Thursday, March 22, 2018

All by myself

Last month, I did what I'd never done before. I travelled without Xena. In fact, I was travelling by myself after a decade! The last solo flight I took was in 2008 when I flew to Boston on work. Of course, back then Xena was not in the picture. Once she was born, she accompanied me everywhere. But this time I couldn't take her along. She's no longer in preschool, she's in proper, serious school now and I can't just randomly take off with her. But I had to go. It was my cousin's wedding in India -- one that I absolutely needed to attend. He lives with my parents now and is actually like my own brother really. There was no way I'd miss his wedding.

So I briefed father and daughter to the best of my abilities and took off. My mom-in-law offered to come and help Viv and Xena out in my absence, but I requested her not to 'come to the rescue' so quickly. Viv and I split Xena-related duties equally and just as I manage to do it all when he's travelling, I was confident he'd do the same. Just that the system had never been tested. Though Viv is perfectly capable of taking care of Xena by himself, there had never been a time when I was not in the picture. I needed all three of us to go through this experience without external assistance and see how we fare. Me without her, and them without me. It was important that we knew how to do this.

Viv and Xena did absolutely great, but it was a rather strange experience for me. Liberating, yes, but also very strange. Not so much because I was flying by myself but because I was flying without her. In fact, I kept forgetting that she wasn't with me!

Here are some random thoughts and snippets from the trip.


Me (thinking to myself while waiting at the boarding gate) - OMG where is my other carry-on luggage??? I had two, didn't I? Did I forget one somewhere??
Me (1 second later) - Oh wait, I'm thinking of Xena...


Me (while boarding) - OMG, a flight without Xena! I can watch all sorts of stuff on the inflight entertainment!
Me (1 second later) - Oh wait, I'm flying AirAsia, not Singapore Airlines...


Me (in the flight in the middle of the night) - I need to pee, but how?? I can't wake her up to take her along and I can't leave her sleeping next to a stranger and go!
Me (1 second later) - Oh wait.
Me (in toilet) - OMG I can pee in the airplane toilet without company! Anytime I want! Wooohooo!


Old uncle at transit - Beta, can you help me connect to the WiFi?
Me (looking at him and his wife suspiciously, and thinking) - OMG this is what they do. They distract you with a question and then their partner-in-crime takes off with your luggage!
Me (clutching my handbag tightly) - *connects old uncle's and his wife's phones to the WiFi*
Uncle/Aunty - Thank you, beta.
Me (thinking) - OMG where's my other carry-on??? Did they flick it?? Oh wait, that's Xena I'm thinking of... again.


Relative 1 at wedding (judgy look) - You left Xena behind and came???
Me (proud look) - Yes.
Relative 1 - And she was ok?
Me (prouder look) - Yes.
Relative 1 - She won't miss you?
Me (proudest look) - I don't think so.
Me (thinking in panic) - OMG what if she doesn't miss me at all?

Relative 2 - Did she cry at the airport?
Me - Cry? No.
Relative 2 - Then what did she say?
Me - "Bye, Mommy. Daddy, let's go home now."
Relative 2 (looking shocked) - Wow...


Relative 3 - How will she manage??
Me - I didn't leave her behind all by herself. Viv is there.
Relative 3 - He can manage??
Me - Of course. He's the father.
Relative 3 - Wow...


5-year-old nephew - Where is Xenaaaa????
Me - Oh, she hasn't come... it's just me this time.
Nephew - Waaaaaaaa! Xena didn't come?? Waaaaaaa!
Nephew's mother - Oh dear, we didn't know she wasn't coming. He spent all morning cleaning his room and prepping the toys he was going to share with her.


Aunt - Come over for dinner tomorrow. I'll have all your favourite things ready. Pani puri? Mutton biryani? What else?
Me - Spicy pani puri and spicy mutton biryani sound YUM.
Aunt - Ok. What else would you like to eat?
Me - Nothing else, this is more than enough.
Me (thinking) - Oh but then what will Xena eat??
Me (1 second later) - Oh.


