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!!

 

ROFL. Literally.

Rolling On the Floor laughing. Really. That’s what we did for almost an hour yesterday.

Not rolling on the floor because we were laughing rather laughing because we were rolling on the floor.

My daughter and I .

And the laughter just flowed.

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I don’t remember the last time I rolled on the floor. May be it was some two decades ago.

It just so happened that my 12 weeks old r dozed off in the evening and I had both the opportunity and the energy to play with R. We rolled on the floor together , tried (and failed) to do cart wheels and tried (and failed) to stand on our heads. Amidst the laughter she insisted, ” Mama! Do it again! Do it again !!”

Honestly if you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that I would never pass up a chance to play with my daughter, that I loved to read/paint/walk/talk with her and that I almost never rushed her. I could not imagine how things will change in a year.

In my instinctive desire to protect the new born and in the midst of the busyness of caring for her, I have been telling R that I could not play with her right now, that she had to wait, that we will do it later and even when we do start something together, we would be interrupted by the cries of a newborn seeking attention/feed/diaper-change. I have been expecting R to understand that suddenly she was a big girl. The truth really is that she is still a little girl- A little girl who has been excited about the arrival of her little sister, who is willing to participate in caring for her and who has a lot of love that she wants to shower on r but does not how.

On the other hand, while I had all the time in the world with the first one, the attention is divided for the little one too. I don’t get enough opportunities to snuggle and stare at this little wonder long enough. There always some chore waiting to be done.

When I sit with r I think of R and vice-versa….. the disposition of the heart is such as to never be completely satisfied. It may read as unfair but it isn’t.I am one of those moms who can take a happy moment and turn it into a guilt trip. Motherhood is hard anyways and honestly no one needs the added burden of guilt with it.

In our little unit of family we are doing life together. We give some and we get some. We are getting older together. R is learning to grow & be a big sister, my husband and I are learning to be parents of two and the little one is learning something new each day. We are learnign to love each other anew. Love is not divided but it is multiplying each day.

Till the time r is old enough to sit with us or participate, R and I will have to steal moments like this and make them our own.

And when we do that I will bring to mind this day of rolling on the floor…laughing…guilt free!

Phir Milenge!

 

Sharing my two cents

Today I posted this image on my Facebook page, the next in my series of Hindi alphabet illustrations for my daughter.

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I am way past the deadline that I had set for myself and still have a dozen or so left waiting to be drawn but I am not ready to call it quits just yet. For those who know me know that I give up easily. Fingers crossed hoping to cross the finish line on this one.

If only I had a penny for every blog post idea that I thought about , began but never completed nor posted, I would at least have 2 dimes. So I thought to myself – why not just share the ideas that popped but never lived to see the light of the day.
This weekend I even thought of taking the easy (easier) route to post pictures of food from our Friday night out. I usually eat the food before I can take a picture of it ( how my artist friends ever sketch and paint their food is incredible,) but this time I remembered and even instagrammed it.

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It was supposed to be a quick costco run and we left the kids at home with my mom. When my husband asked if I wanted to grab a bite, I said yes but I didn’t expect he had a sit down dinner and fancy sushi/shashimi on his mind. An advantage of being married is that no make up is required. I was not dressed fancy, did not need to think about things we could talk about, no heart pounding nervousness there…. We had fun and the conversation just flowed. Given that we take kids everywhere with us , this was a nice evening of just being two of us.

Since spring is really eluding us in our part of the world, I haven’t been able to get out and take pictures in and around the city. Since my 10 week old daughter has not yet settled into a rhythm or routine, I haven’t really tested how much time I can get to do these things when she naps.

Few days ago I also intended to write , rather rant, about a discussion I had with an old friend of mine. I mean we don’t always stand on the same side of the fence when it comes to opinions but this time what my friend said was literally opposed to my core beliefs. I wondered if I even knew her anymore and if it was as easy to un-friend someone in life as it is in Facebook, she would not have known what hit her. But then isn’t this tolerance is about …. the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

On the subject of tolerance, I am noticing a kind of bullying happening on blogs, social media and public forums. It is as if one is being forced to agree and even celebrate and participate in certain kinds of opinion ( without being specific) and if you choose to disagree with the popular ideologies you are labelled as haters. Even if you are only politely disagreeing.

And then there is a whole list of all-time favorite topics of mine- motherhood and my children but they are enough blogs gushing over their children anyways, so I saved you another one.

The political environment in my city and my country of birth(india) also provides a lot of food for thoght but sadly even that failed to get me moving. I could go on and on about things I thought of but never developed enough to write. Over thinking on a particular topic is often as bad as jumping from topic to topic without giving proper consideration to any. The crux of the matter is this- I think it is better to write a few things than to only think of lot of things. Even sharing my undeveloped ideas here helped.

What strategies do you employ to get out of writing blocks?

Phir Milenge!!

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Present.Continous.Tense

Last week, almost Six weeks post the birth of my second daughter, I was able to revisit my old art projects. I posted the next in my series of hindi alphabet illustrations as well as worked on the sketchbook exchange.

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Last week was also when I came across the following in a daily online magazine:

“The painter, Wayne Thiebaud, once said that “an artist has to train his responses more than other people do. He has to be as disciplined as a mathematician. Discipline is not a restriction but an aid to freedom.” Thiebaud insists that rather than being opposed to creativity, discipline provides the conduit through which creative engagement grows and develops freely.”

Oh ! I agree with the sentiment whole heartedly. I can tell you it was hard to get back to drawing after being passive for so long. It took longer to complete and I made more mistakes. I started this blog as another medium for self-expression – Started out as a mom-blog and then it converged with my drawing interests. Somewhere in between my writing lost it’s thrust and the blog went ignored for a very long period . Now, try as I may , I am yet to get back to my rhythm of posting regularly here. What my creative force still lacks is discipline. I have written about my struggle with disciplined creativity before but parenting two kids takes it to a whole new level.
Life with an infant is unpredictable. The daily routine I had going is not followed all the time. Depending on the baby, the schedule for my elder one changes. Sleeping, story time, reading and all other pursuits have to be constantly pushed around. Now-a-days my flair for story telling is limited to hashing out ever-new stories to get my three year old to eat her food or finish her chores (yes ! I have given her some chores . Yes . at HER age!but thats a topic for some other day) . With my mother around it has been easy. I have been able to find time to rest. I can’t imagine yet how hectic life will be when she goes back to India. The very thought makes me tense.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom

 

Even though , I am not actually creating a lot of work, I am certainly observing more and observing more intently. Creativity demands a presence of mind and a presence of Your self. My hope is that all the mental notes that I am taking for myself, I will be able to bring them to fore when I actually sit down to draw or create. I am trying to be present.

present to see

present to feel

present to process

Rather than getting disappointed at not finding enough time to do the thing, I am trying to keep the momentum going, the thoughts flowing and the process continuing.

continue to explore

continue to dream

continue to steal from time…a moment here and a moment there.

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Phir Milenge!!