Monday, December 26, 2005

New Year's Revolution - 2005

Everyone has their Year in Review so here is mine:

Big Events
- Summer visit from my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law. Lots of fun, laughter and tears, unfortunately.
- Annika switching preschools and learning to make "new best friends"
- Annika's first ballet recital on June 6, 2005
- My sister moving to Florida to join her new husband in Jan.
- Using "the girls' dance practice" as an excuse to hang out with our new local friends every Friday
- Celebrations at new temple and developing a sense of community for the first time.
- Thanksgiving in Florida
- Christmas in New Jersey
- Basement Remodelling 10/2005 - ???

Vacations
- Florida: Boca Raton, Miami & Ft Lauderdale with my sister and brother-in-law
- Boston: visiting and reuniting with old family friends
- Atlantic City: Just chilling

Births
- Ira K.
- Shukan J.
- Zubair H.
- Siddharth P.
- Saira O.
- Andrew E.

Deaths
- Peter Jennings: my first crush - charm, intelligence, an accent (what more could a 12 yr old want)
- Amrish Puri : notable and respected Indian actor
- Ishmail Merchant : where would Helena Bonham Carter be without this man? Truly brilliant and insightful filmmaker.
- Prince Rainier of Monaco : The prince who married a Philly girl.

Creative Acheivements
My blog!!
Connecting with old friends and making new ones! Thanks for checking my site out. I really appreciate it. (I find it incredibly fascinating to find out who is not reading my site, rather than who is.)

Auld Lang Whine
Every new year's eve, I always get a little misty. Not for the year that's gone by, but for what lies ahead. We all come together to start the year on a good note (umm..a hangover is a good note?)

I always find it incredibly exciting to think of all the possibilities that lie ahead (hence the emotion).

Lessons Learned
This year has been very trying for my family, but I think we will all grow stronger, smarter and more aware in 2006. I think one lesson has been not to take relationships with friends and family for granted. There were a lot of emotions stirred. The cream rose to the top, and others showed true colors and went under. All the better.

And, for the pessimists out there - when life hands you lemon, ask for the tequila and salt.



Happy Holidays




Wishing everyone a special holiday season - whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice this month.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

On the Job Training-Motherhood 9 - Santa, Inc.

Santa, Inc.

It's that time of year - Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

~My Story of Mall Santas~
I remember being 8 months pregnant at the mall during Christmas and looking at the families lined up to see Santa. I was touched -- Oh my God, next year at this time, I will have my own child to take to the mall at Christmas time. I felt warm and tingly with the Christmas spirit.

I walked around the mall and saw cranky kids in strollers, shoes flying, mothers exhausted. And, I thought - oh my God, next year at this time, I will have my own child to take to the mall at Christmas time!! OK, now I'm scared.

The first year I took her to see Santa, she cried. The Santa was very amiable, and he asked me to sit with her, so we have a nice picture of the three of us. Yeah.

Fortunately, since then, it's been great. She enjoys talking to Santa, like last year at 3:
"Where's Rudolph?" she asked.

"He's on the roof. You can hear them."

"Ohhhh."

He handed her a storybook on the way out. And, she always referred to it as the book Santa gave her.

This year, someone asked her if she wrote her letter to Santa with the toys she wants. "No. I'll tell him when I see him at the mall." she said matter-of-factly.

On a side note, the Santa at our mall has always been very authentic looking. Nice face and real beard. It's been the same fellow too, so it actually nails the image of Santa - kids recognize faces and aren't necessarily fooled by the white beard.

~Waiting for Claus~
That day, she got dressed up and we went to the mall. My husband and his brother said they were going to save our spot in line while we returned something. When we came to the center, they were not there - and Santa was on break. So, we just stood in the end of the line around 5:45 pm.

In line was a mother having a breakdown while scolding her son. The boy was holding her ankles while she tried to walk away (as a punishment for misbehaving) and she just put her face in her hands. We all looked sympathetically her way. In another 10 minutes he was quietly in line holding her.

Behind me was a baby who was attracted to my head and the father would apologize. In front were picture perfect two little girls. Mine was waiting quietly as well. I asked her what she's going to ask for, and she smiled and said "It's a secret!"

The line had snaked out of the designated North Pole area and into the main throughway of the mall. People excused themselves to break the line to pass. Countless number of times I had to skirt out of the way and pull my daughter aside. It was one thing to move for teen girls, families with strollers and the general shopping public, but I had to laugh when a few mall employees were pushing dump-carts. Of course, come on through!

When people saw the line, the most common comment I heard was "Thank God those days are over for us!" Yes, that's very nice of you to mention that.

A boy came running, "Santa's back!". It was about 6pm. Now, we just had to wait for the line to move.

Then my husband waved to me -- he had secured a spot up front! Apparently, he had recognized someone in line earlier and asked him to hold our spot while he disappeared for coffee. How did I know?

Regardless, we jumped forward and got in line. This strategic move must have cut a good half hour out. We had our digital camera ready, and started fussing with A's hair.

As we approached the entrance, a cheery staff person said we had to buy a photo package, the lowest being $19.99. We were stunned. Does everyone waiting in line know this? She said signs are posted up front. However, how fair is this to people at the end of the line who are waiting and do not know?

We pointed out that we took pictures in the past without being obligated to buy. She duly pointed out that they were a new company managing the Santa visit.

This bothered me so much - trying to make money off a targetted and captured audience. This is like Disney selling the $8 popcorn tubs at the ice shows. Parents of kids are vulnerable lot - willing to cede to anything to avoid a public tantrum or social pressures.

~The Visit~
Annika climbed into Santa's lap for the picture. Given this is a new Santa company, I was surprised the kids didn't get a small takeaway - i.e., story book, coloring book, etc.

After he took her down, we took her hand toward us, but she ran back to talk. He leaned forward and put his hand on the small of her back, while she said something to him. I let it be a private conversation as she had wanted. Santa nodded and said something to her.

She came forward, bursting with giggles. I asked her what did you ask him.

"For a Barbie doll!" More specifically, her obsession is with the "Princess Annika" doll from "Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus" movie.

~Fa La La La La~
I suppose I have only 2-3 more years of this and I can just shush after that about the lines, the commercialism and general head ache of mall santa visits.

