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Monday, November 30, 2009

A Little Perspective

Last night I was flipping aimlessly through the channels. I have over 200 channels and yet somehow, I STILL could not find anything to watch.

That takes real talent.

I stumbled upon CNN (which I am sad to admit, doesn't happen as often as I like to pretend it does) which was broadcasting the CNN: Heroes tribute special.

The show was already in progress and Nicole Kidman was up on stage presenting an award to a woman in the audience. The woman wiped tears from her eyes as she walked up to the podium. The camera flashed on various celebrities (Pierce Brosnan, Carrie Underwood) who were shown also wiping their tears and looking inspired by this woman.

There was something about the quiet gravity of the woman's voice that moved me when I heard her speak, after she collected herself at the podium. And I wanted to learn more.

So I went to CNN.com so I could read more about her.


Her name is Betty Makoni and she founded Zimbabwe's Girl Child Network, which assists young women who have been raped.

She has helped rescue over 35,000 women from the horrors of rape.

35,000 women.

200 channels.

35,000 WOMEN.

200 channels.


As I read more about this woman, this angel of a woman, I came to learn that she herself was raped when she was 6 years old. Her mother told her that it was not be discussed and she hid her scars away, as women and young girls must do around this world every day.

She has helped 35,000 women.

200 channels.


6 years old.

According to the article, there is a "virgin myth" that is perpetuated in Zimbabwe by religious elders and spiritual healers that a man infected with HIV can be "cured" if he rapes a virgin.

According to UNICEF, some of these "virgins" are too young to walk.

Too young to walk.

What does that even mean?

I started trying to do the math. My daughter started walking when she was thirteen months old.

Oh.

OH.

As I read further, I stumbled upon the words that confirmed that I hadn't read that wrong. That I hadn't stumbled on the words.

"The youngest girl I ever came across was a day-old baby who was raped."

OH.

Oh.


35,000,000 women.
200 channels.
6 year old girl
Day Old Baby.

God, no.

I went to my daughter's room and kissed her sleeping head and said a prayer thanking God that I can give her a life where she will never, ever have to deal with that horror.

OVER MY DEAD BODY.

I heard a quote the other day that struck a chord with me.

"Life is not considerate."

Well, just to be clear, Life has been pretty considerate to me. Life knocks on my door and drops in and leaves me a lasagne every once in a while. Life lends a hand and while it has sometimes been a little moody, for the most part, Life has held its temper with me and been polite. Life does not always feel like it's my best friend, but it has not stabbed me in the back and left me hurt with wounds that can't heal.

But I would say that for these women, these young girls, these toddlers, these BABIES - Life is NOT considerate. Life has been rude, stingy and hasn't given them a voice that was heard.

I sometimes wish I was a more religious person - but I do believe in God and while I don't necessarily understand more than this absolute - that I believe God has a plan for all the souls in our world, I must pray for these women that there is a plan. I have to believe that there is.

That there is hope.

That someone is listening.

That someone cares.

Betty Makoni is that person in the absence of divine intervention. She's the teacher, the healer, the leader, the figurehead and the force that will drive these women to the light.

35,000 women.

And counting.

Thanks to true heros like Betty Makoni. I am BLOWN AWAY.

What an inspiration.

Please read this article for the full story on this AMAZING woman.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't Rain on My (Facebook Status) Parade

I have a bone to pick with someone.

I have been picking at this since Thanksgiving

I don't know who you are or who you THINK YOU ARE.

But I am P.O.'ed.

And P.O. does NOT stand for Post Office, IF you know what I mean.

Representation of how I feel

Over the past few weeks, there was a challenge that was put out there on Facebook by some positive and well meaning individual who (wanted to mess with my world order) wanted to make the world a better place.

This message has since spread like wildfire.

The challenge is to try and write something positive in your status line that you are grateful for EVERY DAY.

In your status? I thought.

HMMMMM. Really?

Just for the record, this is not what I signed up for, MR. POSITIVE STATUS SPREADER. When I signed up for Facebook, I knew exactly what I was walking into, MR. LOVE SPREADING DO-GOODER.

And part of it was to earn my GOD GIVEN RIGHT to have a status message where I get to complain to all my friends and anyone who was (unaware of how annoying I am) nice enough to accept my friend request.

How COULD you?

If everyone is being all nice and positive, what's it going to look like when I throw in a whiny facebook status? I don't want to be THAT GIRL.

Isn't this the forum where we get to seek out the empathy of our friends and acquaintances and that girl you THINK was in your Math class in tenth grade (you are still not 100% sure how you know her, but you accepted her request anyway). What am I going to tell that girl, MR. IN YOUR FACE NICE?

And where we get to send out virtual hugs and pats on the back when we realize that people are having a less than stellar day?

Don't you want me to use up my quota of XOXO's, MR. KILLING MY BUZZ? Without that right, X will just go on being the most ignored letter of the alphabet.

But you weren't thinking about the casualties of your challenge, MR. POSITIVE MESSAGES MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND. Were you?

Thanks to people like me, the letter "X" has been given a second chance. A rebirth, if you will.

bringing xoxo back (My Dad pronounces it "zoe-zoe")

THAT, my friends, is the sheer beauty of the Facebook status.

Giving new life and meaning to letters of the alphabet. A second chance.

Breathing new life into friendships that have faded.

You are not here to be judged. You are here to be xoxo'ed. Let us offer our love this way.

And that connection is most often solidified through the status message updates and our stinking co-dependence on seeking redemption through our friend's comments.
If you don't feel like you are free to b!$% and instead have to say something like "I am grateful for the pie my husband tried to make us tonight. Yay!" that is also great, but the gamut of comment options is smaller. People may say they "Like" this status, but after that, inspiration kind of runs dry.

If you want to foster true community - the negative status messages are really the way to go.

Besides, HOW ELSE will I know that you had to deal with crappy traffic today and that your kids didn't let you sleep last night? HOW ELSE will I be able to empathize with you about your co-worker who has not learned to use breath mints? What will happen to my day if I can't feel sorry for that friend who is complaining of a hangover?

THE SYMPATHY STATUS IS IN JEOPARDY

Below, I would like to dissect an example of an empathy seeking status message that is facing extinction (Thank you very much MR. ENLIGHTENED FACEBOOK KARMA PERSON).
If the status below seems familiar to you, or if you have written a facebook status that resembles this, you have been exposed to the standard empathy status. You may wish to seek help immediately if you have had to refrain during this (stupid) REALLY REALLY AWESOME challenge.

Wilmer Corona . . . is sad that Little Bobby is home today with H1N1. Furthermore, the cat just died and our furnace is broken. Did I mention I hate my boss?

Hmmm. Tough day for Wilmer.

So what does one say to someone like Wilmer when you read his status?

Just watch and learn.

My Comment: That is horrible! I hope that Bobby feels better. Bosses suck! Sorry about the cat and hopefully it won't be too cold tonight!

There is an art to commenting.

Did you observe what I did above? I was able to offer condolences on Little Bobby, the cat, the boss while still also offering a shred of hope re: the furnace.

Please also note the use of the exclamation points. This is KEY. This indicates that I am vehemently commenting, not just "apathetically" commenting.

