Parents know best.

I spent my life rebelling against what my parents wanted me to do/become/learn fill-in-the-blank.

Some of my earliest memories are of not wanting to go to the temple, getting angry at being forced to get up early in the morning to pray, or not being able to eat until the prayers were over (which, during holy days, could be well into the afternoon.)

Another memory of a rebellion (one I regret): not leaving my braces in when my parents were not in the room or overnight.  My teeth are crooked and it is all my fault.  They tried, dear god they tried.  But if you are as stubborn as I am, you know how it goes…

One of the things my father insisted on was that I get a good education in a field that would be immediately marketable.  So he pointed me towards business and wanted me to get my CPA.  I, of course, wanted to study Art or English.  Fine lines of study, but hardly marketable, even back in the early nineties (well, looking back at the news then, I guess they were even less marketable than I thought!).  I wasn’t able to pursue those degrees because my father held the purse strings.  He kept telling me that he wanted me to be able to stand on my own feet, and not have to depend on anyone to take care of me.  I would scoff internally (well, mostly, because I also have memories of some pretty god-awful fights…) and dream of the bollywood/hollywood hero that would show up in my life and take care of me forever.

I wasn’t the greatest student in college; in fact, I was pretty mediocre.  The only classes I got As in were English and Art.  But I was able to graduate in four years, just barely.  And I got a job, working for a friend’s father who was able to put up with my lack of skills and patiently show me the ropes.  I am ever grateful to that family.

And I got married, not to a bollywood/hollywood hero, but to a man who seemed at the time, to be a dependable, stable man who loved me totally, and who seemingly convinced my parents that he would take care of me and love me forever.  My parents had a lot of doubt, but I think they ended up agreeing just so they could continue to be in my life.

Fifteen years later, I can see the validity of all their points.

My husband was not able to keep a job for very long and has a resume several pages long.  It is always someone else’s fault, or the economy, or whatever.  I stopped believing years ago, that he was someone I could depend on to take care of me and my children.  Of course, I didn’t get to that stage quickly, as I fought that knowledge, first with anger towards all his bosses, and then with resentment towards him, then with pride that I could succeed when he couldn’t.  Now I only feel pity.

My career in accounting has always been dependable.  Luckily, I have always been able to get a job, and (except for once) be able to choose when I want to leave and move on.  I have a great work ethic and had great bosses (and not so great ones) who have shown me how to lead.

I also fought that ever-growing knowledge that my parents knew what they were talking about.  But with the passing of years, there came acceptance, again, first with anger, then resentment, and now sadness.  Sadness for the years that I wasted, fighting to prove my point, that I knew best, and then finally, that I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know best, that I wasn’t a good judge of character…

And now that I am a mother, I can see how hard it is to let your children make their mistakes, knowing full well what they should be doing, but also knowing that they won’t listen to you if you are insistent.

It is a fine line.

Parents do know best.  But that’s the heartache, isn’t it?  There’s very little chance that your child will take your advice.  And you have to stand back and watch them struggle and struggle and struggle to reach that understanding for themselves.  And that is a punishment all in itself.  For the child and for the parent.

You don’t want history to repeat itself.  But how do you prevent it?

It seems to be the human burden.


The future

Nik asked me how old I would be when he and Anjali went to college.  I told him that I would be in my fifties.

He looked up at me and said softly, “The future is telling me that you will die when you are 64.”

I felt a chill go through me and asked carefully, “How does the future tell you things?”
Nik: “Let’s not talk about it.  It’s too sad.”

And then he gave me a long hug, patted me on the back for several minutes, and then walked away.

Young author.

Nik started writing a book today, called Nikhil’s Diary.

“Because I want to make money so we can buy a computer. How much should I make it? Cheap because I don’t think anyone will buy it.”

Halfway through the first page, he changed the title to Jake’s Diary. “Because authors don’t use their real names in the title, mom!”