Me - What time is the wedding?
Mom - The muhurat is for 11 pm.
Me (thinking) - Oh nooo, I'll miss it then. I'll need to get Xena to bed and I can't leave her there.
Me (1 second later) - Oh wait.


Me (day before the wedding) - What time is the XYZ ceremony?
Mom - Around 3-4 pm.
Me (thinking) - Oh no, naptime clash.
Me (1 second later) - Oh wait.


Mom - Take this clutch along, it will match your sari.
Me (thinking) - No no, I don't like to carry a purse when I'm in a sari; it's easier to manage her if I have nothing in my hands.
Me (1 second later) - Oh wait.


Me (dancing in the baraat in the middle of the road at 10 pm) - OMG I'm dancing in the baraat in the middle of the road at 10 pm.


Me (taking 93248273427 photos with the bride and the groom and the 23847328947 cousins) - OMG where's my kid??
Me (1 second later) - Oh.

Me (in the middle of the wedding) - I wonder what Viv and Xena are up to.
Me (1 second later) - Hope they're having fun.
Me (1 second later) - Bet they're having fun.
Me (1 second later) - Wait. Hope they're not having too much fun without me!


Whatever said and done, it was nice to have Roby the robot carefully placed on my keyboard to welcome me back (Xena was at school when I got home from the airport). 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The back-up plan

Xena (pointing to a cube of flavoured cheese) - Mama, can I try this?

Me - Sure!

Xena - Is it nice?

Me - Well, there's one way to find out.

Xena - Ok, I will try it. But I will need adult supervision. (We use the term a lot because of all the cooking/baking and science experiments we do together.)

Me - Why adult supervision to eat a cheese cube?

Xena - So that if I don't like it, I can pass it to the adult to eat.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Seek and ye shall find

So Xena was in the middle of a swim play date with a friend's daughter when she emerged from the water to tell me very casually that one of her hair clips had fallen in the water. (I had put clips so her hair wouldn't fall in front of her swim goggles and obscure her view.)

"Actually I can see it here!" She looked down and exclaimed. 

"Then get it." I said. 

"I can't."

"Of course you can. It's just like when coach drops his watch in the pool and asks you to get it."

"But that's near the steps, where the water is not so deep."

"Well, why don't you try?" She had been doing better in her swimming lessons lately and I knew she could go underwater without panicking. 

So she made a half-hearted attempt that lasted a total of 4.5 seconds before casually gliding off to a corner of the pool to play with her friend. 

It infuriated me. 

It was not about the hair clips. The clips were actually very old, from the time she was a toddler who liked Hello Kitty. They must have cost hardly a dollar. But what made me mad was the callous indifference she showed towards losing one of them. And how casual she was about it. Hair clip fell in the pool? Ah, no big deal. We'll just buy another one. Or not. Whatever. 

It made me mad. Flippin' mad. I know it may sound ridiculous and over the top to some, but I have an acute (over)sensitivity towards Xena's generation taking things for granted, not caring enough about stuff and generally just being entitled brats who get everything they want. So I spend a LOT of time reading up on the topic and doing all I can do prevent her from becoming the kind of kid that I really cannot stand. I have long discussions about privilege, and failure, and the importance of trying and learning from mistakes, and not giving up. It's not easy for kids to grasp all this, and you need to reinforce it again and again through words and actions, in as many ways as you can find. In fact, one of the rare times I let her watch a video was to show her the sheer grit that this Kazakh boy showed. He simply refused to give up. (Watch it -- his attitude could seriously teach us adults a thing or two.) 

Anyway, back to the hair clip story. Instantaneously turning into a cruel dragon, I broke up the party in the corner of the pool. I told Xena calmly but firmly that she had lost her clip and it was her responsibility to get it back, or at least try to get it back. Both girls understood the gravity of the situation, and so did my friend (who, incidentally, is not at all the kind who would judge me for being such a hardass on Xena, so this made my task easier). 

"It's our mission to find the clip!" Xena declared. 

Oh wow. 

"Yes, it's your mission." I agreed. 