Ok, so you see the technique I used with Wilmer. What else might work? I have also seen the following techniques employed, but with mixed results. (Please use with caution).

The Blanket Empathy Commenter: Dude, that sucks. Sorry. Go Yankees!

This is a fairly safe way to respond but shows a little less intimacy than the first comment example. This commenter shows that he is empathetic, but not exactly committed.

Wilmer may in fact read this and be like WTF "Why the Face"? (If you watch Modern Family, you get that one). Why did this commenter even bother to respond?

But Wilmer ALSO needs to understand that he put it out there for all of his 500 friends to have an opinion on, so he really just needs to chill if he doesn't like the response.

Wilmer, a wise man once said "It's up to you to check your status before your wreck your status." I think it's on a fortune cookie or something.

Overzealous Commenter: OMG!!! I AM SOOOOOOO SORRY. I didn't know that little Muffy passed. She is in a BETTER PLACE. Me and the kids ARE PRAYING. AND DON'T GET THE H1N1 vaccination, WHATEVER YOU DO. Our neighbor's kid just HAD AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO IT and HAD TO GO TO THE HOSPTL!!!!! You are grate and we hate your boss. I hope he dies!!!

The overzealous commenter is generally more rare, but tends to have a somewhat toxic effect. People will usually not comment after seeing a response like this because they figure, "heck, now my response just seems silly. It lacks passion!" and walk by your status message.

The overzealous commenter scares me a little but because of how vocal they can be, I try not to upset them too much, for fear of what they may say on my wall. Studies show that they are also statistically more likely to make spelling errors.

I have a sneaking suspicion I'm about to be de-friended by a few people. Sorry, just being honest.


WHEN BAD COMMENTS HAPPEN TO GOOD STATUSES


There are other times where the status messages are good, hopeful and positive ones. However, it is the comments that bring the status writer down. See how the following comment techniques can make a pretty comment ugly REALLY FAST.

Example Status:

Brandy Brains
is so excited that her cousin is getting married tomorrow to the love of his life, Michelle. Yay guys!

Appropriate comment: Brandy - your cousin and Michelle are so lucky to have found each other! Take lots of pictures!


This on the other hand, is an inappropriate comment, and should not be posted.

Inappropriate comment: Brandy - no way? This isn't the Michelle who really knows how to HAVE A GOOD TIME (wink, wink). Sex tape scandal Michelle? Go figure - I didn't think she was the marrying type! Anyway - I'll see you in yoga tonight! I have the cutest new yoga mat. Om Shanti!

I think you see how this comment could possibly upset Brandi.

Let's just hope the commenter doesn't think to tag "CALL ME FOR A GOOD TIME" Michelle in a picture. Or put a link to the so called video.

There are several other commenting styles which can be used safely, if employed appropriately. Please feel free to share some of the ones I have missed.

As a member of the Facebook community - we all owe it to each other to comment, tag and interact responsibly.

BUT we also owe it to each other to keep our status messages interesting so that every time (I) WE hit refresh, (I) WE have something interesting to read.

Please Facebook responsibly. And I don't like to (bitch) I mean, reflect alone. It's just anti-social. Drinking alone, I understand. But complaining is a social activity, I think.

Keep the sympathy status alive, I say!

Don't desert me Facebook comrades. I am all on board with supporting MR. I'M SO GRATEFUL's challenge, but let's just make sure we pepper in the good stuff too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Our First Traffic Free Thanksgiving

So this year, we did not travel up North to visit our family in New York and New Jersey for Thanksgiving. It was our first OFFICIAL Thanksgiving on our own in Virginia.

We missed our family and friends. We did NOT miss THIS.

On Wednesday, I left work a little early and went to the store to buy all the ingredients I needed to try to re-create (as closely as I possibly could) the cornucopia of traditional Thanksgiving dishes that John has grown up with.

And just so you know, my Indian family also celebrates Thanksgiving. So I grew up with it as well. But OUR turkey was usually marinated in Garam Masala and our side dishes weren't usually stuffing and mashed potatoes.

They were more like daal (lentils) and roti (whole wheat flat bread), if you know what I mean.

Not that I can cook those much better, mind you.

Anyhoo.

So when John came home, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, "Where is the turkey?"

And I said, "Oh, she is playing downstairs in the basement."

He looked confused and said, "No, really. I mean, where is the turkey?"

Then I realized he was not talking about our two year old daughter Shaila and was in fact, referring to the turkey which I was still sweating about cooking.


I started to feel the pressure and was scared that I would fold.

But I just wanted to let you know, my friends, that I did GOOD.

"Toot-my-own-horn" kind of Good.

"Pat-myself-on-the-back" kind of Good.

Here is a recap:

* The traditional Italian meat sauce, or gravy, came out awesome. This was made from SCRATCH and will be used for a kicking lasagne later this weekend.

* The turkey was a teensy bit dry, but the rub I used for it was heavenly.

* The sausage stuffing was carb and fat-laden goodness.

BUT . . .

(and isn't there always a but . . .?)

There was ONE teensy catch.

When it came time to cook up the gravy, it mentioned that it was OPTIONAL to use the turkey "giblets."

I was intrigued. What were these "turkey giblets" and what did they have to do with me?

I also felt cheated. There was no clear plastic bag full of icky looking things in MY Butterball turkey. I had totally been screwed on the giblets and boy, did I have a bone to pick with those fancy people over at Butterball.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to take a deep breath and not be angry at the Butterball company. (Although I was already drafting my customer satisfaction letter to them in my head).

Dear People of the Butterball Republic,

I miss my giblets. Please send them to me at your earliest convenience.

Oh, whatever. The letter could wait.

I felt especially "Martha Stewarty" - in an Indian kind of way - as I got the table ready while John and Shaila played outside and Nico napped next to me. I even decided to go ahead and carve up the turkey myself, so John and Shaila could walk in to a completely prepared dinner.

Like I said, I was ON this.

As I carved the ten pound turkey and really got rolling, I encountered a little resistance. And no, it was not a bone.

YES.

You, my friends, unlike ME, saw this coming from a mile away. However, I was still in a little shock when I pulled out . . .

Those da#% giblets.

They were wrapped in WHITE paper (not clear), and shoved WAY, WAY in the back - past the neck almost.
Those stinking giblets

Oops.

As I looked at this glop of paper and unseasoned "giblets" (How could I have ever doubted you, fine, fine people of Butterball?), and realized we had just escaped a major fire hazard, I decided it was best not to mention this to John.

So I chucked those darn giblets.

And our family had its first (but giblet free) Thanksgiving in our house.

And I am so HAPPY that I did not burn the house down.

John did not know about those giblets as he is not a big "giblet-eater" himself, so he will be thankful as well.

AFTER he reads this.

Happy Thanksgiving, John!
(How about that stuffing?!! And Rock on Cowboys!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thank You Letter to my Son


Dear Nico,

I know that over the past few weeks, I have lamented the loss of my sleep, sanity and general well-being in the posts in this blog.

Luckily, you are too young to read and so you don't yet resent me for talking smack about you behind your back.


All kidding aside, while I joke in these posts about you and your sister, Shaila, I do want to make sure that you understand that this is just your mother's way.


I also wanted to tell you a little story.