I having a feeling I'll be in the minority of parents who sigh wistfully, "Those days are over for us."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Movie Reviews: Kids Who Do Magic - Part 2.

Born into Brothels

I had heard Zana Briski interview on Fresh Air (NPR) a year or so ago. We watched her win an Oscar for this documentary. Everyone on SAWNET (South Asian Women’s Network) has been talking about it. So, we rented it.

The DVD sat on the corner of our TV table for a few days because I was afraid to watch it. I need to be emotionally ready to watch a movie about the poor children in Calcutta. Naturally, it will be depressing.

Instead I was amazed and touched by this film. Basically, Zana is an American who lives in a red light district of Calcutta. She gives cameras to the children of the neighborhood and teaches them about photography. What these children see through the lens has not been seen before. Normally, people shy away from photographs – illegal prostitution and drugs/alcohol sales are livelihoods for them. The children are able to freely enter this world and capture it on film.

The documentary focuses on each of the eight children. They talk freely as children do, though at times their faces show more than their words do.

One child, Avijit, was a truly gifted artist. His paintings had exquisite use of light, shadow and details. His photographs were unique and his observations were acute. At a gallery exhibit, a reporter asked “Avijit, what would you like to be when you grow up?” He paused and said “A photographer”.

That pause indicated to me that Avijit was never asked that question before. He never had an option. How could you be allowed to dream when your mother was gone, father was stoned daily and your elderly grandmother sold alcohol at home for income? Life was taken one day at a time. Tomorrow will be just as hard as today.

However, were it not for Zana, Avijit’s talent and energy would have become a “raisin in the sun.” He was on the verge of becoming angry and such frustrated intensity would only go wrong.

She helped him into a good school. And, in the follow up section, Avijit commented that going to New York is just a hollow dream. Yet, Avijit was now studying at a prestigious school in the US.

What I loved foremost about this movie is that the street children became alive. Children are the same everywhere. Watching these children run onto a beach reminded me of my daughter on the beach – running towards the waves with giggles and trepidation. On a bus ride, the children sing and dance to popular Hindi songs.

The heartbreaking component is that we spend our energies protecting our child’s innocence and building her self-esteem. These children are not given that privilege; they are cursed and berated by adults and live in a world of negative energy. All the wonderful optimism children have is stolen from them. The adults in their lives treat them this way because that is how they were treated. The biggest dream one mother had for her daughter was to become a prostitute in Mumbai rather than Calcutta. This is their circle of life.

Zana did more than give these children cameras. She gave them life. She gave them hope.

She sought boarding schools for the children in her group (they needed to be removed from that environment). She lost two of her students to prostitution; the families see the children as another source of income in the house. She desperately fought for these children – negotiating and arguing with authorities to arrange paperwork, HIV tests, and interviews.

On the DVD, there is a special feature called “Reconnecting” where Zana visits the children three years later. From 10 year olds, they have become pre-teens. One girl cried holding onto Zana. Words couldn’t express to Zana how grateful she was for what she gave her.

She took their photographs to New York. Arranged gallery exhibits in Calcutta. Eventually had their photographs and stories published into a book. “Kids with Cameras” has become a full mission and Zana has received funding to build a school and grounds for the children.

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Movie Reviews: Kids Who Do Magic - Part 1.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This is the fourth movie based on the 7-part series of Harry Potter books. I had enjoyed this book – found it gripping and exciting. I remember reading the graveyard scene with Voldemort and blowing up when my husband interrupted me at an intense moment. It was a long book, but Rowling did an amazing job.

The movie was long, but it had to be to do justice to the book. It’s a darker story this time – I think maybe that’s why I did not like Book 5. This book still had a gleam of light.
I felt as if much was lacking from the movie that was in the book. Hagrid and Olympe were half-giants, and the history of giants. There was more about Victor Krum and Hermione; I even felt as if a scene was abruptly cut from the movie. I believe this was the book that Hermione had taken up rights and freedom for the elves. There was some more involvement with Malfoy and his elf.

However, I can respect that from the filmmaker’s point of view. Those side tales did not move the story as much and they have to build a core story from the side ones. I think that’s brilliant on Rowling’s part.

Definitely was a fun movie, but darker.



Harry Potter Mania and My Philosophy

Harry Potter, Harry Potter. What is all this hype about? At the bookstore, I picked up the “Sorcerer’s Stone” and read the first few pages. I was hooked. By that time, three books had already been out and people were talking about them. It caught my attention when religious fundamentalists were boycotting the book for its “paganism” and “witchcraft.” Hmm. Same people probably don’t have a problem with “Wizard of Oz” though.

Anyway, I quickly finished “Chamber of Secrets” and “Prisoner of Azkaban.”

My philosophy is that one should not be desperate for a new book. I do not want to fall into the anxiety-ridden desperation that HP fans feel when Rowling releases a new book. I do not want to tackle 4th graders at Barnes and Noble at midnight. I do not want to stand in line with 45-year-old wearing purple witch or sorcerer hats.

I like having the cushion of one book ahead of me. So, when Rowling released Book 5, then I could read Book 4. When Book 6 was coming, I read 5. It’s nice this way. I can easily find the book in paperback, in the library or borrow from someone. The book is not going anywhere. It’s forever, isn’t it?

Friends and colleagues get grumpy with me, since they like ordering the books in advance and reading it over the first weekend. Since I haven’t read that book yet, they have to hold back discussions or wait until I leave the room.

Anyway, now that Rowling is working on Book 7, I think I might start reading Book 6 soon. Or, maybe I’ll wait.

By the way, I don’t think I have a favorite book in the series, but I was disappointed in the fifth book, “The Order of Phoenix.” Thought there was a lot going on, but not sure how substantial it was. I guess that's the problem with being in the middle of a series.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Movie Reviews: Movies Based on Books

WAR OF THE WORLDS

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Stay away from this if you can. It is absolutely horrible and Spielberg should be ashamed of such a lame movie. I always liked Spielberg movies, especially since he defined the alien genre with "Close Encounters" and "ET". This movie is definitely a thriller/disaster movie. Not one to provoke you into questioning alien life forms, just know this ain't gonna happen.

With WotW, it builds up, builds up, and then fizzles out.

The problem with this was there was no hope at the end..Just flat.

