domingo, 5 de octubre de 2014

Meet The Family

I am in cultural shock. I don't know another term for what I am experiencing. So to wrap it up, I have three accounts that point to the fact that I'm in serious need of American detox. 

1. KANNADASAN IS MY ANNA (OLDER BROTHER). I spent like ninety minutes with Kannadasan trying to buy a cheap saree the other day. He took me to a shop, and of course I said, I'll be back. But never mind, he always follows me wherever I enter. So he translated some things for me, and I was finally able to understand that when buying the saree, you only buy the "blanket". You have to go to a tailor to stitch the blouse, and I also bought like a long skirt to go under the saree, you know, in case it falls down. 

At the saree shop, I asked the lady if she was married just to make conversation. But I didn't see any thali around the neck so I knew she wasn't married. Then my western mind wanted to joke around and I was about to say, "Well, Kannadasan is single... do you like Kannadasan?", but I was able to shut my mouth before I embarrassed myself and the two young people. Then we go to the tailor whose shop was closed. Cross the streets. Kannadasan jumps in front of the cars, and laughs about how I didn't go, and comes back to get me, this time stopping the cars for me. We go to the second shop, but it's a men's shop, so they didn't want to make my blouse. I tell Kannadasan that when he gets married I want to go to his wedding. He says thank you. Like a real sincere thank you, like a friend. Also he says that he is getting married in six months, no matter whether or not he marries the woman of her dreams. And I 'm like, "Score!, I'll get to see an Indian wedding". I ask him if they have honey moon or something similar, he says yes. He also mentions it lasts one to two weeks, but mostly two. Yeah, right... You just want two weeks vacation, I thought. 

NO, NO, NO...

Finally, we get to a lady's tailor, and after several attempts on translating, someone actually translates what I needed to know. So I'll get the blouse in a week. I moved to another shop within the temple. The tailor was inside a Hindu temple. Right when I get inside the jewelry shop, I see Jesus. No kidding. I see a big frame with a picture of Jesus. I was actually pleasantly surprised, that I couldn't keep it inside, and I said out loud, "What do you know? What is Jesus doing here?"

Lady says she is a Christian. I had left Kannadasan talking to the tailor's ladies, but by now he was next to me again. Translating and interacting with everybody I am interacting. Lady says her parents and grandparents are Christians, and we couldn't really talk because she didn't speak English. But they liked me or at least made fun of me because it seemed they had a good time listening to what Kannadasan was telling them about me. I understood saree, tailor, Karla. So I showed them pictures of my children, and told them in Tamil how Enzo is payenne and not pune. Everybody thinks he is pune because of the long hair and how beautiful he actually is. All are laughing.


I see Jesus has a sign about being the way, the truth and the life, and I show Kannadasan the Bible verse in Tamil on my cellphone. Then the lady proceeds to preach it, I guess, or tells him something. I also make sure he knows Mary is not a god, just a regular woman. Now that I think about it, I also need to make sure he knows God din't have sex with Mary... As we were leaving the temple, I thanked him for his help and I said he was kind of a lot of everything for us. He was like a body guard, a translator. A brother, he also says. Hmm, I don't know about that, I thought. 

2. SUDHA IS MY AKKA (OLDER SISTER). So we were invited on Saturday to the house of a lady I met walking that morning. I guess it's not the first time we saw each other because most days we say hi, but I had never actually stopped to talk to her. One day I asked where she had bought her walking shoes because they were New Balance, and I was hoping there was actually a New Balance store that I had missed, but she didn't speak English very well. That was like three weeks ago, though. On Saturday, I saw her again after two weeks of being lazy in my running. And I just didn't stop, I had to run 9 miles, you know. But something made me stop. I literally felt like I needed to go back and talk to her. So I turned back to reach her, and at the same time, she was turning back also. I asked her if she minded if i walked wit her, and of course she didn't mind. 