Both of them got to work. They struggled for a long time to spot it, with no results. At some point, they thought they had spotted it, but it turned out to be a leaf. It did not help that the clip was blue and so was the floor of the pool. Finally, they saw it! Xena had been right about the coach's watch though. Much as she tried, she wasn't able to dive deep enough to grab the clip with her hands.  

She treaded water, staring at the clip. I could almost see the gears in her head turning. 

The one thing I repeat to her (perhaps ad nauseum) is that whenever she confronts a problem, she needs to use: (A) her brain to get ideas and (B) resources to solve it. Many times, I have seen her take the brain + resources approach and solve problems. Her brain was telling her that she needed a resource, some kind of a tool to fish the clip out. All of us scanned the area around the pool. There was nothing, and no adults in the pool she could approach for help. We mommies were not dressed to jump into the pool to be the resources. I wished for a magnet and a pole and some string to fashion a fishing magnet or something, but modern swimming pools are generally not equipped with such items. 

Next, she tried to pick it up using her toes. The pool was deep so she still had to go fully underwater to attempt this. For about 10 minutes. I kept encouraging her to try again and again. But the clip lay flat on the floor and refused to get wedged between her toes. I could also see she was exhausted from the multiple times she had gone underwater to retrieve it. By now, I had also realised that this little incident had gone past what I had intended it to be -- a simple attempt to at least look for a lost item before giving up. It had grown and taken a life of its own; it had become an event, an adventure of enormous proportions. I doubted myself several times -- maybe I had gone too far about such a trivial matter. But then I just decided to go with the flow. There was no backing out now. 

I asked her to take a break to give her lungs some rest. She got out of the water and took a break before going back in. Again, multiple failed attempts. She then decided that swishing the water above the clip with her legs made it inch towards the edge of the pool. So she decided to do that. It took a loooong time before the clip reached the edge. However, the depth of the water was the same at the edge and much as she tried, she still couldn't retrieve it with her toes. She was successful in grabbing it once, but it slipped and fell back down the next second. 

By now, I was ready to pack up. We would never retrieve the clip and it would just have to be a learning point for Xena. That sometimes hard work and determination do not result in success, that sometimes our magical brain+resources formula doesn't give results, and that is okay. We just need to learn from our failures and move on. (In fact, sometimes I sneakily manufacture failures and disappointments for her so she will learn to take them in her stride and not crumble at the first failure she faces in adulthood.) 

"It's okay, Xena. You tried hard. Well done. Let's stop the search now. You can continue your play date. Clip shaayad nahin aayega." I told her. 

"AAYEGA, Mama." She said, emphatically, and dived back in. 

"I don't know if I should be impressed by her speaking to me in Hindi (she rarely does) or by her determination not to give up." I joked to my friend. 

"Right now I'm impressed by everything she's doing." My friend declared, quite seriously. (She's extremely fond of Xena. She's also the one who told me I have to document the whole thing on the blog.)

After another 10 minutes of trying and many, many failed attempts, Xena emerged triumphant. "FOUND IT!" She had managed to pick the clip up with her toes and quickly transfer it underwater to her hand. She raised it up in the air, like a prized trophy. It was a prized trophy. I told her I was super proud of her patience and her determination.

I did feel slightly bad that because of my insistence, she'd had to use up more than half of her precious play date time on this mission. So on the way back, we had a short debrief and I told her again how proud of her I was. We discussed the Kazakh boy again. 

"Mama, I used my brain! And my toes were my resources!" She exclaimed, eyes shining.

Here are the clips, reunited at last. I cannot get myself to put them back in her accessories drawer. I will store them safely in a special place forever.  They are all mine now, along with today's memories -- of a little girl who refused to give up, even after Mama did.   

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Can't help it

Xena - Mama, my classmate tripped and fell and got hurt, so I took her to the genoff.

Me - What (on earth) is the genoff?

Xena - Oh, Mama. Genoff is the General Office. At school, when you don't know where to go, you go to the GenOff. That's the rule.

Me - Ah, ok. Then what happened?

Xena - Then she asked them to call her parents so the GenOff called her parents and she went home and I came back to class.

Me - She went home? Was she badly hurt?

Xena - I don't think so.