Compare it to other movies with DoomsDay themes.
"Independence Day' gave you Will Smith who was gonna kick alien butt..

"Day After Tomorrow" had the climate shift disaster, but at the end, there was hope at that the snow would melt and life would rebuild. This was also the case with "Deep Impact", the meteorite movie with Tea Leone and Morgan Freeman.

Let's forget the disaster movie comparisons, and go back to aliens. It was similar to "Signs" in the way the whole world is affected by the aliens - it's not just an American thing, but hitting everyone. Makes the whole planet feel small and vulnerable. However, "Signs" was eerie. (I admit that I was afraid to walk around my house after dark for 3 days after seeing that movie, since I felt I was being watched. Having my baby monitor cross signals with our Chinese neighbors' monitor was also nerve-wracking!)

Anyway, when Spielberg's aliens scoped out the house and the folks cowered underneath, it reminded me of 'Jurassic Park' with the dinosaurs in the kitchen.

Tom Cruise. No comment. (The best acting he's done to date has been on the Oprah show jumping about Katie.)


CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

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If you have no experience with Roald Dal's book or the other movie with Gene Wilder, then this will seem like a weird and psychedelic movie without substance.

I read the book a few times when I was 10 or something, and really liked it. I was frustrated that the movie was different than the book and things were missing. I always remembered how the grandparents all slept in bed together and Violet Beauregarde would stick gum behind her ear to save it.

To be honest, the Gene Wilder "Willy Wonka" movie had scared me when I was young. The Oompa-loompahs were freaky with their brown faces and green hair.. then kids were disappearing into tubes and tunnels. This was just not a comforting movie.

Now we have our man Johnny Depp, and I think he is a brillant actor. The fact that he played JM Barrie in "Finding Neverland" and Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Carribbean" and is now playing this Michael Jackson-like character proves how talented and diverse he is (compared to a bland actor like Tom Cruise).

Thanks to computer imaging advances, the Oompa-loompahs have been whittled down to one man, Deep Roy. I liked his attitude and diversity too. The child actors are really good as well. I was surprised that the new Veruca Salt looks a lot like the old one. And, I love Freddie Highmore who plays Charlie; he was Peter in 'Finding Neverland'. How does a little kid like that get to be in 2 movies with Johnny Depp?

It's been a long time so I don't remember the "weirdness" of the character of Willy Wonka from the book, though it makes sense in the movie. After all, Wonka must be dysfunctional to isolate himself in a candy factory.

Anyway, this movie is rated PG - so I am right that it might be too eerie for little ones. However, they did stick with the heart of the book.
I read a review of the movie, which stated this movie was like good chocolate - sweet, but a little bitter.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 8
Changes to Protect the Innocence

I once heard someone say that children are born with all the goodness and purity that exists in the world. It's the adults who spill this goodness from them.

So how far do we go to protect the wonderful essence of childhood?

~Television~
I know I'm always on the edge of my seat if I flip TV channels while my daughter is present in the room. We were shocked at the kissing scenes in Disney's "Pocahantas" & "Aladdin." We're used to the discretion of Hindi movies, where lovers duck kisses and hide behind umbrellas, trees, etc. She glimpsed the Madonna & Britney moment on MTV while I was flipping and she questioned it. I glossed over it and quickly put on the Food Channel.

I guess I don't want to answer questions just yet. I will eventually. I have no problem. But not now.

~Radio~
We were in a car where the local morning shock-jocks were doing their thing on the radio. Yes the FCC has a control over the language, but not the content. I asked for the station to be changed. While she may not understand the slang and double entrendres, I don't want questions. Not just yet.

By the way, I found it interesting that the DJ said his 12-year-old son is not allowed to listen to his show. However, the radio station made a CD and the son's friends got a hold of it and the son was subjected to humiliating teases about his parents. The DJ was not happy about this and had to have a good talk with his son about this.

~Sugar~
Not only am I protective about her mind, I'm also protective about her body. My first experience with her was that breastmilk was the only thing she could consume and from that point on, it's been a challenge for me to let go. Yes, yes, I let her have her Halloween Laffy-Taffy (a pinkish chewy concoction of sugar, corn syrup and whatever) - so I'm not that rigid.

However, I read that baby teeth do not have the protective coating that adult teeth do. Therefore, consuming sodas is detrimental to their teeth. I then decided she would not have Coke until she is 6 years old. Really, she has her whole life to drink Coke if she wants to do so. There was a period where I drank a can of Diet Coke every day (then I went cold turkey on carbonated drinks and found myself feeling so much better!). Anyway, she has never had soda of any type.. and she even says "Soda is not for kids."

*Exception*

We went to Boston over the summer and it was at least 100 degrees that day. The only drink available was Sprite. I asked her to drink some - get hydrated at least. She took a sip and said it "bit my tongue" and refused to drink anything. I begged her and she said no. Then we finally got her apple juice and water.

~More Sugar~

My other policy is no gum. She's only 4 and really too little to handle it. Therefore, gum has become THE forbidden fruit. At the dentist, she requests bubble gum flavored toothpastes/fluoride. She questions me every time I chew a Trident or Dentyne.

*Exception*

Last week we flew to FL on vacation. On the descent, she said her ears hurt. We told her to yawn or hold her breath to pop her ears. But, she couldn't. So, I gave her a piece of gum and her eyes lit up! She loved it and chewed happily. She also relinquished it later.

The next day, she came to me in the kitchen and said "My ears are hurting me." I knew exactly what she was up to. I told her gum is only for the plane.

So, she danced around looking forward to the plane ride home so she could have gum. She told her aunt before bed, "We're going on a plane tomorrow. I can have bubble gum!" and raised her arms in victory.

As soon as we sat down, before the plane even moved, she said her ears hurt. I told her on the way down it'll hurt. So she went back to looking out the window. She fell asleep before and during the landing. I woke her up when the plane stopped moving. She looked out the window and realized we landed. "My ears are hurting me" she wailed. I laughed and gave her a piece since I promised her.

She had the BIGGEST smile.. my God, I don't ever recall such a look on her face - big smile, mouth chewing and eyes lit up. In the car, she kept chewing the gum and FINALLY gave it up later. I thought she was going to turn into Violet Beauregarde from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" as the gum chewing champion.