Akka and  Tambi

She is 47 years old, married 32 years. Arranged marriage. She loves husband. Sons are 28 and 24. Long story short, I told her I needed to keep on running and that I would take her to her house, I thought she lived on this side of the big road. Somehow she understood I wanted to go to her house, so she invited me. And we went. Older son speaks English, husband doesn't. Emerson mostly spoke with the son, but I hung out with her in the kitchen, and asked questions about marriage. Karti (the son) says his parents are very understanding, and they won't forcing to marry anyone. They trust him to make a good decision about the woman he wants to marry. They won't oppose, that if she is a good girl, it doesn't matter the caste she is or even the religion. MY FAITH IN LOVE WAS RESTORED RIGHT THERE.


They are super kind with my children who are touching the small fish tank and almost poking the fish. Karti says children are children, and you cannot control them. WHAT? That goes against my parenting philosophy, but they are like nothing is going on. Honestly, I saw my Indian mom, and my Indian dad spoiling my children rotten. Enzo was being catered to and given cookies, chips, and candy to the point of throw up.  Then they also gave us food, and it was amazingly hot. Children made a mess, and they don't let me clean.  They don't let me do a thing. I felt bad, like I was... I felt thankful that this family who has never ever had interaction with us was being so welcoming. Libby and Enzo were ringing some bells in Sudha's altar, and I had to tell them in Spanish that those were Sudha's gods. That I know they like the bells, but that I didn't want them to touch them, because I don't think they were there to play with. They never listened - my children. And as much as I tried to explain we do not respect the gods or give them any credibility, we do have to respect Sudha. Bells kept on ringing. 

Then guess who got tired of waiting downstairs? Kannadasan. He shows up at the door, and makes his way into the home of Sudha, and they welcome him, obviously. He is our driver, but I guess, most importantly, he is someone like them. Someone from their culture. I honestly thought that was completely rude, maybe in another situation it might have been. But apparently I am in the wrong here. I am very Americanized. When we leave everybody waves at the car, and are so happy we came. They also said we were family. 

3. REVATHY IS MY TANGACHI (YOUNGER SISTER). OK, this is seriously the best of the three. The most awkward, but the best, in the sense of cultural misunderstanding. So Revathy is our immigration lawyer. I liked her very much, and I told her I want to hang out with them. We invite them to our house on Saturday, a week ago. On Facebook we go on and on about what they want us to cook, vegetarian, non vegetarian. She says she doesn't want me to strain myself with the cooking, that they can come over for a little bit, have snacks and tea, and then that way we can all spend time as family. Families. I thought, and actually told Emerson, "I think they just want to come out for a little while, they want to have dinner on their own, so I don't have to cook anything for them."


Once they came, we had a wonderful time, we hung out, and then once they leave, she asked me to go. Let's go have dinner, she says. You're kidding me, right? My children have to go to sleep, you don't know them, but in about thirty minutes they are gonna crash if we go to a restaurant. Maybe we can go some other time. She looks puzzled but says nothing.

Today in our conversation where we talked about parenting styles, I guess,  I realized I might be very uptight  and have a lot to learn about the way Indian people parent. I'm glad I have a friend like her, to whom I could be honest with, and also she was honest with me. So that day, she actually got kind of mad, because she meant we were supposed to go out and have diner as family, but I didn't know we were family!! LOL!

So we ended going to her mom's house like a week after that, and we had a wonderful time!! My children have a Nana in India now and -for all I know- lots of cousins, and uncles and aunts. They also rang the bells non-stop, but at least now I know it is okay to make them ring :)

Nana with Enzo and Libby


So in other news, Enzo is two years old today!!! We began potty training him yesterday, and it has been very good. We were very busy taking care of him, and just entertaining both of them, but trying to catch Enzo in the act of peeing or pooping, so we could take him to the bathroom. My children have been living on Tang, Banana-Chocolate-Mango-Oatmeal-Honey smoothies (to make Enzo pee), cookies, Kit Kat chocolate, Waffers, etc (as rewards for every time he goes). They are loving it, specially since Libby gets to share her brother success. Libby always shared his cookies with Enzo when she was being potty trained, so he has to share, too.

Birthday boy

Today I learned to use a microwave convection oven. All this time I've been thinking I don't have an oven, but I do. So I was able to make banana bread with cream cheese frosting. Nothing like my monumental birthday cakes (not really), but I was so happy that my boy's birthday didn't go unnoticed. I know it's not about the cake or the party, but about the fact that he is really such a blessing to us, and that's why we needed to celebrate my boy.