You were born earlier this year on August 6th, which makes you almost 4 months old as I write this. My pregnancy with you was much smoother than the one I had with your sister (and I have to say, sometimes I think it's a strong indicator of what is to come).


But you still kicked my a!@, just a little. I was on bedrest towards the end and the last few weeks, I worked from home while lying on the couch. I conducted conference calls with clients in Germany and tried not to be overly concerned about the frequent contractions that started in my 28th week . . .


The week that you were born, Shaila came home from day care with a fever and developed a rash. We did not think much of it, and being the feisty little trooper that she is, she kicked that virus in the butt and was on her merry way back to her friends within a day.

And then you came! 4 weeks early, but you were absolutely perfect. You had the teeniest hands and you seemed so much smaller to me than your sister had been.

But you
were YOU, and I was a fan. Instantly.

Uncle Al took this picture of you when you were 1 day old

When we came home from the hospital, I started to feel a little fatigued, and I figured it was just the "new mommy" kind of fatigue. I did not think much of it, until my sister (your Munni Mausi) suggested I take my temperature and I realized I was running a fever.

The next day, so were you.

101.5.

We had to take you to the hospital and before I knew what hit me, they were taking you away from us to run a spinal tap on you.

My son, who did not yet weigh even 6 lbs.

A SPINAL TAP.

When the test results came back, the doctor informed your father, me and your Munni Mausi, who was also with us that day, that you tested positive for Spinal Meningitis and that they would need to keep you in the hospital for several days until they determined if it was viral or bacterial.

If it was viral, they said, he will fight it on his own. If it is bacterial, well . . .

"Well what?" we asked.
"If its bacterial . . .we will cross that bridge when we come to it," the Doctors said, sounding more positive than their eyes indicated.

You were 7 days old.

I felt like I had lost the ability to breathe.

Within minutes, we were brought up to what would be "your room" for several days and your dad and I watched the nurses hook you up to an IV and a steady stream of the 5 anti-biotics you had to be on, just in case it was determined that this was bacterial.

It was your sister's second birthday the next day.

You lost some weight and before I knew it, were almost below 5 lbs. I waited anxiously and tried not to keep crying but I have to tell you now, that I failed miserably.

I held you as much as I possibly could and you remained pretty listless. We made a lot of promises to you, just making sure you knew what was in store for you if you pulled through. Of how much I would love you. And how much your Dad would teach you.

And how cherished you would be.

We were in the hospital for 4 days. It felt like 40.

I would hear other children in the pediatrics ward crying and my heart broke for them and their parents as well. I did not know what prognosis brought these other children to the hospital but I hoped that these parents would all be able to leave with a smile on their faces, their hearts intact and their children in their arms as soon as possible.

We prayed to God a lot.

So did the rest of your family and all our friends.

You had a lot of people rooting for you.

At the end of what felt like a four day sentence, your doctor came running into our room with a huge smile on her face and relief clearly spelt all over it to inform us that you could go home and that you would be able to kick this thing. That your little body had been working hard to fight what was a virus which had attacked your spinal fluid.

A virus that your sister had passed to me, which I then passed to you.

And you were going to be ok.

(Dr. Deepa Shah - I LOVE YOU. I will always remember your face telling me that news I prayed for days to hear. So beautiful.)

I know that over the course of your life, you will have challenges and you will deal with adversity. Some of it, we can help you with. And sometimes, you will have to face it alone.

But, from what I can see, baby boy, you are the biggest trooper. I know that whatever you will face, it will be with grace and dignity and that extra dose of spunkiness which I know you have. I have seen you in action and I am blown away.

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow and I just wanted to let you know how much you and your sister mean to me.

Thank you for making my life that much richer for every day you have been alive.

For all the jokes I make about you waking us up at night, another part of me is also always grateful to hear your cry.

Love,
Mom

P.S. And just so we're clear, I am still 100% on board with you trying to sleep through the night. So let's try to keep working on that, ok?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving, we have a great many things to be thankful for.

* Family
* Friends
* Health
* A Really great Fall/Winter television lineup (Modern Family rocks!)

I have been busy counting all of my blessings, when today a co-worker told me about this website:

http://www.fmylife.com/

And I had to keep counting.

After I stopped rolling on the floor laughing.

Check it out!

Beer Goggles Make the World a Better Place

ODE TO BEER GOGGLES
Oh where, oh where have my beer goggles gone
Oh where, oh where can they be?
They make sh$@ look like roses and so much more,
Oh where, oh where can they be?
-Kiran @ 2 in the morning

Everybody has heard of the phenomenon called "Beer Goggles." This phenomenon, similar in magnitude to the Aurora Borealis, occurs when somebody has consumed enough alcohol to make an unattractive person look like a "10" by the time the bartender announces it's closing time. If you are unfamiliar with how this works because you have never found yourself wearing beer goggles, it goes something like this:

beer gogglesExample of what too much beer can do to good peeps

Just so YOU know. This has NEVER, ever happened to me. And John told me it never happened to him either. And we, my friends, run a household based on trust. So, just for the record, we have both just "heard" about it from "other" people. You know. "Friends."

And anyone who could possibly corroborate otherwise has(will) die(d) from unnatural causes.
How sad.

Anyway.
In our household, we have quite a different phenomenon occurring.

The night starts out something like this:
Nico, sometime mid-evening

Shaila, auditioning as a stand-in for Shirley freaking Temple

And all is good in the world.

I look at John with a big smile on my face and say, "Aren't we lucky?"

And he turns to me and we share a happy smile and say really self-satisfied things like, "Hey, maybe we'll do this AGAIN?" ( Cuz aren't they just so freaking cute and they just changed my benefits package at work, so what the heck?) and "We did good."

We then high five and go back to watching shows on our DVR and ignoring each other.

ALL IS RIGHT IN THE WORLD.

But that's when our well rehearsed Brady Bunch moment ends.

Because sometime around 2 AM, things start to get a little hazy. I would even say that they start to take a turn for the worse. We are usually awakened by something that bears a slight "resemblance" to our children, but really looks like this:

Shaila, with her little horns starting to come out.
(Grandma thought they would be feathers. THAT I could have handled. Read This.)

And my little Angel Nico is no more. He has been replaced by his counterpart, Judas.

And while both of my children seem to have generally, absolutely zero interest in the other, at this point in the night, they are:

* in COMPLETE COHOOTS
* DEFINITELY TAG TEAMING
* LAUGHING AT MOMMY and DADDY together

Which is really ALL MY FAULT, because I wanted them to start interacting more.

Then they decide to let ALL HELL let loose in our house.

First, Nico cries. I settle him down and start crawling back to bed.
"Hey, Mommy, I can't find my Passy*." Shaila. Ok. Retrieve, settle her back down and crawl back to bed.
Then Nico cries again. Ignore. But then I feel bad. So I get up again.
Get him settled. Crawl back into bed. Oh sorry, I crawled into the toilet.
Too tired.
Dry off and crawl back to bed.
"Hey, Mommy, I'm not sleepy. I want to watch Barney." Shaila. Miss Obedient her self.

But this time, when she says it, it doesn't sound like "I want to watch Barney."

