Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Splish Splash

I wrote several posts in my mind these last few days, including several based on recent events -- what we called "current events" in school -- but I can't remember a word of them now, including the very clever headlines I had also thought up for them. Ah well, sorry you missed them.

So I will just say that I'm off to Madras again tomorrow. My parents feel very deprived, and demand a month's time with WB. Wishful, we no longer stay at Boat Club Road.

So long folks. Hopefully, will have more time to post once I'm on 'holiday'. Am really looking forward to the swimming. There's a pool where my parents live!

P.S.
The headline's an in-joke, sorry. The Bhaeblet was recently gifted a whole bunch of stuff (bathrobe, bib, slippers, towel etc.) that have a turtle motif and they are all embroidered over with "Splish Splash".

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Feel for Flo, I Do!

Back when I was a wild young thing, living it up in Calcutta while my parents regarded my stories of going out to 'family dinners' and 'birthday parties' with deserved suspicion, I often used attack as a form of defence. Andy, as always, does it better.

Friday, April 20, 2007

From My Inbox

AN OPEN LETTER TO
MR. JAMES THATCHER,
BRAND MANAGER,
PROCTER & GAMBLE.

February 6, 2007

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core™ or Dri-Weave™ absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from "the curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my "time of the month" is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?

As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants. Which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: "Have a Happy Period."

Are you kidding me?

What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness—actual smiling, laughing happiness—is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and KahlĂșa and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong"? Or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.

Best,

Wendi Hardy
Austin, TX


I don't know who the lady is but I must say I love her spirit, not to mention her epistolary style!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All About Sex

Sometime in early Jan a ten-pack of contraceptives entered our home. Last night we finally finished the last. (If we haven't we've lost the rest, which comes to the same thing.) Three months, huh.

But then, sex, like so many other things, has become an activity. You know, like shopping, or going out, or cooking, or dancing. Or even, help me, sewing. Activities in my life are classified as things that need energy. And energy, as anybody who's ever had to deal with The Bhaeblet will testify, is always at a premium. If you are lucky enough to have some, you save it. You know you will need it soon enough, so you try to hibernate as far as possible, when WB lets you.

I would be depressed, but that too is an activity.

It's sad, really. When things tumble out of my jammed cupboards and I probe and push to get them back in, occasionally I come across a pretty slip or sexy red g-strings. I almost laugh at my naivete -- but laughing needs energy, let's not forget. I had thought, hey, I'm going to be married, so let's buy lots of sexy lingerie. And besides, I was shopping in Singapore, where it can be bought fairly cheap.

But you know, what with living with the in-laws while I still had the figure to wear them (where would I dry them??) and then being far too big to wear them, and now, not having the patience (not to mention the energy) to hand-launder them, those things stay in my cupboards. Occasionally they tumble out on V -- who looks at them wonderingly but does not dare ask. I imagine they will stay in there and I will eventually forget all about them until one fine day I see WB playing with them, to the horror of all the guests who will be filling my house when The Bhaeblet decides to do this.

In the meantime, I am devoting all my attention into morphing into a traumatised stay-at-home mother who trawls through the day in nighties and wears a vacant expression. I mean, I'm already in 'jammies, so that's a start, innit?

Bet you were thinking this would be an altogether different kind of post when you read the title!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shubha Nababorsho

Or so everybody on Orkut is wishing me. To you all, too.

It was the Bengali new year yesterday (Bengali year 1414) and I couldn't help but remember how tumultuous the last three such have been.

On the (Bengali) new year's eve in 2004 (1411) I finally promised V to give us a try. Till then I'd been enjoying a new singlehood and and didn't want to feel tied down again. Last six months of comparative freedom that was. :)

The next new year we weren't on talking terms because of a very bad fight, which, even now, I'm surprised that we survived. Two days later there was a tea-party at Calcutta Club where my family and I met V's family elders. V and I still weren't talking to each other, but we do have some lovely photos from that party.

