Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Letter To My Daughters On Their Second Birthday


It's funny how the month of November never held any special significance for me until two years ago. No birthdays or anniversaries in the family or hardly that of close friends, no festivals (unless Deepavali arrived late that year), no public holidays or annual events and thus, nothing to look forward to. Not to mention, the usually depressing weather. To me, November was just 30 days of blah. The only good thing about it was that the end of the month marked the beginning of December (my most favourite month of the year!). But I feel much differently now. After the birth of my twin girls in November 2014, the previously dull month has obviously gained considerable favour! I look forward to November because it is when I celebrate the two miracles that have changed my world for the better 😊

Last year, on the occasion of the girls first birthday, we went with the flow and threw a party for them in India amidst our close friends and family. This year, we thought of changing gears. Last week, we took them both on a holiday along with their grandparents to a beach-side resort in Malaysia. They were thrilled to bits! Seeing them have the time of their lives made us feel so content.


Today, they celebrated their birthday in their playschool and also had a casual outdoor poolside party which all their playground friends attended. I made the effort of baking two cakes for them (even though they turned out looking dreadful). It was quite evident to us that they were excited by the ongoings and had a blast so it's safe to conclude birthday week a success!

Continuing with my annual tradition of writing birthday letters, here is the second one dedicated to my girls. I hope that they do get to read these letters when they are older so they can get a peek into the window of their mother's soul. Like I said last year, I can't rely on my failing memory to tell them all the cute stuff (and the not-so-cute stuff!) that they did when they were little. I do send them emails with photos, snippets of daily life, highlights of special occasions plus of course their birthday letters but who knows if that'll still be around when they are older. On second thoughts, maybe I should even make hard copies of these memoirs for safe-keeping (lol!). There is always the off-chance that they think their mother is a lunatic with far too much time on her hands but I'll take that chance!

My dear Anvitha & Navitha,

You turned TWO today! In the blink of an eye, from two tiny red-faced helpless bundles, you have blossomed into charismatic and independent toddlers. I don't think I'll ever be able to wrap my head around the fact that every year you go farther and farther away from being my itty-bitty babies.



I wrote you a letter on the occasion of your first birthday. Last year I was at home with you and I had plenty of time to express my thoughts. It is a different story this time round and following suit has been quite a challenge but I couldn't pass up on documenting this magical year.


So much has happened since your first birthday that I don't even know where to begin. Last year at this time you were babbling a little bit, had only two teeth each, needed to be spoon fed (mostly boring purées and baby cereal), still wore onesies of your mummy's choosing, were starting to walk and your personality was just starting to emerge. Now at two, I can't believe how much you have evolved! You are like two little sponges, absorbing everything around you. You are talking and singing (although I can't claim to understand everything you say!), you remind me to say thank you when I forget my manners (oops!), have sixteen pearly whites each, eat by yourselves a variety of food, choose your own clothes & want to dress yourselves, run like the wind, swing like monkeys on anything you can grab onto, jump, dance, do somersaults and have so much personality that I really don't know what to make of it sometimes! 



Your learning has grown by leaps and bounds this year. I wasn't expecting it considering you spent a large part of the year at home under my care. Although I did try my best to keep you engaged and stimulated, amidst all the million other things I had to do, I always wondered if I was doing a decent job. 

Your love of books opened up an exciting world to you. By the time you were 15 months old, you were pointing to and naming all body parts, recognizing a few primary colors, identifying and imitating farm animals and self-feeding. At 18 months, you grew obsessed with learning every shade of color that you saw all around you. Since a few months, you know your numbers (although at the beginning, you BOTH insisted on skipping one and nine!) and shapes, can identify most fruits, vegetables, random foods in the fridge that I quizz you on, most animals, insects and birds (I'm sure I didn't know birds like robin, toucan, bulbul, cuckoo and blue jay at your age!) and are learning the alphabets with a lot of enthusiasm. You have a penchant for nursery rhymes and I love how every night after your bedtime story, our family enjoys a 10 minute toddler karaoke under the gaze of the fake stars on the ceiling!



This year marked many interesting firsts. You visited the Zoo when you were 20 months old. I wasn't sure it was a good idea and felt like you were too young to really enjoy the experience but we ended up taking you anyway. I realized how wrong I was when we entered Cat Country and one of you excitedly pointed to the pacing wild animal in the glass cage and shrieked "PUMA" (which was indeed correct!). After that, you were both on such a roll! Following the successful visit to the Zoo, we took you all around your birth country. Rather than being strapped in the stroller or being carried, you both much prefer to walk so that makes things so much easier when we go out. During the course of our many outings, we uncovered something else about you....both of you love eating at restaurants much more than eating at home (double ouch!). So, you have been to umpteen restaurants this year and have turned into dining out veterans. Apart from the inconvenience of you both suffering from motion sickness (me and your daddy always have to be prepared before the dreaded car trip), going out with you can be a lot of fun. 

