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Dec 27, 2011

Mission Impossible: The Baby Protocol

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Two days, two movie buffs, one multiplex and one restless baby – Mission Accomplished: The new baby protocol established…


Dear Riddhie,
 
I am sure over a period of time you would have realized that I am a little more than an average cinema patron and movies do make up for a very large part of my entertainment. I guess I inherited this love for motion pictures from your grandfather and maybe some of it would rub on to you as well. I can’t tell for sure as of now, but let’s see if this is the case to be. For now, let me tell you about your initial few movies with the focus mainly on the experience yesterday and today.
 
Let me begin with some history here. Your mom and I had gone to watch Salman Khan starrer ‘Dabangg’ when she was carrying you (a little over 8 months then) and the next movie that we could watch in a theater after Dabangg was ‘Delhi Belly’ and that was when you were already over 7 months old. In fact we followed it back to back with Mr. Bachchan’s ‘Buddha hoga tera baap’, the same day. I wouldn’t say that this was the right cinema for you to open your movie watching innings but nonetheless that’s how you were initiated. 
 
The next few months were mostly spent travelling, adjusting to life in US and watching you grow from a gentle infant to a tornado toddler and it wasn’t until Christmas 2011 that we could plan another movie together. We zeroed on ‘Mission Impossible IV – The Ghost Protocol’ and made to the theater with you in our lap.
 
I guess the occasion was right and I perhaps could not have timed or planned it better. Since it was Christmas, most of the seats in the theater were empty which meant that you could have an entire row to yourself to walk, crawl and play around if you wanted to.

I must admit that you were intrigued by the large screen and the sound system and (to my surprise actually) sat on your mother’s lap looking intently at what was going on for first half hour. However, as the time progressed you wanted to get down and move about a bit and since we were the only ones sitting in an entire block of seats, we let you down. I got up and sat next to you on the flight of stairs in a corner and we perhaps spent the next 30 – 40 minutes like that.
 
Mission Impossible We could keep you busy with your little snacks and milk at random but I guess it was almost time when your patience ran out. Just about the moment when desert storm kicked in on Tom Cruise (watch the movie and you will know) you got absolutely restless and threw off your cookies and milk bottle as far as you could and began crying. The slow sniffle transformed into loud screams and eventually a Dolby level bawl. Within seconds, you made it clear to us that it isn’t the ghost protocol but the baby’s code of conduct which matters.

Thus, began our own little mission impossible. We rocked you, I let you throw my mobile a few times, your mom kept bribing you with some candy and nuts and I took you for a little walk along the stairs as well. But all this could just about last until the final action sequence and eventually your mom did make the sacrifice and picked you up and walked out of the theater to help you settle in. I joined her a few minutes later and as I key this in, I still do not know how the film ended. (Maybe I shall watch it with you again some time) Maybe we were asking too much from you. You are still about 14 months and 3 weeks old and this is perhaps as reasonable a 14 month old can be. 

However, we did not let the matter rest here. Having seen a fair success with you on MI IV (well we could together almost watch 80 – 90 % of the total length of the movie) we decided to push our luck again. The movie this time was the 3D version of Farhan Akhtar’s Don II. As I thought, there were limited people in the audience and the theater again was largely empty and we could find ourselves an entire row empty again. But then as it turned out, you probably liked Tom Cruise better than our Shah Rukh Khan and you were at your restless best within first 15 minutes itself. You wanted to snatch the 3D glasses and wanted to move about just everywhere.

This time around, however your mom decided to battle it out. I guess her confidence was augmented by the fact that it was all Indian population inside the theater and she kind of presumed that the Indian ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude was globally applicable. She took you to the farthest secluded corner and let you move about, as you pleased. You did not let her keep her glasses on for more than a minute at any given time and I am guessing she kind of watched the fuzzed 2D version of a 3D rendition. By the time it was intermission, your mom was nearing her breakpoint. I stepped in when you became almost too violent for her to handle.

Riddhie I guess I could grab your attention and settle you down for a little while but it wasn’t long before you wanted to be free again. Your mom tried bribing you with some fruit loops but then I guess little children can be greedy pigs once in a while. You stuffed a handful in your mouth and before we realized you were choking on a piece right in the theater. Your mom thumped you on the back and you were settled after puking all over me. While this entire thing lasted only a few seconds, I could smell the stink on my jacket even hours later. Funnily enough, you were all calm and ready to sleep just as about the movie was ending.

I am sure in years to come there would be instances when you would drag us to a movie that you would want to watch and then there perhaps would be a time when you would want to go and catch a movie and not want me or your mom to tag along. I generally would not want to dissuade you from cinema for everyone needs their share of imagination and a break from reality. I would however, want you to self-regulate what you watch for it does affect the way you think and dream.

So, maybe from the time that the moving silver screen starts making sense to you till the time that you are grown up enough to know what you should be watching, I promise to be your man to pick those movies for you. Hope we enjoy them together and carry on our little film club.
 
Love,
Dad.

