Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lessons be damned.

A few days ago DD and I were playing with Squiggles before her bed time. We were all playing with the ball together. Sometimes, she picks up things and hits people with them excitedly. When she does that normally I will say to her lightly, 'Be Gentle'. And she will usually calm down after I repeat it a couple of times.

That day, accidentally she hit me on my forehead with the ball, very close to my eye. To test her reaction and to teach her that her hitting could hurt other people, I scrunched up my face and pretended to cry. I told her she had hurt me. She stared at me for a couple of seconds and then suddenly her tiny little face changed and she had fat little tears in her eyes. She was crying earnestly. Obviously, I wasn't expecting that reaction! I felt so evil for making her cry like that. I told her that since she was sorry, it was ok and that she didn't need to cry. But she wouldn't stop! A lot of hugs and kisses later, she calmed down. But I continued to feel like a heel. She's only 15 months old. Lessons be damned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Whining in full glory

It seems to have coincided with Squiggles' ability to finally acknowledge me as her Mother verbally. For what seemed like eons, she kept calling me Papa. She refused to say 'Mama' except in very dire circumstances. In fact, until about 2 weeks ago, she'd probably said 'Mama' not more than 5 times. This from a child who has been chattering since she was quite little and said 'Papa' when she was 10 months old.

But now that she's figured out my importance, the word 'Mama' is used incessantly whenever I am around and not very pleasantly, I might add. It's all in this little whining tone. 'Maaaama, Maa..ah huh..aama, Maaa......hhhhhh.....ma......ha......'. You get the picture. And she keeps following me around, hugging my leg as if it's a lifeline, rubbing her face against my leg.

So, I wait almost 15 months to be addressed as 'Mama' only to find it's being over-used and in not very exciting ways either. While 'Papa' is still being used for DD and with great curiosity (Papa?, Where's Papa?, Paaaaaaaaaaaaaapa). Lucky bugger.

It's a mystery

For some reason whenever we take Squiggles in a taxi (which I'll admit isn't very often since we have our own car), she starts crying and won't stop until we get out, when she will tearfully wave goodbye to the cab driver. The same thing happened when my mom took her in an estate agent's car yesterday when they went house hunting. She wailed the entire time she was in the car and stopped only when they reached their destination.

Now, she likes going in the car i.e. our car. And she is also very comfortable in my parents' car. And when she spots other cars on the road, she excitedly keeps repeating 'Caaaar, Caaar'. So, its left me baffled as to why she has this peculiar reaction to other people's cars. And she's always been with one of us in our laps, when she's been in someone else's car. Maybe it's the strangeness. On the other hand, she loves going by bus. She doesn't have the same anxiety attack when we take her in the bus, which is more crowded and bigger.

Anyone else faced something like this before? I'm trying to puzzle this one out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Squiggles can talk.....

ALOT! Ever since S has discovered the power of the spoken word, she has been practicing religiously. She's now progressed to linking 3 words together and is quite often found muttering to herself.

She can point out things and say 'This is shoe'. Substitute shoe for any other word in her ever expanding vocabulary. She has been pointing out the nose for a while, but can now say 'Nose' (This is nose) as well. Alongwith 'eyes'. We're now working on the 'ears' and 'lips'.

She also said 'Good Morning' yesterday. And the really cute thing that she has picked up is that if you give her something, she will spontaneously respond with a 'Than U', said ever so shyly with a sweet smile.

Her other favourite phrase (if you can call it that) is 'No touch'. She goes around the house looking at things and admonishing someone 'No touch'. Sometimes she will touch something which is supposed to be 'No touch' and then shake her head and say 'Oooo' followed by 'No touch'.

Her intelligence is also increasingly rapidly. She will take things back to the original place, if you ask her to. She knows when it is time to go out and will excitedly point out everyone's shoes to them, in case they'd forgotten they need to wear it before heading out. She initiates peek-a-boo herself and then laughs loudly when you 'spot' her. She will point out my dad's briefcase to him before he leaves for work.