Then a little later, he said, “I am writing mostly about my life.  But putting a different name.”
He painstakingly wrote out two pages, with a couple of drawings related to the story.  He only stopped because I made him go to bed (after letting him stay up almost two hours past his bedtime, because he was so into writing.)

He is so earnest, I could just cry.

Young fashionista.

Anjali, looking thoughtfully at me as I got ready this morning: “You know mom, everyone looks good in black.”
Me: “You know, I think you may be right…”
Anjali: “Yeah, I think black and white are fancy colors. So if people want to look nice, they should dress in black and white.”

She then points at the Sephora bag on the counter.  “See, even the commercials people pick black and white to sell you stuff.”

I don’t think I could put two coherent thoughts together at age five.  And she is pondering high fashion and marketing.

Bombay Omelettes

Every self-respecting hotel in Bombay has this omelette recipe on the menu…I looked forward to this on vacations, and luckily, my kids love it too.

Bombay Omelettes

6 large eggs
dash of milk
1 small red onion, chopped (1/4 american-style red onion, since they are huge!)
1 firm tomato, chopped
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1 green chili, finely chopped (remove the seeds and membrane if you are heat-phobic)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 T canola oil
2-3 T butter

Heat butter and oil in large skillet.
Whisk eggs and milk in large bowl.  Add salt and pepper, continue to whisk.
Add rest of ingredients and mix well.
When the butter sizzles in the skillet, pour in the egg mixture.
Stir the eggs around, lifting the sides to let more of the liquid come in contact with the oil/butter.
When the eggs don’t run anymore, leave it alone until the edges lift easily and are lightly browned.
Flip omelette over and cook until done.  Remove from heat.
Cut into pie-shape slices and serve with buttered toast.

Living together.

Nik: can two boys live together?
Me: sure.
Anjali: what about two girls?
Me: sure.
Anjali: coz me and Haley? We don’t want to get married, but we want to live together and have two chihuahuas. Mine will be called Sparkles and hers will be called Diamond.
Nik: I want to live with Ollie. And I want a chihuahua as well. And his name will be Crusher.

I’m not ready.

So somehow, I found myself explaining to Anjali the change that happens to girls when puberty hits. Good lord. Thankfully, it was a brief explanation. But here is the thread of conversation that led up to it:
Me: “I won’t take the popovers out until the top is a big poof.”
Anjali: “Did you say PINK POOP?!!!”
Me: “No!”
Anjali: “Because can that happen? Pink poop?”
Me: “Not unless all you ever ate was pink cotton candy and pink everything, I guess?”
Anjali: “Well, I saw pink pee one day in the toilet…”
Me: “WHAT? at home?”
Anjali: “No, at the bathrooms in the theatre…”
Me: “Okay, phew.”
And then the conversation progressed down the path I was not ready to take, when my daughter is 5 years old.
But I did it, and it was okay.

Observation du jour.

Cause/causation observation du jour:
Looking out the window while driving somewhere today, Nik: “All I see in the sky is one big gray cloud forever.”
Me: “Yup, that would be the rainclouds…since it is raining…” (I’m observant like that!)
Nik: “Well, the earth needs the rain, because if there was no water, then the trees would die, and since the trees make oxygen, there would be no oxygen, and if there was no oxygen, then people and animals would die, and then the earth would just have no living things on it forever.”

Heaven and Hell.

Nik: “So mom? Is Hell below Heaven?”
Me: “Well, I guess so, yeah.”
Nik: “So what’s below Hell?”
Me: “Does anything need to be below Hell?”
Nik: “Well, I think SOMEthing is…”
Me: “What do you think is below Hell?”
Nik: “I think the Devil keeps his slave’s prison there. Below Hell.”
Me: “Sounds sad.”
Nik: “Yeah. How DOES the Devil get more slaves anyways?”
Me: “Everytime someone does something bad on earth, the Devil must be happy that soon there will be another slave joining him…”
Nik: “Huh.”