Dec 25, 2011

The World Is My Playground

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“A child and screams in the house is not what you should worry about, the scary thing is when you have both silence and the child under one roof for the next thing you are most likely to hear is a loud crash”


Dear Riddhie,
 
In my last two posts, I have already talked about how in recent times you have been one restless child wanting to touch and hold everything that you can find within your reach. I shall not dwell upon how it keeps us on the our toes and the edge of our seats forever and would let these pictures do the talking.
 
The World is my playground
The moment we turn our backs, you devise a new prank. Ranging from scaling high chairs, table tops to pulling out electric plugs from their sockets and throwing away our phones. 
 
The worst part of this all is that every time that we try and raise our voice, either to distract you or send over a warning signal, you tend to throw back a full blown smile in return and we get stumped on what course of action to take next.

I know with time, this phase too shall go away and soon you will be intelligent enough not to drink from the  bath tub or eat from the carpet and would learn that apples do not bounce off the floor like your big red rubber ball does and that spoons and coffee tables have other purposes in life than make music.

Though, I do enjoy these moments and keep looking for my chance to click you in action, my greater concern is ensuring that you do not sustain any injury when performing your ‘stunts’. I just hope that in years to come while you continue enjoying this world as your playground, you also see it as your oyster and seek your pearls suitably and wisely.
 
Love,
Dad.

Dec 23, 2011

The Little One Who Wouldn’t Sit

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“Yeah, let’s be naughty and save Santa the trip”

- Gary Allan


Dear Riddhie,
 
The title on this post is self-explanatory and I am sure you would have figured out what this is going to be. However, this is more than a story of how you drove us to our wit’s end in a span of few minutes. It is the harrowing tale of an experience that we are unlikely to forget for a long long time and something that shall make us think ten times over before planning any excursion together for the rest of our stay in US on this trip.
 
It was one of those rare New Jersey mornings in December when we woke up to a sunny and beautiful morning with bright sunshine predicted for almost the entire day. I looked up for a preferable outdoor destination for the day and we zeroed on a place called grounds for sculpture at Hamilton. From the information that I came across about the place from its website, it looked like a very delightful place for the day and we hoped to get a few special shots of you (our favorite pastime) at the venue.
 
The place was about 45 miles from our dwellings and we started well in time. Your mom made the usual preparations and packed your diaper bag and supplies for the day. It was early in December but the wind chill factor could get the temperature down by further 5 degrees in the evening, so she made sure that you were properly covered and warm. We set out in time and 15 minutes into the drive, you fell asleep and did not wake up until we reached the venue and were all fresh. The place was essentially a huge landscaped outdoor lawn with sculptures and artworks strewn all over the place with a couple of covered galleries. The lawns were neatly maintained and there were pathways leading to the various statues and art pieces. All in all, it seemed a day conducive for some good family fun outdoors.
 
However, our woes started as soon as you were taken out of your car seat and your feet touched the ground. You winced and grimaced at the sight of your stroller being pulled out of the trunk and broke free from your mother’s hand and rushed to the other side away from the stroller. We were worried about your still unsteady feet carrying you all over the place on slippery grass lawns that had slopes and curves all along and equally concerned of you falling and hurting yourself on the hard cobbled pathway.

I guess you were partially excited and partially overwhelmed at the sight of such open space before you and just wanted to break free and run all over the place. While we thought we would spend the day strolling along gently covering as much as we could and taking pictures at every nook and corner and doing the tourist thing, you on the other hand, had other plans and clearly, the idea of a leisure walk did not go down too well with you. 
 
First, you did not wish to sit in the stroller at all and squirmed and straightened your legs and cried and threw a tantrum until we finally gave in to your wish. Your mother walked along slowly holding your hand while I kept pushing the empty pram, stopping now and then to click a picture or two. And then the inevitable happened. You slipped your hand out of your mother’s clasp and rushed on full steam on the stone tiled walkway, tripped over a jutting corner of a tile and fell flat on your face. I was walking a few steps ahead and turned around at your mother’s scream as you fell. By the time we picked you up, you were crying at the top of your voice.

RiddhieYou had sustained a minor bruise around your temple and thankfully it was nothing serious. Had you been any older and perhaps any more intelligent to understand speech, I would have boxed your ears and told you it serves you right and this is what happens when you do not listen to your folks. However, we were so caught up in the moment that for a seconds we did not know how to pacify you. You kept crying uncontrollably while your mom tried everything she could - ranging from giving you water, handing a cookie and the milk bottle, shaking you up, hugging you, washing your face and wiping your nose. 

It was only after a few minutes of coaxing and comforting that you finally settled in. I now wanted you back in your stroller to avoid any more falls but I guess you were still in no mood to concede. The moment I picked you up to get you in your seat, you threw your arms about, kicked me as hard you could and even got my glasses off my face and threw them to the ground. You were the epitome of being a spoilt brat and we were a perfect example of how miserable the parents of an unrelenting infant can be. By the time I managed to buckle you up a small crowd had gathered around us. Other visitors were throwing us glances and snickering and talking in hushed whispers. A few of the good Samaritans had the nerve to walk up to us and even exclaim, “Is she alright?” Our parenting skills were totally blown apart and publically disgraced for sure.

