped cupcakes and a matching banner and punched out birdies in green and pink hanging from the ceiling. It was the biggest party we’ve ever had so I wisely decided to order in rather than cook a full meal like I did last year. 17 kids and 35 adults. Sometimes I wonder if it was all a bit too much for you. You looked a little overwhelmed sometimes. Next year we’ll keep it small and simple and see how you like that.

I could make an attempt at beginning to tell you what you are to us, your Acha and Amma but I’d fail miserably. You really are everything and we don’t know what we were doing for the first 6 years of our marriage without you around. I’d of course love to have another of your kind but I’m that cause is getting little love (literally) from you or Acha so we will let it slide. For another year. At least when you read this many years from now you’ll realize it was Acha (and your 3 year old self) and not me.

You have a loud voice, and no surprises which side of the family you get that from. In fact you were the lone hope at your class’s christmas program – that was before you decided you were bored and stood around grinning instead of singing – much to your dad’s chagrin.

You like reading, in fact you want us to read to you all the time. These days you’ve been bringing me some malayalam books that Muthassa brought you so who knows you might end up learning the language. You love Calilou, you arent all that abreast of kids movies / cartoons. I dont think that’s a gap that needs to be fixed in a hurry. In fact even Frozen, we ended up showing you pretty late into the craze lest you feel left out of those conversations. This isnt to say you dont love TV. Oh you do like every kid your age you could just glue yourselves to the couch and watch tv to no end. Just that we’re still holding out even if barely on that war. We do succumb and give you the phone though every now and then, so that possibly offsets any benefit from no-tv-time rules..

You love your bath and look melt-my-heart adorable when you walk out all wrapped in the towel. You make a show of this every night, knowing fully well how cute it is.

You love daycare and we like sending you as well.

There are just  a handful of important people in your life. You could count them on hands of two fingers. But they make you feel soo soo special, not just chitta chittappa and grandparents but the few (adult) “friends” that you have. It is just delightful watching you interact with the adult world. I’d have said aunts and uncles but your treat them kind of like your people and they treat you thus as well so lets say friends for now..

You are also at that age when you and I can enjoy some mommie daughter camaraderie. You’ve accompanied me to some shopping trips and even been so useful as to dispense fashion advice to your mom. I’ll look forward to more of that in the coming years (equal part hope and dread). We can also stop at a coffee shop and sit across each other enjoy a tea cake and have a conversation. How’s that for 3 year old? I cant wait to do more of all that with you.

You enjoy workshop time with Acha too and feel very important being his little helper. You can tell a screw driver from a wrench from a drill and can fetch these sometimes across floors.

Somebody said at 3 you can start seeing what you are turning out to be. If that is true, I couldn’t be happier with the thoughtful and wise 3 year old that you are. Stay blessed my little attuputtu. You are the most joyful thing ever.

You, at 3.

Winter

It is all too easy to hate winter, child of the tropics that I am. But this time I found myself waiting impatiently for the snow. I like this time of the year, I like the hibernation and introspection it enforces. No pressure to get out and make the most of the great weather, no pressure to shave your legs for the skirts and shirts, no, none of that. I like how it licenses and almost demands long days curled up on the couch with warm fuller meals (goodbye summer salads!) and tv/music, albeit with a toddler who can’t be cooped up inside. Check with me again in a month.

Winter

I spent the first 2 years of my life in the US of A ruing the missing friend circle, the kind we’d left behind in Blore. Also told myself I was beyond the age and phase of life where I had the time and energy to build those relationships. And now I wonder how along the way I added all these wonderful souls to my life, small in number but perfect in every way. So glad!

Choice

The story of Brittany Maynard has been all over social media the last few weeks. I’ve been following as well because this is something that I think of very often, among my other what-if dark spells. I’m glad she lived in a country where she was able to make the choice and I’m also grateful for her advocacy. Most of us haven’t had to make such hard decisions, either for ourselves or for our loved ones, but I’m firmly of the belief that we should have that choice, should such misfortune befall any of us.

Choice