Instead, it sounds like she is hissing at me and saying "I'm GOING TO SUCK ALL THE LIFE OUT OF YOU, Muther Dear. He he. Ha Ha Ha." with a nice demon laugh thrown in.

It's now 4 AM. And my colluding, manipulative children now look like this:

Shaila, laughing (oh ha ha ha) at me at 4 AM
OR THIS:

Nico most closely resembles the scary boy in the back
At this point, John will step in and try to calm down one and I will get the other settled in. As we pass each other in the hall, I could almost swear that Nico just gave Shaila a high five and I am PRETTY SURE she just winked at him and muttered "suckers" under her breath, but it's late and I don't know what reality is anymore.

By 5 in the morning, I have usually reached new heights of delirium from exhaustion and at this point, it is no holds barred. It is official. My children have left the building and have been replaced by these little nightmares whose sole goal is to ensure that I can not have one, JUST ONE, uninterrupted REM cycle for crying out f!$%#ing loud.

Shaila and Nico being expressive at 5 AM

So I don't know what is going on here. What have they named this phenomenon for when your kids look uglier and uglier as the night goes on, to possibly regain "some" (just a teeny bit of) cuteness when the first sun comes out? I think beer goggles could help, but I lost mine a LONG LONG time ago.

Wouldn't it be great if, similar to beer goggles, the lack of sleep and rest made our children look increasingly more beautiful with every REM cycle that is forever lost to us?

Oh REM, I miss you.

And I don't mean the band.

If someone could invent those kinds of goggles, my kids would be Cindy Crawford and Taye freaking Diggs right now.

It's just an idea. Brookstone should get on that.

* short for pacifier

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Best Pep Talker EVER

Once upon a time, long before I had met my husband, John, and before I had moved WAY OUT to the burbs, this self proclaimed princess dated a man for several years. In my twenties, it was my first serious, SUPER DUPER, real relationship.

We will call this man Gunther.

And Gunther broke my heart.

Now, in retrospect, Gunther did me a huge favor. He was a great guy but we were completely, totally, 100% wrong for each other.

But, as I felt the break-up was largely a unilateral decision, my pride and my heart were somewhat (ok, terribly) crushed and beaten.

In order to recover, I followed the strict regimen outlined below that most young women in their twenties, who live in Arlington, VA do when they are heartbroken.

1) I called Gunther bad names that I can't write here and said I was better off without him.

2) I went to bars with my friends, talked to boys who were reasonably cute, patted myself on the back for moving on and then burst into tears mid-conversation because these guys weren't Gunther.

(In actuality, they were cuter, smarter AND nicer - but I couldn't see that at the time).

3) I would leave said bar and drunk dial Gunther.

I don't even want to revisit what might have been said on these calls.


Repeat two days later.

I was very, VERY disciplined about following this regimen. I did NOT waiver.

I recall one particular weekend, my girlfriends Sang and Liz took me away to Dewey Beach in hopes that they could distract me and help me recover. After we returned from the bars, after having had our share of drinks, I started looking for my phone.

"Where IS it?" I could have sworn it was in my purse.
"We took it." Sang informed me. I saw her giving Liz a look. I KNEW that look.
"You WHAT?"
"You have NO business calling him." Oh Sang. You can be SUCH a big know it all.
Seriously, you can.
"Fine, I will just use the phone in the townhouse."
"No sweetie. We hid the cordless phones." Liz said.
"WHAT?!!" Et tu, Liz?

Me and my friend Sang on a day when she wasn't as bossy

This is Liz holding Shaila, long after I forgave her for stealing my phone

I WAS a mess. After yelling some selective curses at both of my friends, I went to bed crying and feeling sorry for myself.

To make matters worse, my company put me on a consulting gig up in Long Island. Now, I have nothing against Long Island. It's not like I think it's really like this.

But I was far away from my friends and family and it officially sucked. big time.

IT WAS DEPRESSING. I found myself at a new low. To make matters worse, my team was staffed at a client that was just miserably, miserably mean. The client team wasn't all that bright and to compensate, they just YELLED, CURSED and acted REALLY NASTY to us consultants.*

And unlike me, who did the same thing to Sang and Liz, they were SOBER.

Which means they were legitimately REALLY, really mean.

Luckily, I was staffed on the project with a good friend of mine, Tony. Tony has a way of making everybody laugh. No matter how sad I was, Tony always found a way to cheer me up. Whether that meant he would get our crew to go to expensive dinners that exceeded our per diems or he found a way to make fun of our MEANER clients (which was pretty much all of them), Tony managed to keep us all sane in Long Island.

But I still wasn't over Gunther and I had my fair share of meltdowns. One day, I had a particularly bad crying session. I couldn't get a hold of myself. I was standing outside the building, banishing myself to the same corner as the smokers, all of whom looked at the sniveling little Indian girl from Jersey with some concern.

I NEEDED TO PULL IT TOGETHER.

Enter Tony.
This is Tony.

Tony pulled me aside that day and told me what he and everyone else was thinking.

"Kiran, you're an F%$#ING mess."

Yeah - try not to mince your words there now, Tony.

"I know. I KNOW." I said. Oh NO. Here came the tears again. And I was out of freaking kleenex.

"Seriously, you're acting like a freaking donkey. You need to get your head out of your ass." This was his idea of a pep talk?

"But I can't stop (hiccup)being (hiccup) sa-ad!" I wailed.

"Dude, you need to get over Gunther. Seriously. This is getting all kinds of f#$#^ed up. The guy was kind of a jackass anyway." He had never been a fan.

"I kno(hiccup)ow. But, I don't know what to (hiccup) dooooooooo!!!"
"Kiran, I'm going to tell you something. And I want you to remember it anytime you even THINK about Gunther."

And that's when Tony taught me the mantra that got me through the heartache of Gunther.

"Anytime you feel sad, I want you to say the following. I AM A HOT PIECE OF ASS."

Excuse me?

"You're a hot piece of ass?" I asked Tony. Very confused.

"NO. YOU need to say this about yourself. YOU need to say that and remember that you will get through this.

O - kaaay.

So I tried it out. I'm a hot piece of ass. I'm a hot piece of ass.

How ridiculous! I could tell even the smokers who had overheard thought this was inane. (And no offense, but they weren't exactly at the top of the social pyramid, if you know what I mean.)

But then, the next day, as I felt the tears coming again, I tried it. And the next time I started crying during a sad, SAD song (No Sleep Til Brooklyn, The Beastie Boys), I tried it again.
Seriously, these guys can be sadder than Air Supply

And you know what? I kind of liked the way it sounded. And it was so ridiculous, that of course it made me smile.

And when I smiled, it was a lot easier to stop thinking about Gunther. For a minute.

But then the minute became five minutes became an hour became days became years.

And before I knew it, Gunther was a distant memory.

That ridiculous mantra (which I then lent to friends who didn't have a Tony in their life and displayed symptoms of low mojo) got me through tears, bad self-esteem, other mean boy incidents and some harder days at work.

So - next time you are feeling a little low, I want you to look in the mirror and SAY IT.

And I promise, IF NOTHING ELSE, you WILL smile.

I don't see Tony that often anymore. Our lives and groups of friends don't have much overlap and so we don't find ourselves in the same situations as much anymore. I am more comfortable at home and Tony is more comfortable at HOME, this club in DC, if you know what I mean.