Anyway, I still believe we should protect for as long as we possibly. However, it's all about being flexible, isn't it?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Personality Tests

I walked into work on Thursday and ran into my boss C. in the lunchroom.

"You have destroyed my life!" she said to me. I froze as did the others in the lunchroom.

"What did I do? I just walked in." I asked helplessly.

"Go check your email." she said with a smirk. My mind was racing - did I say something to the client? did a higher manager ask her to do something?

I went to my desk and M. poked her head in to my cubicle. "You're in trouble. C is really upset with you. Did you check your email."

"I'm still booting up!" I said and drew her into my cubicle.

"What is it?" I asked softly.

"Ok, C. took the The Harry Potter Personality Quiz you sent and she found out she's Lord Voldemort!"

Oh.

"I'm Severus Snape! That's worse!"

"No, Voldemort is pretty bad." And, so began a day of crazy Harry Potter-Myers Briggs analysis.

C. finally felt better when she found out there was a Draco Malfoy in our midst. She figured it's better to be evil and people know you're evil, than be a snake in the grass kind of evil.

We have 2 Dumbledores, a Hagrid, Snape, Olympe Maxime (Hagrid's half-giant girlfriend). We were wondering if there was a Dobby.

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Anyway, I think these are fun to take and I'm still not sure what I am. I've taken the test before and was borderline ENTJ (Professor McGonagall) or INTJ (Severus Snape!!). I took it again right now and was assigned ENFJ (Olympe Maxime - a.k.a. Hagrid's half-giant girlfriend).

So, I think these are good for fun analysis and we laughed a lot over the full list. I know a lot of businesses do take the MB tests into consideration for team management. In my graduate school project management class, we discussed the value of these tests. It's good to have a creative type person coupled with an organized, deadline-driven type so you can be sure the work would be done on time. Or, you may not want to couple these two together as they could work against each other.

While this was fun to do at work, I was surprised by J. who was "Hagrid". His analysis said he's loyal, hard working, not willing to draw attention so he's underappreciated. I felt that was so true - having known and worked with J. for almost 5 years. This is probably something to which a manager one should pay attention.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Writer's Quotes:
Salman Rushdie
The real risks for any artist are taken. . . in pushing the work to the limits of what is possible, in the attempt to increase the sum of what it is possible to think. Books become good when they go to this edge and risk falling over it. .
~*~
A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.
~*~
I make no complaint. I am a writer. I do not accept my condition; I will strive to change it; but I inhabit it, I am trying to learn from it.
~*~
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."

VS Naipaul
An autobiography can distort, facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies. It reveals the writer totally.
~*~
I am the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.

Hanif Kureishi
I think the point of being any sort of artist is to ask difficult questions, and to write about things that we don't normally speak about.

Arundhati Roy
You know, I always believe that even among the best writers, there are selfish writers and there are generous ones. Selfish writers leave you with the memory of their book. Generous writers leave you with the memory of the world they evoked. To evoke a world, to communicate it to someone, is like writing a letter to someone that you love. It's a very thin line.
~*~
For me, books are gifts. When I read a book, I accept it as a gift from an author. When I wrote this book, I presented if as a gift. The reader will do with it what they want.

Anita Desai
…I grew up reading the major English writers. As I grow older I feel less a need to prove my skills. I realize I don’t always have to write in their style.
~*~
Leaving India frees one's tongue. Within India you hold back so much. And being part of that life, you're too involved to look with objectivity.

Bubbles (My Poems):
Fleur de Lis
Quebec City, February 1987


“I’ve never seen the ocean,” he says
and she gasps,
almost shaking the salt and sand
of the Atlantic off her hand.
He smiles and toasts to the Canadiens.

She nods
.

She sees icicles form on lashes,
and a nose tint a pale violet.
She feels the pain as her feet thicken into ice
blocks, like the sculptures gracing the squares.


The cold spikes through her legs
as she hobbles on frosted cobblestone streets
in the wrong shoes and
tipsy from too much wine.
No, it was a kir, a drink that sweetens and soothes.

So maybe not too tipsy,
though a bit giddy from the crispness of
freedom that comes from
crossing borders and leaving boundaries.

The night is foreign and intimate.
Voices in the streets call out
to someone unseen.
She wants to know who they are,
but she already does.
She is one of them,
savoring every ordinary moment.



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This poem is recollection of my first trip to Quebec City as a high school senior. Six of us girls went with Madame Sue Fynan to Quebec City to view the Winter Carnival (Carnivale D'Hiver) in February. Madame Fynan was a whole 26 years old as the adult chaperone and 15 year old girls really pushed the edge. As a senior, I was unceremoniously recruited as her peer and asked to help watch out for misdemeanors. (Actually the 'she' in the first paragraph is one of the girls who was flirting with a local guy and I had to hang around her to make sure she wasn't alone). My travelmates and I had that "Breakfast Club" experience - extreme bonding for four days and then we went our separate ways when we returned back to school.

I wrote this a year or so ago. I didn't want this poem to be about my whole trip, else I'd be discussing crepes and La Bonhomme D'Hiver and all sorts of things. No, this is just about a moment.. a memory of walking on cobblestone street in the cold in the wrong shoes.

Anyway, I've been a Francophile from the time I was 12 and Quebec set my impressions of the French culture.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bubbles (My Poems):

The Wails in the Autumn Wind
Ensemble,
they are a splendor.
Alone, they crumble and
bare their fragility.

Unaware they are torn.
Some fly
Some float
All fall.

The tree stands
Arms outstretched
Palms empty
Fingers aching to hold
You left me, it cries

We didn’t want to,
they rustle.





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Autumn

The lush trees Nature weaves
wither and shrivel
into reddened leaves

Ensemble, behold the sight.
Alone, it crumbles
Silent, dry and light.



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These are 2 poems I wrote years ago. They're actually two variations of the same theme. I think that was the year that Autumn really depressed me. I'm definitely a spring and summer girl.


Now that it's November (and 70 degrees in PA!), I thought it'd be fun to share.
On the Job Training - Motherhood: 7a
Halloween (and Diwali) Follow Up

We went trick or treating with Annika's best friend Talia and her mom. Of course Annika's best friend would also be a princess (Cinderella) so they were just two little fluffs of tulle and sparkles.