So I messaged the child's mother to ask if she was okay. (She and I work in cahoots to stay one step ahead of our kids, without them knowing it.) The mother said she was absolutely fine and probably just wanted an excuse to get out of school and go home.

Realising that it could happen to Xena too (I've been told that the kids feel very important when they go to the GenOff, especially if they get to make a phone call), I gently brought up the topic with her.

Me - So if you get hurt at school and need help, you ask for it, ok? Ask a student or a teacher for help. Or if you can, go to the General... I mean the GenOff. You know that, right?

Xena - Of course, Mama.

Me - And you ask them to call me only if you're badly hurt, ok? Like if you're bleeding or in great pain and need to go see a doctor.

Xena - Yes, I know.

Me - Don't ask them to call me for minor bruises and stuff, ok?

Xena - Ok. I will try...

Me - What try? If you call me to pick you up for something minor, I won't come. You need to deal with it yourself. You know that, right?

Xena - I know. I won't call you for random things.

Me - Very good.

Xena - I didn't call you last week.

Me - What happened last week?

Xena - I got a little cut on my finger. It was bleeding like a volcano.

Me (trying to suppress my laughter) - It was bleeding like a... what?

Xena - A volcano. An exploding volcano.

Me - Really? Wow.

Xena - Yeah, but it was not at all serious. Just a tiiiiiinyyyyyy cut. I just went to the GenOff and got a band-aid. That's all.

Me - Very good. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Peas in a pod

So I follow this therapy dog called Norbert on Facebook (because who doesn't want this kinda cuteness -- without the poop-cleaning -- on their newsfeed?) and recently I found an old photo of Xena's that reminded me that I've always had my own little Norbert look-alike!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

So the story goes...

Now that Xena eats her lunch at home, I have stopped eating leftovers for mine. I make a proper lunch for both of us and we eat it together at the dining table once she gets back from school. Only, I finish mine in about 15 minutes, while hers takes close to an hour. Once I'm done, she continues eating, while I go about doing my chores, listening to all her stories from school. Sometimes, as she slowly works her way through her food, she'll ask me to tell her a story.

The other day, I decided to tell her a story incorporating the emergency phone numbers in Singapore. So I wove an elaborate tale about a brave girl called Niki (it was supposed to be Nicky, but she insists this is how it's spelt). In episode 1, she escapes from kidnappers and alerts the police by calling 999, and in episode 2 (which I told her on another day), she helps her mom who's had a bad fall, by calling 995 to summon an ambulance.

On Friday, Xena wanted to know what happens in episode 3. I did have a story with a fire engine situation in mind, but I hadn't fine-tuned it yet, so I asked her to tell me a Niki story instead.

She immediately agreed.

"So... Niki has taken her younger brother to his friend's house for a play date. She is babysitting the two boys and there is no one else at home. 
Suddenly, the doorbell rings. It's a policeman! He has a sack in his hand (at this point she notices my raised eyebrows)... but... the sack has these words printed on it -- 'Don't worry I am not a robber's sack; sometimes policemen carry sacks too'. 
She lets him in and he goes upstairs and starts robbing the house. (whispers) He's actually not a real policeman! She goes up and sees him and wonders what she should do. Then... she tells him to go sit on the toilet seat and close his eyes. She holds a toothbrush in front of him and asks him to try to touch it with his eyes closed. He tries for a while... but he is very tired because he has been robbing houses all day... so he falls asleep on the toilet seat. 
Niki locks him in the toilet. Then... she uses her brother's friend's toy phone to dial 999 and call the police (notices my raised eyebrows again)... but then it's a toy phone... so she uses a real phone to call the real police. The real police come... and they don't have any sacks with them. 
The toilet is still locked and the robber is sleeping inside. So the police take a big saw and saw through the door... pick the robber up by one strand of his hair... and throw him in jail! 
Everyone is very happy... but Niki is a little sad because her toilet door is broken... but actually it's not her toilet door, it's her brother's friend's toilet door so it's ok."

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Daily report

Xena has completed a month of primary school. Though we have all settled into our new daily routines, the one thing that's different every day is the hilarious report I get when she gets back from school.


