Super-Sis

I have a 3 year old who is too eager to help out when it comes to the baby. I think I have to spend more energy cleaning up after her than the actual task at hand.

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She is always willing to lend a hand and fetch things even though there are few times I wish she didn’t .

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Hands down she is best big sister ( I think she knows it too! ) and she is the one behind the super- sis drawings that I have recently done.

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It is interesting to see the dynamic between the sisters. She loves to teach the baby new things and help her out but there are times when the little one is not as good in receiving instruction as much as the super-sis would like.

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Check out my Facebook page (soni raj
) And my Instagram page ( sonirajdesigns) for more of my drawings and doodles.

Phir milenge

Stop, and say cheese.

To parents and families; a quick question – how many pictures do you take in a month? I want to know because I want to know the severity of my own condition.

In the last seven months I clicked upwards  of 3000 pictures, using both cameras and phones, and that’s after deleting all the blurry and the bad pictures. This is double the amount of pictures from the time my eldest daughter was born. Two kids, twice the amount of pictures- the math fits. I guess I like taking multiple everyday shots of my children – eating, playing , laughing even sleeping and crying- many too cute to delete. You can guess my computer’s hard drives are bursting at the seams with pictures

When I was growing up, (in a lower middle class family and neighborhood in India) one camera film roll had 35 pictures which was to be used very wisely which meant only for special occasions like religious festivals, birthdays, picnics or outings etc…..and very few everyday shots. The Only people who moved around with cameras on them were either journalists or tourists. They were on the look out for moments and places to capture, not us common-folks. For the first two or three years of my life when my parents did not even own a camera, we have only one or two studio pictures to remember what our little family looked like. I am pretty much sure that many families in my neighborhood didn’t even have that. It was time consuming to take a picture- find a place to take a picture, gather the whole family, wait for the right expression. click and then a longer process to develop and wait for the prints and even then there was no telling what surprises lay in wait in the pictures. Copies of the good ones were made to be sent to my two grandmas and to family members who appeared in the said pictures. If you participated in school plays, you had your picture taken. If you got an award, a picture was taken. The more attention you could grab the more pictures you became a part of.

The point is some 25-30 years ago having a picture taken was very special. Equally special at that time was showing the pictures to family members, guests and visitors. May be it was because it was so rare to have a picture taken,and especially because it was so rare. Photographs were taken both as keepsakes and as mementos. To me taking a picture and printing it still feels special. It’s not hard to imagine then, how having a camera on your phone that you carry with you all the time, could escalate the picture-craze (that I have now) and how social media could become a showcase of family pictures.

That begets the second question, who do you share your pictures with? and how?

Social media was great platform for this once but now with the privacy concerns increasing, less and less pictures are shared and because of the inherent filters in some of these sites even less are viewed. Of course  I know no one has time to sift through the dozens of pictures I share and then I come across some blog post about how irritating food/wedding/baby/family cluttering the news-feed are and it makes me cringe. I am guilty of over-sharing. May be even Over-clicking.

Modern devices have made it really easy to take pictures. It does not take much time to take anymore to click and share lots of pictures but that interaction that comes from sharing is definitely lacking. I remember my aunt would complain if my grandma got a picture in the mail but she didn’t. Picture sharing was relational, relatable , it was about family and friends and how well you knew of and about each other.  To that end I feel while sometime pictures are shared on facebook for family in faraway places to see; most of the time they are not addressed to anyone in particular. Nobody is closer or farther, nobody is offended, nobody cares- social media is the great equalizer.

While most of the memories I have of my childhood are from experience, the pictures do their part in reinforcing them. I have a faint memory of walking and talking with my grandpa who passed away when I was five, even though I don’t really remember the exact moment that is captured on film. There are pictures although, especially ones taken when I was a little older,  that I remember about- when and where they were taken who was wielding the camera etc.

I have realized over the years I take pictures primarily for the audience of one – that is Me. Myself. Moi.