But I still count Tony as a good friend and will ALWAYS be grateful for the role he played in helping me through that heartache.

And for giving me a mantra that I now am giving to you, my friends.

Go on now. Say it.

* Coincidentally, when I resigned from my consulting company as part of my effort to get my life back on track, the client offered me a job directly with them, providing a relocation package to Long Island and a pay increase.

I told them (to bite me and shove it where the sun don't shine), "Thanks, but No Thanks."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moo is the Word of the Day

I am pretty sure you guys have all seen this episode of "Friends." You know, the one where Joey and Rachel have this very enlightened conversation (If you haven't click on the link and definitely watch):

Joey: All right, Rach. The big question is, "does he like you?" All right? Because if he doesn't like you, this is all a moo point.
Rachel: Huh. A moo point?
Joey: Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo.

- Friends,
"The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs"

I have had many moo moments in my life. I don't know if its because I have been shielded by common cultural slang that just wasn't spoken in my Indian household or I overlooked an important memo sometime in middle school.

Whatever the reason, I have definitely had some moo moments.

Who's the Chump Now?
Some time ago, I was talking to John about our credit card charges and trying to explain to him that some of my purchases were really not that big of a deal and that he NEEDED TO BACK OFF. While the CUMULATIVE charges of all the individual items may SEEM like a lot of money, I had really purchased a lot of small things and how could he overlook how efficient I was really being?

He did not understand my logic that if you make 10 separate purchases on Amazon that add up to $200, it is not the same thing as buying everything in one $200 order.

But then, John explained to ME that, while he APPLAUDED my ingenuity in taking breaks between hitting the "Submit Order" button, that each of these separate purchases still ends up being charged in the same credit card cycle, apparently.

Ooooooohhhhhh. I said.

Exactly. He said.

Anyhoo.

As he started getting just a tad bit aggressive about a particular $33 charge for a new thermometer I had purchased FOR THE WELFARE OF MY CHILDREN (the cost of which I have already justified in this previous post), I fired back.

"Whatever! It's junk change!"
"Excuse me?"
"Junk change. Like, it's so insignificant that it's junk."

Now, this makes perfect sense to me. Doesn't it make sense to you?

It took a few minutes for John to stop laughing (at me, not with me. he's sweet like that.) before he explained that the saying was "Chump Change" and not, in fact "Junk Change."

I wondered how many times I had used this saying with friends or in meetings and how many people were secretly laughing about me behind my back.

Or worse, feeling sorry for me because they just thought I was slow.

Just to be clear - I still like "junk change" better - it makes a lot more sense to me. So I will just boycott this saying from now on, unless anyone is on board with starting a movement to encourage adoption of the "junk change" phrase. This is how you start a revolution, friends.

And I ain't nobody's chump.

All this got me thinking. Where else do I have moo moments?

Sing a song of six hens, right?

I know that my biggest moo vulnerabilities come around song lyrics. I sometimes will have the utmost confidence that I know the lyrics to a song and will sing them at the top of my lungs and John will again burst my bubble.

John, you're really, really killin my buzz.

SO - Blinded by the Light - I know that I was one of the many who incorrectly sang the song at the top of my lungs, with the windows down screaming about being wrapped up like a douche.

In fact, the correct line is "revved up like a deuce" or "cut loose like a deuce" in the Springsteen version. But on this one, I feel a little better, because I think everyone else ALSO thought it was the same thing as me.

Not saying EVERYONE, but yeah - you pretty much know who you are are.

Here are other songs I have inadvertently slaughtered in the past.

Madonna, "Material World" - "Some boys kiss me, Some boys hug me, I think they're all gay!"
(Correct lyric: "I think they're ok.")
Again - I like my line better. More drama. It's fun having gay friends. They are more fun to shop with than guys that are just "ok."

REM, "Losing My Religion" - "Let's pee in the corner. Let's pee in the spotlight."
(Correct lyric: "That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight.")
Well that's a little self-involved, no, Mike Stipe? In my version, It sounded like they were trying to encourage group activity which seems much more democratic and in line with the liberal leanings of this band.

U2, "One" - "It's too Late, Tonight. To drag your pants out into the light."
(Correct lyric: "To drag the past out into the light.") I was young. No excuse.

Neil Diamond
, "Cherry, Cherry" - "She's got some weight to lose now cherry."
(Correct lyric: "She got the way to move me Cherry")
Listen - Neil - love you, but, um . . . we gotta work on that enunciation.

So fine, maybe I have more moo moments than I want to admit. But don't we all?

No, really? Don't we? I need you to help me out here.

I implore you, my friends, to tell me what your moo moments were so that I don't sit out here twiddling my thumbs and thinking I'm the only jackass who doesn't know these things. I probably will still twiddle my thumbs, cuz its an awful tic that I have, but would love to hear your own "moo moments" when you want to share.

So moo at me tomorrow. Tell me I'm not alone!

Thank you! Masala Chica

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Butt of Course

One of the thing I hate doing more than ANYTHING as a mother is taking my children's temperature.

Rectally.

Yuck.

I'm pretty sure my kids feel the same way I do. See Exhibit A below.

Exhibit A

Not because I don't love them and their little itty bitty bums - but because I feel like I am always going to inadvertently hurt them or they will poop on me in the process.

I had one of those fancy ear thermometers that some of my friends got for me at my baby shower, but it was not nearly as accurate. The nurse at Shaila's Doctor's office would look at me like I was a moron when I would bring Shaila in with a fever and told her how I came about reading my child's temperature.

Apparently, good mothers know that "butt is best."

Hmmm. That sounds really perverted.

Context, everybody.

CONTEXT.

About a month ago, Shaila's forehead felt kind of warm, so I took her upstairs to go about this not so pleasant task. As my daughter looked up at me, old enough where she no longer is cool with me clumsily sticking things up any crevices, I realized she was probably like:

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?"

And rightly so. Remember that later in life too Shaila - it's not cool for ANYBODY to get anywhere NEAR your crevices. Especially the captain of the football team.

ESPECIALLY the captain of the football team.

Even if he looks like Exhibit B.

Exhibit B

All crevices are SACRED until you are at least 25.

Not that she said that. What she said was:

"Mommy, whatcha doing?"
"Taking your temperature, baby," beads of sweat dripping onto her changing table.
"Oh!!! Taking my tem-pa-chur. Co-oo-ool!" Everything is cool to Shaila. I positioned the thermometer.
Mayday.
"Hey Mommy!? Why are you sticking something up my hi-nee?" now looking at me like I was a nut.

Suffice to say, she didn't think it was cool anymore.

Neither did I, so we were in complete agreement, which is very, very rare in our household.

So, when my friend Jen told me about this wonderful gadget, I was over the moon. Finally, the answer to my prayers! See Exhibit C.

Exhibit C

It's the Exergen Temporal thermometer. It's like a magic wand. You just press the button and slide it over the forehead really fast and it gives you your baby's temperature.

This thing is a gift from God.

I know, I KNOW. So are my children.

But THIS is MUCH, MUCH quieter!

I tested it on me and John when I first got it and chased him around the house for a week, taking his temperature.