Something funny happened the other day. S was playing peek-a-boo and suddenly I noticed that she had this weird hiccupy kind of laugh. Laughing, I pointed out to my maid how weirdly S laughs. She laughingly shook her head and told me that I laughed exactly like that. I laughed back disbelievingly until I heard myself laugh and realised she was absolutely right. So, it's official folks, I have a terrible laugh! Sigh, it was better to be disillusioned :)).

You know the other thing I realised about myself recently and I know this is going to sound really weird but it's true. I went to get a hair cut a couple of months back and I was lamenting about how unruly my hair was and how everyone in the office was perfectly groomed with beautifully coiffed hair. The hairdresser said to me that it was because I had curly hair. I was taken aback. I remembered another conversation with another hair dresser a few months earlier who had said the same thing. All along, for more than 29 years I have gone along thinking I had straight hair! The question begs to be asked, what do I see when I look at the mirror? I guess I always assumed curly meant like really curly. I always thought my hair was 'wavy'. I guess there is no 'wavy', it's all curvy!! Self-deception, that is my middle name.

But coming back to Squiggles, she is also more and more spontaneous with her affection. Not just towards us, but even towards her stuffed toys or 'Toto' as she lovingly calls them. She will also point out to the flowers on the bedsheet and bestow a smacking kiss as if it is the real thing.

She has suddenly developed a need for attention and praise. Yesterday, I plonked her down at the piano and she normally will hit random keys for a couple of minutes before she gets bored of it. But yesterday, she would hit a couple of notes and then start clapping and turn around and look at us for appreciation. And she kept doing this. She wouldn't play for more than 1 second and there she was clapping again.

She has also started fake crying in earnest. If she falls down, she will start whimpering and if she doesn't get much response, then she will carry on as before. Or if she wants to be carried, she will whine for a bit. She also knows who are the suckers in the house :). The vulnerable lot get to hear more of the whining and demands!

Oh, and she now admires herself in the mirror. Often you can spot her walking towards the mirror, staring at her reflection, smiling, saying something and then turning back to whatever she was doing.

She's growing up too fast.................

Monday, September 1, 2008

And.... it was alright!

For a change I was travelling light. But I had baggage of a different kind. Half a suitcase, a light handbag but loads of guilt and worries. I know you all know that those fears and worries were unfounded and you can smile and shake your head because you knew all along that it would be fine. But in my defence, I didn't know that!
We left for Tokyo on Wednesday night. We went to my mom's place straight after work, with the intention of putting S to bed and then rushing home to change and pick up our stuff before heading to the airport. And for some reason, maybe sensing the activity around her, Squiggles refused to go to sleep at her regular bed time. I kept trying to put her to bed but it wasn't working. She must have been uncomfortable with what she had eaten because she let out the contents of her tummy all over me! An impromptu shower later, we left even though she was awake. Her cries followed us all the way home. DD kept saying that it was a bad idea for us to leave her when she was so little and how we should have thought more about it. He is the over-protective one of the two of us. I kept remembering how The Mad Momma had left the Brat and the Bean with her parents a couple of times and that gave me comfort. If the Bean could survive, then Squiggles would be fine too. In fact I remember MM writing that the kids didn't want to come back home! With that reassuring thought in my mind, we left.

