Dry Days


Given that my little one is three years old and has been toilet trained now gone are the days when I had to rely on diapers to prevent any ‘bathroom disasters’ either at home or outside. And given the number of places that we took her out to almost since she was around 4 months old meant that diapers were God’s own gift to ‘outward bound’ parents like us.

And when one says the word ‘diapers’ in India it almost automatically refers to Pampers. Just like the term Xerox copies has replaced photocopies, Diary Milk has replaced milk chocolates, Pampers, the brand has clearly overtaken the generic category to which it belongs to and has replaced the word diapers in consumer minds and popular lingo. In fact I still remember the days when I had to visit the closest pharmacy or general store to buy diapers and the shopkeepers wouldn’t quite understand what I was looking for until I said the magic word – Pampers.

In any case, this post is not about how big the brand is and how it has taken over consumer mindshare like no other brand has, which is the truth and nothing but the truth! This post is about how diapers as a concept and more importantly Active Pants as a product have drastically transformed parents’ and children’s lives in India.

Although I don’t quite remember my ‘diaper days’ so to say, I have heard enough anecdotes from my parents about that phase of my life. Growing up in the 80s in India meant that the markets here still had not heard of diapers at all, and they had to rely on carefully stitched square pieces of cloth and large safety pins to keep toilet disasters from occurring. In fact, they not only regale me but also my daughter with stories of how on many occasions I have run around the entire house with my dripping cloth diapers, playing with my toys, without a care in the world. It was only when the diaper rashes attacked that I would feel uncomfortable and start whining and crying. And given the wet Bangalore monsoons and cold Bangalore winters back then, almost 8 odd months of the year would be spent in them liberally applying diaper rash cream on my private parts. I can only imagine how uncomfortable I would have felt back then, especially considering that I was quite an active child back then with my fair share of running and tumbling around type activities.

And it is in this context that Pampers Baby Dry Pants has proven to be a blessing to me as a parent in bringing up my daughter. As is the wont these days, my little one is more than active and cannot spend a single moment sitting down and relaxing except when she is asleep for her afternoon nap and night sleep. The fact that these diapers are easy to put on, just like her underpants, and easier to remove with the tearable straps down both sides mean that they can be put on and removed in ten seconds flat, talk about speed!

And what is even better is that with the Magic Gel (which was already ‘magical’ and has gotten even better in its latest avatar) inside which not only locks the wetness and moisture inside but keeps it locked no matter what, means that my little one could be as active as she wanted without her experiencing any kind of discomfort at all. And as parents, these Active Pants also meant that we could dress her up in the loveliest of dresses and take her out to all the places we went to, parks, malls, social gatherings, restaurants and even amusement parks without having to worry about putting others around to any kind of inconvenience due to her toilet disasters.

To make things easier than they already are, the wonderful folks at P&G have started this portal [Link to portal] not only to purchase these lovely Active Pants online but also for parents to be educated and enlightened about various aspects regarding their children’s hygiene.

And if this post doesn’t convince you enough to switch to Pampers Baby Dry Pants, here’s a small ad of theirs from YouTube to help you make up your mind.

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This post has been written for the Dry Baby, Happy Baby campaign from Pampers being conducted in collaboration with Indiblogger.

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Anger and happiness


Of late one particular thing that drives me crazy are the tantrums that my three year old daughter has started throwing. From the clothes she wears to the food she eats, from the shoes she will wear to wearing woolens in the winter, almost everything she does is preceded by a tantrum and ends up with either my wife or me or both of us being completely frustrated, at our wits end and screaming at my little one.

Angry_man_CartoonNeither my wife or me are sure as to why she has suddenly started off with these tantrums of late. Just around a month ago, she was quite comfortable with the clothes we asked her to wear, with the food that we asked her to eat and in general with following instructions. It baffles both of us when we sit and try to figure out what has changed in the past month to encourage this obstinate behavior of hers.

At the other end of the spectrum, one thing which provides me with immense happiness is to see my daughter running around in the park, having a good time on the swing, the see-saw, the slides, and in general enjoying life. When she is around with a couple of her friends, they end up inventing little games of their own, singing rhymes and having a ball of a time the way only kids in their innocent way can. Nothing brings an immediate smile to my face other than this.HappyGirl

Looking at her tantrums from the perspective of the innocence of her childhood and her age (all of three years old), at times I feel that this new found obstinacy crops up from a couple of factors. Firstly, the fact that she is an only child and is pretty much the center of attraction and the apple of everybody’s eyes wherever she goes means that she gets her way almost all the time. Maybe, just maybe, this has led her to believe that ‘her way’ is the right way and that she enjoys an unalienable right to ask for what she wants and gets angry when it is not provided to her.