"Will you get away from me? What are you doing?" he would push me away, exasperated and wondering how he ended up with this crazy woman.
"I am just making sure it's consistent."

I could tell the only thing he thought was consistent was how crazy his wife was. Day in and day out.

You can count on me, John!

Any - hooooooooo.

So, for any mothers who were feeling the same way as me about that awful awful task, please take comfort in the fact that:

a) You are not a freak of nature. Other mothers hate sticking things up their babies' butts too! (At least this mama does)
b) There is an answer out there. And no, I don't work for the company that makes these.

Now, I can take my kids' temperatures as many times in a day as I want. And their diapers stay on.

Awesome.

This public service message has been brought to you by a woman who has had no sleep in over three months, and admittedly has lost sight of her better judgment, so if you think she is cuckoo for recommending this, please go on about your business and keep sticking things up your babies' butt. She would not want to interfere with that joyous task. If you DO want to buy it, this mommy found the best deal was at Amazon, but feel free to look around as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Story

All of these lines across my face

Tell you the story of who I am

So many stories of where I've been


And how I got to where I am


But these stories don't mean anything


If you've got no one to tell them to,

it's true
I was made for you . . .
The Story, Brandi Carlile

The lines above are from one of my all time favorite songs by singer/songwriter extraordinaire, Brandi Carlile. Despite the wisdom of her words and the lines she speaks of, I think she is only about 27 years old with no visible lines that I see.

But I get it Brandi. I really get it. And thank you for one of the most moving songs that brings me near to tears every time I hear it.

I think about this song when I think about my father.

My father has a lot of lines on his face. And each line is a beautiful line. My father has a lot of stories to tell, and over the years, I wish I had listened more closely.

I wish I had paid more attention to the stories he has of growing up in a poor village in India, the eldest of ten siblings. I wish I had listened to the many stories he had about each of his siblings, my aunts and uncles, some of whom have passed away, and others whom I have not seen in years.

I wish I had paid more attention to his own stories of growing up in poverty but having the love of an amazing mother and father, whom he still speaks of with emotion in his voice, pushing them through.

I wish I had stopped being distracted by my latest "issue of the day" to maybe listen to the inflection in his voice when he talked about what it was like to be so malnourished that he did not walk until he was four years old. Or stop to think about how some of the health issues he experienced later in life, like premature blindness, may have been related to that rocky start in life.

Of how he made it out of the village to earn scholarships to get an education at some of the better schools in India. So that he could help be a provider for his family, as the eldest of so many children.

Sometimes I want to go back and ask him to tell me in more detail about how he came to this country with no money but with the support of a strong band of friends who were like brothers, many of whom I call Uncle today. How these men came with nothing to this country except some petty cash and their hard earned degrees, and stayed at a YMCA in NYC until they were able to get jobs, rent places and set up shop in a country that was so new and foreign to them. How they supported each other till each was able to stand on his own feet.

Where was that YMCA? Did I ever even think to ask? Queens? Brooklyn?

What did he feel like, leaving everything he knew behind in India?

Leaving his first wife and children behind in India, while he tried to start a life for them. Was that scary?

Being in the United States when his first wife got sick and passed away and returning to India to four grieving children, my brothers and sisters.

Of being arranged to marry my mother and returning to the United States with her and his four kids. And carrying not just their luggage, but what must have felt like the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Of what it was like to have me years later, years after he thought he was probably done, to welcome a fifth child into the world. Of the relief he felt the day his last child was married, long after he had given hope that anyone would have me.

And his undying gratitude to John for taking me off his hands. (see that smile below. priceless). **

Of the pressure he may have felt as a young man, knowing so many people in India still were counting on him for money while trying to build his own family in a new country.

Of the mistakes that he made - maybe in his career, maybe in his marriage, and even sometimes in raising us. Because while he is a wonderful man, everybody does make mistakes.

Of the happiest moments in his life.

And the saddest.

I have a great life today. I have had opportunity. I have had food. I have had education. I have never gone hungry. I have been loved always.

I have two wonderful sisters and two equally wonderful brothers. We don't always get along as well as we probably should but I love each of them dearly. I love their children and am proud to be an aunt to all nine of them.

I have an amazing extended family that was able to come to the United States with help from my mother and father. I am lucky to have grown up with cousins who are more like siblings to me than anything else.

I have a husband and two wonderful children.

We are healthy.

Life is not perfect, but at this point in my story, it is my responsibility to make it as close to perfect as I can get (without being too perfect that I want to gag).

My own story is intrinsically tied to my father's story, and all the subplots that unfolded within it.

It's not too late for me to ask my father to tell me these stories again, and for me to really listen this time.

So that one day, I can tell my own children these stories that need to be retold so they never forget where they came from.

Love you, Papa.

** (Also note, my mother looks like the cat that ate the canary. I bet she is thinking, "Oh, John! You sucker!")

In Hindi, of course.

Fiddler on my Roof

It appears that my dreams for Shaila to become a talented musician are coming true. At two years and three months old, she is showing amazing promise and zeal for one so young.

Do you wanna know how I know that?

Hear that fiddle? That's me - and she's playing me like one.

BIG TIME.

My friend Jodi had recommended that I read the book "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" the last time she saw me and caught sight of the bags under my eyes. Jodi is always well groomed and full of energy - she always looks like she JUST had a Red Bull, despite being a mother of two, having a demanding job and being a successful technology blogger. Since I was neither well groomed and was in dire need of a Red Bull - I thought I would take her advice.

The book, written by the late Tracy Hogg, starts out with a quiz about your kids. You are supposed to figure out what kind of personality they have and how to best approach them based on the answers you select most.

I was immediately defensive. Jodi had NEVER mentioned a test. The pressure was on.

As I did the quiz, responding for both Shaila and Nico, I started to sweat. It was very clear what answers I had imagined I would pick before I had children. You know - the answers I would have had if my plans had worked out of having kids who were setting the table by 2, helping me make meat sauce by 3 and writing thoughtful prose by 4.

I realized, according to this quiz, that Shaila is what Tracy diplomatically called a "Spirited" child. (Nico is "Touchy." We'll get to him later.) Neither of my children were "Angel" babies. You know, the kind that NEVER CRY and NEVER SCREAM and NEVER TRY TO CATAPULT THEMSELVES FROM A SHOPPING CART and NEVER KICK YOU IN YOUR SHIN SO HARD YOU ALMOST CURSE OUT LOUD.

That kind of Angel baby.

I thought about cheating on the quiz, but decided that would defeat the purpose of reading the book.

Here is an example of the kind of question Tracy had on the quiz.

1) When you drove home with your child from the hospital, your baby did the following:
a) Smiled contently while crocheting you a blanket (Angel baby)
b) Smiled, burped and fell asleep, waking refreshed when you reached home (Textbook baby)
c) Smiled for the benefit of the hospital staff but screamed bloody murder as soon as you closed the door before morphing into a Gremlin and making you want a glass of wine sooner than you expected after delivering a child. (Spirited)
d) Cried like a banshee and looked at you accusingly in his car seat before passing out from exhaustion right before your panicked husband pulled into the driveway (Touchy)

I found myself responding with mostly C's and D's as I took the quiz. Tracy said it was important for your spouse to also take the quiz so I asked John for his opinion, hoping he would pick more A's and B's. Maybe my recollection of things was off from all the painkillers.