The funniest thing about the girls is how chatty they were! When people oohed and aahhed over their costumes, they twirled, announced the princess name and Annika blurts out "I have glitter on my eyes!" They bumped into another Cinderella, who announced "I have sparkly shoes" and shone her flashlight on them.

Talia and Annika were impressed, but then remembered their sneakers light up so they started stamping their feet to show off.

I was a bit embarrassed when Annika would start asking people "Do you have a dog? I heard a woof. Can we see the dog?" And she petted a few dogs too.

At one house, an Indian man came to the door. Annika peered inside and saw another woman and a grandmother. She accepted the candy and just stood there. I told her "Come on. Let's go. Say Happy Halloween."

"Happy Diwali," she said quietly. The homeowners just laughed and said Happy Diwali too. The grandmother came to the window to see Annika.
Now, she had more confidence and said it louder and I wished the family as well.

Her friend said "What is diw-wali? I don't know diw-wali," as they ran across the street holding their skirts.

"It's an Indian holiday. Not everyone celebrates Diwali. Everybody celebrates Halloween!"

I just loved the fact she knew.

By the way, we had Diwali parties this weekend and Tuesday. Coupled with Halloween, it has been a sugar fest!!

That's the one problem with celebrating Indian and American holidays. Our holiday season began in October with Navratri and will continue until New Years' Eve. It's fun, but exhausting!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Diwali!!

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Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

Here are some links on Diwali and the background.

Top Diwali Books for children

Description of Diwali- Traditions, Customs and History


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Diwali at Home - Laddoos and Cookies

Growing up, Diwali did not make much sense. It was inconsistent, no one else celebrated it and it could not compare with Halloween and Christmas. Mom would make a special dinner, turn on lights around the house and have special pujas/ceremonies. Everyone would call to wish Sal Mubarak for the new year. All the jewelery would be taken from the bank and blessed - thanking Lakshmi and showing appreciation for the wealth we have. It was definitely acknowledged in our house, but not given enough encouragement I believe.

For my husband, who grew up in India, this is Christmas. Lots of traditions from special foods to lighting fire crackers to family and friends getting together. Plus per the Hindu calendar, he was born on the first day of Diwali. So, everyone always remembers his Indian birthday. (My daughter is born on Valentines' Day. The only memorable event I have for mine, June 30, is that it's the last day of the fiscal year).

Anyway, for my daughter is a different world than it was for me. Sesame Street talks about Diwali. Elementary schools have Diwali displays. Employees are taking off on Diwali as a "religious holiday". There's more awareness and pride in this holiday.

With my daughter, we're going to light candles around the house. We went to a party on Saturday and friends had sparklers and firecrackers which we lit in the yard. It was fun - and was my first time seeing firecrackers without a simultaneous radio or TV broadcast. Annika was a bit scared at first, but quickly got over her fears.

I found a book about Diwali at the library and Annika and her daddy read it together. It was great later during the firecrackers and I asked (to no one in particular) what was going on when they were trying to light a firecracker.

She said "Mom, this is just like the book. That's what they're doing," rolling her eyes and her voice in exasperation. Sorry. I missed the reading.

A few friends and I decided to join forces and prepare some homemade treats at each other's houses - chuklis, besan laddoo, karanji. To get my daughter involved, we baked toll-house chocolate chip cookies - why not?. She helped me with the tray of goodies to bring to our friends' house - laddoos, pistachio sweets with silver foil and chocolate chip cookies.

While it's important to maintain one's heritage, it's exciting to begin new traditions. That's what being American is all about, isn't it?


On the Job Training: Motherhood - 7
Halloween and Costumes

Where to begin? First of all, Annika has wanted to be a princess for the last 2 years. At 2, I put on a lavender salwaar-kameez and wrapped the dupatta around her head with a tiara as Princess Jasmine. At 3, she wore a white lace dress with a tiara as Cinderella.

(At any given time, A has 2 years worth of poofy and fancy dresses courtesy of my mother and aunt as the only granddaughter in the family. Therefore I figured, wear it for Halloween while it fits.)

This year I decided to forego the nice dresses and just buy a costume. Unlike the rest of us plebeians, Princesses do have occasions to dress up - Princess Birthday Parties, Costume Day at school, average Saturday afternoon. I've been getting too paranoid about spills and tears on these poofy numbers.

Went to see the dress she wanted - Princess Annika from Barbie & Pegasus

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and it was not on sale, though Belle from Beauty and the Beast was $8 less. She was not going to bend obviously though she does like Belle a lot. I deliberated over this for a week (is it worth it? what is halloween but a marketing ploy at parents' wallets?). I had a flashback to my own childhood (see "My Costume History" below) and went back to Party City.. The Belle dress was $2 higher, but her Princess Annika dress was down $5. So, I grabbed it.

My Princess asked "Ok, let's get the Cinderella Ballerina dress now." You can only wear one costume.

"Oh. Can we go trick or treating now?" No, 2 more weeks.

I'll give her credit that she was patient and didn't ask for the dress or anything until I pulled it out for her Halloween Parade on Friday. I think it was a bit long and when I said I'd take it up, she said, "No, I can walk holding it up" and she took delicate steps, daintly holding the layers of the dress.

I bought double stick fabric tape and hemmed it anyway.
The Parade:
Last year I missed her parade. She was 3 and I didn't think it would matter. However, she commented. So, this year I made sure I would be there at 3:30.

The kids had to bring their costumes and the teachers got them ready. Can I tell you how cute it was! I was snapping pics of all the babies -- it was like an Anne Geddes parade! There was a pink and purple witch toddling all over the place.. twins who dressed in monkey suits.. little Minnie and Mickey being pushed in a carriage.

You could see the older kids expressing themselves more. For girls, it was split between variety of Princess/Fairy costumes, and then more unique ones. A's close friend was dressed as a ghost in white costume and face mask.. there was a pink Power Ranger by one of the girls who I felt was very bubbly and outgoing. I was quite surprised to see the world did not revolve around princesses and fairies for everyone.

Boys were great - firemen, sponge bob, Eagles player. I was impressed with one boy who had a homemade costume as an Arab sheik - towel and blankets made up his costume.