Secondly, it goes without saying that junk food obviously tastes better and provides instant gratification when compared to the regular healthy food that we try to feed her at home. It therefore goes that she tries to pull the screaming and crying stunt whenever she doesn’t get her quota of fried food, chocolates and ice creams. I am more than sure that her grandparents and us, her parents are more than partly responsible for tantrums at meal times.

In conclusion, I guess the solution lies somewhere with my parents, my wife and me drawing a clear cut line as to on what occasions my daughter is entitled to her opinions, likes and dislikes. Given that she is only three years old, it goes without saying that as elders we know better when it comes to food, clothes and other similar issues. We need to lay down the rules with her very clearly as to what is acceptable behavior and what is not, and not give in to her tantrums under any circumstances. I am more than sure that after a few failed attempts at trying to ‘blackmail’ us with her crying, screaming and other similar stunts, she will figure out that they are useless.

Here’s hoping for the best.

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This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to think about something that drives me crazy, and then think about something that makes me happy, and then discuss about how the latter thought changes my perspective on the former.

Idiots’ guide to life with toddlers


Once the initial euphoria of becoming a parent (father or mother) wears out and the entire extended family and friend circle has shared their wishes over SMSes, phone calls and Facebook likes for your status updates, all parents are faced with the true-blue grim realities of parenting. So, this post shall strive to make you a little more aware of toddlers and all the ‘baggage’ they bring with them when they arrive.

1. Your time is not ‘your time’ anymore. All sleeping hours and hours spent awake will now be spent fretting and fuming about why your toddler is not sleeping for more than two-three hours at a stretch. How is it that he/she manages to wake up at the slightest hint of a paper swishing due to the fan running in the room. And once the toddler is up, he/she needs to be fed and nursed to sleep which will take at least an hour or so and the cycle repeats itself over and over and over.

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2. Food doesn’t quite mean food as you have understood and consumed all these years. It refers primarily to milk, water and other liquid forms of nourishment only. And if new age parenting is anything to go by, then it means liquids without any artificial sweeteners in any form or fashion in them. As parents of toddlers, you’d better have food (of the classification mentioned above) ready for consumption at any point of time in the 24 hr time-frame that the rest of the world calls a day.

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3. It has been medically proven that you aren’t supposed to be using any strong odors around the baby. So all those fancy deodorants that you bought at a good price (courtesy the box set of three cans or online shopping portals selling them for peanuts or simply because the femme fatale in the ad tempted you) have to pretty much be thrown out or gifted to younger friends or cousins. For the next year or so, you have no choice but to sweat it out and not just that be seen and smelt as sweating it out. Pity the poor parents during the sweltering Chennai summers.

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4. If you thought how tough can it be to wash a small baby, wait until you have your first darshan of a diaper with baby poop in it. Trust me when I say this, no amount of preparation can prepare you for the experience of cleaning a baby’s bottom, more so when it has poop all over it. Lesser said the better about this particular point.

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5. If you are a parent who likes dressing up in the newest Marks & Spencers shirt or the latest Ritu Beri salwar suit bought at Biba or Manyavaar, you just have to end up gifting these to friends or relatives. Babies like dribbling, they think it is a good way not only to communicate with its handlers but also believe that is therapeutic as well. If not for anything else, this trait of theirs will reduce your expenditure on fancy expensive clothes at least until the time they are two years old.

'He'll be a great basketball player someday -- he already dribbles all over the place.

6. Attending family functions will mean only one thing for you – sitting in a silent corner of the mandapam where the function is happening and putting the baby to sleep despite the noise and hullabaloo that is created at the spot. There is absolutely no way that you can participate actively in any function in the near future.

'Friend of the bride or the groom?'

Now, while all you readers who are parents yourselves are probably nodding your heads in fond reminiscences of these days yourself, let me clarify that this post is NOT in any form or fashion intended to put off wannabe parents at all. If anything, this is just a tongue-in-cheek attempt at trying to infuse some much needed humor into these early fun days of the entire ‘parenting experience’. After all, we all need to smile every now and then, don’t we?