Nope. All C's and D's.

"Well, there was that ONE time . . ." I said hopefully, trying to make answer A true for question number 3.
"No, that wasn't Shaila. That was Abby," John shook his head and informed me. Abby is Cris and Meghan's daughter.
Hmmm.
"Well, what about that time when . . ." trying to push him towards answer B for question 7.
"No - that was Chase." Glennon and Craig's son.
"What about . . .?"
"Nope."

Oh.

Rats.

So I am working with my daughter and her "spirited" nature. We have transitioned her to her big girl bed and every night, within minutes of putting her down, we hear her door open and her little footsteps scampering towards our door. We put her back to bed. The same thing happens. Next time, we may try to let her wait it out in the hallway but she pushes the door open, pacifier in her right hand and the pandas on her pajamas looking like they are taunting us in the dark.

"HELLO EVERYBODY!" She yells. "Let's watch Sesame Street!" Back to bed.

Repeat. About 20 more times.

This can go on for about an hour. Turns out "spirited" infants become "spirited" toddlers who become "spirited" teenagers.

Scary. Very, very scary.

By the time I get her to bed, Nico usually starts being "touchy" and I get to have philosophical conversations in the dark with him. I better hope the white noise machine is on in Shaila's room, because if I'm not careful, I'll turn around and . . .

"HEY MOMMY! Whatcha doing?!!"

Those pandas are really starting to freak me out.

So I tiptoe really quietly - in the hopes that I won't hear her tiptoe.

Tip. Toe. Tip. Toe.
Alright, we're in business.

Until I sneeze and . . . OH NO . . . then all bets are off and I hear her little feet and the inevitable thud that usually follows, which is THEN followed by my panda wearing daughter yelling loud enough to wake the dead (and her "touchy" baby brother)

"MOMMY! I lost my binky!"


"Waah!" this is "Touchy" baby.
"Sesame Street!" this is "Spirited" toddler.
"Is everything ok?" this is now wide awake husband.
"Sigh." This is tired mommy. I think she may have been spirited once too. I don't remember.

We bought a case of Sugar Free Red Bulls from Costco this weekend, so I am set.

So - BRING IT, Shaila. I'm ready for you - and ALL your spirit.

The boatloads of it that I know you have.

And I still think you WILL make a good musician one day, baby girl.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Super Duper Friend Collection - Shaune

I am a big fan of my friend Shaune. She is one of those women who normally make me feel really, really inadequate. Under different circumstances, I might even want to dislike her. But since she's my friend, I can't.

Yes, I know. That sounds like a HORRIBLE thing to say. But I am just being honest.

She is beautiful and sweet and an amazing cook. She's the kind of woman you just KNOW was on her high school Homecoming Court and I am POSITIVE she was voted "Friendliest" or "Nicest Smile" or something along those lines for yearbook.

She is the kind of pretty that is really, really cool when a woman has a masculine name. You know. Like Hunter. Or Danni. Or Drew.

She doesn't gossip and if you are sick, she is the first person to come over with a casserole. She will give you the shirt off her back if you need it and she always looks for the best in everybody she meets. Shaune would be hard pressed to say something negative about her worst enemy.

Which makes sense, because people like Shaune DON'T HAVE ENEMIES.

She's the kind of nice that raises some suspicion when you first meet her. I am always very skeptical when people are that nice to me. I look at them knowingly to let them know I am ON TO THEM. Seriously - are they for real? What's their agenda?

No agenda. She IS JUST REALLY NICE.

So I am ashamed to admit, when I first met Shaune, I was not sure I liked her. Not because she was mean to me or because she looked at me funny. She was as pleasant as she always is and she went out of her way to be friendly.

The reason I was not sure I could like Shaune was because of her Super Duper Dip.

Yes. A DIP.

We were at a New Year's Eve party at Chris and Meghan's when I was first introduced to this specialty of Shaune's. Looking unassuming (and even a bit homely) in a big old crockpot, I almost bypassed this dish. But then John had some and gestured me over like a madman.

And it was one of the best things I had ever eaten. EVER.

I was instantly suspicious. As everyone hovered around the crockpot, ignoring all the other dishes (and even the alcohol) to get another swipe of this savory goodness, I was positive she had either laced this dip with something or had used some kind of black magic.

How did something that UGLY taste SO GOOD?

There were some casualties that night. I don't know how many people I took down to make sure I had a spot at that crockpot. Nobody expected this little Indian girl to resort to throwing elbows, but I did what had to be done. And some people may have left with some bruises.

As I iced my own war wounds, I thought to myself "Who is this woman?" and "What is in that gloppy looking ambrosia?"

Over the years, I got to know Shaune and relaxed enough to stop being jealous and insecure around her.

I also got smart and figured that if we were friends, she would have to feed me.

Shaune gave me her recipe for the Super Duper Dip. She said I could share it with you, because she is THAT nice. It's great for Super Bowl parties, New Year's Eve parties, Birthday parties, Cocktail parties, Wednesday afternoons and . . . oh who am I kidding?

It's ALWAYS good. Just make it.

Super Duper Dip

1)1lb beef or turkey
2)taco seasoning
3)3 tablespoons of sour cream
4)large jar of salsa (preferably medium or hot)
5)can of refried beans
6) 16 oz of Sargento Mexican cheese blend (the regular kind, not the "Authentic" blend)

optional - fresh chopped jalapenos

Brown the meat and prepare it with taco seasoning in a pan. In a crockpot, throw all the above ingredients, along with the meat, into the mix. You can layer it or throw it all in together - it really doesn't matter after it all melts together.

Cook in crock pot for a few hours and serve with corn chips. I like things spicy so I put a (hot) in front of ingredients # 2 and 4 listed above.

Easy Peasy. And the beauty of this dish? The uglier it looks, the better it probably tastes!

You will be REALLY popular if you make this. I promise.

Thanks Shaune!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Driving Miss Shaila

"Mommy, I NEED to watch Sesame Stweep."
"Mommy, I NEED some candy."

"Mommy, I NEED a balloon!"
"Mommy, I NEED to wear my Mickey Mouse shirt."


My two year old daughter, Shaila, is not shy about making sure her "needs" are communicated. A pretty vocal child, with a very expressive face - she says what she wants and while we try not to give her everything, she can be pretty convincing.

But lately, Shaila is getting a little pushy about her "needs."

"Mommy, I need to have some of your coffee."
"No, Shaila. Coffee is for Mommy. And Daddy." (ok - i think this is what I say, but in all honesty - I can't be held responsible for what might come out of my mouth right now PRE-CAFFEINE).
(Though, I will admit. It is usually Daddy who makes it for Mommy. Thank you John!)
"One sip. Just ONE sip!" She holds up her right index finger with emphasis and gets right up in my face. "I NEED it!"
"No, sweetie."
"Ok, ok," re-thinking her strategy. "Mommy. I NEED . . . to just SMELL it," She will counter.

So every day my daughter tries to negotiate the privilege to smell my Maxwell House coffee (we're not too fancy in our house and it's really cheap at Costco).

But Shaila's constant use of the word "need" is something I am trying to work with her on.