My heart extended to the one Indian boy - probably 3 - who had on a kurta-pyjama with a dupatta. I admitted above my daughter wore an Indian outfit with a tiara, but she was still in character. I don't know about this boy - was he supposed to be Abishek Bachchan?

My Costume History
Growing up with Indian immigrant parents, it's different for us. We grew up among cliches - balancing the Indian and American influence, get the best of both worlds, east meets west, etc.

So, Halloween was a great idea for kids, but spending hard-earned money on costumes wasn't going to happen.

So, I've had to trick-or-treat with my Indian dresses, chanya-cholis, while I thought the plastic cinderella mask was "beautiful" (was looking for a link or picture, but can't find it).

On the other hand, we learned to rummage through our closets (own, siblings, parents, linen) to get accessories to make our own costumes. We used the same chanyo as a gypsy skirt, threw on a shawl and lots of bangles.. used salwaars as flowy clown pants.. became hobos in dad's jackets (interesting, now we call them homeless people).

Anyway, I was chatting with some parents at ballet yesterday, and they both pointed out that they grew up making their costumes and now 98% of the costumes were store-bought. The one father, Eric, mentioned being a hobo. Now his son is wearing Darth Vader. Interesting - maybe Eric wanted to be Star Wars back in 1970's and couldn't?

So, maybe it's not about the Indian vs American thing.. but a result of the credit card, marketing to yuppies culture?

Have a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bubbles (My Poems):
A Glass Of Wine, Please

And, what kind of wine do you have, she asked.

Swirl the robust Bordeaux. In its embrace, fly to the warm hills of France
Sniff the Shiraz and evoke a borrowed memory
of a didjeridoo echoing through an Australian sunset.

Remember when the Chianti had challenged
the Burgundy to duel and
the jugs had burst? Very good year though.

And, have you seen the Cabernet and Beaujolais?
He tipped his hat to you, while she
lifted her ruby skirts to curtsy.

She smiled. She knew them well.
She had been taught
to bridle and honor the passion of the Reds.
With a sip of a Merlot, she could hear
the strumming gypsy music
outside that restaurant in Piazza Navona.
And a second sip brought her to an intimate table for two
at a boisterous Bennigan’s.
Another glass would be that night best left forgotten.

Tonight she was alone.
Not a soul to share her carafe.

She longed for the green freshness
of whiteness
of lightness
and the dewiness
of her youth,
being held captive in an opaque fruit.

A sip would kindle a spark
smothered by time, and stir the flames
to ignite memories
to meet the new woman she has become.
Would they recognize each other?
She thought they would.

She watched the Pinot Grigio turn a pirouette and
release the essence of spring and fruits,
while the Reisling stood sweetly as a sunflower.
The Sauvignon Blanc whirled the scent of
summer morning grass to her.

She felt a tap on her shoulder.

The Chardonnay had sauntered to her
with a quiet step.
Be not betrayed by my coolness.
Under a golden cloak, I hold an edge,
a snap to inspire your senses.
Smokey evenings, vanilla afternoons.
You know me well and I know what
makes you glow.

And, he kissed her,
incensing her with his spirit forever.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
After writing this poem, I realized I really love white wine and have been drinking red for so long because other folks are drinking red. So, all summer, you could find me with a glass (or two) of chardonnay or pinot grigio.

I needed to see my poem again because I had 2 glasses of red the other night (cabernet sauvignon, I believe). It was a rainy day, I was feeling slightly under the weather and a warm red seemed so appealing.

And, I zonked out. That's what I forgot! Red wine makes me sleepy!

Need to stick with what really works for me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood -6
How to practice being a mother

1. Find someone who is can sit 3 feet away from you
2. Talk to her. Have her ignore you.
3. Raise your voice. Have her ignore you.
4. Clap your hands, bang on pots. Have her ignore you.
5. Now, pick up the phone and talk to someone. Mutter something softly regarding her.
6. Have her ask "Why did you say that? Tell me? Who did that?"

Repeat daily.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 5
Finding Neverland

I've discovered the secret to eternal youth - Peter Pan. (Yes, we all know he's the boy who doesn't grow up.)

Frankly, I never cared for Peter Pan. Didn't understand all these rough Lost Boys, Peter Pan was a bit edgy and Wendy was just too maternal and boring for me. Tinkerbell was too insignificant. Why is the dog a nanny?

How many times have I seen Peter Pan from an elementary school production to the Disney version in the theater (with a double billing with Herbie the Wonder Bug) to seeing Julia Roberts filling out Tinkerbell's skirt? Really tried. Could not get into it.

Fast forward to bedtime with my daughter. I'm not exactly how she even got bit by the Barrie Bug. We've watched the movies (part 1 and 2!), read the stories and she loves it.

When she enjoys Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, I recognize her excitement. Yet, when she loves Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, I'm pleasantly surprised. (Note: I never cared for Alice as a child, did not like talking animals. I discovered Carroll after college when I began to admire his work as a poetic masterpiece)

So, when I have to read Alice or Peter Pan to her, it is like being given an opportunity to relive my childhood. I'm trying to see what she sees in all these stories. Maybe she finds comfort in Wendy's maternal role and sees Tinkerbell as a strong ally to Peter Pan -- if one does not believe in fairies, how could one fly? She enjoys the Lost Boys' costumes as animals, revealing a personality beneath.

With Alice, the growing and shrinking and eating and drinking is so much fun. Controlling one's size is a valuable skill, especially to someone is three feet tall.

So, I am finding Neverland now.
On the Job Training: Motherhood - 4
Disney Wars: Revenge of the Princesses

Saturday morning we rose bright and early on a rainy day. We had tickets for the 11 a.m. Princesses on Ice show at the Wachovia Center (precorporate sponsorship days aka The Spectrum). My friend and I got our two 4-year-olds together and drove down to South Philly in her minivan. Her daughter had on a sweatsuit that announced "Princess" on the front. Mine chose a sparkly velvet dress she's never worn (she refused to wear anything else).

In the parking lot, we saw pint-sized Cinderellas and Snow Whites. On the escalators, we saw girls from infants to preteens wearing pink, purple and blue symbols of Princesshood - either a full blown costume or sweatshirts or tiaras.

I looked around the packed arena and thought "All of you people are here today, dishing out mucho dinero for tickets and service fees for an ice show because you ALL have a princess in your house.. you're going through the same Princess worship..and succumbing to the pleas of your own Princess."