Day 1
Me - How was the first day of school? Did you find your way around easily?

Xena - Yes. But Mama, the toilet tap is sooooo tight I couldn't open it and then I waited and waited till another girl came and I asked her to open it for me.

Day 2
Me - Did you manage to open the tap today?

Xena - Mama, I couldn't even find the toilet today! And when I did, it didn't have the lights on and anyway I can't open the tap because it's too tight and then the bell rang so I have decided I'll pee only at home.

Me - !!!!!!


Day 1

Me - So who are the kids sitting around you in class?

Xena - There is this boy called Aidan. He's very mean. I asked him to move his leg so I could get my bag, but he said go from the other side. So mean. I don't like him at all.

Day 2

Me - Who's your best friend in class?

Xena - Aidan.

Me - Eh? I thought you said he was very mean.

Xena - No, actually he's a little bit mean but actually he's not mean at all. He's my best friend.

Day 3

Me (reading the 'About me' section in her workbook that she has filled) - So your best friend is now Esther?

Xena - No, she's not. Actually we don't know each other.

Me - Huh? Then why did you write her name as your best friend??

Xena - Because she's VERY cute. Like a babyyy. She's soooo tiny and jumpy and cuuuute!


Me (trying to make sense of all the books and materials and timetable) - So this is your art file?

Xena - No Mama, this is the art folder, not the art file. The art file is separate. And there is an art bag also. I don't know if it is in the classroom or my locker [goodness she has a locker!] or with my teacher or at home. It's somewhere.

Me - It's somewhere??

Xena (confidently) - Yes.


Xena - Mama, the one-eyed teacher in my school is very scary. 

Me (I'm thinking mad-eye Moody) - The one-eyed teacher??

Xena - Oh Mama, not the ONE-EYED teacher! The ONE-I teacher. One Integrity! (The sections have names like Honesty, Integrity, etc.)

Me - Oh!


Week 1, day 5

Me - So you must have made some friends in class by now?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Who are your closest friends?

Xena - *rattles off seven names*

Me - Wow, that's a lot of friends for the first week. And do you know any other children's names?

Xena - Yes.

Me - How many names do you know?

Xena - Thirty.

Me - You know all thirty kids' names?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Are you sure?

Xena - Yes. I can write it all down, Mama. Believe me. [Takes a sheet of paper and writes down thirty names]

Me (stumped) - Very good...

Week 2, day 5

Xena - Mama, I wish I was in house XYZ. Most of my friends are in XYZ.

Me - Hmm... and who is in your house?

Xena - *rattles off several classmates' names*

Me - Okay...

Xena - Do you want me to write down everyone's names and houses? I can do it. Believe me, Mama.

Me - Oh, I believe you.


Xena - Oh Mama, we had four periods of PAL (Programme for Active Learning -- a non-academic section of the curriculum) today. It was ALL morning. I am SO tired.

Me - Wow. And what did you do in the four periods of PAL?

Xena - I can't remember...


Xena - Mama, can I have a dollar?

Me - Why?

Xena - There is a pencil with a fan attached to it, in the bookshop. I really like it. Can I buy it?

Me - You'll be able to get it by yourself?

Xena - Yes.

Me - And you will calculate and get the correct change back?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Okay. Here's a dollar. I want the full accounts tomorrow.

Next day...

Me - So did you buy the pencil?

Xena - No, my friend had bought it yesterday and she said it's not very good. So I bought a compass instead.

Me - You bought a compass??

Xena - Yes.

Me - Why?

Xena - I wanted to play with it. To find the direction.

Me - I already have a compass you can play with.

Xena - Oh...

Me - Okay, next time please ask me before you buy anything.

Xena - Ok. Mama, it's soooo fun to buy things at the bookshop! I think I will buy something every day!

Me - No, you will not.


Xena - Mama, can I wear a black hairband and a ponytail to school every day?

Me - Really? Why suddenly?

Xena - Just like that.

Me - Hmmm... let me guess. Does one of your friends wear it like that and you like it?

Xena (stumped at how mommy knows) - Yes...