"Shaila - you don't really NEED candy. You WANT it."
"Shaila - you don't really NEED to watch Barney. You WANT to." (Yes - that show is still on. And yes, my daughter eats it up like crack).

She looks at me sagely as I try to point out the distinction. "OK, Mommy. OK." she nods her head. I breathe a sigh of relief. Good! She GETS it.

"Mommy." PAUSE. "I NEED some ice cream."

Hmmm.

I was talking about it with our nanny, Kim, who has the privilege (oh, ha ha) of being told by Shaila on a constant basis what she "needs." How do you explain to a 2 year old the difference between "Need" and "Want"?

Kim thought about it for second before saying something that was pretty SPOT ON.

"Well, how do you explain to most ADULTS the difference between "need" and "want"? Most adults don't know the difference either."

And I got to thinking, how true.

Kim, you are a WISE, wise woman.

How often do I run into Target because I "need" some new Christmas decorations? Or go to the mall because I "need" some new shirts to wear? What about that coffee that I "need" in the morning (Ok, some would counter that I truly do need that).

I am co-hosting my dear friend Liz's baby shower and over the past few weeks, I have told her all the things she "needs" to register for.

"Oh you NEED at least one bouncy for both floors of your house!"
"Oh, you absolutely NEED to have the vibrating bassinet!"
"Liz, you will NEVER be able to manage without (insert xyz thingamajig from Babies 'R Us here). You definitely NEED that!"

"Really?" asks Liz, sounding skeptical, but looking for some advice from friends.

"Oh, ABSOLUTELY," I pronounce my edict from my throne (which I also NEEDED at some point. On sale at Crate and Barrel). "You definitely NEED that."

"Hmmm. Ok." Liz seems doubtful, but ever trustful. After all, why wouldn't she trust me on this?

Gee - small wonder my daughter keeps saying "need"! How far does the apple fall from the tree?

Ironically - I think back to my own upbringing and the "things" my parents had. Not much. Just thinking about my mothers samosas makes me ashamed. But they managed to overlook the "obvious" need for all these necessities that I now could not imagine life without.

Am I as guilty of blurring the lines between "need" and "want" as much as my daughter?

The answer, my friends (surprise, surprise) is . . . a resounding . . . DRUM ROLL . . .

YES. I AM.
(I put it in caps, not to be ironic, but to exclaim that YES, I AM SPOILED.)

It makes me wonder when my perspective changed so dramatically - where convenience became a necessity and where the luxury of being able to buy what I wanted became a right versus a privilege.

Sometimes it takes the language of a two year old to show me that in some ways, my perspective is oddly more aligned with hers than I originally thought.

And while I love my daughter and know (ok, I HOPE MADLY) she will grow to be a wise, wise woman - maybe it's time to re-evaluate what I "need" and what I "want" a little bit more closely this year.

I think I NEED to. Don't you?
(Please, be kind).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Nanny Chronicles: Part Dos

This post is a continuation of this earlier posting.

"Hola everybody! Sorry I'm la -a -ate!!!"


Every morning Poppy would breeze through the door about twenty minutes later than expected and sing her standard greeting as she walked into the kitchen.

Now, I don't think that Poppy was really all that concerned about being late. Because no matter how late she was, she still took a good ten minutes to put that stupid solar panel up in her car everyday.

I would look out the window and see her parking her car. She would then take about ten minutes to get the car closer to the curb. Then we had to factor time for that solar sun visor thingy. By the time she made it in the house, she was already on our cul-de-sac for a good fifteen minutes.

"Jimmy, what do you think of her?" I asked my husband's stepfather, Jimmy.

Now, Jimmy is a pretty laid-back guy. I don't know many people that Jimmy DOESN'T like. Really.

So I was a little concerned when Jimmy took a little longer than was necessary to respond.

"She's . . . definitely . . a character."

HMMM.

"What do you mean by that?"

"Well . . . have you seen her drive?"

"Yes. She's terrible."

"Well. There's that. And I don't know . . . I just have this feeling . . . "

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Jimmy. But Jimmy can be kind of . . . hmm. Intimidating. He's tall and broad and I think Poppy was just a teensy bit awkward around men. And, even though he is the gentlest soul, if I saw Jimmy in a dark alley in New York, I MIGHT think he was Mr. Clean's cousin from Brooklyn and I COULD be a little intimidated.


Jimmy, you know I love you. I'm just saying.

But Jimmy's response had me thinking.

A week after we hired her, John called me at work.

"Hey . . . I wouldn't worry about it, but do you think Shaila will get sick from eating raw meat?"

EXCUSE ME?

"Ok, so don't panic." Yeah - great way to start a conversation. I won't panic SINCE YOU SAID THAT. "Well. I was working from home and walked into the kitchen where Poppy was feeding Shaila turkey bacon. Raw."

EWWWW.

"She said that you told her Shaila likes it?" John asked.
"Well, yeah. But I meant COOKED."

Cooking bacon seemed like a pretty common sense thing that I might fail to specify for Poppy. What other things were happening in my absence like this? How specific did I need to be?

What would have happened if John hadn't been working from home that day? Would Shaila have just kept eating raw turkey bacon?

What else did I need to specify?

"Poppy - remember not to let my daughter play with those knives!"

"Poppy, can you please make sure that Shaila doesn't crawl into the street?"

"Poppy, remember! No smoking marijuana in the house! Not on Wednesdays anyway!"

I don't know. I was starting to worry.

But any time I would worry, I would also get a glimpse of the loving woman who my daughter seemed to love. And there were some good moments. Really.

But one day John walked into the house unannounced and walked into the following scene.

Poppy in the family room with her feet up on the ottoman on the cell phone.
Television on.
Gates to the family room closed.
My daughter in a walker by herself in the kitchen. Shaila could walk, so what was up with that?

He told me about it that night.

"Well, what did you say to her?" I asked.
"Uh, nothing."
"Nothing?"
"But she could tell I was upset. I don't think it will happen again." Well, John was a lot more confident than me.

But the next few weeks, we had no more cause for concern like that. Shaila seemed happy and content with Poppy and we were pretty sure that it was an isolated incident.

We wanted Poppy to feel comfortable in our neighborhood, so we introduced her to another nanny on the block who cared for our neighbor's children. Poppy instantly felt comfortable with this woman and soon was making playdates every day.

But one day, I was about to leave for work when I realized that Shaila was running a temperature. Ugghh. 101.5. Not good.

When Poppy got to the house, I told her about Shaila's fever. I had made an appointment for Shaila at the doctor's office but needed to work from home for a few hours before taking her in. However, the appointment coincided with Poppy's plans for that day.

"Well, you know we go over to play with the girls today at that time."
Excuse me?
"Hmmm . . . well Shaila has a fever so she won't be playing with anybody today."
"Awwww. So sad. I was really looking forward to this."
Are you for freaking real?
"You know what, Poppy? I will be watching Shaila today. You can go home."
"Oh, goody!"
I'm not kidding.

I was starting to realize that something needed to change and change fast.

I know what you are thinking. Why did you let this continue? And you know, I don't know why. I think that it's really hard to be objective when your child also seems to love the person I was having these doubts about.

So what did we do?

Stay tuned . . .
 

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