I felt a sense of comradery with the parents there. I was not alone.

And talk about the Magic of Disney! It's the marketing of Disney!! Toys and souvenirs were insanely priced. A bucket of popcorn, which could feed a whole bevy of Princesses, was priced at $8 because you got a Princess bucket (the next one was $6 and you got a box. Yeah, figure out which is going to sell more). They had snow-cones for $10 because you got a cute Mickey or Cinderella mug.

This whole Disney Princess marketing industry is absolutely brilliant. Parents like me fall for it. (Who did not want to be a princess when they were 4 years old? I'm giving into this just because in 6 years, she may want to wear black, ripped jeans and ride skateboards. Who knows.)

But, Disney is smart enough to always put a trio. Yes, you can have an Ariel mug and target Mermaidphiles. You can have an Aurora nightgown and attract the sleeping beauties. Or, you can have Jasmine whatever and attract "ethnic" market. However, put them altogether on a mug, nightgown and whatever - BAM! you just sold all three to all three markets. How awesome is that?

And, for parents it's cool because if she's in an "Ariel" or "Jasmine" mood it still works. You're not limiting yourself to one princess.

I was livid when I saw Princess bandaids were higher priced with less units in the box than the Clifford one. We're buying Clifford and my daughter was none the wiser - quite happy with Emily Elizabeth over her boo-boos.

Anyway, Disney must keep an eye over their shoulders because their close competitor is Mattel and Barbie "as Princess Blah Blah." Yes they stepped in quietly with a movie with sharp computer animation with "Barbie in the Nutcracker" and "Barbie in Swan Lake". Then they realized the marketing potential and shot out "Princess and the Pauper" and now "Barbie & Pegasus". You get your dolls, accessories, videos, books, costumes, etc. So, even if you don't have your own princess, you create one!

I had my doubts about the Barbie movies.. It's a doll. It's not a story with a doll. But, now I see it's different. Barbie is alive and well, and acting in roles - that's ingenius as well. The movies aren't so bad - I do like the bit of feminist angle with the female protaganists who are quite alert in finding their own way around the world and through their troubles. Even my daughter had complained that Sleeping Beauty and Snow White "just sleep." There are more positive heroines out there.

Confession: I have a Beauty & the Beast keychain that I bought back in early 90's.. I was 23 and totally identified with Belle. I was bookish and didn't fall so easily for outward appearances (a la Gaston).

Anyway, I am still using this keychain and my daughter is thrilled to look at it - even thought the plastic has chipped a bit. So, maybe a princess part of you does not outgrow?

By the way, I really felt the Princess on Ice show was worth it when I looked at my daughter. Aladdin was rubbing the giant lamp. Sparks flew out of the lamp just as the genie emerged. She jumped back in suprise, putting her hands on her cheek! I looked over at another point and she had her ears covered because she knew the witch was going to come out. This is real to them in their minds. We're just making it more real.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Morsels of Poetry:
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Garba
The nine sacred nights of Navaratri

we dance the Garba. Light glances off
the smooth wood floor of the gym
festooned with mango leaves
flown in from Florida. The drummers
have begun, and the old women
singing of Krishna and the milkmaids,
Their high keening is an electric net
pulling us in, girls who have never seen

the old land. This October night
we have shed our jeans
for long red skirts, pulled back
permed hair in plaits, stripped of
nailpolish and mascara, and pressed
henna onto hands, kohl
under the eyes. Our hips
move like water to the drums.
Thin as hibiscus petals, our skirts
swirl up as we swing and turn.
We ignore the men,

creaseless in bone-white kurtas.
In the bleachers, they smile behind their hands.
Whisper. Our anklets
shine in the black light from their eyes.
Soon they will join is in the Dandia dance.
The curve and incline, the slow arc of the
painted sticks meeting red on black
above our upraised arms. But for now the
women dance alone
a string of red anemones
flung forward and back
by an unseen tide. The old ones sing
of the ten-armed goddess.
The drums pound faster
in our belly. Our feet glide
on smooth wood, our arms are darts of
light, Hair, silver-braided,
lashes the air like lightning.
The swirling is a red wind
around our thighs. Dance-sweat
burns sweet on our lips.
We clap hot palms like thunder. And
the mango branches grow into trees.

Under our flashing feet, the floor is packed black soil.
Damp faces gleam and flicker in torchlight.
The smell of harvest hay
is thick and narcotic in our throat. We spin and spin
back to the villages of our mothers’ mothers.
We leave behind

the men, a white blur
like moonlight on empty bajra fields
seen from a speeding train.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I heard Chitra read this at the Asian American Writers Workshop in 1996 or 1997. This is from her book "Black Candle" and it moved me so much. I love Navratri and as an Indian-American, I felt Chitra had captured the holiday and what it means to us. We may dance on the hard gym floors and not on the Indian earth, but our dance connects us to a long line of women. I always felt sorry for my American classmates and friends who did not have Navratri.

For us, we would pull out the suitcases that stored our chanya-cholis for the year. On some special occasions - after a trip to India - we would have new spin-worthy ghagras and we finally wear the new Indian jewelry. My sister, mother and I would trade bangles and bindis trying to get the perfect match. Oh, and I remember the year I wore rings. My hands were so swollen after a night of garba they would not come off! I had to soak them in cool water to pry them.

It's not about just a dance, but keeping connections and traditions alive.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Morsels of Poetry:
Khalil Gibran
- From The Prophet "on Marriage"

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.


- From The Prophet "on Children"
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and

He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.




On the Job Training: Motherhood - 3
So, what's the deal with the fathers?

I've been doing some informal research - talking to my female friends, moms at ballet, colleagues at work, reading O. Magazine and I've come to this conclusion..

No matter if you are Indian, Black, White, Martian.. the mom is still hauling the children around.

Yes, fathers help and will do the pick up/drop off's as well. They will help around the house and get the kids to eat their food. Fathers, please know this has not gone unnoticed.

Yet, mom's are the ones dealing with the school activities, birthday parties (as hosts and guests) and every other extracurricular activity. Mom's will make sure that sitting by the door is is a fully equipped bag for ballet/soccer/swimming/karate, etc. I think mothers gained experience from preparing diaper bags for all emergencies.