Early in the morning Libby went to saw the sunrise with Daddy, and after breakfast we gave Enzo his birthday present. Enzo loved it! We gave him a Thomas train, and they were sharing and using it all day long. All day long.  We had pizza for lunch, and tonight after the bread was done, everybody took a shower. We got dressed super nice, took some photos, and cut the cake!

Ring around the rosie

It's been very busy for the last two years of my life... When I had Libby, I felt I had no idea what I was doing. As time passed, I grew confident as a mom, and I knew I didn't want Libby to be an only child. When Enzo was born, I was wiped out in that confidence. Most of the time I didn't know what I was doing, and I was doing just what needed to be done to survive. Now that I think about it, I have no idea how I was able to feed Enzo around the clock, and also interact with my still young 17 month old daughter. It was like living on a fog. I still remember day most of my days where spent pretty much just changing diapers... By the time I changed Enzo, Libby had already pooped or done something else. But we made it through that phase. And Enzo is becoming a wonderful little boy.


It is amazing how different your children are. Libby has always been more compliant, in a way. Not really... I don't know. She has always had this very independent personality, talking back, getting angry, and yelling at you on your face. But ti never really happened at Enzo's age. Enzo, on the other hand was very, very sweet at the beginning. Very cuddly. He would let me rock him, and kiss him, and hug him. He still does. At bedtime he hugs me, and kisses me all over the face, and he would hug my arm forever and crush it if I don't ask him to stop.

He is growing so much, and changing so much. He was very irrational and brute. I don't have other words. He would hit me, or sister just because he was upset. Push her, or hit her on the face. But as he is growing, he is learning to be more self controlled, and he is sharing, and he loves his sister with all his heart. We have prayed for both of our children even before the day they were born. God knows we need all the patience, and tolerance available n the world. I know everybody knows this, but it is so difficult to be a good parent. And even being a good parent doesn't guarantee you that your children won't make mistakes. And it kinda sucks, you know? I do (around the house) almost everything for them. All I want in the morning is a good morning kiss. A hug. Snuggles. But the first thing that comes out of both their mouths is, "Mom, can I have chocolate milk, and oatmeal with honey? Please?"

Sad Libby
Happy Libby

I'm not a martyr, but this is pretty much what I signed up for. Being a mom to my boy and my girl, tough, has been -by far- the best thing that could have happened to me ever. The days are too long, but the years are so short, I heard Andy Stanley's wife say one time. My boy is two years old. I still remember how tiny he was when he was born. He weighed 8.5 lb, and looked like a little rat full of hair :)

Getting ready

I was telling him yesterday (as he went pipis in the toilet) that when I saw him for the very first time, what I really saw and felt was his urine on my face because he peed on me, ha ha ha! That's how I found out he was a boy. I was very tired, but I felt so thankful, so thankful for being holding him in my arms. My God has really giving me a gift in him. He is loving, and he is very persistent. Very persistent, to the point of being stubborn sometimes. He is passionate about what he feels. He is a very good helper around the house. He brings the oatmeal, or the sugar, or the chocolate powder, and puts everything away. Enzo also takes his dishes to the sink, and pushes his chair in once he's done.

Honor seat

I'm excited for the new years to come with my boy, God willing. I'm excited about spending time only with him like never before. Emerson and I decided it was wise to only send Libby to school for now. That way I can spend time one on one with my sweet and handsome boy. He really likes walking and helping around, so maybe we can go grocery shopping, or clean the house. I don't know. But I want to be with him. The truth is I want to be with both of them, and be there for them, as much as I can. I also need my space, tough. Ha, ha, ha! Libby, Enzo and I sometimes dance to the video on YouTube about the mommy who needs her space (the parody of I'm all about that bass). I tell them the mommy in that video just sings about her day, because all children misbehave sometimes.

My men :)

I also tell them I love them with all my heart, and that I wouldn't change a thing in my life because the truth is I've been given this amazing family as a gift. God gave me Daddy, Libby and Enzo to love them. And I will always love them. No matter what :)


Opening gift

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