Tag Archives: Parenting

The Genetics of Hospitality

Can one inherit a sense of hospitality? Is it stealthily intertwined in our DNA helix?

Our home is always open to Arvind’s friends. Kids from his kindergarten come visiting and lately, older kids from the neighbourhood – real school kids – as Arvind would inform you – have started to drop by.

They drop by and they stay. Then they stay some more and pretty soon they have eaten all the mac and cheese our kitchen cupboards were selfishly hoarding. Because our kitchen cupboards are real bitches about sharing their mac and cheese and they must learn their lesson.

They have the usual gigs – videogames, Wii, music and lego. Playing pirates was in for a while till they got kicked out for having used my panty hose to pirate with. Harmless cross-dressing – I would understand. Pirates? Gah! A couple of days ago, we found them in Arvind’s bedroom poring over a tampon. My tampon. Yes, you heard me. We then proceeded to have an entirely generic tampon-discovery conversation.

Kids: Where does it go?

Me: In umm.. lady places.

Kids: Where’s that?

Me: Somwhere off the coast of Argentina. Where’s that map? Aaah.. there! Look, there’s Africa! Lots of lions there.

(Blessed reprieve in the form of short-term-whippersnapper-memory.)

Now brace yourselves for the really strange part. Yes, the strange part without the tampon. The Viking and I love it. Having our home upended by totally random, energetic children. Making dinner for four and suddenly having six or seven of us at the table. Charming dinner-time limericks that are almost always about farts and excrement in their many-splendoured variations. Occasionally, in a startling departure from protocol, we are treated to limericks about spew. Its a blessing, truly a blessing. The spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down and all that.

In the midst of all this gross! and eewww!  our home feels just that little bit more like a home with kids.

Both of us have grown up in families with an open home policy. Not to mention a ” have-food-will-feed” policy. Neither of us can remember a time in our youth when we didn’t have friends – or friends of friends – hanging around our homes. Hanging around watching TV or waiting for the next meal. During our college years, it wasn’t even unusual that they dropped by to do laundry. Some of them hung around so much that our families just sort of adopted them after a while. It was simpler that way.

Our mothers, we reminisce, were particularly popular. Probably because both mothers like having people around and have this wonderful, inherent sense of generosity. It also helped that they weren’t afflicted by the most common Mommy sickness – uptight-itis. I can never recall anyone being sent away without being fed, even though I have seen my mother turn a whiter shade of pale seeing how much biriyani my brother’s friends could knock back. However cramped our living quarters were, (incredibly cramped for some years) family members and friends were always welcome to come and stay, whether it was for a few days or weeks. Mattresses, pillows and crisp, clean sheets appeared as if by magic to accomodate them.

It’s crystal clear to us that this is how it has to be. Gregariousness is in this family’s blood. As early as a wednesday, we start planning who will come for dinner/playdates/coffee and chat during the weekend. Friends drop by unannounced, step over our mess politely and feel comfortable that we don’t fly into a panic picking up after us or apologizing for unwashed windows. (People actually do that. You’d think they had puked in your shoes or were guilty of a similiar injustice.)

Parenting brings us full circle. Now we are the ones looking on indulgently and loving the noise, the brouhaha, the masti. Handing out plates of pasta, refusing more Coke, raising our voices simply to be heard above the din of the TV and wishing for our sons the same kind of wonderful memories of a friend-infested home.

I love it when nature meets nurture.

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A Bedtime Story

Allow me to share what has come to be “our” favourite bedtime story. The four of us love to cuddle up and read this particular book together before bed. Even little Armaan, all of 17 months, lies spooned in against us, entranced by this precious and touching story. As for Arvind, hearing us read/sing it together just makes him shine. In his eyes, it is further affirmation of our feelings for him and really – can they hear these words enough? I know plenty of children’s books have been written about the parent-child bond, but for us, this just beats them all hands down. And we’re sappy enough to have gone through a fair few:-)

The book is written by Robert Munsch. Tragically, the refrain (which should be sung) was initially written for his two stillborn children. Yet – what a beautiful and poignant way to honour their short lives.

Robert Munsch is right up there on the list of people I would love to share a cuppa with. Yes, I would brew some special darjeeling for you, Robert.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as we do.

loveyouforever

A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother’s watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would say, “this kid is driving me CRAZY!” But at night time, when that two-year-old was quiet, she opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor, looked up over the side of his bed; and if he was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

The little boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was nine years old. And he never wanted to come in for dinner, he never wanted to take a bath, and when grandma visited he always said bad words. Sometimes his mother wanted to sell him to the zoo! But at night time, when he was asleep, the mother quietly opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep, she picked up that nine-year-old boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

The boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a teenager. He had strange friends and he wore strange clothes and he listened to strange music. Sometimes the mother felt like she was in a zoo! But at night time, when that teenager was asleep, the mother opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep she picked up that great big boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

That teenager grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a grown-up man. He left home and got a house across town. But sometimes on dark nights the mother got into her car and drove across town. If all the lights in her son’s house were out, she opened his bedroom window, crawled across the floor, and looked up over the side of his bed. If that great big man was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, “You’d better come see me because I’m very old and sick.” So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song. She sang: I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always… But she couldn’t finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my Mommy you’ll be.

When the son came home that night, he stood for a long time at the top of the stairs. Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and very slowly rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while he rocked her he sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be

Edited to add: If you want to hear Munsch narrating the story, check out his website.

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