Your mother tried to sit aside on a bench to coax you – you straightened your legs and screamed even harder. She tried bribing you with a cookie – you flung it back at her face. She tried getting you to sip some water – you filled your mouth and then let it out all over your clothes. She pulled out one of your toys – you threw it as far as you could on the ground.
 
After much persuasion when we finally could get you to an agreeable state, you decided to take it back upon us. As long as we kept moving, you chose to remain silent but the moment we stopped to admire an artifact or to click a picture, you would start with your hollering.

Eventually we had to have you back on your feet and walking all over but now you did not even wish to hold our hands and wanted to be on your own. There were couple of peacocks roaming around free in the lawns and I tried to distract you and walked you over to them. But I guess by that time you were through with the place. You showed minimal interest in the peacocks and went about hating us for not giving you your freedom and kept crying.
 
The place was being decorated for the upcoming holiday season and we were hoping to stay until the lights came on. The trees and sculptures were covered in various lights and perhaps you would have liked it too but then we never stood a chance with you then. Eventually we drove back just as about the lights were coming up. Surprisingly, the moment you were back in your car seat and we were on our way back, you settled down nice and easy and were back to your normal self. For the records, you slept easy within five minutes and we sat in silence all our way back contemplating what just happened.
 
I guess it makes for a funny read now and maybe we shall tease you about being such a brat in years to come but trust me, it was one of the days that reminded us of the day you attended your first important wedding in the family (Read Here).

Perhaps there would be days that shall make us look back on this day with gratitude and this definitely would be a good story to tell you when you would be screaming at your kids some day. Who knows? Maybe until then I shall look back and take lesson from the day to reflect that you are your own person with your own free mind. I guess as parents, we shall try and be cognizant of this fact and will let you make your own decisions and take your own path. But at the same time we would also like you to see our reasons, for ensuring your seat belt and safety nets are secure in the same light. Though at times it would be unavoidable but as your parents we wouldn’t want you falling down and getting hurt – be it walking down your education or career path or just running around in the lawns as the case is now. Hope you would grow up to be mature enough to know the difference.
 
Love,
Dad.

Dec 22, 2011

The Midnight Surprise

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“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep…”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Dear Riddhie,
 
Over these last couple of weeks, you seem to have entered a new phase. You have become extremely inquisitive about things and articles around you and have become more of an explorer unwilling to settle down and sit quietly at one place.
 
Right from the minute when you wake up in the morning, you are on this little crusade within the house opening drawers and cupboards and fidgeting with anything and everything on the tables that you can get hold of. The moment we turn our eyes away, you bring down a cushion, throw away a bottle, pull down the blinds and grab the phones. You are no longer content playing with your toys and want a piece of everything within your reach. Even the trash cans and dishwasher are not spared and in recent times I have seen your mom rush to clean up after you so many times that she doesn’t seem like doing anything else all day long.
 
Needless to say that all this running around exhausts you too and you like being tucked in and put to bed early these days. It also works well with us as we can have our dinner sitting at the table without having to worry about you coming up and toppling things over and feeding the carpet. We have been trying to get you into a routine where you do your running about all day long and sleep by 7 in the evening on a daily basis.
 
Someday few nights ago, you got yourself so tired during the day that by the time I was home after work, you were already in deep slumber. Your mom informed me that it was about as early as 5:00 pm when you decided to throw in the towel and call it a day. By the time we settled in after our dinner and daily chores for the day it was almost 11 in the night.

About two hours later, I woke up to the sound of light banging on the door. I instinctively moved my hand over the bed to check on you and my heart skipped a beat. You were not on the bed. I sprang up and switched on the light and to my utter surprise found you standing by the door, all playful and smiling and wanting to be let out.
 
Not only had you crawled to the corner of the bed without a sound, you slid off the bed as well and found your way to the door in the dark and were tugging at the door knob to open the door. I called out to you and your eyes lit up with mischief. You wanted to run out and perhaps would have liked me chasing after you as well.

Riddhie I opened the bedroom door and let you out in the living area and sat there with you for some time. You continued tinkering around a few things that you could lay your hands on and to my relief soon got bored of it. Seizing a window of opportunity there, I quickly got ready one of your milk bottles and picked you up and tucked you back in. Your mom woke up in due course and wondered at what devilry the father – daughter duo was up to in the middle of the night and couldn’t help smiling when I told her about your latest feat.

Maybe in a few years from now, you shall want to sneak out of your bed to another mischief and maybe you would actually not want me to be a part of it then. I don’t know if I will be able to catch and ground you then or if you will outsmart your old man. But I guess till that happens, I shall enjoy these little midnight surprises with you. Maybe one of these days when you are a little older we would want to sneak out together and make way to the refrigerator to steal some ice cream in the middle of the night or to just hang about in the living room blasting each other on a gaming console…..hmmm looking forward to it I guess.
 
Love,
Dad.

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