We were excited about the flight because we were flying in the A380 for the first time. Rather, DD was really excited. And I'm glad for his sake that it did live up to his expectations. Otherwise, I would have never heard the end of it.
The first thing that we did when we landed in Tokyo was to call home to check on S. Since we were an hour ahead of Singapore, she was still asleep. Mom told me that she had gone to bed shortly after we'd left and had slept soundly through the night. Nothing to worry about yet.
Narita airport is miles from Tokyo and the best option is to take the bus which drops you at your hotel. There is no direct train to the city and the cabs are ridiculously expensive ($150+). So, we bought our bus ticket but had to wait an hour for the next bus service. By the time we got to the hotel it was nearly 11am. We checked in only to find we had been given twin beds! Sometimes you have to fight for romance :).
Since we only had one day in Tokyo, we quickly headed out to explore. DD has been several times but this was my first visit to Japan. We spent the morning exploring Ginza which is the main shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo. It was burning hot though and it just seemed a good idea to get lunch. DD picked up a sandwich in a local shop while I had lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant where I had a bento set lunch. Then we went to the food section of a local department store and ended up buying loads of cookie boxes. The Japanese really know how to bake and their packaging is amazing. Every little cookie or biscuit is individually wrapped to maintain freshness. The cookie tins are so pretty too. After spending a ridiculous amount of money on what are only cookies after all, we headed to Tokyo central station to exchange our rail pass voucher for the pass and to make reservations for our onward journeys.

The Japanese are really friendly. Somehow, I had expected them to be rude and impolite (i.e. racist) but they were not. In fact, wherever we went, they were warm and friendly even though language was a barrier. After sorting out our tickets, we headed to Ueno which is in the north of Tokyo. Saw a temple and explored the local food market. And headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. Set out again in the evening for dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant called Gonpachi, which is actually quite famous because Kill Bill 2 was shot there. Followed that with a short visit to a bar and then walked back through Roppongi to our hotel even though the heels were killing me because DD kept saying that the hotel was 'just after the building'. Right.

The next morning we left early to go to Kiso Fukushima where my aunt and uncle have a lovely holiday home. They happened to be on holiday and we'd arranged to spend a day with them. Kiso is in the Japanese Alps and it's simply beautiful. While Tokyo is an urban nightmare, Kiso is all that you imagine traditional Japan to be.
Traditional Sake Shop
We spent the afternoon exploring a local post town, bought local lacquerware, had lunch in a local noodle place which was absolutely yum.
Cold Soba (Noodles)
After exhausting ourselves, we reached their house in the evening. Spent a lovely evening, chit chatting, drinking draught sake and having a great teppanyaki meal. Woke up late the next day and lazed around.
View from the house
Took a spin in my Uncle's Ferrari (yes, it was red!) and then got dropped off at the station for our train to Kyoto.

Kyoto is simply beautiful. Somebody described it as an elegant city and it truly is. It used to be the Japanese capital before Tokyo for over a 1000 years. All the history centres around this beautiful town. After checking in, we decided to explore Kyoto on foot.
A couple of local women in Kimonos
We walked from our hotel all the way to Gion (the Geisha district).
It has this old wordly charm, old wooden structures. You could sense and breathe the history there. We even spotted a Geisha / Maiko but DD was slow to take a pic, so unfortunately we don't have any pictures. The next day we took a day sightseeing trip around Kyoto. Here are some of the pictures of the day.
The Golden Pavilion
Entrance to a castle
Shinto Shrine in Kyoto
No trip can be complete without shopping. Despite promising myself not to go crazy, I did buy loads. Bought a cute little kimono for S (Dottie - See, I listened to you) and myself (even though no one asked me to). Bought loads of Japanese pottery, a couple of vases, beautiful lacquer jewellery box and a lovely tray. Basically, have given a good fillip to the Japanese economy!
In case you were wondering, S was perfectly fine without us. No crying, nothing. Maybe she missed me a little but it was definitely not evident in her behaviour in my absence, according to Mom. When she saw me after a gap of 5 days, she was happy but no super excitement. Though she didn't leave me that evening. Always returning to make sure I was around.

Now you will ask, how did I fare. Actually I surprised myself. Except for the first day when I kept worrying, I was absolutely fine. When I saw other kids, I would wish she was there and my heart would squeeze that much. But I didn't spend the whole weekend wishing I was back home :). If we'd taken her, we would have seen more of the toilets and restaurants and less of the places. Plus, it was good to spend some time alone with DD after such a long time, if only to remember that we are better off as a family. LOL.
Thanks Sue, for nudging me out of my lazy state to post about the trip.