I take pictures and I browse through them regularly. Every anniversary or birthday. Now after two kids, there are some pictures which have seen the light of day, out of the hard disk and onto paper and in their scrapbooks. My hope though is that my children will be my future audience. That they will remember the there was an effort that went in -in taking pictures and in looking through them and when the time comes , most likely when my girls are teenagers, the time when they would want to know who they are, where they came from and what they were like ; these pictures will help them to do that and for that reason, I think it is okay to pause and say cheese – one more time!

Phir Milenge!

Champion of 100 ways to ask the question ‘why?’

Last week,  A.Cooper  spoke to a small group of young mothers at our church and in her list of things that moms do was the phrase, ” Champion of 100 ways to answer the question ‘why?’.” I so wish I was that but I have a champion of the other kind in our house – the one who asks the question why.

From a routine good morning to trip to the aquarium can be turned into a series of questions. Here is a sample:

good morning!

-why the morning is good?

because you are with me and I am happy!

-why am I with you?

because you were born to me

-why was I born ?

Now that’s an existential question too hard to answer!

Look a shark ! swimming there.

why the shark is swimming?

because the sharks need to move in the water.

Why? they can’t sit still? their momma will not tell them to sit down?

Of course she is referring to me telling her to stop running around and sit still.

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Before I became a Mom, I thought I would honestly and truthfully answer the questions my pre-schooler posed to me. That I would never give them silly answers or fabricate excuses to avoid their questions. I had had some degree of success with my little nephews and nieces but there were other things at play. I now suspect they quit asking questions out of sheer boredom of my tedious answers or that they got distracted into other games and not because of my answering prowess. I was naive then. Apart from distraction, there is nothing that would satiate the curiosity of a little adult. Every bit of a simplified response can lead to five more questions and kids can be tireless.

I have a love-hate relationship with my daughter’s questions. I love that her mind is curious and she looks to me for answers but sometimes, my answers have to act like conversation-enders which are clues for the kid to stop asking. Here are my top five question-killers and attention deflectors:

5.  I have to find the answer in a book- I use this  when the question is related to any image I can find in a book however remotely related. I have an illustrated dictionary which I often pick up with the thought of finding an illustration about something related to the question. May be the size of the book and the small print will dissuade her from asking more questions. Answer to ‘Why do birds fly?’ can be found in the dictionary or in a story which had one bird illustration. I cross my fingers and hope there would something in there which would capture her imagination and hopefully won’t have questions about. Though I must admit here that I have had lot of fun actually searching for answers with her. looking for best illustrations and explaining them to her.

4. I’ll tell you later- This only works when I am in the middle of some task like cleaning or cooking, not when I am doing other tasks like folding the laundry or doing dishes. My daughter has randomly decided  that some tasks are more important than others. It is a short term fix though because often my daughter remembers her question when I am done with the task at hand.

3. that’s the way things are- this reply works best when questions relate to the natural world or how things were made and I can elude to a factory, a designer and even God for how things came about and function. This has given me some good opportunity to talk about faith, design and intentionality.

2. I don’t know-  This is often coupled with ” you can ask dad when he comes home”. I think this is a last resort of sorts but this has the biggest risk of backfiring. If repeated often the kids would no longer come to you with their questions. I can already imagine my daughter turning this on me in her teenage years. ” you don’t know anything mom!”

1.You’ll understand when you grow bigger.- This was my mother’s go to for difficult questions. She would usually say that even if she answered my question , I would not be able to understand it because it was too big for my brain. She would later also tell me some of the other things I would be able to do when i am bigger like lifting up a bucketful of water or finish a big mango all by myself. This is the best attention deflector for me where I can ask her to tell me what she wants to do when she grows bigger.

There some other responses that I have tried as well. Honest to goodness answers work the best and seeing those tiny lightbulbs going on in our child’s understudying is a feeling unparalleled.

Phir MIlenge!!