While still on the subject of firsts, you also had your first haircut this year and the hairdresser was none other than your beloved daddy! 


At home, you are my two little helpers. All I need to do is call out to you and you come running to me. You hand me the groceries to put away, close/open doors and curtains when I request you to, help me clean up spills, wipe your food trays, put your toys away after you are done playing and drop your unwashed clothes into the laundry basket (and sometimes mine too!). This to me is a positive sign because I would like you to be actively involved in household chores from this year onwards. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with your gender (the same would apply even if you were boys). I just think it is important to learn discipline, perseverance and responsibility from a young age. You need to understand that your mother will not raise any entitled brats! Trust me....you will thank me for it some day. 


My dear peanuts, this year has been AH-MAZING. And I mean, amazing beyond my wildest imagination. Last year was hard, especially the first three months after you were born and then around the one year mark when you started walking and getting into all kinds of trouble! (you'll probably keep hearing about it for the rest of your life!). I didn't know what to expect this year but you have both been good for the most part. Know that I'm not just saying that because I am your mother and I'm  maternally predisposed to glorify everything you do - I really mean it from the depths of my heart. Looking after both of you this year has largely been a breeze. There were big changes in your life towards the end of this year but you adapted to them so well and in turn made it easier on me. You adjusted well to our domestic helper, were accommodating to my going back to work and comfortably eased into your playschool (you both love going to school by the way). It made me comprehend how resilient kids can be and that my endless worrying was unwarranted. Of course it wasn't all roses, unicorns and sunshine....I was thinking that we may just escape the entire year without any toddler tantrums but then as you approached 22 months, they showed up without warning. You are at an age where you are opinionated, still a slave to your moods and aren't yet able to convey your feelings articulately and so you get frustrated when you don't get your way. Although there are times when you can drive me up the wall, I understand that it is part of your normal development and  I am trying to handle it the best way I can. 




Apart from that, the only other source of concern for me this year has been your weight. Although standing reasonably tall at 88 cm, you weigh only ~10 kg and appear much skinnier than your peers. I blame it partially on the picky eating combined with the excessive energy! Your pediatrician assures me that you are doing well but my stubborn mommy heart can't seem to make peace with it. We got through last year with nothing but an isolated case of diaper rash but this year you both fell sick thrice and two out of the three times turned out to be a nightmarish experience. Both times you lost a lot of weight and putting it back on was slower than a snail traveling through peanut butter! I used to be afraid of a lot of trivial things before but now the only thing that terrifies me is either of you coming down with something (because the other one will invariably catch it). If faced with the prospect of two sick, miserable and clingy toddlers at home, I'd rather take on a fierce, fully-grown mountain troll! 



My sweet Anvi....I love your infectious energy, affectionate nature and adventurous streak. You have an amazing sense of wonder and let out an exuberant "wow!" when you see something new or interesting. You prance like a pony (which is so adorable I cannot deal), have the brightest smile, a contagious laugh and a melodious sing-song voice. Listening to you talk is like music to my ears. You also have some crazy robot-like dance moves which you showcase only to a selected audience! You are so good natured, easy-going and sociable, that it is impossible for anyone not to take a liking to you. You adore babies and children younger than you and it makes me so happy to see how nurturing you are towards them. You are independent and don't rely much on anyone else to keep you occupied. That of course also means that you are the naughtier of the two and are frequently known to challenge authority (read: me)! You also push your sister around and being bigger and stronger than her, usually win in the ensuing squabble. Glass doors/windows are your nemesis and you have been through three instances of charging straight into them this year! You love kissing people (I'm not kidding), dancing (your 'bhangra' steps to the Pineapple-Apple-Pen song is hilarious!), bathtime, splashing in the pool, playing with other children, pretty clothes, your penguin bag, kicking the ball, watching rhymes on tv and flipping through books (even my Reader's Digest!). 

You my firstborn, do not like Indian food very much (with a few exceptions) and will gladly fill up on grilled cheese sandwiches, masala omelette, vegetable soups, flavoured yoghurt, noodles, fried rice and any kind of pasta in its stead. But on the other hand, you love almost all fruits and are heaps better at eating vegetables than your sister. You don't have as much of a sweet tooth as her either. 