The new year after that, in 2006 i.e., we moved into this flat, after an extremely disturbing time with his parents. I'll never forget how it felt. We'd spent a difficult weekend, trying to move our things and survive the emotional minefield we were living in. When we finally left, there were no goodbyes. We entered an untidy flat which looked about as inviting as a restaurant at midnight. We had no food or anything to cook with, so we went out and got ourselves biriyani and kebabs. V was very depressed and I was trying, not very hard, to stay sane.

This year though, life's a lot easier. We do have a Bhaeblet driving us nuts, but things are also smoother on the family front. We had biriyani last night, but we dined with V's father. (His mother is away, visiting family.) And we had a bitter fight yesterday, but at least now we know why we fight. A couple of steps up, or sideways, at any rate.

No, really, I do have blessings to count and I don't forget that.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Modifying Ferber

Sunita's query on the Before Ferber post deserves a longer reply than is suitable for a comment, so here goes:

I got Richard Ferber's book from Rohini earlier this week, and spent the day (or as much as I could) reading it. Now, this book was promised a few weeks before that, and as things would have it, no sooner had I sent Rohini the SOS than The Bhaeblet decided to show a sleeping pattern of sorts. But I still found the book of enormous interest because --

1. It explained sleeping habits and patterns, not just in infants but also in older children. V and I are both occasional insomniacs, and my family has a history of insomnia. Therefore, I wanted to know more about how to make it easier for WB to develop regular sleeping habits from childhood. Not just the napping or the fixed bedtime, but also how to fall asleep when in bed. Something I don't do very well myself.

2. Till about 8 weeks ago I used to keep WB up in the evenings, hoping he would be sleepy at the time of the last feed around 11, so that he would sleep in till past 8 the next morning. It was only by accident that I realised that this was not necessary, because he used to feel sleepy after his 9 p.m. feed anyway and if I did things right, he could sustain that sleep till the next morning. In other words, the midnight feed had become unnecessary. This did mean he woke up earlier, but that was less of a problem. Ferber helped by explaining the circadian cycle of sleep that each human body follows, and how it can be changed for the worse by careless indiscipline. Also, that by midnight, WB was really too tired to be able to fall asleep easily.

3. Bedwetting runs in our family, and I have seen my brother really suffer. For years my parents couldn't accept that it wasn't his fault. Ferber explains very clearly how to deal with it, and I read up on this in case WB ever needs it.

Now, Sunita's question was this:
hey so did you manage training your little one? I just gave Rohini's method a try and got into a bad fight with hubby & mom. I am waiting to hear your success story and then get my hubby a paid vacation to somewhere, my mom to her mom's place and then try. Will come back to check :)
Well, my answer would be that I modified the method to suit the existing pattern (rather than impose a whole new pattern altogether). I explained in the older post how I got him to sleep by pinning his arms and legs down. I have noticed that this calms him down, and when he is calm he sleeps sooner, since he is, after all, tired and sleepy. Ferber talked about the associations that one forms with sleep, and I figured part of my present problem is that WB still needs too many things to help him sleep. The holding and the patting and the singing are all right for the occasional bedtime, but not every single time. So I am trying to ease him out of these.

He takes two naps during the day. For now I let him play either in his cot or in the pram till he falls asleep. He sometimes cries for attention before he sleeps, but picking him up only makes a tired little boy try harder to drive away sleep, and I fail to see how that is good for him. So I let him cry a little and usually, if his tummy is full, he does fall asleep. If he doesn't I pick him up. Maybe feed him or pat him, but I try to avoid these as much as possible.

This is making it easier for him to learn to fall asleep at night. I no longer hold him or pat him in my arms. I put him in his cot. If he thrashes a lot I pin him down, but usually, once he is calm, I let him go and sit in the chair next to him and look away. Eventually, he falls asleep. I have cut down on the physical contact and am aiming for not having to sit next to him for long either. This is not quite Ferber, but I have to use my own intuition as to when he will sleep sooner if I go away and when my departure will be the signal for him to start howling. So I basically evolved my own method, and Ferber helped me justify it.