Let me be the first to confess that I personally have experienced all of the above mentioned points and truly have fond memories of all of them. What makes these experiences ‘fond’ and worth is all the joy, warmth and fulfillment that being a parent brings along with it.

Letting go


A baby hand holding his father's finger

If you read my previous post “All grown up” here, you will realize that some experiences in my past, specifically the ones dealing with the passing away of my maternal grandparents instilled a sense of ‘detachment’ in me more than anything else. As years went by and as I had more such experiences in life where friends and relatives tended to ‘drift apart’ from me due to a variety of reasons I developed a sense of ‘detachment’ with relationships in general.

Not to say that I don’t get attached to people or to relationships at all, but it was more like me planning for the ‘worst case scenario’ almost all the time. And in the case of relationships such a scenario would either be the other person gradually drifting apart from me or even worse. While I understand that this probably can be viewed as pessimistic or even cynical by most readers, this attitude of mine has stood the test of time for me, and has probably been the single most effective method by which I have prevented myself from getting ‘hurt’ in relationships for quite some time now.

While I do realize that having such an attitude probably (many of you might even use the adjective ‘surely’) prevents me from ever having a completely ‘fruitful’ relationship with anybody, given that I am almost never completely honest with myself or the other party in a relationship and am always hesitant to give ‘my all’ to the relationship, the fact remains that this is one aspect of my personality which probably has been changed for good and probably cannot be changed back ever.

But then, getting married and subsequently having a daughter after six long years of married life have changed this aspect of mine to a large extent. Today, my wife and little girl, and to a smaller extent my extended family of in-laws mean much more to me not just because they are related to me but also due to the extremely intense personal equations that I enjoy with all of them. However, there still exist large parts of my personality which remain skeptical about my ability to be genuinely ‘attached’ to them given my bad experiences in the past. I almost always try and look for avenues where I can ‘let go’ of my attachments to any relationship I have…I guess that part of my personality has become so strongly fused with me that it will always remain a part of me forever.

One thing that both my wife and me are very conscious about and have been since our little girl came into our lives is the fact that we ought to remain extremely objective about our relationship with her and not allow ourselves to get inalienably or unduly attached to her. We always tell ourselves that end of day, she has her own personality and is going to develop into a wonderful individual person of her own. We need to perform our duties as parents, provide for all her necessities, inculcate good human values in her, teach her how to survive in this world, provide her with a decent education which will hold her in good stead, all this while remaining relatively ‘detached’ from her.

While readers may believe that this is probably an ‘escapist’ kind of mindset that we are exhibiting, both of us sincerely believe that this is the most effective way to bring up a child nowadays. Given the changes we are witnessing in the cultural landscape the day isn’t too far away when urban children such as ours will want their independence sooner rather than later, and it therefore would help if all urban parents learn to ‘let go’ of their children sooner rather than later in lives.

We personally believe that gone are the days when children relied solely on their parents to take the relatively more important decisions of their lives. And if anything, we parents should feel happy and blessed if they actually even allow us to be part of these decisions. Each successive generation exhibits levels of maturity and independence that easily surpass that of previous generations, and by the time my little girl reaches her teenage years, I am more than sure that she wouldn’t even think twice about living life on her own terms without necessarily involving us parents in her decision making process.

But then, what prompted this post, this ‘rant’ about children nowadays, and about ‘letting go’ sooner rather than later?

Given that I reach office at around 7.45 AM IST every day, it is either my dad (mostly) or my wife (rarely) who drop off my little girl to the play school where she is enrolled. However, on Friday I was working from home and I therefore decided to drop her off that day. Having heard stories that she almost always is more than happy when she actually sees the school and its surroundings and has absolutely no issues saying a quick bye and running into the school compound, I thought it would be a breeze. And the fact that she has been attending play school for more than six months now also gave me the confidence that this would be an easy task. But then life has a way of biting you in the backside when you least expect it, doesn’t it.

There we were, on the two wheeler, me telling my lil one to behave herself, have fun with friends, sing her rhymes and all that when we stopped outside the gates of the school. Unlike her usual self, she took her time in getting off from the vehicle and then without looking back at me, she started rubbing her eyes. The lady from the school gently took her by the hand and started leading her inside. She had hardly taken a couple of steps when she turned back, looked at me and started bawling her lungs out, teary eyed and all.