Me - Well, your hair is different. I need to 'lock' the top towards the side before tying the back. If you wear a hairband and a ponytail, it won't stay neat till the end of school.

Xena - No, Mama, it will!

Me - Okay, let's try it out on a weekend and see how it holds up?

Xena - Okay.

We try it out on a Saturday morning. Two hours later...

Xena (looking at herself in the mirror) - It's very messy, Mama... the front hair is coming out everywhere... looks very jungli...

Me (resisting the urge to say 'I told you so') - Yes. Do you still want to do it for school?

Xena - No.


Xena - Mama, next week we will be skipping rope in PE class. Mr H (coach) has said -- if you know how to skip, then skip.

Me - And if you don't know how to skip?

Xena - Then you just skip it! HA HA HA!

Me - Ha ha! That's a good one. You should tell your coach this joke. That will make him laugh.

Xena (seriously) - Mama, Mr H doesn't laugh.

Me (seriously) - He doesn't?

Xena - No. And he only has two voices -- loud voice and angry voice. Sometimes we don't know which is which.


Week 2, day 1

Xena - Mama, I am very sad today.

Me - Why?

Xena - Because I am not the class monitor.

Me - That's okay. Everyone can't be the class monitor, right?

Xena - Yeah...

Week 3, day 1

Xena - Mama, I am the assistant group leader! YAY!

Me - Wow. Well done! What group is this?

Xena - So each class has different groups, based on the rows of seats.

Me - Oh ok. So what do you need to do as the assistant group leader?

Xena - Nothing.

Me - What do you mean?

Xena - Austin is our group leader. He has to collect the workbooks from our group and give it to the teacher.

Me - And you're his assistant?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Okay. And what do you need to do as the assistant group leader?

Xena - Nothing.

Week 3, day 5


Me - Huh?

Xena - I got to collect the workbooks from everyone! YAY!


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Routine stuff

Our lives have changed. 


We need sleeeeeep. 

Okay, it's not that bad. Now. 

So Xena started primary school this year. When we signed her up for the school bus and were informed that it would come to fetch her at the unholy hour of 6.45 am, we knew mornings were going to become extremely happening. 

Viv and I decided that we'd start by waking up at 5.45. I'd immediately get started on packing two snackboxes for her, and he'd focus on getting her ready. We had big plans of her having breakfast before leaving, but.. what were we thinking? A child who takes 40 minutes to finish a cup of milk will have breakfast at 6 am? HA HA HA. HA. So we settled on a 3/4-cup of milk or smoothie or some such liquid, which she can finish with some coaxing in about 20 minutes. 

6.20 am is my cue to do her hair. Last year, she said she wanted to cut her long hair so it would be easier to get ready for school in the mornings. In fact, she was quite excited about it, so I had to pretend to be excited too. However, towards the end of December, she changed her mind. PHEW! (I love her long hair and I was so delighted that she changed her mind without me having to do anything.) When she was in preschool, I used to do all sorts of funky hairstyles for her. Of course, now that she's a school-going young lady, we can't put bells and rainbows and we need to stick to black rubber bands, but I still try to do something out of the ordinary. 

Food has become the centrepiece of this chaos. Her preschool used to provide her with lunch, and it was the most amazing menu ever. The sheer variety of the food was mind-boggling. Each dish featured only once in a month, and it was all super healthy stuff -- brown rice, vegetables, eggs, etc. And everything was cooked using herbs grown in the school garden. 

Now that I have to pack two snackboxes for her early in the morning, and then make lunch for her to have when she gets home, I really really miss her preschool days. ('Feeding Xena' had always been a shared project between her teachers and us, and now it's not.) I loathe the idea of sending biscuits and other random junk (at the very least the stuff have to be baked by me), so I've been compiling a list of nutritious and filling items that I can quickly make in the morning, that would last the test of time, and that most importantly, she'd eat. So far, it's been a fun journey asking friends for their lists, googling for recipes, testing them out to see if they will last the many hours in the snackbox, and tweaking them to make them healthier. At some point, I'll do a post on all that, complete with recipes. 