Now Sunita's daughter is a year old, and I think she will need slightly different methods. You know, Sunita, if your husband and mother don't agree, you can't follow Ferber exactly, so I suggest you modify as I do. For one thing, you can start insisting Joyce go to bed at exactly the same time every night, come rain or shine. After a week of this she will start feeling sleepy at that exact time.

Does she sleep with you or in her own bed/room? My suggestion would be that when its time for bed, you change her, tuck her in bed, darken the room (nightlights are always acceptable though) and keep the door almost closed. The quiet and dark are necessary. Insist that the family be quiet, that the tv volume be lowered. This is only a temporary phase until she has learnt to fall asleep on her own.

If she cries at being left alone, stay in the room but a little apart. Avoid eye contact, but it's ok if it helps her to hold your hand. See if she sleeps to music. Classical is usually good (although it didn't work so well for my son). These compromises should make it easier for your husband and mother to accept the firmness.

In turn, you have to accept, as I do, certain restrictions on yourself. One is that you have to stay in that darkened room doing nothing until she does fall asleep. Also, if Joyce sleeps in your bed then you will have accept that your bedroom is out of bounds from her bedtime, i.e. anything you need to do there you have to do before she goes to bed, because afterwards the room will be dark.

It will probably have to be you who insists upon the bedtime. Incidentally, Ferber stresses on pre-bedtime rituals. An aunt of mine suggested one that might work for a little girl. Half an hour before her own bedtime, teach her to put her dolls to sleep. 'Change' and 'tuck' them in. Let her explain to them how important sleep is, to be fresh the next morning. I am not saying this will work, but it's worth a shot.

My own difficulties are less now with getting The Bhaeblet to sleep than with helping him go back to sleep should he wake up for some reason. When he wakes up in the middle of the night I still try not to pick him up, but at these times I bend over him in his cot and keep my face near his. It usually soothes him. Even here, Ferber was of help in explaining sleep terrors. WB often cries out in the pre-dawn hours. He is not quite awake but keeps crying and often, it takes a while to soothe him. But it was only after reading Ferber that I understood that the problem was not a nightmare but one where the transition from a deeper to lighter sleep (or vice versa, I think) was not made smoothly. Knowing that makes it easier for a sleepy, impatient me to wait by his bedside, holding him and talking to him until he quietens down.

I hope that helps. Rohini, if it's ok I'll keep the book for a couple more weeks and then send it back. Do let me know if you need it earlier.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shorties

I know, I know, it's time and more that I posted. But what to do, V has been hogging the Mac all these last few weeks, despite tearful protests and so on, and you can't really blog when you're watching the clock all the time.

So, a quick update:
1. We were in Gurgaon last week. V went on work for six days and The Bhaeblet and I followed, to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't get up to anything he oughtn't. Besides, several relatives in G'gaon were clamouring for a visit. (From WB, not me, of course.)

2. I've lost weight. Now I'm about 57 kgs, which is not too bad, considering I never thought I'd make it back over the 60s. I still don't fit into my size 28 jeans though. Somehow, I don't think I ever will again. On the other hand I have respectable cleavage now. So, yeah, it's a mixed blessing.

3. The Bhaeblet is starting to develop a fixed sleeping pattern. Or maybe I'm finally learning to follow his Circadian cycle. (Yeah, Rohini sent me the Ferber book!)

4. My wrist pain has now moved to the right side too. Which is actually why I don't much like to type these days.

5. We're in the kalboishakhi (nor'wester) season here in Cal. Which means lovely stormy evenings. Yippee.

6. Ok, one last thing. I don't know how many of you are Greatbong fans, or read Megha, but you cannot miss this interview!