I am not sure if I'm allowed to even vent about this seeing I have 1 preschooler. I'm talking to mothers who have 2-3 kids at various stages of development and homework assignments. So, I get the impression that having 1 child is a walk in the park.

So, as I absorbed information from these informal research sessions, there was a nugget of wisdom. She said, "The problem is that we want the men to be 'mothers' but they can't be."

A mother knows instinctively when a child's tantrum is from hunger/fatigue vs. a manipulative control tantrum. She knows a child's needs must come first. Again, this might have been part of our training when we dropped dirty dishes or a hot dish of food to go breastfeed a wailing child. A father will remain focussed on his current activity until he is good and ready to deal with the child. By that time, the mother is livid her child has been held up.

And, that's where our frustration is.

So, is this a defect of the feminist movement? We were told everything could be equal in a marriage. However, marriage to begin with is not 50/50. It's actually 60/40 -- if you ask the wife, she's pulling 60. If you ask the husband, he's pulling the 60. Then, you have a kid and it moves from to 80/50. Oh wait, that doesn't add up does it?

It's as if an extra weight was added to your end and you're always trying to push it over to the father. He's willing to accept the extra load, but can't always take it.

So what do we do? I don't know. I'm just happy I came this far in analysing this. In a way, it's helped me manage expectations better.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 2
Where Am I Going?

So, last week I was driving A. to school and pulled into Goddard School. Drove in quietly towards the drop-off circle. I braked suddenly. "What are we doing here?"

I realized my mind was occupied with other things and I was driving on autopilot. For almost 4 years I have been going to Goddard School first and then to work. I admit, there were 2 other occasions where I had pulled into the school when A. was not in the car with me.

A. laughed and wanted to visit her friends. (On a side note, A. is having fun with her new school and says Hannah and Allison are her "best friends", but is really clingy and cries when I leave. I hope this will fade soon, and 4-year-olds are demanding so the teachers cannot always tend to her right then.)

Anyway, at work I related my faux pas to someone else and she said she had done something similar when her daughter was in school and had activities.

Suddenly, flashback to my senior year of high school. I was taking an SAT class at a teacher Mr. C's home on Mondays, Orchestra practice on Tuesdays and tennis whenever that was. My sister and brother had their own schedules.

I remember my mom showing up Mr. C's house instead of orchestra. It was a bit embarrassing because Mr. C mentioned it in class and turned it into a dramatic story; quite mean of him to have a "private" conversation with me in a loud voice. At the time I was frustrated that my mother couldn't keep it straight and she should've been better organized.

Now, I get it!

She had 3 kids with 3 different needs, plus managing a house and part time jobs. This is pre-cell phone and phone card era, so she (and us) could be disconnected and be at the wrong place. I have one kid and still show up at the wrong school if I'm not thinking. So, now I feel guilty for all the hassles that we bestowed on her. Also, I realize mothers also serve as punching bags for whatever the world doles out (i.e., my feelings toward Mr. C were transferred to her).

Is this the frustrating part of motherhood? That your kids won't understand until they are in your shoes? Do I have to wait for 30-something years until A. understands?

Hopefully not. Though I think so.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 1
When It's Time to Change...

Recently, my daughter A. changed schools. She’s been in Goddard School since she was less than a year old, when I returned to work. We thought she did well at Goddard, but we wanted to find a full time kindergarten for her, which they did not offer. There is a Kiddie Academy nearby which offers pre-K program and the full day kindergarten. Plus, there are other benefits that Goddard does not offer – more convenient hours, lunch and snacks provided and a brand new cleaner environment.

My husband S. was worried about A. going to a new school. He and I both felt a rush of our own memories, bearing the fears and anxieties that come with starting a new school or a new job. Now our baby girl would have to face them. S. was not sure this was a good idea. It took some time, but enough friends assured him a social 4-yr-old like ours would not have a problem. I tried to remain positive.

First day of school was last week and A. had to say good bye to her friends at Goddard. It was sad since she’s known them all her life. Miss B. the asst. director is in her late 50’s and the kind of woman that scared the kids into shape. One of the parents told me she threatens her daughter "I'm going to tell Miss B. that you didn't clean your room!" The child never moved so fast!

Moreover, she scares parents into shape. I felt so many times the school pushed me ahead with A. when I wasn’t even thinking about it. They told me when she needed to move to sippy cups and solid foods, and I was surprised. I remember receiving a phone call at work reminding me strongly that baby food was not acceptable for lunch and she needed to work on finger foods in order to move into the next class. So, this was another relationship that was going to change.

Anyway, A. and I baked the customary "farewell" brownies and made little trays for the teachers and staff. A. and I had visited the Kiddie Academy in the morning to introduce her to the teachers and environment. She smiled shyly at the teachers and looked at the toys and games in the room. Then she smiled and pulled me towards her, “Let’s go to Goddard now.” I tried to remain positive.

Thursday was her first day. She plummeted me with questions “Who’s going to be my best friend? But I don’t know anyone’s phone number.” I pumped her to go to bed to wake up early and get ready, which she did. In fact, she woke up an hour earlier and had time to just chill in front of the tv while I took a shower.

When I stepped out, I heard hysterical crying downstairs. What could be faster than the mind of a mother hearing a child cry -- is she hurt? did she cut herself? is she lying under heavy furniture?

I called out to her .

"We're late! we're late! wahhh..."

I told her calmly that we're not late and are on time. It made me realize the extent of her anxieties. I told her they would give her lunch, so I did not need to make her lunch today. "What if I don't like it?" she asked.

"Then I'll bring you something else. We'll find out." I tried to remain positive again.

When we entered the new class, we were greeted warmly and A. was led to a table with coloring books. She looked up at me quietly and I stayed with her a little bit. I asked the teacher what was for lunch. "Pizza bagels!" I asked A., "Is that ok?" and she smiled and said yes.

Then I asked I could go now. She smiled and nodded, and the teacher assured me she was ok. I gave her a hug and kiss and left.

I sat in the car and turned on the radio. That corny song from the 80's by Glenn Mederios was on:"Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for you"

And, I just cried.

I had been holding this inside and being positive for so long, I needed a release. And, leaving your child at the doorstep of a new school is as hard as they said it would be.