It's now week 4, and I am way past the exhaustion I had felt in week 1. I wake up, brush, cook and pack her food, do her hair and send her off by 6.35 and then I make breakfast for Viv and me. Once he's off to work, I head to the gym before I shower and start work. It's a lot to process and implement so early in the morning. The first week I felt really sleepy while working. I'd yawn so widely that tears would come out of my eyes. At one point, I felt like my head was just going to thunk itself on the keyboard and stay there. It didn't help that I didn't have any colleagues to chat with and drive my  sleep away. Coffee came to my rescue that week. Since I don't normally drink coffee, it REALLY kept me awake. But of course, that was not going to be the long-term solution. We decided to do away with late-night Netflix sessions, and go to sleep by 10 pm. So far I'm mostly able to keep to it, but Viv works late on some nights. E.g. last night he worked till 4 a.m. (I seriously don't know how he can function on such little sleep.)  

Two of the mornings, right after we sent her off, both of us actually decided to take a power nap after breakfast just to stay functioning. It helped a lot, but again, it can't be the long-term solution. 

Xena is coping well with the funny hours because I have still retained her afternoon nap, so she gets a good amount of sleep overall. I get a lot of envy on that front from many mommy friends about how very lucky I am that she naps in the afternoons and how their kids dropped their naps at the age of two, BUT HEY I WORKED HARD TO KEEP THE NAPS GOING, OKAY? OKAY! 

All right, it's time to share some pictures! 

This was taken on day 1 of school, when she had not received her name tag yet and was wearing a temporary one. She kinda floats about in her uniform a bit, even though we bought the smallest possible size. The shopkeeper at the uniform shop looked shocked when I picked up the smallest set and asked her if she had anything smaller than that. The lady behind me in the queue politely asked, "Just how tiny is your child?"

The Physical Education uniform fits her much better.

Last but not the least, here's a poster she had made as her last preschool project. The topic was 'Big school' and the kids were asked to do whatever they wanted. She drew all the big changes that she would experience in Big School. 

It's been all this and more!

Friday, January 19, 2018


"What is this, Mama?"

"It's poha."

"But I don't like poha."

"You've never had poha."

"Yes, I have! And I didn't like it. You know I don't like dal in my food."

"There is no dal in poha."

"There is! I can see it! The small yellow things."

"Ok, pick up the 'dal' and eat it and tell me if it's really dal."

"Okay." [Picks out a tiny yellow piece and bites it apprehensively]


"It's potato..."


"... but I don't like potato."

"You like nothing. Does that I mean I should cook nothing?"

"No... Okay, can I put a slice of cheese on the poha?"


"A slice of cheese on the poha."

"Nobody eats cheese on poha."

"I do!"

"You've never... sigh, never mind. Why don't you try just the poha first, and then you can decide if you want cheese on it?"

"Okay." [Takes a bite; doesn't make a face]

"Nice, isn't it?"


"See? You have to try it before you decide if you like it or not. I made it just for you. Without coriander leaves and chillies."

"But I like chillies!"

"Since when?"

"I like spice!"


"Yeah. Because... unspicy food... is the most... dislikefullest food."

"It is? Okay, next time I won't skip the chillies."

"Okay. Can I add some achaar to the poha?"

"Hmm... Okay. Go ahead."

"Okay." [adds pickle and takes a bite]




"Yes. Mama, this is the best poha I have had in my whole life."

"You've never... sigh, never mind. Thank you, baby."

Friday, December 29, 2017

High point

Ayubowan, bewdas!

In case you're wondering, no, I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth. Interestingly though, yesterday I did do a 9-km hike to a place called World's End. As some of you may have also guessed from my greeting, I'm in Sri Lanka! It's the last big road trip of the year for us and this time we have brought the whole clan along -- Viv's parents and sister, and my parents. Of course this spells total and absolute chaos, but somehow it's also a lot of fun.

It is absolutely gorgeous out here and we are doing lots of hiking and a bit of rock-climbing too.

Xena and me atop Pidurangala Rock

Details of the trip will be up on my travel blog as soon as I get back to Singapore. Meanwhile, I wish all of you a happy new year with lots of good health, good health and good health!

See you in the new year!