At that point in time, all my theories about ‘letting go’ and ‘staying detached’ got thrown out of the window. I immediately parked the vehicle, went up to her, lifted her up and the two of us stood there for a good 40 odd seconds when I showed her how her friends were already there at school and were waiting to play with her that day. And as is the norm with kids her age, she immediately wanted to go and join them. Thus ended the tears and the sorrow of separation for her.

As for me, while I am not having any second thoughts about my concept of ‘letting go’, I sure have realized that two and a half years is too young an age to actually begin ‘letting go’ of my daughter, and that I should give her some more time to ‘find her own feet’, so to speak.

My daughter is a bookie


Image courtesy : guardian website
Image courtesy : guardian website

My daughter’s love affair with books and stories began when she was around 8 months old, I guess when my wife gave her one of her sister’s old books which she had won as a kid in school. This ‘almost 20 yr old’ book, Rapunzel, which had been won as a consolation prize at her school ended up being  little R’s inseparable companion for quite a few days continuously.

While I am sure she didn’t understand anything about the story, the fact remains that the way in which her Amma told the story, or the way in which I used to enact the story out to her kept her engrossed with it. It became a bedtime ritual, it accompanied most of her meals, and thus began her love affair with the ‘written word’. I say ‘written word’ in quotes as I am sure it is her obsession with stories more than the words themselves which make her such an avid reader at this age.

My wife and me have always been reasonably avid readers and with the exception of really crazy busy times at office and work pressures, we have both managed to keep up with this habit reasonably well. The long commutes to and from office when I was in Chennai managed to re-‘kindle’ the reading habit in me, more so with my newly acquired Kindle (hence the quotes). And the post delivery break meant that my wife also renewed her love for books. While our tastes in books have slowly started to diverge, the fact remains that both of us do spend some time with our reading, and this is something that little R had probably noticed right from the beginning.

And as the saying goes “Parents are the first teachers of the child” and as if parents were not enough, little R’s grandfather also is an avid reader, although that habit took the backseat for quite a while when we moved down to Bangalore and he didn’t have enough time to spare for books after playing throughout the day with his granddaughter. In any case, she has seen both her grandparents also spending time with their newspapers and books, and I am sure this also made quite an impression on her.

Starting with Rapunzel, moving on to books with alphabets, numbers, colors, vehicles, animals, vegetables, birds, reptiles, insects, you name it and she has devoured all of them with equal gusto. At one point of time, the wife and I were so exhausted with all the book shopping that we just gave up and accepted defeat. And all this when the little one is barely 26 months old now. That being said, both of us are thrilled at her love for books, and sincerely hope she continues to love the written word for the rest of her life for more reasons than one.

Another aspect which probably encouraged her book reading habit was the fact that the television was all but dead at home during the first year of little R. While we had a nice big screen LCD TV with a nice DTH connection, the fact that I wasn’t at home from around 6.30 in the morning till around 7.30 at night, and pretty much asleep at all other times meant that the TV was switched off for most of the day except for around 30 odd minutes. And this I am sure went a long way in not building a TV addiction for little R. Even today, when we hear other parents talk about how their kids eat only when they see Doraemon or some other cartoon on TV, my wife and I look at each other and steal thankful smiles that we are not in the same predicament.

What is even more surprising is the fact that little R, up to a few months ago, was not even interested in toys as well. While she would play with her toys for a maximum of 30 odd mins at a stretch, she would happily sit with her books, staring at them, talking to them, talking about them for longer periods of time. Till date, she doesn’t have her one favorite toy or stuffed doll that she needs to take with her wherever she goes, but she does need to have at least 4 of her books whenever she travels. Now, if that isn’t the true sign of a book lover, what is.

On more than one occasion I have thanked God that we had almost stopped watching movies (another activity which we so love doing together) by the time little R was born, else she would have turned out to be a movie fanatic by now. Now, that is not a bad thing in itself, but it’s just that too much of the audio-visual experience at this age, that too of the movie variety would surely have ended up in some unnecessary complications, wouldn’t it.

I would love to hear what your kids are/were obsessed with when they were around 2 yrs old. Did they love their stuffed toys, cartoons, books, or nursery rhymes, more? Please do let me know by sharing your stories in the comments section.

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PS: The little girl in the picture is NOT my daughter 😀 although I am sure that I could take a similar pic of hers in a few years’ time.