These are some of the funny words you say: hawt (hot), paapi (porcupine), mamy (yummy), iknow (rhino), mammal (camel), mymond (diamond), beeba (zebra), memon (lemon), mamb (lamb), chee chaw (seesaw), foffee (coffee), byak-E (broccoli), chicchu (tissue).



My sweet Navi....I love your razor-sharp mind, fire-cracker attitude and disarming coyness. You have an astounding sense of curiosity for the way things work which was evident to me from the time you were barely a year old and I caught you inserting your toy screwdriver into the dining cabinet keyhole and twisting it gingerly to pry open the lock! You have a maturity and kindness in you that belies your age. I see your little round eyes filled with concern when your sister is unwell and your desperate attempts to make her feel better. I see how you willingly share your toys with other children. I see how you offer anyone who asks a piece of your precious chocolate without a moment's hesitation. You get very worried if I pretend to be sad and immediately rush to my side to see what is wrong. Being more reserved, you take longer to warm up to people and can be wary of new places and situations. You are picky when it comes to a lot of things and even at this tender age, have definite preferences for certain people and objects. You my little one, march to the beat of your own drum! Between the two, you are more prone to throwing tantrums and trickier to handle. You love bathtime, coloring, jumping on the bed, splashing in the pool, flowers, sparkly things, the color pink, furry animals, balloons, bubbles and your piglet stuffed toy from Winnie the Pooh (you pet it, kiss it, sleep with it and take it everywhere you go!). 
When it comes to food, you stay true to your roots and have a marked preference for Indian food. Some of your favourite foods include rice served with dal, tomato rasam or lemon rasam, methi dosa, neer dosa, vada-sambar, aloo paratha, cheese naan, poha upma, pongal and bread upma. Apart from that, you like grilled cheese sandwiches, baked sweet potato wedges, masala omelette and flavoured yoghurt. 

These are some of the funny words you say: gonkey (donkey), gog (dog), guck (duck), ojange (orange), peep (sleep), poop (soup), pumb (thumb), gemp (jump), pup (cup), bummy (bunny), pawbebby (strawberry), spyer (spider), vecvangle (rectangle), pweem (cream). 



You are "Annu" and "Vavi" to each other and listening to you call out to each other in my opinion is cuteness multiplied by infinity. I love watching how one of you wakes the other one up in the morning with gentle nudges, soft kisses and tender cuddles. I feel so lucky to witness these "awwww" moments. Sometimes you have these random surges of affection when one of you plants a couple of kisses on the other one, strokes her head and gives her a little squeeze. You make each other laugh, have pillow fights, play hide and seek (although most of the time, both of you decide to hide!), have high-pitched screaming matches, look at the pictures in books together and feed each other for fun. You two haven't reached the stage yet where you play nicely together for prolonged stretches of time (okay that maybe me expecting too much...lol!). The camaraderie lasts all of two minutes and then it is only a matter of time before one of you turns aggressive and someone ends up getting hurt. Even though your nature and personality traits are quite different, your likes and interests are very similar so there is competition brewing between you over a lot of things including our affections. You still need to learn how to share and work out the rules of fair play which I assume you will as you get older. 


I gave you plenty of boring advice on life in my previous letter (which btw, I still stand by) so I won't get into all that. All I want to say is that please please please continue to be interested in books the way you are at this point in time. I hope you both grow up to be voracious readers just like your mummy and daddy. Books don't just stimulate intellect, improve vocabulary and enhance imagination but they open up windows to world like no other and even have the ability to transform lives. Keep at it my budding little readers!

When I say to both of you - "I love you" and I hear a chorus of something on the lines of "I yuv voo", it makes my heart melt. I thought I loved you both as much as was humanly possible this time last year, but it seems that my love keeps getting bigger and bigger by the year. Just like you! 



If the first two years of your life have any bearing on how your personality as adults will shape up, I am nothing but proud. I don't know what the next year has in store for us. I have been forewarned plenty about the "Terrible Two's" and I will frankly admit that I am more than a little scared. Let's just take it one day at a time shall we? I promise to be optimistic and look forward to what could end up being the "Terrific Two's". You will get an honest and uncensored report card on your next birthday!


Love always,
Your Amma


P.S. - As vehemently as you both insist on it - a Chihuahua is a dog and NOT a cat!

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful!! Got a lil teary eyed towards d end! Btw, d PS trumps it all! Ha ha ha!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You write a bit too good, getting me totally confused to choose a single part to term the best 😁 Absolutely soulful, you outdo yourself every time. One blog I'd put everything aside to make time to read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Loved the pics you've used, particularly Anvi's(at the end of your words to her).

    ReplyDelete

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